Canada Day 2010

fireworxReally great fireworks last night in Port Colborne. We had the best seat in the house, right beside the water and directly across from the launchpad. The light show metamorphosed right above our heads. Spectacular. They reminded me of our bed-side vantage point for viewing the pyrotechnics at each years Calgary Stampede, the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” ~ 10 days of fun, rodeo and downhome country living. We were lucky enough to have this experience when we lived 4 blocks away from the Stampede grounds, where every night they had phenomenal rock-the-stadium fireworks (supposedly, $ one million spent each evening!) .

With Canada Day upon us, I like to think about what this day actually means to me, and why I love my country so much? If I were to live anywhere else in this world, where would that be? Nowhere, actually. I’m very proud to be a Canadian. If anything, I would change the ability to freely work anywhere on this planet, without the need for visas et al and where my skills were needed, all the while not posing as a burden on the society to which I was a contributing member. But I’d always return to my Canada.

What about the US where slaDE and I love to travel to on a regular basis? Although as Canadians we are neighbours to the US and we share many similar characteristics, resources, policies, cultures and personalities, I believe that life in Canada for me is better … our health care is socialized medicine which, in the end, is considerably less confusing, fairer and more far-reaching that what’s available in the US; there’s a cleanliness in city and country not seen in many US populations; here in Canada resides far less gun violence and citizen gun ownership; Canada has roughly the same size of total area but with 9 times less the number of people; the US spends 3.7 times more money on military; the US has a 10.2% greater marketable debt. Oh, and long live our Queen and toonie :). However, on the flip side of that coin, I feel the US has some of the most scenic National Parks, skydiving centres and incredible winter weather that I’ve ever experienced. I still prefer to shop in the US, especially now that taxes have been upped in Ontario to 13% with the HST (starting today, of all days). Gas, liquor and pretty much everything else is cheaper nowadays (except for healthcare), despite our weak fluctuating dollar. Because of this, I feel very grateful that we live very close to the border at the moment, where a trip down to the US isn’t a big deal.

Canada

In the end, truly, this is just my patriotism showing through on this auspicious day. United, we are the same people, and as a humanity between countries and continents, there are no such things as borders, boundaries and differences. Oh lucky am I to have FABULOUS close friends and family in so many different countries, meaning far more to me than anything else tangible in life.

Yay for freedom of speech and movement. Happy Canada Day. Pretty soon I’ll be wishing all my American friends a Happy 4th of July!

Gout & Cross Country Adventures

Within a months time span, slaDE and I have been blessed twice with the company of my Father w/hen he made a cross-country truck trip from home — Ontario. On Dad’s first visit, I was very tempted to travel back home with him. I’m feeling a bit homesick and weary of the Calgary winter, longing for a much-needed vacation. Florida was our last spontaneous trek of any length, and prior to that, our Level 3 Yoga teacher training in Abbotsford. Before that a blur of travel and momentous occasions (i.e. our wedding, Nelson yoga retreat, Lost Prairie, etc). Experiencing a whirlwind summer and then living through a quiet snowy haze has left me wanting and longing for more. I dream and yearn for the day when we can set foot in our Airstream and travel at our whims delight! Never in my life have I ever been so busy with such a full-on schedule. Adjusting to a full-time job after contracting for 7 luxurious years was quite difficult and extremely challenging. but 2 years into it, I’m enjoying my life and the community of friends and yoga I’ve built at work. But holy smokes, teaching 4-6 classes on top of full-on employment has left me feeling rather drained and looking for a retreat of any kind. And that opportunity came when Dad ran solo this trip out to Calgary. Spontaneous travel is my forte, so I decided that now was an opportune time to head back home on a quick visit. It’s been ages since I’ve run a long trip with my Father. Unfortunately slaDE~ has less freedom in taking a vacation, so this trip is a solo journey for me, for uS. However, I am truly happy to spend this quality time with Dad. Little did I know how eventful and meaningful it would be!

When Dad arrived in Calgary Sunday morning, he was suffering immensely with a swollen inflamed ankle and a gout-riddled right foot (of course that would happen to be the foot he has to use the most when driving — poor Dad; driving an 18 wheeler and suffering such pain is not a pleasant or meaningful way to live through one’s days). In the afternoon, we spent some quality educational time with my herbologist friend Ray, who provided a consult with my Dad on trying to help cure his gout naturally. Although we intrinsically believe in healing without the use of pharmaceutical drugs, when immediate relief is needed and a short-term solution has to be guaranteed, sometimes medicine is the only way to go, unfortunately. An eventful evening was spent dodging between hospitals for the quickest possible way to see a Doctor for my Dad’s serious gout inflammation. With the hospitals behind us, we dropped Dad off at his truck and went home to spend a lovely evening together before my journey adventures.

I was up until about 3am packing, cooking and tidying up. The night before any big trip is usually rather hectic. Although I’m not a big time procrastinator, I find that things on my to-do list scramble for individual attention, like needy children yelling “me first, me first!”. And being a good ‘mother’, I have a hard time favoring one task over another. Hence prioritizing objects is not my strength nor forte. Especially knowing that I’d be getting up in 2.5 hours. BlaH!

Sleeping solidly and soundly (but never enough with only 2+ hrs to my name), the alarm clock bolted me out of bed so that I could get slaDE off to his work for 6am, shuttling the car to my workplace, only to arrive 2 hours early. Double blaH! Luckily I had things to do, ‘gripping’ enough to keep me wakeful through the morning.

EnCana

It was quite the sight to see the Men in action over the weekend in slaDE~s world of concrete and steel. Currently my husband is working on another huge project with Harris ReBar (The Keynote), but he has worked at ‘The Bow’ on several occasions, as Harris has taken on the mammoth EnCana building.

This spiel was put out by ctv.ca:

Massive concrete pour runs all weekend
Let it pour. A huge concrete convoy is in downtown Calgary all weekend at the site of EnCana’s new office building. The Bow Project is between 5th and 6th avenues, and between Centre Street and 1st Street.
A long convoy of trucks is continuously pouring the foundation for the 58-story high rise. Talk about a base. It will be 10 feet thick. The Bow Project involves the biggest concrete pour in the history of our country, and the fourth largest in the world. The pour will continue throughout the entire weekend at a pace of 50 trucks an hour.

What I found incredible in watching the pour was the tremendous amount of noise and the overwhelming smell of diesel fumes (an unending procession of cement trucks, running non-stop in an enclosed area over 48 hours; a constant flow!). Also, the depth of the hole and the magnitude of such a project is mind-boggling.

Big concrete pour at EnCana building
EnCana hole in the ground
Cement trucks a go-go!

I found this photo posted below on Spooof’s flickr blog, just to give you an idea of the massiveness of this project.
Big EnCana hole

Interesting Wiki tidbit … more concrete is used than any other man-made material in the world. 15000 tons was being laid this weekend. EpiC!

3 for 3 in 2006

slaDE~ in front of a frozen Sinclair Falls
I wonder if I should call this entry ‘Hot-tubbing Across Canada’ or rather ‘Hot-springing across Canada’ 🙂 !

What a delight today has been …. Our third hot-spring-ing session in 3 weeks here at Radium Hot Springs. Wow, wow, wow. The day started out luxuriously sleeping in and enjoying another day of R&R. We ate our breakfast and prepared our snacks rather quickly, as the day was starting to get away from us, with so much planned before the midnight hour. We had wanted to go hiking first thing and Slade discovered a trail that actually scooted beside the canyon up to the parking lot of the Radium Hot Pools. Bonus! When I say skirting, the canyon walls leading into the town were a couple of thousand feet higher than the road level. So this was predicative of the hike before us. Walking the short distance to the trailhead (the gates of the National Park) was the easy part. From there, switchbacks down to the Sinclair Falls gave us an inkling into the radical changes in altitude ahead of us.

Wow, the frozen configuration of ice patterns in both the falls and the rapidly running ice-covered stream was incredible. Here is my prize-winning photo from the falls. What I call as “A Canadian Goose: Frozen in Time”.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did upon it’s discovery!!!

A Canadian Goose, Frozen in Time

We must have climbed about 1000+ feet up the canyon wall. The hike was purely magical .. We didn’t come across another human in our 1.5+ hour trek. (30 minutes of that time was spent stopping to take photos and enjoy the views), with heavy snow puffs clotting the bows of the trees … And thousands of trees there were. Everywhere, tall thin pines with clumpy snow balls decorating every tree like a Christmas decoration. It was quite funny when I shook one of those, and the snow tumbled down upon me, leaving me looking like a snowwoman! Gently cleaning the snow from my brows and face, slaDE~ laughed, wishing that he could have caught my naiveté on video (a youTube contestant for sure!). Timing is everything, I guess ;).

slaDE~ braves the Spa Waters with the camera in order to capture this COOL photo!We arrived at the Radium Springs Lodge parking lot and crossed the road to our intended destination … Radium Hot Springs hot pools. With a 1.5 hour massage scheduled only an hour away, we hung out in the gorgeous wide expanse of the steaming sultry waters (I’d say 3 times as big as Banff’s pool). Boy, the waters were a plenty filled with people from all destinations savouring the healing benefits of the thermal water. We had the extra benefit of a kick-butt steam sauna in the Pleiades Spa to help melt away the aches and pains.

SlaDE~ and I had different experiences with our masseurs … I like the really deep tissue grind of a good massage but I tend to get the less experienced weaker of the two (perhaps they think that the man can tolerate more?).

After a quick dunk in the hot springs, we left to join the rest of the town in celebration of Radium’s 16th birthday incorporation. Free hot dogs and hot chocolate to wash down the sugary vanilla pudding cake made for a quick hunger fix before our 9pm dinner reservations. Not really the most healthy of meals (I can just hear you, Sandy, gasping in delight!), but hey, with us hiking, spa-ing and dehydrating our water reserves (a good massage and steaming hot pools will do that to ya!), the ‘food’ washed down really quite nicely, filling our hunger gap. Next we tackled the toboggan run. Kids of all ages (ourselves included) hijacked other kids with their crazy carpets and hitched a ride down Radium’s zippy little hill. I’d forgotten the speeds that one can carry when on plastic hits snow, and without brakes! Liken it to a projectile bullet really … anything in your path, watch out!

SlaDE~ proved that one …. he hitched a ride with Grey, a little 5 year old bundled up so cutely! They took the first run without incident. The second run, another little boy (4 years old?) had fallen off of his lone sled; he wasn’t really attuned to the traffic around him. Poor guy didn’t see them coming when he fell off of his peppy ride. SlaDE~ was aware enough to shield them all as best as he could, deflecting his leg off of the standing boy. Luckily, everyone was okay. The little one cried a few alligator tears, more from fright methinks, but quickly jumped into the spirit again :).

sKY braves the crazy carpet with Matty
Next up was my turn, with the lively Matty and her slick crazy carpet. I haven’t been on one of these rides since my teen years, on the farm. What fun! We hurtled down the hill, several times, much to my delight. A nice bit of excitement to round off the day. But before returning to the hot springs for one last evening soak (we bought a day pass to the springs), we watched the firework finale held at the local golf course. Phenomenal! Really a wonderful exhibition in the winter time, smoke lazily hanging and floating in the air long after the pyrotechnic remnants have extinguished.

Happy New Year Everyone!
Our return to the springs was different this time, with the dark sky enveloping us like a warm cosy blanket, steam and darkness masking the hodgepodge of people filling many a gap. I’d say there was an even number of adults and children alike … we were lucky enough to witness a large family with their 3 month baby there, so cute, the clan, all adorned in their winter hats in the water. I was amazed, truly, at how many kinsmen had the same idea as us to spending their New Year’s Eve here. Fabulous!

Waterlogged we made our way to Helna’s Stube restaurant for a lovely European Gourmet dinner. However, the 70 minute wait for our food wasn’t so spectacular but, really, we were lucky to get in with reservations when we did, made only that morning.

Tired, satisfied and happy, we returned to our quaint Misty River Lodge room and rang in the New Year, drinking fizzy Aqua Libra and watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ TV legacy.

PS. We’ve been loving the fact that we had a white Christmas in the Mountains! Quite different from last year’s sojourn to the desert. The question on our minds is, where will we spend the holiday season in 2007!

May You Find Your Peace on Earth in 2007