I'd love to complain about driving Erin to Calgary for violin lessons every month. I could come up with a lot of reasons to complain -- the time, the money, the environmental cost of all that gas, the white knuckle drives over the Rogers Pass at night in rain or snowstorms. The doughnut and coffee stops that leave us all feeling worse than we did before. The bare bones motel rooms with cinder block walls. The time I left my wallet behind and had to do a 4 and a half hour backtrack to get it, the stress that time I thought we'd missed the last ferry across Upper Arrow Lake.
But the truth is, the trip has a lot to commend it. A couple of days off cooking. Clean rooms and clean sheets, nothing to do before bed but read and watch motel TV. No laundry to be folded, no kitchen disaster zone that ought to be dealt with. When we arrive we are welcomed as if we're family at Erin's teacher's home. There are hugs all around for and from my normally unhuggable kids. There are meals and stories and jokes shared, things shown off and appreciated, and a wonderful sense of connection all around.
And the drive ... well, I think to myself "where else would I rather spend 7 hours driving?" Today we started on the prairie. Cattle, horses, haybales, gold on the ground and a huge blue sky.
As the first hour of the drive ends, this is our view: continental divide -- due west.
And then, before we know it, we're inside the mountains. We pass through Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. In fact, we're inside these parks more than we're outside them on the way home, and the scenery outside them is really not any less spectacular. The highway varies from the tame four-lane valley-bottom driving through Banff NP to the wild and wooly two-lane Rogers Pass section with its avalanche-protection tunnels, claustrophobic gullies and sharp curves.
Today the weather was almost perfect for driving. Partly cloudy, with big snatches of blue sky. Several times we passed through the small clouds that were all that hung between us and the sun. The experience of being inside a small top-lit cloud on a mountain pass is far different from being trapped on a foggy highway somewhere else. The sky is was not overcast above the highway-hugging clouds today, so they were lit up bright, every molecule of water vapour acting like a potent sun-diffuser. Light was everywhere. It wasn't shining from somewhere, it was captured within the cloud, and we were positively drenched in it. Everywhere around us was such brightness that it was almost blinding.
We stopped at the hot springs an hour north of home and rolled in pretty late despite an early start, but what a drive! This was Erin's fourth set of lessons in as many months, and our third drive to Calgary. While I expect it'll all seem a trial before too long, it's not getting old yet.