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Wanderlust cured’s Travel Diary

Friday, 29 May 2009

Location: Cross Zee Ranch, Canada

MapJust when I thought life couldnt get any better...

I threw off the work clothes, got out of the office chair and traded in a comfortable paycheck for one of my dream jobs. All it took was some cowboy boots, a few fancy western shirts and a cowboy hat and I felt good to go. Without expectations I arrived to work my first day on Cross Zee (+Z) Ranch, excited, nervous but overall glad that I chose to live rather than be suppressed in a job for the security of the paycheck and subconcious feelings that that was the way that life was supposed to be lived.
The smile could not be wiped off my face all day as the sun shone and the tempreture hovered at a warm 20 degrees. The other guide who will be sharing the guiding position with me was being trained at the same time and we were shown the routine of bringing in the horses, feeding, saddling and letting out the cats and dogs out of the barn. We were briefed on what the tourists needed to know when riding a horse for the first time, we were taken on Rangers Ridge which was a trail taking us up high and showing some amazing veiws of the Rockies - and that was all before lunch! The afternoon bought a ride through Bone Gully through a gorgeous gully, moss growing up either side, spruce, lodge pole pines and firs spreading their leaves across the sky above. The other guide and I went on this ride alone and with brief directions before we left, we took the sharp right, up a steep embankment, under some low trees, again found a gorgeous view and managed to find a steep decent back to the Ranch.
This job is not just about riding and as I have always believed; hard work is always worth it and there is an abundance of it on the ranch. Chores for the first day included moving poles, raking rocks out of the lawn after a winter of ploughing the driveway, feeding for the night, scraping up manure, fixing fences and riding the quad motorbike for many different reasons. Having had my dose of Vitamin D I left work that day feeling satisfied, sore, tired and ready to get back into it the next day.
My friends were waiting to collect me after work to ride the G8 trail, we got out at the carpark, loaded up the bikes, got 5 minutes into the ride, bush just starting to thicken, tasting the beginning of the trail when a runner came down and said 'there is a Grizzly and her cub about 750 metres up the trail'. Ride over. We rode the 5 minutes back, wishing it werent so, but I was also humbled that in Canada, as humans, we are not the top predator as we are in so many other places, we ruin habitat, damage biodiversity, but we cannot match up to a mama bear and her little baby. We settled for a ride around the Larch Islands on the other side of town, had a wonderful bbq and a hot tub and it was an early night for me to rest up for another big day ahead.
On the second day of work we learnt the 2 hour trail through the Fuzzy Forest - something special for the summer as a green, fern like plant speads two feet up, right across the forest floor, and ive heard its a sight to behold - I cant wait! Alot more hard work that day and with the sun beating down I was so pooped by the end of the day I think it was a 9pm bed time for me.
Today was my third day and although the horses came in for their normal rountine, there were no saddles in place and although I missed going on a ride, my butt did not and probably needed some reparation time. It was a lawn mowing, compost moving, barn cleaning kind of a day and again as the sun belted down my shorts a little shy of my knees I now have nice crispy red knees. I sunscreened my face and arms...but who puts sunscreen on their knees? I do from now on :)
The ride home had me dreaming of cold showers, a big glass full of fresh cold water and icecream just to make it up that big hill in the searing 26 degree afternoon, damn gravity pulling me downwards when I need to go uphill.

A few things that I have thought about over the past few days:

- not only do the toilets flush backwards here, but the bumblebee's colours are also backwards to that in Tasmania, I was fascinated watching the big guy buzz around me for awhile when eating my lunch today.

- Im definately a farm girl. I already thought it, but this job confirms it. The dogs and cats follow me around while I am working, they accompany me while I eat lunch to make sure I dont drop any crumbs, I finish the day feeling fulfilled, satisfied and stuffed and its all totally worth it.

- Why start controlled burns in the Mountains on 26 degree sunny and slightly windy day when of course it is going to turn into uncontrolled burn and end in Canmore being covered in smoke ALL afternoon.

- its now 10pm at night and its still light outside, how does anyone sleep here in summer. I think about my trip to alaska and the constant summer sunlight, hopefully my roadtrip wagon has dark shades.

Whats to come:
I have a first aid course all weekend to make sure that if a horsey plays up and one of my tourists fall off that I can mend whatever it is that is broken, or at least evaluate if we need to call 911 or not. I have 4 days of work next week, a bike ride with a big group to try to conquer the G8 - minus the Grizzlies, and then my first 3 day weekend..did I mentiont that my working days are 3 days one week, 4 days the next?? Does that make the job all that much sweeter? Long weekends and extended long weekends EVERY week! I plan on getting my car very soon and start exploring, hiking and camping around Canada while the summer sticks around and I have 4 days between work in which to get out. I have also volunteered to work at an upcoming barn dance to help raise money for the SPCA (same as our RSPCA) and am looking forward to barndancing my way into the early hours of the morning.

Check out the link for the photos of my work...plenty more to be added over the next few months.

This quote was on the tv just as I was typing this blog: "Theres so much more to life than the next paycheck" - (Departures: Canadian travel show). I am living proof.

R.J out and loving life.