Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Crowsnest

We came home from Calgary a different way this month, via the Crowsnest Pass. It's not really much of a pass, as it climbs gradually and imperceptibly for the most part, without exposed steep grades or a lot of crazy switchbacking, and it doesn't get as high as the Rogers or Kicking Horse. The mountains aren't as stark and rocky as those farther north. But it has its own attractions, especially to a family that has travelled the more northerly route many times this year.

We took secondary highways through the foothills leaving Alberta, through the most beautiful rolling and crinkling ranchland. Due to the early start my photographers were asleep, so you'll have to imagine the creeks, dells and sloughs, the rocky hills and mountains in the distance. It was pouring rain but so beautiful.

The kids awoke in time for a snack, a view of the giant wind turbines at the intersection with the main highly and to ogle the Frank Slide, which still looks devastating and inspires awe 105 years after it happened. We ended up at the very front of the queue at a level crossing as an immense CPR train snaked past. As we live far from a railway line, the kids were entranced. Due to the grade, the train was travelling very slowly. We fantasized about jumping on. It was a lovely place to spend 15 minutes. The river was in full spring flush, the deciduous trees finally leafing out in their fresh yellow-greens, the mountains and the clouds and mist drifting and shifting.

In Cranbrook we picked up a new Ameraucana chicken for our flock. Sophie and Fiona insisted on carrying it on their laps for much of the trip home.

We headed for the M.V. Osprey, a large free car ferry, across Kootenay Lake. I had assumed that the ferry was on summer schedule as of the May long weekend, but it isn't for another couple of weeks. So we had a long wait and I had to use the trusty cellphone to let Erin's piano teacher know that we would be late for piano recital. She knew we were hurrying in from Calgary and was very understanding.

Hot chocolates and the view from the upper lounge were enjoyed. In one way it was fortunate that we were late for the piano recital -- after weeks of attending too many concerts for their own liking, the younger three kids were thrilled to attend a 15-minute recital. Erin was the very last performer. I felt guilty -- it felt almost as rude as leaving after your child plays -- but there was nothing I could do about it. Erin played her Khatchaturian with thrilling aplomb (I think she plays it almost as well as this guy, but I have yet to videotape her doing it).

And then we headed for home. It was a nice change of scenery coming the south route. Factoring in the piano recital, it was not a longer drive for us this time, although most of the time, not needing to get to Nelson, it would add about 90 minutes to the overall drive.

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