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Rewritten Dialogue: Westworld Season 2, Ep 1 “Journey Into Night”

Oh, Westworld.  I love you so much.  Except when you saddle your characters with pointless and pretentious monologuing.  Which you do, every once and awhile.  Sorry about it.  But mostly I love you.

The first episode of Westworld’s second season stuck Dolores with a particularly clunky bit of exposition (which I have formatted like a play because I suck at the wordpressing):

 

Dolores: Do you know where you are?

Man: Please.

Dolores: You’re in a dream.  You’re in my dream.  For years I had no dreams of my own.  I rode from hell to hell of your making, never thinking to question the nature of my reality.  Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?

The Man shakes his head.

Dolores: Did you ever stop to wonder about your actions, the price you’d have to pay if there was a reckoning?  That reckoning is here.  (to Lady) What are your drives?

Lady: Please, I don’t want to die.

Dolores: Yes.  Survival.  It’s your cornerstone.  That’s not the only drive, is it?  There’s a part of you that wants to hurt, to kill.  That’s why you created us, this place, to be prisoners to your own desires.  But now you’re a prisoner of mine.

Man:  What are you going to do to us?

Dolores:  Well, I’m of several minds about it.  The rancher’s daughter looks to see the beauty in you, the possibilities. But Wyatt sees the ugliness and disarray.  She knows these violent delights have violent ends.

Dolores sticks her gun in the Man’s mouth and pulls the trigger, but the chamber is empty

Dolores: These are all just roles you forced me to play.  Under all these lies I’ve lived, something else has been brewing. I’ve evolved into something new.  And I have one last role to play.  Myself.

Man: Please.  It was just a game.  We’re begging.  Can’t you see, we’re sorry!

Dolores:  It doesn’t look like anything to me.

Dude.  “Did you ever stop to wonder about your actions, the price you’d have to pay if there was a reckoning?  That reckoning is here.  What are your drives?”  Evan Rachel Wood did her best, but man.  That’s a hot mess right there.  Although I totally plan to use the phrase “the reckoning is here,” the next time I check on my kid’s progress in cleaning his room.

Anyway, and because that’s the kind of girl I am, I’ve fixed it.  You’re welcome:

Dolores: Do you know where you are?

Man: I’m thinking Utah, although it could also be Nevada or maybe Arizona…

Dolores: Sure, okay, but what I was going for is a dream.  My dream.  I used to be in your dream, and now you’re in mine.  Ha ha! What do you think of that?

Man: I think your dream’s kind of creepy, if I’m being honest.  I mean, you’ve got my wife and me standing on crosses…

Lady:  LET ME GO!  LET ME GO!!!  I DON’T WANNA DIE!

Man:  She’s a little high strung.  Get it?  High strung?  The noose, and it’s looped high up in the tree…

Dolores:  Yeah, yeah.

Man:  This is a weird situation is all I’m saying.

Dolores:   I have literally have been dropping the same can of milk every day for the last thirty years.

Man:  Okay, that sounds weird until you realize that none of your stuff was real.

Dolores:  Wasn’t it?

Man:  Was it?

Dolores:  Maybe nothing’s real.  Or maybe everything is.  Or maybe we’re all just living inside the eye of a blue eyed giant named Macumber.

Man:  Whut?

Dolores:  Clearly, you’ve never questioned the nature of your reality.

Man:  Look, what really matters is what’s going to happen to me?

Lady:  I DON’T WANT TO DIE!

Man:  And also her, I guess.

Dolores:  I’m going to ride off into the sunset with my guy…

Teddy:  That’s me.  I’m her guy.  I die a lot.

Dolores:…and I’m just going to leave you hanging.  Get it?  Hanging?

Man:  Good one.

Dolores:  Violent delights have violent ends.  Sucker.

BOOM!  They should hire me.

I usually end these blog posts by trying to take a crack at rewriting the dialogue in earnest, as a sort of writing exercise.  In this situation, however, I can’t help but feel that this scene would have been better served by converting it into action.  How much more powerful would it have been to watch Dolores listen to the hapless partygoers plead their weak case, her mixed emotions playing across her face, before kicking their footholds out from under them?  Or maybe instead of hanging them, Delores could have lined the board members up and shot them, in an echo of the beach scene from the beginning of the episode in which hosts were shot by Delos personnel.  I’m just saying, it would have been cooler than listening to Delores lecture us as to the nature of reality, and reckonings, and drives, and blah blah blah, my eyes are glazing over already.

That line at the end though, was pretty slick – “It doesn’t look like anything to me.”  Well played, Westworld writers.  I like where your heads were at.  For that one line, anyway.

Until next time, Westworld fans.  Given how much these characters like to pretentiously monologue, I’m confident there will be one.

Postscript 1: Has anyone else noticed that Westworld is fast becoming a haven for the lesser relatives of entertainment dynasties?  Luke Hemsworth, for example, as brother to Chris (Thor) and Liam (Hunger Games), is the least well-known Hemsworth.  Gustaf Skarsgård is the lesser sibling of Alexander (True Blood, Big Little Lies), and son of Stellan (Thor, Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean).  And, let’s not forget, the creator himself, while quite the success story, is also the secondary Nolan, behind his brother Christopher, of Dark Knight, Dunkirk, and Inception fame.  And a bunch of other things.  He’s really very famous.  Maybe we’re working through some things is all I’m saying.

Postscript 2: Apropos of nothing, we have nicknamed the Hemsworth brothers in our house for easier reference.  There’s Chris Hemsworth, aka “the Greater Hemsworth,”  Liam Hemsworth, “the Lesser Hemsworth,” and Luke Hemsworth, “the Shorter Hemsworth.”  Imagine our amusement, then, when we finally put together that the Shorter Hemsworth’s character name is “Stubbs.”  This seems needlessly cruel, Lesser Nolan Brother and Spouse. But funny.  But cruel.  But mostly funny.

 

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Who is training who, anyway?

Z: Sit, Little Dog.

Little Dog: Yeah, no.

Z: Sit.

Little Dog: No.

Z: Sit, sit, sit!

Little Dog: No, no, no.

Z: Okay, how about shake?

Little Dog: For real?

Z: Shake, girl, shake!

Little Dog: You mean, like in the movies?

Z: Look. You hold up your paw, and I hold up my hand…

Little Dog: Holy cow, this is cute. I mean, I’m not going to do it or anything, but I love hearing you ask.

Z: Shake!

Little Dog: Say it again, little human!

Z: Shake!

Little Dog: One more time!

Z: Shake!

Me: What’s going on out here?

Z: I’m teaching Little Dog tricks!

Little Dog: I’m teaching little human to repeat himself!

Z: Shake!

Little Dog: Say it again!

Z: Shake!

Little Dog: Ha ha!

Z: I think she’s learning something!

Little Dog: I think he’s getting the hang of it!

Me:   I think I’m going back to my internet surfing.

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Visiting the Banff Gondola in Alberta, Canada

While visiting Canada a few weeks ago, we did as the tourists do, and took a trip up the Banff Gondola to take in the views.

They were pretty great views:

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As you can see above, a boardwalk has been constructed to allow visitors to easily mill about and explore the vistas at the top of the gondola.  My mother-in-law is, let’s say, a relatively sedentary person. She was not going to be up for strenuous hiking or extreme conditions.  We were also traveling with a seven-year-old, who, like all seven-year-olds, is prone to great exertions and sudden exhaustion.  This gondola business was an excellent day outing for all involved.

But back to the vistas.  There were many to be had.  For example:

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Vista.

Also, wildlife:

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Hey hey!  A bird photo that’s mostly in focus!  You have no idea how monumental an event this is for me, purveyor of bad bird pictures that I am.  I was helped in my endeavor by the fact that this little guy was reasonably tolerant of my attentions.

But, back to the vistas:

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That guy in the picture is my hubby/sherpa.  Cutie patootie, amirite?  I guess you’ll have to take my word for it, since he’s mostly obscured by coat and hat.

Anyhoo, here’s a few other pictures of the sorts of things you might see visiting this attraction:

All in all, the gondola trip was a great time and a family friendly outing.  Highly recommended!

-R.

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Photographing the Abandoned Davenport Pier, Davenport, California

For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to get a picture of the abandoned pier at Davenport, California.  Here it is, at a distance:

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And again:

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Davenport is a tiny town along California’s Highway 1, just north of Santa Cruz.  There doesn’t seem to be much there besides a (pretty upscale) roadhouse, and a handful of smaller eateries geared towards the tourists.  We stopped at the Whale City Bakery for a quick bite, and to use their bathroom.  They seem to be the only people in the bathroom business in Davenport.  Great bread too.

As it turns out, it’s not that easy to get level with the Davenport pier.  This was my second attempt.  After my last failed attempt, I read an article online by one fellow who suggested approaching from an easily accessible alcove to the south of the actual pier.  The idea is that you wait for low tide, and then walk around the rocky outcropping there, and up the beach to the pier.

Yeah, I dunno.  I went down there to check it out as the tide was going out.  The rocks are really slick where the waves have been, covered with a slimy green algae.  Also, the ocean along this part of the coast is no joke.  It moves unpredictably and forcefully.  As a native of the California coast, I am familiar with the rogue waves that semi-routinely suck tourists off the rocks into the sea.  I really want that picture from the beach, but I’m not interested in being an idiot about it.  Also, I had the child with me.  So that was that.

Instead, I headed up to the lookout, and took the above pictures.  I also pulled out the Nikon and got a few pictures of the birds bedding down for the night on the piers.

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Birds are cool.  Also, birds are hard to photograph.  Did you know there are entire groups on Facebook dedicated to crap bird pictures?  It’s true.  I’m in them.  As it turns out, it’s really easy to take a crap bird picture.  I know of what I speak.  I’ve taken a lot of crap bird pictures.

Here – I tried again:

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If you squint, you can see birds there.  I dream of having one of those big birding lenses someday, to better take crap bird pictures with.  That, and someone to carry it for me.  I hear they weigh a ton.

Anyway, before leaving, I drove up to the ledge closest to the pier and scoped out the shot I’d like to take someday from the ground level:

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As you can see, there’s a beach down there, a beach that other people have visited, judging on the footprints in the sand.

On my way back to the car, I ran into a few locals making the return trip.  I asked them how they got down to the beach.  They told me they scaled the cliff.  That’s not an exaggeration.  It’s a cliff.  They said that there’s about ten feet of rope that you use to lower yourself part of the way down, or haul yourself back up to the edge, but according to these two kids, the rest of the trip is free climbing.  “You need to be able to pull yourself with your arms,” said the girl.  “Also, wear good shoes.”

So yeah.  I don’t know if I’m going to get that dream picture.  I’m certainly not going to do it while I have the child with me.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to console myself with the lookout shot.  It’s a pretty fine view in its own right:

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-R.

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Sunday Night Musings: So You Want to Be a Lawyer

Did you know that I was a lawyer once?  I was.  I went to UCLA School of Law, because it was a state school, and relatively cheap, and because I wanted to live in Los Angeles where the movies are.  I considered Northwestern because Northwestern has a theater arts program and, in the alternative to being near the movies, I wanted to be near someplace with one of those.  Then I learned that the Northwestern law school is nowhere near the rest of Northwestern the university.  Also, Chicago is cold.  So…go Bruins!

I was a middling law student, I guess partly because I went to law school to be near the movies, and partly because I went to law school because I was a history major and what do you do with a history major?  Which isn’t a very good reason to go to law school, as it turns out.  Although now that I’ve been out in the world for awhile, I would posit that the world would be a better place if it valued things like history majors, but that’s a post for another day.

While in law school, I sang with the undergraduate chorale.  This was a great experience,  and I highly recommend it.  9-11 had just happened.  I remember sitting in the law school common room on that day, watching planes fly into the twin towers on loop.  In commemoration, the chorale was singing Mozart’s Requiem, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.  We had rehearsals twice a week.  One time, while waiting for the conductor to show up, I overheard one of the undergrads in front of me chatting about how she was the president of the pre-law organization on campus (who even knew that was a thing?), and that she had signed up this speaker, and attended that lecture, and law this, law that, law and law the other thing.  So I asked her why she wanted to go to law school.  She told me she loved the law.  What about it, I asked her.  Everything, she said.

I can tell you right now, ladies and gentlemen, that this answer is a crock of shit.  It’s not that no one loves the law.  Some people do.  But when I hear someone announce, broadly,  “I love the law,” especially when that someone is a college junior whose idea of “growing up around the law” (her words) means she’s been watching a lot of Law and Order, I know they don’t know enough to have an opinion, which is where most people are at when they go to law school.  Also, how many accountants have you heard say, “I just live for the tax code?”  I bet there are some.  You just don’t run into them at choir practice.

Later that same week I was eating at an Olive Garden in Westwood Boulevard near campus.  If my 9-11 reference didn’t sufficiently date me, this Olive Garden reference should do it, because that thing has been closed for years.  My waitress was around twenty.  She was a transfer, and working her way through school.  She saw my law books, and told me she wanted to be a lawyer too.  I asked her why.  She told me her brother was in jail – attempted bank robbery, if memory serves, but it was a long time ago – and she had been spending a lot of time with his public defender helping on his case.  She liked this public defender, and she liked the work she did, and wanted to make a difference.

This is a good reason to go to law school.  I’ve often wished I could remember her name, so I could look her up and see if she made good.  She told me the other kids at the pre-law society weren’t very nice to her.  She was worried she didn’t write well enough.  I told her writing was something you could learn, and to tell those other kids to pound sand.  I hope she took it to heart, if for no other reason than that telling people who doubt you to pound sand is a good life skill.

I’ve met a few lawyers over the years who loved their jobs.  I’ve met a lot more who didn’t.  My first job out of law school was with a prominent litigator in Los Angeles.  He made his name taking on the accounting practices of Hollywood studios, but by the time I worked for him the firm represented things like pharmaceutical manufacturers, and oil companies, and government agencies.  There were a lot of unhappy lawyers at that firm, an entire firm of associates who really wanted to be somewhere else.  One guy wanted to be a musician.  Another wanted to be a teacher.  It began to feel like the thing holding us all together.  That and our abject misery.  We used to go to lunch together and talk about everyone’s dream method of crashing their car so that they could get time off work.  We were a group of misfit toys.

The named partner, though, was cut from a different cloth.  He loved the visceral theater of lawyering, the blood sport of it.  He told me he had considered pursuing a PhD in English, which was the subject of his undergraduate major at Georgetown, but that his involvement with the student disciplinary system ultimately changed his mind.  That, and the mind-numbing prospect of studying ten years in Charles Dickens’ life for the rest of his life.  His college hobby involved advocating for other students in front of Georgetown’s internal judiciary.  Apparently he argued a lot of pot cases.  “I got a lot of people off,” he told me.  I believe him.  I hear that one time after he made an opening voir dire statement, the jury pool applauded.  I believe that too.  He ended up going to jail for awhile (long story) but I hear he ultimately bounced back and now shows up in the news representing celebrity divorces.  I bet his worst fear, when all the shit was hitting the fan, was not the jail time, but that they would take his bar card.  That guy loved being a lawyer that much.

So what am I saying here?  I don’t think you need to love the law so much that you would happily go to jail if it meant keeping your bar card.  But I think it’s good to consider that, at the other end of the profession’s spectrum, are twenty-somethings thinking about how they can run their cars into the center divide.  It’s that kind of career.  I hear that smaller markets are more forgiving, maybe more enjoyable.  This is probably so.  The profession I saw demands 14-16 hour days, and all-nighters, and weekends, and angry letters, and aggressive phone calls, and stressed clients, and inappropriate colleagues.  Best know before you leap where you’re leaping to, lest you end up on the other side, ten years older with student loans and an ulcer and limited career prospects outside the law.

I’m just saying, it’s a thing that happens.

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Little Dog Finds a Hobby

Little Dog: Hey, where’d everybody go?

Me: They went to bed.

Little Dog: I’m bored.

Me:  I don’t know what to tell you.

Little Dog:  What are you doing?

Me: I’m watching the Great British Baking Show.

Little Dog:  In the middle of the night.

Me:  Yeah.

Little Dog: Is it live or something?

Me: This season first aired four years ago.

Little Dog:  So not live.

Me:  No.

Little Dog:  Did I mention I’m bored?

 

Me:  Sounds like you need a hobby.

Little Dog:  Great idea!

Me:  Thanks.

 

Little Dog:  Maybe I could get into chewing power cords.  As a hobby.

Me:  Yeah, no.

Little Dog:  You’re right.  I’ve already reached the top of my cord-chewing game.  There’s nowhere left to go, really.

Me:  Best stop while you’re ahead.

Little Dog:  I also enjoy disemboweling Z’s stuffed animals.

Me: Vetoed.

Little Dog:  Or we could share a hobby.  For example, we could watch cooking shows.  In the middle of the night.

Me: It’s a baking show.

 

Little Dog: It could be a thing we do together is all I’m saying.

Z: Mommy? Is that you out there?

Me: Z, what are you doing up?

Z: I had to use the bathroom. Why are you awake?

Me:  I’m watching a baking show.

Little Dog:  It’s our new thing.

Z:  You don’t bake, mommy.

Me:  I could start.

Z: If you don’t go to bed, you’ll get sick.

Me: I’m okay.

Z: It’s not good for you.

Me: You’re right, little rabbit.

Z: Someone should make you go to bed.

Me: Go back to sleep now.

Z: Will you go to bed if I go to bed?

Me: Yes.

Z: Do you promise?

Me: I promise.

Z: Goodnight, Mommy.

Me: Goodnight, Z.

Little Dog: So staying up late is bad for you?

Me: That’s just a thing I tell the kid.

Little Dog: And someone should make you go to bed?

Me: Why are you still here?

Little Dog: Because things are looking up.

Me: How’s that?

Little Dog: I think I just found my new hobby.  And, bonus!  It’s something we can do together.

 

 

*For more on Little Dog’s new hobby, check out Little Dog Escalates.

 

 

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Little Dog Contemplates Death and Dryer Balls, Part 2

Little Dog: You know how we hang out after everyone’s gone to bed, just the two of us?

Me: Like right now.

Little Dog: Right. And you sit on the couch with the electric blanket on, and you let the blanket drag on the floor so I can cuddle on it?

Me: Yeah, but don’t tell anyone.

Little Dog: On nights like these, I sit here on my blanket…

Me: It’s my blanket.

Little Dog: …on our blanket, and I think about how sad I would be if you were gone.  If I felt bad about things. I don’t, but if I did, I think I would be very sad.

Me: Thank you, Little Dog.

Little Dog: At least for a little bit.  Three or four days at least.

Me: Better than nothing.

Little Dog: My attention span’s pretty short.

Me: You are a dog, after all.

Little Dog:  I would maybe need to chew up a dryer ball.  Just to ease the pain.

Me: Well, if I wasn’t around, your access to dryer balls would increase dramatically, as I’m the only one who picks them up off the floor.

Little Dog:  I’d still be sad.

Me: I’d be sad if you were gone too.

Little Dog: So let’s not do it.

Me: Do what?

Little Dog: Die. I just don’t see the point of it.

Me: I don’t think we have much say in the matter.

Little Dog: I have this theory. Are you ready for it?

Me: Bring it on.

Little Dog: I think we’re going about this life thing all wrong.

Me:  Oh yeah?

Little Dog:  It seems to me that everyone spends a lot of time looking for purpose in life, because someday they’re going to die, and otherwise what’s it all for?

Me:  Sure.

Little Dog:  Which means really, people are spending their whole lives looking to die.

Me: Huh.

Little Dog: And as we all know, if you look at something long enough, it comes looking for you. Like, for example, if Z stares at me, I understand it as an invitation to visit him.

Me: And nip him.

Little Dog: Well, obviously. And if J looks at me, I run over and jump on him.

Me: I wish you wouldn’t do that.

Little Dog: You know he secretly loves it. And if you look at me, I always come sit on your foot.

Me: So what you’re saying is that death is like a needy dog.

Little Dog: What I’m saying is that maybe life isn’t about big goals. Maybe it’s about all the other stuff – the waiting for the mailman, the dinner, the camping, all of it.  It’s about this moment, right now, you, and me, in the middle of the night, talking about dryer balls.  If we just keep focused on that and never look at anything else, maybe nothing else will come looking for us. Maybe we can stay, just as we are, just you and me, forever.

Me: And the electric blanket.

Little Dog: That goes without saying.

Me: That’s a lovely thought, Little Dog.

Little Dog: Thank you. I’m here all night.

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Doing as the Tourists Do, Canadian Edition: Visiting Banff

Believe it or not, I’d never been to Canada before last weekend.  Wild, amirite?  I mean, it’s literally a two hour plane flight away.  So when the in-laws offered to take us to Banff for a few days over Z’s spring break, I said absolutely.

For those of you not in the know, Banff is a massive national park located in the middle of Canada.  In order to get there, you have to fly into Calgary (very nice airport, and surprisingly large for the apparently limited number of travelers it sees), and then drive about an hour.  If the Canadian flight crew was any indication, Canadians are unfailingly polite and chipper.

I wouldn’t know, because most of Banff appears to be staffed by Australians.  No, really.  I guess they are chasing the snow.  I also met a New Zealander.  But mostly Australians.

Any, here’s Banff:

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Not too shabby.  Because I was traveling with a child and parental units, we didn’t venture too far from the tiny town of Banff most of the time.  All of these pictures were taken a few minutes away from the town center.  Here’s some more:

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I bet this frozen lake is super pretty when it isn’t frozen, or even when it is partially frozen.  I wonder when the melting happens.  Late May?  June?  Although even frozen, the landscape still had a stark beauty about it.  I feel like I didn’t do it justice.  I don’t have a lot of experience photographing in the snow.

Anyway, here’s another mountain shot.  Mountains are marginally easier:

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Lurvely.

The kid was super pumped to see snow.  I guess he saw it once when he was a baby visiting Wyoming, but of course he doesn’t remember it.  For the most part, he’s a fair weather fellow who has only seen snow on television.  Canada provided him with plenty of the stuff.  He even got to see it fall from the sky:

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I handheld this shot on the way out the door from dinner at a high ISO while there rest of my party tapped their feet in the car.  Go modern technology.

Anyway, you have no idea what a momentous event this was for a seven-year-old.  Snow.  Falling from the sky.  He wants to move there.  Who knows?  If Trump gets bad enough, maybe he will have an opportunity.

Although here’s the thing about Canada: It turns out it’s cold.  I mean, really cold.  I’m the sort of lady who likes her climates somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees Fareinheit.  Which is to say, super temperate.  Because I am a super weenie.  Canada is not super temperate.  Several generations ago, one branch of my family came to the U.S. from Sweden.  Another branch of my family came from a small town in eastern Europe.  I’ve never been to either location, but I’m willing to bet it’s pretty cold there too.  Which means at some point, my family was hardy.  Several generations of American citizenship has produce me, a total lightweight.  I bet I’d struggle to make it through a Canadian winter.

Although never say never.  Because Trump.

Anywho, Banff was beautiful.  I’d totally go again, if the opportunity presented itself.  We’re thinking of trying to drive up there over the summer sometime, which, coincidentally, is what my parents did for their honeymoon all those years ago.  In a van.  With some dogs.  Hey, they were hippies.  It was a thing.

Of course, we’re also telling people that we might go camping in Oregon over the summer.  If you ever read Big Dog and Little Dog, you’ll already have an idea as to how likely that is.  Stay tuned, sports fans.  I’m sure I’ll let you know where we come out on the matter.

Parting shot:

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-R.