This post is dedicated to two beloved men in my life, Les Perry and John Woodley, my dad and my uncle. Each of these men know how to walk a simple road to happiness: what life puts before you, love with all your heart. Neither are ever to be found far from home, and certainly never south of the border.
My close friend drove her dying father from Tacoma to Mexico, to see a Shaman. I was, and I remain, skeptical about this venture. I was concerned about the medical cannabis they needed to toss before the border, the travel warning for the area they were visiting, and the logistics of dealing with a possible death, or abduction, somewhere between here and Puerto Vallarta. I also had misgivings about the mood (make that moods) of my friend’s father, which falls, on a good day, somewhere in the vicinity of a junkyard dog. At last report, they reached their destination in eight days and three vehicles. They left the second vehicle at a rental car lot in Northern Mexico, and we can only assume it has been efficiently stripped down to the steering wheel and owner’s manual.
Last week I told my dad he better not make his dying wish a road trip to Mexico. This was a hilarious thought; not only is my wheelchair-bound father a challenge to care for, let alone transport, but he has a phobia of Mexico. His one trip there, undertaken reluctantly with my mother, cost him a couple weeks of debilitating intestinal penance. Plus he’s convinced he will land in a Mexican jail if he crosses the border. He won’t even drink Corona; this from a man who used to claim he could drink gasoline. On top of all that, he is world’s most predictable man. He chuckled, “Not Mexico,” he looked wistful,
“but Canada, maybe.” Okay, I actually wasn’t expecting that.
As faithful (thank you!) readers of my blog, you must wonder if I have done anything at all this summer besides go to Canada, reminisce about Canada, learn their national anthem, watch CBC, and apply for Canadian citizenship. But wait! I have!
I have explored my gorgeous state. I swam down into the teal depths of Lakes Cushman and Crescent with my children (okay, only about 3 feet under the water). I hiked up the Glacier Basin and Summerland trails at Mt. Rainier with my sister, and beheld bubbling brooks, avalanche flowers, even a cinnamon bear shuffling by on an errand. I understand why they call it the Wonderland Trail. Your jaw will be slack with awe the entire time, and when you remember to snap it shut, you risk crushing a wee fairy, clad in a flower petal kilt. I have been east to Lake Chelan, picked blueberries and huckleberries, harvested the spotty peaches from our tree, (a thank you, to the mason bees for the copious, albeit fungous, crop). My husband, a reluctant camper, agreed to venture into the woods with me this year. He remained cheerful, even as our blow-up mattress popped, disgorging its air in a slow, insulting whine. I even got to hike stunning Sauk Mountain in the lower cascades, with my friend Peter. But Canada (“O Canada!…”)…that trip made my summer.
I took these pictures in the Ancient Forest, the only inland temperate rain forest in the world. These are the roots of a thousand year old cedar tree. The forest was slated for logging, (the neon spray paint is evident on several gnarled trunks) when a graduate student at UNBC realized what was there. Now it is in line to be a UNESCO world heritage site.
I saw Mount Robson, the highest peak in the rugged Canadian Rockies. Those jagged, wild heights are different from what I am used to. Rainier, though majestic, still seems friendly to me, beckoning me for a trot through the wildflowers. But Robson is terrifying, like an enraged, long-bearded God sliced it out of the earth with a thunderbolt.
The flowers! The trees! The roadside was swathed in endless Lupine, wild strawberries, Indian paintbrush, Tamaracks. Indulge me, it you will, by taking note of this charming, impassioned description of these lovely trees:
Tamarack tree, or Eastern larch, is among the few conifers that lose their leaves in the Fall. They do so gracefully, taking on a beautiful fall coloration beforehand. The tamarack, native throughout northern North America, is underappreciated as a landscape tree. It is at least as interesting as many of the imported species often used in its place. http://home.howstuffworks.com/tamarack-tree.htm
I wish I had written that. Quaking Aspens, that I always mistakenly call whispering aspens, did whisper to me, but I am not sure I can reveal what was spoken.
Of course, it was not just the beauty, but the reunion with my uncle, too long absent from my life, that made the journey so memorable. I understand how, decades ago, he fell in love with another country and adopted it as his own. I miss him, but I don’t blame him. And I see how my dad might imagine a trip north as a desirable final destination, a gorgeous diversion after years of routine.
It was all too beautiful, too wonderful; only B.C.’s own motto can suffice to describe it: splendor sine occasu, that is:
Splendor without Diminishment.