The Death Spiral, Too

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I was wandering around the Calgary Zoo. I hoped that the visit would cheer me. I started my zoo day, as I usually did, with a visit to the tigers. They weren’t out today. So I wandered down to see the elephants1. I got lucky. Their keepers were putting the elephants through their paces. Kamala was easily lifting a giant, black rubber ball with her trunk. The keeper was explaining why elephant dung was so dry. Too much information. The other two elephants, Swarna and Maharani, were waiting in the wings so to speak. I watched them pick up giant logs which must have weighed 500 pounds each. Toss them around like proverbial match sticks. The show ended and I moved along.

I heard the shrill call of a male peacock. I grinned to myself thinking of how my son could imitate that call so exactly. I made a mental note to invite him out to a movie. I wove my way through the cluster of strollers and soccer moms to the flamingo pond. There he was. As proud as, well, a peacock. Proudly displaying his tail feathers. I snapped a photo with my digital camera. I moved on deciding I had enough of the zoo today.

I crossed the bridge over the Bow. And decided to visit the Dinasor park. I had not toured it a long time. I wondered it there were anything new.

I stared up at the giant Tyranasaurus Rex as it emited a loud roar. Some of the toddlers surrounding me started crying. Why the hell did their parents bring them here. I wouldn’t bring my kids and scare them, I thought, or would I?. I had never seen him before. The animatronic T-Rex had recently been introduced as a key attraction to the Dinosaur Park at the Calgary Zoo. I thought it was amazingly realistic realistic. I wouldn’t want to be munched by him. Or would I?

It was just 49 days till I hit the wall.

An excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved

1The trio of elephants who graced the zoo for years was transferred to the Smithsonian National Zoo in May of 2014.


The Death Spiral

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The Death Spiral

It was a woodframe building capped with a green metal roof. A solar panel was mounted on the south facing section of the roof. The large windows at the front and sides of the building were framed with 6 inch wide pine boards. Below the windows the wall was studded with randomly arranged river rocks. A wooden deck edged with log rails and posts ran across the front and to the sides of the building. A sign above the front door of the building announced in red letters ICEFIELD HELICOPTER TOURS. In smaller blue letters the word SIGHTSEEING. The building was located near a community in the Canadian Rockies named Saskatchewan Crossing.

My daughter had driven me here from her home in Lake Louise. The owners of the company had given her a complimentary pass for a helicopter tour. She wanted to use the pass before she left her job. She generously offered to take me along for the ride. I had driven out from Calgary the day before.

I was introduced to the owner of the company and he and my daughter chit chatted awhile. Then she and I were escorted to the field next to the building. Our helicopter was being prepared for take off. We arrived at the doors of the helicopter and the pilot said, “who wants to sit up front?”

My daughter said, “You go up front Dad. I’ve done this tour before.”

So, I sat in my seat at the front. I seemed surrounded by glass. The door to my left was clear glass. Beneath my feet was a large area of glass. The pilot revved the engine. We began hovering about 3 feet above the grassy field. Then the helicopter moved not up but sideways. The pilot flew the helicopter almost to road before he lifted higher. God damn jet jockey, I thought.

We flew over the Icefields Parkway towards the Iceields themselves. Soon we were grazing towering rock castles. This late in June there were still fields of snow on the ground. Then we saw it. The fissured blue face and magnificent expanse of the Athabasca Glacier. But, all I could think was, if I could jump out of this helicopter I could be free.

It was just 56 days till I would hit the wall.

An excerpt from CRASH! Memories of a Healing Journey, Lyle T. Lachmuth, All Rights Reserved