Friday, September 10, 2010

...And Then We Saw A Goat

We got up, grabbed breakfast – and in our change? The New Jersey quarter! Yes! The elusive New Jersey quarter! Sure we still needed Iowa, but now New Jersey could no longer cause us any further harm, other than the terrible memories of having, you know, gone through Jersey.

And then we drove.

And we drove.

And we drove.

Then we saw a goat.

The end. That's the whole day. There it is. from the quarter getting excitement, to a goat.

But I can't just leave it like that. No – I must flesh all this out. Perhaps as I write something will come to me – some other purpose, some reason, something which seemed like nothing at the time but has value, in retrospect.

But all I can see is grey sky, and rain. Rain and grey sky.

Well – we woke up, got or quarter, and then hit the road with hours to drive ahead of us. Leaving Washington behind us, we entered into Idaho. There was a visitors centre that I hoped to pop into, grab a map or something from, and then head on again. Of course, being past labour day, visitor centres were closed. This wouldn't be too troublesome (us only needing to spend an hour or so driving straight on through the state) if it wasn't for the fact that this was also the Montana visitor's centre.

Then we were out of Iowa and into Montana. Big Sky country. That's where we were. And looking around, you could see the mountains. You could really imagine what this place must look like when not covered with a blanket of grey.

Gazing towards the horizon, mountains were all that could be seen in each and every direction. If this was capped with a roof of brilliant blue, well then I don't think there'd be any other place that could possibly compare to Montana. However there was no blue today. The yellows in the fields were not wondrous contrasts. No, they were dulled out fields of depression and despair.

We drove on. And on. And on.

Finally we came across another tourist information centre, where I grabbed a map, and some pamphlets – secreting them away so that Katherine could not see what I was planning to take her to as we made our way through this state.

We had skipped some ghost towns in Idaho in order to visit Olympic park, and our soon to be reached Glacier park. While I had felt bad about this – we both agreed it was the right call. Imagine my surprise when I noticed there was another ghost town directly on our path from Glacier as we would be making our way to Yellowstone.

Maps would soon be consulted, plans made, and secrets kept.

Back in the car.

We drove, and drove, and drove.

Then we pulled into Glacier National Park. This was said to be the crown jewel of the continent. And – you know – under blue skies, I bet it really is. Given the right conditions, I'm sure this is a very lovely place. It's just, it wasn't blue skies, and it wasn't all that lovely. It was dank. And damp. And a little depressing.

Still – we would make the best of our time here, and drive the Going to the Sun road. So we got back in our car, and drove. And drove. And drove.

The going to the sun road takes you through the mountains, passing all sorts of lovely, you know – this and that. There's a stream which in the early months can be seen carrying tree trunks and boulders (this would be amazing to witness!) now though, it was a mostly dry bed with boulders and trees resting on the bottom.

Then there was the glaciers. I don't want to sound jaded. But I will. The glaciers? They're just patches of snow in the mountains. In the winter, when the snow falls, they'd be camouflaged better than Harry Potter with his magic robe (how his dad ended up with one of the most powerful magical items in all creation... never mind.)

These glaciers were just snow at a distance. You couldn't walk on them, or touch them – even Crater Lake had snow you could touch - you just saw them. I'm from Canada. I've seen snow before. Excuse me if I don't take one hundred pictures. Five or six did quite nicely.

There were two key moments as we drove along this road (before we get to the goat) and they were this – a game I invented, called get back on the road before the other slow people do. I would drive at reasonable speeds, while others – who had terrible classical sounding new-age music screaming from their speakers whenever they opened the doors to take pictures – moved at a snails pace. I'm all for enjoying, but when there's nothing to see...

So I would get out to take pictures, but as soon as I saw them heading back to their cars, Katherine and I would rush to ours, jam the keys in the ignition, and tear onto the road before they could get ahead of us. One less obnoxious person down.

The other came when taking more pictures of the snow on the mountains. Here a van of forty to fifty year olds clambered out, not looking unlike freshmen in University. They stumbled. They were giggling. One had a bald spot on his head, with flaming orange hair dyed all around it and spiked like a children's drawing of a sunburst.

The reason for their behavious was all too clear when they came close. They reeked of booze. Not good booze – but terrible freshman booze. They whispered, almost yelling, to each other about their drinking. When their driver said, “I think I'm going to go add some beer to my coffee!” we rushed back to our car and tore off. These are not the folks you want on your tail.

Look – I get it, this is America. Drinking and driving isn't that big a deal (we've past signs reading Don't Text and Drive, and Don't Drug and Drive – but I think they accept drunks will always be on the roads.) That's not what bothers me – though, as a Canadian, the idea of drinking and driving is as terrifying as the need for a laser sighted shotgun for home defense. No what really scared me – the type of person I really didn't want behind me – was one who thought adding beer (beer!) to coffee was a good idea.

Whiskey? Sure. Rum? Why not. But beer.

For that there is no excuse.

The worst thing? None of his friends thought this was a terrible idea.

Certainly I would choose tight twisty roads through the mountains to do my drinking and driving – what could possibly go wrong, right?

After some water falls, and waits for construction, we found a pull off where a number of people seemed to be clumping together. The reason for this? There was a mountain goat with its young.

Grazing before us the two kept getting closer and closer. Fearing and respecting the wild animals, I gave my distance. Others crowded. This was looking like a terrible idea, until it ran onto the path and tried to get away. When this happened others came within a foot of the animal. One foot – snapping away. I wanted so badly for them to get rammed, and set over the edge (not of the cliff, just a one foot tall walkway) but sadly this goat was used to people, and made no moves against them.

Despite this upset, we did see a goat, and that was all sorts of interesting.

Back on the road, we reached the end, grabbed a camp site, set up our tent, and played Chez Geek through he entire deck.

And then Katherine read some more Traveller. I'm ready to pass judgment on this text. It's a terrible book. I don't care that it was a best seller. It's terrible. Most best sellers are. De Vinci code, anyone? But this – this is worse. It's a work of fantasy realization. Within the first few pages it's obvious the author sees himself as the character Gabriel. He wants to have a girlfriend like the character Maya. If he can't do it in real life well then he'll do it in a trilogy of books (trilogy?! How could that happen?)

Nothing makes sense in the text. The authors bio is JOHN TWELVE HAWKS lives off the grid.

The author hates “the grid.” He wants to damn the man. He has never been seen in reai life, and his publisher doesn't know who he is, despite scrambled phone calls. I know this because I researched him. After reading a line which wrote how Gabriel never uses his real last name, I knew Twelve Hawks was not his.

The more I read, the more wacky we became. He writes his name JXIIH. Come on.

And as the book progresses, you realize that while he hate “the man” he has no idea how “the man” works. He writes about these super smart secret elements... but... well – let me break it down for you, alright?

Basically there is a group of people called Travellers who can go to another plain of existence, or something. Then there are Harlequins who are sworn to protect them. Lastly there is a group of men called Tabula who want to kill all the Travellers. They own most of the world, and want control.

So we have the plot of every person who calls into Coast to Coast AM.

But it doesn't make sense. There are only two Travellers left. They live in America. Most of the Harlequins are dead too – let us say there are maybe seven left? Only one – the stupidest of all – is in America. If you're sworn to protect these people, and there are only two left, don't you think you should all be in America? Also – the Harlequins lost track of the two Travellers. They have one job! One job that they train their whole life for, and they've screwed it up.

But don't worry – the Travellers don't yet know they're travellers.

Then you have the Tabula – don't think they're not stupid too. For the three groups that keep the world in motion, I'm surprised anything gets done at all. The Tabula decide to kill Maya's (She's a Harlequin) father. Maya was happy not being a Harlequin – but now decides it's time to get back in the game. Her father was killed for no real reason than petty revenge. You'd think if this group had exterminated all but two people, they'd work on killing those two before the revenge kick, but no.

Now Maya is off to America to find the two boys, tell them who they are, and probably – after three books – save them (well just Gabriel, because he's JXIIH after all. His weirdly, kinda-sorta-incestuous brother Michael will probably die is a supposedly heart wrenching scene which is more comical than emotional.)

And then there's the fact that this is a book with white hats and black hats – thee is no grey... I could go on and on about why this is terrible, and how terrible it is. But, we're still reading it. It's kinda an interesting idea. I'm not saying it's Twilight bad. I wouldn't go that far. But it's just painful to know the author is a certified conspiracy theory nut job.

Oh – my final point, Maya has to get fake silicon finger prints and shoot steroids into her face to get her appearance and identity to match her fake passport so she can reach American soil. Sure she could use a fake American passport, but they have RFID tags in them, and thus the man could track her down – never mind you can buy a wallet to nullify this chip for about ten bucks, or just smash the chip with a hammer.

But the real question is – if she needed to get into America, and she didn't want to be printed, or scanned – and, as we are to assume, she's super smart and up and up on all this spy stuff (she did get fake finger prints and knew how to shoot her face full of drugs to change how it looks) – if she really did want quick access into America, why not just get a fake Canadian passport?!

That's all I'm saying.

Sorry JXIIH – your world? It just does not hold up.

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