It wasn’t the first time I’d done a musical pilgrimage. Years ago, during a road trip to visit our friend Sheryl in New York, my sister, her kids and I travelled back up through Woodstock, and then tried our damnedest to find Big Pink, but there was some missing link in the road signs (we suspected perhaps the current home-owner might have caused this) and we just couldn’t find it. Many do it. Music, like all art, is a spiritual experience. And if music affects you as deeply as, say, Music from Big Pink or The Basement Tapes did Cathy and I, then you’d seize any opportunity to be in that place where it was created or inspired. It adds a whole other layer to the musical story and your experience of it.
So here I am in the beautiful town of Jasper and I realise Pyramid Lake is just a short jaunt out of town, and I have to go because it is at the centre of one of my long-time favourite Blue Rodeo songs, the trippy and joyful Cynthia. While here I learn that Jasper National Park is the world’s second largest dark sky preserve, and so how could star gazing in a place like this not inspire a beautiful song like that?
One of Ceri’s pet peeves is the way people use superlatives to describe ordinary things.
“Can I borrow your pen?”
“How was your first try at making meatloaf?”
As we were driving in Jasper National Park and I’m snapping shots and gaping in wonder at the astounding beauty of it all, Ceri said, “yeah, this is awesome.”
I’d never visited the Rockies before. I’ve flown over them, and that in itself was incredible, seeing the sheer mass of mountains below and the odd peaks poking up through the clouds. And so as we arrive in Jasper I’m feeling happy and grateful to be here in this part of the world. With every bend or dip in the road everything changes and there’s a whole new kind of beauty in front of you. I sit back in my seat and just enjoy.
Not ten minutes into the park we’re in a traffic jam. Cars are all backed up as far in front of us as we can see. I mean, it’s not as bad as all that – there’s plenty all around to keep us entertained, it’s not exactly like being stuck on the Gardiner Expressway at five o’clock on a Tuesday. We inch along for well more than an hour, and then up ahead, we see the cause of the traffic jam – the Jasper Park Welcome Wagon.