Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finding the Pass - Day 9

It is called "Going To The Sun" road and it represents the engineering domination of nature.  It took 12 years to build and was finished in 1921 for the sole purpose of allowing the newly in vogue automobile vacationers to travel through the centre of the now 100 year old Glacier National Park (which spans the US/Canada border) .  The Road climbs up the mountainside escarpments on a very narrow, twisty and steep road surface, giving spectacular views of sheer mountain face dropping off hundreds of feet just over a tire high stone wall away.  The prize is to arrive at the summit, Logan's Pass, which is the Continental Divide at some 6646 feet (2025 metres) in elevation.  It is literally a dividing point for the flow of water to three oceans;  Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic.

The irony of the road's name was not lost on any of us today.  We suggested alternative names such as, "Road To The Rain" or "Road To No Fun".  The route was so busy it took more than 20 minutes in the line up to pay to get into the Park.  When in, "No Passing" signs were everywhere.  Perhaps my patience needed testing as my interpretation of solid double lines became, "Be doubly cautious when passing".  Just after getting into the park and "speeding" along at 25 miles (or kilometres, both are accurate) per hour for a few miles (or kilometres), it started to rain.  I had learned from my last drenching on the summit of the Big Horn Mountains that such hints are not to be displaced by wishful thinking.  We dutifully donned our bright waterproof gear and began the ascent.  The higher we went the harder it rained and the colder it got.  The arduous effort was rewarded by seeing the work in progress of Guinett Masonry (a company started by Renae's father and mother, and now owned by Renae's sister and her husband), whose craftsmen were rebuilding those stubby short walls that were the only thing between our motorcycles and their first and last flying lessons.  While grinding our way to the top, fog or low clouds were added to the mix of inclement conditions.  At the summit sleet began to sting our faces, forcing a shorter than normal victory photo op before descending.

The other side of the summit brought a short run to the east gate of the Park but there was still no sign of the sun.  It was here, after a sumptious lunch at a rugged, log restaurant run by the Johnson family for the past 70 years, that we said farewell to Steve and Ben, who headed the 20 miles north to the Canadian border and on to Medicine Hat, Alberta.  We had a somewhat rainy ride back to Kalispell, Montana, where we broke one of our rules,  We ate at the same place, Capers, twice (this time totally enjoying scallops over "Forbidden Rice").

After getting over Logan Pass today, I thought of all the other passes we had conquered this trip, each in a few hours, when it had taken brave pioneers weeks or months to make it over them.  And that was after someone found the best pass to use.

Life, and certainly life with Parkinson's Disease, can sometimes seem to be like my Going To The Sun road experience.  I persevere in positive terms to seek the sun only to be met by increasing difficulties, and ultimately no "sun".  However, in other ways I have learned that I can be very thankful for these times, for there are great lessons and hidden jewels in them.

1.  Pathfollowers.  The diffculties are best shared, and there is joy in the sharing.
2.  Pathkeepers.   I know that others are working to make the road better for those who travel it.
3.  Pathfinders.  I need those who go ahead and find the "passes" for me and plan and lead me as I "climb".
4.  I can celebrate and learn to smile, or even laugh, when all does not go as planned.

On the other hand, I could use some sun tomorrow.  I know... we can head south.  San Diego maybe?

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