Skip navigation

Category Archives: on da road – canada

another nights “sleep” in an airport (why as backpackers do we inflict this on ourselves…) and we find ourself in the french speaking province of quebec… in the epicentre of canadian history itself and marvelling at the fortified walls of old quebec city…

after a walk around the old town, navigating the stairs, stumbling over the cobblestone streets and watching the world go by as fast as the french out of their mouths it is hard to imagine one is still in canada. a world away from the grandeaur of the rockies…yet another world away still from the rural simpleness of the north and yet miles away from the rugged isolation of newfoundland and its battered coastal shores.

so what better way to throw ourselves into the mercy of this new world than with a very quebec tradition…a visit to a “sugar shack”…

now be aware….that a sugar shack for a real quebecian is usually not a major commercial enterprise seating 500 plus people…and not most commonly done in the spectacular sunlight of a bright june day…

but a family run affair in the twilight months of winter…as the snow still carpets the ground, but the warming air means it is time for the maple water to be tapped from the local grove…

but despite all that… my quebecian friend still managed to find for us the next best deal…

and thus, still in zombie mode (after the illustrious airport sleep the evening previous) we were whisked outside the walled city, through the “real” city and into the countryside into a world of towering green maple trees (i can only imagine how stunning this place must look in autumn…a new listing for the laurie to-do list)

and ta da…there we are…

shown in to a table behind the two rowdy school grouops, to enjoy some fine live “diddly dee” music and sample some genuine quebecoise fare…

and sample we did…

as we ate our way past the point of no return… devouring any untied morsels in true starved backpacker fashion..

loving the beans in maple sauce, homemade pie and relish, dumplings and beet…

devouring the maple beer (strangely too sweet even for me!!)

and feasting till our eyes did buldge on food like we have not seen it in months…

of course, all this before we even realised the best was yet to come…

this was of course a farm who’s source of industry is the world famed syrup..

and far from the tourist fodder sugar water in good old banff… we soon discovered the real syrup and the reason for the existance of said sugar shack outside the realms of natures harvest…

when dessert rolled round our already full bellies were forcibly expanded by the sheer sight, flavour and texture of the maple syrup…as it trickled like liquid honey. golden and unflawed in colour over fresh hot crepes…there was no turning back…their was only eating…and licking the plates…

and as if our pants werent already cutting off the circulation..

as if we werent already wobbling due to overindulgence..

with the beauty of modern technology we got to try the true winter treat of quebec by making maple snow taffy…

as we stood in the crisp eve air listening to the wind whistle through the maple grove and the groan of over stuffed bellies..

we poured the sticky goodness into a trough of read

old quebec city

old quebec city

y made”snow” and wrestled with our sticks as we wound the sticky goodness into our very own maple lollipop…

and despite the cooled texture and consistency reminding me of my beauticians wax pot the flavour was surreal..

as it melted magically down your throat..

the perfect blend of sweetness in natures own creation…

and so last night, as i collapsed into bed, lamenting the growing rumbles from my overstuffed belly..

i can at last fully admit…

perhaps these canadians really are onto something with this whole maple syrup thing….

just a bummer i found it too late!

may your syrup be sweet wherever this finds you.

always,

l

mike and nicole get started on round one of our evening meal

mike and nicole get started on round one of our evening meal

mmmm.... maple taffy......

mmmm.... maple taffy......

Advertisements

so as it turns out….

newfoundland has even more to offer than moose (which for me was quite enough to start with)…

but in addition to the stunning scenery… a continuation of my beloved irish west coast with its rugged atlantic battered sea cliffs, tumbling green fields, explosion of wildflwers fighting together to withstand the constant beezes and creating an endless dancing carpet of green splashed with colour…

newfoundland also offers icebergs.

a chunk of ice.

yes a chunk of ice that all at once ignites the imagination and takes one breath at the sheer briliance and purity of their colour.

a white so glaring, so bright that it seems almost angelic… floating effortlessly in a turbulent sea of dark inky swells…

all perched next to wee fishing villages of white washed walls, flaking boats and a feeling of serentity.

what more could this great country possibly offer??

the world truly is a remarkable place.

always.

l

P6030120 P6030097

On the road again…

And as per all of life’s adventures not necessarily the smooth, graceful start I may have envisaged!! But then again, what fun would there be possible if it ever were??

So after a week of build up climaxing in a few teary goodbye sessions, we trundled home about 4 am the night before, admitably a little the worse for wear… but with all good intent of an “early start” the next morning to cram in the last minute preparation, packing and cleaning all with enough time to meet the plane hassle free, relaxed and with breath to spare.

Mission one…waking up..

Surprisingly accomplished…and even Michael, after a small amount of nagging (read incessant poking in ribs and demanding) also managed to rise before evening!!!

Mission two… packing…

And here is where it all goes wrong….

Oh my god…

How in such a short space of time does one manage to acquire so much…crap??? despite a week’s careful planning and consideration…the insurmountable task of packing up my life once again into boxes continues to be an overwhelming task… so thus…head slightly fuzzy I sat dishevelled amidst piles of keep, throw and take…wrestling with the sheer logistics of how to fit it all in… And amidst the brewing panic of OH MY GOD I have way toooo much junk and how am I ever going to pack this? Post that? And Carry this bag comes…

Mission three…

The hardest and most stressful of all missions known to man….

Getting Michael ready…

As with all things relying on the Michael space time continuum, logic merely went out the window…and as the brewing whirling whirlpool of a Laurie panic attack started to take hold at roughly 2 pm the sheer fact that he had not even started packing simply sent the afternoon into one tumultuous turbine induced spin!!!!

In an epic panic driven hissy fit as my clothes were thrown in rage from one box to another at the realisation I could not pack nor post without Michael picking up my new laptop case (ordered online under his name as he was convinced me using the hot pink one readily available in store was perhaps too big a recipe for provoking trouble in central America) it became more and more evidently aware that I would not make myself named 3 pm deadline of leaving the house for postage…

And thus at 4..when the stress train had more than left the building…and the incredible hulk within had burst all veins in my pulsating stressed neck… I opted to leave him to his procrastinatory ways and trundle to the post office… alone…. frazzled as was and hastily packed… the carefully planned shower so as I would be daisy fresh for the impending flight no longer  holding up its end of the bargain… I single handedly hoisted my 2 ridiculously oversized, over stuffed boxes into my arms and wobbled precariously out the door…

Needless to say under the buckling strain of some awkwardly packed 25 odd kilos the 1 km direct trek to the post office did take me a staggering 35 mins (including frequent involuntary rest stops, dropped box stops and minor meltdown panic sessions) and as I stumbled inside and forked out the usual exorbitant postage fees that are associated with shipping your life from one side of the world to another… I thought I could actually hear the intent rhythmic pounding of my now doubly over strained heart!  Thank god I made it was all I could sigh…. and as I physically struggled to even raise a pen to make my customs declarations I gained first glance of my now shredded arms…

Apparently… power walking with 2 large cardboard boxes with a combined weight somewhere near a third of your own body weight has the added side  effect of arm lacerations… which of course are a great feature to have whilst boarding planes… (Train tracks… don’t look so good at immigration for some reason?? Go figure!)

All the while… I am still containing my complete horror at my seemingly inability to pack light and the fact that as is oft the case my backpack is bulging beyond all repair…and most importantly….where was Michael!!!????

Stress frazzle, curse and swear later… I trotted home faced with the task of either calming a stressed Michael OR single handedly having to clean the entire flat in a new record time of 1 hr 12 mins…

Upon arrival in the front door I was met with neither frazzled Michael nor organised flat that merely required a clean…but HURRICANE MIKE… winds must have swept thru at least 600 km an hour as he somehow managed to upend EVERY drawer into EVERY available living space and successfully throw his own 25 kilos worth of crap into his own boxes and have the audacity to actually try running to the post office, unsealed boxes flapping in the breeze (and all while still wearing his jammies mind you)  all within the space of one rather dramatic hour!

And as it turns out…is oft the case with him…the gods smiled and some poor sucker at the post office actually opened the locked doors and let him in late…

He too of course is now also sporting fashionable arm lacerations from the ordeal…

None the less…that leaves us back home…where in the remaining hour I worked like a fiend to clean the house fit for our imminent  departure..

While pokey slowly moseyed through a years supply of crap strewn in every direction and eventually commenced his final pack…which then proceeded to take THREE HOURS!!!!!!!!

So as I sat…. steam rising from my ears misting the now clean windows, mirrors and doors thanking god for the most patient friends in the world who miraculously had offered us a trip to the airport (in return for a final farewell dinner…which regrettably never happened but instead became take away in the car on the run) it occurs to me…holy crap I am leaving Banff.

This is really it. And so in keeping with my not so closet bouts of neurosis I wrestle between the urge to slay Michael for his unbelievably painful space time stress inducing deficit or hug him crying uncontrollably for the farewell to home, life and friends as we have ever known it… or simply just laugh and tremble with the excitement for the undreamed of adventures yet to come…

Opting in my typical schizophrenic nature for a sturdy combination of all three..Thus it was at roughly 9 pm last night we finally locked the door on our house for good, loaded up the car and hit the road for the next chapter in adventure…

We survived the perils of an overnight red eye flight,

“Slept” on the chocolate stained carpet of the Toronto domestic terminal (at least I hope that stuff was chocolate??) laughed manically (possibly deranged) at the humour of the very camp French air hosty who advised us that if cabin pressure should drop an airbag would drop down from the panel “above your natural hair colour” and if you have a purse “make sure it matches your shoes and is stowed beneath the seat in front” and of course to put your chair into the most uncomfortable position for takeoff and landing…

But despite the bumpy start. Despite the frazzled melt down…we made it…and thus this afternoon…countless hours since our last real sleep we arrived safe and sound in Newfoundland…and already I love it….

Rolling green countryside…the long missed smell of salty sea air, a thick mysterious fog that rolls in to carpet an otherwise endless wilderness…and after a mere 60 km drive to our first stop for this leg of the tour…the moose count already stands at 3!

Yup, life is good…and with only more and more adventure to come it can only possibly get better.

Happy travels wherever you are.

Always.

L

24 hours later...the wounds still sting

24 hours later...the wounds still sting

moose with a view

moose with a view

months have come and washed away like the ebb and flow of a neap tide.

and here i sit on the sunny side of the canadian winter…about to grasp the bull by both horns and jump back into the swirling cyclone of life on the road…

but before i pass off into yet another of my own self made sunsets… the canadian spring which has thawed the rivers, revived the trees and generally put that spark back into the life of a town waking up from its winter slumber has delivered with it one more crazy weather cycle.

snow in may…

it is neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet nor hail but this crazy flurried blur of all…

as it cascades from the clouds alternating from large white cotton balls dancing like fairy ballerinas in the soft spring breeze to the sudden harshness of ice pellets hurtling towards earth as if thrown from the slingshots of the angry gods above..

or the smallest most delicate microscopic flakes that look like crystals from some far away chandeleir as they fall slowly from a shimmering sky…

and as you stand transfixed in wonderment at this shower of a garden of snow flowers in all their shapes sizes and forms and wonder exactly what one is meant to wear… you realise that despite their entry they all meet the same untimely fate on impact with the ground…

neither the ferocity of the hail nor the true magnitude of the flakes can combat the warming from below… and as the ground glistens back with morning dew it also devours this new snow and lets it seap into its ready dampness…

courtesy of mans unethical love affair with pigs… my impending travel plans have thus been obliterated…

with a tour of central america cancelled..

but my flights into and out of mexico unchanged… (WHALE SHARKS!!!!!! why do they taunt me so?? is it simply that i am not meant to swim with these almighty beasts of the deep blue world)

and thus i face the one thing i fear more than most…

a decision…

so here’s the low down…

funds are tight.

and even more so for my financially strapped travelling companion…

we are eligible to get back our money for the canceled central american tour (or transfer it direct to another tour)…but unless continental airlines (henceforth known as arseholes inc.) decide to extend their recognised dates or cancel our flight (insead of just continually bumping us onto new ones) we are stuck paying either cancellation or re-route fees to avoid mexico…despite a world wide pandemic and travel advice from almost every known country of the western world strongly suggesting NOT to go there….

(oh and dont even start me on travel insurance…which covers for cancellation for circumstances beyond your control…except pandemics!!!)

so here are the options…

A) pay the difference in tours and on flights and change fees for flights and go to central america anyways… just avoiding mexico itself but still right next to the epicentre of pig bug.

pay an even bigger difference in price of both fares and tours… and re route fees and do a shorter tour in peru… (yay machu piccu!!!) BUT therefore also cutting into a possible later jaunt to south america (any takers for an epic south american adventure…say this november??)

or can exotic travel altogether and stick to the relative “safety” of canada and america and partake in some touristy cliche such as route 66 (this however will incur losing flight money)

at this stage the next chapter is vastly unknown… but hey… an online poll is always the best way to shirk the responsibility of actually making this decision for myself right???

happy travels world… and may your sneezes not be those of pigs…

wherever in the world this finds you…

hugs

as any poor victim who has been (un)lucky enough to visit me on an overseas voyage will know that playing host and travel agent is something i simply love to do…

but what most people fail to realise is that it is there own undoing if they happen to mention that they are a) on a budget or b) enjoy “walking”…

for…as a self confessed drama queen and consequent mistress of all things exaggerated… i do budget better than any true scotsman and a walk is not simply a meander round the block…. but a chance to fully cover every nook and cranny of any landscape you propel me into…and i mean EVERY nook and cranny…

and thus it was as my friend arrived amidst tales of strict budgetry requirements with the dream of seeing all that my beautiful temporary home town of banff has to offer that laurie’s bootcamp was born…

not to forget that in parallel to my time here slowly sifting away i am loving this last chance to get outside as spring truly does take hold and allow for outdoor excursions that no longer require 72 thermal layers and a snowsuit….

eyeing up my new roomate and equating her still fit and firm body as fit enough to complete the mission i sketched out a fortnight of a few “short walks” and “casual hill climbs”… perhaps some skiing thrown in for entertainment?? or a wee small bike ride if time and weather permits???

more poor friend, to her own peril, agreed…. and has been reintroduced to every forgotten bone and muscle in her body ever since…. and i have become keeper of the panadol and masseuse of the deep heat!

day one simply saw a wee little wander up a “mound” overlooking town… some stunning views across the valley highlighting all of banff and its possibilities before us… duly inspiring us to then trek down the mountain and up to the fairmont hotel… the castle in the clouds of a misty day in banff…

(this of course was later topped by a subsequent visit to the hotel…dressed as roughians… we did of course decide to sneak into the lift and explore the “gold class” level of luxury and basically wander around much to the fear and horror of the more suitably attired real hotel guests…)

and if you ask my friend… who spent that evening massaging sore legs… this was indeed merely a warm up…

oh yes…this fortnight off work, has not in fact been a lounge around break of rest and relaxation but a chance to cram the last 8 months worth of exploring into an action packed fortnight of extreme sports that i am sure even rambo or arnie may have winced at…

we tackled the mountains on skis and on foot….

both eating snow as we encountered the icy peril of spring downhill skiing and eating snow as we nearly got blown off a sheer cliff face covered in a few feet of untouched powdery goodness…

we laughed at the “usual” tourists who referred to their mere half hour canter down a raised board walk as a “hike” and told them to attempt a winter mountain hike from base to summit (minus any avalanche gear..oops.. or bear spray… oops or ice cleats.. oops..)

we laughed as my surpreme guiding skills saw me not once, but several times fall over on hidden ice patches, get mildly lost, uncover tracks of dangerous beasts from whom one should run and most notably slide the entire length of a bridge that was covered in ice…all without falling into the frozen ravine below!!!!

we enjoyed debating whether it is in fact illegal to walk the train lines (stand by me style) and concluding that as we were in the middle of nowhere about 16 km from home and these said lines…despite being surrounded by a known bear habitat and a marsh on both sides… did in fact provide a handy directional marker..

we also enjoyed jumping off the tracks..into the marsh… not once but twice as two of the worlds longest freight trains decided to whizz by…

it was also at this point that i enjoyed the sufferings of irritable bowel syndrome and again, became one with nature and fed the bears in a broad open (savannah!!!) field…

we further enjoyed the next day hearing the bear sighting radioed in to our ski bus driver and noting that said 250 kg GRIZZLY bear was in fact a mere kilometre away from where all this took place (well…bears ARE hungry after hibernation!)

we enjoyed accidentally stumbling into the middle of an elk herd…and later on our safari tour hearing that elk with ear tags are those with previous violent human encounters… (did i mention at least 7 of these elk were tagged??)

we enjoyed taking part in a tour that drove a bus down a 45 degree gradiant onto a glacier…which is in fact starting to melt…

but most of all…we just enjoyed banff!

yup…despite the sore muscles, aching back…tired bones… i reckon the marathon was worth it…

for my friend who got to see more than the average aussie backpacker here gets to see in a year and for me…who is tying up my time here and looking for those lasting memory images to hold onto….

and so my friends…as my own time here starts to draw nearer to a close.. i urge you all.. to get outside.. find the beauty in your own neighbourhood… and seriously… take a walk… okay…maybe you dont quite have to go on closed tracks, frozen canyons or hike snow covered mountains… but really… at the end of the day.. the pain is worth it!there truly is a beautiful world out there…and sometimes from the warmth and comfort of inside we simply forget to see it…

and until you foolishly fall into the trap of agreeing to a “short” laurie walk wherever i meet you next….

(and those of you have walked with me know just what i am talking about…) rest up my dear friends… you may need it!

🙂

hugs.

here...this canyon looks safe to hike through....

here...this canyon looks safe to hike through....

i know a castle on a cloud

i know a castle on a cloud

i used to love swing sets…

no, scratch that, i still do love swing sets…but somewhere in the not too hazy past they stopped loving me.

when did the gentle motion of back and forth stop being relaxing or exhilarating (depending on your exertion) and start becoming the inducer of vertigo and motion sickness??

after a lovely walk through the spring sunshine today i spied some swings and decided the best way to wile away the hours… (and dry out my soggy boots which appear to have absorbed half of the towns slushy melty snow pile) was a nice relaxing swing. i remember years of old standing on swing sets and performing dare devil defeats to create the greatest momentum…which was always of course capped off by a spectacular and often crowd pleasing airborne dismount… but gone are the days… now it seems even the slightest notion of inertia and my insides squirm…no longer is it a joy to feel the air whizz past my ears, but with each whoosh i wonder if i may actually throw up the entire contents of my stomache!?

is it truly possible that at some age we actually do become too old for swings?? is that why you never see hordes of little old ladies hitch up their floral skirts and mount the trusty plastic of the local park swing set?

or is it a sensation that in childhood we become immune too and as stints between swings lengthen our immunity simply wanes but through dedicated effort may be retrieved?

or if this is not some biological curse that ensures play equipment remains solely for the use of the younger generation then what on earth am i going to do about this god awful ailment of motion sickness?? as more travel looms just around the corner..one starts to wonder if now is the time to invest in travel sickness tablets??

but until then… i think i may just have to stick to the trusty slippery slide.

always yours, one slightly dizzy laurie.

it seems to have happened almost unnoticed, but suddenly, as i sit by the bank of the river today basking in the glow of the afternoon sunlight…it occurs to me winter appears to have slunk off into a sunset of its own…to become just another memory to be chronicled in my mind….

i stare out across what was until just a week ago a smooth ribbon of flawless white ice…and watch as new torrents break free… fresh water cascades and trickles…forging new paths as if some ice breaker has been working mercilessly through the night..a metre at a time… the crackling ice edges like some mini arctic wilderness hanging onto the banks with all their remaining strength

and there on one of the few remaining icy islands floating amidst the newly formed torrents sit the canadian geese. huddled in pairs. returned from some epic adventure…resting… have they been gone that long already?

meanwhile the sun lingers just above the mountain tops… and the breeze that tickles at my skin no longer burns with the ferocity of an arctic gale but refreshes and tingles as it dances.

the sun no longer skips low across the sky hugging the horizon as it goes…but boldy ventures higher…seeking new outlooks and illuminating shadows long since forgotten in the cold grasp of winter…

the snow that falls in the morning, dances like fairies and dissolves as quick as it arrives when it hits the harsh reality of ground. by afternoon all that remains is the few die hard patches of icy snow that no longer glisten and sparkle in that wonderland white, but crystlise and appear glued together by the dirt and dust that have long since accumulated.

the deer are returning to town… by 2’s and 4’s i spot them grazing beside abandoned parks and playing fields… their babies no longer little, but nearly full grown and ready to depart for a life of their own.

the squirrels are back..bounding, dancing and dashing like lightening between the trees… forraging for the food that has newly reappeared on the now bare ground.

where did winter go?? have i hibernated while the time has passed me by or have the months worked together like an army to fly so fast that the invading forces of winter are so quickly and quietly driven out, almost unnoticed.

one day i awoke to brave the perils of winter and test my resolve against the icy grasp of minus 42. today i wonder where that kingdom of freeze has melted to.

spring is on its way. like a stealth invader it has nearly caught me unawares…but i see it coming now.. i see the new buds forming on the bare trees, the tell tale signs of a new season, new life that is about to start.

and with it i too start to look at new life, new ideas…and ponder where next in this adventure of life?

my time here in banff has flown by like a blink and as i on the one hand still see the months that lay before me, i realise too just how quickly they will vanish into tomorrows and yesterdays and new decisions must eventually be faced.

i guess time doesnt stand still wherever you lie. and once again it appears to have found me and caught me unawares.

yet i embrace it and grow with it and feel the warming buzz of anticipation inside as i know the next chapter is only ever just around the corner….

may time be treating you with the grace of its wisdom wherver in the world this finds you.

hugs

l

hey crew…as is oft the case in the backpacker world…funds are tight and from time to time certain luxuries get missed out on..

also as is oft the case in my world, being master of the tight arse scotish ways, my travel companions funds are often even tighter and due to shared experience…certain luxuries that possibly could have been stretched to are also neglected…

and thus it is over the years i have come close yet not ticked off a few little gems…

a visit to santa’s village while in finland, getting a SCUBA cert in Thailand or Queensland, getting a handcrafted indian bedding set, swimming with sharks in New zealand, staying in the flashy room in Vegas, flying over the Grand canyon in America, trekking thru the Bungle Bungles of Australia, well…you get the gist…

but despite this constant ebb and flow of the backpacker budget and the ability to take the good with the bad and thank the world for all it has unveiled to me these last 10-ish years… not one single item on the laurie list has bugged me so much as perhaps swimming with whale sharks…

and why???

because, not only once have i been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time… but TWICE have i had to watch the world jump in to the water and swim with these gentle giants while i sat on the shoreline counting my pennies.

both zanzibar and ningaloo reef left their scars… and while i blame not either my travel companion of the day nor my own financially immature lifestyle i can not deny there has always been a grudge…

and yet here i am…

living the mundane life and swallowing boredom in the effort to appease my fellow traveller again, groaning about what other little gems i let slip by each day when a twist of fate has handed me hope…

as my time here in Banff starts to look like numbered days and the pencil plans are set for the next leg of the laurie world domination tour… i have once more sold out my extensive travel plans to match a budgetry need… no longer south america, but central, no longer Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica but Mexico, Belize & Guatemala, no longer 2 months, but 3 weeks….

and as i groan at watching another set of dreams sail into an untouched sunset i discover…

whale sharks also exist in the waters off Mexico from July – September… and while funds are tight and days are numbered… i do look set to be in cancun in late June..

maybe, just maybe… after all these years the gods are granting me that one more chance.

i’ve botched it twice… but maybe it truly is third time lucky???

so as i prepare to batten down the hatches for the last few months stint of save save save… i have a goal…

a shining light..

a silver lining on some otherwise stormy clouds…

yep…the world sure does work in mysterious ways…and maybe, just maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

may your glasses be rose coloured wherever this finds you.

always.

loz… whale shark hunter….

i, like many others of us…have often laughed at the many misfortuned athletic events classed as “sport” in various international competitions…

the complete ridiculousness of synchronised swimming….women with speedos glued onto their butts and nose pegs…frollicking upside down in a tandom display of insanity…

the utter randomness of pole vault…i mean really…where and how did it start?? oh… i think i might just get this pole and hurl myself 6 metres into the air over another pole… or better still…where are the local pole vaulting clubs as part of saturday sport?? (i personally have always wanted to try it..)

rhythmic gymnastics… ooooh look at me look at me.. i have a ribbon..and i have a ball.. i can dance like a seal… i mean what tripped out stone head first thought to do that crazy stuff… all while smiling like some crazed axe murderer…

and until recently… curling..

i mean..lawn bowls on ice… why didnt we just go wheel out great aunty ethel from the local bowling club, fill up her glass of sherry and charge her 1970’s prices… throw her into a fluffy jacket and watch the scintilating action unfold as she hurls some chunk of rock down an ice rink while some random janitors sweep up after the mess she made???

well…

on friday i actually tried it.

oh my god.

i take it all back….

firstly there is the issue of even getting onto the ice… “go get a “slider” for your shoe”…and a “gripper” (if you want one…) ok…so we are ON ICE why the hell do i need something to make me slidey ( i should have heeded the trouble this opening statement indicated…)?? (whooooooosh) (laurie face plants on first contact with ice….on her gripper foot)

next (once you are on the ice) waddle over here and crouch down unceremoniously showing the world your plumbers bum and hold a heavy rock and a broom… ok…not so hard… we’ve all done that before right??

then …slide…. push off and slide…but dont let your fingers, knees or butt touch the ground..yes thats right, somehow levitate the whole back part of your body…. slide in the slider foot (in a straight line) and carefully, applying the correct amount of force push the rock, whilst still balancing on the broom for stability..

oh…and dont forget to turn the handle on the rock, clockwise…you want it to spin 5 and a half times before it reaches the other end…

no dont turn it that much!@!! aaaah!  it’s veering off course…into the next persons lane.. smash.. oops.

(followed by a wobble, a face plant and a stomache glide in an unprecedented comic attempt to stand back up…)

next, we have the sweeping…

i mean whats all that about?? yeah yeah, i get it..make the ice warm so it glides further…ya-da ya-da ya-da… cant be too hard right…

but as all my fellow canadians stepped out gracefully with their slider foot, propelling them forwards down the lane, in a smooth motion that seemed to resemble something from swan lake meets mary poppins the stage show…yours truly stepped out onto my slider foot… hit the ground with a resounding thud, climbed back up in a hideous effort resembling some creature from the great swamp and took my best efforts to glide gracefully forwards…

so it turns out… unbeknownst to me, i am apparently pidgeon toed…and while in all earnestness i was trying to push forward…the slider foot had a mind of its own and infalliably went sideways, causing a wobble, a circle and a variety of movements one may expect from an innebriated penguin…

all the while clutching my broom for security (god i loved that broom)

and then…when i finally managed to make it down the lane… i stood, waiting for the magic stone…which came loftily by and as i swept, fell and swept some more managed to successfully stop 3 stones, veer two into anothers game and lose several others (well…they go fast!!!!)

so while i may snicker at the utter ridiculousness of the sport, laugh at the manic sweeping of the ice and even wonder why great aunty ethel doesnt just practice her lawn bowls in the rsl freezer room… i must confess..there is actually a skill to the sport…one apparently i dont possess….

may your stone glide successfully down your own lane…guided by the good brooms in life.

always.

l

there are times during extensive travel, when life becomes somewhat normal… eat, work, sleep…its the same…no matter the change in setting…

and there are even times when one has been on the road for a smidge too long that even the amazing can merge into a bit of a yawn of too much…. oooh look, ANOTHER temple…sigh…not another amazing frozen lake and mountain scene… grumble, groan….oooh look, another castle…

but even when that dreaded occurance of over-travel happens, there is always another adventure, another experience just waiting around the corner to jolt you back into reality and remind you how positively lucky you are to live in this amazing world and how blessed you are to have seen just sooo much…

for me, this week, that snap moment was the ultimate experience of dog sledding in the canadian rockies…

after deciding that more of the same tourist souvenirs didnt quite cut it for christmas this year, mike and i concluded that the gift of dog sledding would more than make up for a lifetime of snow globes and magnets….

alas, with the freak weather this year and the inherent lack of snow…we then had to wait near 2 months for conditions to eventually allow this dream to reach fruition…

this time however, like all things backpacker, was spent investigating  just how to get the best value for money…and folks…the word out there is…the 2 hour tour just ain’t enough!!!

i mean, lets face it…they’re husky puppies!!!! when would 2 hours EVER be enough??!!!!

so spend the extra…go the half day (and if you’re around a while…. get the travel alberta card…its free and gives discounts!!)

thus it was, thismorning… rugged up against the elements we boarded the howling dog bus…parted with our hard earned cash (lets face it, banff pay is appalling and the cost of living fitting for the rich and famous!!) and headed out past canmore to the stunning spray lakes..

here we patted, scratched, kissed and hugged our dog seld team (in between helping with the more serious stuff like harnessing and strapping the dogs into place) before hitting the trail in style…

about my only gripe can be said was the fact that mr photographer was stationed just after take off, where it was compulsory to be sitting rather than “yee-hah” mushing the sled… but i soon found out why sitting had its advantages,

as the dogs found their rhythm and we bounced across the ice i took the opportunity to balance on the narrow sled rails and experience the air in my face, the smell of the flying dog poops as they make the load lighter mid trot, glare into the clear frozen ice of the lake, wonder at the frozen air bubbles rising from a living breathing world below and watch as my musher lost the mighty large ice hook and consequently rolled our sled….as the dogs came to a crashing holt and i went flying sideways tumbling across the ice followed by a wayward musher who landed fair on top of me…. aaaah, the true sledding experience…

of course… like all fearless wanderers i was straight up again, reassured a very embarrassed musher that all was ok and we hit the trail again..

the day continued seamlessly… bouncing over hidden ice clumps, sliding out on glassy surfaces, fishtailing as the dogs decided a pit stop was needed and generally laughing all the way!!!

and while mike and i battled for who’s turn it was to sit and who’s it was to stand 4 hours seemed to just melt by into a now happy memory…

tied in somewhere along the way was a lunch break… where 4 teams of dogs were “parked” for their break…and we enjoyed a fine feast of buffallo stew amid the flurry of 28 wagging tails and a cacophony of barks…

(of course, again, it was a dog from my team that had to be unharnessed and tied to the naughty pole for lunch after making a meal of his partner dog’s ear…) but as soon as we hit the trail again..all happy puppies…tongues out…drool in the breeze and nothing but the flying powder of the snow kicked up by their feet to listen too.

yup…even when things can hit a lull… even when times can have been a struggle…around every corner is always something to remind us just how special this planet we live on can be.

may you find your moment, wherever in the world you are.

always.

l

mushing all the way

mushing all the way

well…. life has rolled by at full speed…. and despite my valiant efforts to experience a truly white christmas and life in an alpine town…banff has continued to be missed by the chaotic snowfalls of the north american continent and instead of my sparkling white fields of snow i tackle the slushy brown remnants of last years dumps…

add to this the “normality” which now surrounds my life here…eat, sleep work… thus making writing an interesting blog a seemingly impossible task…

but rest assured i am still embracing this goal with both hands and have thrown myself into my ice maiden duties head first with a visit to the local skating clubs annual show on ice…

what a classic…as a fairytale unfolds told through narration and dance with an icerink for a stage…

but the winning moment would have to be the group of 3 year olds who wobbled out onto the ice in the same half gliding half stumbling motion that michael applies to his own skating appearances…

a thoroughly cute and uniquely canadian winter experience in all….

and aside from this… time is merely spent waiting for more snow in the hope that my next entry will regale the thrills of dog sledding…

we live in hope…

hope the weather shines on your plans wherever in the world you may be…

hugs

l

after 2 weeks of the mysterious “chinook” a warm breeze that blows through town in the middle of winter to warm the air and create a spring like feel and a slushy like consistency on every street winter has slammed it’s ice mieser fist down hard upon us again…

of course this is fitting, as after finally defrosting from my last attempt at going to lake louise (you may recall my rather unhappy reflections of freezing my butt off in minus 42 weather on a ski hill!!) another community ski day was on offer and i thought i may have the courage to try again…

more fool me.

as this time…dressed in my best michelin man impersonation suit i braved the ski hills at a mere minus 32

of course, as michael has somewhat improved in his skiing we no longer stayed in the safety of the “bunny hill” but ventured forth to explore the mountain at large….

let me just say when it comes to lake louise… “green run – my arse!!!!”

now i know i am not the best skiier in the world (in fact as michael appears to have gotten better each week, my confidence, just like my driving, appears to have evaporated into the great abyss and my skiing is rapidly becoming more like a major lesson in snow ploughing…) but at sunshine (our local ski hill) i am at ease with MOST of the green runs…sure from time to time when i reach the summit of a seemingly endless downhill before me…a little profanity or 2 might escape me..but as yet my knees have held out and the snow plough works enough to get my **slowly** down in one piece…

but as i stood atop “the easiet run” back to base at the summit of the lake louise ski resort…the list of profanities that escaped me would make kevin bloody wilson’s toes curl!!! no longer was it a gentle but seemingly endless undulating down hill glide…but i swear a sheer ice cliff!!!! so as i braced the plough position and dug my poles into the hard icy snow (this cold weather SUCKS for skiing as powder rapidly becomes large gravelly chunks of ice!) i headed off unto certain death…. knees aching, skin burning with the searing cold, goggles fogged and smack.. a laurie snow ball cascading down the mountain side in a puff of ice… poles one direction, skis the other… legs at clearly unintended angles…

and as i considered the options as to how to reassemble my skis and poles even standing proved too much a task as i slid, unceremoniously down the mountain side… invariably grappling to stand and inevitably landing on my butt and sliding further still…

this gracious and coordinated display of skiing athleticism was merely the start to a continued trend throughout the day….

and while i winced in pain at the prelude to frostbite and the ache in my throbbing knees which couldnt even hold a snow plough due to the lack of traction on those icy hill sides michael merely wooshed past… just happy to be exploring.

i have since come to the conclusion he is in fact made of ice… as this LUDICROUS weather appears not to affect him…

but fear not…. your heroic blogger never leaves a scene as a failure…and the weekend (in my eyes) was saved the next day…

after an AWESOME night with friends michael and i dragged our battle weary bodies out to the ice magic festival where we watched chunks of ice be carved into magical sculptures right before our eyes…

but the highlight?? stumbling upon a ute full of husky pups just brimming with puppy kisses and the chance to tick another long awaited goal off the laurie to do list…

as i donned my skates and braved the elements to skate on lake louise.

an amazing feeling to glide gracefully past the “ice castle” and breathe in the mountain air.. whooshing along a glassy ice lake surrounded by an army of mountains…that only 6 months ago i had marvelled at in the sunlight and watched children frolicking upon the shores… and better still…. i am still better at it than michael (phew) the weekend has not been lost after all.

may the ice castle at your house be full of magic and wonder. wherever in the world that may be.

always.

l

car full of puppies

car full of puppies

the ice cougar

the ice cougar

we are creatures of habit. this cannot be denied… but when it comes to food, our habits… most probably influenced by our upbringings, are so vastly different.

take something as simple as vegemite on toast for example…

me, i like the toast a golden brown, firm enough that butter can be spread evenly to melt consistently into the bread so that when you apply a thin layer of vegemite it is the perfect smooth texture and soft consistency. others like their vegemite smeared on. black as burnt toast… then there’s michael. who likes toast that resembles stale bread…with no tell tale colouration and puts his butter on in thick slices…left to its own volition to melt. neither way is right nor wrong… (ok, so maybe in my world michaels way is pretty close to wrong) but we each have our own idiosyncracies…

so when it comes to food hygene it is no great surprise that i know people from every end of the spectrum…

from the no take out in the fridge rule and the left overs must be thrown out after 24 hours party to the… yeah, i’ll put it in the fridge eventually and if it don’t smell funny i’ll eat it variety…

shamefully, i must admit, i am much closer to the latter….

and in keeping with this “healthy” fridge lifestyle i have developed i have also developed a “healthy” disrespect of use by dates (“merely a suggestion” as my mother would tell you!!)

and thus… as michael fills our backpacker bare cupboards with out of date rice (a much needed staple that is strangely overpriced here in canada) and surprises me with the odd treat of slightly stale use by chips (crisps for the brits among us) i figure my tolerance to all things expired was in act a double blessing also helping in the valiant (and seemingly ever non-existant) save for south america funds…

so this week… as i battled with the usual lurgies that come with working with children….and i coped with barking like a seal each night as my syrian camel cough made a spritely comeback… i decided some fruit and vitamin c would be a big plus to the recuperation process…

its fruit.

its tinned

how off can it go???? it was only a little past the date right?? and besides it was either that or more of the chocolate stash that i am priveledged as a teacher to recieve each christmas to sustain my late night snacking last night…

so of course i took the healthy option.. a compromise for the sin of late night munchies…an injection of much needed vitamins…

smelt good.

looked good.

tasted good…

but OH MY GOD!!!!

as i spent the wee hours this morning, head firmly planted in the toilet bowl cursing the world as i know it…

fearing the dual explosions of fruit frequenting every orriface of my body and sweating so much that a nap on the cool bathroom floor became an immediate requirement…i am starting perhaps to question my food practices…

perhaps, perhaps.. even in these times of economic hardship… even in these times of backpacker budgeting there is a cut off point.. a date beyond the use by date that FOOD SHOULD BE LABELED “TOXIC” do not consume. or consume at your own peril.. or consume and you will experience 24 painful hours to consider why we put use by dates on food…

so while my camel cough seems somewhat subdued by comparison today and my risk of exposure to scareltt fever is suddenly the least of my worries… i put the question out there… how late is too late in the world of use by?

may your tummies be stable and your food be fresh… wherever in the world this finds you…

always.

l

p.s… if what doesnt kill you truly makes you stronger… if i am not dead by tomorrow i figure i may be just about invincible!!!!

so its been 12 months…

wwhhhoooooooooshhh! yup..there they go… so quick!!!!

really???…12 months ago???…sitting in a singlet and shorts, cossies still damp from an evening dip, enjoying the cool breezes whipping my face on a muggy tropical queensland eve…

watching drunk revellers too afraid to enter the water for fear of getting stung by killer jellyfish…yet daring to enter all the same…

and then now this… standing on a street in the middle of town.. amidst a crowd thronging with anticiaption…watching in delight as the snowflakes dance down from the sky landing on my nose and sticking to my lashes…

wondering as i took in the fireworks, meekly limping into the air from the local mountain top how was it that my dream of doing this new years in times square got soooooooo left by the wayside…

such is life huh???

but i guess the bonus was a visit from my brother the following few days…and the chance to prove to him once and for all that despite his adamant claims of my supreme lack in sporting prowess…i can still whoop his ass at something!!!! as he witnessed my often spectacular snow plough down the mountain sides at sunshine village….

how is it that with age we learn to fear….and what was once a reckless joy to me as a youngster is now the source of all things terrifying…causing me to be a hurtling snowball on the ski hills???

and yet despite this knee trembling, goggle fogging inhibition… i STILL managed to whoop his butt…

he of course blames his snowboard… but we all REALLY know the truth….

so despite the curve balls life continues to throw my way i guess new years reminds us just to step right up to the plate and take your best swing…

and with that in mind.. i wonder if this batter will hit left or right for the months ahead…as i grapple with the age old debate…

home to “settle”… life in the burbs..back to all that i ran from but with the comfort of security…

or caution to the wind…blow the last of the hard earned dollars and enter a new realm in south america…

who knows…but one thing is for sure… it’s going to be an interesting game!!!

hope you’re winning on your pitch!?

always.

l

i take it back…every whimper…every utterance of “i’m cold” now gets whisked back into oblivion…for today…today i experienced the TRUE meaning of cold…

due to the ticking of time working against us…i decided that today…come hell or high water i was going to make use of my ludicrously overpriced season ski pass by christening the local ski hills… of course, what i hadnt factored in was the weather….

and as fate would have it… despite a few meagre minus 10 days this weekend happened to bring with it the most extreme bloody cold snap i have ever experienced in my life!!!! so as the sun rose (or tried vainly to pop out from its horizon height journey behind the mountains) and i crawled from my blissful slumber…i was confronted with the dawning fact…sunshine village ski resort was not opening today due to extreme weather…

yes, thats right… it got sooooo bloody cold that even the lifts refused to work!!!!

not to be outdone of course, i carefully selected plan B and proceeded to add my 3 thermal layers and brave the bigger of the 3 local ski resorts and head to lake louise…

a pleasant bus ride…of rolling snow capped mountains..and torrent rivers flagged in snow mounds steaming in the morning sun…

a delight that today, being community day was something equivalent to tight arse tuesday at the movies…i gladly party with my $20 and proceeded to kit up…

thermal socks, thermal pants and thermal top, ski pants, body hugging vest,  polar fleece top , ski jacket, neckwarmer, woolen polar fleece lined beanie, gloves, water proof thermal ski mittens, ski boots…. and OH MY GOD IT’S COLD!!!!!!

racing down the icy hills in a balmy MINUS 42 CELCIUS!!!! (with windchill!!!) in no time.. contending with frozen hair, frozen snot (aka snotcicles…a strange sensation quite hard to describe  to anyone who has never experienced it before… as the mucus lining of ones nose involuntarily turns into eye watering shards that seem to peirce with every breath…of course eye watering is bad, as this then becomes icicles on ones lashes…)

am i mad??!!! perhaps… but a girl needs to practice to be our next olympic champion… and todays appalling skiing effort clearly highlights just how much practice that will entail!!!!

none the less… it wasnt long before it happened… the cold..the real cold started to creep in..

at first it was just a little twinge.. a reminder that i should probably wiggle my toes (as best as possible in my snug ski boots…) and then a further reminder as the burn starts to occur… i should REALLY wriggle my toes…

and the soon as the searinfg heat of frozen feet started to coarse up my entire frozen leg a painful reminder that if i dont keep wriggling these toes may just darn well fall off!!!

a hasty retreat back inside..

a feverish effort to rip off my ski boots and massage poor wrinkled frozen toes..

an excruciating pain never before experienced…best described as the feeling of someone smashing every single bone in ones feet with an oversized metal mallet…

the intense fear of oh my god have my toes died!!?? the fervour with which i massaged and wriggled, massaged and wiggled…and at last through the burning agony..the first signs of blood recirculating… relief..bitter sweet relief…as that recirculation also brings with it the final wave of torture that makes one feel that they may pass out or throw up with the extremity of it.

of course… i then put my socks and boots back on and proceeded to go back out…

another hour later…this pleasant sensation then found its way to my fingers… yup… time to call it quits…

relief at the warm airconditioned comfort of the return bus…and of course, the fool hardy hatching of the plan to then top off the day by going out in the charming minus 37 degree banff night to wait for the santa train… a train travelling cross country with over 5000 christmas lights raising money for charity..

the excitement and anticipation keeping me numb to the growing pain of cold seeping into my extremities..the laughing at the dogs in winter clothes..including dog shoes… the electric feeling as the train pulls in and out of the misty fog the man himself in red appears and starts rocking out some christmas tunes..and then the realisation that HECK IT’S BLOODY FREEZING!!!!! that familiar pain is back… my eyelashes are stuck together with ice… get me inside… NOW!!!!!

hence, the rest of the “concert” was spent in the station, blisfully wriggling toes and fingers…which at this stage are all still present and accounted for…

forget wanting my 2 front teeth for christmas…this white christmas all i want to do is keep my toes and feet!

hope you’re all well and WARM wherever in the world this may find you.

always…

laurie…the snowman….

a small feat in taking a selfie in extreme temps

a small feat in taking a selfie in extreme temps

just call me steam head

just call me steam head

its happened again…and alarmingly i think i am starting to see that it is happening by choice….

i find that yours truly is at home…alone…again… with her tv, her comfort food and her laptop for company…

from a whirlwind world of social hubub that could rival the antics of paris hilton…. to a string of nights in that seem almost never ending…

am i becoming a hermit??

how has it come to pass…that a life that used to burst out of the social calendar has dwindled so rapidly…that here i sit… alone…. worse still… despite my gripes… i must confess, opportunity has presented itself and this social isolation seems to be alarmingly by choice!!!

is this an age thing?? have years on the go finally overtaken me and left me in the need to lay low?? recuperate?? has maturity curbed my wild ways at last??

is this a weather thing?? a need to hide in the warmth of my house to defrost from the mounting cold outside?

is this a friend thing?? a desperate gaping hole left behind where my friends usually sit??

is this a relationship thing? where the few shared hours snatched each week between competing shifts is best spent in and not subjected to the drunken antics of a town full of 18 year old bogans?

is this a work thing?? could these 3 year olds finally have knocked the stuffing out of me beyond the realms of having a social life??

what is this??

and why as i sit…contemplating the fact that i am “young” carefree and living the high life as a backpaker overseas.. that i feel compelled to go out..like it is my duty… do i still choose when the drinks bell proffers its company to ignore its cries and retreat safely back to my cosy den for another night in??

am i broken?

is this the end of life in the spotlight? should that bother me??

i wonder where these turbulent months ahead may take me?? will they throw me back on the social race track and make me mock me hermit ways or is life on centre stage past its useby and the new world is merely dawning for me to discover??

have i become one of “those” women who wont go out because i truly and genuinely am “washing my hair” (it turns out this task is complicated by living in a sub zero climate and not owning a hairdryer)

i wonder if this winding down of the social world… this retreat back inside is a universal phenomenon a social rite of passage escalated by all these competing factors forcing me once and for all to accept that i am no longer 18… or is this a passing fad?? a one off…a strange blip on the radar of ridiculousness….

whatever it may be… for better or worse..in all its weirdness and loneliness yet self satisfaction… i find myself…

at home.

hey crew….

the last few days have been a blur of sunshine and snow showers… both of which i love!!! (except the sunshine persists in melting the snow!!!)

work is somewhat routine… which is good… and the days have kind of reached that comfort level of normal life… (which doesnt make writing pulitzer prize winning blogs all that easy) but in a valiant effort to maintain the lines of communication…and assure the world i still love you all (and i am alive and well!!!) i just thought i’d write hello and see how you are all doing???

oh yeah… and to ask…should i bother paying for an australian phone number from skype…which means you guys would be able to call me at local phone prices from home (and leave voicemails!!) (seeing as NOONE called my american number in the last 3 months!!!??) doesnt cost too much mind… so i probably will…

anyways…sorry it is a mundane nothing entry….

but hey… HELLO! 🙂

no news is good news!!! 🙂

hope you are all well in the world.

mega hugs

l

i walked to school today…after choosing not to spend the night getting pissed with all the young folk in town… feeling a tad isolated and dejected…but clear headed… and while i ponder if old age, being sensible and wisdom is biting me in the social butt… i did have the privelege of crunching through the snow…feeling the pleasure of the icy wind on my cheeks and the rosiness that insues and stopping to admire the deer as they munch on oblivious to me…

where is that balance between living and life huh???

how often i neglect to stop and look around at the beauty and love that surrounds me… noone’s life is perfect…but damn in the scheme of things mine turned out pretty bloody good.

so despite my incredible talent as a drama queen… thank you folks…. and next time the clouds seem to fog your day… just remember…sometimes they bring snow, rainbows or the most incredible sunsets… it doesnt always have to be rain.

enormous hugs.

l

so i guess in short.. if you’re having one of THOSE days (god only knows we all get them…) it helps to ask yourself the 3 big questions in life…

1) am i alive??? fact is… just existing is a miracle in itself… and if you have your health on top of that… out of the infinate possible things that can go wrong… you’re already doing pretty darn well…

2) am i a good person?? at the end of the day…when the lights flick out and you’re left alone to answer to yourself.. your worst critic… can you hold your head up?? god knows we make mistakes… and i know we do things we arent proud of (many things) but in your soul… your honest self… have you tried? are you a whole person? a moral person? a person you yourself would love to meet?

3) have i been loved? (and have i been blessed to love in return) in whatever form it comes… it is a gift to cherish.. sometimes we dont get the fairytale hollywood ending.. sometimes it fornicates up your life and sends you packing to the other side of the world licking your wounds… but at the end of the day whether it comes from a mother, a friend or a lover, to be touched by the pure warmth and innocence that is love is the greatest gift of all…

so yeh.. have your dramas.

yeh have your tears… but somewhere, amidst the flurry and whirlwind of life.. catch your breath sometimes and take another look… even in our darkest hour there may still be a light.

hey crew..

thanks for the support and encouragement as i waged my battle against the evil powers of beaurocracy…

tonight i am delighted, thrilled, pleased, overjoyed and down right happy to report… WE WON!!!!!!!!

i dont know if it was the persistent daily phone calls…

the sheer anger and wrath of a cranky laurie or the damn emotive email i wrote wherein i pointed out that they were in fact discriminating against me…. but WE WON!!!!

alberta government today officially withdrew my exemptions and admitted i am a qualified level 3 teacher!!! (as rightly they should have!!!)

WWWOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

so to michael, who gave me evil eyes for my empassioned anger this last week and the people who scoffed at my persistence i say.. bblllaaaah!!!! i may not be the most patient person or tolerant or accepting…but damned if i’ll give up the fight when i know i am right!!!!

thanks again folks…

mega hugs from a seriously happy laurie.

hey gang!!!!

hope you all survived halloween…what an experience to do it in a country where they go all out!!!! the parade with our 80 odd kids in full kit down the streets was an absolute riot…. not to mention spending the evening in the pub dressed as broom hilda!!!! (i highly recommend it…)

but alas, my blog today serves as a battle ground..

a venting post for the anger that has erupted within…

an outcry for the discrimination that has been thrust upon me…all because i got my degree in Australia…

a battle waged between little old me…

and the almighty evil baurocratic giant that is: the alberta government….

so my gripe today begins, some months ago when miracles occured and i landed a job in a daycare in the gorgeous beautiful town of banff…

if i’d thought it was too good to be true that i could work within my field and still be in this stunning location… i probably should have believed myself!!!

so on employment, i learnt that pay by the govt is significantly effected by your certified level…and being a teacher i should be certified at top level therefore making my pay acceptable in terms of what i have come to expect… (and ultimately funding the next big dream: south america)

hence the process began…my poor mother sent around the world to gather and certify all my varying bits of univeristy papers…send them over here and entrust them to the government…

all the while just cruising by on the base level wage that i have come to learn is normal in this country while i waited for the big green light…

until..

last week….the kick to the head…

as with all government departments it has only taken about 2 months and now…they have the affrontery to say

” we recognise you are a teacher and therefore qualified at the highest level, and as such your centre is welcome to use you and advertise you as such…BUT seeing as you didnt do an english course as part of your univeristy degree we refuse to pay you…. here, take base pay and be happy”

yes folks… i am getting paid diddly squat because apparently I CAN”T SPEAK ENGLISH!!!!!! what an outrage, what a travesty! what a bloody kick to the head!!!

believe me, yours truly is mighty fired up on this one..

4 years of schooling, a lifetime of being a nerd, day in day out of being “happy” and “patient” regardless of what walls may be falling down around me in my real world and the alberta government have the nerve to offer me butt scratchers pay while still acknowleging that i probably do deserve more… like aaaaaaggggghhhhh!!!!!

at this point, one asks oneself…why put myself thru the torture, when i could go get that butt scratchers pay working on the ski fields… doind butt scratchers work….and get the benefit of a ski pass taboot!!!

worse still, without this pay,. there goes the dream of south america…rapidly being sucked down the gurgling drain of financial reality!!!!

so folks..theres my gripe… from one angry discriminated against ENGLISH speaking teacher taking on the battle against the beaurocratic jungle….

and what have i learnt????

governments are the same all over the world…

sigh…

from one disgruntled laurie…

well folks… like all good backpacker adventures.. it has come to that time in the journey when the budget has to be seriously scrutinized and decisions made as to when the next big adventure can REALLY take place and just how long one has to subject oneself to the arduous world of WORK!! (EEEKKK!!!!)

and sadly… despite its infinte visual splendours… banff is also home to the overpriced world and the enticing promise of skiing appears to have lured any spare funds straight from my account…and thus it looks that here i sit for the winter…

the snow starting to swirl around outside brings with it both joy, fascination and anticipation, and now sadly also the taste of staying put… and having to actually “settle” into the daily grind in the now seemingly unsurmountable quest to pursue guinea pig pies and llama steaks in the last great fronteir on the laurie world map….south america…

but fear not..all is not lost in this world of budgetting and ceasing of all things social… for banff, despite it’s five star status, this weekend has most certainly delivered…and the backpacker gods have shone on me in the light of a RUMMAGE SALE!!!!

what better way to stretch this weeks funds than to spend fruitless hours rummaging through the musty dusty donated goods of the local church!!! and some treasures were there to be had…

so despite the disgruntled realisation that south america looks to be more than another world away right now.. i have this weekend proudly prepared for the impending winter with:

$2 ski pants

3 $3 fleeces (hoodies)

and most importantly…..

a hand made astro turf broken legged christmas reindeer for the amazing price of $1!!!!!!

may the gods of good fortune spread their goodwill on you…wherever in the world this finds you.

always and ever.

l

beautiful majestic mt rundle

beautiful majestic mt rundle

i figure it has been a while and as the ebb and flow of days weaves its way across this page in the chapter of laurie i find myself reflective of those that walk into and sadly quite often walk out of my life…

thank you all for the impressions you leave. for the words you write on this book of my being. i am but a product of the experiences that bind me…and my friends… you are those experiences.

life in the great land of canuck is somewhat routine this week.. makes not for interesting blogging, but just wanted to say hey to you all and send some mammoth cuddles into the air….

oh…and tell everyone i had a deer in my backyard today!!!! how darn cool is that!!!!

may peace surround you and happiness prevail wherever in the world this reaches you.

hugs always.

)

said deer 🙂

l

a quick note… in memorium….

for the beautiful deer which sadly met ill fate on saturday night…

we did not see it, nor mean any harm to it… but as we wrestle with the evil greedy corporations of the insurance kingdoms and live with baited breath to here back from the car hire company as to our own fate i feel i must pay homage to the beautiful creature…which is now permanently etched on our front bonnet.

another curve ball in the adventure of life.

safe travels to all.

hugs

l

well crew…. “fall” is in full swing here… and the leaves are slowly but surely turning their leaves a dazzling vibrant gold and cascading to the streets below…. and despite 2 amazing weeks of sunshine, the temperatures are starting to drop and most days seem to start at about fridge degrees and rise to mildly above jumper and scarf weather…. the tops of the mountains that stand guard around our little town have an icing sugar sprinkling more days than not… and the buzz of the ski season is looming as the shops jam their windows with displays, and skiiers and snowboarders press their noses to the glass beholding the rainbow of colours and possibility of new adventure each window promises….

it’s now been over a week and a half since i said farewell to my makeshift home at the hostel and lugged all my gear to squirrel st… it seems longer. this is home now. the clothes are hung, the cupboards stocked (well, as much as can be on a budget) and stakes claimed on favourite armchairs…

and work is a regular pattern… my part time job, a happy escape to earn money rather than have it absorbed into the weekly blackhole of retail therapy… while at school, i know all the kids by name now, and the routine is starting to hold that ease of familiarity…

so as it would happen, it was that routine that saw me march this kids across town in the brilliant early october sunlight and watch in awe as imagination takes them on the wildest adventures only a playground can inspire…

i wrestled with the usual battle of kids not wishing to leave at “time up” and the consequential clash of the titans as teacher force meets child ingenious… i sang as we marched back towards school, reflecting the possibilities available to wear them out for a successful nap time…when it happened.

as quick as that… a normal day made extraordinary… a reminder that even though life is taking on the familiar sounds, smells and sights of routine that i am here, in a far foreign world….

“there is a grizzly bear in the street opposite the centre… you’ll have to walk the long way back”

as plain and as simple and as calm as that.

trailed by the director, to ensure us some form of protection…we marched our snack sized morsels past impending peril and back to the daycare….

back to perils of its own…as an outbreak of the dreaded norwalk virus has officially been declared and staff and children drop like flies to the dreaded bug (formally known to michael and myself as the “vomitron 2000”) back to a washroom with empty jars for stool samples for the unlucky few inflicted… back to chaotic nap times where none but the teachers wish for sleep…

and back to the knowledge that the bear remains, quite content, up a tree just a few streets away… hang on…that tree is on my street!!!!! back to the reality that i will be walking (this time without tasty treats) past said bear on my jaunt home….

yep…as life merges this adventure into my day to day reality…a bear up the street simply becomes… just another day at the office.

may your life be the adventure you crave.

hugs.

l

looking down from sulphur mountain onto banff

looking down from sulphur mountain onto banff

the colours of autumn

the colours of autumn

if your eyesight is good.. you'll see the black blob in the tree is a bear!!!!

if your eyesight is good.. you

the backyard

the backyard

all signs lead to home

all signs lead to home

better than a dorm room!

better than a dorm room!