Today’s itinerary stretches between our son’s place in B.C.’s Kootenay region and my father’s residential care facility in Abbotsford. We set out on Highway #95, the two-lane road connecting Invermere and Golden, B.C. – one of my favourite sections of that route.
Under blue sky and dumpling clouds, we motor through vast forests, glimpsing occasional vistas of rivers below and mountain peaks above, still patchy with snow. The Preacher drives, munching Scotch mints and counting osprey nests perched on telephone poles.
“Three…four, with bird…”
“Eagle,” I say. “That one was an eagle. Hey. I think we’re almost there.”
“Not yet,” he says. “Five…” We drive on, watching for my favourite photo stop – a run-down mountain cabin, set back from the road. It’s almost a friend now. In the decade and a half our son has lived in the Kootenays, I’ve shot it often, in every season but winter. Even though B.C. raised me, winter mountain roads don’t suit this particular flatlander.
“Rats. That was it.” Avoiding logging trucks, the Preacher makes a three-point turn on 95’s narrow shoulders.
The old house has aged. Its roof sags more than ever. I snap some photos with affection, wondering if I’ll see it again before it collapses.
We carry on through Glacier National Park. “From son to father,” I say, thinking aloud as we descend Roger’s Pass.
“We just left our son, and we’re heading to see Dad.” My father’s almost 94, a little like the old house, but eager for my arrival.
“Oh, right.” The Preacher keeps his eyes on the road, passing slower traffic and varying his speed for a construction zone. YOUR SPEED, 101 km, reads a digital sign. He slows to fifty. We enter and exit a matched pair of snow sheds.
“Check your brakes before descent,” a yellow sign reads.
“Good thing you got the brakes done before we left,” I say, as we slice between spear-like cedars, rising on my side, dropping steeply on his.
“Well, that was very nice.”
I glance up from my computer. “What’s nice?”
“We missed a falling rock,” he says. “Landed about twenty feet ahead.”
He circles his hands. “Bout so.” I ponder the grace of protection, then shift thoughts to our Heavenly Father’s surrounding handiwork. Fireweed in full bloom. The panoply of greens lining the mountainsides. A single mountain sheep perched imperiously on an almost vertical rock slab to my right. A pristine mountain lake.
“I’m so glad,” reads the back of the vehicle ahead. Me too. Glad for this long-awaited vacation. Glad for our glorious country. Glad for the Preacher at the wheel. Glad for travelling mercies. Glad for pleasant days spent with our son. Glad for the expected reunion with Dad and other relatives.
A more lasting present accompanies the gift of every vacation – the opportunity to make precious memories. My vacation – and yours too – will pass, but our memories we get to keep.
The tag reads: With love from God, giver of every good and perfect gift.
Thank you, Lord – for each one.