Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel Alberta’ Category

Enjoying the ‘Bubbles’ within Lake Minnewanka

Winter.  What an amazing time of year to be in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Lots of snow, plenty of ice and amazing frozen lakes.

Apart from venturing onto Lake Louise on Christmas Day (very cautiously too I might add), I’ve always stayed away from frozen ponds, lakes and rivers for the simple fact that ‘you just never know’.  But last year after a morning cross-country skiing a friend of ours told us about the amazing beauty of Lake Minnewanka (pronounced Minn-a-wonka, by all Canadian‘s) and how the majority of snow had been blown off the top and you could clearly see the bubbles frozen in time.

It’s amazing how something so simple can be so beautiful and amazing, and yet so terrifying at the same time.

Coming from a country that could quite possibly boil water on a hot day, you must forgive me for being a tad resistent when it comes to stepping out onto the ice, even if it is 12-14 inches thick!

The cracks that criss-cross across the face of the ice and the ‘warbling-cracking’ sound that can be only described as eerie and daunting almost cause you to hold your breath.  Knowing that the further you step out, the further you are from the shore and the further you are from safety.

But it truly is amazing.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Making tracks across the U.S.A.

Solo travel can teach you many lessons, but the biggest ones it has taught me are to ‘Trust your Gut’ and to ‘Take a Chance’.

For me learning to trust my gut has been a huge learning curve.  Growing up I know that I was not the most self-confident person and quite often relied on others for direction and to make the decision for me.  But travelling has changed that and so often it’s one of the hardest things to listen to.  When your mind is telling you one thing and your gut is telling you something else. It’s hard to hold true and follow that gut feeling.

Anyone who knew me growing up knows that I did not take chances.  I was NEVER the first to do something, nor the second.. perhaps maybe the third or the fourth, but preferably always the last.  I NEVER did anything that would put me out on a limb, out by myself, rather more preferring to stay as one of the crowd.  While some of this is still true today, there is a higher chance that I will be tempted to take the plunge.  And I know now from experience that if I trust my gut when I take a chance… I’ll probably be ok.

Packing up and moving myself to another country and starting fresh was the first chance I took.  The second, stepping out and taking the chance to put myself out there to meet total strangers knowing that I might not have anything in common with them and the third? The third was taking a chance to drive halfway across the country with someone I had only met not eight weeks earlier and with whom I had only spent a couple of hours (at the most) with.

What makes someone do this?

The chance of adventure.  The chance to do something that you might never have the opportunity to do again. The chance that you might miss out on something. The chance that you might see something that you would never have otherwise seen. The chance to see it all. But mostly it’s the chance that if you don’t, you will live to regret it the rest of your life and forever ask yourself, ‘what if?’ and tell yourself ‘if only’.

When Laura first mentioned moving to Ontario and the potential of a road trip, I know that my eyes lit up (who doesn’t love a road trip) and I knew that I’d be jealous of her if she did it without me. It’s strange thinking about how easily it is to become jealous of someone you hardly know, simply because they are going to get the opportunity to do something that you know you could only dream of.   So when she mentioned that she needed company and a copilot for the drive, I told her, without hesitation, that I was in.

Preparation of trips can be consuming.  They can also be stressful and loads of fun. Laura can probably tell you a different story but when you email each other a potential road map and your trip routes are almost identical.  I think that you are pretty much on the same page. It almost felt too easy.  We never had any discussions on ‘what if’s’, and the only time I considered the potential of this trip not going to plan was the night before we left when I drew the conclusion that no matter what happened and where we parted company, as long as I had my credit card and could get to a bus station or an airport, I could get back to Calgary no problems.

Thankfully I can say it was the only time I had that thought and now fourteen months on, it is almost a distant memory and one that I am almost ashamed to admit.

In eight days we covered eight American states, including; Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and the two Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario. But within the confined space of the car we also covered a lot more. We talked and we sat in silence.  We sang and starred in awe. We laughed (OMG did we laugh) and every day I became more thankful for this road trip in more ways than one.

Since that moment we pulled away from the curb in Calgary I have been thankful that I chose to take the chance.

 

Read Full Post »

A beautiful winter morning in Calgary

There is nothing better than getting out and exploring the city, town, area that you live in.  Actually it can become quite fun and you never really know what you are going to find, experience or see.

Last winter I’m sure that many people thought that we were stupid getting up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to go for walks along Calgary’s many river paths, but when you get the opportunity to witness, to photograph and to enjoy unspoilt scenes like the one above.. it makes it oh so worth while.

With the many pathways and parks along the river and the quietness of the weekend downtown core.. it’s hard not to feel like you are a million miles away from the hussell and bussell of the city.  Another thing that I love about Calgary – That city feel that isn’t quite city.

Explore your neighbourhoods and the ones next door. Check out the local diners, the local cafe’s and of course the local pubs. Find out what makes this city, your city beat and what makes you fall in love with it everyday.

Challenge yourself to see as much of it as you can.  To enjoy every tiny detail and to search out those hidden secrets that no-one, absolutely no-one knows about and share them with the people you love and care about.

If I could take my little pieces of ‘Calgary’ home with me.. one would be the place in the picture above.  The quite little Island park between the Bow and Elbow Rivers. A park that is not frequently visited, but more likely to be home to the homeless.  A park that has its own peaceful stunning views of downtown Calgary and the iconic Calgary Tower.  It’s own suspension bridge that makes it seem so much more unique and special.

The other.. well that’s a secret…..

Read Full Post »

Denim, Boots and Big Hat‘s.. yep that’s that Calgary Stampede.

No visit to Calgary in July is complete without making it at least one day to the Stampede.

The first I ever heard about the Calgary Stampede was from my eldest brother when he came to Calgary to visit his then girlfriend (now wife) in the early ’90’s.  I remember him coming home and telling us that while he was visiting he had been asked to go into her work to help ‘build horses‘.  We were a bit stunned.. Horses.. why did they need horses in the bank?  His reply ‘Everyone has them, they go crazy at stampede time’.  Now I know what he is talking about.

From July 1st downtown Calgary becomes a mix of wood and hay bales as every establishment ‘Stampede-ifies’ their buildings in hope to convert their corporate buildings into rustic old ranch stables, outhouses and barns.  And if it’s not wood and hay bales, it’s painted windows depicting a wild wild west or a simple YEE-HAW!!!.

Corporate suits go out the window and wrangler jeans, boots and big hats become the office norm.  Rarely any work is ever done for the 10 days of the Stampede. Corporate functions, staff parties and other entertainment take over the working world and the celebrations begin.

Every morning generally commences with free stampede breakfasts at various street venues around the city (if you wish to wait in line…. enjoy) and of course on day one the Stampede Parade takes centre stage as it passes through the downtown core and onto the stampede grounds.

The full 10 days are action packed.  From walking the park and taking in all the sights, to enjoying the free entertainment at the various stages; hypnotists, bands, dog shows, motorbike riders, to sitting back in the saddledome and watching the Cowboy Up Challenge, Sheep dog trials or Team Cattle Penning. Wondering the Agricultural section and watching the blacksmiths, the shearers and even the Clydesdale teams being prepped and primed for the heavy hitch competitions, or simply to be ‘bedded down for the night’.

And of course you can’t forget the daily bone crunching rodeo where cowboys rope and wrestle steers and attempt to ride a full 8 seconds on bucking bronc’s and spinning bulls, nor the excitement and speed of the nightly chuckwagon races when the pounding of hooves takes over the arena and wagon’s appear to be flying all over the track.  When dinner consist of the best pizza, fried chicken or strangest concoction of foods available on the midway and dessert is that deep-fried cheesecake, snickers or in my case this year, wagon wheel (YUMMO!)

In my time here I have been to the Stampede all three years.  Watched the chuckwagon races every year and witnessed the rodeo nine times (yes nine!.. I may be slightly addicted!!).  I’ve enjoyed it on my own and with new-found friends, but by far I enjoyed it the most when I got to share it with my family and my two beautiful nephews.

The excitement on their faces. The joy in their eyes.  The passion to be ‘just like everyone else’ as they laid out their jeans and shirts  the night before in anticipation of the day ahead.  The morning of as they threaded their belts and fastened their buckles to make sure that they sat ‘just right’ before pulling on their boots and tipping their hats with a ‘howdy partner’.  They were set for the day ahead.

Seeing the amazement in their eyes as they watched in awe (and sometimes pain) the cowboys below us in the world renown Calgary Stampede Rodeo Arena, being thrown from their beasts; to watching the team cattle penning in the Saddledome and hoping and praying that the team working the cattle could beat the clock and be faster than the team before.  They truly have been special moments.

My two favorite Cowboys!

Read Full Post »

20121107-223606.jpg

Whats that saying? ‘When in Rome!’

Well that’s exactly what I did.. I gave some Canadian sports a crack!!

From skiing to snowboarding, ice skating to curling and yep, I even threw a couple of seasons of slo-pitch in there too, just for good measure!

Everyone has to give the skiing and boarding a try, the mountains around here are just too good to pass up and thankfully I’m happy to report that other than a few bruises and a hurt pride, Nean was not injured in the process (it’s a bit hard when you don’t get off the bunny hill!!).

The ice skating was a little bit more easy.. But learning to stand on two blades that are as thin as a ruler also lead to many a laughs with my first attempt of escaping the boards resulting in a beautiful spin before slowly sinking to the ice.. That’s when the real trouble hit..

How in the frig do you get your 6ft frame back up on two blades without falling over?

A. With a lot of laughs and then a realization that you have to skittle yourself across the cold ice to the side boards and pull yourself up!!

And yes, the 4 year olds found it hysterical too!!

I have to admit slo-pitch had me feeling more at home..after all my feet were always firmly planted in the ground.

Every Tuesday or Wednesday night over summer it allowed me to escape the rat race, clear the head and enjoy the beautiful summer evenings with a great team of people. Sadly I can’t say that I escaped playing slo-pitch injury free.

Somewhere between watching the rover throw the ball in from just outside second base and watching the guy run from third to home I dropped my glove just enough to to have the ball deflect slightly. Slightly off the top of the glove and into my top lip.

Needless to say I was more worried about my front teeth then the blood and the ultimate split lip I had received….And then the ump had the audacity to tell me I couldn’t keep playing!!!

Quite clearly he didn’t realize who he was dealing with!!

And then there was curling..

It looks pretty easy right?

Hold onto a broom in one hand, a rock in the other, lower your body to the ice, glide and release the rock!!

Well how come I couldn’t stay upright?

Each time I let go of the rock I’d end up with knees on the ice, a big no, no in ice etiquette.

And then there’s the sweeping? Who sweeps ice anyway.. But they say its a sport!

I’m sure that two drunk men were sitting back one day chatting and decided that the only way they would meet girls was if they ‘created’ a sport they thought girls would be good at.. With their level of thinking and intoxication they must have thought ‘women can sweep, perhaps we introduce it as a sport and see who we can attract’.

Well perhaps the laugh’s on me because Canadian’s love it!’ It’s their version of our barefoot lawn bowls.

I can say I totally enjoyed my few hours learning to curl and failing miserably .. And that sweeping is hard work.. But seriously what’s the point? That, that is what I’m trying to work out!!

Read Full Post »

Simply Breathtaking

During the final days of preparation in Oz before I left to come to Canada, I made the decision that no matter what, I would live close to downtown.  Generally it means that rent is higher, but it also means that you don’t have to have a car, you can walk to work everyday and should you decide to hit the town… the taxi fares are much cheaper.

Luckily I found a place that allowed me to do just that.

Xenex 1209 was stunning.. it was love at first sight and while the 12th floor apartment was a simple bachelor suite, what it lacked for in size, it defiantly made up for in stunning views.

Admittedly I was pretty devastated when I found out that I would be facing the city, rather than the mountains, but falling to sleep to the twinkling city lights and waking up to stunning sunrises like the one above…. meant pretty much that I slept every night with my blinds open, staring out my floor to ceiling windows and taking it all in.   In the end, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world..

Read Full Post »

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!.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Four Go Further

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Frolic in Freedom

a journey of discovery, friendship and travel

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

kgrahamjourneys

not all those who wander are lost

theroadihavetravelled

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

Adventures of Fresh Rice and Tasty Fish

A Thai proverb for "a newlywed couple"

The Male Baker

a place where creativity begins

LEANNE COLE

Fine Art Photographer ~ Daring to be Different

travelola

reflections on travel & expat life in australia

TheAdventuresOfDr

chasing the world, finding bliss

Here is Havana

A blog written by the gringa next door

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: