to grandmother's house we go!

Nov 22, 2011

After only a few months of employment I'd found myself with vacation time. The end of the year is fast approaching and our company is trying to schedule in our earned time off rather than carry it over into next year. So there I was, with over a week of freedom and nothing to do. Ryan was headed to Indiana for his own job, so I was left to fend for myself when it came to entertainment... a daunting task in my snowy, cold hometown.
I was in luck. My mom, like myself, felt in need of a whirlwind weekend away. Our flight discounts made it possible for us to fly to Ontario, visit family, and then return home in time for the week to begin. We set out for the airport Thursday evening. We figured our odds of getting on the flight would be substantially greater if my mom would take Friday off of work. We arrived to our gate just in time to be handed boarding passes... always a thrilling moment when you know nothing but standby travel. We stocked up on candy and boarded after my persistence that we had to hurry. I'm early for everything and have been my entire life. My mother (and fiancé, lucky me) on the other hand, take their sweet time getting from place to place and it wouldn't be the end of the world if they got on a plane at final boarding call. That for me, is unacceptable. I need to be on time. I don't know how I got this way with a persistently late mother, but it's who I am and as a flight attendant it's a pretty key trait. We finally got on the flight and settled into our seats... me stuck between my mom and a talkative old man who staked his claim on the armrest. We hadn't had time to have dinner, and therefore I felt it acceptable to satisfy my desire for a cheese tray. As I pointed out other items on our menu, my mom agreed to all of them and we found ourselves with loaded table trays as I forked over my credit card. It was a party! A quick 3 hours later, we were in Hamilton!
We disembarked and walked down the stairs at one of the only airports I know of that actually still uses stairs as opposed to a bridge. Waiting inside we found my smiling grandma, and there were hugs all around. When our bags finally arrived we hauled them to the car and set out on our way. It was past midnight by this point, but we ended up staying awake to chat and catch up until nearly 2 in the morning.
Morning came too soon. In a zombie-like state, we got ready for what was sure to be a fun day. My grandma, aunt (I feel the need to add that she is not in fact married to my uncle.. only because I know how much she's tired of hearing it), and mom had rented a car and we were going to cross the border for some shopping in New York! Before you get too excited, hang on a minute. People tend to forget that not only is there a big city called New York, but it's also a state. We weren't going to beautiful NYC (a far too lengthy drive for a day trip), but rather Buffalo. At the border we handed the customs officer our passports. Flipping through mine, he couldn't help but to ask what exactly it was that I did for a living. Once I told him, he understood the heavily stamped pages. We were sent on our way, and soon found the shopping mall that we'd come for.
We strolled through Macy's and the halls of the rather large mall, and I'm quite proud to say that I didn't purchase a thing. Okay, almost. My mom and I were both drawn to a ridiculous (awesome) hat with bear ears, covered in fur, complete with paws. It had paws! How could we resist?
We spent hours walking and browsing until we were so tired and hungry that we couldn't walk any further. We set out in search of a delicious meal and much to my satisfaction, we settled on The Cheesecake Factory. We were told that we'd be waiting for 15-20 minutes, so we ordered drinks to pass the time. Over 30 minutes later, we were still waiting. When we asked the hostess she checked our pager and said it would be about 20 minutes more. This news was not taken well by the 4 of us hungry shopped-out ladies. We had skipped lunch and my one drink was going to my head. We expressed our concerns about the miscommunication and before we knew it, they bumped us up and we had a table! Our next challenge was deciding what to order from the massive menu that sat in front of us. Everything sounded delicious and I was too hungry to make decisions. I finally settled upon barbecue salmon, and was very satisfied with the very American sized portion served to me. Dinner was over and I was certain that I couldn't eat another thing for at least a day. That was until our waiter brought dessert menus and I remembered exactly where I was. I couldn't leave without cheesecake. My mom ordered a slice of red velvet and I chose peanut butter cup.
We took them as souvenirs to be enjoyed upon our return to Canada only hours later. It had been a great day, although a long one. We called it a night and left the mall, stopping for a quick wander around Target before proceeding onwards to the border. We flashed our passports and carried on our way home. I was exhausted, as was everyone else. I was going to have the best night's sleep.... but first, I had to sample my cheesecake. It had been about 2 hours since dinner and though I was still far from hungry, I like to believe that there is a separate spot in my stomach dedicated solely to dessert. Oh my goodness, what a perfect combination of amazingness that cheesecake was. Peanut butter and chunks of chocolate all snuggled in between layers of cheesecake. I could think of no better end to our day.
It was off to bed, and this time around I had an amazing sleep.
The next day was a day to be spent with family. My grandma was organizing a dinner and we'd spend the afternoon and evening visiting and catching up with those that we don't get to see very often. My mom and I had some time to pass before anyone showed up, so we went for a drive in search of a quick snack. We somehow ended up at Homesense and my willpower was put to the test as I resisted buying any of the beautiful home decor. My mom picked up a couple of rhinestone-covered dog collars for our beloved puppies. At the grocery store we grabbed a small tray of sushi and enjoyed it for a quick lunch, before deciding it was probably time to return home.
Dinner was delicious, as it usually is when made by a grandmother. We stuffed ourselves full and then enjoyed a dessert of lemon meringue pie.
Once everyone had gone home and we'd said our goodbyes, it was time to call it a night. Well, almost. I must not forget that I felt it necessary to finish my slice of cheesecake before returning home. I force fed myself each yummy forkful, and then crawled into bed. (And yes, I did purchase a gym membership the day we arrived home...)
We'd originally booked for the evening flight back to Calgary, but after checking the loads and finding that it was completely sold out, we were forced to switch to the earlier flight. Unfortunately, that meant a 7 am departure, which meant a disgustingly early wake up time. We were practically sleepwalking as we packed our suitcases. My grandma drove us to the airport and we hugged goodbye before disappearing through security. It was a long 4 hour flight as we tried our best to get some sleep. We finally landed and I immediately hated our decision to return home. It was so darn cold!!! It had been well over a year since I'd felt such bone-chilling temperatures. I donned my bear hat and was thankful that we were in my mom's vehicle instead of mine. I'm quite certain that my next car should have heated seats.
It's not often that we start a day off in Calgary, so we decided to take advantage of it. After a breakfast at Denny's, we wandered Ikea and then headed to the karaoke store for my mom to update her song collection. Once we'd accomplished our tasks, it was back home to our warm house that I vowed to never leave until sometime in May!

ice ice baby

Nov 16, 2011

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post include a significant amount of complaining and ranting. Should you choose to continue reading, you void all opportunity to complain about me complaining.
This happens every year. One day I wake up and come to the realization that summer is over. For the next 6 months I'll contemplate hibernation as ridiculously cold temperatures hover outside. I hate winter. I hate snow and I have an anxiety attack nearly every time that I'm forced to drive in icy conditions. Don't get me wrong, I love my country and I'm so proud to be Canadian... but I wouldn't object to spending my winters elsewhere. In fact, that's what I've been attempting to do for a few years now. First I ran off to the sunny beaches of Australia. I came back for a year and then spent 2 winters in the Dubai desert. This will be my first full winter spent in Canada since 2008... and I'm really, really not looking forward to it.
The general consensus is that people complain too much about winter. I'll confess, I don't stop until the sun starts shining again sometime around May. In my defence... You'll NEVER hear me complaining about the heat in Canada. On the hottest of hot summer days, I'm soaking up the warmth and just thankful that it's not 50 degrees like SOME places that I've called home. I don't like to be cold. I don't like how dry my skin is as the cool air strips it of all moisture. I don't like snow, and I will never, ever like winter.
I know what you are all thinking... I can read your mind, my lovelies.. half of you are in complete agreement, while the other half is wishing that I'd just stop complaining as you mutter the usual "If you don't like it, leave!". Well, may I remind you... I did leave. Twice, in fact. I left for some of the hottest places in the world, like baking hot Cairns in Australia and of course Dubai. I came back from Australia because my visa was up and leaving on my own accord just seemed like a better idea than overstaying and facing deportation. I left Dubai primarily because I have a snow-loving amazing fiancé here in Canada, and I really missed him. The things we do for love. Try as I might, he'll never want to leave. I took comfort in the fact that on the coldest of days he'd be here to cuddle up to me and keep me warm. As I type this, I'm watching a blizzard outside my window... and where is my furnace of a fiancé? He's working in the United States, somewhere with temperatures above freezing. I'm the flight attendant, and therefore I'm supposed to be the one running off to warmer places.
Oh, that reminds me. I'm running off to Ontario for the weekend with my mom. It's not tropical but it sure may seem like it after the frigid week we've had here. It's only just begun. We had our first snowfall just last weekend and the temperatures are what we'll consider balmy by mid-January. I'm not sure how I'll get through this winter. If anyone cares to take me on an all expenses paid tropical vacation, or buy me a car with heated seats... I'll be forever grateful. I'll write an entire blog dedicated to your amazing greatness. No? Nobody?! I guess I'll just have to be thankful that I have such an amazing job that occasionally takes me to places warm enough to grow palm trees.
Alright, end rant. Thanks for listening. I'll try to withhold from further complaints about the weather, but I can't make any promises...

one hundred

Nov 9, 2011

This week I hit a magical milestone in my blogging journey....
That means that 100 of you liked my blog enough to subscribe to my updates, and even more of you read it anonymously. I never imagined that my silly stories would become so popular, but thank you, every single one of you, for tagging along for my crazy journeys over the past few years. Thanks for keeping me company in every corner of the world. You've inspired me to keep up with my blog. As crazy as it sounds, there have been times in foreign countries when I've wanted to be boring and lazy. During these times, the thought "would that make a very interesting blog?" has floated through my mind and I've forced myself to have new and different adventures... all in the name of blogging. In the process, I've had a heck of a lot more fun than I would have had if I didn't feel the need to share my experiences with all of you! So thank you, for the inspiration and the motivation!
I started this blog 3 years ago as a single, restless, office employee. Life has certainly changed a lot since then, and you've been with me every step of the way!
You've said nothing but amazing things about my relationship with Ryan, and even encouraged me during some of the tough times dealing with a long distance relationship.
I love you all, my lovely, wonderful, followers!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
You make me so happy that I could laugh and dance in the rain!

west-coast weekend

Nov 8, 2011

I'd just finished a long red-eye flight from Maui to Vancouver. It was 7 in the morning, I was cold, tired... and just to mix things up a bit, I was also super excited. While the rest of my crew headed to the gate to catch their flight back to Calgary, I'd cancelled my deadhead flight (flying in uniform as a passenger to get me back home) in favour of staying in Vancouver. Even better, I'd booked a ticket for my fiancé Ryan to meet me there. Our flights were landing at almost the exact same time, so after I'd cleared customs I moseyed on down to domestic arrivals to wait for his smiling face to appear at the baggage carousel. There he was! Memories of our last meeting in Vancouver came back to me... if you are a new reader to my blog and a hopeless romantic, you should really read about that story here.
As Ryan waited for his suitcase to arrive (containing items that I'd requested he bring, such as my rather chunky pair of Ugg boots), I went to change out of my uniform to better blend in. We piled into a taxi and headed towards the city. One of my good friends from flight attendant training had been kind enough to offer us her apartment for the weekend. We love you, Shannon! She was far too accommodating, offering us the keys to her apartment and her car. She wasn't even angry that we arrived at a ridiculously early time of day following what had been a late and crazy night for her and her boyfriend Eric. Once we'd stayed for awhile and chatted (it's amazing how much you can have to catch up on after only 2 weeks!) Ryan and I decided to let them get a bit more sleep as we ventured out. We headed straight to Granville Island. I love it there. We walked through the market and I wished that I lived in Vancouver so that I could buy all of my fresh fruits and veggies there each week. Something about markets makes me happy... Perhaps it's being surrounded by such a vast array of foods and the smell of fresh cut flowers. By this point, both Ryan and myself were rather hungry. We chose to go for a breakfast of champions... perogies and sausages drowning in a sea of sour cream and sauerkraut. Oh my goodness, it was perfect.
Needing a sweet treat to balance it out, we ordered Nutella crepes and sat outside savouring each chocolatey bite. I've been to Paris, so they weren't the greatest that I'd ever had... but they were a pretty yummy Saturday morning treat.
Being the romantic fiancé that he is, Ryan bought me a flower to tote around for the day... just as he'd done the last time we were at the Granville Island Market.
We watched as excited children threw birdseed at the dozens of greedy pigeons. Ryan took photos while I hid beneath a covered area, fearing the possibility of bird poop on my head ruining my day. We strolled through the kids market, where my never-growing-up fiancé purchased a foam rocket equipped with an elastic that promised to shoot it 300 feet in the air. Of course, he tried it within minutes of purchasing it, only to have it break. Grumpy, he returned to the store where the employee apologized and refunded his money. He was a sad boy indeed, as he'd been looking forward to his new toy. I was suddenly feeling the effects of being awake since the evening prior, so we decided to return to Shannon's apartment for an afternoon nap. 2 hours later, I felt like a new person and we continued on with our Vancouver adventures. We walked downtown...a rather lengthy trek, but we knew that we could use the exercise. On the way, we grabbed a slice of pizza and commented on the fact that we need more pizza by the slice joints back home.
Using our trusty iPhone apps, we scouted out restaurants with good reviews for dinner. Our search led us to The Mill, where Ryan sipped a beer and I ordered a caesar that I couldn't pronounce, complete with dill and smoked salmon. For our meal, we shared an amazing seafood platter... smoked salmon, perfectly baked salmon, char-grilled tuna, mussels and shrimp. There wasn't a thing on the plate that we didn't love.
After dinner we headed to Starbucks to meet up with my friend Jess, who I hadn't seen in 2 years, on my last visit to Vancouver. We caught up over coffee and it was great to reunite. He took us down the pretty lit streets of Gastown before we parted ways, until next time.
Feeling exhausted from what had been a very long day, Ryan and I walked back to the apartment and called it a night.
We got up the next day, feeling great and loving that switching to daylight savings time overnight had given us an extra hour in Vancouver! We set out for another day of adventures, starting with breakfast at White Spot. It was nothing overly exciting, but breakfast is always great. We wandered the streets until we came to Starbucks on Davie Street and ordered caffeinated treats. We walked down English Bay beach, sipping our coffees and loving life... until Ryan stepped in a pile of dog poo. His good mood turned sour as he sat on rock, scraping his shoes with seashells in a desperate attempt to get them clean. I tried to withhold my laughter over the situation.
Eventually, his shoe was clean and we were on our way yet again. We strolled through Stanley Park, thrilled to come across squirrels, ducks, and racoons!!
We snapped photos and held hands and life was good once again. We set out in search of a good place to take photos of the Lion's Gate bridge. After many detours and off the beaten path routes, we finally found Prospect Point and snapped our photos. Our feet were tired, so we figured it was a great time for lunch. Turning to our iPhones yet again, we found a Japanese restaurant with great deals on sushi. It was far cheaper and far tastier than sushi back home, far from the ocean.
We decided to slowly make our way back towards Shannon's apartment to get ready to head back to the airport. Along the way, we stopped in some stores selling home decor and dream-decorated the home that we don't yet own.
Back at Shannon's, we packed our bags, relaxed for awhile, and then caught a taxi to the airport. It was our first time flying standby together, and from what I'd seen earlier in the day, our odds of getting on the flight were good. Sometime between when I'd last checked and the time that we arrived, another flight had been delayed, causing our to fill up with passengers who didn't want to miss connection flights. There were absolutely no seats left, and things weren't looking good. We did exactly what we'd come to the airport to do... standby. We waited for news of any type, and just before boarding we were handed 2 boarding passes. A window seat for Ryan, thanks to somebody who failed to check in... and a seat in the cockpit for me! It was a beautiful night as the moon lit up the mountains below, and the view landing into Calgary was better than I'd ever seen in the past. I wished that Ryan could be up front with me, sharing the views and checking out all of the controls. We couldn't complain though, at least we'd made it back!
It was a great ending to a great weekend!

maui = love

Nov 4, 2011

I never expected that when I bid for flights to Maui, I'd actually ever discover them on my roster. I'd grown accustomed to the seniority based system of my former airline and disappointment was a usual occurrence. Since everything is new to me and I'm happy to visit most destinations, I wasn't too picky and randomly asked for Maui just to bid for something. I did it as a long shot "wouldn't that be nice" kind of thing, expecting nothing to ever come of it. Imagine my shock when I got not one, but two flights. To Maui.... Hawaii.... the beautiful sunny beach... For WORK. Do I have the greatest job ever?! I certainly can't complain.
I was rather nervous about the pairing, as it would be my first flight without the security blanket that was my onboard trainer. I was a fully trained, capable flight attendant and this time I was flying solo. I made my way to the gate and as usual, I was the first one to arrive. I tend to show up far to early for nearly everything. Not wandering to stand there alone, I awkwardly walked a few laps around the terminal as I waited for the rest of my crew to arrive. Relief washed over me when I met them, and they were great. Things were going to be just fine.
The flight to Vancouver was quick and easy and my crew were great enough to make sure that once we arrived, I didn't get lost getting to the gate for our Maui flight and proceeding through U.S. Customs. Once on the other side, they fled to duty free while I scouted out something to eat during the flight. Sushi in hand, we boarded the aircraft, did our security checks, and waited for our vacationing passengers to board wearing their Hawaiian shirts. A couple of girls came on clutching bags containing wedding dresses, which of course was very exciting for myself, as I'm another soon-to-be married-on-a-beach bride. It was a busy 5 1/2 hours running up and down the aisles, but we finally landed in Maui! Once exiting the airport, I was overcome with happiness as the humid air blanketed me with warmth. The smell of hibiscus flowers lingered in the air, and after 25 years of dreaming of that moment, there I was... in Hawaii.
We got to the hotel and I checked into my room to find that it was not in fact a room, but rather a suite. I'm not sure how I lucked out, but I had my very own sitting area, 2 balconies, and a separate room with my bed. The bed was a sea of pillows and I would have enjoyed nothing more than to have dove into it and spent the remainder of my evening there, but I'd agreed to meet the others for a drink before calling it a night. Normally, I'd just do my own thing, ditch the rest, and enjoy my precious sleep. However, this is a new airline, new places, new faces, and there is nothing wrong with making an effort and perhaps a few friends.
We headed to the hotel bar, where it happened to be happy hour. In the spirit of Hawaii, I ordered a Mai Tai and sipped it over a good conversation with the others. Once we'd finished our drinks, we collectively agreed that it was bedtime. The waiter brought us our bill, and for the first time in my aviation career, I watched as the Captain paid for us all. Sure, there were only a few of us and the drinks were cheap, but such things would never happen at my former airline. In fact, I recall a time or two paying more than my share by insistence of splitting the bill evenly. Perhaps there is hope!
Back in my room, I showered and snuggled up in my cloud-like bed. Pure bliss.
I set my alarm to wake up early the next day, but I didn't need it. I was up at 4 am thanks to the 4 hour time difference from home. I forced myself to sleep awhile longer before finally giving in to the singing birds and getting out of bed. I had a full day to enjoy!
I changed into a pair of shorts and threw on my flip flops while thinking of my hometown that had endured the first snowfall of the season only hours after I'd left. Clutching my camera, I made my way to the beach where I walked along listening to the waves and taking photos, happy as could be.
The weather was perfect and a warm breeze blew through my hair. I was beginning to feel pretty hungry, so I decided to head back to the street in search of something delicious to enjoy for breakfast. As I crossed the street, I heard somebody call my name and turned to see another flight attendant. She was off to the grocery store, so I decided to tag along. I have a weakness for foreign grocery stores and all of the items that aren't available in Canada. The U.S. in particular is home to so many treats that we don't have the pleasure of enjoying across the border. I loaded up my basket with a few sushi rolls to eat before my flight, a container of pre-cut pineapple chunks, and coconut M&M's. By the strong recommendation of the other flight attendant, I threw in a pack of macadamia nut pancake batter and coconut syrup to bring a Hawaiian breakfast home.
I hauled my purchases back to my hotel room and proceeded to eat my pineapple. It was the most delicious, sweetest, juiciest pineapple that I ever did taste. Had I left more room in my suitcase, I certainly would have thrown an entire fruit in it.
For lunch, I pulled out my iPhone and used my Foodspotting app to suggest a good meal nearby. It led me to Maui Taco, where I ordered fish tacos and indulged in the deliciousness.

The wind was picking up and I'm not a huge fan of sand flying at my face, so I opted for an afternoon by the pool rather than the beach. I found my fellow flight attendants parked in lounge chairs and made myself at home next to them.
Sheltered from the wind between the palm trees, we kicked back and soaked up the glorious sun. It was November, and our friends and family back home were shovelling snow. I often wonder what I did to deserve this, or if perhaps I do in fact deserve it. Hula music played softly in the background as I basked in the warmth. After awhile of lying there, my legs were getting rather pink, as I'd neglected to apply sunscreen to them. I said goodbye to the others as I retreated to my room, changed, and headed back outside. I couldn't possibly leave without having some coconut ice cream. It happens to be one of my favourite treats. I came across a gelato shop, where I ordered my ice cream and chatted to the extremely friendly employee who served me. He informed me that he also works as a hair stylist, and we were both shocked to find out that his next client having her hair styled for her wedding happened to be from my home town. What are the odds!? He loaded me up with coupons for my next visit and I promised that I'd return. After a few bites of my amazing ice cream, I knew for sure that I'd keep that promise.
Time had went by too fast, as it usually does during perfect layovers. I had a redeye flight ahead of me, so I forced myself to take a nap in preparation. I sadly closed the blinds to the bright sun, and crawled into my bed, sleeping for a few hours before waking up to put on my uniform and head back to the airport. At the Starbucks in the terminal, our entire crew got our dose of caffeine. I ordered an amazing coconut-mocha frappuchino, since it sounded incredible and isn't available in Canada. We boarded the plane, said goodbye to Hawaii, and flew our 63 guests (a miracle!) back to Canada. Normally I'd be heartbroken to return, but the great thing about working for a domestic airline is that when I go home, I actually go home. Not Dubai, but Canada. Home, to my fiancé and my friends and family. It makes the end of layovers a whole lot easier. This time around was even better, as I was meeting Ryan in Vancouver for a weekend of fun.... but that's a story for the next blog! It's safe to say, I love Hawaii. Of course I knew that I would, but it's certainly nice to be proven right!

silly krysta

Nov 1, 2011

Everyone seems to have an excuse for being absent-minded. Expectant mom's blame it on the pregnancy, the elderly attribute it to old age. Myself? I've got a serious case of Plane-Brain. Something about the altitude and the lower concentration of oxygen in the cabin affects my ability to remember things and occasionally hinders my common sense. Or at least that's the story I'm sticking with. This summer, I had to take full responsibility for my stupidity, but now I'm back in the skies and Plane-Brain is back in full force. Only a week back on the job, and I've already made myself look silly a few times. First, I opted out of stopping at my temporary home in Calgary after my flight to save time and head straight to Red Deer. In the process, I realized that I'd forgot to bring my shampoo, camera, and any type of handbag. No big deal, I coped. After that, I got lost several times in my attempts to meet Ryan after work. I made it, after having some unkind words with my GPS. My finest moment, however, came today.
I've been looking forward to my next flight since the day that the schedule came out. Today I left Edmonton bound for Red Deer, where I packed my bags, bought a travel-sized sunscreen, and considered myself almost set to go to Hawaii. Tomorrow would be so exciting! I procrastinated driving to Calgary, finally giving in and hitting the road. Coffee in my cupholder, I was heading for the highway when I my phone buzzed with a text message. Now I know, I shouldn't be reading my messages when I'm driving, but in my defence I was at a red light, and I'm glad that I did! It was Ryan, asking why I was leaving so early when my flight wasn't until Thursday and today was Tuesday. What did he know, that silly boy?! I surely could keep track of my schedule better than him. I shrugged it off at first, until I stopped to think about it. I'd known all along that my flight was on November 3rd, and I was well aware of the fact that today was only the 1st. I'm not quite sure why I'd assumed that we'd be skipping poor November 2nd, but it finally dawned on me that Ryan was right. I didn't have a flight tomorrow. Why was I driving to Calgary?
I turned around and drove back to my mom's place, where I told her my story as she laughed at me. I'm not going to Hawaii tomorrow. I'm not going anywhere tomorrow.
I'm just relieved that I realized it before showing up at the gate ready to board the aircraft. Now that would have been a rather awkward situation!
It was a ridiculous mistake that any smart person would have never made. Well... you know what? Whatever. I blame the altitude. Even if I've spent the past week on the ground.

(A bit of photographic evidence of altitude-induced craziness amongst the crew... long haul flight on my former airline.)