Monday, October 26, 2009

Bet you weren't expecting this title!

I used to live and work halfway up a mountain in Jasper National Park. It could be a hell of a thing getting groceries seeing as how I didn't drive or even own a bike.

The path to town,
and the reason I still double knot my shoes.

Photo Credit: not me

You know what? Why don't I just come clean right now. That last point about my not owning a bike was completely irrelevant. I need five cups of coffee just to pump a bicycle up a small hill. An adrenaline shot straight to the heart couldn't get me up a mountain on one of those infernal contraptions. Like I've always said, put me on a hiking trail and I'm as nimble as a cat. Put me on a bike and I'm as nimble as a cat.

A cat trying to ride a bicycle.

No, a bicycle wouldn't have helped me. Thankfully I did not live alone up on that mountain. During peak season there were twelve women living in the dormitory rooms above the Maligne Canyon Tea House.

Two. Yes, I understand. Anytime anybody hears about any quantity of women living together the first question is always "how many bathrooms were there"?

Yes, only two. Yes, I understand. It's commonly assumed that the correct ratio to prevent violence in any rooming situation is 3.5 bathrooms for every 2 women. In this instance that ratio was completely irrelevant anyway. The two we had really only added up to 0.5 in functional terms, and they only rate that high because both toilets flushed. How they managed to flush when the only supply of liquid coming through any of the pipes was a thin, brown, sulfuric trickle of mostly grit I have no idea, but they performed heroically indeed. What was in that grit I don't know. I'm sure a mineral analysis would answer the mystery of why everyone had copper tinted hair and black jewelry, though.

So the other good thing about having transportation equipped women around was that the closest supply of fresh water was also at the bottom of the mountain, at Lake Annette. There we found a pumping station where we filled gallon jugs for cooking and tooth brushing and a large, insanely cold body of water where we'd try and swim ourselves clean. What it lacked in convenience it did at least make up for in scenic properties. That lake was so beautiful I even named my cat after it.

Have you ever seen anyone use a flimsier excuse to post a picture of their cat?

The point I'm making is that for a shop in a heavily trafficked park, that place was pretty far away from civilization. As the season wore down and the traffic eased up there would be lulls where you and your dwindling population of co-workers could feel like the last people on earth.

No cars in the parking lot.

No hikers on the trail.

Just you and the mountain sheep.

Nope. The sheep left.

Just you and the trees.

Ksh. Clank.


Some tour guide found your shop at some point and decided they liked it. Now all of a sudden you can't move for visitors. They're all talking at once and they're all talking to you and they're all talking together because they've all been on an epic journey so long they're starting to read each other's minds. They're all happy to see you because their guide told them it's a great place to be. You're happy to see them because gosh, they all seem so happy and so friendly and you were just starting to think that maybe your little mountain had fallen off the edge of the world and you just hadn't noticed yet. Everything changed in an instant and everything's alive and it's breathtaking and fun and you hardly know what's going on but what the hell, you just go with it.

That kind of happened here on this blog yesterday.

I've only been back into blogging for two weeks now, and I've been thrilled and have savoured the joy of meeting every single reader who has done me the honor of following this thing. Then yesterday I sit down to a banquet of beautiful people here presented by the delectible Braja, and my head is still spinning from the new names and faces and all the wonderful new blogs to read. There are still a few I haven't sampled yet - mmmm dessert - but I'm delighted to meet each and every one of you. This is a great chance to say the same to everyone else that I've been lucky to cross cyber paths with over the past two weeks, too - very much including the friends from my old journal who left a trail of bread crumbs to find me again.

Okay, this is getting mushy. I better shut up before I post another picture of my cat.


darsden said...

Beautiful Beautiful Photograph... so crisp and fresh I feel I can smell those mountains... that is a nice worn trail there too!

♥ Braja said...

Just post another picture of your cat....

I love it.

Tamara said...

I love that you posted a pic of your cat.

I shared part of a house with 11 other women (2 was also the answer. Although the shower and sometimes toilet clogged on a regular basis, so it was more like 1). But we had great running water. Dunno if I would have survived without it. The quickest way to see my bad side is to take away my water. You are a stronger person than I am!

Brian Miller said...

there is something to be said for a quiet place in the woods, but life is better shared, no?

nmj said...

Your blog makes me smile.

Gaston Studio said...

Beautiful cat, and I love the campaign chair nearby. Oh, Braja also sent me and I like what I see.

IB said...

So, are you saying there's no more cake?

Kate said...

Ah your cat is adoreable! Love the blog

Kate x

Fire Byrd said...

more of the cat please she's beautiful.

courtney said...

oh WOW - i have so many things to say.

numba one - thanks for stopping by. and really? from the way you described your blog to look, i was expecting something horrible. and good news: it's not! please don't flush it. i think you're funny. :)

numba two - i used to work at a lodge up in (semi) northern ontario, and your description of the woods etc makes me miss it - even though i suspect that you were a titch more remote than my lodge was. plus, we had people there on a regular basis. definitely less remote.

numba three - i was in calgary last year for a conference and my boss, coworker and i decided to skip out on the last afternoon of sessions, rent a car, and drive to banff before dinner because i'd never seen the rockies. i don't think i stopped smiling the whole way there and back again .. i likely also set a record for saying 'hooooly crap! look at that!'.

You Make My Date said...

Your cat more than made up for the story about the poo-like substance in the toilet! But next time, could we also get a photo of the cat on a bicycle? :)

Thanks for the comment on my blog!

Chiara said...

I love the chair your cat is sitting on!

Anonymous said...

Love your cat!

It's good to 'meet' you too. I like your description living over the shop. Sounds like a beautiful place.

hope you get many more 'busloads' visitng your blog!

Kitty Moore said...

The cat is adorable and your writing has me hooked!

JennyMac said...

Awesome photo....I grew up in the PNW so this reminds me much of home.

Charmaine said...

How interesting. You're interesting. What are you doing up there on that mountain?

Always Home and Uncool said...

Always respect The Braja. Or else when you die, you come back as a tick. No one loves ticks.

Carry on and welcome back.

blognut said...

I happen to like the picture of your cat, and the picture of the mountain for which the cat was named.

However, the idea of a sulpheric grit coming out of my faucets in a trickle and giving me black jewelery and copper hair? Not so much.

otin said...

Sometimes Braja brings me over just as comic relief! hahaha!

Nice Cat! :)

bernthis said...

i'm not a great sharer of my food. The rest no problem but you open the fridge and I'd be the annoying one who put her name on everything.

Ron said...


Just wanted to stop by and say thank you for dropping by my blog yesterday - it was so nice meeting you!

Hey...being a huge cat lover, I really enjoyed stopping by your blog; noticing all the cat stuff.

Annette is beautiful. I had a similar looking cat (all grey) who's name was Ashley.

Captain Dumbass said...

You worked in Jasper? I worked in Banff. You live in Alberta? I live in BC! Howdy neighbour. I'd show you a picture of my cat but I don't have one.

Lindsey Himmler said...

Wow, 2 weeks into blogging again? I switch blogs so compulsively that I think my readers give up on ever tracking me down.

Thanks for visiting though! Love the scene on the mountain!

Lisa Anne said...

The picture of your cat is so cute. I'm in love with cats now that I have one!

cabin + cub said...

Awwww... such a cute cat! I wouldn't mind seeing another pic. Have only been to Jasper once, but it was quite a long time ago.. so I don't remember much... i need to go back to revisit one day!

Pearl said...

I could use a trail up into the mountains sometimes...


M.M.E. said...

Wow, it sounds like a great place. Very cute cat.

Lola Lakely said...

You've got such a nice blog here! Thank you for stopping by my naughty, wicked one. I'll have to further check you out.

I liked the picture of your cat. As I am sitting here typing, I am babysitting my mom's cat. He is still a little freaked out being someplace new. He won't leave my side. It's pretty cute actually.

Anonymous said...


About Me

My photo
Alberta, Canada
Quality blog entertainments delivered in a convenient, electronic format, and widely read by the sexiest, most intelligent, and wittiest people on the internet - all of whom practice exemplary personal hygiene.