Here are three signs that made me smile -- the No Cannabis sign was in Jasper National Park, and the Can O Pop and Great Canadian Pizza signs were in Calgary. (In fairness to Calgary, I must report that I did have a very good pizza there, though not at the place with the sign.)
It's a little embarrassing that this was the first time I'd been to Canada for longer than an extended weekend. There were always other, more exciting, places I wanted to see first, and though the Rockies were always on my wish list, they were nowhere near the top. If I hadn't gotten so sick in Africa last summer, I would probably never have done this trip now. For much of this past year, traveling was the last thing I wanted to do -- I didn't have the energy, I still had bad days, I panicked about ending up in another remote hospital and having to drag myself home. Sometimes I wondered if I'd ever leave the country again.
I got money back from insurance for the aborted Africa trip, and just left it sitting in a bank account. It was enough to pay for a very nice trip, and I felt it should be used for something special, something that would make up for missing out on those weeks in Uganda and Kenya and Zanzibar. The problem was there wasn't anywhere I particularly wanted to visit, and the thought of going somewhere distant or exotic made me so anxious I almost burned my passport.
And I saw this Canadian Rockies trip in one of the catalogs and thought, I always wanted to do that. Then, I can do that.
Now I am feeling much better than I was last summer, or last winter, and traveling to one of the more remote locations still on my list no longer seems impossible (if not yet all that attractive.) But it turns out Canada is not some boring consolation prize, either, and I'm very much looking forward to my next trip there, to Newfoundland next month.
Apart from beautiful cities, magnificent scenery, and nice people, I have to admit that one of my favorite things about Canada is their currency. Not only have they eliminated the penny -- they round up or round down to the closest nickel as needed -- but their coins mimic the peculiar U.S. system, with the 5 cent piece bigger than the 10 cent piece, so I can pay for things without having to put on my glasses.
I'm kidding, of course. A little.