I've been away for three weeks, on a road trip to Jasper, Alberta. Although I didn't take my novel-in-progress with me, nor the one I'm currently revising, it was not a holiday from writing.
I kept my notebook handy in the car, jotting down the new sights and impressions all along the way. Each morning, while I sipped coffee in our hotel room, I wrote a longer entry in my journal. By then, the events of the previous day had had a chance to seep into my writer's soul. I could reflect on what I'd seen, and I took the time to choose the best descriptive words I could.
I wrote about the brave swimmers bobbing up and down in the choppy waters of Lake Nipissing, how the wind blew our umbrellas inside out in Thunder Bay, how the land approaching Winnipeg flattens out. I'd forgotten that. The trees along the streets in my old neighbourhood in Winnipeg have grown so big that it is like driving through a leafy, green tunnel.
I wrote about the wide skies in Saskatchewan, the fields of happy yellow sunflowers, how you see the cloud of dust coming down one of the many sideroads towards the highway, long before you see the vehicle that is causing it.
As we drive into the Badlands, there are no trees, only sagebrush and huge eroded formations called hoodoos as far as the eye can see. A lunar landscape.
The grandeur of Rocky Mountains takes my breath away. They appear like a mirage on the horizon before we leave Calgary. At Canmore, they come out to meet us, wrapping around our shoulders until we are completely surrounded by them. We drive all day, and still they are on all four sides. A day in Jasper and then, at Hinton, Alberta, we have to stop for one last look at the Rockies fading into the distance behind us.