Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Wonderings on Wanderings: Chasing a Photograph

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wonderings on Wanderings: Chasing a Photograph

no, this isn't the one
I used to be a jet-setting executive who had the world at her feet. Nowadays, I travel because my three daughters live in different cities around the world: San Francisco (Seattle before), Calgary, and Manila (London before, Melbourne next). Last March, my middle daughter Claudine needed help.  For the fifth time after I retired, I flew to Canada to take care of three young ones.

“We can go to Yoho and Kootenay in B.C., our chance to complete the four parks comprising the World Heritage Site of the Canadian Rockies,” I urged my husband, Bill. On the third weekend, I even squeezed in a visit to the new Glacier Skywalk on the Columbia Icefields between Banff and Jasper, the two in Alberta we had visited on a previous trip.

another chance
The only downside was that we had to drive the same section of the Trans-Canada Highway that links Calgary to the National Parks six more times.  Sure enough, on the road to Yoho, I dozed off.  Bill must have missed my chatter and nudged me, “Hey, sleepyhead, I bought you some Cheetos!”  In a jiffy, the bag of my favorite cheesy crunchies was gone. I should have been upset he spoiled my beauty nap. Instead, I thanked him.

Between mouthfuls, I caught a glimpse of a scene that would haunt me. A lone red car seemed to rise on the road, driving straight into an enormous glacier-draped mountain. Sadly, it was gone in a second. “I want that photo!” whispered my heart. Glued to the windshield, soon a second chance came. Alas, the car was black, and the road was flat.

a third chance
Lovely sights around Kootenay did not get my mind off that scene: Marble Canyon, Painted Pots, Sinclair Canyon, and Radium’s Hot 
Springs and bighorn sheep around town. The following Saturday, I was back with a vengeance. It didn’t take long and another car scene appeared. The mountain was even more majestic. But the car, being white, disappeared into the mist. Again, there was no road rise.  I cried, “Can we just stage something?” Bill had one word, “Patience!”
scenes around the Canadian Rockies

Other photo-ops were on the road. An enormous yellow truck blazoned against the grays. White clouds cavorted with ice-lined pointed peaks. A multi-colored train ruffled through the Rockies’ skirts. Cute, curvy twin bridges punctuated the highway humdrum. Once in a while, a red-roofed cabin enlivened the greens.  Around Kootenay, there was more: the Spiral Train, Emerald Lake, Natural Bridge, and the towns of Field and Golden. Still, I wanted that car photo.

On the third weekend, the weather was itself, taking a sudden nasty turn. We proceeded and stayed at Banff for the night, hoping it would clear the next day. It didn’t. I have been through Philippine storms, but snow takes me right inside a freezer. But I had to go. It was my last chance.

Christmas in June
I started feeling hopeless, but a smile returned to my face when, at more than 6,000 feet high, frosty evergreen began to grace both sides of the road. I asked Bill to stop and stepped out. Wet fluffy things instantly brushed against my face. I “smelled” chestnuts roasting nearby. From inside the car, Bill took my photo of Christmas in June! Still, I longed for another photo.

At the Skywalk, it wasn’t a panorama of glistening glaciers but gray and gloom that greeted us. Making the best of a bad situation, I noticed that my outfit had come together: the red beanie I just bought at the Gift Shop and the red gloves, red scarf and black winter jacket Claudine lent me. Bill took off his gloves to fiddle with the Nikon settings. The slippery platform turned into MY catwalk. "Hurry up! My fingers are already frozen!” interrupted my trance. But by then, I had precious photos of a glamorous fashion model at 67. Still, it was the car scene that I wanted.

the photograph I chased
On the way home, I was nervous. Bill’s words rang loud in my ears, “It’s now or never.”  And, just like that, it came. The car wasn’t red and low-lying clouds partly hid the mountain. But the road had a slight rise, creating the magical effect I saw the first time. All the way home, a contest of who can give the best caption for the photo produced: “Into the Clouds”, “Into the Unknown”, and “Beyond the Ordinary.”

The grandkids hugged me tight as Claudine asked, “Is photography a new career?”  I explained that the job I love most is that of a traveling Grandnanny. It doesn’t matter how many times I go back to a place. It’s the people that count. It doesn’t matter if I drive the same old familiar highway. Something else will catch my fancy. I am free to be with whomever I want, go wherever I please and listen to whatever my heart whispers, even if it’s just chasing a photograph.

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