For me, the best getaways have always been the most spontaneous.
Two years ago, I planned the hell out of a weekend on Bell Island, which turned into one bad-luck experience after another. (Missed the ferry, hotel was crap, surprise early-birthday cake for Travis was inedible and the town map was… comical.) Bell Island itself is beautiful and we will go back, but that trip stank. Now that I think about it, I started this blog mere weeks after that. It would have been excellent blog fodder…
Four years ago, I made a girls-only trip to Fogo Island where our only plan was “Go to Fogo. Come home on Sunday.” It was great – Caribou! Icebergs! Hiking! Snowy beaches in May! – right up until I lost the brakes in my car on the way home. Still, Fogo Island remains one of my favourite Stay-cation destinations.
We’ve had a few other trips that have worked out swimmingly despite very little planning – not least of all, our epic road trip across the country just last month with nothing but a final destination and a bit of Google maps route-comparison before we left to guide our way.
Last year, we had a hell of a good time in Calgary thanks to a last-minute Hotwire deal.
So when it comes to travel, spontaneous = good. Planning = bad.
This was a genuine shocker of a conclusion for me to come to because there’s nothing I hate more than surprises. Don’t tell me you have a gift for me but that I have to wait until tomorrow to open it. You have a gift? Let’s have it. Now. I can’t possibly wait until tomorrow, or even one hour from now. I can’t handle the anticipation. I get all worked up into a ball of anxiety and can’t function until the impending surprise is delivered. Uncertainty gets me in an even worse way. My imagination runs through every possible scenario – all bad – while I wait for the final outcome.
Let me give you an example: last week week I got a voice mail. Nothing unusual: “Hi, please call me when you have a chance.” I immediately try to imagine all the many reasons why this person needs my attention – from the blase (do they want a recipe?) to the terrifying (Travis’ truck went off the road!) This process of zero-to-terror takes approximately eleven seconds. But I HAVE learned that eliminating the uncertainty – in this case by returning the call – as soon as possible can end that awful mental cycle of terror and doom. So I did… and I got THEIR voicemail. “Hi, it’s Laura. Just returning your call. I’ll be pacing by the phone and working up a sweat until I hear back from you.” Then I proceeded to put my WHOLE DAY on pause while I waited and waited for the phone to ring, and had a full blown panic attack while I was at it. (True story – just ask Travis). (There is probably a psych diagnosis to be made in there somewhere).
While I know RATIONALLY that reality won’t be as bad as my imagination would have me believe, uncertainty and me still don’t get along very well.
Which is why my laissez-faire approach to travel kind of surprises people who know me well. Myself included.
But we proved my spontaneous = good theory again this past weekend, with a brilliant visit to Jasper National Park. We scored a hell of a deal online for the Maligne Lodge – probably the first of our online hotel deals that we’ll actually return to because it was so gosh-darned nice, not because it had the cheapest rate online. We drove into Jasper after dark, and the stars seemed a little too close to earth that I had myself convinced that despite all roadsigns to the contrary, we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. (Because we were supposed to be surrounded by mountains! We shouldn’t be able to see stars on a horizon this low! Get it?). Anyway, by the time we woke up the mountains were back and the views were stunning. We strolled the “strip” for breakfast and mitts, then took a hike to Maligne Canyon.
It was wicked.
I haven’t found any photos online that do it justice, so I don’t mind posting these sub-par shots:
Maligne Canyon, 51m deep
Malign Canyon feature shaped by a whirlpool
The hike was a challenge – slippery and steep – but the day was positively BALMY. Sylvia rode in her Chariot most of the way, though she did take some time to size up a frozen waterfall and splash in the shallows. Like you would.
Eyeing the ice...
We drove home via the Icefields Parkway and stopped at the site of the glass-floored observation deck that will be built this year. The glaciers were snowcovered and we didn’t see any wildlife but the drive was spectacular.
Sylvia also had a ball playing with the camera (our good camera is in the mail, so the free-with-purchase-of-printer device is now a toddler plaything) so there were lots of pictures like this one to weed through when we got home:
I am coming to eat your braaaaaaiiiiiiins
So maybe a little uncertainty in the rest of my life is a good thing. (Tell that to my anxiety.) But all in all, a successful first family trip to the mountains.