Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yeah, I can pack that

So, yesterday, we went to the Wildlife Preserve and the local hot springs.  Our itinerary informs us, with respect to the hot springs "please bring a towel, sandals/flip flops and your bathing suit."  This was remarkable for two reasons.  First, because it was the only time the itinerary gave us advice on what to wear.  Second, because it was totally wrong.  As soon as we got on the bus, we were informed that the hot springs would supply towels, flip flops, and even swimsuits, if we needed them.

Not knowing this, I set out to acquire flip flops in the morning before we went.  I mean, I had a swimsuit and could steal (borrow) a towel from the hotel, but I didn't have anything close to flip flops, and thought they were required.  So, Margret and I went off to the nearest outdoor gear supply store (which actually occupied three adjacent storefronts) so's I could buy some cheap flip flops.  Hell, I could always use a pair of flip flops, right?

Well, not only did I acquire flip flops, I acquired snow boots.  My own snow boots -- which are more than warm enough for anything I'd need in L.A., were beyond inadequate here.  We rented a bunch of cold weather clothing from the tour company.  (At first, they gave me the wrong size and forgot Margret's order entirely, but eventually we got our gear.)  And the boots they gave me were the smallest boots they had, but they still weren't my size.  On the other hand, Margret spotted a pair of super duper cold weather boots (rated, not to -40 like the loaner stuff, but -100) in my size, for half-off.  They fit perfectly, so I bought the damn things.  They're massive.  They go up to my knees.

They're perfect.  Lord only knows how the hell I'm going to get them home.

Because I had just purchased them, I wore them to the Wildlife Preserve.  We had thought that it would be a walking tour at the Preserve -- it wasn't, it was a van tour.  But, it was a van tour with a lot of getting off and on the van.  And, as it happens, somebody should have said to wear your big heavy snow boots for this.  Because even though the distance from the van to the fence around the area where the musk ox was living was about, oh, 100 feet, that land happened to be covered by a certain amount of freshly fallen snow.  And when I say "a certain amount," I mean, "I took a step and was up to my knees in snow."  The snow boots were all kinds of awesome here.  The lower part of my jeans was sopping wet and I so didn't care.  I was warm and cozy inside.

Before the tour of the Wildlife Preserve began, we were told we would see ten types of animals, and we did:  bald eagle, bison, thin-horn sheep, caribou, elk, mountain goat, arctic fox, musk ox, lynx and moose.  The lynx and moose were a little distant from us, but everything else was pretty close.  The Wildlife Preserve gives every animal (or family, or group) of animals a pretty large area in which to hang live, nice and relatively comfy, somewhat similar to its natural habitat.  Except that the animals are also supplied with food and water, so they needn't hunt for it.  And the food and water are supplied in locations right near the fences.  So you can get pretty near the animals, as they're hanging out near the fence, enjoying a bowl of Purina Sheep Chow, or whatever the hell they've put out for it.  There will be photos.  I got, what is, without a doubt, my best photo of an eagle ever.  This was probably because the eagle at the preserve can't fly.  They took him in after he had a broken arm (wing?) which was set improperly, so there was no way he was ever going to make it in the wild.  Now, he just hangs out at the Preserve, being fed, and posing for pictures.

(My favorite was the arctic fox, who was more or less lounging on the top of a little wooden structure, posing away.  She was quite beautiful, and she knew it -- just sitting there, slightly coquettish, expecting us to adore her.)

So, yeah, ten animals, just like it said on the tin.  Pretty impressive.  Then we piled back into the van for our trip out to the Takhini Hot Springs.

The Takhini Hot Springs is located in the middle of nowhere, apparently somewhere near the nowhere where we head out to view the Aurora.  While the nicely heated changing room is indoors, the hot springs are outdoors, with a fairly lovely view of, well, random Canadian outdoors.  A naturally fed hot springs, which naturally is fed water at ... I did the math, something like 107 degrees ... although the bulk of it isn't all that hot (being outdoors will do that to you), so we all spent most of our time huddled around the walls from where the really hot stuff was emerging.

We're told that, for the Sourdough Rendezvous -- a bit more on that later, it's a local festival which was going on this week -- they ran a "frozen hair" contest.  You just go into the hot springs, dunk your head in the water, emerge from the water, and freeze your hair in a silly position.  (Then take a photo, warm yourself up in the water again, and run like hell into the changing room.)  None of us took part.  Hell, I so didn't want to take part, I stole a shower cap from the hotel and wore it into the hot spring.

Yes.  I wore a shower cap into a public hot spring.  Given the way I've been dressing for the past few days (for warmth, only for warmth), I clearly don't give a damn about how I look.

We went back out for the Aurora last night, but didn't see any.  i spent most of the time hanging out in the warm cabin.  Our guide made maple toffee.  It was good.

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