Friday night after ballet, we drove down to Calgary to get a jump on the long drive to Penticton which is in the Okanagan in British Columbia. Rob’s younger sister and her family live just outside of Calgary and we spent the night there and left just before lunch for B.C. Rob’s mother relocated to Penticton recently.
Calgary is a big city. About one million and it’s probably the biggest city per square mile in North America. It took a while to drive through. Rob, Shelley and the girls lived there for about eight years. First while he was in engineering school and then when he was working at a refinery nearby. Rob’s younger sister, Sheila and her husband and their girls live here now and Rob’s younger brother and his family do as well. We had a nice time at Sheila and Kevin’s, but we didn’t see Ryan and his wife, Natalie.
The mountains can be seen from Calgary without any problem. They are about an hour from the city with nothing but prairie leading up to them. Once in the mountains, they rise and fall alongside, disappearing up into the clouds, falling down to disappear into tree thick valleys.
Our first stop after leaving Calgary was Canmore which is just outside the Jasper National Park. Rob told me to take a good look around. Canmore is an example of what happens to mountain towns that lie outside national park land. Overgrowth without restriction. Some would argue that it allows people an opportunity to live in beautiful areas like the Rockies and that government regulation hampers growth, but the truth is that towns that like Canmore are blights that are no different than the mountain pine beetle that is ravaging the old forest growth in B.C. There are some that go as far as to argue that man is an infestation on the planet and when you contrast the ugliness of a place like Canmore, you might be inclined to agree.
At the first high pass beyond Canmore, we encountered snow. Real snow. Heavy wet flakes driven at the speed of sound by the wind, they looked like giant moths caught in a wind tunnel.
White knuckle driving. I know this because Rob let go of my hand to take the steering wheel with both hands. He always holds my hand while driving, so when he lets go and takes the wheel, it’s bad.
As quickly as it came up, we were coming down and the skies began to clear.
We stopped again in Golden after crossing this bridge, but not before encountering wildlife.
Mountain settlements slow travel in addition to not being as picturesque as they lay claim to being. Sometime well after dark we finally reached Kelowna, and I am glad it was dark. As I told Rob, I wouldn’t want to be able to see the mountains around. The city is obscene enough in the dark. Spreading out and out like a retail Vegas with every chain name you can imagine. It wasn’t even pretending to be quaint and scenic.
Penticton has turned out to be a little nicer but still, a city is a city and there is a natural opposition between civilization and the wild with the former not bending much to accommodate.