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May 30-June 3 Day 23-27

Went to Dinosaur Park on the 30th. Man the landscape is FANTASTIC! I took a few pictures, and saw some actual dinosaur bones (not the usual casts). There were small cacti around, some pseudo-hoodoos, canyons, coulees, ect... I also picked up a little something for Wyatt there as well. Couldn't go to a dinosaur park without doing that, after all.

Elaine gave me a bunch of my mother's letters to her. She said that mom was the closest thing she had to a sister... I haven't read them yet, and to be honest I don't know if I can. Ever since Calgary I've been running into a repetitive theme of loss. Loss of traveling companions, hearing songs about loss, Rocket Richard passing away (not that I was a fan, but you couldn't escape the press about it), and the same day all the comic strips were touching tributes to Charles Shultz. Way too much bitter sweet in my life right now. Heck, just telling Elaine about the poem William Gibson wrote in memory of his father who died of Alzheimer's (the one with a built in virus to destroy the poem as it is read) got me misty eyed.

I think I have a name for this chapter of my journey: Ctrl-Alta-Delete (Kinda clever, don't you think?)

I read the letters the next day. They were all wonderful, and most of the anecdotes were about Wyatt and myself. I laughed out loud many times, like when I read how Wyatt was so into Trick or Treating that he would pound on people's doors yelling "Let me in!" and "Open the door right now!", and how I would walk inside each house, certain there was a party going on. Or when I laid out peanuts on the floor for Wyatt because I said he was a cat and that was Purina Cat Chow, or how he was once inside the house with a toy gun ready because there was a Pterodactyl outside and he wanted to be ready incase it came inside.

The letters were full of these stories, and it was almost as if she was reading them aloud, even though I don't remember the sound of her voice. I imagine it as being sweet and melodic, with a rich english accent. I never felt so close to her before.

All too quickly they were all read. Then Elaine found one more letter. Tucked away on the side of the box where she keeps these things. Within a couple of moments, however, she made it clear it wasn't a happy one...

Timing, my friends, is everything. We look at movies and sometimes mock the coincidences that occur that are meant to be profound, yet seem unlikely to occur in real life. It's when something seems like such an obvious literary device that it loses its credibility.

The fact that this final letter was tucked away on the side and initially overlooked is one such device. Another is the music that was playing. The news channel was playing the highlights of Rocket Richard's funeral, so as I read this letter all I heard was the gentle remorseful sounds of the choir, ebbing and flowing like small waves lapping against the shore. That, and the imagined voice of my mother, now noticeably changed...

"...The melanoma has spread and they are giving me entire body radiation to try and stop it. I had the upper body done and it left me so weak I've not been able to do much more than lie bed or on the couch! It burnt out my esophagus and respiratory tract, too, so for a couple of weeks there I couldn't hardly swallow let alone eat! Your mum has been an absolute marvel, I don't know what I would have done without her!! And David has been cleaning the house and feeding the kids and making me eat! I'm waiting now for a call to go and get the lower half done. I had chemo as well as radiation for the top part, but they don't think the chemo helps (I, personally think it made matters worse!!) so this time it will be just radiation..."

When I was separated from my new comrades a few days ago, I almost cried.

Today, the tears flowed freely.

It should be noted that the only reason she wrote all this in the first place was because Elaine is a nurse, and mom knew she'd want to be kept updated as much as possible. Yet despite this report on her health, she does not dwell on her own situation beyond what I have written. Instead she apologies for not having sent clothes and doll for Elaine earlier, How we have too many toys and she was welcome to as many as she could take. About how I enjoyed kindergarten and could work out simple math problems. About other family matters in her family and Elaine's, as well as books they've read. I even found out how it was Wyatt and I ended up getting a hamster. We wanted a dog, settled on a mouse, but accepted a hamster when the cage we had to buy for it turned out to come with a hamster for free.

Aside from that, I went to the local museum and aqueduct. I recorded my comments of both on tape, but I'll say this: the museum was cool because you could touch almost everything that was on display, and the aqueduct was cool because it is a marvel of early 20th century engineering. It's 2 miles long and nearly a hundred feet high at points. Reminds me loosely of ancient Rome.

Today is the first of June. Tonight is the play. Weather permitting, tomorrow I leave. I did the survey with Elaine, being a nurse I thought it would be a good addition. She later showed me an article from the Atlantic Journal:

"The world is too big for us, too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself. It's a constant strain to keep pace... and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen rapidly, you're out of breath trying to keep pace with who's in and who's out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can't endure much more."

It was printed on June 16... 1883.

The play was very cute. It is a comedy, why it is called Robinson Crusoe, however, is beyond me. It's about a swashbuckling sailor, a bunch of bumbling sailors, nitwit captain, and girlfriend and mother, as well as a couple of pirates all searching for treasure. It was full of play on words and pop culture references. Most of the acting was stiff and pretty much what you expect with junior high school students.

There were two notable differences. Beth, though she didn't have enough lines in my opinion, rose above the above mentioned norm. The lead (Crusoe) also wasn't bad. But the main pirate was a total HAM, but in the best possible way! He totally played up the stereotype properly, and his voice carried like a Chinn brother.

Beth's father, Gord, surprised her by showing up for the play. She thought he was in B.C., and so when he popped out of a door with a bouquet of roses she broke out in tears. The female cast members also started crying. It was quite a moving sight. He also gave her a necklace with the comedy and tragedy masks on it. When everyone returned home there was a warm little reunion in the kitchen. I listened from the living room, but needless to say, I had no place there.

I saw a program on A&E on prophecy and it refers to two aspects of human psychology... Eros and Thanatos: The life wish and the death wish. Part of me wonders if this trip embodies both of these elements...

I was supposed to leave today. Physically I'm 100%. Psychologically and emotionally I am not. So Elaine said another day was okay with her. The upside of this is I can get a few things done. I want to scan mom's letters and send them to Wyatt, work out my load distribution again, call Gillian, ect...

I am definitely glad I took this extra day off, I was able to talk to my cousin Angie more, and just relaxed my brain without having to think of where I was going to visit that day, museum, park, school play... I can just veg out. Nice.

Elaine said she'll probably end up in Medicine Hat about the same time I do tomorrow, so we'll try to have lunch together.

Four days. That's all it took for me to see this place as home. Not just as a layover, but to truly feel at ease and relaxed here. It took less time in Chilliwack because I had lived there before, but when I first lived there nearly two years ago the transition took about the same amount of time. So just when I feel at home, I must move on. So will it probably be in Ontario as well.

I almost lost the ability to update everyone online. The only program I had on the PSION which would let me access secure sites like Hotmail expired. I didn't think I could download a new one, but managed to. But it looks like future updates might have to come from my Mailcity account instead.

The weather is sucking pretty hard today, and might continue until tomorrow. So it might be five days instead of four.

Help! I'm trapped on the isle of Cerces! I was lured here nine years ago with the promise of food and shelter and now I cannot leave! My crew have grown complacent and idle here, and we've forgotten the long journey that lay ahead. Okay, so I only have a crew of one and he's a teddy bear, but that's besides the point. Something always seems to get in the way of my leaving...

Well, it did rain. But more than that, Elaine went to work with my sleeping bag and all my food in the trunk. She works in Bassano, about 40K away, and doesn't get back until 2pm. Looks like the decision was taken out of my hands. Not that I mind! This is such a nice house, and Elaine is great. Beth and Angie are also really nice, but you know how younger people can be around virtual strangers. Sure we know each other, but not well enough to be completely comfortable and at ease with one another.

The updated version of Opera (the web program I use) seems to have one glitch, I haven't got Hotmail to work on it yet. But Mailcity works fine. So all my future emails will come from my Mailcity account. So for the time being, send all letters to me using instead of Hotmail.

I need a new book, and had tried unsuccessfully to get The Odyssey on it. Technical problems and size prevented it. So instead I settled for Around the World in Eighty Days. Appropriate, don't you think?

I spent most of the day just watching TV. At one point I entered the bedroom and saw all my gear strewn about. I got a sick feeling in my stomach as it sunk in. My time here has come to an end. Tomorrow I leave. Viaticus Rex sets sail once more.

Onto Day 28...