I’ve been thinking about whether Thomas Wolfe was correct when he wrote, “You can’t go home again.” I have often shared this view, but based on a recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, I am now prepared to make a complete 180 and say, “You can go home again.”
Lest you think that inconsistency (a hallmark of my existence) is a sign of limited intellect, remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said on the subject, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” In other words, the more inconsistent I am, the bigger my mind must be! Or, I would like to think so, anyway.
All of this quoting brings me to the subject of this blog/column—the Canadian Rockies, where my wife and I enjoyed an absolutely glorious one-year anniversary some 35 years ago, and where we decided to celebrate our 36th anniversary this most recent mid-September. We were unsure the revisit would be as enjoyable as our first time there, but we were willing to take the risk, and delighted we did.
On both occasions we stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, and Jasper Park Lodge. All three hotels were built by the Canadian Railroad Company roughly a century ago, and Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise are absolute elegant gems only a few miles removed from infinite wilderness. Jasper Park Lodge has more of a rustic charm, but is also a quality hotel surrounded by spectacular scenery and wildlife.
I am happy to say not much has changed in the past 35 years. Yes, the hotels have expanded to accommodate the world’s growing population (there are 3 billion more people on Earth today than 35 years ago), and some of the lines for the sky tram and boat trips are a bit longer, but for the most part, the natural surroundings remain respected and cared for.
Snow occurred on both trips then and now, and to see the evergreens become all white provides a winter wonderland in late summer. Canada also remains water-filled with lakes, rivers and brooks everywhere. For those of us here in Malibu who have trouble locating fresh water even under a rock, I assure you all the water is up there in Canada, and then some.
On this trip we no longer got up at 5 a.m. to see wildlife like we did in our younger years, but we still saw plenty of animals in their natural habitat. The scenic beauty and the wildlife are why most people come to the Canadian Rockies, and certainly why we went there a second time.
I remember 35 years ago driving along a quiet road when we heard the unmistakable bugle call of a bull elk. September is their mating time. We got out of the car and saw across a lake the massive frame of the elk adorned by a crown of antlers. In a few minutes a cow came a-calling and the bull serviced her instantly. She departed the scene and no sooner had she left than the bull commenced calling again. Hmmmm. Quite impressive, to say the least.
This time back, the elk were at it again. While driving around on a back road, I spotted four elk cows meandering through the woods, and just as I commented to my bride that a bull elk might very well be close by, I heard a smashing sound. I turned around and no more than 20 yards away was a huge bull smashing a fence with his spectacular set of antlers. We moved on, not wanting to be in the unenviable spot between the bull and his harem.
Little of a material nature has changed the Canadian Rockies since we were there decades ago, and so long as we were able to travel there together once again, then yes, we were able to go home again.