Sunday, 15 June 2014

Cranbrook, BC - A fleeting May visit!

I had a few days off and decided that I better go and visit my cousin in Cranbrook (5hrs away) before they head to Victoria, BC(14 hrs away!)

After work I caught the Greyhound to Cranbrook, taking about 6 hours to get there!  It was a longish trip and I didn't see too much as it was dark but I got the sence we were near the Mountains as there was great big dark shapes out side the window and we stopped suddenly few times for a DEER!!  

Arrived at 5:30 to a lovely family hug by Janthea, my cousin on Mum's side!  We had actually at the family reunion in Echuca only a few months before so it was like we had only seen each other a few months ago!! 

Their house (which they have sold) was like out of a movie!  It was beautiful!  I could only imagine what it would have been like in the snow or at Christmas!!  I was put to bed as it was so early in the morning and we had a lot of ground to cover in the day!

After breakfast (and an quick Happy Mothers Day as it was Mothers Day in Canada!) we headed to their Lake house on Moyie Lake.  I could imagine all the boats and fishing that could have been done!  Again it was just out of a movie!  the Trees and the lake, fireplace and it was so quiet!  It was very picturesque.  I loved it.  I got the lowdown about the area and the "shacks" that were there.  

We ended up at the Moyie Pub having fish and chips and a pint.  (only because it was Mothers Day!)  It was a great little pub.  Lots of character and bottles and animals hanging on the wall!!  It was interesting to have a look at all the wonderful collections that they had.  I think that someone actually put a car in the front of the pub a few years earlier so it apparently lost some of its charm but it was still pretty cute! 

Janthea, Me and the biggest horned animal I have seen! 
We headed back towards Kimberley, having a nice old chat in the car.  (A car that has seat warmers I might add!) The scenery was lovely, all green and Mountains and sun! Kimberley has some of the best ski slopes I have been told - so we headed there and had a little look, headed around the town (which as lovely painted fire hydrants.) but because it was a Sunday and the ski season was over the place was just dead!!  There was no one around at all!  All the better for me I thought!!
Cute little fella!

the view from the Mission
Janthea and I headed to our next stop - St Eugene Golf Resort.  This place is a old Mission that was revamped into a high class golf course resort and casino. The old building is just stunning, reminds me of All Saints Winery in Victoria, but it as rather large Mountains surrounding it! 

This one I had to enlarge - just lovely view! 

Dinner and then bed - it was a action packed day and it was great to catch up with Janthea.  She even had old letters that my Nanna and my Mum had sent her when Todd was born - Mum and I have a lot to talk about when I see her next!!!!  It was great and sad to read some of them.  The best part was that I learnt more about my family - cousins that I have met twice and heard storied about but you don't really get to know people until you spend some quality time with them! 

I was lucky enough to catch the Greyhound back home on Monday morning which ment that we went though the mountains - past Banff which gave me a taste of things to come.... stay tuned!!!

the Rockies!

Canada - The first days..

Calgary City
Calgary Tower
Calgary - Wow what a place!  When I landed on the 26th of April it was snowing - yes I said snowing!!  The plane landed IN SNOW!!  I couldn't believe it!  I was not equipped for the snow! 

I landed - took me two hours to get through immigration and then it was in!  Ha!! They can't get rid of me now!!

First night and I was out in the snow - was lucky enough to met my cousins best friend and her mates.  It was such a great night out! I have not looked back since! 

The Bear, the Beever and The Bee!!  hehe
Calgary put on a great show for me for the first few days.. the sky was clear enough to see the rockies from the Calgary Tower.  I walked around and explored the town. It was strange being in a new city but it felt like home.. I was walking on air the first few days (still am!)

Um..there is no floor
I walked around and was just taking some photos.  Everything here is very cowboy related (the nightclub/casino Cowboys) and Stampede related.  There are more "trucks" here than I could ever hope for and whenever I start to feel sorry for myself Calgary reminds me that I am here - in Canada - where anything is possible and is a wonderful place.  The saying here is "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 mins and it will change"  That is what I feel like, if i start to feel like I am missing home or I am just missing being able to call my oldest friends and say - hey, come for a beer, this place puts something in front of me so I stop and realize  how lucky I am!! 

Enough of the soppy stuff!  I visited the Calgary Tower which stands 191M tall - it is a free standing building and has one of the fastest elevators that I have been on!!  They have a restaurant there (think I may need to visit that when people start to visit me, hint hint!!)But the coolest thing was the glass floor.  I didn't realize that it was there till i was on top of it!  I must admit I did walk backwards pretty quick!! Once I got used to the idea I was okay (ish!!)
Random art (all horse related!)

The streets of Calgary

After organising all the "official" stuff so I can work (like a phone and a bed and a place to live!) I started to work at Flight Centre Sunridge Mall on the 1st of May!  It is funny, I knew that Flight Centre was a "cult" or sorts - all the people that I have met in Australia - the Flighties - have been all the same.  Friendly, bubbly, enthusiastic, they work hard and play hard.  It is the same in Canada, just with a different accent!! They accepted me and pulled me into their family in the same week that I was there.  I feel like I have been there for ages!  It is very different in terms of the destinations (Mexico?? you visit mexico??  I thought it was just Margaritas and drugs there!!) and the systems (Candada is about 2 years behind Aussie Flight Centre Systems!) but it is great!

So - what adventures Can I get up to here I wonder.. TBA!!  

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A week of San Jose Fun!! April 2014

Sue, Jane and Tim!

I landed in the USA and after my fingerprints were taken, face and palmed scanned and a long talking to.. I was allowed through! Yea!!  As you may have assumed - my excitement levels were up there then.. I was picked up in a convertible - I knew I was in California!!

I had a great week with Sue, Tim and Jane (whom I met on the Greenland Cruise) they were such great hosts!!

The Mini!!
The first day was a "see if I get jet lag" day so Sue and I did a bit of driving around and saw Silicon Valley including Apple Headquarters, Google, Facebook, etc!  They actually exist in building from and not just on the net!

I was also lucky enough to head to Sue's Family Ranch,  It was great, so green and they have a wonderful view of the bay from the top of the hill!  There was horses and calves to fees so we organised them then headed back to have dinner with Tim and Jane to discuss the next days touring.  After much discussion and a glass or two of wine - San Francisco won out! (as if i was going to be able to sleep knowing that!!)

This is where we are going today!
Telegraph Hill - a tribute to the Fire fighters
Hi Dive- good food!
Amazing I slept like a log and after a bit of organisation we headed out to San Francisco.  It was such a beautiful day again!  We had lunch at a Dive right on the wharf, rode a cable car, visited the top of Telegraph hill and of course walked along the Golden Gate Bridge.  Even Had a photo with the Bridge Patrol!

The convertible!!
The beginning! 
Cable car ride with Sue!! 
Golden Gate Bridge
Bridge Patrol!

The Ladies of the Bridge!

Jane, Me, Tim and Jane

One of the best parts of the day was waiting till it got dark.  We headed over to Treasure Island to look at the city from another view point.  It was great and I tried very hard to get a good photo..

After all that excitement I was buggered! The next day I headed to Point Lobos, Carmel and Monterey with Tim and Jane. It was great to go for a road trip down south.  We saw seals - and seals!  Point Lobos has some great walks and beautiful coast line. So rugged and the colours.. Magnificent! We ran out of time but we went past Bubba Gumps Shrimp!!  Monterey is a great little tourist place. I would go there again to just see Bubba Gumps Shrimp! 

Seal sunning! 

Point Lobos

A fungus on the trees at Point Lobos
 I said good bye to my guides Tim and Jane, (thank you so much!) and went exploring with Sue the next day!  ( it was like pass the Bee!! hehe)

Sue the tour guide!
We went and visited Henry Cowell Redwood Park,  Santa Cruz and.. well I'll leave that till last!  Henry Cowell was great - there was so many trees and they are so big!!  It was like being in Tassie! (apparently they are part of the same family!) It was amazing to see, even saw a Banana Slug which is native to North Americas Costal parks.  They have preserved it really well with walkways and a pamphlet that you can read on the way around.  (Not that some people actually stay on the path!)

Banana Slug!
at the Boardwalk.. 
 Santa Cruz and the boardwalk!  Well, that is a explosion of colour!  There is so much going on I was overwhelmed!! We walked down the board walk and along the jetty which was cool.  So many different types of people - it was a people watchers dream!

Sue and I at Santa Cruz

The explosion of colour that is the Boardwalk!

Wine Tasting at Bonny Doon!
 Before all the excitement of Santa Cruz, we went to some wine tasting.. at..
I know I was very excited as well, wine tasting at Bonnie Doon!  (well they call it Bonny Doon and I think that it is a bit more sophisticated than our Bonnie Doon!  They had some nice stuff too so if you every get over this way. I would recommend it!

My last day :o( and Sue took me to a Diner!  It was all decked out in the 1950's style!  Burgers were great and the cheese fries!!  Well you will just have to come and visit and taste them yourself! We had a huge milkshake!  I was so full I needed a nap afterwards!!
Sue and I at the Diner!

 Well that was my week in San Jose!  By the time it ended I needed a holiday!! Thank you to Sue, Tim and Jane for looking after me, feeding me, sheltering me and showing myself around!  It was great!!

 I flew out to Calgary on the Saturday.. where my next adventure begins!  Stay tuned for the next blog!

I had to throw in the School bus!  it is like out of the Simpsons!!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Greenland Part Two - THE END

Its Snowing!
My second week was equally as eventful as the first!  After that last day I had a great night at the bar but gee, the boat got a bit rockier that night!  I kept on walking into walls!!
Luckily we had a sailing day the next day so there was nothing to miss!  I slept and they had a documentary on a loop so I was able to learn about the Vikings! Actually that was a great thing about the ship – is that there was always a talk or a lecture or a documentary going on.  I learnt about Vikings, Polar Bears, the Melting of the Ice, animals in the Arctic and the Antarctica and even Elves and Troll!  We had one talk given to us about Tasmanian Devils.  Of course us Three Aussie Girls sat in the front and heckled!!

Beautiful Blue Ice
With the month and the cruise nearly over, only 5 more sleeps today was the only real “bad’ weather day.  We went kayaking in the morning and the colours of the ice had changed again!  It was fantastic, kayaking around the coast of Greenland, seeing Musk Ox and birds all while it was snowing!  
I was so excited it was snowing on me!! 

We headed to Ella Island – this is where they had seen a polar bear the last two times.  We were able to land.. no polar bear in sight but you could see where they had been.  They had ripped off walls and had broken into a lovely old cabin and just trashed the place.  It was hard to see.  We found some old antlers and papers that had been preserved from 1995.

Trying to read the Newspaper - it was in Danish!

30th September – a morning that I think we all will never forget! It was the first time that a few of us Kayaking people decided to head on land to see what these walking groups got up to.. hmm.. I was one of the last boats to head over to the landing point.  We hopped out and I was trying to find some snow to make a snow angel (priorities!) when we hear over the radio that there 

was a Polar Bear heading towards us and closing fast!  I turned around and there it was – running at us! That was unexpected! It was headed for our group so we quickly put our jackets back on again and then hopped in the zodiac as two other expedition leaders let off some flares to try to frighten the Polar Bear away.  It didn’t work!

After 5 flares they decided that they had to take another form of action and they shot two rifle shots over the Polar Bears head.  That makes it pay attention.  It came within 50 meters of us before it decided against eating us yellow things and slowly.. very slowly it walked away.  We all got back on board the big boat (all accounted for) and watched it come back towards the shoreline and then went back to where we think it may have come from –
Such a Beautiful Day to go Polar Bear Watching!
a stinky old Musk Ox it was eating.  So our walking expedition was cancelled but we were so lucky enough to be able to head over in the little Zodiacs and get up close and personal look of the Polar bear.  It was fantastic it was not even disturbed about us at all it just kept on eating the Ox while we all floated past.  It was mind blowing.  They are such a massive animal with such force but so majestic! 

The last expedition day and I was able to make my Snow Angel!!  Very first one!! I was so excited!! We had kinda another scare – there was an unconfirmed sighting of another bear


and there were signs that there was one around but we never saw it.  It was actually sad to leave the shore as it was the last time that I would step on Greenland.

That afternoon we went Kayaking for the last time.. it was such a great day.  We kayaked near a glacier and we just sat and listen to the sounds of the Arctic.  It was great.  I didn’t want to get in the boat.  They filmed me getting out of the Kayak which was funny as!!  I was like a seal just sliding into the zodiac! Our last night in Greenland we were given one last light show.  It was great to see.

Sitting quietly listening..

The next two days we cleaned up, attended some lectures and just hung around the ship.  On the last night we had a beautiful dinner and cocktails and we were presented with a fantastic DVD that the crew put together of all our photos. It was a fantastic job and even some of my photos are in the DVD including the photo of my snow angel!!
Our Certificates
Jane and Tim!

Me Sue and Gail

Me and the lovely Kayak ladies!

Myself, Gail, Claire, Jen and our wonderful Captian!

That last day we all packed up and walked off the ship was so sad. I met some wonderful people and learnt so many things from them and where I was. This will be one adventure that I will never forget..
SO where to next…TBA!!