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Posts Tagged ‘Alberta’

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.

 

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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…..

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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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Yep.. I’ve been on the road again.. and honestly yesterday and today I have been struggling to come up with the right words, the right sentences, the right paragraphs to tell you all about it.

I could tell you that the scenery is beautiful, amazing, picture perfect, awesome, unbelievable, spectacular.. honestly.. I could go on and on with every other word in the dictionary to try and describe it, but the truth is, I wouldn’t do it justice.  I wouldn’t even come close, so instead I’ve decided to sit back and let the pictures speak for themselves.. (I just hope this does it justice)

xx N

A picture perfect sunset on Castle Mountain and the Rockies

Excited to be on the road again.. (thanks Fi)

Castle Mountain Reflections

Enjoying the quite evening at Lake Louise (no other tourists.. yay!!)

Moraine Lake

Saturday morning at Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake…. picture perfect.. still, calm.. spectacular

Boats @ Moraine Lake

The road ahead..

Up high on a mountain pass..

Tangle Falls… (thanks Fi!)

Tangle Falls

Spectacular mountains

Rocks at Athabasca Falls

Canyon at Athabasca Falls

Sunlight in the Water Lillies – Entrance to Mount Robson Park, BC

Relaxing at the entrance to Mount Robson Park, BC

How tall is a Moose?? How tall are you? I’m as tall as a 1 year old Moose (Geezzzzzz remind me never to come across one on foot!!)

Every which way there is a mountain…..

Mount Robson, BC

It’s an elk!

Just a couple of random “Pocahontas” miners

A disused mine entrance at the Pocahontas ‘Ghost Town’

breathtaking all the way

Morning at Medicine Lake

Maligne Lake Boat House in the morning mist

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Canoe’s on the docks – Maligne Lake

A worker plays her banjo and sings on the dock of the Maligne Lake Boat House …. AWESOME

Maligne Lake

WoW.. Maligne Lake

Getting to know the local’s at Maligne Lake

A perfect morning with the mist rising at Maligne Lake

being attacked by the Maligne Lake Lodge Bear

Just one of the falls in the beautiful Maligne Canyon

Taking a break from the drive – Athabasca Glacier

Simply Stunning.. The Glacier fed waters are AMAZING

Waterfowl Lakes…

Crystal clear waters of Waterfowl lake with the mountain backdrop

Postcard perfect Peyto Lake
(yep.. that’s the one that most of you see in the brochures)

Enjoying the view from the platform at Petyo Lake

Taking a pic of a couple of lads at Peyto Lake, AB

Panoramic view of Peyto Lake

Herbert Lake… anyone that knows me.. and knows my family will know that my dearly beloved brother Jase calls me Herbert or “Herb”.. so it just seemed fitting to have a pic taken with a sign for the lake..

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If you haven’t guessed I’m a teeny tiny bit partial to a good Rodeo. In fact some of the smaller ones actually provide far better viewing (and photographic) opportunities than the big gig at the Calgary Stampede, while still attracting both quality livestock and highly ranked cowboys and cowgirls.

The Pincher Creek Fair and Rodeo was no different.  Classed as one of Canada’s Pro Rodeo’s and listed on the Canadian Pro Rodeo circuit with a total payout in excess of $41,000, it is contested over 3 days in August and there is certainly plenty of time for highlights, low lights, bone crunching, people watching and enjoying good ole Canadian Country Hospitality.

Obviously the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Races would have been a bonus to see (as per my last post), but I can quite happily say that I enjoyed my day out in the country air and i hope you do too.

(warning, some photo’s may offend)

The Grub Line.. get your tucker here!

A Saddle Bronc rider hangs on

Dreaming.. one day they might just well be out there too

Just like this Cowgirl… a barrel racing competitor rounds the second barrel

Don’t forget your boots!!!

An official looks on while there is a break in proceedings

A Calf Roping competitor prepares his horse before his run

A horse stares as he waits for the calf to be tied

A horse applies it’s breaks so the rider can dismount in one swift motion

Team work. Two calf ropers exchange gear (and horse) so the next competitor can go

A bull rider escapes the arena

pick up men enjoying the afternoon rodeo

Furious and focused, the bull wants him man

x J

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Get up…go to work….come home….eat…..sleep…AND REPEAT!

Daily routine. Perfect weather. Feeling blah?  Whats the best cure:…Yep, a road trip.

A lot has happened these last few months and somewhere between June 1 and now, summer has almost disappeared without a trace.  Trust me, when you are used to an Australian Mallee summer, 3 months of sun and warmth is slightly disappointing, plus experience has taught me that October usually brings Calgary’s first snow fall.  Yep, that’s just over a month away, somewhere in the vicinity of  40 – 50 days … Jeez, really! Why so quick?

So what better way to make the most of what’s left of summer than to hit the road and get out-of-town.

But go where?

There has been so much that I have seen within a day’s drive from Calgary.  The beautiful rocky mountains (they never disappoint), the rolling green foothills or the dry and arid badlands?  Enter the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race. Yep you read it correctly.  It’s amazing what an internet search will provide.

Ok, ok.. I was looking up local rodeo’s in the area and given that we are almost at the end of Rodeo season I wanted to see if there was anyway that I could get to just ‘one last rodeo’ before the season was done… and luck had it that the Pincher Creek Fair and Rodeo was on and yep.. one of their draw cards.. the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race….

The rules and regulations of the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race

And seriously, with rules like that, I think it this type of event has to be seen to be believed.

Thankfully it doesn’t take much for me to convince my housemate/co-pilot/car servant, Fiona to make a roadie with me (after all she doesn’t drive) and luring our friend Rosie in with the chicken race, we hit the road early Sunday morning with an unknown promise in our sights.

Pincher Creek is about a two and a half hour drive south of Calgary, through those magical foothills of the rocky mountains.  Needless to say a Sunday drive along the Cowboy Trail NEVER disappoints.  After a couple of quick stops for ‘perfect’ photo ops, we arrived at the Pincher Creek Rodeo grounds as Cowboy Church was wrapping up under the shade of the trees.

The Crowsnest River plunges over Lundbreck Falls into the pond below

Wooden stairs leading up from the base of the falls

The arch bridge over the Crowsnest River just meters from the falls

The pond at the base of Lundbreck Falls

The rocks were slippery at the base of the falls and I managed to snap this one while the girls took in the sights with the Arched bridge in the background

Me sitting at the base of Lundbreck Falls, AB

The arena was empty save for a single cowgirl and her horse warming up and getting to know the ‘lay’ of the arena in anticipation of their upcoming barrel racing event.  With the Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run race set to commence at 12:30pm and with that time approaching, we were disappointed to learn that there wasn’t enough chicken entries to run the races on Sunday *insert sad face here*, but apparently, thanks to YouTube, this is the excitement that we missed out on Saturday.

To say that we were disappointed with missing the 1st ever Annual Cluck, Cluck, Run Chicken Run Race would be a bit of an understatement. After all I’m pretty sure that there would not be too many Aussie’s that could claim that they had witnessed such a race and alas, now neither can I.

The Arena sits empty in anticipation of the afternoon’s events

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Enjoying another perfect Sunday in the Canadian Foothills @ Lundbreck Falls

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