This was one of
the ways a fishing trip could begin. For openers, the airline smashed my
tackle, and in less than 24 hours after starting I lay in bed at our hotel in
companion, was speaking to the house physician. "It came on him very
suddenly," he said. "He didn't even finish his drink."
I lay there, the
poisoned pup of American angling, and wondered about the long flight north the
next day. At that moment our itinerary seemed to lie heavy upon the land. We
were going up into the Skeena drainage, and I realized that if I could stop
vomiting (and rueing the prawn dinner that had precipitated this eventuality) I
would see matchless country and have angling to justify all the trouble. It
would be the perfect antidote to food poisoning and all the dark things that
As it was, the
trip seemed a trifle askew. Coming in from Seattle, I had inadvertently been
thrust among the members of an Ohio travel group; a mixed bag, coming from all
parts of the country. "We're with Hiram Tours," one man said to our
stewardess as we flew north from Seattle. "Is that Alaska down there? Or
began a quick and voluntary rundown of the glories of Our Neighbor to The
North. "There is a mountain in Banff," she explained momentously,
"that they've named Mount Eisenhower." She paused to look first at the
blank uncomprehending faces, then at the sullen Pacific beneath us. She exhaled
audibly. "After your former President, that would be."
We flew on for
some time in silence.
One of the tour
group looked up suddenly, beaming from the map in his lap. "Strait of Juan
de Fuca!" he cried.
That's all right;
I could take it. I was ready for this kind of thing. I was going to virgin
country and I still hadn't got food poisoning and my companion hadn't yet had
to call the house physician to say, "He didn't even finish his
They had been to
San Francisco and were doing the resum� now: "Filthah hippahs!" said a
lady from Little Rock. Then a young man bound for Vietnam announced, "Well,
I'm off to defend my country!" in terms that seemed less than totally
sincere. So the tour group, for this and other reasons, grew restive and was
ready to pile off the plane by the time we arrived at Victoria.
I registered at
the Empress Hotel, a stupendous Victorian edifice where the bellhops scurry
like hamsters and the waiters in the dining room simper any number of hopes
about your meal; exactly the place to have an R.A.F. mustache and answer,
"Quite gud, rally." Frank, my fishing companion, arrived and we talked
about our trip north. Then early to bed with glimpses of the curious Victoria
skyline, a pastiche of the highrise and the venerable.