This is from the Edmonton Sun newspaper:



Billy Bob and three of his Calgarian pals decide to buy an old car.

They see one for sale, for $28.

Each throws in $25. "Is that enough?" says Billy Bob.

"Sure," says the vendor, licking his chops.

The boys are riding along when Billy Bob gets to thinking.

"I'm wondering if we paid too much for this car," he says.

"Let's ask Skeeter. He's a teacher. He should know."

They stop at Skeeter's house.

Skeeter licks his pencil, writes down 25 four times in a column, does some serious counting.

"Five and five and five and five is 20."

He moves his pencil over and counts down.

"Two plus two plus two plus two is eight."

Skeeter double-checks his figures.

"You didn't get cheated," he announces. "Twenty plus eight is 28."

- - -


Call me crazy, lugging 60 pounds on my back, up mountain and down valley, for nine long hours.

I went backpacking in the Rockies this past weekend for the very first time.

And loved every minute of it.

Many had travel plans ruined by the forest fires. We were lucky. My brother-in-law Ferdie, his wife Loretta, my nephews Joe, 21, and Paolo, 14, my two oldest daughters, Salina and Liza, 12 and 14 - were only held up four hours on Friday at the Jasper National Park gate, waiting for a break in the forest-fire smoke.

Why be such a mule, carrying your entire kit - food, cooking gear, tent, clothes, sleeping bag, mat - on your back? Especially when you're climbing vertical (the mind plays tricks) trails that never stop, ever higher, ever steeper.

Because it's as close to Mother Nature as you can get.

I don't mind golf and motorboats, motorbikes and RVs. I'll water-ski, ride a Ski-Doo or a Sea-Doo. I can hang out in crowds at a car race. I more than love a good party.

But truth be known, I'm happiest without.

Mount Robson in its majestic glory. A night sky jam-packed with stars. No cellphone, no wallet, no calendar, no TV, no jolts per minute, no advertising.

The sound of silence, save for the thundering crack of a glacier breaking away from its mother icefield.

Only on offer far away from man and his meddling. Up and down those back-country trails that get tougher the farther you go.

As the Rockies do not come with Sherpas, the only way to get your gear in ... is on your own back.

An added bonus. The kids, amazing hikers all, re-learned the lost art of fun without TV. They played games. Sang. Talked!

Each man carried the extra weight of two cans of Kokanee, to be cooled in the icy Robson River and only opened after an all-day hike. One for each evening.

Never, ever, has a beer tasted better. Ahhhhhh ...