There was an eerie feeling heading into the village last Sunday, a stillness in the air. The roadblock at Nita Lake Lodge was abandoned, no police, no security personnel. The white barn encroaching on the bend in the road where they checked the undersides of cars for bombs was unmanned and unwomaned. A varied thrush warbled its metallic trill as if to announce my arrival on the lifeless street.
The corner of Lake Placid and 99 looked like a Twilight Zone set. The dozen police, whose Olympic duty seemed to consist of anchoring each corner, keeping people from crossing the empty highway until the light said it was permissible and taking turns doing whatever they were doing in their comically, if unkindly, named pigloos had simply vanished. So had the handful manning the barricades at the Whistler Way parkade at the other end of my trip.
Finally, I spotted two OPP officers loitering outside the conference centre looking tired and bored, perhaps daydreaming of finally getting to go home and sleep in their own beds. For the first time in a month, they looked out of place.
"Miss the bus?" I asked.
It was a new day. The last day. The day before the day we'd begin to get the village back to a semblance of whatever normal will be in the upthrust wake of the biggest hangover to ever hit town.
The Seekers' So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya kept spinning in the jukebox in my head, a wistful auf Wiedersehen to those being swept down valley by the reality of their return trip to the real world, wherever in the world their reality awaited.
The Village Stroll was swept clean of debris but had the look of well-worn carpet, beaten down, shoe shuffle dirty and sorely in need of a refreshing rain and a couple of days of warm sunshine bleaching.
The people I saw looked tired and partied-out. Most bore a striking resemblance to the "Before" pictures in ads for detox spas, all except for a clutch of revelers still going strong, singing and arguing boisterously in an Eastern European language I didn't recognize but tend to classify as coming from one of the moose-and-squirrel countries spawned by the meltdown of the Soviet Union, though for all I know they could have been bouncing Czechs.
The CTV crew - Motto: No Sentiment too Sappy - seemed less poofed and primped than they had earlier in the week. A gofer muttered conspiratorially to another low level grunt about needing to run down to the store for cucumbers because the on-camera personality had bags under her eyes the size of steamer trunks.