It’s past midnight but the airport still has people milling around. Doors painted like saloon entrances, posters of rodeos, a woman picks up her bag and pushes back her banner — she is Miss Rodeo Kansas.
A bus takes us to the hotel. The driver has a sheriff’s badge and a cowboy hat.
So you’re busy now with the stampede?
We’re busy all the time. We’re a boom town! You wouldn’t recognize Calgary from year to year!
It’s the oil thing, isn’t it?
Yes, we’re doing well. We have no provincial taxes and we still have a budget surplus!
So what’s there to see with the Stampede?
People really like the chuck wagon races. There’s a lot going on.
At the hotel we get a room that reeks of cigarettes. Ed asks for another. None to be had. A woman comes up out of nowhere. Blood is oozing from her cheek.
You can have my room. It’s a nonsmoking room but I don’t care. We want to be nice to Americans.
How does she know we’re Americans?
This morning I repack everything. Ed watches with amusement. I suppose my small baggie with shampoo, cream and gel looks ridiculous next to his one sliver of all purpose soap. And still I forgot things. A towel for instance.
You don’t need a towel. Use your t-shirt.
My Calgarian reader writes me: you’re lucky you’re here during the Stampede. Everyone is in Calgary for it. You’ll have the mountains to yourselves.
Mmmm… just us and the bears and charging elk.