Despite my lack of recent blog entries, I haven't forgotten about you lovely people who still follow my life even after my cabin crew days. I've been surprisingly busy lately, having fun and enjoying what is meant to be summer.
My cousin Jay is still kicking around, experiencing Canadian culture (and by culture, I obviously mean food) and keeping me company as I drift through the days as a lazy unemployed person. Last week she made a trip to Edmonton where she made it to the final stage of interviews for a certain airline that I was recently employed at. As happy as I am to be home, I'm crossing my fingers that she gets the job. She's young, single, and there is absolutely nothing holding her back from jetting around the world. Not that I considered myself as being held back in a relationship, but it certainly affected my desire to live on the other side of the world and played a large role in my return to Canada. So please join me in wishing Jay the best of luck and I promise to force her to start her very own blog should she get the job.
In other (ridiculously exciting) news.... I bought a car!! After 18 months of enduring crew buses and the smelliest taxis in the world, I'd forgotten just how amazing it is to get in a car and drive wherever it is I want to go. I was lucky in that Ryan's sister and brother-in-law had recently purchased a more family appropriate mini-van and were in need of finding a new owner for their car. I'm happy to be that person. Despite my initial anxiety getting used to being behind the wheel again, I'm thrilled to be back on the road. I've been cruising around town singing to my music just like old times.
To celebrate my car's very first road trip, Ryan and I drove to the mountains to meet his parents for a weekend of camping! The weather wasn't great and Ryan had been kind enough to share his cold, making me feel rather miserable. I didn't care. I was going to take beautiful photos, eat delicious campfire food, and enjoy my weekend.
We woke up early on Saturday morning and headed west. We'd planned to make it to the campsite around 9 in the morning, just in time for breakfast. We were delayed after a stop at a car shop to purchase an air freshener led to Ryan wasting an hour loading up on random purchases that only a boy would find exciting. I now carry a tool kit in the back of my car because "you never know when you might need one." My favourite purchase of the day (aside from my vanilla scented air freshener) was a GPS. I find myself using it each time I get in the car, following the directions to my home as though I've never been there before. We used it to direct us to the campsite, where we arrived later then anticipated, but just in time for lunch!
Camping with Ryan's family is amazing. While most people survive on a diet of hot dogs and marshmallows when cooking over fire, we feasted on pizzas and bacon and egg pies. I'm a bit addicted to camping pizzas, cooked to perfection in pie irons over the fire. With each delicious bite I feel a bit of accomplishment in the fact that I cooked my meal all by myself. We ate to our heart's desire, set up our tent, and then planned out our day. After a short nap, we were going to go hiking!
Camera bags packed with all of the essentials, we got into the truck and drove towards Peyto Lake. On the way, I snapped a few photos as we drove by a black bear! It had been years since I'd seen a real live bear in the wild, and I was very excited.
We arrived at the starting point for the trail and set off on our way. The weather was less than desirable, but it was probably for the best as I'm sure it eliminated a few tourists from swarming the place. The lake was stunning. To this day I'm amazed each time that I see water in such an amazing shade of blue. Had I not seen it in person I'd probably be convinced that it was digitally enhanced in photos.
We took the mandatory photos, which between Ryan and I is more than most people would take in a month. Continuing up the not so beaten path, we made our way up the mountain for a better vantage point and a bit of exercise. Normally I quite enjoy hiking, but the combination of the cold air (I've only been back from Dubai a short time!), high altitude and my stuffed up sinuses, I wasn't feeling so well. I toughed it out for the photos and the views, and I'm glad that I did. It was beautiful the further we walked. We saw two not-so-common animals... a pika and a marmot.
Hundreds of photos later, we went back down to the truck, made another photo stop at another beautiful lake, and finally returned to the campsite.
For dinner, we had pizza again. I never seem to get sick of them! After dinner we played a card game despite my cough medicine induced drowsiness. Finally, it was off to bed. I'd never been so happy to crawl into a tent.
The next morning I woke up feeling equally as miserable as the night before. Fortunately, the weather was better and the sun even appeared to be peeking out from behind the clouds! We made our breakfast as usual and then set out for another day of mountain adventures. We decided to hike up Stanley Falls, a pretty trail alongside a canyon with 7 sets of waterfalls. This was photo paradise, and we made frequent stops to give our cameras some exercise of their own. Despite waking up feeling ill, the fresh air and exercise actually made me feel a whole lot better this day. At the top of the trail we stopped for a snack before turning back and continuing our scenic drive.
We stopped at the Columbia Icefield, which is home to several huge glaciers and is a popular tourist attraction. Rather than crossing the street and visiting the glacier that we've been to many times before, we went to the cafe for ice cream.
Our next stop was another set of waterfalls. First, we saw Panther Falls and further down the path was Bridal Veil Falls. It was a pretty hike, but since it was downhill the entire way, it meant that we had to walk uphill all the way back to the truck. Out of breath and feeling rather out of shape, we happily made our way back to the campsite for dinner. I felt spoiled as we dined on steak and potatoes. They eat better camping than I do with a full kitchen available to me!
After dinner the sun began to set and I persuaded Ryan that we should go for a drive to take photos. While his parents played games, we drove out in search of great photo opportunities. It was a beautiful night but we were feeling rather uninspired by the sunset. We made one final photo stop before turning around and deciding to head home. As Ryan began to drive I stared out the window and saw a large brown animal in the grass. "Bear!!!" I shouted, a bit unsure of whether it actually was a bear. "Bear! BEAR!!!" I shouted, more excited now. He quickly pulled over and saw the bear for himself... a grizzly!! Without responsible adults around to tell us that stopping so close was a bad idea, we pulled over and giddily began to take photos as the bear munched on berries and plants. As he would walk further up the road, we'd back up the car to continue taking photos. It was a like a photography dream for camera nerds like ourselves. We would have spent all night taking photos, but it was getting dark and the bear was growing impatient. He finally looked up towards us, thrilling us as we continued snapping photos.
If he hadn't noticed us before, he certainly did now. He stomped one large foot against the ground and for a moment my heart stopped as I was sure that he was about to run towards us. "Drive!!!" I screamed, nervous. With his foot on the gas pedal Ryan waited to see what would happen. Fortunately for us and my new car, the bear continued his business, feeling that he'd given us sufficient warning to maintain our distance. Just as he began to cross the street a huge tour bus pulled up and the windows lit up with flashes of cameras. We let the tourists have their moment and headed back to the campsite.
It was now dark and I was feeling a bit anxious about sleeping in a tent after being so close to a grizzly bear, but I fell asleep quickly and survived the night without being eaten by bears. We'd had a great weekend but it was time to head back home. Ryan would have been happy to stay another week, but I personally had never felt more excited for a long shower and a comfortable bed. Home we went, feeling rather fortunate to live in such an incredible place!