My husband and I just returned from an anniversary trip to Banff National Park in Canada. As much as we loved seeing the massive Canadian Rockies, the crystal clear blue lakes and charming old hotels, it was the wildlife that made the trip extra memorable.
What is it about sighting wildlife that gives us such a thrill? Maybe it’s because each encounter is so unexpected. Also because it’s nothing that can be planned. No matter how many tourists ask the park rangers, “What time do you let the animals out?” that’s not how it works, folks. No travel agent can guarantee a wildlife sighting either. It’s the very serendipitous nature of it that makes it seem like such a joyful gift.
On our drive down Sunshine Mountain from the high vista lodge where we stayed for two nights, we were surprised to round a corner and see a mountain goat staring at us from the side of the road. “So, you folks are checking out,” he seemed to be saying. “Hope you enjoyed your stay. Come back and see us, eh?” No doubt he knew we were tourists by our rental car with the Alberta license plates.
A day or so later we were driving from one mountain lake to another when we came upon a bear seriously going about searching for the thousands of berries he needs to sustain himself. Unlike the goat, he didn’t seem to give us any mind at all. Canada is having a late summer this year, so it’s possible he just came out of hibernation. Food was his biggest priority and we were too encapsulated in steel to be enticing.
We also saw a herd of elk from a distance, and though we didn’t spot a moose, we had such a good sighting of one outside of Jackson Hole last year that we didn’t feel at all deprived. When Jim shared a bit of his lunch at a café near Lake Moraine with a chipmunk, he delighted a family with children nearby. We are certainly hoping the fine we saw posted later for feeding wildlife doesn’t apply to chipmunks!
I have a friend who sees every sighting of a hawk as a special message and gift from God. If she sees a bald eagle, she feels blessed beyond belief! We are all blessed to share this earth with God’s marvelous creatures, and when our paths cross unexpectedly, my gratitude abounds.