Monday, April 14, 2008

I blew the mountains a kiss for you...

I can't believe it's been a week since I was there.  After our return home last Wednesday morning, it's been laundry, groceries, dishes, laundry, mud, and snotty kleenexes.  Sounds like a perfect reason to relive our 24-hour adventure in the Rockies, don't you think?

Disclaimer:  the pictures don't do it justice.  I don't believe I can really share what it's like to drive through the mountains, that it's an experience you have to have in real life, and I'm sorry about that.  This will have to do...through the window of our rented truck.

Even still, the photos aren't bad.  Can you get an idea of what it's like?

#1 Statement, throughout the whole trip, including the Juno events (even though we'd done that before):  "I can't believe we're here."

#2 Statement:  "Would you ever get tired of this?"

I would get tired of the Juno Award style pace.  I cannot party every night until 2 or 5 am.  After Sunday, I was done!  But this... I don't know.  I don't think I'd get tired of it.

If anything, I would eventually burn out from the awe and magnificence of it all!  The way those peaks rise up into the sky, like they could crush me, blot out the sun, stand as a monument to millions of years of unfathomable change yet stand there unchangeable... that could blow my mind.  Permanently.

For that reason, I don't think I could live in the mountains.  I am a rolling hills-and-trees-and-fields kind of person.  I need lots of sky.  Even living in the forest would suffocate me, regardless of the beauty.  I do think it's soul satisfying to get out and see a different kind of nature's beauty, and I feel so fortunate that we took the opportunity to see the mountains.   It is impossibly, stunningly... beautiful, for lack of a more impressive word!

Cue the angel choir...

The sky changed every couple of minutes.  We picked a good afternoon to head into the rocks.  The sun was on its way down, lighting everything up.

Lake Louise - that's where we ended up.  This is the Fairmont resort.  It was built around the 1920s, I believe.  Pretty magnif.  We popped into the pub downstairs for a rather expensive appetizer and two beers.

Lake Louise itself is about a zillion miles deep and is frozen from November through June!  It's never warm.  In summer it's a brilliant emerald green, from all the rock particles, but of course it's frozen solid in early April.

Again, our little camera couldn't fit all the mountains in.  These are some serious peaks.  It kind of snapped my brain.

You know what was in my head when I was standing on the edge of the frozen lake, staring up slack jawed at the mountains?  Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.  And then the whole Doxology went through my head.  All the hallelujahs in four part harmony.  It was Hymn 606 in the old Mennonite Hymnal when I was a kid.  

I wouldn't expect everybody to have a religious experience in this place, because I do think that's unique to an individual's life.  However, I don't think you can be here and walk away unaffected.  You'd have to be impressed by science, geology, history.  That feeling of insignificance in comparison.  Or, a feeling of being absolutely ONE with everything.  I am part of that huge mountain.  The sky is part of me.  Everything.  You will feel something and everything.

On our way back to the ranch -- oh I love the sound of that! - we took the Bow Valley Parkway, which runs parallel to the Trans Canada Highway.  It's the scenic route.  You can't go very fast, but there are quite a few spots to pull over for pictures or to let someone else get past.  

It just never stopped!  The Incredible gorgeous scenery!  I couldn't believe it!  Just when you think you've seen it all, there's another view that you couldn't quite wrap your head around!  Thank God for EYES!


No views like this where I come from.

Back on the Trans Canada, Jethro put his foot into the pedal and made it get up and dance. My face was pummeled by the DIESEL POWER!!! What a way to tour the great wide West!

By the time we got to Banff it was getting dark.  I think it was around 8 pm but even though I was looking at the clock on the dash, I had no clue what time it was.  It didn't matter.  

Jethro had to see Banff Springs Hotel.  It's like a mountain; so vast it can't fit into our little camera.  This is from the front, and this is only the central part:

This is from the back.  Jethro was getting all ah-ty about the picture taking...

I was hitting the Brick Wall Of Tired at this point, and while sitting in a very odd funky slightly grungy but very interesting restaurant in the village of Banff, Jethro accused me of bottoming out from not taking the meds.  It had been a few days since I'd taken an Effexor.  I had felt soooo good for days, but this was it.  He had a point, and I promised I'd take one the next day before we got on our plane.  But you know what?  We were on our fourth day of Non-stop Go.  I was physically tired, mentally full, and after the tour of the Rockies, having a serious Sensory Overload!

At 11 pm, we snuck back onto the ranch in the pitch black dark and had a lovely sleep.  I've already written about our morning at Rafter 6... and how after breakfast we had to stop and visit with the critters, including the huge dog and the sad little DONKEY.

I forgot to mention that we watched the horses come in for their breakfast too.

And that you can eat beef all day out in cattle country!

As much as we hated to leave, it was time.  We missed our kids so much it hurt.  I have mentioned that we fully intend to return to Rafter 6 again, with our teenagers.  They would love it out here.  (Really though, who wouldn't?)

I was kinda worried about my husband though.  I was afraid that turning the truck in at the GMC rental garage would break him down into tears.  He enjoyed the heck outta that truck.  Mind you, we've never heard anything good about the Duramax diesel.  He's always been a Chevy truck kind of guy, but he'd take the Ford Powerstoke or the Dodge Cummins instead.  And I didn't like the goofy symbols on the dash -- okay, you don't have to read English, but now nobody can understand -- and I hated the heater controls as much as I hate the panel on my own 19 year old truck... but hot damn, this thing was powerful, smooth, just generally sweet.  

He let me drive it out of the ranch.  And then onto the highway.  And then I just sort of... kept driving.  Aaaaaall the way into Calgary!  Me, with my highway paranoia!  It helps that there's not much traffic out there compared to southern Ontario.  My mom faces more traffic in the ten minutes it takes her to get into town to work from their farm.  

So our 24 hour Ranch/ Rockies Adventure took us through a total of 6 hours of driving, and $70 worth of diesel, which would have been at least twice that in a gas engine.  We went, we saw, we were awed and stunned.  We ate, I rode, we cuddled critters, and spent lots of time talking and discussing and laughing.  

Our annual Juno trip is a work trip, make no mistake, but it's also fun for us.  We can get dressed up.  We get to see different parts of Canada, which is something few Canadians actually get to do.  There's a lot of geography to cover!  Most of all we get to spend a few days TOGETHER which is a rarity for us.  It's a brutal business, and every hour together is appreciated.  Sure we spend much of our time away talking about what stuff our kids would like, and always say we need to come back with them, and even discussed the possibility of bringing them with us to the Junos some day... and I may have whipped out school photos of them at some point... but we love our getaway.  It's worth the jet lag and sore feet and threadbare bank account.

And we had a lot of pictures to show our other two favourite people once we got home!  


CindyDianne said...

A lovely post Heidi. You made it come alive for me!! And the pictures! I wanna go and stay in that Banff Springs Hotel! Bad!

Olly said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! Always nice to come home again though, huh. Aside from the laundry and catching up on stuff, lol.

You're right, looking at the mountains never gets old. I have never been too keen on driving through them too much. Logging trucks, mud slides, crazy drivers etc, can make for some white-knuckle times. I prefer looking from an airplain. I do, however, have a great Mount Benson view from my front window!

Olly said...

Sheesh...spell check!

pluvialis said...

Fantastic stuff. Being among mountains does something to your head, doesn't it. But you know, my favourite picture of the whole lot is the one of you driving the TRUCK!

Tod said...

Absolutely beautiful...

Trailboss said...

Great pictures!! Love love your blog!

Anita said...

Love this post! I haven't had a vacation in over 23 years, but this was sort of like a "virtual" vacation... :) Beautiful pictures!

dilling said...

welcome home....

katy said...

wonderful, truly wonderful, I love mountains.
just want to let you know that I am taking a break for a while, hope to be back, till then byeeeeeeeeeeee x

Stephanie Lee said...

you've got some very pretty land and really cute horses. I'm a sucker when it comes to horses

Lynn Sinclair said...

You look so tiny beside that gigantic truck. The pictures and commentary are lovely, Heidi.

Heidi the Hick said...

Lynn, that truck is higher than my own. I had to grab the handle over the door (good thing they put that there) and pull myself up into it! When I drove it I had to grab the steering wheel. Well, I do that in my truck too. One of these days I'm going to pay out for some running boards!

From behind the wheel though, everything evens out.

Fun test drive but it'll be a few more years before we own one of those. Ours will do for now quite sufficiently.

The kids meanwhile are busy planning THEIR trip out west!

billie said...

Gorgeous photos - I love the Banff ones best for some reason.

I love the mountains in general. Being in the vicinity of mountains always gets my writing flow surging forward. I used to take a writing retreat to the mountains here every year, but since we got the horses it's been tough to get away.

And I'm totally jealous of that big truck!

JKB said...

What gorgeous mountains! I'll just bet that the kids are getting ther plans together.

rain said...

I love both the Banff Springs and the Fairmont!! Thanks for the mini holiday while sitting on my couch!!

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, I LOVE Banff and Lake Louise!! Gorgeous!
I've only ever been to both in the summer, when the lake was swimming pool blue and frigid. (I met a porcupine on the trail there.... Fortunately, he was sleepy and bored.)
Wonderful photos!

Heidi the Hick said...

Isn't vicarious travel wonderful!

terry said...

"thank god for eyes!" is the quote of the week!

thanks for posting these spectacular pics. gorgeous.

jerry said...

Reading your blog, viewing your photos, I am even more motivated to finish my 32nd year as a teacher and get on the road with my RV and Silverado diesel!
I worked an extra year for the Duramax, and I am glad I did.
Thank you for sharing the very spiritual trip!

Nicole said...

Oo, I LOVE this post! Gosh, it's pretty there, isn't it? Even in pictures it takes my breath away. Thanks for sharing these!
(Nice truck, too). :-)