Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Return to LV-426

Happy Alien Day!

Seeing that today is the 26th day of the 4th month, the people in Marketing thought it to be an ideal date for the commemoration of the events on LV-426, the principal setting for  the first two movies in the Alien franchise.

Normally I find such artificially inspired and commercially gestated observances detestable, but my love for these particular movies is such that I am unable to oppose them, and instead join merrily in the revels, my lips stained purple from the Kool-Aid.

Make no mistake, like so many similar events concocted by their hellish cousins in the greeting card industry, this is a 'holiday' designed to part you from your hard-earned cash. The Retroist has a substantive list of Alien-themed kit coming out for the occasion, starting with the critically under-produced Reebok Alien Stomper high-tops...

...through to the hardcover edition of the Weyland-Yutani Report, which, at $60 is a significant savings over the previous Deluxe Edition that came in at $325 USD.

And while I may look longingly at such items, and others, like the incredibly compelling airsoft M41A Pulse Rifle replica, I managed to restrict my participation to a couple of small items.

The first was a Motion Tracker app for my phone; not practical in the least, but an excellent nerdy prop, and a completely appropriate means of conveying a sense of growing dread without saying a word, as the incessant pulses and increasing pitch of the signals ramp up the tension. Suitable for signifying approaching deadlines, encroaching in-laws or the last opportunity to file one's taxes.

The second was the Aliens pinball table for my iPad's Zen Piuball app.

Pinball is one of the best possible games for the iPad, suiting the graphics capability and form factor down to a 'T'. I have tables for Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Archer, and they are all good in their own way, but only Aliens features Colonial Marines, an APC, a Sentry Gun, and of course, Ripley and the Alien Queen squaring off.

In addition to your standard-issue ramps, targets and spinners, there is a recurring mini-game where you have to drive the APC down the service tunnels, using the flipper buttons to swerve around damaging debris.

Aliens Pinball also has one of the most appropriate voice samples ever used in a video game: Private Hudson's plaintive whine of "Game over, man! Game over!" as your third ball heads down the drain. I'm still waiting to hear Vasquez scream, "Let's rock!"

Surprisingly, I didn't use Alien Day as an excuse to buy Alien: Isolation for the Playstation, despite the fact that the story was written by one of my favourite sci-fi and comic authors, Dan Abnett. On the other hand, given the reports I have heard about how atmospheric and scary the game is, as well as how effective the game's AI is, maybe I just forestalled a cardio incident of some kind.

This is not to say that one needs to make a purchase of any kind in order to appreciate Alien Day; had I discovered it even a few days earlier instead of this morning, I could have:

Ah, well; perhaps next year!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spirit of 77- The Ballad of Harvest Gould

Last night we finally got to return to the mean streets of The City for some Spirit of 77, now joined by Audrey's character, Harvest Gould.

Harvest Gould was the tomboy of the family, helping Daddy with his ranch out by Muleshoe TX; riding, roping, fencing, and even seeing off rustlers on two separate occasions. She has a kind heart for the most part, but when the local quarterback assaulted her sister, Rose, leaving her paralysed, she knew that boy Just Needed Killin'. Harvey got Daddy's matched Schofields and took care of him herself...and two linebackers who tried to stop her.
The boy's family and the town officials wanted to sweep the whole thing under the carpet, but Daddy still feared reprisals, and sent Harvey to The City so she could be safe. Harvest Gould misses the ranch, but it seems as though every street and alleyway has some sort of varmint, and Daddy's six-shooters are still wrapped up in a saddle blanket in her apartment...

In game terms, Harvey is a Vigilante from Humble Beginnings looking for Justice. Her Thang is a signature weapon, or rather, two: a pair of Schofield heavy pistols in a custom gun belt that can be worn on the hips or as a shoulder rig. Her theme music is Jim Croce's "I've Got A Name".

Audrey and I started coming up with the character and her backstory on our way to a funeral in Camrose, as a way to get our minds away from tragedy a little while. It began with a series of this or that questions, and then carried on into the wheres and whys that a good character needs in any medium.

She appreciated the esthetic of Spirit of 77 as I had described it to her, and Harvest Gould reflects Audrey' childhood memories of the era, as well as her own rural upbringing. The game works much better without miniatures, but if we had to find one for Audrey's character, I would probably have to figure out a way to putty fringes onto something like this:

When she came up with that name in the car though, I knew we had a winner.

For those of you too young to remember (or are old enough but have successfully managed to repress), Harvest Gold was a trademarked shade, that, as Pete described, was the colour of your phone and appliances in the 1970s, if they weren't Avocado Green.

The ads above (from advertising and design site, The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit) may be the most potent distillation of a maligned decade I have ever encountered. From the font choices to the belted sweater dress of the female figure, it is absolutely and wonderfuly groovy.

Harvey's backstory may seem a little serious for someone named after a favoured colour of dishwashers from a bygone time, or for  character currently embroiled in an adventure entitled "Disco Ambulance", but if you think back to the movies and tv shows of the 1970s, she isn't too far removed from Dennis Weaver's McCloud, is she?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Viking Sermon

I've been involved with Toastmasters through my workplace for about three years now, and I am really enjoying it, even more so now that I am moving on to some of the more advanced manuals.

Playing to my strengths, I selected Humorous Speeches and Storytelling as my next two modules, and am trying to alternate between them. The first assignment in Storytelling is to relate a folk-story without any notes, and I found it surprisingly challenging to find one I was interested in telling.

In the end, I left fairy tales behind and started looking into mythology, and while the Greek mythos is full of great tales,they are also exceedingly familiar. Instead, I turned to Norse mythology, drawing less upon the eddas and sagas and the works of Snorri Sturlisson, and more upon my youthful exposure to the Deities and Demigods manual for D&D, and the Thor comics of Walt Simonson.

It didn't take me long to find a story suitable for telling from memory, and quickly chose the tale of the Binding of Fenrir, the great wolf. The starring god of this particular story is one of my favourites, despite getting almost no mention in the aforementioned comic books. I first encountered Tyr in the Norse mythology section of the D&DG manual back in high school, but had seen various iterations of how hehad lost his right hand over the years, sometimes just in articles about how the days of the week got their names, as the Germanic name for Tyr, Tiw, is where we get Tuesday from. The fact that he shares a name with one of my favourite metal bands is just icing on the cake, really. But now that I had my 'what', I really needed a 'why', and that presented a bit of a struggle.

Because of the way speeches get evaluated in Toastmasters, I am always consciously looking for a reason for my speeches; time is valuable, why should a group of people sit down and listen to you use up 7-9 minutes of it? What is your speech's purpose?

I do believe that while not every tale has a moral, virtually all stories have a lesson or two they can teach us, and I felt very strongly that Tyr's story has a lot to say about the importance of keeping one's word, and remaining resolute in the face of consequence.

With this in mind, I pieced together a framing element for the story: I would play the part of someone relating the Binding of Fenrir to a group of younger vikings prior to a dangerous voyage. I would use Tyr as a model for oathkeeping and bravery, things we value even today, if perhaps in different ways, and that would give my story purpose.

It was only after I had written my first draft that I realized I had created, in essence, a sermon for marauding Norsemen: an assessment of our current situation, the relating of ancient wisdom, and then connecting the lesson to that situation.

The Runepriest Tells of the Binding of Fenrir

Sons of Odin! Shieldmaidens of Freya! Vikings, all! At last the winter ice has broken, and tomorrow we board the longships to sail to the West, to raid and plunder, to show our worth to our chieftain, and our valour to the gods.

For some of you, this will be your first voyage. I have been on many, so believe me when I say that not all of us will be coming back.

Does this frighten you? It should not! The Norns weave our fates as they do those of the gods, so your fear gains you nothing, and you should be brave in the face of your destiny. You have have sworn oaths of loyalty to your brothers and sisters of the shield wall, and you must uphold them.

Our Jarl has asked me to tell you a story about fate, and bravery, and the cost of oaths – the tale of the binding of the great wolf Fenrir.

It is a woeful tale, so of course it begins with Loki. Loki, the trickster! Loki the changeling, Loki the perverse. Loki, who lay with the giantess Angrboda and fathered three monstrous children.

The first was the great serpent, Jormungandr, the second the she-creature Hel, and the last was the great wolf Fenrir. All of these were foretold to be the undoing of the gods, and to contribute to the chaos and unravelling of the world.

To stave off their fate, the gods threw Jormungandr from Asgard into the surrounding sea, where he wrapped himself around Midgard, our world, and on winter nights you can see his rippling scales in the night skies, glittering green and gold and scarlet.

Hel they cast out to Niflheim, a world of cold and mists. She dwells there even now, tending the souls of mortals who died unnotably, a straw death, and who cannot enter Valhalla.

The great wolf Fenrir they feared most of all, however, so they reared him in Asgard amongst the gods. During this time, only the god Tyr was brave enough to approach the wolf and to bring him food. Fenrir grew so rapidly though, that the gods began to fear him in earnest, so they formed a plan to restrain the wolf, to bind the scion of Loki and Angrboda, foretold to bring ruin to Asgard.

Seeing the gods approach with chains, Fenrir was canny, but the crafty gods appealed to his vanity,”We want only to test your strength, think of the fame that will come when others hear of it!”

Fenrir consented, and so the gods brought forth a sturdy chain called Leyding, and the wolf felt that his strength was greater than Leyding’s, so he agreed to being restrained, and allowed the gods to bind his legs.

Once he was fastened, Fenrir strained against his bonds and Leyding shattered into a hundred pieces! The gods all cheered and praised the wolf for his strength, and the great beast smiled, for wolves can be as vain as men.

The gods went away for a time and brought forth a second chain called Dromi. Dromi was twice as strong as Leyding, and Fenrir was apprehensive, but the gods egged him on, saying, “Your renown will be even greater once you break so mighty a chain as Dromi. And after all, the brave must be prepared to take risks if they are to become famous,” which made sense to Fenrir.

Again Fenrir allowed himself to be bound, and again the gods stood back to watch him struggle. He knocked the fetter against the ground, and straining his mighty muscles, burst Dromi asunder, the same as he had done with Leyding, and pieces of the chain showered the gods from afar.

Again the gods cheered and spoke approvingly of Fenrir’s great strength, but in their hearts they were afraid, as they knew not how to fashion a stronger chain than Dromi.

The god Frey sent his messenger Skirnir to Svartalfheim, the land of the dwarfs, to ask them to craft a binding for Fenrir that he could not burst. All the gods were surprised when Skirnir returned, not with a chain, but with a ribbon.

Skirnir explained: “The wily dwarfs had heard of Fenrir’s great strength, and thought it impossible to restrain him. So they had constructed this fetter, which they named Gleipner, from six impossible things:

The beard of a woman

The roots of a mountain

The long sinews of a bear

The breath of a fish

The spittle of a bird.

The sound of a cat’s footfall.”

The gods brought Gleipner to Fenrir, who was unimpressed with the slight ribbon, even when the strongest of the gods showed that they were incapable of tearing it. Fenrir said, “I would gain little fame from breaking so slight a thing as this. And if I could not free myself, I think you gods would have little reason to do so.”

The gods appealed to Fenrir’s logic, saying, “If you cannot break Gleipner, then your strength is not so much of a threat, so there would be no reason not to release you,” but Fenrir was unconvinced.

Into this stalemate strode Tyr; god of the law, god of heroic glory, and he said, “If I place my hand into your mouth as proof of our intent, will you agree to be bound?”

Now Fenrir truly was trapped; he could not refuse Tyr’s offer without having his courage called into question, which he would not do, for wolves can be as vain as men. And so Fenrir reluctantly agreed, and with Tyr’s hand in his mouth, the gods bound him with the silken cord, Gleipner.

Try as he might, as strong as he was, Fenrir was not able to break Gleipner; the more he struggled, the stronger his bonds became. Looking at the faces of the assembled Gods, he knew he had been fooled, and would not be released, and in anger and shame, he bit off Tyr’s hand.

Tyr made no effort to withdraw his hand, and wordlessly, he bound his wound while the other gods took Fenrir to a lonely and desolate place, to wait there until the time of Ragnarok, when the great wolf can play his part in the undoing of the gods, and the unmaking of the 9 worlds.

Some will tell you that the tale of the binding of Fenrir is about using the impossible to do the impossible, or of the perils of vanity, but I tell it to you for another reason: to remind you of the importance of oaths; for the reason for keeping one’s honour, even in the face of punishment.

Tyr knew that placing his hand in the wolf’s mouth could only end one way, but he did it regardless. Even the gods must live with the oaths they make, and the real price for the binding of Fenrir was not a dwarven chain, but the hand of Tyr.

Tyr’s missing hand is not a sign of weakness, as you might think, but a symbol of strength. Even amongst the gods, Tyr is a law giver, whose word is trusted, and whose surety is never second-guessed. If you place his mark, the Tiwaz, on your axe or sword, you mark yourself as one who keeps their oaths, and that rune may be what turns a battle in your favour.

Some of you might be afraid of what tomorrow’s voyage may bring, but I know that will not stop you. Tomorrow, like One-Handed Tyr himself, you will fulfill your oaths, to your kin, and your Jarl, and even to the gods, by following your brothers and sisters into battle.

And even if you should fall, you have still kept your oath, you will not be called a faithless one. If you are among the bravest, Odin will send his Valkyries to lift you from the battlefield and bring you to his hall, Valhalla, and perhaps you will meet Tyr, and he will tell you the truth of what I have said.

7-9 minutes is a long time to speak without notes, especially in a story where everything, even the chains used to bind the wolf, have their own names, but I made it through all right, and without going over time for once.

The speech was well received, although both the Toastmaster of the Day and my evaluator mentioned getting distracted at my mention of Loki, as both these ladies' thoughts floated to Tom Hiddleston's cinematic portrayal.

It turned out my evaluator is not only a fan of Norse mythology and the television show Vikings, but has always wanted to be one, and was thrilled by my framing element, and addressing my audience as though we were feasting in a smoky meadhall. I really wish I had managed to record my speech though, as she felt my inflection or accent was different before and after the tale, as opposed to when I was telling the story of Fenrir. I clarified with her afterwards:

Me: You thought I sounded different in the middle?

Jamie: Yeah, nothing really pronounced, but when you started speaking, I totally believed you were a viking, and talking to me, another viking, which was awesome. When you got into the actual story though, you sounded like Stephen again. Which was still good, it just sounded more familiar.

Me: And not as viking sounding.

Jamie: Not as much, no.

Me: (mildly disappointed) So, you're saying that I am not a viking?

Jamie: (palms up) I'm not saying anything like that.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Movies: Making Them Like They Used To

On Super Long Play (SLP) a VHS video cassette could hold up to 6 hours of content. Most often, this content would be standard issue television programs, which would then be recorded over again and again. Every now and then, though, in my high school years, I would catch something that was a keeper, usually by accident, and especially late at night.

This is how I ended up with a copy of the 1974 kung fu movie  5 Masters of Death, (also known as Five Shaolin Masters). Recorded late one mid-80s Saturday night on ITV, I recognized the producer`s name, Run Run Shaw, as the producer of one of my favourite films, Blade Runner, but was intrigued by the over the top emoting, earnest storytelling and tremendous physicality displayed onscreen.

It also contained an enormous amount of exotic and esoteric martial arts weaponry I`d seen in comic books, gaming manuals, or my copy of the martial arts encyclopedia, but had never witnessed in motion, like the 7 link steel whip, and rope axe. Best of all, there were numerous displays of the Shaolin Five Animals style kung fu, usually helpfully described out loud by its practitioner: "Crane style!" "Tiger!" "Watch out for his Mantis technique!"

I was brought back to this film after a discussion with the manger from my former department at work, who was describing a similar movie from his repertoire called The Kid With The Golden Arm, which had some similar themes in terms of righteousness and loyalty, and a cast of fairly evenly matched heroes and villains. After years of looking for the film, he was thrilled to come across it on, of all places, Netflix, and gave it his highest recommendation.

Friday night, I found myself at loose ends upstairs, since Glory had a friend over and had claimed eminent domain over the big tv downstairs, and thought an old school chop-socky flick on an old school tube tv sounded like just the ticket to round off the night.

This turned out to be time well spent. Director Chang Cheh (who also did 5 Masters) lensed a lot of kung fu and action films for the Shaw brothers back in the day, and eventually went on to become a mentor for action legend John Woo. Made 5 years after 5 Masters, KWTGA follows a group of heroes battling against a vicious gang, led by the eponymous Kid. The best fighters in his gang have similarly metallic nicknames, ranked by their relative proficiency. so Silver Spear is superior to Bronze Robe, who trumps Brass Head, and so on.

The heroes include a crafty sheriff, an arrogant swordsman, a female warrior, two best friends called Long Axe and Short Axe, and a former lawman who is now a drunken master.

The film is well paced, wasting little time between actions sequences, most of which look like they were filmed on the same Desilu sound stages as Star Trek, but the fights are well staged and imaginative. Characters are expressive to the point of incredulity, and nuance is left behind in favour of rapid zooms in or out to establish shock and surprise.

It turns out KWTGA is a bit of a cult classic, and is regarded as heavily influential, and I can see why. After a man punches through a solid wall to strike a blow against the swordsman, he is swiftly killed, despite his obvious power and skill, but as the hero turns to dispatch this foe, we can see the outline of a palm burned into his back. At the end of the fight, he opens his garments to reveal the same imprint has travelled through his body and onto his chest! The dreaded Sand Palm has found its mark.

This evoked tremendous feelings of nostalgia for me, hearkening back to the legendary 'Quivering Palm' attack allowed to the highest levels of monk in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, as well as to Marvel Comics' Iron Fist character, who owed his existence to such movies.

This fight takes place inside an inn that is at least superficially similar to the one in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which makes me wonder if Ang Lee is perhaps a fan of Chang Cheh.

Despite the silliness of some of the attacks and powers, the movie has tremendous charm that carries it through to the thrilling climax. Characters, good and bad, die in imaginative and occasionally unexpected ways, and nothing in the story gets advanced by people acting stupidly. Arrogantly, perhaps, but intelligence, insight and loyalty permeate the story. The Kid With The Golden Arm is highly recommended, and I hope to catch a couple more of Chang Cheh's films on Netflix, including Five Deadly Venoms, which has much of the same cast.

Then last night, I got to enjoy another retro cinematic experience. My friend had loaned me a DVD called The Giant Spider, a movie by a man named Christopher Mihm.

Christopher Mihm grew up regaled by his father's tales of monster movies watched at drive-in theatres in the 1950s, and wanted to replicate that experience after his father's passing. Ten years ago, he made his first film, The Monster of Phantom Lake, with a near-zero budget and utilizing most of his family and friends. It was well received by both nostalgists and horror fans alike, and he has strived to make a new one each year, growing his audience and fanbase along the way.

Best of all, there is a modern conceit in having the movies exist in the same shared 'Mihmiverse', so the scientists helping to concoct a plan to stop a ravenous tarantula the size of a barn or three are headquartered at the Phantom Lake County University.

Shot in black and white and with the same austerity as his earlier features, The Giant Spider does exactly what it says on the tin, and has an oversized freak of nature wreaking havoc across rural Minnesota.

Central casting is here in full effect: the dedicated reporter and his beautiful fiancée, the overbearing general, the beleaguered scientists, and of course, dozens of hapless townsfolk.

Tongue is placed firmly in cheek for the entirety of the film, but the characters portray every ridiculous situation with the same charming earnestness. In an age where digital manipulation can remove power lines and eyeblinks, or insert monsters of infinite variety and size, there is something incredibly refreshing about an optically composited live tarantula chasing its victims into a building, and then having a fuzzy and floppy physical prop thrashing inside a doorway and threatening our heroes.

He is unlikely to turn up at the Oscars anytime soon, but The Giant Spider won the Forrest J. Ackerman Film Award at the Famous Monsters of Filmland Film Festival and the Best Action/Horror Feature award at the Highway 61 Film Festival. The lads, Audrey and I had a great time watching The Giant Spider, especially our resident pop cultural attache Earl, who is undoubtedly ordering the rest of the Mihmiverse films from www.sainteuphoria.com.

Both of these seemingly disparate films are a product of their times; you don't hear people talking about the great kung fu movies of the 1960s, or the monster movies of the 70s. But in a time that predates people being able to choose what to watch and when to watch it, and in the comfort of their own homes, these genre films exhorted people to come out in public, and share a new cinematic experience.

They made their impressions, grew their fandoms, created their own heroes and legends and influences, and then...drifted away.

Today, action has largely supplanted adventure, martial arts has become a niche within a niche, and there are enough monsters in the real world that there doesn't seem to be room for them at the matinees, which is a pity.

At least passionate people like Christopher Mihm have the tools at their disposal to make these cheap and cheery drive-in fare accessible once again, even if the last vehicular cinema in Alberta closed in 2005. Thanks for introducing us to him, Jim!

I wonder if the same thing could be done with kung fu films?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Three Day Vacay - Radium Hot Springs

With Fenya away singing in Ottawa during Spring Break, we didn't want to go too far, and wanted to keep things within a reasonable budget. With fuel still being extremely reasonable, I arranged two nights in Radium Hot Springs using Air Miles, we packed the cooler with drinks and lunches, and headed off Wednesday morning.

During last year's spring break escapade at the Banff Springs, we had purchased an annual pass for our National Parks, and since the roads were clear with only two days left on it, we elected to take the Icefields Parkway down to Banff. Sure, this added almost two hours to the trip, but if you've read Robert Pirsig's "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance", you realize that vacation is a state of mind, not place, and it can begin as soon as you lock the front door of your house behind you, if you let it.

Just past the Jasper Park gates we encountered a herd of mountain sheep, and saw a tidy group of elk just outside the townsite as well.

The Icefields Parkway is one of my favourite drives, and we had the road practically to ourselves most of the way. We stopped about midway to stretch our legs and take a group selfie (since I have a phone that actually permits that now).

Although the highway was clear, the sideroads and visible bridges still looked icy and treacherous, which was a bit strange after having come from Edmonton where there is almost no snow to be found.

Turning on to highway 95 just outside of Banff, we were over the border into B.C. before too long, and rolled though Sinclair Canyon into the town of Radium Hot Springs about 6:00. I'd forgotten that some of the easternmost towns are actually on Mountain time, but we decided on a swim in the hotel pool and then walked over to the Horsethief Creek Pub for burgers and wings, and a black lager for me. Glory's spinach patty burger was a surprisingly decent option for increasing one's leafy greens quotient, but I was happy with the shrimp and crab on my Westcoaster burger.

Bighorn sheep and deer occasionally commute through this highway junction, unfazed by vehicles and pedestrians alike.

We stayed up a little later than usual for a weeknight, lightening the cooler and watching the sitcoms we otherwise never see, and strolled over to The Melting Pot the next morning for a late breakfast. I wouldn't say this restaurant has a chequered past, but it has had three or four names in the past ten years or so, so let me say this: FireD Up BBP (Breakfast and Burger Place), Hwy 95, Silver Palace makes a helluva breakfast, no matter what you call it.

Glory opted for banana-stuffed french toast with strawberries, Audrey got caramel apple french toast, and I chose that morning's special: grilled ham and cheese Benedict. It was all delicious, our server was friendly and prompt, and we went back the next morning for three different Bennies as well.

We took a shot walk over to a local attraction called The House of 1000 Faces, but it was still closed for the winter.

The hot springs proper didn't open until 1:00, and we got there shortly afterwards. It wasn't what I would call warm outside (probably 16 or so), but I have never found it easy to enjoy a hot spring in direct sunlight. (To be fair, I find direct sunlight objectionable at the best of times, what with my being committed to the troglodyte lifestyle.) Luckily we had purchased a day pass and intended to return after dinner.

A co-worker had recommended a German restaurant in town, and it turned out there were actually two, and both Austrian, to be precise. The Old Salzburg looks magnificent, but Helna's Stube had some very favourable reviews and despite being a tiny operation, actually facilitated online reservations, so we ended up dining there.

It was a wonderful  experience that lasted over two hours. Audrey enjoyed her white wine while I had two pints of the Krombacher Dark they had on tap, and the crunchy rolls were warm when they brought them to our table, Audrey had duck in an orange and red wine sauce which was exquisite, while Glory's house salad was a meal unto itself, with grape tomatoes, cheese and Westphalia ham.  My Madagascar schnitzel came with a green peppercorn sauce and spatzle, and the desserts rounded out everything nicely, especially Glory's strawberry dumplings and Audrey's Grand Marnier parfait.

The evening trip to the hot springs was far better than the afternoon's, even though it appeared even busier. The Radium pool is a very decent size, and easily accommodated the 140+ bathers I estimated present. Only as the sun disappeared behind the peaks did we notice the aquacourt's lighting changing colours.

Listening to the many languages and accents around us, I reflected on how lucky we are to have such mountain marvels within easy driving distance, when tourists from all over the glove choose to come here for them. Alas, the pool is only open until 9:00 on weekdays until the summer, so at ten minutes to closing, we made our exit to beat the crowd and returned to the hotel.

The next morning we only stopped long enough to get some pictures of Sinclair Canyon, the stony gateway to this mountain respite, before making our way home, tired, but refreshed.