Close Encounter with a Canadian Bull Elk

When our wilderness tour guide failed to show us any wildlife during our twilight tour, she reconciled by offering a view of the aurora borealis later at 1 a.m. My friend Ellie and I gamely set our alarms and ventured out of our cabin toward the golf course, the site with least ground light. We heard rustling and saw two female elk, then suddenly he was there – a bull elk with a magnificent rack. He may have seen our flashlights or he may have just been rounding up the ladies, but we heard the growling grunt and then whistling sound, as he started his gallop toward us. Luckily, we were close enough to get back inside to safety. After one last look through the storm door, we decided the colorful night sky could wait for another time, and we were grateful not to have been added to his harem – it is mating season.

On a calmer note, I looked for bookstores by day. Disappointed to find the Banff Nook and Art Den closed, I found Indigo Spirit (a version of the now defunct American Borders Express) and a salesperson who read, willing to share her favorite Canadian authors – Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Alice Munro (Dear Life), Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), Alan Bradley (creator of the Flavia de Luce mysteries) – among my favorites too but I had not realized they were Canadian.

I left with a light humorous book to help me through the long plane ride – “No Relation” by Terry Fallis. It has a bear on the cover – the one animal I did not see while in Canada.

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