I have never lived in a place that had mountains. Heck, where I’m from, in Michigan, we barely have big hills. But here in Alberta, we have the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies – and my goodness, they are gorgeous.
That said, I am in no way, shape or form a “mountain girl” per se. I have always preferred the quiet darkness and peeking sunlight of a green forest. A path winding through, perhaps pinecones and sticks, the odd wildflower and ray of sunlight coming through branches to light on your cheek. I feel most at home there, and coming from Michigan, this is what true beauty looks like to me.
But, my husband is in awe of the sea and loves the mountains, and I have to admit, it is hard not to be. They are … majestic. If one can ever apply that word to anything, it is certainly used most appropriately in nature, and when confronted with a large, craggy mountain, covered in pine trees like ants on a picnic blanket. It is … awesome. But, in the way that means awe-inspiring, not the way I generally use the word, which is to describe anything that is evenly vaguely mediocre.
We drove up to the mountains for the day from our new home in Calgary. It was a whim, really, an on-the-fly decision that began as an almost shapeless idea mentioned over breakfast, and somehow, we were both in the car and heading up almost without realizing it. It’s a fast drive, especially since coming from Houston where a run from one end of the city to the other takes over an hour, in the same amount of time we found that we were hurtling toward mountains.
It seemed strange how simple it was for anyone in Calgary to quickly escape to the mountains, almost fleeing to another world, removed from time, by just driving an hour or so. But then, I recalled many, many quick drives from the University of Michigan to the lake for the day. The same need to escape, the same ease of finding that getaway in nature.
Our first stop was Canmore, a lovely little town with a natural soap company, candy shops, fudge shops, bike shops and a dozen places to grab knick-knacks that no one really wants. After this first stop, we climbed back into the car and drove further still, pulled along by pure curiosity and wanderlust to Banff National Park and the little city that bears the same name. The mountains seem endless on this drive, jutting here and there on both sides of the car, and one begins to wonder how anyone ever bothered looking at something as boring as a prairie. We entered Banff and passed by countless touristy-kitschy hotels with the appropriate amount of moose, antler, log cabin-y decor, and plaid, plaid, plaid. The town itself was oddly disconcerting in its tourist-centric vulgarity; but, the backdrop was beautiful, and I did wish for a moment that we had a reservation instead of a drive back home.
But, back we drove, both hungry for our dinner, past mountains and snow, and back into the city lights of Calgary, our new home. The mountains called, and we answered, and we will likely do so again and again.