As I unwind from this epic trip (â€œunwindâ€ being somewhat ironic as Iâ€™m celebrating Canada Day in the nationâ€™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 wasnâ€™t done. It feels kinda ridiculous. I could head out and explore somewhere in Europe, but instead Iâ€™m drawn to my own country.
Except itâ€™s not actually ridiculous, and getting an outsiderâ€™s perspective helped me see that.
Corbin and I were the only Canadians onboard our Moose Networkâ€™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 â€œinside of an ice box.â€ I loved that. Most Canadians would describe it as â€œfour months of pure hell.â€
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 theyâ€™re rare in the Rockies. Considering Newfoundlandâ€™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 donâ€™t think I ever appreciated Canada and its surprises until now, and Iâ€™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, â€œShit yeah, this is my country.â€