October 5th - October 12th

Table of Contents
  1. The drive through Jasper to Calgary
  2. Didier' the Swiss Dude
  3. Exploring Calgary with Jo Myers
  4. The Kiss
  5. Back to Banff
  6. Hiking in the Kooteny N.P.
  7. Hiking in Kootenay in a snowstorm
  8. Homeward bound...
  9. Crossing the Border
  10. Madison, WI
  11. My Brother, the Man!

Summary October 5th – October 12th.

            Calgary, a beautiful Brit, and the long drive back.

Friday, October 5, 2001 (6th) Calgary International Hostel, Calgary Alberta.

Today is Saturday morning. I didn’t write in my journal last night, because I went out with some people that I met in the Hostel, and in Banff.

Yesterday was quite possibly the most picturesque and beautiful day I have had on my trip so far. The sky was as blue as I can remember it, with not a cloud in the sky. The sun shown strongly on the mountains on the west side of the valley in the morning, and on the east side of the valley in the afternoon. I like the afternoon sun best for taking pictures. I think I might like the morning sun, but I haven’t been up early enough to enjoy it that much.

            I woke up, and realized that I had parked next to one of the major thoroughfares in Jasper. Not that there are major arteries, but this one certainly had people driving by my car at 45 plus miles an hour. Yesterday morning, it was the coldest I can remember in my car. I woke up, and when I went to turn the defrost on, I could see my breath. It wasn’t just a one-time thing with the warm air in my lungs; I kept being able to do it over and over. It was very cold. – The forecast for the night was –6 Celsius. I think that’s close to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. – Cold. – I actually, woke up in the middle of the night a couple times, and was cold. Finally, I took my sleeping bag, that I had been using as a cover, and brought it inside my blanket sleeping roll, and used it like it was supposed to be used.

            That warmed me up nicely, and I decided that I would leave it in there. If I got too warm, I could sleep on top of it, and if I got too cold, I could crawl into it. – Then, I ended up taking it out to use it in the Hostel anyway. – I will get to that. – I woke up, took care of breakfast / such, and then went to the Internet Café’ to send some e-mail. – I had stayed up late the night before, and typed a bunch of them to folks, and ended up staying up until around midnight or so.

            SO, I woke up a little later than usual. – Then, I left Jasper for my drive through the park. A little way down the road, I came to a Park entrance, where I had to pay 5 dollars to get through the park. – Not bad, especially since it was Canadian. Then the fun began. In the morning, the mountains behind me were the best lit, so often I looked in the rear view mirror, or over my shoulder to see what the vista this time was like. – They were all spectacular. My favorites are when there are sharp jagged rocks that are on a bright blue background. – No snow, or trees. Just brownish gray on Blue. It is awesome. So, I kept looking for these, and wasn’t disappointed. I saw several of them along the way.  – In the beginning of the drive, there was a cutoff for route 31A - as opposed to route 31 South. After debating for a while, I stayed on the main road, 31 south. Then, a little ways down the road, I got a look across the river, and saw a reflection of another car driving south across the river. I also remember what I had written in my Journal the night before, to the effect of “Be Bold”, and I decided to go back, and take 31A south.

            It wasn’t that impressive, but I supposed like any adventure it had it’s up’s and down’s. At the end of the road, there was Athabasca Falls. This was very impressive and beautiful. Very nice movement of the water, and color in the blue green river above and below the falls. There was a nice little rainbow in the mist created by the falls too, which was superb. – Then I saw the folks from Florida, when I was back in my car, and they said the “Canyon Walk” that I chose not to explore was there favorite part. At least the woman said this. So, after I offloaded my pictures, I walked back to explore the canyon. It was cool; you could see all the little pools that had been created over the years from erosion. The trail actually walked right through many of them. At the bottom of the canyon trail was a little rock beach where dozens of Cairn were placed. It was cool, and odd at first, but it was neat to see.

            The next stop was Honeymoon Lake, which was picturesque. It was definitely honeymoon stature. Quiet, flat, reflective, and beautiful. I took some pictures, and then took a leak on some trees. – Back on the road going south, I drove by a couple other stops, and went to the bubbling springs picnic area.

            This was one of my favorite things to see in the park during the day. There were some natural springs that came down the mountain, and ended in this pool of silt, bubbling up. The silt was heavy enough in the water, and not disturbed enough by the bubbling that it kind of created these little fire like waves and explosions of beautiful silt. I could have watched them for hours. – I didn’t get too many nice shots, because I didn’t have my polarizing filter, but there were nice to look at. My favorite ones looked like little nuclear explosions creating a neat little mushroom cloud, and then the silt falling back to the ground.

            All around the little pool were little silt mounds that looked like volcanoes. A little hole on top of each of them where the water came out. Very nifty. – Then I drove some more, took pictures, repeat.

            Eventually I came to the Ice fields, which also had a large visitor center. The visitor center was like a zoo. There were tons of tourists; I mean it was like a small-scale grand central. There must have been at least 4 or 5 tour busses that pulled up, and dropped off people. There was a semi interesting interpretive center, and of course a gift shop. Mostly Asian tourists. The big thing for the center was to sell tours of the ice fields in these busses that were outfitted with large snow tires for driving across the ice. They looked cool, but I wasn’t interested at all in taking a tour on one of them. So, I used the bathroom, and left. I drove to the foot of the ice field / glacier, and hiked up to it. It had been receding significantly in the last 800 years. More than a kilometer probably. It was neat to see the texture in the rocks where the ice had gone by. At the foot of the ice field, there was a sign that said STOP, do not walk past this sign, unless you are a guide, or an experienced Mountaineer. – Of course people were ignoring this, and walking right up on the ice. It wasn’t glacial ice, but it was kind of dangerous like that.

            The first sign was in French, and a little while down the road was another sign, both in French and in English. – I could read that one, but chose to take a little jaunt up the ice anyway. I only went where other people had gone, and only went about 20 feet up on the ice. I had another couple take my picture, and I returned the favor to them.

            Then, I left, and drove down the road into Banff. It took less time since there were fewer attractions in that park near jasper, than I thought. So, things went by relatively quickly. Towards the end, I got near the road, and picked up Didier’. He was a Swiss dude, who was a ski instructor in the winter, and an electrical worker in the summer. French was his primary language, and his English was better than my French, so we spoke English.

            I made him sit in the back, because my cooler was up front, until we got to Banff. This is what his sign said. – We took a little detour around the very touristy Lake Louise, and took some pictures. – Then on to Banff. I met a nice little woman named Caprice who was working at the gas station. She asked me if I had a baby in the car, then asked me if I had a lot of money. The first was in regards to the towel that I had hanging over the front seat, and the second was in regards to the “What is there fun to do in Banff” question. Caprice was fun, and I flirted with her a bit. She had a nice smile, but her arms were covered with some psoriasis. Not so much fun. I did flirt with her, and told her that if I was going to be in town around when I got out of work, that I would come back and look her up.

            After I was finished talking with Caprice, I drove around with Didier, and took some pictures, and then decided to buy a sticker, and eat a little, then head to Calgary. I stopped the car, got out, and re-organized it, so that he could ride up front. It was going to be at least an hour to Calgary, and I didn’t feel like leaning back every time I wanted to talk with him. I re-organized, as is fitting with my awesome vehicle, and then he could sit in the front. We then rode around a little bit more, and got me a sticker, after looking in about 5 shops along the way. Then we walked to a little park, and took some pictures, and I took some more pictures of the town. Then, we got back in the car, and headed to Calgary. I first stopped back at the gas station, and said goodbye to Caprice, and told her that I wouldn’t be hanging around in town tonight. She was visibly disappointed, and said that “Calgary Sucks!” “There are so many people, and it’s so big”, Yada Yada Yada.  – I gave her my website, and took a couple pictures of her. A couple are quite funny. Then Didier’ and I headed for Calgary.

Along the way conversation was a little strained. He understood less English than I thought. I wished on several occasions that I was able to speak better French. – Anyway, after about an hour and ½ we arrived in Calgary. It was much much flatter than Banff / Jasper was. In fact, it is in the plains. Very little height differences whatsoever. It was a large mass of urban sprawl. By the time we got into town, it was dark, and we could see the lights of the city for several miles in all directions. We continued on straight into the city center, where Didier’ said was the direction to head in, and eventually found the street we were supposed to turn on.

I turned on the street that was “Stevens Street”, and I missed the “Train’s only” sign. As I turned down the street, I noticed that there were no yellow lines painted on the road. However, there were several train tracks on the road. The further down we went, the closer I got to a train platform, with about 50 people on it. As we drove by in my two tone, one white, one brown from the mud, car, all the people stared and wondered what these stupid Americans were doing. It was quite humors. I said, “This isn’t the right direction to drive in at all.” – Didier said, “Why don’t you all hop on”, when he was telling the story to some other folks that we met later in the evening.

Finally we got to the Youth Hostel. I decided to check in for the evening. Why not, I was in a big city, and was going to go out with some cool people. After a nice conversation with the guy working the desk, he hooked me up with a woman Jo, who was looking at something next to me in line. He said to her “This guy is looking for someone to go out with to have a beer, do you want to join him?” – She was game, but said “Only for one beer, because I’ve been up for 24 hours.” She had woken up at 6:00AM England time, caught the bus to the bus station, and then flew to Calgary from there. When I talked with her, it was around 8:30 or so.

Introductions were made, and she knew some guy Patrick from Australia who she had talked with, and invited him to come with us. He was a cool guy, and looked like a total surfer type. Bleach blonde hair in a ponytail with fair skin and a fun accent. We went out to the Bear and Kilt, had some food, and had a couple beers. We ordered food, and all they had was bar food that consisted of Chicken wings, or other deep-fried crap. The guy who took our order convinced me to order the chicken wings. They weren’t really worth it. Kind of small, and not a lot of meat on them. However, the sauce was good, and so was the plate of fries that Didier got. It was so good, that we ordered another dish, and went through those too. Patrick and Jo shared some Garlic bread. Didier and I each got an order of Chicken wings.

Then we decided to play pool. I am way too competitive with darts and pool. It’s difficult for me to enjoy it, because I do get so into it, and want to win so much. – It actually inhibits my game because I get so into it. I hate so much losing that it prevents me from playing my best. I know this, but it’s still hard to stop from being so competitive.

I lost / sunk the 8 ball, and scratched at pool, then we lost at darts, even though some others didn't even know how to play the game. Then we went to another bar, had another beer, I only had 1/3 of it, and Patrick wanted to go to a dance bar. I definitely didn’t nor did Didier’. When asked what he wanted to do, he said, “GO to sleep”, I thought that was funny.

So, we all walked back together I snuck off a couple times and took some photographs, of reflections in the pool and other things, like a woman’s rights memorial, where they four statues were re-enacting what had to happen to get women’s suffrage.

Then back at the hostel, I was exhausted. I had two large glasses of water, talked a little, and looked at the stuff to do in Calgary book, and then I went to bed. 

Saturday October 6th, 2001 (December 12, 2001)

            I woke up in the Hostel in Calgary and had breakfast. Then typed and Jo came down. We agreed to spend the day together doing touristy stuff. We went to the market in Calgary. It was indoors and very cool. It was a cross between a farmers market and a mall. We also walked along the riverfront, and on Stephens St. Stephens Street was a pedestrian only street that extends several blocks in the middle of downtown Calgary. It has several shops, pubs, and café’s along it. It is decorated quaintly with cast street lamps, and lights.

            We had Turkey Veggie stuff from Veggie heads. It was good. The blonde was hot! (They were promoting alternatives to Turkey for Thanksgiving. Canada celebrates it early. ) Then we walked to Mountain Equipment Co – op. (MEC). Jo bought boots, pants, and gear. I resisted buying stuff. I wanted some cool looking workout pants though. Then we walked to the Chinese cultural center and had good talks along the way about children and education and baggage personality wise. My definition of baggage was different than hers. She said she has a friend who sleeps with anyone she meets, but she can’t do it. I was a little hung over most of the day because of the night before. She didn’t seem. Then we walked via the river to the museum and checked out one floor. We were kind of late getting there.

            We had lunch at a café on Stephens Street. Mmmm, veggie lasagna, then Chai Latte later, then back to hostel for dinner, then headed back out for a beer. On the walk back from the bar, we kissed near the fountain. She was an awesome kisser. The best I ever kissed. Then we held hands on the way home. Then I tried to convince her to sleep in my car with me. She didn’t, she said she would have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and it wouldn’t be proper to walk back into the Hostel.

I was unsure about asking her to kiss, because I didn’t really pick up on any signals during the day or at the bar. I mean we talked a lot during the day, and most of the conversation was like talking with a close friend. On some issues you see eye to eye, and on others you disagree. The night before when the four of us went out, I thought she might be interested in the Australian guy. I was attracted to her, she had a very natural, confidant, not so worried about what others think, beauty. But, I wanted to kiss her, so I decided to ask.

The kiss was really amazing. You know how it is the first time you kiss someone, you don’t really know how they kiss, and they don’t really know how you kiss, so it takes a while before things go smoothly. It’s the same thing that happens the first time you dance with someone. Each person has there own set of expectations, and moves in a different way. Usually the first time you dance with a new partner, you end up stepping on each other’s feet. It takes a while to get to know how the other person moves. It wasn’t that way kissing Jo. It was like we had been dating and kissing for years, and yet at the same time it was as exciting powerful and sexy as kissing someone for the first time. I wanted to do it all night long. It was truly amazing.

We were on a square that was kind of the intersection of a couple streets. In the square there was a nice fountain, that wasn’t running at the time, and lights all around. In the other corner there were larger than life sized human figures commemorating women’s rights. It was dark, cold and a little windy. The lights made a beautiful reflection on the water. It was quite romantic. People walked by during the kiss, and neither of us really paid any attention. I actually was shivering uncontrollably most of the time we did. – It was very cold outside, but it may have been because I nervous too.

            I slept in my car out front of the Hostel, because it was more economical than sleeping inside. Only problem with doing this in a city, is if I have to go to the bathroom late at night. – When I got back from the bar, I convinced the night watchman to let me in, to use the bathroom, and I said goodnight to Jo. Sure enough, it rained heavily in the middle of the night, and I had to urinate. So I pissed in a cup, and dumped it outside. It was dispersed fairly well with the water coming down from the sky.

October 7th, 2001 (December 12, 2001)

            I woke up in Calgary outside the Hostel, and I went inside to use the bathroom. I decided to ask Jo if I might join her hiking in Banff tomorrow. She was pleased. Later she said she had thought about asking me if I wanted to join her. We then had a little breakfast and headed to the car rental place to get her car, then to groceries. We got a little lost on the way, but found it. Then got back and I took Didier’ to Strathmoore which was 30 km east of Calgary. VERY flat and windy. One of the reasons I decided to go back to Banff to hike. Too boring east of Calgary. He was grateful I drove him as far as I did. I took a picture of him, and drove back to Calgary.

            Then I came back to the Hostel, and collected Jo. I needed some food, so I made a pita, and listened to the radio while Jo got her stuff in gear. – While I was eating, I listened to them announce that they were going to Bomb Afghanistan, and that Tony Blair was going to join the effort. This bummed Jo and I out tremendously.

We got over it by driving back into the Mountains. We got back to Banff and found the information center. Jo was a little mixed emotionally because of the mountains and being nostalgic for the time she spent here working in the Hostel. We weren’t sure where we would hike, but she suggested Kootenay N.P. Banff was mobbed because of the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

            We decided to hike from the Floe Creek trailhead to Floe Lake, then over Numa Pass, along the rock wall and back Numa Creek, and to camp out in the Banff campsite that night. We setup camp and walked around (went for a wee bitty wander), and we watched some ravens play football. – This was really cool. Near the Hoodoos in Banff, we were on top of a mountain looking down into town. Along the trail, we stopped to watch some ravens flying around. One raven would fly up with a little branch in its feet, and two others would follow it. Then it would drop the branch, and each bird would dive bomb it to try and catch the branch. The one who had it always caught it the first. He would even taunt the other birds, by showing the other birds the branch facing them, tossing the branch in the air, dive bombing it, and catching it again, swooping away. It was amazing when the birds flew by. We could hear the swooping sound that their wings made as they flew over our heads. The sun was shining, it was cold, and Joanna wrapped her arms around me from behind as we watched the birds. It was very nice.

            Then we walked back to the campsite back, drove to town to do some shopping, and then back to camp where we made dinner and a fire. It was dark out, so it was difficult to chop wood for the fire. I borrowed an axe from a couple other campers, and since it was dark, I broke it. I felt bad, and offered to pay. They wouldn’t let me. I was very successful starting the fire! The Pasta was awesome, and the tomatoes added a lot! We had a few beers after dinner, and cleaned up camp. Then we got in the tent, nestled against each other and fell soundly asleep.

October 8, 2001 (December 12, 2001)

            I woke up in Jo’s tent and we got our stuff together. She was up first and looking at the view. I joined, we had breakfast, and I packed up her tent. It had cool poles, with no seams. We drove to where we were supposed to park the first car. (We were shuttling them, so we could drive back at the end of the hike.) Driving to the trailhead, I missed the turnoff by about 15 miles. We drove back. It was raining slightly. I apologized for missing it, and she said “No, it’s my fault”. I thought this was very nice to say, because it was clearly my error for missing it.

We got started around 1:00PM. It took about three hours to hike 10.7km with a 1680km elevation increase. Good conversations along the way. Last bit was significant elevation gain. MANY switchbacks. I worked up a good sweat. We found a campsite at the Lake and camped not on one platform, but in a little knock of trees. The lake was a beautiful glacial lake. Blue mountains surrounding it were incredible too.

            With dinner we had snow! It was in our food (soup), kind of fun to eat in the snow. Then we tied our food on the bear poles. I was impressed how the different tent sites were set up. It was a very “modern” looking backcountry site, with outhouses, bear poles, and a rangers cabin about 200 meters away from the tent sites. (It was closed for the season of course.)

            It was snowing pretty hard when we turned in. I was glad I brought my Thermarest, even though it was very big. In retrospect, I should have bought a slimmer one that was better for camping. – Jo and I tried to keep each other warm.

October 9, 2001 (December 12, 2001)

            The second day of the Floe Creek hike in Kootenay N.P. west of Banff in British Colombia. We hiked about 16.6km total. The first part was pretty much a blizzard with up to one-foot snowdrifts. It was treacherous downhill hiking in the snow. It snowed all night long, and we woke up to snow on the tent. We made breakfast of oatmeal in the Vestibule. The ground wasn’t too even, and when we were boiling water, the pot almost burned through on the high end, where the water wasn’t touching. We packed up as much as possible in the tent, and then packed the tent. The summit at Numa Pass was 2355 meters, and we camped at 2040 meters.

            The hike back was mostly poor weather, but we made excellent time. The first part of it over Numa Pass, it was snowing heavily, and the wind was blowing. I wasn’t scared, but I was concerned for Jo. She had been very cold in the tent the night before, and the weather really sucked. – I stopped and asked her how she was a couple times. She seemed to be doing better than I was. – I think she was actually enjoying it. I asked her later about it, and she said, “Hiking is different than being in the tent.” – I was impressed by her heartiness. The hike only took 5 hr 15 min. approx. We talked about fave movies, authors, albums, hypothetical situations, honesty, etc. The Canadian Park Ranger who talked with us about the hike said to estimate 7 hours for this leg.

            We got back to the cars, and I decided to get on the road. We drove to Banff Hostel, and on the way I changed my mind. Jo was happy when I did. She said, “I’m pleased you are staying”. Later she said that she had thought about asking me to stay. We cleaned up, got organized, then did laundry and went out to “The coyote” restaurant. It was very good food, plus, as a bonus we got a private room in the Hostel for free because she knew the manager from her days working in Jasper.

October 10, 2001 (December 12, 2001 )

            I drove from Banff to Bowbells, N.D. via Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, and Moose Jaw. I had breakfast with Jo Myers in Banff Hostel in the morning. She was just Lovely!

            I wrote down some “Brit Speak”, colloquialisms that I remembered from our time together:

“He’s a bit of a tosser.” = He’s a bit of an asshole.

“He’s a wanker.” = He’s an asshole.

“That’s a little dodgey.” = That’s a little sketchy / difficult / not so safe. Not easy, or refined. (Also used by Australians)

“Faf / Faffing” = “To Primp” / messing around / to mess with / organize not just w/oneself / To take longer than necessary to complete something.

Fanny = Vagina.

RearEnd / Butt = Bum. – Thus Fanny pack = Bum Bag.

Weight is in stones. A stone is approximately 14 lbs.

I can’t believe that gives you wind. = I can’t believe that gives you gas / flatulence.

October 11, 2001 (December 12, 2001)

            Not too much to mention of this day. I woke up in Bowbells, N.D. I decided to head back into the states, because gas was cheaper, and I was only really going to be driving along the way. The border crossing the night before took a LONG time, and the border guards were not very cordial. I was trying to be polite, and they kind of just barked orders at me. Open the top, open the trunk, etc. – They kind of threw my crap all over the place too.

            It took about 35 minutes for them 4 guys to check my car, enter my ID into the computer, etc. – In retrospect, I am glad that I did it late at night, because undoubtedly if I did it during the day, there would have been a long long line, and the wait would have probably been on the order of three hours or so.

            I tried to be cordial and say things like “Things tighten up after the 11th?” – Silence, then “Yup”, was the answer I got. – Not too cordial at all. I guess it’s there job, I didn’t begrudge them their behavior. I guess no one was too psyched about dealing with stuff like that after the attacks.

            Bowbells was a TINY town. It took me a while to find a place to park. Then, I woke up early and saw the most beautiful sunrise I had seen in a long time. I used the bathroom in the gas station, where about 4 “Good Ol’ Boys” were hanging around jawing with cigarettes in their mouths.

            The drive to Madison was LONG, and very windy. Half my gas was used resisting the wind. It wasn’t a lot of fun. The day before I got my oil changed in Canada, and talked with some guys at the gas station. It was fun. Jokingly, I said “The trip was really about meeting women, and if I see some cool sites along the way, that’s a bonus.”  They laughed. – We talked about cars and stuff too. It felt good.

            Driving through the twin cities in rush hour took forever. I got to Madison to see a note that Lee left me. She had to wake up at 4:30 or some ridiculous hour to go to work. I talked with Sonya a little, because she was still up. The guys upstairs were VERY loud, and it seemed like they were playing basketball on the floor.

            I slept not too soundly. – Lee also had a kitten that was running around the house like mad.

October 12, 2001 On the road.

I woke up on the couch in Lee Davenport’s apartment in Madison, WI. I had written a note to Lee to wake me up before she left for work. The night before, Sonya had mentioned that Lee left for work at around 4:00AM. I was surprised to here that it was that early. She had to bring the produce and such to Chicago, so I guess that it would take that long to get everything coordinated, drive it all down there, and deliver it to her customers. 4:00AM Sucks butt though. Especially since the night before, the neighbors upstairs made a TON of noise. They were playing the music VERY loud when I got there at 10:30. This went on until around 11:00PM. They also smoked, and I could smell the foul stench in Lee’s apartment living room. I considered for a while to go out to my car, and sleep in it.

They also seemed to run back and forth across their living room swiftly, and quite loudly. Their footsteps sounded like doors slamming in anger the whole way across. Quickly, I became annoyed, angry even, and had flashbacks of irritating neighbors, and the stupid ways in which I chose to deal with those events. The thoughts I had 3 months prior of going back to school, and living in a similar apartment in poverty seemed quite far away. Eventually the noise stopped, and the neighbors left. They probably went out to the bars. I am not sure which night it was. Oh, it was Thursday.

When Lee woke me at around 4:00AM, I was exhausted, and it was all I could do to keep from passing right out there in front of her. But, I managed to stay up, and chat briefly with her. I thanked her, and talked a little about different stories of my travels along the way. It was nice to see her. Unfortunately, about 15minutes after she got up, she had to go to work. Her ride appeared outside, and she quickly finished getting ready and left. 

It was around 8:00AM when I got up. Sonya was still studying in her room, and the light was on. I think Lee’s kitten woke me up, and was snuggled around my neck a little bit. I had kind of hoped that someone else would wake up and see it, but no one did. A little while later, the kitten got annoying, so I put it out on the porch.

            I kind of faffed a little, and got some things together; I wanted to get a hold of my brother to arrange lunch or something later in the day. I also needed to brush my teeth and such. Eventually, Sonya came out of her room, and apologized for waking me. She didn’t wake me, and I told her, even though it was nice that she considered me.

            A little while later, Bri woke up and I said hello to her. Gave her a hug, and she went to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and take a shower. We chatted about how things were with me, and I asked her how things were with her. After a while, she said, “Well, I should probably go, and you should probably get going yourself.” Then we talked a little more, and I mentioned that I was interested in getting breakfast. She said, “Maybe we should get breakfast together.” – I thought that was grand, and said “Sound’s smashing.”

            We walked a ways to a little diner along her street, but up about 10 blocks or so. It was small and quaint. The waiter was a little odd, almost seemed like he had had a morning pick me up cocktail. I ordered a breakfast sandwich and some US fries… These were basically hash browns. Tasty, but maybe a little on the greasy side. Breakfast with Bri was quite nice. After breakfast we chatted about medical school, which she was currently attending as we walked back to the house. When we got there, I gave her a hug, and was on my way.

I stopped to fill the tank up, then got on 12/18 going east towards the highway, and headed south. The road was busy, and of course I had to pay the 40 cents in tolls every 10 or so miles heading into Chicago. Major pain in my butt. Not just that I had to pay, but that I had to stop for each of the tolls. I don’t know why they just didn’t make it like other toll roads, and give you a ticket.

            I had left at around 10:30AM from Madison. The going was reasonable to Chicago, but around the city there was much more traffic. It wasn’t like rush hour in Minneapolis the night before, but it was still rough. I finally got a hold of Nathan about 20 miles West of Toledo. I found out where he lived and agreed that I would be there in about 3 hours. It was about 5:30 at this time. So, I guess it took me about 6 or 7 hours from Madison to Toledo via Chicago. Youch.

            The drive to Berlin, OH was a long, twisty, at grade intersection, type one. I didn’t prefer it at all. Eventually after traveling through what seemed like 30 small towns, I was close to Nathan’s. The last bit of travel was nicer, because I was following another chap who was moving at a swift rate of speed, and it was easier to follow him, so that I could see better where the road went a couple 100 yards ahead.

            Eventually, I got to Nathan’s. It was a nice trailer w/o wheels. It really looked more like a small ranch house than a trailer. It had several rooms, and was very quaint. The outside reminded me of Grandma’s and Grandpa Madison’s in Frederick Maryland. It had the same smell, and same “country” feel. The crickets were chirping like mad, and the air was comfortable. It didn’t feel like autumn. It felt like a cool summer night. – We talked about this and that, and eventually decided to head for Pizza. (Pretty much the only thing that was open on a Friday night past 8:00PM in Berlin.)

            We talked about his job, and what his “tag” is. He said, “I am the Pastoral intern of Worship and Creative Services at a Non Denominational or Interdenominational Church” – That’s a mouthful huh. He is the Pastoral Intern, because they are kind of going through an evaluation process, where he learns what he needs to do for his job. He is feeling the job out, and it is feeling him out.

            After Pizza, we drove to the church. It was about a 2-minute drive from the Pizza Place, which was about 1 minute in the opposite direction from his home. So, I would guess the Church was a minute from Nathan’s house. – Heck of a commute. The church was big. Not as big as first assembly, but the main floor congregation was certainly as big as the Main floor at First assembly. He showed me a Styrofoam Buffalo that someone had carved. He also told me about how his church basically ended indentured servitude in Nepal. How people for 20 dollars would be slaves for 3 and 4 generations because they could never pay it back. Then he told me how his church bought a bunch of Buffalo for these people after they were freed to help them get on their feet. 

            The other side of the church was a full sized gymnasium, and basketball court. Then the building over was the Youth Annex, where the youths hang out. – No one was hanging at the time. Then we drove back to his place. It was about 10:00PM. He told me a story about how he killed a groundhog “Phil”, which had taken up residence underneath his trailer. “I heard Phil digging quite a bit around underneath my trailer, and I was concerned he was going to gnaw through some cables, or the water supply, so I decided Phil had to go.” he said. I said “So, what did you do, pop a cap in his ass?” “Exactly” was his response. He told me how he borrowed a rifle from the main pastor. How he had prayed to God to help him kill the groundhog. Then how one afternoon, God had told him to take a look out the window, and sure enough there was Phil munching on some of his flowers.

            He picked up the rifle, got two rounds, one he placed in the barrel, and the other in his pocket. He walked around the side of the house in the other direction of Phil, turned the corner, raised the gun, and blam. He leveled the animal, shot it in the back, and it instantly fell to the ground. Then he loaded the other bullet, and finished the job by shooting it in the head. “Pastor said that was the best way to do it, by shooting it in the spine. Because at that point, they can’t feel anything, only that they can’t move.” He said the main pastor had told him after he had imparted the story to him. It was certainly the most humane way to go about things.

            The story was hilarious. Nathan had matured considerably, and had a nice slow way of talking. It was kind of “matter of fact”, but the thing he was talking about was quite humorous. Possibly described as Ironic, maybe self deprecating, definitely even-tempered, eloquent, and humorous. I liked listening to him. He had definitely matured. I’m glad God brought me to visit him. I think I was looking at a billboard on my way to Wisconsin, and it made me think about him. It was definitely a great visit, and I was proud to see that he had a job doing something he liked, and was forward with his life.

             I left feeling refreshed after visiting, but I knew I had a long way to go. It was about 10:00PM, and I had to drive through the rest of Ohio, all of PA, and then in New York to Rochester. For the first 3 hours, I had the windows ½ way rolled down, and was enjoying very much the wind and beautiful weather that we were having. I didn’t listen to the radio or anything either. It was peaceful. Then I turned on the radio, got fuel, drove, drove, drove, randomly flipped the channels, drove some more, got fuel, and kept going.

            The toll’s amounted to about 20 dollars total for the three toll ways from Wisconsin to NY. I missed the first Leroy exit, because I forgot which one I was supposed to take, and drove to the 390 exit. The last few miles to Rochester and home were the worst. I was in the zone, but up until this point I hadn’t driven past 1:00AM or so. It was 4:00AM when I got home, and around 5:00AM when I finally got to bed. I was quite wound up.

            The next morning I woke at 9:30AM to head on the wine tour with Doug and friends. That was the end of my trip.