Since June 8th we’ve added roughly 10,000 km to our trusty car traveling to Ottawa and back, plus a little spontaneous road trip to BC for me with some of the finest female friends this world has to offer. We might just be road tripped out after this extended excursion. But that won’t keep us down. No, no, no. Our final car prayer on Wednesday morning on the last leg of our journey from Calgary to Camrose went something like this “Lord, Thank you for a safe journey. We pray that we arrive home safely today where we will spend roughly 96 hours before we turn around and leave for another 2 months.” Oh my.
We are hitting the road again on Sunday afternoon where we’ll head to Calgary for some Baptism and Stampede loving times. From there we’ll be heading to my beloved homeland, British Columbia, for the remainder of the summer. We will make our way all around that great province visiting, sun bathing, working a bit, swimming, camping and BBQing all over the place. We are quite excited.
However, our time spent traveling around in our beloved Kabuki (our trusty steel steeds name) this month is not soon forgotten. With time in the car comes the ability to creatively use the energy building up inside that would rather not be confined to a vehicle. On the way to Ottawa, Dan, a family friend who is basically a brother and Pierre, Robbie’s actual brother, drove with us. It was quite the treat. We had a road trip bucket list which included such items as: swim in as many great lakes as possible, read a book together, pray every time we started the car for a safe journey and for someone back home, beat your instagram top likes, do a photo shoot in an abandoned building, and make it to the wedding. We happily accomplished all of the above.
One of my favorite memories comes from a little detour Robbie and I took on our way home on our leg from Swift Current, Saskatchewan to Calgary. About an hour west of Swift Current we headed north on highway 21 towards Fox Valley. This little village is where my paternal grandfather spent his first days training in Morse code. His family grew up in a homestead called Krupp. Krupp no longer exists, but we did our darnedest to find where we thought it would be. Thank goodness for google maps or else we might still be out there trying to find our way around. We were also able to visit a graveyard where my grandfather’s infant brother and namesake is buried. There we found a note my grandfather had left in 2007 in the guest book thanking those who have kept it in such good shape. It was quite lovely.
It is actually an incredible area. I found Saskatchewan to be so distinct from Alberta, mostly because there are just less people there. The simple beauty of the land really speaks for itself. I felt the beckoning of family members long gone there. When we visited Fox Valley, it was a stunning prairie morning. The skies were effortlessly blue, the fields were rolling in all shades of grassy green and canola yellow. The birds of prey were out in full force. Robbie kept saying things like “This is where your roots are,” and in reference to a purchase I declared I needed to make that morning “They came here and lived in mud huts. Are you sure you need a hairdryer?” Always the practical one that Robbie.
What I have learned from this road trip is that time spent in a car is not time to be wasted. Time spent in a car is time to observe, time to think, time to see what we don’t always get to see. Somewhere on our journey home around Montana I began thinking about how each of us sees things from the perspective of a car seat so differently. For example, when Robbie drives he sees 2 or 3 cars in front of him indicating barriers and dangers such as wild deer and uninhibited cops. Pierre and Dan see hundreds of great photo opportunities, many which we took advantage of. My mom sees and recounts stories of cities, towns, and villages that we drive by. My dad, like Robbie, sees the potential dangers on the road and keenly takes in my mothers history lessons. I see birds of prey everywhere. I see opportunities to stop and eat. I see and read almost every sign that my eyes behold. The latter is actually quite annoying.
The challenge with spending so much time in a car is to create circumstances that allow for increased awareness of the vast amount of land and kilometers you are covering in a relatively short period of time. I personally think there is something unnatural about putting your body, which travels on its own at a very low speed, in a vehicle that can reach such great speeds as 120 km/hr. Repeat this for several days in a row and you can either go insane from nausea and cabin fever or you can decide that these precious days will unlikely be repeated in the near future. You don’t just drive across North America every week, right?
So, in the event that you drive across this great continent, focus on what you get to see, not on staying put. Focus on the potential for great stories. Focus on the quest for the perfect picture of the perfect tree. Focus on enjoying all the good snacks you packed. Focus on celebrating when your body allows you to take naps. Focus on reveling in the great human innovation of automobiles. No matter how much you love the horse and buggy, and we did see some on our journey, its probably bumpier than a car. Focus not on the destination when it is 3,500 km away, for this will get you down. Rather, focus on all the great things your mind can do in the meantime.
It’s all in how we see.
Photo cred, Instagram: @roladef, @instantpierre, @dancloake