Driving to Alaska: Day 7

April 21, 2019

Cochrane, Alberta, Canada – William Switzer Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

There’s an adjustment period when you are thrown back into life with your spouse after spending weeks apart. I’d gotten into a routine with my driving across states and provinces. I ate cheaply, stopped at memorable locations, and blazed through less interesting sections of land. Also, I’d been rather enjoying not getting bossed around. I liked being a free woman. Now, I’m being instructed on how to pack my luggage and where to park at pitstops, and someone else is here to spend $30 on hotdogs for breakfast at a gas station. Free women just don’t do that.

After our hotdog-induced, parking lot argument on Easter morning, we went to church at the closest one we saw.

It’s always awkward to attend a new church for the first time, but there’s an accompanied peculiarity when you’re attending a church with no intention of ever returning. It felt pointless to shake hands and answer anyone’s questions about ourselves. I did my best to mostly avoid eye-contact with the Canadian strangers and take detailed notes during the sermon.

Banff National Park is nearly synonymous with Moraine Lake. You don’t go to Banff without taking a picture of yourself beside that glorious indigo water and those slate gray, straight-up mountains in the background. That was our one goal for the day, I didn’t care what else I got to see, as song as I left Alberta being able to say I saw Moraine Lake.

It didn’t take long after entering the park to see signs telling us there was an avalanche over the road leading to Moraine. Of course, one could always park a safe distance from the avalanche and hike to the lake, but even I wasn’t up for that challenge.

Lake Louise is a less mentioned but equally beautiful and typically turquoise lake as Moraine. As it happened, the road to Lake Louise was not covered by an avalanch.

I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me, but of course these two lakes would be frozen over, whether we could get to them or not.

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So many tourists were gathered at Louise. I say that with an annoyed tone, although I realize technically, I am also a tourist. I prefer to consider myself more of an observer, admirer, traveler, researcher, who is journaling and documenting her way through this life rather than someone who poses in front of objects with only a deep desire to immediately post it online for the likes and comments (in fact, I would burn facebook to the ground, given the opportunity, but I digress…).

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I tried desperately to absorb all that Lake Louise was, is. Eventually, I gave up on that expectation. I knew I could only take in so much in these moments, and later on, I’d flip through photographs and read through my notes as an only hope of recapturing the feelings I had prancing across that frozen lake with my eyes looking up, towards the snowy peaks of mountains that made me want to raise my hands to God as a feeble expression of appreciation to Him, as an artist.

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As I sat in the passenger’s seat for the first time in a long time, I analyzed my and Ethan’s argument over gas station snacks this morning. Inadvertently, when I left Louisiana and began my ascent through the States and Canada, I was expecting something. I still don’t know what, but I felt expectation in my being. I wanted a revelation…of…life? meaning? God? love? purpose? I’m not sure. I only know that I wanted it. As husbands and wives sometimes do, I found myself blaming Ethan and his reintroduced presence as the reason I wouldn’t be receiving any revelations today.

It took so much longer to drive through Banff and Jasper than I thought it would. The speed limit was decreased because we were in a national park, and there were plenty of sights we kept pulling off to see. Logistically, it would have made much more sense to drive around Banff from Calgary to Edmonton, but where’s the story in that?

Throughout the park, we saw two black bears, a moose, tons of caribou, and more glaciers than I could identify or try to count. It was so, so beautiful. It was painful to drive through as quickly as we did. The uncontrollable urge to run into the forest and never return was continually pushed aside in my brain during my conscious thinking hours. We’ve become so thirsty for whatever the wilderness has to offer, it’s unbearable. I can’t speak for Ethan, but from my perspective, it seems he believes this thirst will be quenched by an unmarked trail or the top of a mountain or a rapidly flowing, glacial river. For me, as awe-inspiring as those things are, I need to believe that the unidentifiable thirst inside me goes far deeper than anything the geographic earth could reach.

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We’d gotten a dinner recommendation last night form our waiter at The Grizzly Paw to stop at the Jasper Brewing Company in Jasper, Alberta. I would repeat this week long drive all over again just to have a plate of their sweet potato fries and mango dipping sauce once more.

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The sun was setting as we finally drove out of Jasper. Around 9:30pm, it suddenly hit me that I couldn’t continue driving one more mile. We were somewhere within the park of William A Switzer, and perhaps it’s a more impressive destination in the daylight, but in this moment, I hated it. I hated William A Switzer. I hated that there was no campground or proper parking lot to pull off in and sleep. Being in Canada, and on the adventure of a lifetime, we decided it was more than acceptable to pull off in a field and call it quits for the night. We brushed our teeth with water from a gallon jug and peed in an open area alongside the highway with absolutely no shame. The truck’s cabin was, for sure, more cramped with Ethan added to our sleeping situation, but I felt so much more safe with him. So, I’d call it an even wash.

Day 7 Mileage Total: 298

Liv – Authentically

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