70/7000 An Anguished Transition- Heading Home

Days 55 and 56   August 19 & 20, 2001

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Stopping to camp in High River, Alberta for few days and realizing I’m getting anxious about going home.  I had learned so much about myself on this trip.  Would it stick after I got back to the real world? When I get back to my teaching job? When I’m throw into the world of workplace politics?

I need a good self help book but I left my collection at home. I always enjoy reading books by authors who have things  figured out or biographies of  people who have overcome obstacles.   I saw a book in Jasper about a woman who hiked The Rockies all by herself but I knew I shouldn’t buy it because I’m getting close to running out of money.

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I heard someone say that we all  have the answers to life, we just have to be reminded. (I’m making myself a list on a fresh, clean page.)

What is a person who can successfully take on life?

  • An optimist
  • A risk taker
  • A person with a stubbornness of conviction
  • Someone with  intelligence, a degree of wisdom and understanding
  • Someone not afraid to be different, not a crowd follower or people pleaser
  • Someone passionate, who has enough drive to put dreams into actions, who keeps climbing and plugging away
  • A person confident but not to the point of arrogance
  • A person who stands up for herself as she voices her feelings, opinions and boundaries; strong but never to the point ruthlessness

ANXIETY! I have fallen short on each one of these points many times during my life. Am I really going to be better?   The reality of day-to-day  life will be a challenge.  All of this isn’t even a matter of courage, we are all afraid. Do I have enough faith to believe everything will be okay? I know I have gained much on this trip but will it be enough?

I closed the journal, thought of my mom, and wrote her a letter.

Dear Mom,

You always ask me to write you letters, well, here I  go. I want to make sure that you know I admire you. You are strong and have always managed to overcome the challenges life has given you. I’m really proud of the joy and adventure you now have going on senior citizen bus trips with your friends. You did this change on your own and took this risk to have more fun in your life. I know the other ladies are really enjoying your company.  I’m very proud of you.

Love always, your daughter

I will send out the letter when I cross the border into my home country once again.

Here at sunset in The Canadian Rockies, I am feeling nostalgic, sentimental, and weepy but also grateful.

Mom Blog

( My mom in later life. She lived to be 96)

70/7000 The Columbia Icefields and The Continental Divide

Days 51, 52, 53  August 15, 16 & 17, 2001

The first thing I did when I woke up in my van in the parking lot  in Jasper, Alberta, was to walk over to the gas station restroom.  Thankfully no one had locked it.  I then drove  to a quick stop and got a large cup of coffee and a muffin. More moments of gratitude when I got a tent site at the campgrounds, took a shower, and set  up my bed back in the tent.IMG_2353-001

The next day, I realized why I needed reservations in Jasper.  Not far away were The Columbian Icefields.  They are a big tourist attraction, 2.3 square miles, 3.7 miles long and 1,200 feet deep.  Formed between 238,000 and 126,000 BC. during the Great Glaciation, they lay astride of the Continental Divide where mountain waters flowed to The Pacific on one side and The Atlantic on the other.

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Tourists from all over the world were brought to the site in snowcoaches from The Icefields Visitors Center.

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This whole trip is based on the principle of serendipity.  I had no idea this attraction existed.  What a wonderful discovery.

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70/7000 Beautiful Lake Louise, The Canadian Rockies

 

Day 47  August 11, 2001

A take my breath away moment, seeing Lake Louise for the first time.

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As I stood at the edge of the lake, very engaged in gawking with my mouth open, a ranger with a survey on a clipboard saw my  potential  as an extremely positive statistic. “Would you considered this the most beautiful place you have ever seen?” she asked.

My answer surprised me. “No” I said.

“What do you consider as the most beautiful place you have ever seen?

“My backyard.” I replied.

The ranger scribbled something down and thanked me. Maybe not the answer she wanted but for me it was the truth. My backyard is the most beautiful place in the world  because it is home. It holds me in its arms and give me peace like no other place on earth. I’m safe there. I love traveling but  going  home is pretty wonderful, too. A few more days  north in the Canadian Rockies and then homeward bound.

I met Jack and Henny back at the campgrounds.  They were from the Netherlands and invited me to  hike with them the next day to The Tea House on top of one of the mountains. I thanked them and we arranged to meet in the morning.

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I thought about  how much the kindness of strangers had helped my dreams come true this summer, wonderful people who with simple gestures took the fear out of my journey. It is a good world. Yes, there are curt people who don’t take the time to look into the warmth of others’ hearts. I discovered that I was more likely to find this attitude in places of conspicuous consumption, where objects are more important than people.

Our smiles, kind words, open postures, helpfulness, non threatening questions, and genuine interest in people have a ripple effect on our immediate environment and the world.

Another great day. My heart is smiling.

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70/7000 The Eagle, the Wolf, And the Wildlife Bridge-Banff, Alberta, Canada

 Days 44 and 45    August 8 & 9, 2001

Crossed into Canada, I’m in Banff. Quite a tourist town!  More glitz than I’ve seen in the last few weeks. As looked over the lake towards a beautiful mountain scene, I saw my very first bald eagle.  I’m one of those people who get excited even over little things, especially when they concern nature.  This sighting is something I’ll never forget.

I love to drive. I sing along with my favorite music or acquire a whole bunch of interesting information from NPR or just think.  This morning the whole concept of tempo consumed my mind.  I found the definition in a dictionary at a bookstore in Banff, ‘tempo, the rate of motion or activity.” I decided it really doesn’t matter if a tempo is fast or slow.  I think consistency is important, a steady repetitiveness that forms a rhythm. Pace yourself. Pick a stride and stick with it. The tortoise and the hare. Steady wins the race. On this trip, I’m realizing that it is not where you go that counts, as long as you keep moving forward.  A metaphor for life?

I got a campsite in the Banff National Park. A wolf actually ran through the campgrounds by my site.  Nobody seemed to get excited. I loved it!

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Canadians are so into ecology and the environment.  I went to another ranger talk and learned that there was a problem because a  of lot wild animals were being killed on The Trans Canada Highway. The government came up with some solutions.  They built wildlife bridges that  were made to look as inviting as possible with trees, bushes and soil.

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(Picture courtesy of Rebecca Latson of National Parks Traveler)

Also, tunnels  were constructed under the highways to allow animals to pass  unharmed.

A fence along the highway became somewhat of an unsolvable problem.  The wolves learned that if they chased mountain sheep into the fence at a good clip, the sheep would hit the fence, become dazed, and be an easy kill.  The lesson of survival of the fittest, adaptation and resourcefulness, is demonstrated once again.

70 Days, 7000 Miles, Day 4

June 26, 2001

Yesterday’s words with M.H. were aging, loneliness, inability, and dying. But today we lived new words.

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M.H. drove me to her yacht club so we could go sailing.  She had her own sailboat and the woman who the night before worried about the inability to perform daily mundane tasks took that boat out on the water and gave me the ride of my life.  It was a little breezy and at one point I thought we would capsize. As the second mate, I followed her directions and we kept afloat. The words of the day were capable, graceful,  joyful, and alive.

That night we went to a Toastmasters’ dinner, Canadian style. I  talked to a woman named Nicole, a woman who had known a few more springtimes than me but had a incredible spirit and smile. M.H. had told her about my summer odyssey and Nicole gave me a voucher for a three night stay  in a condo near Banff,  Alberta. She said she wouldn’t have the opportunity to use it.  I thanked her and told her that  now my trip had a definite destination.  I am going to the Canadian Rockies.

It was a great day. A story of beautiful words.