On and on and on we drove. I had that very unique and specific feeling in my stomach, the one that you get when you are nervous and excited and adventurous and terrified all at once. It feels a little bit like the impossibly slow ascent to the top of a roller coaster, when you are being pulled straight up towards the sky, gravity and the earth are trying their best to reach up and pull you back down, and your heart is in your throat because even though you know what’s about to happen, everything seems unsure right at this very moment. Yeah. That’s a little bit what it felt like as we drove into what I imagined to be the vast and great wilderness of British Columbia.
We had planned to stay in Whistler for the night, but plans change. After stopping at Shannon Falls, we were on a nature high and wanted (needed) to see what else was coming around the next corner. The excruciating prices in Whistler and the fact that it was pouring down rain also might have had something to do with it. But I ate my $15 mac and cheese, and I enjoyed it. And then… itinerary be damned! We drove off into the sunset. Which we couldn’t see because it was raining.
I was driving that night, so let me tell you a little bit about me and driving and the relationship that we have. I am a good driver. I have taken defensive driving classes, winter driving courses, and have been driving on icy Colorado roads since I was a wee teenager and got my learner’s permit (if you do the math that’s just shy of a decade ago, but it seems like a long time to me). I have never been in an accident that was my fault, or that could have with any possibility been avoided. What I’m trying to say is that I could probably hold my own on Ice Road Truckers (haha). But for some reason, I only think that I’m a good driver if there’s no one else in the car. If Justin is in the car, my insecurities manifest, and I am always thinking “Did I take that corner too hard?” “Am I pulling the trailer ok?” “Maybe he should drive, things would probably be better if he was driving.” I become unsure of myself. So you can imagine how things are going in my head as we speed off into the unknown, with me at the wheel.
The road narrows, the grade increases (to 11%, I’m not even kidding), and the curves sharpen. We cross about 10 one lane bridges, and deer dart across the road at random. It was kind of like that driving video game that I always played at Pizza Hut when I was growing up. We could be ten hundred thousand miles away from any sort of civilization. We can’t use Google maps anymore, that much is certain. What if the rain comes back and turns into snow and the snow turns into an avalanche and the avalanche hits our car and our car falls off a cliff into a lake that ices over and then a moose comes and eats us? In my mind, any number of things could happen since I am driving. But they don’t, we prevail. I even have the presence of mind to downshift on our 11% grade descent, and when we pass two men standing next to a pickup truck that has had its brakes burned up, I claim a small victory. In the pitch dark, with the silhouettes of massive peaks surrounding us, I pull us in to a rest stop. We circle the lone wagon of our miniature gypsy caravan, and brush our teeth.
Since I couldn’t see the majesty around me with my own eyes, I decided to let my camera do it for me. What a beautiful night for photography! The picture above is a long exposure taken in the dead of night. Wow-ee. The picture below is of the mighty Suzuki trying (and failing) to blend in to it’s surroundings.
What a delight! The view we woke up to was immense. Yes I know what this word means, and yes I still choose to use it. British Columbia is like Colorado… times 10. A lake, mountains, hills, trees, times 10. Just flippin awesome. With a renewed sense of confidence (isn’t it funny how daylight always seems to bring that?) we shoved off for another day of unknowns, another day of roller-coaster tummy. Don’t take this for granted, Payje, look at it! You are really looking at this right now. You are really here. This is really you, this is really your life. How many times have I thanked God recently? Probably in the thousands.