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Archive for October, 2012

Enjoying some quite time at Lake Agnes

May 22, 2010 – Rocky Mountain Road Trip Time!!..

Everyone loves a road trip.  Well I do and the May long weekend marked the first time that I would be hitting the road alone in Canada.

To me this meant hiring a car (yes, renting for all you Canadian’s – RAY!!) and escaping the rat race and seeing as much as my blue eyes would allow me  to take in over the three days.

Now I admit that my initial planning was a bit way-laid.  I’d had a thought that I might like to drive to Jasper for the weekend. Enjoy some of the stunning scenery and see just how spectacular these rocky mountains really are.  After all I knew that the short Greyhound bus ride from Calgary to Banff in late March was really only a teaser of things to come.

I arrived early enough at Lake Louise to be able to enjoy the sights without the flood of tourists.  It was still spring and a little bit of snow was still on the ground BUT the lake was pretty much still FROZEN!.. I admit I was shocked!..

a. it was May

b. it was a big enough lake, how could it be frozen!; and

c. I’d only ever seen the ‘beautiful emerald’ water that everyone raves about – again I have learnt something new.

I’d planned to walk the shoreline of the lake.  Enjoy simply being outside and being in this magical place, but en route I passed a trail head that said ‘Lake Agnes Tea House – 3.8km‘ and I knew I just had to do it. I’d grown up with the lure of ‘Lake Agnes’ being on my doorstep back home on the farm in Patchewollock.. the difference was that it has been dry for hundreds if not thousand’s of years, plus didn’t Catriona Rowntree from Getaway do this hike not that long ago.. it looked easy when she did it! So I saddled up my backpack and hit the trail.

The first couple 100m of the trail were steady-going, a slight incline all the way and spectacular views of the lake below.  It was beautiful.  After the first switch back the heart began to beat faster and the realisation that I was going 1,204 feet in 3.8km, with altitude hit me.. WHAT WAS I THINKING.. I was from the mallee and pretty much sea level.  But I had started and I wasn’t stopping.

The higher I got, the more snow on the ground and colder it become (a  lesson that I learnt very early on – always pack for every condition). But the views of the valley below were spectacular.. plus, when I got to the top I could enjoy a nice hot chocolate in the tea house, right.

Little did I know that the tea house didn’t open until June 1st!.. What.  I was like a week too early. So instead I enjoyed my lunch and nice cold drink on the rocks by a thawing Lake Agnes, simply staring at this amazing place and ‘Remember(ing) to Breathe’. It was only day one!.

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Ok.. well technically the countdown started a long time ago.. but since it’s getting closer and with only 18 days left until I’m on a plane bound for home, I thought that I’d post a daily photo of my time in Canada..  

Now I have to admit that it is going to be one hell of a challenge choosing JUST ONE photo everyday, but hopefully you can relive the last two and a half years with me in these last few weeks..

I have been lucky enough that each of the cities or towns that I have lived in (ok, well we won’t count Patche in this) have all had a river run through them.  Mildura – The Mighty Murray River, Dublin – The River Liffey and now Calgary – The Bow River.

Each of them have their own special trait’s, but living in Calgary has made me realise how little I ever ‘enjoyed’ the Murray River, which has been on my back doorstep for over 10 years.  One note to self is when/if I ever move back to Mildura, or any other town that has a river flowing through it, that I make the most of it.

This photo was taken within the first week of my arrival in Calgary.  I had just been for an interview with a financial planning firm which operated out of a beautiful 100-year-old house on the banks of the Bow River.  It was quite a change from what I had come from (a firm with in excess of 80+ employees).

Little did I know as I stood there on the bridge above The Bow, that that financial planning firm would become a huge part of my Canadian family and that one of my colleagues was literally my sister-in-laws next door neighbour from Benson, Sask.

Over the past two and a half years I have learned that it is not really that cold in March, in fact that small amount of ice you see on The Bow is nothing in comparison to what you get to experience if you stay for a winter.  I have learnt that a balmy 5 degrees celsius or even a balmy -10 degrees celsius can actually be quite warm (after a winter that included a few -40’s).

I have learnt that being from Mildura will get your foot in the door for an interview (if the person reviewing your random email enquiry enjoyed their honeymoon picking grapes in ‘sunny sunraysia’). That a 2 week job placement can turn into two and a half years in the blink of an eye and that no matter what you have done, where you have been or where you are going, there is always something to learn – Personally and Professionally.

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Chocolate.. it’s the no. 1 downfall in my life.

I love it..

I wish so much that I could give it up.. that I could live my life without it.. but there is just NO WAY..

I don’t really care what type it is.. oh yes I have my favorites, but if there is nothing else on offer … dark, white, chilli flavored, cheap and nasty.. I will still give it a crack (hence my far from ‘trim jim’ figure!).. so when the girls that I’ve played Slo-pitch with for the last 2 years decided that as part of my ‘farewell from Calgary‘ we should go to ‘The Fairmont Palliser’s DEATH BY CHOCOLATE‘ night… who was I to resist!!!

A plate of (un)goodness

Now I’ll admit that I really didn’t know what to expect when I rocked up tonight.. I guess some part of the chocolate dreamer in my head had assumed a room stocked to the hilt with all the chocolate that you could ever desire.. or ever want… (think Willy Wonka)… well pretty much this is what we got.. just not so much on the grand scale..but definately on the quality side!

Two tables of deliciously laid out desserts .. from white chocolate, chocolate and berry to mint chocolate and cookie  cheesecakes to  mini-mini cupcakes, choc chip infused bread pudding, mousse rolls and the list goes on.. to a chocolate fountain with assorted fruits, creme burlee, miniature profiteroles and half-dipped ginger, mmm mmmmm!

oohh yes… chocolate fountain dipped strawberry’s.. their healthy right???

Tell me your mouths are not watering?

Well the best thing is you can share in it too.  Every Monday night from 5:30pm – 9:00pm DEATH BY CHOCOLATE is open.. and how is that not the perfect way to begin your week!!.

To make sure that you get your $28 chocolate fix and pick of the BEST chocolate desserts (not that there aren’t any) I recommend getting your girlfriends together, getting there early, grabbing yourself a comfy possie, ordering a nice cocktail and settling in for a couple of hours of indulgence… well at least that’s what we did.

Oh yes.. A Golden Mojito and a plate full of chocolate dessert.. HEAVEN RIGHT

To the girls that came.. THANK YOU… what a send off to have.. and to LB that missed out.. I hope your mouth is not watering too much.. and I tried to have your share :-)..

……….. I don’t think it needs any words

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Enjoying Christmas Day at Lake Louise 2011

I love living in another country. I love the ability to step outside of what I know are my comfort zones. To reach out on a limb and take a chance. I love experiencing new things. Love the sensations that I feel when something is new to me and the happiness I feel when I accomplish something that I may never have tried at home.. but I LOVE my family more!.

The past eight to nine weeks have been a whirlwind, but a weekend visiting extended family in southern Saskatchewan in early August gave me the clarification that I needed.

The wide open spaces of the prairie lands. The golden fields of wheat. The sweet sounds of nothingness. The clear skies scattered with a million stars… and the photo’s of MY family hanging on a wall… It was all that I needed for my head and my heart to align and for me to know that I wanted to go home.

Golden Fields of Saskatchewan

The last two and a half years have been amazing. There have been days when I could not have been blissfully more happy and days when I wanted to pack it all in. Curl up, close my eyes and wish that I was somewhere else.

I will miss EVERYTHING here in Calgary..I will miss my amazing friends that have made the two and a half years I have been here so much better, my adopted Canadian family, complete with nieces and nephews and our annual Thanksgiving get-aways and the colleagues and clients that have become part of my everyday life.

I will miss the summer day’s when hiking in the mountains makes you feel alive and the coldest of winter days when it feels like moths are stuck up your nose and you can’t open your eyes because of the icicles on your eyelashes have frozen them shut… but it is not a goodbye.. more simply a see-you-later.

Hiking the ‘Many Springs’ trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park (July 2011)

I am looking forward to coming home. Spending time with my ever-growing family. Meeting my new niece and spoiling all over again, each and every single one of the ten nieces and nephews in my life and annoying my four bigger and older brothers (and their wives).  Catching up with friends and preparing for the next adventure.

My Mum and my beautiful nieces and nephews (before Jorge)… so cannot wait to spoil them all again

By far my adventures, travel and personal, are not over.  They are simply beginning the next chapter.

‘Home James’ …. looking forward to seeing this sign once again

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