If someone were to ask me whether I would take a Craigslist rideshare alone with a male stranger, I would say "no, not under any circumstances." And that, as it turns out, would be a lie. Due to a serious case of Edmonton malaise, I took a ride yesterday afternoon to Banff, almost 500 kms away, with a railway worker doing a job out there. At first, when he said the ride was free, alarm bells went off. But he had his reasons, which I won't relate here as he asked me not to. I wondered briefly what my mom would think, asked to see his ID, took a look at his truck, and then climbed in. It turned out to be the right decision. I'm not dead, for one, but it also yielded five hours of talk with the interesting gent through Albertan prairie, foothills and mountains. He was even so nice as to drive me right up to the hot springs in Banff, where I soaked my knee that's still aching from my wipeout in Edmonton. Afterward, as my body stunk of eggy sulphur from the water, I poked around "downtown" Banff with its Louis Vuitton, Gap and Foot Locker stores. This morning I went on a bike ride to Sundance Canyon (only about 10 mins from downtown), where all my bear fears were realized. I rounded a corner and about 10 metres away a teenage black bear was strolling along the paved bike path. It took one look at me and ran, while I scrambled for my camera. Nothing doing, so no pictures as proof. I was pretty wary of continuing alone, so I joined up with an American and Dutch couple who were fascinated by my bear tale. So there railway worker who laughed when I attached a bear bell to my knapsack in the Banff Springs parking lot! Tonight, I'm taking a bus to Jasper where I'll grab a train to Vancouver tomorrow afternoon. Slight change in plans, but I hear that's what this travelling business is all about.