Together

via Daily Prompt: Together

Together, it is a warm word, inclusive.  In this big world it really is better if we hold hands and face it together.

We learn as children to hold hands when we cross the street to keep us safe.  We practice the buddy system and know that there is strength in numbers.  We are a social being and life is sweeter when shared with someone else.

I’ve relished my time alone and enjoy my own company.  I have loved travelling solo and experiencing the world with my own agenda.  These pursuits taught me to push myself further, that there was no limit.   A nagging thought pestered,  something was conspicuously missing.  It was the witness to the beauty or horror that I saw.  Someone that saw what I saw, or perhaps saw something different and in this manner added to the tapestry of the experience.  It was lonely at the end of the day, as I dined alone and wrote about the day.

I’ve enjoyed travelling with my husband, children and grandchildren and each adds to the experience.  It is never lonely.  There is negotiation of how the day will be spent and I don’t always get exactly what I want, nor do they. I do know that all the places that I travelled alone are now different with another person to share the experience.  Together is so much sweeter.

Canmore

Its just after Christmas and we are on our way to Canmore for a week long trip.  We spend the first few days by ourselves and then our daughter,  son in law and our two young grandsons join us in this winter wonderland.

During the off holiday times, my husband and I spend very little time together.  He works nights, I work days and there are many days when we do not see one another.  Technology bridges the gap somewhat, though we are from a different world where conversation was face to face and somehow the emoticons fall short.  This week we spend an entire week together, relaxing and catching up with each other.

The condo we have rented is beautiful, though the blinds are curiously lowered at the top,  We unpack and settle into watching cable television, a treat for us as we have cancelled our satellite service several years previous in favour of Apple TV and Netflix.  The home improvement and real estate shows play a continuous loop for the duration of our stay until we are saturated and long for a break.  Commercials initially are a novelty, though very quickly become annoying as a 20 minute show stretches out to accommodate all the things that we should want or desire.

The bed is very comfortable and a television adorns the wall, a novelty for us as we fall asleep watching.  We wake in the morning and quickly understand why the blinds cover only the bottom half of the window.  The top reveals that we are surrounded by mountains and in my cozy socks and pyjamas I marvel at the view.  My heart beats just a little slower in the mountains.

Our destination is the townsite.  Canmore is a town outside of the National Park and as such land can be owned. The town has had a boom in recent years and its real estate is out of reach for most people.  Still, Canmore has retained its small town charm.  There are no big box stores on main street, opting instead for Mom and Pop shops, local artists and coffee shops.  Its a busy time, and we find crowds of people jockeying for position to park.  We find a spot off the main drag and set out to walk the shops.  The streets are bustling and the shops are doing a brisk business.

We find in one store chalk candy, a treat from Holland that is impossible to buy at home.  I have ordered from the internet previous, though the shipping charges and wait time are onerous.  We buy the majority of what is for sale, leaving a few bags for people that might follow.

It is a lazy time, where we have no particular place to be.  We walk the street, peruse the shops, find something to eat when we are hungry and then retreat to our rented home for the night.  We play scrabble, build lego and play card games.  We enjoy our family.  The boys are busy, happily playing with their lego.  It is a relaxing time after much hurrying prior to Christmas.

After several days of doing nothing, we decide to snow shoe at Lake Louise.  We book a tour and meet our group in Banff townsite.  We are the only people from Alberta, the remainder from around the world.  The drive is beautiful and off the beaten path.  We are treated to fir trees dripping with snow, Elk and at every turn a photo that demands to be taken.

Lake Louise is a jewel in the mountains.  The hotel sits on a perch with the lake stretching out in front.  Ice sculptures have been created and people enjoy skating on the lake.  There is an ice bar set up, sleigh rides and trails in every direction for those more ambitious.

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We don our snow shoes and set out to explore. It is a hard climb, though the shoes make it somewhat easier.  We travel what seems like a great distance, though are mindful of the time and turn back to have time for a lunch at the hotel.  Earlier, we staked out our lunch destination.  It is a beautiful open room with views of the lake and mountains.

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We arrive hungry at our preferred lunch destination and are denied service.  It is a busy time in Lake Louise and during these busy times, they will not serve people unless they are hotel guests.  This seems peculiar to us as the restaurant at 2 pm is nearly empty.  We are directly to a dark, dank restaurant on the lower level and for a tidy sum of over $40.00 we can have a hamburger, fries and a coffee, we decline.  We are then directed to a deli where the prices might be better, but alas the food is wrapped in plastic wrap and sits unappetizingly in the display cabinets.  We decide to not liberate it for its high price.  There is no place to sit, and we leave the hotel in search of something else.  We are directed to another hotel a short walk away.  We trudge through the snow, arrive and find it closed. We trudge back.  We are famished.  Considering our options, we decide to wait until we arrive in Banff for our sustenance.

We find a hotel employee at the Lake Louise hotel and register our displeasure.  A quick internet search shows that our complaint was not the first, though they are firm in their decision.  The response from the hotel is that their guests are paying for exclusivity and as a hotel they must comply.  Wow!  We may not be hotel guests, but we too have paid nearly $200.00 for the tour whose sole purpose was to take us to this hotel.  If you do have a chance to go to Lake Louise, leave your credit card behind, but don’t forget your granola bars.

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Grateful, Thankful and Satisfied in Zanzibar

We spend the day relaxing, lazing around our room, reading and relish in the option of stretching out on the bed or sitting on the couch, so many soft surfaces to consider. Such a change from the last few weeks where a cozy spot was not possible as we moved from one place to another, comfort just beyond our reach.

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We pop open a can of Pringles,our staple in this continent and nibble on the salty snack. We wash it down with ginger beer, a tasty refreshment that has kept nausea at bay these last few weeks as we climbed Kilimanjaro and bounced around in Safari vehicles.
Options abound for dinner, there are restaurants and choice that surround and its difficult to choose. Our group plans to dine together and we set out in our clean clothes to peruse the many options available.
The night is dark and stars sprinkle above us, lighting our way as we walk sandals in hand in the cool sand. We find a lovely spot just a short distance from our resort. A table is set on the sandy beach. We sit and our chairs sink into the sand as we hunker down for the duration. Candles abound and the soft lighting is magical. Menus arrive, we are bombarded with choice, drinks, entrees. We decide after considering all our options and I close my eyes and take in the moment. I can hear the waves lap the beach, coupled with a lively band that strums out its chords.

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The food and drinks arrive and we eat and drink relishing each sip and bite. After days of stews, Milo and unbuttered bread, our taste buds explode. It occurs to me how much we take for granted in life and only when its taken away do we realize how fortunate we are. I make a mental note to always be thankful though know that in time the memory will fade.
Satiated, we begin the walk back to our beach bungalow. How lovely to know that there is a permanent structure waiting for us, complete with a comfortable bed and the ability to sleep for as long as we choose.

We bid good night to our friends, making loose plans to meet up tomorrow. Perhaps we will snorkel, kayak, or wander the beach, its difficult to decide at this moment of relaxation. I am not interested in further adventure at this moment, liking that time has stood still for a time.
In many ways this part of the trip is a typical beach vacation and we could be anywhere in the world in our safe, gated community. As I watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean, I am in this moment and content to have the next unfold without plan.

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