On Thursday, I went in to see Jeff and he worked on my jaw and my back, neither of which as feeling too tight, but the massage felt very good. After that, I called Gyorgyi to see what was up with her and she said to come up to visit if I wanted so I did. Her niece Laura is now six and a lot of fun. We immediately started fooling around on the hammock and then I suggested spraying one another with the hose and the real fun began. She was mainly in control of the hose and we stayed cool and had fun, using the hose for target practice and digging an eight inch hole with it. Our playing gave Gyorgyi and Lazlo a chance to go shopping and when they returned a couple of hours later we went to the Wildflour restaurant for dinner. Dinner was good but not great and then I went back to G’s place and read some of Lazlo’s writing and talked a little with G.
On Friday, after G invited me, I drove up to the Virginia Animal Safari and though it was brutally hot, Laura had a lot of fun feeding the camels (which stole your bucket of food if you didn’t hold on very tightly), elk, bison, lamas, and deer. There were ostriches, rheas, emus, zebras and in the petting zoo had some cute baby pot-bellied pigs, kangaroos, and giraffes, goats, plus some lorikeets that you could feed with a liquid mixture. Then it was off to Natural Bridge, which was pretty impressive and then to the butterfly room, which wasn’t. I took a break, briefly drifting off in my air conditioned truck, and then we headed for North Creek for a great dip in the big pool there. Lazlo didn’t want to go down the trail so G, Laura and I went in, and it was great, cool and a lot of fun. Laura was especially excited by sliding down a small rock slide and G of I caught her again and again. I drove back and had dinner with them at G’s house and then drove home totally exhausted.
On Saturday morning, I had little to do to get ready but I dumped the compost and rode the exercise bike along with yoga and weights. The grass didn’t need cutting so I left that alone, but I had problems with the water just before I was to shower up. I was going very slowly, and since I was just about to leave, I took a dripping shower and headed off. I hope I don’t have a serious problem with the spring but I will have to attend to it when I return home. I hope it is just the filter underneath the crawl space.
I called Rob on the way up and he was just 20 miles ahead of me so we met at an Applebees for coffee and tea. It was nice to see him after not being able to walk with him the last couple of nights. I was hoping to play golf but the weather wouldn’t allow it so I drove in to the Amtrak station and exchanged my ticket. I am very glad I did it because the ticket agent was a complete idiot and took over an hour to exchange the tickets. I was calm throughout because I was not in a rush. After getting a room at a Comfort Suites, I ended up walking quite a bit in the Short Pump Town Center Mall, a very well laid out shopping area. I had dinner at a Maggiano’s there and it was quite good, as usual. When I got back to the room I was too tired to even go in the pool, so after a few hours of TV I just went to sleep, getting up around 7 and having a quick breakfast before riding an exercise bike for 20 minutes. Then I rushed out worried about getting a parking spot at the station but when I got there there were plenty of spots and I ended up ready to go an hour before.
The train was about 25 minutes late but I finally got on about 10:20 and I had a comfortable ride, where I briefly drifted off, and got to Washington around 12:40. Union Station was well air conditioned and was full of restaurants and shops, but I wanted to walk around a bit so I headed over to the Capitol and walked around, past the Library of Congress and the Senate Office buildings. It was very empty since the Capitol was closed on Sunday, and very hot, but I enjoyed it and then walked back to Union Station for a late lunch. I had to stop walking since my knee really started hurting but I did a good bit of exercise and I did some yoga once I was on the train.
The train left Washington on time, and the only real problem was that I only had a roomette until 2:30 in the morning, at which point I had to move to coach in Cleveland. It was a long six hours and my attempts to sleep recalled some of my nightmarish Greyhound travels. But 8:45 came and we were in Chicago on time and I was quickly off to the Navy Pier. I took a cab over when I found I wasn’t near the right bus and when I got there I immediately decided to rent a bicycle, which was an excellent move as I need a long ride and the path along the lake was quite scenic. When I returned I walked to the end of the pier and realized that my knee was giving out so I bought a ticket (7 dollars) for the water bus to Union Station. It was a pleasant ride and the Chicago buildings maintain their interest. I had lunch when I returned at a sushi place but just after I ordered I saw that I had an e-mail from Rosemary that my schedule was not going to work and that I might only have one course in the books. It ruined my lunch but after it I called Rosemary and she worked it out so the 200 level courses (which I had already finished the rules and outlines for) would run but I would have to teach three courses in a row, a daunting task since I won’t get a chance to recharge with a nap after my first class as my usual schedule allows. I will have to drink more caffeine and I am sure my third class will be less energetic.
I went back to the station and the nightmare began. I had been sitting there for almost an hour (to rest my knee) when they announced that the train to Whitefish was going to be delayed and no one could tell me how long so I really couldn’t do anything (like going up in the Willis Tower (the name of the old Sears tower) or going to a movie. Finally we got off four hours late and I was already pretty impatient but I relaxed as the train began moving. I called the Downtowner to tell them that I was probably getting in around one or so, and they gave me instructions on getting a late key. But there was no way we were even close at one, as we kept losing time and finally stopped for hours just outside of the East Glacier stop. It was past dawn on Wednesday when we got going (the ten hour delay did have the benefit of allowing the passengers to see Glacier, which is fairly impressive even from the train). Finally we stopped about a mile from Whitefish and waited almost an hour to get in so my total delay was twelve hours, a new record surpassing my previous one of ten hours getting into Denver. I was a little tired but I wanted to get going and after picking up my Traverse, driving to the UPS store for my gear, and getting a 128 dollar receipt for the room I didn’t use but was charged for, I started to drive to Fernie about an hour later than I had originally planned. The weather began to look threatening up ahead so I stopped to play golf at a new course near Eureka and then feeling much better drove to customs and got through in about fifteen minutes. The weather continued threatening with bursts of rain and I tried to get my browser to work to check the weather (perhaps I would head back into the US) but it wouldn’t so I took a quick nap in the reclining driver’s seat and drove on to Fernie. The weather was much better so I exchanged some money (because of the US debt problems I only got 184 Canadian dollars for my 200 American, with the teller apologizing), bought a basic license (56 dollars for 8 days and found out that to fish the Elk or the Michelle (which I had originally planned), it was another 22.50 per day. That means fishing would cost me almost thirty dollars a day with money that was worth significantly less than Canadian. With the weather still promising, I went to the bike rental shop and rented a bike for a little over an hour, pedaling along the Elk and noticing quite a few good fishing spots over near the golf course. The fellow at the rental shop only charged me eleven dollars and told me that fishing the Elk in town was pretty good, and told me to talk to his girlfriend Leah at Elk River Fly Shop. She agreed that the fishing could be good and gave me directions to a small park by the river and sold me a license and three green drakes and three stimulators. When I drove to the park, however, I saw a fisherman there and decided to either find another spot on the Elk or drive up to the Michelle. I called the shop and a fellow there said that the spots near the golf course could be productive so I parked near the Canadian Tire and walked in about three hundred yards and started fishing. With some effort I caught a small cutthroat on a green drake and then I moved up and caught three more, two of them over 12 inches. I was totally exhausted but delighted with my success and I struggled back to the SUV with no energy left. I had planned to camp but I decided I was too tired and got one of the last rooms at the Travelodge, showered and then ate salad and pasta at Boston Pizza then went shopping for some need supplies. After that I bought a paper (since my browser and my GPS was still down) and drove over to the Tim Horton’s for a cup of coffee and a Danish. I was too tired to really enjoy my break so I read some and went back to the room exhausted and fell asleep by ten, a productive but energy draining day.