A Weekend Escape

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Being a Michigander, snow is nothing new to me. It holds no real fascination or wonder. It simply … is. For almost nine long years, I lived without it (excepting jaunts back home to visit family or holiday trips to Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam, etc.). But still, moving to a place that has snow and cold holds no real special meaning for me, and I didn’t consider cold weather to be a negative, or an obstacle, nor something to celebrate. Snow and cold weather are simply a fact of life to me, no matter how ethereal and beautiful snowflakes appear to my Texan husband.

That said, Alberta is much, much colder than either of us bargained for. It is harsh and almost cruel in its relentless snowfalls and teeth-chatteringly frigid days. We decided we really needed a break, an escape to a different clime. What better way to flee these temperatures and winter blues than to … travel farther north into the mountains where it’s even colder?

We had driven up to the mountains for a day-trip a few weekends before, but had decided that to fully experience our new home, we needed to stay a weekend in the great Canadian Wilderness. Apparently, this had to be done in the middle of absolute nowhere within Banff National Park, where there was no cell phone reception, and the Wi-Fi was charmingly described as “spotty on good days.”

But, once the idea had taken hold in our heads, we eagerly awaited the trip, and when the day arrived, we excitedly drove the 90 minutes up past Banff National Park, to the Bow Valley and Lake Louise. We found our log cabin resort, complete with chalets and Adirondack chairs, wood fires and questionable hiking trails. We brought our small dog, who happens to love snow but only for five or so minutes before he wants to be carried, and we also brought unsatisfactory boots, no knitted hats and I’d forgotten my gloves. We were off to a good start.

But still, it was beautiful. I’ve said before that mountains aren’t as moving to me as say, fresh lake water or a deep green forest in sunlight, but they get the job done when it comes to inspiring awe. The Canadian Rockies surrounded us, and a little train tripped by every few hours on the tracks toward the back of the property near an unbelievably clear river, where one could glimpse each rock perfectly on the bottom.

It was cold though, as I said. Bitterly so. And the walking paths and hiking trails were basically just slick ice disguised as paths, and the spaces next to said paths were that special kind of “quicksand” snow wherein one step brings you all the way to your thighs in wetness. We took care to wander about two or three times each day for about 20 minutes each time, but after that, our noses were running so completely and our feet were slipping so mercilessly that we would quickly escape back inside to our warm fire and blankets. Besides that, with no Wi-Fi, no cell phone reception, and no TV, there was little to do but talk, snuggle and play cards until darkness fell each night.

Fortunately, any escape can be a worthy one. And while this wasn’t the sunny, coconut-saturated escape we both needed from the frozen north, it was still coldly lovely and as romantic as two people and one dog huddled in a blanket next to a fireplace with a train chugging by outside can possibly be.

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