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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Most of my life I have loved writing.

In earlier years it was a pen to paper.  I’m sure that the people who read the local Primary School newsletter back in the ’90’s got sick of me. In my high school years I entered competition after competition.. but alas.. I was not successful.

All throughout that time I kept a diary.. The Secret Diary of me.  A diary that I even drilled a hole in, just so I could loop a padlock through.. just incase my brothers found it. I out wrote that diary, and then the next came.. and the one after.. and the one after.  Somewhere in the flat behind Mum’s, and packed away in a box is the complete set of my diaries.

Over the years they have changed.. but there is the usual teenage crush wallows, teenage girls stuff.. school stuff… and then came the real life writings.  Stepping out and moving out of home, new jobs, problems at jobs, weekends away, breaking hearts, buying a house.  Intermittently I’d stop writing for a few days, weeks, months, but there was always something that led me back.

In 2006 when I travelled to Ireland, I started with the usual travel diary.. it too grew to a second, and a third, and a fourth… and I belive too that there is a fifth.  They became my 12 months in Ireland..

When I moved to Canada.. I started with great intentions.  Each night in the hostel I would write what had happened during the day.. as time went along.. I would write occasionally.. but not all the time.  Just when I got the urge..  Then finally I decided to give blogging a go.  Why not?  What did I have to lose?  and so it began.

My intention was to blog about everything and anything. To be honest and to open myself up to the world.  Honestly.. it’s a little bit harder than I anticipated.

But it was a step and a step that I hope to build on in 2013.  2012 has been great for many reasons… some you have read about on here and some that I am still to blog about.. but the biggest surprise of all has been the number of people who have visited my blog and the number of countries they have come from… THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY who has taken the time to sit back and have a read, a laugh, or even a cry.. I could never imagine that people from all over the world would be dropping by…and I hope to see you all, and many more in 2013.. xx N

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Picture Perfect Sunset Over Seeley Lake, Montana

 

Part of my love of road trips is being able to experience things that you may never have had the opportunity to see before.  The freedom to set your own schedule and do what you want to do.  To spend as long as you want or as little as you want and the opportunities to enjoy every single moment.

The first day of our road trip from Calgary to Saint Catherine’s had been a long one.  We had hiked the Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park and driven the spectacular, amazing and absolutely awesome Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park.  As much as the drive is breathtakingly beautiful, it is also mentally taxing.   Tight corners, narrow roads and 1,000+ foot cliff drops. But I would still do it over and over and over again.

With no real plans on where we would stay, let alone, where we would eat, we basically drove until we got hungry.   We arrived in Seeley Lake around 8pm and the sun was just beginning to drop.

Rather than ‘searching’ for food we decided that the Hamburger Cafe beside the lake would be a nice enough option.  Something casual and a chance to sit outside and enjoy our surroundings.  Unfortunately the cafe was closed, but the steakhouse next door was still open and still serving meals.  It would have to do.

After taking our seat we were presented with the menu.  Literally a sign that stood 4ft tall and listed 3 items:

The ‘extensive’ menu @ Linsday’s Steakhouse

We both guessed that sirloin was on the menu for the night :-), which caused some snickering between the two of us (don’t worry.. this was just the beginning of our nightly laughs!!).

After dinner we wandered down to the lake with enough time to take in the beautiful sunset.

Chance just happened to land us in Seeley Lake at the time that it did. And Fate just happened to provide us with a beautiful sunset over the water that truly cannot be described.

The tourist brochures all describe Montana as ‘big sky country’…. I think this picture proves it correct.. What an absolutely stunning view..

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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.

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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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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!

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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!!

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