As somebody who has spent more of the past 4 years out of the country than in it, it might be hard to believe that I'm as ridiculously patriotic as I claim to be. Rest assured, I really, really love my home. It was Canada Day and I was happy to be in the country celebrating as opposed to enduring a sandstorm in the sweltering Dubai heat. I began my day the way that a large percentage of Canadians begin every day: drinking Tim Horton's coffee. "Timmy's" is as Canadian as hockey, or snow, or other icons of the country. As I sipped my delicious iced cap, I contemplated what to do with the rest of the day. Ryan was busy flying and I was getting a bit restless sitting around instead of celebrating Canada's birthday.
I'd been driving Ryan crazy begging him to drive to the mountains. I was thrilled when he called to let me know that he was on his way home to pick me up for our road trip. I was even happier when he showed up and instructed me to pack a bag, as we'd be staying the night. While the rest of our friends and family camped, we opted out of roughing it in favour of a hotel. Packed and ready to go, we hit the highway!
Although it would have been faster to avoid driving through Calgary, no mountain road trip is complete without first stopping at Peter's Drive In for burgers and milkshakes. In honour of Canada Day, we ordered a milkshake flavoured with maple.
Full and satisfied, we continued on our journey. Along the way we stopped on a random stretch of the highway and hopped out to take some of what will end up being our engagement photos. We eventually made it to Canmore and checked into our hotel, the same one that we stay at for most of our overnight trips. After a bit of time relaxing in our room, we decided it was time for some drinks and a bite to eat. Our relationship seems to be largely based around meal times. We walked to Boston Pizza, where Ryan drank beer and I enjoyed a classic Canadian Caesar. I used to be disgusted at the spicy Clamato juice concoction, but in recent months it's become my drink of choice. Continuing our already unhealthy day, we ordered Thai chicken bites and cheesy spinach dip. Delicious!
We returned to our hotel room after a quick photo stop as I insisted upon sitting on the bear statue out front.
Back in the room, I forced a sleepy Ryan out of bed to set out in search of the park where the fireworks were being held. After a chilly walk, we found it and got a great seat on the bleachers. The wind was cold, and we sat huddled together using our giant Canadian flag as a blanket. We waited patiently for the sky to darken and the fireworks to begin.
Finally, the sky lit up with an amazing show. Canmore certainly outdid itself! The fireworks continued on much longer than we'd expected, lighting up the mountains with each burst of colour. Once the show was finally over, a man in the crowd stood up and to shout "Hey everybody, let's sing Oh Canada!". The entire park began to proudly belt out our national anthem, and at that moment I was likely the proudest and happiest Canadian in the world.
How blessed I am to be from such a beautiful and friendly place!!
We returned to our hotel and crawled under the warm blankets for a great night's sleep.
The next morning we were up bright and early, quite typical for us these days. After the free breakfast at the hotel we checked out and hit the road. I persuaded Ryan to stop at Tim Horton's, but after seeing how incredibly massive the line was, we decided not to wait. We stopped at a small coffee shop in town instead, where I continued my patriotic ways by ordering a maple latte.
We'd managed to leave the park pass at home, making entering Banff national park impossible without buying a new one. Slightly disappointed by this realization, we contemplated our options before deciding to take an alternate route. We winded down gravel roads nestled between mountains and beautiful lakes. As usual, there were many photo stops included in our journey. Taking your very own engagement photos is not as easy as it sounds, but my picky photographer fiance wouldn't have it any other way. With the mountains as a backdrop, I'm certain they'll be perfect.
We cruised along listening to an ABBA CD that the previous car owner had left. Feeling hungry several hours after breakfast, we stopped at a small store in a campground to stock up on goodies. Loaded with ice cream and Cheezies, we were too hungry to feel any guilt for our terrible eating habits.
There wasn't much to the day besides driving, but I was perfectly content gazing at the stunning scenery. The mountains gradually grew shorter and before we knew it, we were back to the flat prairie land. We drove through tiny towns and imagined what life must be like in such a small community. Having lived in the middle of nowhere in my younger years, I'm pretty certain that I'm better suited to the heart of the big city.
We had one more stop before returning home. You guessed it... dinner! As we reached Calgary city limits, I navigated until we reached our destination. Red Lobster!! Ryan and I are both a bit too in love with seafood, and we happily waited for a table to be available. Having already given up any hope of healthy eating for the day, we indulged. Bacon wrapped scallops and seafood stuffed mushrooms to start, and the ultimate feast (lobster, crap, and shrimp, oh my!) for our main course. Every bite was worth the disgustingly full feeling that lingered for hours after the meal.
It was finally time to return home and head straight to bed. It had been a relatively short getaway, but a great one none the less. I couldn't think of a much better way to celebrate and appreciate my country!