Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Banff & Thunderbird

            Alex Emond spotted this relatively rare specimen, a 1961/63-era T-bird. Ornithologists out there ought to be able to classify with more precision, so please inform.
          "The Bird was perched at the south end of my back lane here in Banff. Lots of little style touches adding up to a cool and confident look. Knock-off hubs that don't; a hood scoop that doesn't. Faux louvres and the Landau unit also strictly for looks...

    "Maybe more faux than go...

       "but I'm sure it would beat my Corolla in a quarter-mile...

        "Fun, fun,fun, till the T-bird took my Daddy away."--AE 
        Once upon a time, the quiet back lanes of Banff led to more-or-less homemade "tourist" cabins which, in a different era, Banff people would rent by the week to summer visitors. Some were ratty, but many were charming. They had an appealing simplicity. By the Seventies, the alley cabins were outdated. Tourists and tour groups--a horde by then, not a stream--were being sold vacation packages: banal hotels/ "resorts" with all modern cons. , i.e. places that felt pretty much like anywhere else, etc.  So the alley cabins were available to those of us of  the hippie and post-hippie generation who'd settled in Banff. Cheap, funky places to live: mostly tiny, but cozy and charming. And they felt like...well, Banff--they didn't feel like anyplace else.
         All that gone now. Decisions were made to turn Banff town into a high-density high-velocity service center for the tourist industry. Understandable...the town is smack in the middle of a famous chain of national parks, after all. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world want to go there. Starting in the 1980s Banff town was pretty much eradicated as an historic town, as a community with layers of unprepossessing, vernacular architecture from different eras, as an ex-railway town, as a place with a sense of itself. Maybe it was all over even before the Ralph Lauren store opened in the underground mall. Anyway, Banff town is pretty much an aesthetic disaster now. 
            When it's bad, Canadian architecture is very very bad. And when it's bad in tourist towns, it's worse.
         But. The Rockies are still there, and so are the parks (Banff N.P., Koootenay N.P., Yoho N.P. , Jasper N.P.); and Canadians do national parks very very well. You could hike or ski for years, and not know half the mountain trails. So buy yourself the 7th edition of the classic Canadian Rockies Trail Guide and dodge Banff town, or use it as little as possible. Take yourself into the backcountry as deeply and as often as you can.
        And don't neglect the rest of Alberta province. You can follow the front range of the Rockies all the way from Jasper to the Montana border, more than three hundred miles of astounding country, mostly empty. Hwy 40 down the Kananaskis Valley is one of the most delightful road trips, especially if Highwood Pass is still open for the season. When driving Hwy 22 south to Lundbreck and the Crowsnest Pass Highway we always saw bald eagles somewhere along the way  And one you get down to south-southern Alberta, which is Blackfoot country, make sure to find your way to Head Smashed In.

1 comment:

  1. it's not a 61 -- they kept gluing on those doo-dads. probably a 63. i had the 61 for a year during 65-68... powder puff blue, power everything, and 2 four barrels... 12 mpg on the high way.