Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Anglicanism and the LHA

I just went to my first Anglican funeral and I have to admit that I rather liked the formality and pagentry involved. Three individuals in full robes entered the lovely St. Mark's Anglican church in Kaslo and the service made use of the Book of Common Prayer. That sure carries a lot of historic weight, I must say! The woman who died was a very faithful Anglican and her life's work was really connected to the church. She wanted a celebration of her faith and not her life. We couldn't really feel sad about her death - she was 92 and had enjoyed her life to the fullest. I'd have liked a little more eulogy and less prayer and hymn singing, but I must say that I did enjoy watching the ritual, particularly the folding of the cloth at the end of Communion. Yes, the service included a full Communion service. Lots of standing and an interesting experience for a pagan like me.

I also worked with the Ladies Hospital Auxiliary to help out with the "lunch" after the funeral. This was my first time working with this group. There are people who keep their hand on the teapot through the entire reception because that is "their" job. There were so many women hanging out in the kitchen with a tea towel in hand I went out to chat up the mourners which was probably much more fun. However, I did pay my dues. Near the end, when most of the other workers had left or were leaving I'm stacking chairs, putting away tables sweeping and washing the floor and I didn't ask if the bathroom needed to be cleaned. Want to call me Cinderella?

Sunday, 24 February 2008


During our travels south I kept thinking that I really needed to blog about the U.S. National Parks Service. I love it! The parks in the U.S. bring me back to wonderful young adult memories of what national parks are supposed to be - what Canada had in the '60's and '70's. Whatever happened to us?
Attending an "evening program" in Death Valley National Park, which was basically an introduction to western parks of the United States, I realized just how many parks in that country I have actually visited. Not a single one has disappointed me. They have a neat little thing called a "passport" to the parks and I wish I'd bought myself one last year. I'd have had dozens of stamps by now. As a kid this would have been something that I'd have cherished. What a great idea.
This year, we found most of the parks are at least encouraging minimal recycling (aluminum and glass) and we never found any unclean, unkept parks. The trails were in great shape, the staff was helpful and well-informed and the campgrounds (where they exist) were well-maintained and thoughtful of privacy.
Volunteers are a big part of the parks and at a time when seniors are ruling the world this can be a bit of a drawback. In Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument we were almost too welcomed by the information and directions given by the senior volunteers working at the campground registration desk. However, the next day, the volunteer who accompanied our guided desert walk knew her plants and birds much better than the guide! I say hurrah for the USNPS and its high standards - keep up the good work!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Reverse Mountaineering: The Canyon

This past week I've been back in the "canyonlands" of northern AZ and southern UT. Last Sunday, Dave and I hiked into Canyon de Chelly, AZ on the only trail that allows hiking without a Navajo guide. We walked to the "white house", an Anasazi ancestral home and it may be hard to believe, but these cliffs are rising about 200 metres above us. It was a lovely hike over a great trail and we were glad to have started early - we got to walk on frozen earth on the way down but it was getting muddy on the return hike.
Two days ago we hiked around a few of the tourist trails in Arches NP and yesterday we did our first challenging canyon hike in Canyonlands NP. We walked on a road normally used in the summer by bikers and 4 x 4 vehicles and the road took us down to the next "level" of the canyon, about 400 metres below the top. It was awesome and I felt pretty relaxed walking but would hate to drive these roads with some of the visible dropoffs. We hiked 5.5 miles to the Colorado River overlook - the Colorado was another 300 - 400 metres below us. Our return trip only took about 30 minutes longer than the downhill trek. This was my first hike where I had some distance and some elevation gain - my feet felt great and we had incredible blue skies and a perfect temperature. About an hour after returning to the camper the clouds started to roll in and the wind began to blow. There was a light snowfall last night. My pictures for this hike are still in the camera.
Much as it was fun to do some "reverse mountaineering", this a.m. we hiked a canyon with an actual flowing stream in it. How nice to hear the brook and think about my favourite hikes of the Canadian mountains while admiring some of the best of Utah!