I get lost all the time. I take “alternate” routes quite often, almost always because I miss a turn or three and have to meander my way to the destination instead of striking a direct path. Today, I was leaving Calgary during morning rush hour, about to embark on the sixish hour journey to the Shuswap region of BC, and I missed my turn.
Possibly, the ramp was poorly marked due to construction signage or misplaced pigeons, and even the most skilled navigator would have been stumped. More likely, though, I did what I usually do: ended up taking the long way. I generally refer to this as having an “adventure.” Phrasing it this way makes me sound much more capable than telling folks I “got lost” en route.
I was supposed to zing out of Calgary on the Trans-Canada highway, number 1, to head west into the mountain parks through Banff National Park and onward into beautiful British Columbia. Somehow, I ended up heading west on Highway 1-A. In many ways, it was actually an improvement to take the back road. Instead of being folded tightly into holiday traffic, semi trucks, and hordes of those crazy long-distance cyclists who are always hunched over, I found myself on a rinky-dinky secondary highway, winding my way across farmland and crossing through wee towns as I edged closer to the Rockies. For several kilometres at a time this morning, I saw no other cars. It was a peaceful little journey, and I loved it. I ended up in Banff as planned, and carried on from there.
The coolest part, by far, of my adventure was “finding” the mountains. This morning was cold, drizzly, and extremely misty in southern Alberta. Instead of watching the mountains grow larger on the horizon from my cramped lane on the big highway, I drove over a hill, around the corner on top of a ridge, and there was a great big mountain at the end of the valley, like it had somehow materialized when I wasn’t looking. The little highway through the foggy forest meant that each curve in the road brought a new view, and the landscape became increasingly spectacular as the hills I drove became steeper and rockier.
I’ve lived in Alberta all my little life, and I’ve been to and through the Rockies many times. My familiarity with the mountains doesn’t seem to matter, though, because every time I go I’m as amazed as the first visit. My route this morning even missed the steepest and craggiest parts of Alberta’s mountains (I’d need to go all the way to Jasper for those) but I still stopped singing (Alice in Chains, if you were wondering) to let my mouth hang open every now and again.
I didn’t really get any photos today. It was far too cold and raining too hard for me to stand out at the side of the road with my camera. Also, most of highway 1-A has zero shoulder, so there was no place to pull over. Hopefully, when The Electrician and I drive back through next week, the weather will be sunny and delightful, and I will be able to post some of the things that make me stare slack-jawed.
Now, I’m happily installed in the Shuswap, where beautiful, clear lakes nestle between old, rounded mountains. I cannot wait to toss myself into the water and forget about the real world for a while.
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