Sunday, 5 June 2016

A Day For the Senses

I have come to the conclusion that the worst thing to happen to travel in this generation has to be the invention of the selfie stick. I have never witnessed so many people in the presence of so much incredible beauty so totally oblivious to their surroundings because of their collective obsession with capturing their own faces in pixels. Today I stood before one of the most stunningly exquisite visual natural sights I have ever had the privilege to witness, and I was shoved aside by a miniature woman from a tour bus, armed with a selfie stick who complained that I was messing up her shot. I wish I had had the cojones to tell her to look up at the awe-inspiring magnificence that is Lake Louise, but instead, I slunk away in abject embarrassment.

If I could do it all over again, I might have told her that these images are fleeting, and viewing them all exclusively through the back end of a camera can't possibly do them justice. I believe that one day that woman will look at her collection of selfies and ask the very real questions "Where was that taken?" or "Was I there?"

So, in that vein, today I offer a post for the senses. One image, smell, sound, taste, or touch from our day as we left the Canadian Rockies and travelled through the Okanagan Valley.

Sight: It is truly impossible to describe the colour of the water at Lake Louise. Never before have I seen water the colour of turquoise crystals. As the morning sun hit the glacier-fed lake, there was a teal hue that reflected off the brilliantly off the white snow-crested mountains in the background. A myriad of red canoes silently at paddle offered a prismatic multitude of crisp pigments. It was stunning.

Lake Louise

Smell: The fragrance comes from a garden outside of a restaurant in Banff. As we walked through the parking lot, the air was filled with the aroma of flowering sage. While I normally would abhor scents as powerfully sweet as this, there was something wondrous about the idea of it blooming wildly. In the words of John Denver, "It filled up my senses."

Sound: As we walked through City Park in Kelowna, I was moved by the buskers adding their voices to the summer sounds of the city. One guy, in particular, stood apart from the others, and his clear guitar and plaintive vocals were just the tonic needed to wash away a long day of driving.

Taste: I have never been one to fully appreciate the flavours of a good glass of wine, but today the vintages I tasted at the two wineries we visited in the Okanagan Valley were sublime. The cool crispness of the white and the tanginess of the red brought the heart of the region into clear focus.

Touch: The rocky lake bed that has been exposed by evaporation at Lac Moraine, is difficult to traverse, but worth the effort. The stones have been smoothed by decades spent underneath the water and the driftwood littering the beach felt uneven and somewhat featureless.

Photos are important memories. Selfies are fun and have a place in today's social media experience. But there is no doubt in my mind that the trend towards inflating one's ego is leading most people to miss what is right in front of them. I am desperately trying to absorb it all.

Lac Moraine

Vineyards at Arrowleaf Winery

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