Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mountains, Rivers and Reality

I got the opportunity to see the Canadian Rockies a few weeks ago. One of my cousins got married in Calgary and it was not only a great wedding but a great chance to go somewhere I have never been and see something I haven't seen. I've always heard how beautiful Calgary is and now I can agree, it is beautiful.

Outdoor weddings are always a risky venture, one thing you can't control is the weather. That being said, you can control your attitude about the weather. I've got to give the attitude award to my cousin and his bride. An early October wedding, outside, in the snow! It was spectacular! Cold, but beautiful. The backdrop of the mountains and snow covered trees made everything surreal. For a day we were all transported to a winter wonderland and the wedding was great fun.

TJ and I did some sightseeing and got to see the Banff Springs Hotel. I'm glad we got out to see the area and I think it may not be my last time in the Canadian Rockies, next time, skiing!

Our next stop is on the Seine River. That's right, Paris! From snow and mountains to sun and the Seine. Our daughter, Kelly, is studying in Paris this semester and what better excuse to visit?

Sidebar......TJ and I have been to Paris 4 times now and here is the progression as I see it.

First time, late 1980's, left 4 kids at home with a sitter, was very sad to be away from my 2 year old "baby", was young and it was my first time in France. Suffered severe jet lag due to the fact that I could not sleep on the plane because I was so excited to be going to France. Somewhat intimidated by the city and the language, probably did not attempt to speak much at all. Pinched myself daily because I had really made it to France, a lifelong goal. Vowed to go back someday.

Second time, 1996, 4 kids in tow, on our mission to take our children to Europe before they flew the nest. It was June, there was a heat wave, we were on a strict budget (read, 6 people in one very small, hot, noisy, room). The heat and the smog and our exhaustion made for a less than perfect visit and we were only there for 2 days (hurry, see all the sights with 4 hot, tired, shellshocked kids) before we had to start our journey through France and Italy.

Third time, April 2003, TJ, Michael, Kelly and I were visiting Katie, who was studying in Angers that spring. When I say it is nice to have a french speaking guide I mean it! Katie was our translator and it made things very nice. This was in the middle of the Iraq crisis and we did not know how welcome Americans would be. We were a little nervous, for no reason as it turned out. The French people were very friendly, I think having Katie as our voice had something to do with that. We did spend a few days in Paris but most of the trip was in the Loire valley.

We have come full circle, back to Paris without any kids. This time to visit that 2 year old "baby" who just celebrated her 21st birthday and is studying in Paris. No real agenda, 2 people in one large, quiet and cool room. We have seen the sights, this time we were there to just be. We still had that translator though, Kelly's french is coming along nicely. It was a true luxury to spend 6 days in Paris, and take it all in at a leisurely pace. I feel like I know so much more about the city now. It only took 20 years to get here!

Reality, the problem with going away is that you have to come home. For a few days it is nice to be back in a routine and settled but there is always that longing to be back at that cafe, or walking along that river or looking at those mountains seeing things you have never seen before. I guess I need to appreciate the routine of home as well as the joys of traveling. But it sure would be nice to walk home every night in the City of Light!

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