Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coast to Coast

There is much more to the West coast than Lake Louise and mountains and I wouldn't be me if I hadn't of explored all of it. In the two and a half years I spent on the West coast, I covered a lot of ground. By bus, by car, by bike and even by foot with my thumb in the air, I was able to experience most of what the West coast had to offer.

The West Edmonton Mall took a toll on my bank account but put a smile on my face and many more hangers in my closet. There they had everything; wave pools, swimming pools, roller coasters, sharks, flamingos, casinos, you name it, this mall had it. One trip to this mall in over two years was certainly not enough and became a trip that I took with the girls roughly every four months.

The Calgary Stampede was another experience all on its own, an absolute adventure each year I went to it and definitely something I would recommend everyone experiencing once in their life time. I'm not a cowboy fan nor do I even really enjoy country music, but even the hardest rapper and punk rocker could learn to have a good time at the Stampede. Crowds of rowdy people, bull riding shows, concerts, party tents and live music on the streets made the annual event very enjoyable.

Without a doubt the best part of the West Coast is British Columbia. A place that easily became one of my favourite places in the world and to this day is a place I could live forever and be more than happy. The endless road trips to Pemberton for four day music festivals, zip trekking from peak to peak mountain tops and overcrowded van rides to Whistler to mountain bike in the summer and snowboard in the winter are some of my fondest memories. The feeling of standing on the edge of a mountain with nothing but a mountain bike beneath me or a snowboard strapped to my feet is indescribable.

The time I spent on the West coast helped me grown into who I wanted to become. It challenged my mind, my endurance and my ability to save money in order to afford taking advantage of the amazing opportunities it had to offer. I say I could have stayed in BC and lived happily and that is the truth; I decided that first I would explore more of the world and the cultures that made up the experiences I will never ever forget. Stay tuned to follow me on an unbelievable adventure.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I fell in love with the West Coast

Lake Louise had so much to offer. It was a small village community where everybody knew each other and also knew everything there was to know about each other. There I worked as a waitress in the Tom Wilson Steakhouse and could not have asked for a better job. From my managers to my work hours right down to my uniform, there was absolutely nothing to complain about. I worked six hours a day serving people from all over the world and meeting new faces and left with $250-$400 in my pocket each night. My rent for a 2 bedroom, fully furnished apartment was $160 A MONTH and the $3 and $4 lunch and dinners in the hotel made grocery shopping cheap.

In the summer time I spent my days hiking mountains, rock climbing, mountain biking or simply floating down the river in my raft soaking up the sun with my friends along side me. Some days I would take off and relax in the natural hot springs that flowed along side the mountains or spend the day enjoying a cocktail on a patio in Banff. I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy the days and begin work at 5 p.m., not everybody had that luxury.

My winter days were just as eventful. Snowboarding, snowboarding and more snowboarding. The most exciting part of the day was waking up at 7 a.m., looking outside to see more snow had fallen and racing to parking lot ready to head to the hill.

The Lake Louise Ski Hill was only a 5 minute drive from my house which made the jam packed car rides with far too many people and snowboards packed in them, not seem so bad. Being on top of a mountain at 8 a.m. with 10 to 15 of my friends all strapped to our snowboards, shredding through waste deep powder is a feeling that words can't even describe. I used to snowboard all day, head home for work and wake up the next morning to do it all over again.

Winter excursions were a regular occurrence in Lake Louise. Whether we were climbing the hiking trails with our snowboards attached to our backs and riding down the mountains that shouldn't be ridden down, or playing pick up hockey on the frozen over lake or building igloos and sleeping in them on three day camping trips in minus 25 degree weather, there was never a dull moment in Lake Louise.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ontario to Lake Louise, AB

The West coast was always somewhere I imagined myself living. The relaxed lifestyle, the impeccable mountains and the beautiful blue lakes and rivers always had me convinced I would fit in just fine there.

I had been told by a friend that the Fairmont was a great company to work for so I applied to three different ones on the West coast. Four days after I applied online I received a call from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Lake Louise, Alberta. In no time at all I was completing a phone interview to work in their brand new up beat and urban steakhouse and was well on my way to living an eventful summer in paradise. 12 days later I was sitting in the massive gymnasium at Brock University writing the last exam I would write as a student there and all I could think about was the plane I had to catch in six hours to take me to Lake Louise. I got the job and was actually about to move across the country.

Many of my friends couldn't believe I was just going to pick up and leave everyone and everything I knew in Ontario to move across the country by myself in only 12 days but for me, that was half the fun. Not knowing where I was going to end up or who I was going to meet was one of the most exciting things for me. Some asked was I nervous? Others asked, was I scared? and the answer is no, I wasn't. I was excited beyond belief to finally do what I had always promised and get out and see the world.
For those of you who have never heard of Lake Louise before, it is located 40 minutes West of Banff, directly in the centre of the Rocky Mountains.

The village was small, very small. The air was free of pollution, the trees were so green and the mountains were so massive. It was a 4 kilometre accent up a winding road through the mountains to get to the Chateau, a road that was every runners heaven and for those who didn't like to exercise, an absolute nightmare. When I reached the top of the mountain there stood the Chateau. This enormous structure was set in the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. With the turquoise lake circling in behind the hotel and set behind that, a snow covered glacier glistening in the sun, I knew I had arrived in my paradise.

My life in Lake Louise began at that moment and at that moment I knew I had made the best decision I could have ever made by moving there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It began with a simple vacation

When you think back to when you were young, how many of you can remember your first vacation?

For me, a trip to Florida when I was four years old was the start of what has become some incredible travel experiences. Aside from the regular family vacations and spring break party trips to Cuba and Mexico with my friends, I was looking to experience more of what the world had to offer. Growing up I remember hearing so many adults say they wished they had traveled before they settled down. I always promised myself that I would get out and see the world "before it was too late," before I lost my youth, had got married and had children that is.

After high school I was convinced I knew what I wanted to do with my life but at 18 years old, how sure was I really! I accepted an offer into the Psychology program at Brock University and was set on becoming a Youth Worker for young offenders. Like most things seem to in life these days, my four years at University flew by. For many people finishing University is nothing but exciting and for others it is terrifying to think the days of being a student are over and the world of responsibilities awaits them. For me, I wasn't overly excited and I certainly wasn't terrified, I simply realized finishing University meant I had nothing holding me back and it was my time to get out into the world.

As I relive my travel experiences and what ultimately has brought me to where I am today, I invite you to look within yourself and find the traveller in you. I am sure some of you can relate to the experiences I'll mention and if nothing else for those of you who can't, I hope you can live vicariously through them.