December birthdays. The closer yours is to the holiday season, the more difficult it can be to plan a celebration. Everyone is invariably busy with their own holiday events. I imagine it can sometimes leave one feeling overlooked. My uncle's birthday is on Boxing Day (26 December, for non-Canadians) and I remember learning as a child that this didn't equate to more presents, but fewer since it would simply be a combined celebration. (The horror!)
In any event, it was decided that we would plan a surprise January alpine getaway for a friend whose birthday was in December. Only a few weeks late, amiright?
So, a few weekends ago, leaving a blizzard-torn Edmonton behind, we piled into rented vehicles and headed for Banff. As luck would have it, the day after our arrival resulted in the Banff area getting its own dump. Our brief stay, then, occured during these white days that mostly shrouded the peaks from view. I'd never been to the mountains during winter and the starkness of the season somehow added a rawness to the majesty of our surroundings.
Fortunately, the cold weather meant more time together, warm inside (or outside in a hot tub), and revisiting the “old” traditions of gathering around a table, playing games, imbibing, and loading ourselves with good food.
On the way home I decided to make a long-desired pit stop. There's an abandoned gas station between Calgary and Banff that's easy to spot when you're heading to Banff but is on the opposite side of the divided highway. It's covered in graffiti and just generally looks like the kind of place that lends itself to a sort of rural urbex opportunity. I'd always wanted to explore it but because of its location sort of after a turn on the way back from Banff it's easier to miss, and I would always forget about it until we were well past it. I made a point of watching for it (and still nearly missed it) and slipped off the highway to take a peek. We still had a long drive to get home but I wanted to finally make time for this.
It's really all about making time, isn't it? When you're driving and you see something that your intuition tells you to stop and appreciate. We're always so concerned with our destination and forget that we tend to spend significantly more time on the journey. So why not make that journey memorable? I think this year I'm going to make more of an effort to pull off the road of life and explore some of the distractions that can happen on the way to wherever it is we're all going.