Location: Washington DC, USA
After my two flights to get to Washington with the briefest look inside La Guardia airport I arrived into Washington DC and made my way to meet Kellie (a friend from NIDA) at the Kennedy Centre where she works. After coming from the slightly cold weather of Toronto I was definitely not prepared for the heat that was Washington DC. Luckily for my singlet tops I survived the weather here for the five days I was there. After getting a tour of the Opera Theatre at the Kennedy centre I spend the next few days visiting the National Mall, wandering through the different Smithsonian Institutions, hanging out with Kellie and seeing all the monuments in day and in night time. I opted out of paying for a sightseeing bus trip at night to look at the monuments thinking I could just walk it and save the money. Three hours later I was tired and exhausted and it was still hot at 10.30 at night!
At the same time I was in Washington Bangarra Dance Theatre were there, performing at the Kennedy Centre, as part of their international tour this year so I went on opening night to see them. It was an amazing show and was strange seeing them perform in Washington DC as I had never even seen them perform in Australia before.
I managed to fit in a look at the exterior of the White House along with the exterior of the Capitol Building, where most of the gardens were fenced off due to the preparations for the inauguration of the new president. After getting used to the heat in Washington I jumped on a train for my 4 hour trip up to New York City where the aim was Broadway shows, as well as see a few other sights I guess. I arrived on a Friday afternoon and spent the train trip working out which shows to go and see. When I got to New York I saw the massive line for the TKTS (half-priced ticket) booth in Times Square and couldn't believe how long a wait it was. So with a 40% discount voucher already printed off I went straight up to the box office for the musical "13" and paid for my ticket in the fourth row centre. this musical only opened at the beginning of October and features an ensemble of 13 actors all of whom are aged between 13 - 15 years of age. There was a band onstage as well with none of the musicians being older than 18. An amazingly talented cast and band who had phenomenal voices on them. As I was staying in a hotel 10 blocks from Times Square for the first two nights I managed to see 5 shows on the weekend as well as doing the Behind the Emerald Curtain Tour of Wicked. For the week I was there I saw 7 shows in total of which I shall tell you about next time!
Location: Edmonton, Toronto, Canada
So I arrived in Edmonton and was met at the train station by Lori Simons who is an ex-Rotarian from Fort McLeod. I spent the next few days catching up with her and meeting some of her relatives who were in town as well. The first day I played Laser Tag where you put on a vest with detectors on it and a laser gun and you are put into a maze in the dark and have to find other people and shoot them. Was a very interesting experience especially when little people are coming up to you and enjoying shooting you! Then I wandered through the Edmonton Corn Maze, that's right a gigantic maze made out of a cornfield!
After this I spent the rest of my time in Edmonton just hanging out and not really doing all that much, I bought some clothes and saw the parliament buildings.
I then flew over to Toronto to visit with Steph Ripley and her fiancé John. Whilst here it just happened to coincide with Canadian Thanksgiving day, which neither Steph or I realised until about three days before I was due to get there. I spent the first few days just wandering around Toronto. John worked at a tour bus company so he got me a ticket for the double decker tour bus around Toronto, which was a great way to see most of the sights. I stopped off in the Distillery district (not in use as a distillery anymore) and had a look around Soulpepper Theatre Company where Steph works as an Assistant Technical Director. There are four spaces build into one of the buildings and can be used in any configuration. I also managed to fit in two shows. Dirty Dancing and Jersey Boys. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and it was good to finally see Jersey Boys seeing as I have been listening to its soundtrack for over a year.
After three days of wandering around Toronto and seeing shows it was time to dedicate all of Sunday to Thanksgiving. Now for those who know parts of it Thanksgiving normally involves lot's of turkey, catching up with friends and family and eating way too much food. Oh there is pumpkin pie involved. Considering this celebration consists of two of my favourite foods turkey and pumpkin pie I was all set!
This year however John and Steph decided it would be time to try Turducken. So Turducken consists of a de-boned turkey, which has been stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself has been stuffed with a de-boned Cornish hen! Pretty much a lot of birds stuffed into teach other. It was phenomenal! We had garlic-mashed potatoes, green beans, roasted root vegetables, homemade stuffing and real gravy to go with it. I was extremely full after eating it but somehow managed to fit in two slices of pumpkin pie! After feeling really full for a fair few hours I got up the next day and caught a flight to Washington DC via NY.
Location: Fort Macleod, Canada
For those who know my travel itinerary you may notice that I am actually two weeks behind on writing on this site. I am actually currently in Washington, DC. I arrived here yesterday but I am going to update this to bring you up to my current activities.
So after spending two days in Dinosaur country we made our way to Fort Macleod, a small Southern Alberta town of approx 3000 people. In 2000 I was hosted by the Rotary club of Fort Macleod as an exchange student and lived with 6 different families over the period of a year. It has been 8 years since I have was there so it was time to catch up with everyone and hang out.
My parents and I stayed with my first host family the Kleissens for the week and spent time travelling around the southern part of Alberta.
First stop was Frank Slide which is where in 1812 a section of Turtle Mountain came crashing down and buried part of the mining town of Frank. It is quite eerie to see with the rocks on either side of the highway running through it. A walk through historic Main Street Fort Macleod is a must for anyone travelling there but you can see it in the upcoming Canadian film Passchendaele.
Another day trip out to see Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump a UNESCO World Heritage site where the native people of North America killed buffalo in mass by chasing them over a precipice and then carved up the carcasses below. This place is great to visit to learn about the history of the North American native people and their culture.
Wednesday consisted of attending the Fort Macleod Rotary meeting with all my host families invited as guests and then wandering around the replica of the NWMP Fort to learn more about the history of the start of Fort Macleod.
My host parents, AKA Granny and Grandpa Eden played tour guides for my parents and I for a day to Waterton Lakes National Park, the Canadian section of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Here we travelled for a short walk around Red Rock Canyon, Cameron Falls, Cameron Lake and the Prince of Wales Hotel.
This week also gave me a chance to catch up with most of my host families and introduce my parents to them, which I can only describe as an amazing experience. It was my two worlds somewhat coming together for a week. I cannot express how much my Canadian family and friends mean to me.
After a week of hanging out in a small Southern Alberta town, it was time to bid farewell, for the time being to everyone and drop my parents off at Calgary airport for their flight back to Australia and for me to continue on my adventures solo. After dropping mum and dad at the airport I went and stayed the night with my friend Christine in Calgary. The next day as I was leaving her house I managed to get locked into an internal stairwell with no cell phone and no keys. After a small adventure which included raiding a persons basement suit and finding a screwdriver to undo the deadbolt on the door, I made it out alive. There as a period of time where I probably would have had to sleep in said stairwell till someone got home late that night or the next day due to not having any cell phone reception to be able to call for help!
I said farewell to the rental car and hopped on a greyhound to Edmonton where I arrived, still with my head and was met by Lori Simon, an ex Fort Macleod Rotarian who now lives in Edmonton.
Location: Banff and Surrounds, Canada
Picking up where I left off last time, we next traveled to Banff for a three night stay. The first day was a trip back up the highway to Lake Louise to view the Lake and the famous Chateau Lake Louise. Whilst there we started to walk around the side of the Lake to look back on the Chateau and noticed signs to the two teahouses in the surrounding mountains. After seeing them on Getaway mum made mention of how she would like to go but since discovering it was 5.5Km hike away from where we were she thought it would be too far. Dad and I however pushed on walking around the lake and secretly headed onto the path that pointed to the Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse encouraging mum on the way. After what seemed like ages hiking the mountain using paths where at times it got to about 500cm wide with a metal cable to hold onto on one side as the other side was straight down we arrived at the Teahouse for a cup of hot chocolate and a snack. Whilst we were up there it started to snow lightly which was nice to be able to sit in the middle of nowhere and watch it snow. On the way back to Banff that evening we stopped in at Moraine and started to climb up on the rock piles there to see if we could get to the top but it didnt work out.
The Next day was spent at Johnston Canyon which again consisted of a river, deep canyons, waterfalls, and walking a fair way. We then visited the Cave and Basin Hot Springs which are the original Sulphur Hot Springs that were discovered causing a big argument over who rightfully owned them so the government set aside the land around them as a national Park, creating the first national park in Canada. Let me put it this way this would have to win the award for the stinkiest place visited so far. The interior of the cave where the main pool of water had the strongest sulphur smell! A drive around the Banff Springs Hotel Golf Course provided us with some fantastic photos of Elk on the middle of the greens. This golf course is notorious for its wildlife hazards with Elk and Bears amongst others freely roaming around the course.
Before leaving Banff and the Canadian Rockies national parks we too the trip up the Banff Gondola. It was here that we discovered how well heights and I do not go together! I did this trip 8 Years ago when I was here last and I dont think I have gotten any better with the thought of hanging above the ground in a 4 person gondola traveling on steel cable. The view from the top was fantastic though as we had a wonderfully clear sky unlike in Vancouver. We climbed all the way to the top point there and had a 360 degree view of Banff.
Calgary was spent visiting with an exchange student my parents hosted in 2000 and meeting her parents again. A trip to the Calgary Zoo to show off all the different animals my parents may not have been able to see in the wild during their trip entailed along with the most Canadian of things to do, taking in an ice hockey game! The Calgary Flames beat the Florida Panthers 8:2 and a great night out was had by all.
In the morning after saying farewell to Kimberley we traveled to the town of Drumheller and surrounds to view another type of landscape known as the Badlands. Drumheller is home to the Royal Tyrell Museum which contains the worlds biggest collection of Dinosaur skeletons. The Badlands is where a great majority of the dinosaur bones around the world have been found. After seeing flat prairies for 100s of Kms it is weird to turn a corner on a road and discover these valleys and hills everywhere. On Sunday breakfast was had at a small community hall in East Coulee for their monthly pancake breakfast. From here it was another Tourist activity, this time the Atlas Coal Mine where you got to climb inside a wooden tipple from the coal mining days. After leaving the Badlands behind us, we headed down to the town of Fort Macleod in Southern Alberta, my home for the year 2000.
Location: Rocky Mountains - Part 1, Canada
Well it has been almost 3 weeks since I last wrote so I thought I should probably update you on my adventures.
After meeting with Mum and Dad in Vancouver we spent the day wandering around Granville Island which is where a lot of the handcrafted markets and smaller theatre companies are located. From there it was off for a further wander of Stanley Park and to see the cruise ship my parents were on travel out into the ocean for its next voyage.
So after two days in Vancouver we picked up our rental car, a huge Dodge Charger and started our 2 weeks of traveling through the Rockies and Southern Alberta. First stop was overnight in Kamloops were we had dinner with my host sister Jessica, her husband Gary and 2yo son Sylar (who was in bed by the time we arrived). It was really nice to catch up with her and everything that has happened in the last 8 years.
Next stop was two nights in Jasper the start of our Rocky Mountain adventures. After what was a very long day of driving our first glimpse was of Mt Robson the tallest peak in the Rockies and incidentally it is actually in British Columbia. After deciding that we wouldnt do the 12Km hike up the mountain this time we continued driving through to Jasper. Upon stopping on the side of the road along the route to take pictures of the river we discovered a black bear on the other side of the bank!
The first day in Jasper we headed out to Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake for a day of leisurely hiking and sightseeing. The walk around Maligne Canyon consists of 6 bridges of which we made it to the 5th one before turning around as the track became extremely muddy and you could barely walk on it. Before heading back into town we stopped off at the Hoodoos, geological structures that have been created over time. It was here that we saw an Elk down by the river bank.
The following day was spent driving down towards Banff, but before we got there we had a few stops to do on the way. First up was Mt Edith Cavall where you get to see three glaciers up close as well as a lake with icebergs thoughout it! Next stop Athabasca falls at 23m high. It is well known for the large volume of water that travels over it at all times even in the fall. The main stop for the day was the Athabasca Glacier on the Icefields Parkway, here you can catch a snow coach out onto the glacier itself for a small walk around. I didnt get to do this trip last time I was there so it was really good to be able to go out onto the glacier where the Glacial stream was following so we filled up our water bottles and drank pure glacial water.
Banff will be next but it will have to happen another time, bed is calling as it is 1.50am!
Hope everyone is well and having a good time wherever you are.
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Well I made it to Canada fine after my 27 hours of flights and transfers and spent the weekend in Calgary catching up with my friend Christine. We went to the Calgary Farmers Market on Sunday and had waffles for breakfast.
I then survived a trip on a Greyhound Bus down to Fort Macleod, the town I lived in in 2000 and arrived on Monday afternoon. The stupid cold that I had before coming to Canada was fine until then when it suddenly got alot worse the minute I got to Fort Macleod. The week of catching up with people that I had planned to do changed and I spent most of the week in bed only venturing out to go to a rotary meeting and a doctors appointment where I was given antibiotics and cold and sinus tablets.
I spent the weekend in Lethbridge with my sister Martine and had a relaxing Saturday night playing board games with some of her friends.
I am now in Vancouver where I flew in Yesterday and this morning ran into mum and dad getting back from their whilst I was having breakfast, (it helps I was having breakfast at the base of their hotel!) We spent the day at Granville Island and walking through Stanley Park. Tomorrow it is off to Capilano Suspension Bridge and potentially Grouse mountain before picking up the rental car and driving through the Rockies!
My cold is on the way out and my Canadian accent is making my mum laugh at me but apart from that all is good and I am having a perfect time.