9:10 a.m. Spokane time
On Flight #2, Minneapolis, MN to Spokane, WA
We are below the clouds with only a thin haze between the window and the earth. For most of the first hour, the land was flat with rectangles of shades of grey and brown like a patchwork quilt, rivers winding across like embroidery, and flood plains splayed haphazardly like stains or perhaps dirty batting peaking through the worn fabric. Then the flood plains grew larger, making the land look like what I imagine the surface of Mars to be – brown and wrinkled.
Now we are getting into the mountains. So far, they remind me most of dark brown ant hills or coffee grounds sprinkled and then somewhat gathered into piles. The clouds are increasing – cotton balls dot the sky below, mostly centered on mountaintops. I hope I will still be able to see the Rockies well. I think the dark brown speckles are trees from the way they dot like aphids across the tan mountains in places. I see snow! It winds along the highest ridges like roads, but it sprinkles off to the sides too. Crossing a wide valley, the mountains drop almost like cliff faces but down to land, not water. On the other side of the valley, the mountains rise more gently, in tilted slabs, to perhaps the highest, most snow-covered peaks yet. Then they drop sharply again to farmland.
I have been up since 4 a.m. (or really 1 a.m. according to Spokane time), except for a nap this afternoon. All of the U.S. students are here now, and everyone seems wonderful. Petra, Lindsay, Anna, and I are sharing a room. We all fell asleep for nearly four hours this afternoon before Petra and I woke everyone up for dinner. Grace, Maddy, and Rachel are also sharing a room. The “water park” in the hotel is rather disappointing as the slide, the only real attraction, is currently closed.
On the Road to Slocan
We left the hotel about 2:30 p.m. with 7 girls plus Nathan in the jitney and Alissa in a rented van with most of our bags. We spent the time between 11 a.m. check-out and our departure researching bear safety, alternating between pacing and sitting, making the obligatory phone calls to parents, loving on a cute little dog, and complaining about being hungry. But we are finally on the road.
The landscape is already mountainous, but these are not my “tree mountains” of Virginia (though they are dotted with trees as I had imagined on the plane). The vegetation is sparse here; grass (though much of it is patchy and light green) and a type of tall pine dominate with a constant undercurrent of light brown dirt and rock. Although different from the lush, green deciduous mountains I know, the jagged horizon line still makes me smile.
I sent love to Taryn and Amy from Irish Life Experience as we drove through Spokane and saw Gonzaga signs.
WELCOME TO CANADA!
Well, we’re here. When we got in, we set up our tents in the “pasture” which is dominated by ferns but has a lovely view. It’s a little hike away from the cabin though, which makes me semi-uncomfortable, especially since we’ve been told that there are black bears in the area. Food and any smelly toiletries, etc. had to be stored in the cabin for that reason – eep! Once set up, we had dinner at the cabin – lasagna made by our lovely TAs. Tomorrow we essentially have orientation. Let’s see how well I sleep tonight!… probably not very well, but we shall see.
P.S. We do have outhouses…