Here’s the thing about great scenery. An amazing view can have a weird effect on a person. I’ve experienced pins and needles in my hands and feet, lack of breath due to extreme altitudes, and teary moments when the beauty of a place has been so intense, it's made me drop to my knees. That was after walking thirty miles uphill.
Most of us aren’t very creative when sharing a view with another traveler. A few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ may be uttered, a couple of ‘wows.’ If it’s really amazing, we might say, ‘That's amazing!’ If I’m traveling in an area where the scenery constantly changes, I find it energizing; like five cups of coffee followed by a large piece of chocolate. If the scenery is fabulous, but continues on the same, hour after hour, I’d rather just read a book. This is very hard on my husband, who will ooh and aah his way through a thousand miles of beautiful scenery, growing louder as I ignore him. He does this for one reason, which is to draw me back into The Club.
The Club is made up of people who love to travel, and then discuss their journeys with other people. We all have anecdotes from the road, even if we’ve only been to the town a few kilometres over. Like the blog I wrote when I couldn’t find the recreation centre in Creighton, Saskatchewan, even though it’s the largest building in town. But, I digress.
People in the club are different. They live to talk about their travels, which is why they pay so much attention to the scenery. My husband would rather be drawn and quartered than read a book while traveling through new territory. Unless he’s seen the same thing a hundred times, he can’t be pulled away by anything. The thing is; he has the right attitude. I should want to stare at the scenery all of the time. But I don’t, and I worry that my lack of enthusiasm shows weakness of character.
I’ve traveled a fair bit. I’ve done my share of storytelling. But I’m not a genuine member of The Club. I recognize the glazed look listeners get when they’re extremely bored. And I pride myself on being the type of person to whom they can just say, ‘enough, already.’ I appreciate candour, as my friends and family know.
I’m convinced that members of The Club also see the glazed, almost panicked look of the truly bored. The truth is, they hope their desperate enthusiasm will encourage the listener into taking their own journey, telling their own stories. I too love to travel, but hate feeling guilty for reading or writing along on the way. I’m actually writing this while traveling through the Rockies. “Ooh,” I say, every time my husband exclaims loudly over the brush, rocks and water by the side of the road. I look out the window from time to time, mostly to see if he’s driving too close to the edge.
All of this leads me to the topic of mountains. A family friend, Graham Shaw, has been known to say, “The trouble with a mountain view is that the mountains keep getting in the way.” The truth of this statement strikes me to my very core. When I’m in Calgary, viewing the mountains from a certain distance, I can appreciate their grand silhouette. But when I’m right up against them, I’m not such a big fan. They seem to loom over me, like bullies taunting a timid traveler. This is especially true if I’m sitting in a Gondola, or, God forbid, riding a ski lift. It feels like the mountains are gloating, because they hold all the power. If they happen to contain a lake or fast flowing river, I appreciate them more. The water creates a softer, more benign look. Like a really huge guy whose frightening appearance is instantly altered by a handsome face or gentle smile.
One of the things I appreciate about my age is that I finally have myself figured out. I like traveling along the ocean, but don’t enjoy the wind, ever. I love a lake, but prefer it in August when the mosquitoes have died down. I’d rather paddle a canoe than ride in a motorboat, also a bullying issue. I will not be pushed into going faster than is comfortable. Just ask my husband.
I appreciate people who are very different from me, especially the traveling, story telling, speed loving, risk taking kind. I watch them from a distance, appreciating their willingness to try anything once. They inspire me to say 'aahhh.' Maybe even, 'wow!' You’ll know you’re one of those people if I look at you and say, ‘Youre amazing!’ You'll know I'm completely sincere if I’m not reading a book at the time.