A Summer Journey

Colaiste Muire, Ennis

Dear Aunt Mary,

How are you? Cathal told me you were in Peru. It sounds fabulous! Unlike you, I haven’t travelled a lot, but for me, there is nowhere that can match the landscape of British Columbia. After a few days in the city, we drove east from Vancouver to join the highway north. We passed through rich farmland and rolling hills, their grassy sides rippling in the wind. From the road, we could see the American border, marked by an endless line of rugged hills. Fields of wheat swayed in the breeze and cows stood in the fields, eating the grass short. It was picturesque. From there, we could just about see the far-off mountains starting in the distance towards the north, the same slopes we’d seen from the airplane only a few days previously.  Soon we turned north and left the farmland, meeting a mountain range with rugged slopes, steep and forested, inhabited mainly by exotic wildlife. We drove through deep gorges, watching the river frothing and foaming below us, tumbling over the rocky terrain. Hardly a scrap of grassland was visible, the steep slopes either bare rock or spindly pine trees clinging to the mountain side. A single railway track wound into the distance, imitating the uneven path of the river and snaking through the rocky terrain. Halfway through the drive to Cache Creek we met the most unexpected landscape: sandy slopes and tumble weed. The sun shone down relentlessly onto dusty red mountain sides. The clear ice-blue water of the river turned a mud brown below fine, white spray. Leafless plants crept up through the dry landscape and bald eagles flew overhead in the hot sunshine, screeching, searching of food in the barren landscape. We passed through a tiny village, the roads dusty and the buildings badly in need of repair. Old bicycles stood in the long weeds, their wheels rusted and bent. A pick-up truck pulled out in front of us, the back open, the wooden frame rattling against the metal body. I’m telling you, a vehicle would never have been allowed on the roads in Ireland, even at home. All this time, the river had been our constant companion, hurtling over rocks, pulling at everything in its wake. One small homestead sat at water level, a measly hedge separating the garden from the rushing water. It tore at the bank, eroding the crumbly soil and snaked through the mountains, keeping to the valleys. We continued through the desert land, winding between the river and the railway track. Once, a train came past slowly and we counted over thirty cars in total. Cache Creek, where we’re staying for the night, stands in the valley of two hills, the highway streaking through the cluster of dusty buildings. Not much, but a bed for the night.

I’ll write again tomorrow when we reach Prince George to tell you about the rest of the journey.

Lots of love,