Rock’n the Rockies!

This post is originally from July 23, 2016

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This morning we had to get up bright and early so that we could meet up with the Canadian Rockies Adventure Centre White Water Rafting Company in Kananaskis. The drive from Calgary into the mountains is not far at all. It sure would be amazing to live in a city so close to the mountains. As you drive into them there honestly isn’t anything else like it. The Rockies are so massive and the lakes are so blue. It truly is stunning.

When we met up with the rafting crew it made us laugh. The guides all had man-buns and long beards. It looked like they all had partied a little too hard the night before and were just coming off their hang over. This is the life for so many people in their ‘Gap years’. Travel across the world, and spend the summer in the resort mountain towns working in the service industry. Even through their post drunken stupor, the rafting staff was full of life and ready to take us onto the frigid waters. We had to get in our rafting gear which included a full body wet suit, booties, a helmet and a life jacket. I have to say that we were definitely the picture of pure sexiness. I felt like penguins being herded down to the river. I thought to myself, humans sure do the weirdest things. Here we pay good money to dress like imbeciles, walk on sharp stone in soft booties, get into a flimsy raft and surge through rapid glacial waters. Bloody fools the human race is!

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This is the definition of HOT!

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This was before we got soaked!

Our Aussie rafting guide (with man bun and all) didn’t seem too confident in the first set of rapids. He told us that just the other day the guide in front of us lost all 9 people. Lost doesn’t mean they died, just the entire boat capsized. This isn’t a Class 4 Rapids for nothing. Our guide had to make sure we understood that if we didn’t paddle with all our might, we too would become statistics. So as we headed into the rapids his warning was not for nothing. The front of our boat was literally up in the air and there was a lot of bodies flying about. About 5 massive drops later and being drenched by freezing glacial fed water, we got through. We could breathe. It was hilarious. Now this is white water rafting!

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I could be possibly under water in this shot!

We then were told that we had to steer to the edge of the river. It was time for cliff jumping. I don’t know if you are like me but my idea of cliff jumping does not involve being in a wet suit in Canadian freezing temperatures. It’s one of the extreme things that I have never actually done before. To be honest, it scares the piss out of me a little. Don’t get me wrong, I might do it one day, but that would definitely involve warm ocean waters! So we all had to get out and stand around for about 30-45 minutes while everyone jumped. Eventually we got back into our rafts again and carried on down the river. None of the rapids were nearly as big as the first. I think that this run is only classified as Class 4 because of the first rapids. Other than getting splashed a few times it was fun and wasn’t scary at all. Finally by the time we got to the end of the run we all smelt like wet dogs and had about a litre of water in our booties! This being said, the big yellow school bus that took us back to our cars was full of the most tantalizing aroma! Mmmm …I should bottle and sell the odor!

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What was interesting was that the land that we were rafting on is on a native reserve which means that the natives are allowed to hunt freely. We asked if the guides ever see animals in this area, and because of the hunting they are quite the rarity. What we did see was a whole bunch of wild horses running around, which was super cool.

Here is the link to the http://www.canadianrockies.ca/

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Once we got into regular clothes Karey, Renee and I headed into the cute town of Canmore. It truly is such a great town. Neat shops, rustic looking store fronts and great places to eat…all surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. It is completely picturesque. We met up with my friend Patti for lunch and ate a cute Mexican restaurant. OLE! Patti knows her hiking trails and has done a lot of back country stuff, so she was the perfect friend to have as our guide. After lunch she took us to the Grotto Canyon.

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Her idea of a hike and mine is very different. I am lazy and out of shape, so I had to stress this over and over for her to know my skill level. Grotto was perfect. There was just a slight incline over rocky streams that led to a beautiful waterfall. With the sun shining down, the amazing scenery and being with some of my closest friends, I truly was in my happy place. At one point in the canyon it opened up and right before us were literally hundreds of inuksuks.

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It was so cool to walk among them. Eventually we decided to turn back down the mountain and make our way back to the city. I wish I could spend more time out there, but having a free accommodation in Calgary was the reason for driving back so soon.

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Looking to the sky in Canmore.

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Looking to the sky in downtown Calgary.

By staying in downtown Calgary I got to see how vibrant the city really is. There are many pedestrian streets with interesting graffiti art and unique sculptures at every turn. We happened to be walking through one area that was hosting something called Petapalooza. This is a festival where everyone brought their furry friends. The main stage had something called The Running of the Bulls. This was a face-off between the British and the French Bulldogs. What a hilarious sight!

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I had to stop by the ‘Kissing Booth’ with this French Bulldog

And the restaurants…one of the nights we went to the most amazing Italian restaurant on 17th called Buon Giorno. With its red and white checkered table cloths and old school décor, I am sure that the restaurant itself hasn’t changed in decades. But the food was utterly to die for. Everything is made in house and ingredients have been flown in from Italy. Not to mention the staff are more than happy to add and customize any dish to your liking. The arancini and the gnocci are to die for. The sauces are delicious and my meat eating friends told me the veal and seafood were also ridiculously good. Reservations are a must because this little mom and pop restaurant is the place to be.

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This quick weekend holiday was definitely full of so much fun and laughter. Southern Alberta is so full of beauty. It sure makes me proud to live in this amazing country and for all you who are thinking about coming to Canada, make sure to hit up the Rocky Mountains!

When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth

This post is originally from July 22, 2016

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The older I get the more I realize how much I took my home for granted. What I mean is that when I used to travel and people would ask about where I live, I used to say that Edmonton (the city that I am from) is a hole. Even though it may not have beautiful beaches, or warm weather all year round I can now say that this statement is the furthest from the truth. Edmonton definitely has some beautiful parts to it, but it also is a great place to live because it is so close to the Rocky Mountains. The province of Alberta is home to some amazing places and this summer a few of my friends and I decided to take a mini road trip for a long weekend and discover more of what my province has to offer.

So this morning my friend Renee picked me up bright and early and we headed for the highway to escape the city. About 3 hours southeast of Edmonton is home to a dinosaur extravaganza – Drumheller, Alberta. In all my thirty something years I have never been. I have heard of the Royal Tyrell Museum and the Badlands of Alberta, but never have I experienced this place for myself. So we decided to take a detour en route to Calgary and check out what this place has to offer.

I have to say that driving through Alberta in the summer is quite spectacular. Although most of the drive is relatively flat it sure doesn’t lack in colour. Canola fields extend for miles and miles. The bright yellow fields contrast against the vivid blue sky, making it truly picture perfect!

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As we got closer to Drumheller the topography slowly changed. From flat prairies it was suddenly very rocky. You could actually see the layers of sediments in the rocks. The Canadian Badlands of Alberta is known for its unique coulee landscapes and hoodoo rock formations. The region is famous for its rich deposits of fossils, including dinosaur bones that have been unearthed at the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s Dinosaur Provincial Park. It truly is like stepping into a different world!

As we drove into the town of Drumheller we were greeted by the world’s biggest dinosaur standing 86 feet high. On every corner was a dinosaur statue. Some sat eating an ice cream on a bench, others looking quite ferocious; never the less we were definitely in Dinosaur Country. IMG_5632(1)

Totally hungry by the time we reached town our first goal was to find a place to have a quick bite. We didn’t want to spend too much time eating so we opted for a quaint sandwich shop … America’s staple…Subway. After downing our foot longs we made our way to Hoodoos.

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Driving up to the Hoodoos I felt like it was familiar landscape but on a much smaller scale to that of Cappadocia, Turkey. The hoodoos are definitely one of nature’s odd creations. Their interesting mushroom like shapes have been formed over thousands of years by erosion caused by water, wind and the freeze/thaw cycles. There were metal walkways around the base of the rocks but people were climbing the formations so when in Rome…  The view from the top was spectacular but we soon realized that our slippery shoes were probably not conducive to an easy decline through gravel and shards of rock. Renee being the spry young one that she is was a good ten paces ahead of me, but I mean who wouldn’t be when granny over hear is crawling down on all fours. I felt like Spiderman, but less agile and a tad afraid for my life. By the time I got down to solid ground I was covered in dust and my legs were cramping. Oh the joys of being terribly out of shape! This I was definitely going to feel for days to come.

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We decided that we would be stupid to visit Drumheller and not visit the famous Royal Tyrell Museum. As we made our way to the museum there was a sign for the Suspension Bridge. We turned off and went to see what it was all about. It would have been super cool to have run across the bridge had there not been enough people to make up a small city also walking across it. You couldn’t even get a proper picture because there were just too many people. Suspension bridge = Fail!

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And finally we made our way to the museum. If you are a dinosaur buff this is the place for you. It truly is a great museum with so much information and real fossils. It is crazy that these animals lived here millions of years ago. Some skeletons looking so much like animals today.

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But I have to admit that I am not much of a dino enthusiast so my attention span probably wasn’t the best. Renee and I walked through at a pretty good pace and to tell you the truth I was far more impressed with the walking paths that surrounded the museum itself. The land is so unique and different than anything else in Alberta. It is a very cool place to visit.

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On this walk we ended up going backwards throughout the entire trail. WRONG WAY!

Onward and upward, we got in the car and headed to Calgary. Puker McGee (that’s me) came to life once again. What the hell is happening to me in my old age? I get motion sick at the drop of a hat! We were literally entering Calgary’s city limits but still on the major highway when the old H-Bomb grabs for a plastic bag and begins retching (if you are wondering, that would be me). Let’s just say that Renee is not a fan of puking so she had her hand next to her face so that she could block me out. She pulled off on the side of the highway so I could spare her but I felt like my life was flashing before my eyes because when the cars sped past you could feel the car shake.

Eventually we made our way downtown where we met up with our friend Karey. Karey has been working in Calgary so much that her employer has a two bedroom hotel rented for her right in the heart of downtown Calgary. Lucky enough for us, we were able to stay with her which was so convenient because we could walk to so many trendy places. It took me a while to turn from a shade of green back to my normal colour, but once I was feeling human again we went out and grabbed a bite.

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