playing tour guide!

Jun 25, 2012

I have so much to blog about, but life has been so busy! After a week of being on the go, I'm finally home. I have a million things to do and the house is a complete state of chaos with dishes strewn about the kitchen... seems like a perfect time to cozy up on the couch, forget about my responsibilities and  write a blog post.   I'm certain that you will all agree. Aside from my husband, of course. 
Last weekend was a wonderful weekend for reunions.  I consider myself very fortunate to have friends from all corners of the world.  This is not much fun when we are separated and missing each other, but quite awesome when we get the opportunity to meet up somewhere on the globe and catch up.
The very first friend that I made on my journey to Dubai was a fellow Albertan named Naf, who was chasing the same dream.  We met at the Toronto airport before boarding our flight, and later we'd end up being in the same training batch. Last week Naf and his beautiful fiancee Sayaka were enjoying a short vacation in Calgary.  Ryan and I made the 3 hour journey just to have a brief visit over Tim Horton's coffee... an obvious choice.  It was great to see them again and chat about life in Dubai... all that has changed since I've left, and all that never will.  Our visit was short, but hopefully we'll see them again somewhere in this world sometime soon.... we're crossing our fingers for Japan, because that seems a bit more thrilling than Calgary.

Before leaving Calgary, we had another stop to make.  I had a very important friend en route to Canada after 11 years away, and I insisted on being there to greet her when she arrived.  It had been nearly 10 years since I'd last seen my friend Sami, who was visiting from Texas. We had some time to kill before she landed, so we enjoyed a bit of our favourite Calgary activity.... plane spotting! We watched and snapped photos until we saw Sam's plane fly overhead.. our cue to head to the terminal! I waited patiently, Ryan waited not so patiently. We were worried that we'd somehow missed seeing her come out. As it turns out, she got held up in customs after trying to bring pepper spray across the border.  She eventually came out and I ecstatically started shouting at her.  We were finally together again!! She was so surprised to see me there, and her parents were quick to invite us along for dinner.  We chattered away, very giddy and silly. It's amazing how time and distance has no effect on some friendships.  Ryan and I returned home, allowing Sam time to settle in after bombarding her with our presence.  After a relaxing Father's Day Sunday spent with our families, we went back home and back to work. Luckily, I only had to endure 2 long days before I was free again! Tuesday night, I packed my stuff and hit the road, saying goodbye to my husband for our first night apart since we've been married. You'd think that after all of the time spent in a long distance relationship, we'd be conditioned to time apart... but apparently that's not how it works.  It was a quiet night as I hung out with my mom and my puppies, preparing for the excitement of the next day. 
Wednesday morning I woke up and lazed around the house until Sam called. I quickly got ready and drove out to pick her up.  We decided to go on a reminiscent tour of Red Deer. We drove past our junior high school where we'd met, and then headed to the mall to indulge in a favourite from our younger years... Slush Pup! Back when we were 14 and not the smartest, we'd purchase blue raspberry slushes and load them with "Shocker shots"... essentially making them sour to the point of barely drinkable. We opted for one shot as opposed to the eight that we used to ask for, and it was still super sour. I'm pretty sure that we were lying to ourselves when we used to think that drinking such a thing was delicious.  High on sugar, we drove downtown to the Vietnamese restaurant where we met her parents and friends for a feast of pho. I could eat the stuff every day, and lately it feels as though I have.

       After lunch we headed to Sylvan Lake, where we wandered the pier and watched a group of people building cardboard boats. We watched them for a rather lengthy amount of time. Just as they were about to get in the lake and race, the rain began.  It was pouring rain and cold, and we ran to seek shelter, missing the race. We quickly got over our disappointment as we headed to the infamous "Big Moo" for ice cream.  That evening we met up with another long-time friend (and recent newlywed), Laura, for dinner. The three of us chowed down on delicious food while chatting for hours as though we'd never been apart.  Eventually, we called it a night. I drove Sam back to the place that she was staying and headed back to my mom's house in an attempt to get a good night's sleep before what would be a very busy day.  
I woke up the next morning, loaded the car, and headed to pick up Sami.  I got off to a bit of a late start when the highway was closed due to an accident and I had to take a detour through the city. I'm so impatient when it comes to driving in my slow-paced hometown.  Here in Edmonton, drivers race to their destinations.  Slowly but surely, I made it. I picked up Sam, and we headed west for mountain adventures!

Just before ditching civilization, we stopped at Tim Horton's to get our caffeine fix. It was Sam's very first time trying an iced cap, and it was love at first sip! We continued driving, with Sam snapping photos every 30 seconds as we grew increasingly nearer to the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

I always try to see places as though it's the first time I've ever been there, despite visiting these parts on a regular basis. This was easy to do with an enthusiastic Texan who was in awe of her surroundings.  
We drove down the gorgeous highway for hours, taking in the beauty and scanning the side of the road for wildlife. A few frustratingly slow drivers and construction zones later, we arrived in Banff!  
I love the pretty little mountain town and nearly everything about it. After a bit of confusion, we managed to meet up with one of Sam's friends, Candice. We'd only just met, but her enthusiasm for visiting the candy store made us instant friends.  
By this point, we had all been on the road for quite some time and we were rather hungry. As the frequent Banff-goer, I was nominated to decide our lunch destination.  Of course, I didn't even question it... we were going to the Old Spaghetti Factory, because it happened to be the best place, ever. That, and it was my last week of non-paleo eating, so I intended to stuff myself with as much dairy, sugar and carbs as I could get my hands on.  I indulged in bread, soup, pepsi and lasagna. Oh how delicious life was.
After lunch we proceeded to wander the main street, popping in an out of stores along the way.  I normally refuse to cross the street unless there is a clearly marked crosswalk, but when we spotted the candy shop across the street, there was no stopping any of us. We made a beeline for the door, taking in the sights and smells of my version of paradise.

Shockingly, I left empty handed, choosing instead to have an ice cream cone.  After a lengthy time staring at the flavours indecisively, we each picked one... birthday cake flavour for myself, since it would soon be my birthday.  
Ice cream in hand, we continued on our merry way, until we came across a photo backdrop. The tourism employees adorned us with various mountaineer accessories, and we posed for photos with our nerdy helmets on.  Our poor little Texan was quite concerned about how her helmet fit, until it was determined that she had it on backwards.  This provided a great amount of comic relief for Candice and I, for the remainder of the day.

 Next on our list of plans for the day was to ride the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. I was shocked that I was the only one who'd ever been to the top... both by gondola and foot. (Yeah, last year we hiked to the top. For fun.  Who does that?!) We bought our tickets, hopped inside our little capsule, and away we went. Sam enjoyed it for all of 5 seconds before realizing that we were in fact dangling from a cable and moving up the side of a mountain.  Once we made it to the top, she'd calmed down and agreed that it was completely worth the moments of sheer terror.
The views were incredible, and the normally windy and cool summit was sunny and calm. It was as though the day was made for us.  We strolled along the boardwalk at the top, laughing at a lady who got her high heel stuck between the boards (just past the sign advising suitable footwear), and trying to get the attention of the adorable chipmunks racing around.  We snapped hundred of photos before deciding that it was time to head back down to a lower altitude.  We rode back down, and Sam was much calmer on the second attempt.  

Back at the car, we decided to continue our exploring, driving past the glamourous Fairmont hotel (castle) and onto the Banff creek.  We walked the path for awhile, staring at the powerful waterfall, never tired of taking in the scenery around us.  When it was time to return to town, we had a few important stops to make... the chocolate shop, and Lululemon. Eventually, Candice had to return home, prompting Sam and I to head to our hotel to check in.  Once we were settled, we headed for dinner. I'd decided to share some of mine and Ryan's traditions... thus we went to Boston Pizza just down from our hotel. Our pizza was delicious, and got us in the mood for bed time.  It had been a long, long day! It didn't take us very long to be fast asleep, oblivious to the trains passing by and people making noise in the hallways.   
We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to hit the road again. After filling up with gas and grabbing some coffee, we drove off. It was my first time driving in the area, without Ryan's vast knowledge and sense of direction.  Despite this, I was determined to ensure that Sam had a great time, and off we went in search of the Spray Lakes road.  We drove up the steep, gravel road, stopping briefly to take photos of mountain goats before carrying on towards the lakes.

 Once there, we got out, took photos, and Sam gushed about the amazingness of the place.  I had to agree. Us Albertan's are pretty lucky to live where we do.

We took in the last bit of mountain beauty before hitting the highway and returning to Red Deer. There, we said our goodbyes and I continued on to Edmonton to reunite with my husband and pack... for another road trip! I'd had a great time playing tour guide, and I'm quite certain that Sami enjoyed herself just as much!


Sami said...

I love reading your blogs! Especially this one. I'm sitting at work, trying to quietly laugh to myself but not succeeding. Thank you for being an awesome tour guide! Now it's your turn to come to Texas! :)

RetroJetGirl said...

Looks like fun, the scenery is beautiful. Must. Visit. One. Day!

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