Lost and Found in the Rockies
Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 06:00 am
What do you do when the stark realization hits that same-old, same-old also applies to paradise?
Well, if you’re Jamey Glasnovic, you hop on a bike and get out of Dodge for a month-long tour to sort through it all and hopefully have a revelation or two along the way.
And what’s a journey without a little hardship, soul searching, humour, cynicism and pessimism? And if that journey takes you to the top of Sunwapta Pass in the middle of a fall snowstorm, so much the better.
Glasnovic is general manager at Canmore’s Rose and Crown and a former Outlook staffer. He’s also an idiot. At least that’s what he tells us in the first sentence of his upcoming book Lost and Found: Adrift in the Canadian Rockies. Published by Rocky Mountain Books, Glasnovic is launching Lost and Found at the Rose and Crown on Thursday (Oct. 9) at 7 p.m.
Glasnovic realizes the depths of his idiocy when he finds himself at the summit of Sunwapta Pass in the wind, the cold and the wet, with blowing snow, numb hands and night quickly approaching.
If he had been content with his life in Canmore back in 2008, Glasnovic admits he wouldn’t have found himself in that situation, he’d instead have been sitting at home with his feet up, a beer in his hand and the game on TV rather than probing the depths of his idiocy and he realizes that he himself is the only one to blame for his predicament.
“Why can’t I be like a normal person?” he asks, “content in my idyllic little mountain town, with a solid relationship, steady employment and favourite pub already sorted out? After all, who consciously abandons, no, actively escapes, what many often refer to as a ‘paradise on earth’ in order to subject themselves to these harsh conditions?”
“It’s a question worthy of consideration on a deserted roadway over a couple of hundred laboured pedal strokes and, as big fluffy flakes work their way under the back of my collar, the only answer I can come up with is ‘an imbecile,’ that’s who.”
Glasnovic is tired and frustrated, worn down by the daily grind – that same-old, same-old he didn’t expect in a place routinely referred to as “paradise.” He understandably expected more out of paradise, but instead found “more of the same” and that led him headlong into a snowstorm.
“... this simmering discontent is an internal conflict galloping towards a boil, and for now, whatever is ultimately responsible is probably irrelevant. I’m a fool, surrounded by so many other fools, all of us living a back-and-forth struggle between the ridiculous and the sublime and I’m tired of the roller coaster ride.”
Rather than packing up and leaving altogether or sitting down at the bar and complaining about it over a pint, Glasnovic sets out to shake off the doldrums and find some answers out there among the mountains. What is it exactly – despite the challenges – that keeps him here?
There is pleasure in Glasnovic’s journey and his story. It’s an honest exploration of place and identity and Glasnovic is something of an ogre philosopher on a touring bike wrapped in his curmudgeonly cloak of pessimism and crankiness as he searches the mountains for answers.
And yet, there’s also an introspective and eloquent soul under that cloak and he puts into words what many people trying to find a way in the Bow Valley feel: the joy and angst of living in this place creates and the resolution or peace many of us seek, but never quite find.
Glasnovic’s journey is not the epic Hero’s Journey we’ve come to expect from the travel memoir. Instead, it’s more Bill Bryson (one of Glasnovic’s heros and inspirations), Keystone Cops and Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple.
And truth be told, how many of us have that epic Hero’s Journey of myth? Most of us are pretty darn regular and like Glasnovic, we’re tired and cranky and yet we stay connected to this wonderful yet frustrating place, but why? It’s a hard question to answer, but what I like about Lost and Found is that Glasnovic doesn’t attempt to over-inflate the end result of his journey.
He doesn’t pretend to have an epic, life-altering epiphany that suddenly brings peace to his troubled soul. Nope. By the end of Glasnovic’s journey and his book comes a measure of acceptance and understanding: Canmore may not be the perfect paradise offered up in the brochures, but despite that, it’s home, and that is paradise enough.
Lost and Found: Adrift in the Canadian Rockies, published by Rocky Mountain Books, is available for $25.