It's amazing what a little time away from the ins and outs of life will do for you. Tara and I were away for just over a week, but we both free rejuvenated and refreshed. We can take on the world again instead of it taking on us.
This is a pretty long post and I won't be upset if you just skim it for the pictures :)
We left our home two Fridays ago. The weather was so bad the shuttle company sent a taxi for us instead of the van - fine by us. We flew out of the Hamilton airport which was something new for us. The trip out was pretty uneventful save two events: 1) we foolishly bought a couple of Tim's right before we went through the gate and they would let us take them through (they were too hot to chug so we dumped them in their garbage, rolled up the rim and won nothing) and 2) I, um, misplaced my boarding pass (but we found it in time and made it onto the plane).
We arrived in Calgary and got a lift to Jane and Bill's new place. As in 2 weeks old new. It was pretty cool to be the first guests there. It's a very lovely place and they both did a great job of picking upgrades that were nice and increased the value of their house. They also have a really cool faucet in the powder room, but I forgot to snap a pic.
We toured around Banff with them on Saturday. It's nice (but a bit cold). We walked around the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel; one day we'll stay there. We toured the shops and had a good lunch at Wild Bills. We capped it off with a great game of Carcassonne (we liked the game so much we picked up a copy ourselves). A great day all around.
We also did a bit of shopping with Jane and Bill and I picked up a much needed pair of ski goggles. Ones that are designed to go over glasses. I was very happy to find them. Plus we stopped into all the pet shops we could find. Bill wants to get a pug and Tara egging him on didn't help too much :)
The next day we went to church and then drove out to Cindy and Dave's. Way across town. For such a small city, it sure takes a while to drive from one side if it to the other (Langdon to Cochrane).
Cindy and Dave live on the foothills of the rockies and we had more time to snap pictures there. It is quite beautiful there. Each morning we could see deer and the occasional coyote. Plus the 200 head of cattle that live right behind the house (for now at least).
We toured downtown Calgary one morning and Tara got to stop in to an ophthalmologist (part of the Western Veterinary Specialists clinic - very very nice clinic). I got to stop in to MEC - the third one I've been to. After downtown, Cindy gave us a quick tour of the new Vet school in Calgary and then it was back home for a wonderful diner of veggie burgers (very good- from the Whitewater Cooks cookbook which I just ordered).
Something that I wasn't expecting about Alberta was their amazing sunsets. Every other day we were treated to an amazing display of pinks, purples, blues and grays as the sun set in the west. I took a fair number of pictures but a lot of them didn't turn out (I think my camera got a little confused with all the infrared of the sunset).
Dave and Cindy have a bunch of pets. The dogs (Madelene, Marcel-Bruce, Diesel, and Telly), one cat (Oscar), and one bird (Ms. B). I was on Reactine the whole time but I didn't mind. The dogs are really well behaved and the bird likes me for some strange reason; it sat on my shoulder for the last part of the trip to BC. Tara really fell in love with the afghans (Diesel and Telly). There may be an afghan in our future... You may want to buy Reactine stock now.
On Thursday we packed up everything, climbed into the SUV and drove to Big White (near Kelowna). The 7 hour trip took us an extra couple of hours because of a mud slide on the TransCanada between Banff and Lake Louise. It was a long trip, but Tara and I hardly even noticed; driving through the rockies is a majestic, dwarfing experience. The beauty is grandiose and the scale so very very large.
Tara and I had an amazing amazing time at Big White. Tara, who skied a lot in high school quickly regained her ski legs and was carving and mougeling in no time. (Is mougeling even a word? It is now.) I, on the other hand, hadn't skied since high school and even then I didn't really enjoy it. I decided to take a quick beginners lesson the first day which reminded me of all the things my brain was supposed to tell my muscles to do. In the afternoon of the first day the we all skied together (Cindy, Dave, Kal, Char, Tara and myself). Everyone was really patient with me and no one laughed too hard when I wiped out (at least, I couldn't hear them laughing).
Big White is beautiful. I can't believe the amount of snow they had. The weather was amazing (sunny, +2C at the bottom, -8C at the top) and the crowds were scarce. It was a great day topped off with a nice soak in the hot tub and a great pizza dinner. The view from the top of the hill was incredible.
The second day had really foggy weather. Really foggy. Can hardly see the chair on the lift in front of you foggy. But we had such a great time skiing we hardly noticed. I skied a lot more Saturday then I did Friday and it was a lot more enjoyable with the confidence of a day of skiing behind me. But the extra skiing brought extra soreness the next day. I didn't care - it was worth it.
Sunday morning we headed down the hill and into the Kelowna airport. From there we flew to Calgary where we changed our destination from Hamilton to London, thus saving us a 6 hour layover in the beautiful Calgary airport. But while we were pretty proud of our last minute change of plans, we didn't account for one thing: transportation to Kitchener. "Surely, " we though to ourselves, "there will be a shuttle from the airport back to Kitchener". We were wrong. Quite wrong in fact. No shuttle, none of the car rental places had cars, the train just left as did the last bus. However we ran into luck with the guy behind the greyhound counter. There wasn't a bus to Kitchener but there was to Cambridge. We snatched up the tickets and ran into line. We were a little late however; the bus filled up when were were only 4 people from the front. We looked behind us and there was another 10 people or so; so sure enough they brought another bus. A quick bus ride and a quicker taxi trip and we where home safe and sound, all before midnight.
What a great trip. I'd do it again in a heartbeat