Mauro was visiting Deanne in San Francisco and was exposed to chicken pox, so I call my parents to see if I had it when I was young. My dad says, "oh yes," until I say that there is a small chance Mauro might be carrying it along without coming down with it himself. Then my dad says "oh, in that case, you didn’t have it."
I saw Earl Scruggs eating breakfast this morning in the hotel: eggs, sausage, the works.
The buttons on the hotel phone — for front desk, rooms service, etc. — include one simply labeled "pizza."
Tracy, Paul, and I decide to bike to the famous West Edmonton Mall, claimed to be the largest in the world, or the largest with some qualifications, such as "largest mall and indoor amusement center." We ride along a busy road that reminds me of the one Mauro and I rode along from Buffalo to Niagara; it seems to feature almost every chain store based in North America: Toys ‘R’ Us, McDonald's (more than one), etc. It gets pretty repetitious and monotonous, and I wonder how Canada let this happen. I would like to think that Canadians know better, ha ha.
Eventually, we reach the mall, which, from our vantage point, is too spread out to reveal its true size. We enter and it looks like a regular mall. The scale of the shopping areas is not unusual, and one can't see the true vast size from in here. The commercial clutter, fountains, and kiosks prevent one from seeing the entire length and scope of the place. Maybe that's intentional – they don't want the shoppers to be overwhelmed with too much shock and awe. Shopping is a narrow focus experience; it may be better to limit the shopper's view than allow them to see the whole cornucopia that lies before them.
Tracy and Paul, a roller coaster aficionado, convince me to ride with them. I hesitate but agree. After we're locked in the car, I raise my hand to get out and pee, but it must look like I am trying to wriggle out of this ride.
I am not a big rider of roller coasters, and I scream the whole way and appear to brace myself in crash position during the loop-de-loops and sudden drops. Or maybe I'm praying.
This area not only has submarines (and shops around the periphery) but a pirate ship and an area where guys in Speedos are giving a diving exhibition.
On the way back, we check out another large attraction — the beach. Locals are spending a sunny Sunday afternoon swimming and lounging about.
There are waves, not big enough for surfing but waves nonetheless, and a couple of water rides and slides that deposit one into the surf.
Tracy says she heard that the roof of the skating rink apparently caved in during a recent storm. There are big storms up here, and the drains and gutters overflowed and flooded the mall. I image a scene out of some disaster movie.
We bike back by a different route, along a path through the woods that borders the river. It's absolutely beautiful, paved with mulch. The path has little swoops up and down along the riverbank. There are no buildings on either side of the river. It's pretty idyllic, until we decide to ride up McKenzie Gorge, which is a slow uphill climb out of the valley. We make it back to the hotel with sore butts and take hot baths.
The folk festival features Lhasa and Ani DiFranco in the late afternoon, before we go on. I pick up Lhasa's new CD at the record shop tent on site. Ani DiF does a passionate set and, at one point, breaks into a long, rapid-fire poem that is just amazing.
By the time we perform, it's dark and the audience members are holding candles (electric candles?) that illuminate the hillside where they sit. I can't really tell how we're doing; it's see-your-breath cold here. But I can sort of gauge our success when I see the little lights begin to move back and forth to the beat.