Saturday, September 3, 2011

The beauty of silence

I left as early in the afternoon as I could get away. Dark and threatening storm clouds were lumbering in from the north.

I'm not fond of driving in the rain.

It poured. And splattered. Wind lashed my car. I plugged in my iPod, though I was disappointed that iTunes and it were fighting. It wouldn't download any of my audio books off my iPad! But the tunes were great and I kept driving.

By Banff, the rain was coming in fits and starts.

By Golden, the clouds were breaking up.

Up and over the Rogers Pass, down into the lake area. The skies cleared and I opened my sunroof, turned up the tunes and cruised along. The driving was easy.

Except of course for the holiday weekend traffic. Not so nice. But, not so bad either. Most of the road between Banff and Kamploops (about a six hour stretch of highway) is single lane in each direction. Over the years, there have been many tragic accidents and many deaths. In an effort to cut down on reckless passing, BC has instituted a new law. Get caught driving 30km over the speed limit and your car is immediate impounded for three days -- it actually happened to two young friends of my daughter who were on their way to Vancouver for a wedding. They had to take the bus and return three days later to pick up their car in Golden.

One thing about the new law -- there sure weren't as many crazed drivers whipping past. In fact, I did eventually pass the one black giant SUV that had been darting and passing in and out of traffic. slipping in and out of spaces between vehicles, dangerously close to oncoming traffic.

He was stopped by the police.

I'm sure he's not a happier camper. And I am not sad for him. The risks I saw him taking did not make the road safer for anyone.

I kept driving past. Going the speed limit -- okay maybe 5 km over.

Looking west along Shuswap Lake
I had planned on stopping at Salmon Arm, a resort town on the Shuswap Lake, but the road kept calling me westward and I heeded its call.

At Kamloops, I debated stopping and decided I'd go another hour and see how I felt. From Kamloops to Vancouver, the Coquihalla Highway, a four lane ribbon of road that wends its way through the Coastal mountain range depositing wayfarers at the oceans floor. But, dusk was falling and I decided to find a place to stay for the night.

It was the sign at the edge of the highway that grabbed my attention. "Mile High Resort". I exited right. Followed a two lane road into the high hills as the sun bruised the sky ruby and purple and pink. A side road to the right read, "Mile High Resort" 11km. I followed it wary of wildlife crossing the road in front of me. Finally, I came to a small settlement of houses with the resort coddled up against the short of a small lake that shimmered in the evening light.

But... there are no phones at Mile High Resort. And after 5pm -- no manager in the office. Just a sign that read, "Sorry. We're not taking any more visitors today."

I carried on my way. To Logan Lake and found a delightful B&B, Highland House. Jill, the proprietress was accommodating when I called. "If you give me half an hour, I'll make up a room for you," she said.

"Thank you!" I replied. "I'll stop and grab something to eat and then I'll be there."

Darkness had descended. The only place I found in the small mining town of Logan Lake was the pub.

It was hopping. Karaoke Night this Friday, the poster read.

It forgot to mention the kitchen closed at 8.

I sat at a table with a couple of patrons, Eileen and Doug and they extolled the virtues of this small town. "It's a beautiful town," Eileen told me.

They moved here when Doug's work with the mine opened up.

Copper. Open pit.

Thirty-eight years I worked the mines, he told me.

He's retired now. Just last spring.

I'm struggling with having him home, Eileen told me when he went to the washroom. It's a real change.

Did she tell you she left me for ten years? Doug asked me when he returned from the washroom.
She said, 'go get a life' and then we'll see. It took me ten years to see, life's better with her.

They both laughed. Touched fingertips across the table.

I still wonder what life would be like if we'd kept that ten year trend going, Eileen teased.

A man got up to sing. "That's your friend," Eileen said to Doug, her head nodding towards the stage where a man stood, mic in hand, waiting for the music to stop.

Oh yeah! said Doug. "Billy. I thought he was still working at the mine. He retired two years before me."

And Billy began to sing and everyone stopped talking.

He was that good.

The early morning view from my window
And then, it was time to go. To find my way to this delightful B&B in the dark.

I only had to call once.

I found the turn off, made my way down the gravel road towards the lights and Jill's welcoming figure standing in the drive.

I got out of my car, looked up and gasped. The sky was littered with a million sparkling lights. "Night fairies dancing in the sky," I used to tell my daughters when they were small.

I stood for a moment in silent wonder.

I'd forgotten how beautiful the stars are when away from city lights.

I'd also forgotten how welcoming silence is.

No sounds of traffic in the distance. No barking dogs. No human content.

Just silence.

It was a blissful night.

And now, I'm off again. Towards the coast where Alexis and her boyfriend will meet me for lunch with my sister and then, Anne and I are off to Gabriola island for the weekend. She'll leave Monday morning and I'll stay on to immerse myself in more wonder at The Haven where I'll be coached and inspired by Eric Bibb and his gift of the blues.


Maureen said...

Thank you for bringing us along on the ride. Have a splendid time at The Haven. It certainly promises fun.

Jennifer RIchardson said...

my breathing slows
and deepens
just riding along in your words.
beautiful ride it is:)

sharmishtha said...

seems like you had a wonderful time. its a very smart thing to impound the cars for three days :)

people will not forget the lesson easily.

Fi said...

As I said before - sounds exciting. I enjoy following you on your travels, it's like I'm seeing it too.

Drive safe and have fun

S. Etole said...

Enjoying the sights and sounds of silence you have shared with us.