The bus pulled into the station at 6:00, and my flight leaves at 16:00, so I'm dawdling in the most pleasurable way under these circumstances by drinking coffee and writing. Yesterday I stored my luggage at the hotel (which was much classier than my hotel in Ed last week) for the day and set off for the hills to do some hiking. Yeah, "hills."
But first, Banff. A resort town nestled between looming, snow-capped mountains, where streets are named after wild animals (Buffalo, Elk, Wolf) and lined with boutiques, cafes and chain stores. On the sidewalks groups of people walk about looking happy. Without glancing at the grey skies and snowy mountains behind them, you might guess from the contented faces that these people were vacationing at a beach in 35 degree weather. Or maybe you wouldn't, because these people, dressed in fashionable fall jackets and gloves, appear happier than those at beach resorts. There is no rush for buffet food or drinks in this place. Here, few people compete for many resources (for sale), which is to say there seems to be a lot to go around (like hotels and restaurants). The air smells fresh and pure. Judging from their accents, most service staff are far from home: I heard Japanese, Aussie, Kiwi, British accents, and many other languages spoken. Mornings start out cold and warm up around noon, then the chill deepens in the afternoon and in the cozy caffeine shops Lululemon- and Sorel-wearing families decompress over chai lattes after shopping for skis for the kids and before dinner at The Keg.
HA! But that's just the external expression of spending habits, and who gives a North Face about that, really. I encountered lots of friendly folks while hiking in the woods. And I was in them thar hills (wearing all of my sweaters like Heidi in all her dresses) for hours. I climbed upwards, past crystal clear turquoise streams and towering pines, not knowing my direction or what to expect but admiring everything around me, and after a few hours I turned on my heel and started the tramp downhill, giving my calves a break. I followed up with a huge dinner with wine in anticipation of a long bus journey. Which started with a half-hour wait in the cold wind, put out like a dog for the night because the bus station manager was closing up. The small inconveniences of a small town.
My affair with Banff was over in a lover's heart beat. I'll be back.