Gentle Giants of Canada – part 5

Part 5 – Day 4
a.k.a. ‘If you fall, I fall’ (Aislin Fall).

I’ve written extensively about goodbyes. There’s something about them. The name alone hints at something never quite permanent, always sweet, a good thing. No matter how I look at it though, I still don’t like goodbyes.

It’s 05.48 and I wake up in Banff. It’s dark, but not as cold. Polly the car feels comfortable and familiar. It’s as good as a bed can get, even though I’m wearing multiple layers and the weight of a pile of blankets feels heavy. Next to me, Ashy is still asleep. It feels strange that these few days have been just that– days. They feel like a lifetime worth of days; as if this is all it’s ever been, as if this is all it’ll ever be. Funny also, how one could be so familiar with another being. We merged into each other’s lives and presence so easily, it’s like this is all it’s been– like we’ve always been here.

The night before, Ashy and I banned the word ‘last night in the Rocky Mountains’ and we didn’t want to talk about our impending departure. It doesn’t feel real. It’s not really happening. We’re an island and this is – currently – bliss. But morning comes like a ferry to ship us back to reality and there’s not much we can do other than accept it and make the most out of it. So we do.

We get our morning shot of caffeine at Evelyn’s Coffee Bar (some of the best coffee I’ve had!), go for a stroll around town and then hit the road to find a spot for breakfast. Neither the Rockies nor the weather let us down– the fourth morning in a row with breakfast in the sun and the most stunning view.

We get our morning shot of caffeine at Evelyn’s Coffee Bar (some of the best coffee I’ve had!), go for a stroll around town and then hit the road to find a spot for breakfast. Neither the Rockies nor the weather lets us down– the fourth morning in a row with breakfast in the sun and the most stunning view.

Neither Ashy, I or the Rockies are done with us though. It throws us another magnificent day as we wander, explore and get lost in stunningness drenched in sunlight. The stop at Kicking Horse river/pass lasts hours. It’s rather easy to be satisfied with the tourist area, which would have left us both full and without want. However, Ashy’s a true explorer. We follow the river and she refuses to be stopped by the waterfall, clambering on up to the point I can no longer see her. She returns a while later, while I’m sunbathing on a rock, studying the colours of the river and the way the sunlight plays with your vision, a big grin on her face.

We have a long drive ahead of us, so the moment we dreaded has become inevitable. We must leave now. We could whisper or shout our promises to return, but I think the Rockies know we’ll be back. We covered over 500KM of this vast area of insane beauty driving, went on daily hikes of which we never quite knew where they took us, had breakfast at the foot of a mountain and lunch with stunning views every day, found warmth in cold and dark nights and woke up every day with a smile because somehow, we knew it would be yet another beautiful day.

It’s easy to take things for granted. And I’ll admit— that lull of daily life is comforting. It’s also easy to get lost even though you walk the same road every day and know exactly where you’re heading. I, for one, have no idea where I’m heading. I don’t know where I’m going or where I want to go. The Rockies, in just three days, taught me a valuable lesson: it doesn’t really matter where you go. What matters is that you go. Climbing mountains is a tough task, it’s hard work, it’s a hardship. But that climb is almost always worth it if only so you can see the road you’ve travelled to get where you are. It’s easy for me to say this. Words are easy to say when you keep them at arm’s length. I’m trying to learn what the Rockies are trying to teach me. When I come back, I hope to have learnt at least some of it. I understand what I’m trying to tell myself and what I’ve often told others. Every landscape has its beauty and it’s (hidden) gems. But they don’t just get there. Things take time. But also– they take time to be appreciated.

We make one last stop before rolling into Kelowna (not counting the Starbucks we set out in search for, for something to eat and a cup of coffee). It’s a random stop off the highway that caught our eye as we rolled past. By the time we get to Kelowna, night has fallen. Bea’s house is warm, cosy and surprisingly awkward. There’s space to move around when changing into pyjamas. There’s no need for multiple layers. We’re still in ‘one bed’ only this one feels soft. The roof above my head is further away and more ceiling than a roof. It smells different. If I reach above my head, I find more wall and not the passenger’s seat. There’s no faint trace of vegan mac ‘n cheese still lingering from the previous night. It’s a house and it echoes differently and still, we settle in for a warm night and a deep sleep.

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