Summer of ‘o5 I was going around in circles leading tours around the Canadian Rockies. My preferred route was one called The Totem Circle. Like many it started in Vancouver, stopped in The Okanagan (in this case, Vernon with a visit to The O’Keefe Ranch) then on to Banff and Jasper. From there the real fun started. Instead of going directly back to the coast we drove north to Prince George and then boarded the Skeena train to Prince Rupert. The journey is magical, progressing to the coastal rainforest, emerald green, dark with mystery. After two nights in Prince Rupert the tour continued on the Queen of the North (may she rest in peace, sunk offshore the following March) for a fifteen (PLUS!!!) hour steam to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. A driver buddy was heard to say once , ‘ Hey! Those seagulls are passing us!’ From Port Hardy, a day’s drive to Victoria for a two night stay, and then return to Vancouver.
One trip I was two days behind my BFF Carmen and I arrived in Vernon to be told that one of her clients from the UK had left a bear behind (not a bare behind!) and would I take him along because we would catch up to the peeps in question when we finished in Vancouver.
The bear, Jules, rode on the dash during our circle. I was traveling with one of my all-time favourite drivers, JR, a calm, caring Hawaiian guy who was a joy to hang out with.
The deal with the return of the bear was that the couple would meet our bus as we arrived at the downtown Vancouver hotel. We arrived, dropped the pax who were staying on and in the flurry of good-byes never thought of the bear until we were well on the way to the airport. I reported in and got the address in the UK so I could post the bear. Well, the way my summer was going, the only day I had some time was in Banff and I was never there when the post office was open, so Jules, the bear, rode around with me and JR three times. Then, between tours, I flew to San Diego to sort out my mother’s confusion from conflicting medication (that’s a rant about the deplorable health-lack-of-care system in the US and for another time) and finally after another trip I was home for a couple of days in Cumberland.
Jules apparently always went traveling with his peeps but he only had a simple kerchief to wear. Fashion maven that I am, I couldn’t send him home with nothing to show for his travels so I made him a vest with a matching beret, helped him write an essay about his summer and sent him off in the care of Canada Post. Here is his essay:
My Summer Holiday
My summer holiday got off to a rocky start when I was left behind in Vernon. Abandoned, and, I thought, forgotten, I found myself in a dark place with other things that had been left behind.
But two days later, my situation improved greatly. I was paroled by a voluble tour director named Lynn and a lovely calm and kindly driver named JR who promptly let me have the best seat in the house, right on the dash where I could see EVERYTHING! And what sights! Bears, moose, elk(of course) and the most lovely mountains. I heard stories that were really quite hard to believe and laughed more than I had done in ages.
When we got back to Vancouver I was told that I would be met by my forgetful family, but no-one appeared so I continued my journeying with JR as he went around and around. I learned some Aussie slang (‘struth! and g’day!) and witnessed the Rockies in all manner of demeanors.
Then Lynn and I flew to San Diego for a break in-between tours. What a difference. I’m not used to such heat but it was fun to see a new place. Before long we were back in the Canadian Rockies and the weather had changed yet again. How wonderful to see them in the bright sunshine. But as it warmed up there were fewer wildlife sightings and the only bear to be seen at times was moi! (Practicing my French a bit, since Canada IS bi-lingual.)
Lynn was incredibly busy, what with three tours nearly back-to-back and the only days off in-between needed to help her aging mother in San Diego. I was a big help there. I kept the cat entertained when they went to the Dr’s office. It was only after more than forty days straight that I finally got to meet Lynn’s big dog Jasper and for all my patience and forBEARance, she made me a new outfit, perfect for the coming Fall season.
That is my big Canadian Summer Adventure. I’m hoping to meet more great folks the next time I get to go someplace. But just now I really want to take a long nap.
So, finally, off Jules went, home to his English family. Several weeks later I go a package in the mail. In it was a thank you from Jules for his fabulous Canadian Rockies Adventure, explaining how happy his family was that he had arrived home at last. With the note was a lovely, tiny silver pill box inlaid with shell with the suggestion that I might be needing some kind of medication by the end of the tour season, a reasonable assumption considering the people one meets on the road. The pill box is still a prized possession and it is perfect for my tiny thyroid pills.
All of this is because I was uploading photos for my Duchess Designs Facebook page and the one of the bear wanted to be included which got me thinking about the story and looking for pictures to add to that. So one thing leads to another . I wonder sometimes if the couple who bring Jules on their holidays ever speak about his Big Canadian Adventure. I’m thinking, maybe.