13 October 2005

It was bumpy! OK? Now shut up, Paul!

Paul Theroux rolls his eyes when travel writers write about the descent of the plane and the view out of the window. He wants to hear about the *journey* itself! Well, Paul, the flight to Castlegar was bumpy. Not real bumpy, but fairly bumpy. The plane was smaller than a big city slicker like me is used to. But in a rare moment of courage, I had asked for a window seat, and in fact got the emergency-exit window seat and thus had upon my shoulders the responsibility for the lives of my fellow travellers.

The view out the window, from Vancouver (a connection airport) to Castlegar was spectactular. As we came down out of the clouds from 23,000 feet, it was just endless rolling green beneath us, mountains and valleys and rivers. Castlegar airport is set in a little valley, in which the plane had to do a 360-degree turn, which was sorta exciting. And then I was out of the tarmac, and peering with awe all around me at mountains, mountains in every direction. Felt so good to be back in the Kootenays.

I was met by Almeda Glenn Miller, a teacher at Selkirk College and a novelist, the author of Tiger Dreams, which I bought at the college's little bookstore within the hour, as she toured me around there. Almeda is yet another in a string of quirky, charming, nifty people I've met on this trip so far. Again, one of those people who do a lot for their small community, and without whom the community would be way less rich.

She dumped me off at the Super 8 Motel, and after staying with five different families in the preceding week, it was sorta nice to have my own weird little motel room. Dinner with Almeda and three of her students followed, at -- yay! -- Cuisine of India in "downtown" Castlegar. Nifty students, too. And then it was off to a bit of a surreal event: a group discussion at the library of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, which I've never read. About 20 people were there, mainly college teachers, plus some students, and a smattering of local citizens. I identified myself as being there under UN Observer Status and so did not participate. It was interesting to see how professors talk to each other about literature when they're not doing classes. Some of them sounded like professors, and other just like regular people.

Gotta go shower now. It's 7:30 in the morning and a community radio station in Nelson is going to do a phone interview with me at 8 a.m., then it's off to Selkirk for a several-hour workshop, followed by a noon reading. Really looking forward to this.

Over and out.


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