Sunday, November 7, 2010

Travel Bug is Back!

So, I have really been missing this blogging spot for me to write all about my travels as it appears as though not much has been happening lately... My head has been buried in the sand of reality and it completely and utterly sucks.

But now, I am already looking forward to my Thailand holiday which is half booked! We have our flights ready to go and we're flying with Air Asia to KL and then on some dodgy little Asian airline to go to Koh Samui. It's a propellor jet plane so I am a little scared but I am sure it will all be fine. Like I've told Dylan, as long as if the plane is going to crash it can do it on the way back so at least we've had one last relaxing holiday.

We've booked our 3 and a half day PADI Dive Course and are pumped to be getting accredited on Koh Tao which is one of the best places in the world to dive. And it's also ridiculously cheap. We are spending $400 each to get our certification and 4 nights of accommodation. Pretty cruisy!

Koh Samui is proving to be a little more expensive than Dylan remembers and this is one place we haven't booked yet so if you have any recommendations on places to stay, it'd be great to hear from you!

Til January...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Heading into Unmarked Territory!

Okay so perhaps not unmarked territory but definitely into a place which is a sore spot amoung Canadians - we went to the USA! Yep, we hit up MONTANA!

Dylan has Wednesday's off thanks to having his hours cut due to "the recession" so we decided to do a day trip to Montana seeing as though it is only a few hours away.

We get a car for the day - this time one which doesn't have a punctured tire - and set off bright and early to make our way across the Canadian border and into the U
.S of A! We get to the border, flash our passports, get fingerprinted (American security measures suck) and then wait for half an hour while they check our passports and finally stamp them so we can get through to Montana.

Immediately, there is a different feel in the air. The praries look different.. the sun hits us in a unusual light, we feel... Americanized. I feel like shouting "Hey Ya'll" out the car window and Dylan may or may not have felt like screaming "yeehaw" which unfortunately he forgot to do - ah well, next time!

Our first stop is of course a bathroom stop and food! We wanted American grub and we wanted it now! Stopping off in some hick town with loads of Natives we manage to find a bathroom for me and a diner which served cheeseburgers (NO substitutes) which consisted of two slabs of greasy meat and something that resembled cheese but wasn't quite the cheese we're used to and a side of fries... greasy but it sure hit the spot.

We keep driving to Glacier National Park and one word... WOW! We went to St Mary's and saw this absolutely stunning lake for which the picture does not do justice...

We drive around and are impressed by the beauty that is Montana when Dylan says... "I think we should stay the night." I agreed so we went in search of a place to stay... we drove to these dodgy looking campground/cabin site which had an old guy standing around - it looked like a scene from a horror movie. Woods. Old guy. Axe... okay maybe I made up the axe part but it looked kind of scary so I said a hell no to that place. We drove around a little more and found a place just before the entrance to Glacier National Park which was.... doable... and decided to go grab some dinner before going back to the hotel... went to an awesome restaurant where I ordered the pulled pork BBQ burger, which is basically pork which has been pulled apart and marinated in BBQ sauce - yummy - and the owner of the restaurant told us about these cute little log cabins and was so friendly we couldn't resist when he told us to go and check the cabins out... so off we go... back to the same place where the axe murder lived.. and it turns out the log cabins were gorgeous AND they were the same price as the 'doable' hotel! So we grabbed the lucky last cabin (luck seems to follow the both of us) and settled in for the night.

We wake up bright and not-so-early the next morning. Dylan is feeling less stressed after having lied to work that his buddies car broke down in Edmonton and we set off for the day... only to discover our $25 seven day Glacier National Park pass has gone M.I.A! Oh no! We go down anyway, bypassing my need for breakfast and juice (again, never listen to Dylan!) and go straight to the park where we get let in for free because the same lady as yesterday was working... but we couldn't get out! And there are no drinks or food in the park because of BEARS! So, we leave the park and get food and juice and explore other areas...

Now, you have to know the entire time we were driving through the park I was looking for bears and kept yelling at Dylan to SLOW DOWN because we might miss a bear if you drive too fast! So, at this point I'd stopped actively looking for bears... and Dylan stops the car. Says "Oh. My. Gosh." - I look up and see a HUGE grizzly bear crossing the road with four baby cubs trailing behind! It was the most amazing thing ever but it happened so quick we didn't have a chance to grab our cameras but in our hearts and burned into our memories will be the USA Grizzlies!

We also saw a real live moose the day before and driving home we saw a coyote so I've now seen quite a few Canadian animals so I was pretty stoked.

Since we lost our park pass, we decided that we'd drive out of Glacier and back through the Canadian border - which they didn't even check our car for booze so we could have brought back tons dammit - bought a soda on Canadian soil and found $50 which the cashier promptly said in her old lady voice "Oh I'll return that to its owner" and which Dylan quickly said, after glancing in his wallet "Oh, actually that's mine" and $50 made its way into our pockets. Sweet.

In typical Simone and Dylan style we had some random adventures. Driving down the highway we come across two little dogs - a small black one and a small white one... come to think of it, Michael Jackson was playing on the radio too... and I made Dylan pull over so we could rescue the cute little rascals because I was scared they'd otherwise get run over. The white one was quite happy to be caught and came easily. The black dog, not so much. We chased it - on foot and by car. Gave up after it ran through a field to a house - so we deliver the white dog there too and hope for the best.

On the way to visit Dylan's best buddy in Fernie, we drove through what used to be a town but is now called Frank's Slide - the wall of the mountain collapsed and buried the whole town and now the mountain face looks like a slide! Pretty amazing and so sad. 

Made it to Fernie and had some pretty amazing curry at a curry house in Fernie and did not tip the stupid Aussie server because she was too lazy and refused to walk upstairs to bring us our bill. No tip from me and Dylan copped a pretty nasty look when I went to the bathroom. Do your job woman and we'll tip you next time. 

As I drove back from Fernie, Dylan told me to watch out for deer as dusk is prime deer time and ... "riding along in my automobile", Dylan grabbed my shoulder and shouted "stop" - and thank gosh because a deer bounded right in front of the car and I definitely tested out the car breaks only to discover they work quite well! Phew. No, we didn't hit the deer and we ended up eating a vegetarian meal for dinner that night, damn. I was a little shaky but was okay to drive home!

Pretty amazing trip - two Canadian provinces and the USA all in 2 days! We are thinking of heading back to Montana to do some camping but we'll see how we go for time. Should be amazing if we do though, there are some gorgeous spots to camp! 

That's all for now folks... Be prepared for another update next week after our camping trip in Jasper! 

Dinosaurs in Drumheller

This is going back a few weekends but I figure I ought to update as I've actually been doing some fun stuff lately thanks to meeting fellow Aussie Dylan and his cheap as car rentals...

A few weekends ago we were meant to go camping but due to shitty weather we decided to stay in town... however, we still had a car. We decided to go to a place just out of Calgary called Drumheller. Dylan calls a buddy of his to see how to get to this place... and... after driving 100km MORE than we needed to on the highway (because Dylan kept telling me we hadn't passed the place his friend told him to turn at yet even though on the map I could see we were a zillion miles away from where we were supposed to be...) we head back the way we came...

Finally on the right track and we stop in this town so I can use the bathroom... and we discover one of our back tires is flat... so, we try to find gas in this tiny little hick town on the praries... Reckon any service station has frickin' air? Of course not... We buy magic foam to put that in the tire to get us through but then Dylan decides to change the tire.

I go back and get a refund for the magic foam... Dylan decides he can't be bothered changing the tire... He re-buys the magic foam (I refused because I just got the money back, haha).... So tire is magic foamed, it has been hours since we set off on our adventure, a small detour of 200km later and we're back on our way... only to discover the tire was flat again, which is when we discovered it had a puncture! Oh great! All good, it's not that bad *yet* so we keep driving until we finally reach Drumheller.
Anyways, to sum up Drumheller, apparently was home to the dinosaur many, many moons ago - hence all the cheap and tacky touristy dinosaur figures that litter the streets. It is also home to the World's Largest Dinosaur which you can also climb up the 106 stairs to the top of and stand in the dinosaurs mouth...
After surviving our wacky tourist attack, we decided we were in need of a beer before setting off on a Dinosaur Trail... a 48km round trip of the surrounding area of Drumheller to see the valley... kind of a cool bar so I've chucked in a photo too.
Anyway, with our punctured tire, we set off on the road again and attempted to drive this somewhat spectacular Dinosaur Trail, only to discover that we had gotten lost and had ended up on the wrong highway hence why we did not see much of the spectacular drive that Canada's Lonely Planet guide book was raving about... so, defeated we start the drive back to Drumheller city centre (and on the way see the actual sign for the Dinosaur Trail which we missed about 30kms back) and decided instead to go in search of this saloon which Dylan was adamant he wanted to go to... seriously, if this man can learn anything from me it definitely must be listen to my bloody directions because you are going the wrong way!

Yes, again we managed to get side-tracked and ended up passing the sign to the saloon (after following directions from a dodgy servo dude (that's cashier at a service station to all you non-abbreviating non-Aussies out there) who told us to go over the 11 bridges of Wayne... so we drive... and drive... and pass some Hoodoos which are kind of cool - and see an old coal mine... before turning back and getting on the road which I told Dylan before was probably the road we needed to have taken... however, I pretend I'm annoyed but in reality if we hadn't gotten side-tracked then we would never have seen the old coal mine or the Hoodoos so the detour was actually interesting!

Hoodoos - Sounds kind of creepy but basically what they are is mushroom shaped rocks which are formed by the layers of soft rock which are protected by sheets of hard rock on top. The softer rock erodes pretty quickly but the hard layer of rock on top protects the stone underneath it from eroding so quickly so the layers without harder rock on top erode, leaving the hard rock as a barrier which means these mushroom shaped Hoodoos are formed. Hopefully you get what I'm saying with that but you can check out the Drumheller website for more info if you so desire!
So cutting this post short, we pump up the tire yet again 'cause we're still too lazy to change it and manage to witness a pretty decent sunset at Horseshoe Canyon and head home to call it a night!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Trek Through the Banff Wilderness

My weekend was spent camping out in Banff National Park. My buddy, Dylan, chose our camping ground which was at a place called Two Jack Lake. I stipulated that showers and toilets were a must, even though I could have gone without them I decided I didn't want to. 

Our campground was amazing. We had the lake right beside us and it was just full of lush, green trees. I talk a lot but I have to say, seeing this lake I was absolutely breathless. The photos are gorgeous but still don't do it the justice it deserves. 

We set up our tent, well, actually Dylan tried setting up the tent and I wandered off to find a washroom and came back 10 minutes later to find him still struggling with the tent... so, I check it out and have the tent set up in about 30 seconds flat.


Dylan was a little peeved that I managed to figure out the tent so fast and he kept asking if I was really sure the tent was supposed to be set up the way I had set it up - mind you, his way of setting up the tent kind of involved stretching the tent into odd shapes which were really obviously wrong and my way was pretty simple. I was pleased with myself ;) 

We ended up doing that trail, Johnston Canyon, which I was excited about doing last time I went to Banff but Kylie whinged about breaking her ankle over.... It was really pretty. We walked along and saw these gushing waterfalls and we could go into this tiny cave which led directly in front of the waterfall and we could feel the spray of the water. It was nice but so cold! 

We were then going to drive up to Lake Louise to take a photo cos the ice had since melted on the lake but decided to go to Banff and get our supplies - which pretty much consisted sausages, ingredients for s'mores and booze. 

It was a good thing we continued to drive because we saw more elk (we'd already seen them earlier in the day and I may or may not have turned into a rambling mess of excitement that couldn't sit still). At one stage, we saw our second herd of elk when driving past in our vehicle. They were on the opposite side of the road, so pulled over (probably not in the safest way, I was too excited).. jumped out of the car and slowly ran over to take a photo... I promptly got scared after I asked Dylan if it was safe and he advised me not to get too close to the elk... so, I ran back to the car, jumped in, reversed, changed direction and took photos of the elk out of the car window - we had to keep accelerating because the elk kept walking and munching on leaves so we had follow them so I could get the perfect shot! 

We also saw big horned sheep

and a chipmunk (on our walk of Johnston Canyon) so I was feeling pretty excited about all the wilderness at this stage! 

As we kept driving we ended up upon this trail. I like to drive, randomly, and I find that these are the times you find really cool things... which we did. We jumped out of the car and saw this trail - Upper Bankhead it was called. It was getting late but we still had a fair bit of time before it got dark so Dylan and I started this trail. It was 4.2kms each way so we knew we weren't going to do the entire thing but figured we'd check it out and if it was nice we'd go back the following day. It was more like a real trail, meaning it wasn't paved like Johnston Canyon, which was more what we were after. So, we walked up a bit and Dylan freaked me out by telling me that we were probably within 500m of a bear.. so, of course, after that I kept "hearing" bears. As we kept walking on the trail, it got narrower and the trees began to close in a little more and we heard a coyote... which promptly freaked me out even more and we decided (okay, I decided) it was time to go back... well, it was starting to get darker and Dylan also told me that this was the time when bears were feeding - awesome! I wanted to see a bear, not get eaten by one! 

We were just about out of the trail and could pretty much see the parking lot from where we were standing... and all of a sudden we heard the trees rustle (Dylan later told me he thought it was a bear) and out pops this white tailed deer... it runs right in front of us and leaps over a fallen tree branch which must have been over 2 meters high and bounds off into the forest. It was amazing. Again, I was speechless. I looked over at Dylan and asked him in absolute awe "did you see that?" and he was also a little speechless and said "yep"... It was the most amazing thing on our trip. The photo below shows me standing in front of the spot where the deer bounded over... 

Because it happened so fast there was no way we could have gotten a photo. So, we headed back to our campsite, we walked around the lake and discovered that the lake water was literally crystal clear and we brought plastic cups along our walk and we drank the lake water... it was some of the best water I've had. So clear and fresh. We even saw fish jumping out of the lake and could hear their plop as they landed back in the water.

Headed back to the campfire, stuck our sausages on a metal skewer we bought from Safeway and then after cooking and splitting one open, we realised the Canadian fire pits are pretty awesome and have a little side thing for actually BBQing things so we quickly put the other sausages on to BBQ instead of holding them on these dodgy little skewers, burning our fingers. We cooked up some s'mores (Dylan was impressed, he'd never had them before) and drank our vodka with sourpuss and apple juice (my creation, which he was also impressed with). 

(Dylan set the timer on the camera and the flash went off as I had a big 
gob of sausage in my mouth! Attractive!)

On Sunday morning, I woke up with massive cramps and was in so much pain I cried... so we had to cut our trip short and ended up getting home at 9am which I was so sad about because there was so much else to do out there but we agreed to go camping this weekend and we were going to go back to the same place but then Dylan suggested we go to Fernie, B.C which to me, sounds amazing. There are SO many camping spots out there that it makes me not want to go back home because they are all just so amazing. Next time I am hoping to see a bear and a moose (hopefully from the safe confines of our car rather than on a trail) but I am pretty pumped. Dylan actually said I am lucky with spotting wildlife, he said he'd never seen as many animals as he had out with me - even in Calgary, we spotted baby squirrels yesterday and baby Canadian Geese so a bear we shall definitely see! Love camping and had a blast on our trip even if it was short lived.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moose and Baby Geese and Bears... Oh My!

Working 12 hour shifts are never much fun and I have vowed that I never want to do this again, however, on a positive - my Canadian credit card has been paid off!

I have 7 weeks remaining in Calgary and am planning to make the most of it (as best I can with limited funds) and this weekend I am heading up to the mountains to do some camping. I stipulated that in order to go camping, there must be toilet and shower facilities around as I do not feel like starting my first (and quite possibly last) Canadian camping experience smelling like a feral.

Our plans so far include Johnston Canyon which last time I was in Banff I missed out on due to cries of 'oh but it's too icy' and 'oh but if I go I might break an ankle' - right, next time don't come to Banff if you just want to sit in the car and complain the entire time. The Rockies are home to many of the most beautiful hikes in the world and I plan on enjoying them whilst I am here!

We also are going to attempt 'a little bit of paddling' - aka - canoeing! This I have not done in a very long time so I am a little concerned I may end up drenched in icy cold water and I have images of my friend whipping out the camera and him laughing hysterically whilst I am floundering around the bottom of some lake being attacked by underwater grizzly bears.
Funnily enough, I was reading up on the Banff National Park website and there are quite a few mentions of bears and how to protect yourself against them by:
  • not leaving food around your campsite;
  • traveling in groups of 4+ on certain hikes that are in bear territory;
  • carrying bear spray.
I am excited to see a bear and am going to demand my National Park entrance fee back if I do not see a bear (and also a moose, and perhaps an elk) whilst camping. That being said, if a bear comes to the edge of my tent and pokes its snout in, I may just well have a heart attack and keel over so I guess I should be careful of what I wish for. 

Nevertheless, I am beyond excited for this upcoming weekend and should post a few pics up when I get back as I've been a little slack
 in doing that for this site seeing as all my photos are posted on the social site known to all as Facebook!

Oh and one random other thing I feel like sharing 
- a few days ago I went for a walk along the Bow River and 
it was beautiful and sunny.. actually, I rollerbladed... and saw some baby geese. They were so cute and fluffy but of course, no camera, so I am going to go back tonight and hope some of these little baby geese are till there! Super cute! 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fail Blog

There is this hilarious website which Steph, a girl I work with, introduced me to - here are some hilarious pictures which are on the website and for more laughs you can check out Fail Blog for more laughs.

see more Fail Blog

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

There are loads more hilarious ones on the site but I don't want to post too many of them here. This is what I do at work when I don't have much work to do. $15 an hour to do this. Pretty sweet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gripe & Moan

To all those out there who actually read this thing - an update at long last.

To sum up everything in Calgary - not a whole bunch has been going on. I went to Banff with my room mate and another couple of friends for a weekend which proceeded to be the biggest let-down because they complained about it being too icy and cold to do any form of hike which was pretty much the entire point of why I wanted to go - so wasted my money there even though Banff and Lake Louise itself are quite beautiful. I will try to go back before I come home...

...Yes! Home. July I will be gracing the good earth of Australia with my presence. Would like to stay in Canada longer, however, figure money kind of might be more useful than living in a country that makes it hard for me to teach, thus, not enabling me to earn good coin.

Got told a few home truths recently which were not much fun so even more 'personal growth' to work on which I am pretty sure money and a car would definitely help solve (money would help the lack of being able to do fun things ANYWHERE and car would help because it is a convenience).

Feeling pretty damn grumpy working 12 hour days - 7 days a week, which my friends do NOT understand at all as per shown by sending me texts asking if I want to hang out and getting pissy when I keep saying 'no, I am freaking tired I want to go home and chill out in my apartment which is couchless and pretty much TV-less' - but that is a whole differnet story and let's save one bout of grumpiness for another posting at least.

So, pretty much my whole existance at the moment is geared towards feeling sorry for myself working so much, being a grumpy bitch who is really going to miss Canada but is really looking forward to going back home cos of friends, car, job and money.

Only another 4 more hours of work-induced boredom before I get to go home to sleep before Groundhog Day starts ALL over again.

You wonder why I've not blogged in a while - well may this post remind you of why!