The bear, unadulterated truth!

It appears to be a symptom of this multi-connected, always on-world we now inhabit that people are craving more and more ‘experiences’. One upon a time, people traveled to various destinations in order to see what those destinations had to offer and in the main, those offerings were usually centred around the old stalwarts of scenery, history, architecture, culture, food, people etc. In more recent times, an additional component has been added to this list and that component comes under the collective heading of ‘experience’.

Well-traveled consumers nowadays appear to be more preoccupied with what they can do when they arrive at a given destination, rather than simply experiencing the destination in its own right. So, for example, instead of someone choosing to spend a holiday in the Bahamas in order to experience the crystal-clear waters, tropical island beaches and swaying palms, they are now much more likely to be inquiring as to how they go about making a booking so they can swim with sharks when they get there! Similarly, whilst a lot of people travel to New Zealand for the spectacular scenery, Maori culture and possibly even their all consuming love for rugby, some will be going there in order to experience the original of the species when it comes to bungy jumping — as exemplified by A.J. Hackett’s who created the world’s first ultimate elastic band thrill by helping those first brave individuals to jump off an 43-metre high iron bridge over the Kawarau Gorge just outside Queenstown in 1989. The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway, all of this is simply by way of a ponderous preamble to the topic of today’s blog which is that in the increasingly homogenized lives that most of us live, there is a growing trend to start ticking off items on one’s own Bucket List. Most of these lists will include items like ‘visit Machu Picchu, or the Taj Mahal’ but they will also include things like ‘swim with dolphins’ or ‘experience an African Safari’.  The problem with many of the items on such lists is that they can cost a lot of money and thus exclude themselves from all but the more well heeled. This therefore brings me to the whole point of today’s story:

I recently visited my younger brother who lives in Calgary, Alberta and too the opportunity to tick off one of those ‘Bucket List’ items which was to drive across the Rockies. The route from Calgary to Vancouver is approximately 1,000 kilometres long and can be undertaken in as little as two or three days, depending on how stuck you are for time. Needless to say, the scenery en route was spectacular but what turned out to be the highlight of that particular trip was the unexpected joy of getting relatively close and personal to a full grown grizzly bear in the wild! It happened when taking a gondola ride from an out of season ski lodge just outside of Lake Louise, world renowned for its majestic vistas. It also turns out to be probably the best location in all of North America in which to see grizzlies in the wild from distances as short as 40 feet — you effectively travel over them as they graze on the mountain slopes below you. And the cost?  Other than the cost of actually getting there, all the experience cost me was the price of the gondola ride which was a few Canadian dollars. OK, not exactly a Safari or anything close but a special and priceless moment nonetheless and yet another item ticked off that pesky list!

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