Been there, done that

Belly River, just past the Montana/Canada border, Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada
Holy Goddess, today I am glad I am not an atheist. After today I need at least one Deity to thank.

We buy our new National Parks Pass and enter Glacier National Park. My memories pale in comparison to the current views. Colors, temperatures, traffic (or lack of), sounds...all are perfect, just for us. We stop a lot, walk the dogs, who are absolutely wild about the smells in this park. Since we entered Montana, Querida has forgotten her desperate need for a house and yard, thanks to the abundant rodants squeaks and smells. Chipmunks and ground-squirrels chirrup at my dogs, constantly taunting them. The dogs pull against their leashes, poke their noses into bushes, have the time of their doggie lives.

Waterfalls. Rushing rivers. Skip keeps twitching with white-water envy. Avalanche shoots. Tall green mountains. Rocks and flowers and sheer cliffs. Weeping walls. The most amazing road -- Going to the Sun Road. This can't be America, safetey-obsessed, guard-rail, violate-your-civil-rights-to-pretend-we're-safe America. This is a new land with tiny curving roads thousands of feet above the valley. Thousands of feet. Cars in the valley below (where we were 40 miles ago) look like water-buffalo meandering along a ribbon of water. We take tiny glances over the side of the road, little sips of the dizzying heights. We say Oh, God, a lot, and chant We're All Gonna Die.

The blues of the water are extraordinary. The greens of the forests and forests of trees, hugging the mountain like leg-warmers, are deeper than anything I can remember from any of my lifetimes. This place is high, and amazing, and fine like crystal you can take off the shelf anytime, handle, pass to your friends, shake your head, and wonder. Steeped in wonder.

I can't say anything else about Glacier National Park except this: GO.

We pass into Canada. Summary: search, interrogation, barking dogs, eh? I will have to write about this in DETAIL in a journal. But we get in, on a Saturday, and it's desolate, fucking desolate, no people here. WHY oh WHY does it have to be so cold here? Do I have to live in frigid weather to get this kind of space around me? ACK.

We stop at the equivalent of a National Forest Campground, and since we know nothing about National or Provincial Parks, or public lands, or camping outside of the rules, and since we're so wrung out from the beauty of the day and passing through customs, we grab the first campground we can find. The self-registration says 14 dollars Canadian. I whip out my cell-phone and do the conversion. $9.25 American. We slip a ten in the envelope. Sheepishly. It's Saturday, there are no ATM's for hundreds of kilometers, what are we supposed to do?

No one berates us, and the only things that spoil the beauty of this amazing campground (where everyone seems to be so much quieter than in an American campground): mosquitoes. Ugh. They snort our bugspray like it was meth. They lick our flesh and thank us for marinating ourselves for them. Skip spends the night killing them, smashing them against the walls of the van, the canvas top, his hands, the dogs' noses. Eventually we get a special mosquito paper-towel to wipe off the bloody smears they leave on our hands. Whose blood? Human blood. Dog blood. Red, vibrant, missing from someone we love. Fucking mosquitoes. Blood-suckers. All night long I listen to my pacifist-Buddhist husband curse and swat. The van rocks and sways, the canvas flaps. I pull the sleeping bag over my head, but each desperate pass at a buzzing mosquito jerks it off again. Finally, I have to wet a rag, jump from the warmth of our bed, and desperately scrub the bloodstains away.

We need better bugspray. DEET, here we come.


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