First the BBC director Mat phoned. As a result of the forest fires we were in a different town to the original plan – some 150 miles to the east of where the crew were standing! But we’d warned them already, so while we were able to have a relaxing morning, they had a drive through the smoke area to meet us.
We arranged to meet them at 12:00, and at 11:30 popped around the corner to the local ‘drugstore’ to get nail varnish for the girls (special treat: alternately coloured toes!). Anyway, those of you without two daughters would have thought that would take less than half-an-hour, but of course it had to be strung out until the veins in my forehead were ready to explode (red/silver/green/purple/metallic /non-metallic/dark/light/gloss etc etc etc. And where do they get all those different names for shades of red from, let alone convincing girls that “cherry red” and “maple red” are actually different colours). Anyway, when we finally wandered back around the corner to the hostel at 12:20, we found the BBC crew, and Mat had his veins popping out of his forehead too! Apparently, the hostel had no idea who the “Fleming family” were, because we were booked in by the researcher, Amanda Egbujo. So the hostel think we’re the Egbujo family, and despite us being the only family in the hostel, the Japanese chap behind the desk insists that there’s no Fleming family in the hostel. So Mat was just about to explode having a mysterious disappearing family on his hands. It was a good start – nobody has ever been so relieved to see us walking up the street!
Anyway, because they are going to be a feature of our lives for three days, let me introduce you to: Mat (Director and cameraman, who holds the camera about 12 inches from our faces), Steve (Soundman, who holds a huge fluffy microphone on a boom about 24 inches from our faces), and Patsy (Tourist Board guide, who also holds onto Emily when she does a runner mid-shoot!).
We had lunch and a “get to know you”, and then jumped into the cars for the five hour drive to Jasper. Sadly, we’d chosen exactly the wrong day to do that – the forest fires had caused lots of traffic to be diverted onto the Trans-Canadian Highway 1 we were on, it was a public holiday (“Heritage weekend”), and it was very, very hot. We finally arrived at the half-way point at 8 o’clock at night, after 6 hours driving. It was an amazing drive, but when we’d driven for 3 hours at 3 kilometres an hour, we’d stopped being wowed by the scenery. The picture on the left is a fire cloud – it grows rapidly above a forest fire, and because of the speed it grows, its quite distinctive. This fire was about 80 kilometres south of us, and had caused one of the road closures. Its really amazing to watch, as well as depressing.
After a dinner stop at the services at Lake Louise town (not to be recommended) we then drove up the 230km of the Icefield Parkway, the world’s third most beautiful highway, AT NIGHT! In total darkness, no moon, no glittery starlight. Just total pitch black. DOH! Anyway, we finally arrived at our B&B at 1am. (We had to stay in a B&B because the hostel was full. It’s the first time on the trip where the girls are in a separate room, and it’s really nice, especially after such a horrible day).