As I unwind from this epic trip (“unwind” being somewhat ironic as I’m celebrating Canada Day in the nation’s capital), my mind keeps circling back to a couple of places: British Columbia, and Montreal. I find myself aching to get back to both of them because I know my time there wasn’t done. It feels kinda ridiculous. I could head out and explore somewhere in Europe, but instead I’m drawn to my own country.
Except it’s not actually ridiculous, and getting an outsider’s perspective helped me see that.
Corbin and I were the only Canadians onboard our Moose Network’s Hoodapus bus to the Rockies, minus Rachel the bus driver/tour guide extraordinaire. Our first morning, introductions were slow and quiet. I was pooped. Rachel tried to coax funny, quirky stories out of us, but only a few of us had something to contribute. Flash forward two days, and rumours are already circulating about Corbin and I apparently sleeping together.
It was fun watching everyone else’s reactions. Once, when we rounded a corner, Lareina the Australian chick spotted snow and was nearly overcome with excitement. When we finally touched fresh snow at Peyto Lake, she described it as the “inside of an ice box.” I loved that. Most Canadians would describe it as “four months of pure hell.”
The same goes for anytime we spotted a wild animal. Elk, sheep, bears, etc… even Corbin and I had our faces pressed up against the window. I was ecstatic to see a grizzly bear from afar. The gang was absolutely dying to see a moose, but they’re rare in the Rockies. Considering Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park actually has a cull in place to cut down on moose populations, I found this amusing.
At times, while driving through the Rockies, I picked up my red journal to record thoughts rather than the details I had been carefully tracking. It was overwhelming. Against the mountains, I had never felt so insignificant yet so alive in my life.
I love Canada. I don’t think I ever appreciated Canada and its surprises until now, and I’m so glad Moose Network helped me discover them. On the way back from Jasper, Rachel pulled into a road and gave us some brief info about the previously mentioned Peyto Lake, named for a wild man who tamed a cougar and became a legend with the ladies. It was snowing, raining and freezing, and I had no desire to get out of the bus. But I zipped up my coat, covered my camera and dashed down the trail in the direction of the lake. Rounding the corner, I stopped in my tracks: ahead of me was the most surreal colour of blue peeking through the trees, a combination of rock dust and magic. It became my favourite stop, and I would have never known it existed.
My Moose Network group became super close over the course of a week. We watched the Stanley Cup final game, went barhopping in Banff and Kelowna, wore funny hats, discussed love lives, sang together on the bus and snapped a million photos. And every time someone expressed complete awe over our surroundings, I thought, “Shit yeah, this is my country.”