Apparently, my passionate affair with daily blogging was a short one. I’ve always loved a good cliff hanger but my word! Shame on me! We made it home, obviously, after spending out last two days driving to Calgary for the night and then driving the eight-hour jaunt back to Bozeman. I was completely burned out on the tail end of this trip and so did not follow through with updates to the end, but thankfully, it was so memorable, I am able to recall enough to pick up where we left off!
Packing up our camp the last time is bitter sweet to us both. Bitter because we know that doing so spelled the end to our escape from the realities of life and sweet because we know we wouldn’t be setting up the blasted camp anymore on the trip! Not that getting to play with all our camp toys isn’t fun, but once you’ve set up and broke down camp more than 3 times in one trip, you’re ready to be done. We finish loading the car and head towards Calgary. The landscape slowly changes from mountainous as we leave the Bow Valley to rural farmland, to cityscape. We’ve left the natural giants for man-made ones. The cliffs and streams and forests have given way to steel and glass and concrete.
The hotel we stay at is very modern in its interior design and everything about it assaults my senses. The everything from the window dressings to the carpeting is drenched in harsh, unnatural colors. We stick out horribly in the sea of stiletto clicking, Gucci bag toting, perfumed trophy wife that swarm around us dragging their much older companions behind them. I am a little shell shocked as I stand there. My sun and dirt tanned skin smells of sweat and all things natural. The carefully curled Brazilian blowouts float past me making me check myself in the lobby mirror, the first I’ve seen in a while. Just as I suspected. my hair is flat and matted against my oily scalp. Everyone around me hurries past giving us the side eye. I look down and see my chubby fingers interlaced with West’s. His calloused thumb is rubbing those little circles on top of mine and I shoot a quick look up at him. He’s standing there with wind snarled hair and soot smudged under his chin talking with the concierge. He looks over at me as the man behind the desk starts typing furiously. His eyes warm and soften and he smiles at me cheekily. He doesn’t care what I look like. He doesn’t care that I could barely huff my way up what should have been any easy hike up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. He doesn’t care that I burned the baked beans one night or that I stole his warm wool socks on the first night out after he told me to pack mine but I ignored him. He doesn’t even look at any of the other clean, well dressed, good smelling, fit, stiletto clicking women that stalk by. He’s looking at me and he doesn’t care. He loves me and all the memories that we’ve just made together.
The concierge clears his throat and we both snap back to reality. Our key cards in hand we lug our bags to the elevator, to our door, and into our suite. Ahhh, the king bed. Crisp white linen. An honest to God AC unit. We’ve both died and gone to heaven. I don’t dare touch the bedding in the state I’m in. and that’s when I see it. The shower! My stars that shower. For those of you who do not know, I am the sort of person that rarely goes a day without showering, so camping (even camping in site which have shower facilities) can be a daunting ordeal. Believe me if I had a choice in the matter I would rather not spend the extra 30 minutes in the morning to shower and all the other things which must follow. Alas, my genetics have never been on board with this, and so when I finally did turn on that glorious waterfall shower head… utter bliss!
45 minutes and 3 bottles of hotel shampoo later, I rejoin West in the main room and flop down on the sheet with a “Oof-da!” and then start to giggle uncontrollably as I make snow angles in the sheets. We battle the urge to just stay burrowed in the bed for the rest of the day, but dinner time is fast approaching and we must go out. We’re only in Calgary for one night and it would be absolutely criminal to not go see what the city has to offer.
We decide to a place that we’ve heard has over 300 beers on tap. Bottlescrew Bill’s Pub is hopping and we are lucky to get a booth. Our meal is exceptional, and the variety of brews is staggering! Thankfully our waitress is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable and gives us a delicious tour of their selection with plenty of personal recommendations thrown in as well.
Sleep that night is a wonderful affair. The hot shower the next morning is even better! I will never, ever take the modern convenience of a readily accessible shower for granted again. We check out and begin the long drive back to the States.
Security at the border on the way into America is much stricter that when leaving it. Even though I have the privilege of being a white American woman with no criminal record to speak of, I still felt nervous and incredibly over scrutinized by the border guard on our re-entry. I can’t imagine the anxiety someone from another ethnicity, another country, another religion would have in the same position.
Once we finally pass inspection and officially cross back into Montana, we are home free and make a beeline home and ten and a half hours later, we arrive back in Bozeman. Homecomings are a special thing. The moment we dipped down into our valley, there’s a calm and a feeling of comfortable familiarity that settles over us. I look over and West, and he looks at me, and there’s a moment of solidarity that passes between us. Home.