We had many good days in the Land of the Midnight Sun, but from time to time I still thought of my dream, about Canada.
My Grandma had a brother who had emigrated to Canada in the early fifties and I had been wondering whether I had inherited his genes and wanderlust. Anyway, in 1984 my auntie and uncle were planning to go see the family in Vancouver, BC. Their son, my cousin, was going to be with them as well, and when I heard about this I asked whether I could be with them too. It was my first real chance to see the country of my dreams.
They agreed, and I had to get myself over to Germany from where the flight was booked.
We had wonderful 6 weeks in British Columbia and Washington State. In Washington, we visited Mt. St. Helens where the area was still charred from the fires after the volcanic eruption 4 years earlier, we saw the Olympic Peninsula with its rain forest, and we drove up to Paradise (still covered in snow) at the Mt. Rainier National Park, and despite the fact that it was July, our attempt to get to the top of Mt. Baker, just south of the border to Canada, was stopped by 10ft. of snow on the road!
In British Columbia and Alberta, we visited the great Canadian National Parks like Yoho, Banff and Jasper Parks. What amazed me most was the Icefield Parkway which connects Jasper National Park with Banff National Park.
Lake Louise had always been one of my most desired destinations in the world, but, seeing it, also Moraine Lake was a true treasure.
When we camped in Jasper, auntie and my cousin were sleeping in the rented station wagon, while I had a tent to myself. We had been warned about bears strolling through camp so as my own personal measure of defense, I had a long knife under my pillow!! In the evening we were visiting a Ranger Program at the auditorium, which they have out in the open.
The Ranger was just talking about grizzlies, showing impressive bear pictures on a big slide show screen, when all-of-a-sudden a murmur started and then all the people got up from their seats. Just below, not even 30 yards from the seat rows, lumbered a grizzly along. Everybody was in awe and I bet they paid a lot more attention to what was said about local wildlife after that.
The day after, we heard that the bear had destroyed a tent which, thankfully, was unoccupied at the time.
Rangers came with a bear trap and the evening after, we had just returned from a trip to Mt. Edith Cavell, a bear had gotten into the trap and was answering our curious looks through the door grate,with furious growls.
Of course this trip to Canada fueled the dreams of my youth and was even more determined that ONE DAY I was gonna make it to Canada for good.
Read how it finally happened many, many years later tomorrow.