Compared to the journey we took as a family when I was 17, this road trip has been a piece of cake! In 1999 we took a minivan and covered over 18 000 km in four weeks. Seeing all 10 provinces and 27 of the states was an experience and primer for all road trips to follow. Along the road there were unexpected adventures – two particularly memorable ones were driving through New York City the Friday night after J.F.K. Jr.’s funeral while listening to Woodstock 99 live and seeing the spaceship Columbia in the Texas night sky on its way in for landing.
At the end of May I flew into Calgary and hired the rental car. Since then it’s been about 2500 km of road trip adventure! Discovering exciting things along the road in rural areas tends to be more of a challenge here than in Ireland but I was determined to appreciate all that I could along the way. First there were the dinosaurs in Drumheller. In Castor I asked about interesting sites on the way to Edmonton. I admired the beauty of Big Knife Provincial Park, learned the history of mining at the Diplomat Mine Interpretive Site, stopped for a coffee and a sausage making tour (which I cheekily asked for) in Heisler and discovered more about the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) and the start of early prairie communities at the Railway Museum in Camrose. In Edmonton the history tour continued with a visit to Fort Edmonton, a non-military fort used for fur trade. This lesson progressed as I made my way to Athabasca as it was a primary river in the life of the fur trade. On the return journey south I stopped on the northern end of Edmonton for a relaxing tea and scone in the beautiful Enjoy centre. Eventually, I started west. Canmore was my only real stop on the journey. There is a fabulous quilt shop that really is a must if you enjoy sewing and are passing through.Then there were mountains – those beautiful, beautiful mountains. Each mountain range seems more stunning than the previous one. The Rockies, Monashee, Columbia, Central Plateau and Coast Mountains. The trees, the wild flowers, the lakes, the brown bear at the side of the road. I breathe it in. The lush rainforest and the dry desert hills. The fruit trees and vineyards. The sun, the rain, the lightning, the warm breeze. I became a mountain girl and the wildness of the B.C. mountains wraps me like a comforting blanket. And to see them with grass and leaves and flowers for the first time in nearly 10 years! Well, that is something else entirely. Tomorrow I begin the journey back to Alberta again. This road trip hasn’t been just for the sake of the beauty and adventure. It has been to connect in with the people along the way. There are family and friends scattered across the globe who give sacrificially so that I am able to do the things that God has called me to do. They pray and they give. It has been such a privilege to spend lengths of time in conversation around a table or walking together. From morning to night I have been blessed with encouraging conversations. The road and kilometers between are merely what has connected each one.