Canada Travel Diary: Day 5– 04/04/15

“WAIT!”

“STOP!”

“COME BACK!”

The dust kicks up as I sprint frantically through the light brown smog. I scream at the top of my lungs trying to get their attention, waving my arms like a crazed madman. My heart is pumping and my lungs clench under the cold midday air. My throat feels raspy; it hurts. My legs soon tire, and I stand alone, teary-eyed and exhausted. The sound of the engine soon dissipates as it rounds a bend, leaving a falling cloud of dust in its wake.

My last cry for help “Don’t leave me……”

My throat catches, and I feel the cool shiver of sorrow bubble inside.” Don’t cry you idiot, that’s not going to help things. ”

But the truth is I’m scared.

Very scared.

I didn’t come on this trip to be a lone survivor in desolate plains of the Canadian wilderness.

Clutching tightly onto my camera, a million terrible scenarios run through mind. I try to think clearly, of the next course of action when an emergency happens. It’s a difficult thing to do when you’re on the brink of letting your emotions take hold, and turn you into a small ball of a teary mess.

Great, my water’s in my bag…which is now hurtling away in the opposite direction. Talk about icing on the cake.

I start walking. I’ve just been stranded in a Canadian wood, populated by bears, wolves and mountain lions. Never mind what I said in my last post about bear attacks being rare, my mind is nowhere near at ease.

What happens if one attacks?

And eats me?

All the evidence is hidden…..apart from my camera, my shoes and probably some smelly socks!

It’s the middle of the day and the sun is still high in the sky. Luckily, the human eating mammals should be sleeping. SHOULD.

I glance around nervously as I walk; I am a lone female with no survival skills what’s so ever. I don’t even know how to light a fire, let alone make one.

Fact is, sometimes people lost in the wilderness never make it out.

What are you supposed to do? Stop and calm down. Your gut reaction is to panic and when fear or panic rules your mind, it only works against you. The thing is, if people know you’re out in the wilderness and missing, eventually someone will come looking. By moving around you make it harder for the rescue party.

So what did I do? Carry on walking.

I look down at my dirty boots as I scrape their thick rubber bottom against the dry sandy road. Suddenly the silence is broken, and no it is not me whaling like a lost infant. It’s them!

Two grinning faces appear behind the dashboard of the jeep. At this point I don’t even care if it was a joke; I’m just so relieved they’re here!  I am welcomed with the sound of laughter as I clamber into the backseat. I am not impressed at this point, but the over whelming joy of not having to spend the night in the woods allows me to join in with the laughter.

That was a close one…

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One of my favourites

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‘Portero’

 

Canada Travel Diary: Day 3 – 02/04/15

It’s been a hell of a long day, I’m exhausted and it’s only 2 pm. The weather was on my side once again thankfully and this morning was spent at Calgary Zoo.

I suppose one of the upsides to not having a car is walking to the places and being able to stop easily along the way. The walk to the zoo was great once I got away from the main road as it led me along the river.  The river water amazes me; it’s a dazzling aqua blue and crystal clear. It’s magnificent.

One of the benefits I’ve found by travelling solo is I can do what I want and when I want. I can leave the house whenever I want and not have to wait for other people to get ready. Plus, whilst at the zoo, I found I can move around the enclosures in my own time, as I like to read the signs and spend time watching the animals, as usually others don’t like to read and tend to move on as soon as they have caught a glimpse of the animal.

Now that I’d spent the majority of the morning at the zoo and I must say my favourite part was the Canadian Wilds section which is great as they have information on the various habitats, what lives there, and a display of the animals found in the various regions. It really led you on a journey and it was great to see the Canadian Wildlife (even if it was in enclosures).

I did also fall for the photogenic Gorilla in the African section as he/she really posed for the camera, much to the delight of a school class watching. It’s amazing how alike humans they are though one did eat off the floor!

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Photogenic Gorilla

Some brave House Sparrows approached me at lunch and tried to steal parts of my food. Much to their dismay, they were unsuccessful, until I emptied my crumbs.

***

I set out on the one of the bikes from the shed at the B&B and followed the Elbow River Pathway, hoping to make it to Weaselhead Natural Area, an hour’s bike ride away apparently.

This bike felt strange; when turning it moved too quick and felt kind of loose, but it was the only one in the shed my size. At least, the seat was comfy! I’ll go slowly I thought to myself, that way if I fall, it won’t be too bad.

This is so relaxing by the river apart from going up those dreaded hills.  I got distracted by woodpeckers, squirrels and rabbits along the route. I’d been going for quite awhile and had to take many detours away from the river due to erosion and work on the riverbank.

Passing big rich houses like the ones you see in the movies, I drooled, they are lush. I really want to take a peek inside one.

Uh oh….the path ahead is closed and it’s pointing up a very big twisty hill. I am not biking up that. I managed to get a quarter of the way before hopping off and walking to the top. Taking a seat to catch my breath, I look at the view. Wow. Directly below is the blue river, twisting and turning. Behind that, an array of posh houses and mansions, with tall dark conifers and brown land stretching into the distance, until the mountains fill the horizon. What a view.

I carry on biking and stop at a map. I’m half way and I’ve been over an hour. I’m never going to make it in time and it’s starting to get dark. I carry on for a bit and it starts to snow. Great, I’ve come out in a thick fleece and fingerless gloves. I sigh and turn around; I guess I should head back.

Jeez! My legs are killing; it’s a good job I turned around. I ploughed on through the light snow and about 20 minutes from the B&B the snow suddenly got heavier, thicker and more pellet-like. It’s a blizzard.

I’m trembling, frozen and my legs are burning; I want to give up.

I push on, against the wind. My face hurts and can’t feel my fingers. I feel like I’m going to hurl.

I will my legs to bike faster.

Success! I finally reach the B&B. Frozen I fumble around and put the bike away and rush inside for a cup of tea and a nice warm bath.

Note to self: Always take an extra layer, whatever the weather.

Canada – Day 2: 01/04/15

I slept like a log.

Normally in new surroundings I find it difficult to sleep, but not this time. It was 7.30AM; an hour before my alarm.

I arrived at the B&B the day before. After struggling to find a taxi due to my booked taxi not showing, I finally made it. To top it off when arriving at the B&B nobody answered the door for 20 minutes. Great, it’s a scam I thought. Now what do I do?

I crawled out of bed and peeked through the blinds. The sky was tinted pink like candyfloss, the light reflecting off the city buildings “wow…..” I breathe.

I’d been told to help myself at breakfast and make myself feel at home. I showered and crept down the stairs. I feel slightly awkward just helping myself. I do it anyway, no one else is around.

It takes me a while to find the cutlery; I’d truly gone through all the draws now.

It was a lovely, warm day with clear blue skies.

I keep looking the wrong way when crossing the roads. People must be able to tell I’m not from here, which must be what the strange looks are for. The walk into the city was straight forward and relaxing with a slight breeze ruffling through my hair.

I used the weather to my advantage, and went up the Calgary Tower, the third tallest building in Calgary and much like the Empire State building in New York.

I’m glad I did. What a site! You can see for miles.

The views are spectacular! I gasped as I walked around, soaking in each direction I look out of. I can see the snow covered mountains in the distance. It’s beautiful.

It’s strange; everything looks flat up here and looks to be no hills. It’s so brown here; where’s the green trees and grass?

I wander back over to the glass bottom and look down. Whoa it’s a long way down. I feel myself start to sway and grab the bar. I must have pulled a face, as a Canadian lady turned and said “Yes, that is the building swaying in the wind”.

“Well that’s reassuring to know, I wasn’t sure why I was swaying” I replied.

Gosh I love the Canadian accent.

I left the tower and with my feet safely back on the ground I went to explore downtown.

First impressions? It’s posh. Everyone is dressed up in posh suits, dresses and heels. I looked very out of place in my jeans, outdoor coat and canvas shoes. Wandering around I searched for a shop to buy a sandwich.

I feel worn out, my feet are killing. I should have broken my shoes in before coming. I head back in the direction of the B&B. I see a model horse outside a shop, oh my gosh! There are cowboy hats in there. I’m quite excited by the model horse. Turns out you can have your picture taken with and by the cowboy hats. I really want one. I step inside gingerly and am immediately greeted by an elderly cowboy.

He certainly looks the part.

Cowboy: “Hello, how are you today?”

Me: “I’m good thanks, how are you” 

Cowboy: “Good, where are you from?”

Me: “The United Kingdom”

Cowboy: “Ooohhhh say hello for the Queen for me when you’re back won’t you”

I chuckled. Why do people assume you know the Queen as soon as they know you’re British?

Cowboy: “I have one person in here last week who I said the same thing too and turns out they work for Prince Charles, small world isn’t it?”

“Sure is” I reply.

I wander off and look at the hats, they are so cool! Yikes, rather expensive though. I wander over to the clothes rack, where there a sale section. Bonus, I make a beeline for it.

29 Canadian dollars and a top later, I leave the store and walk back to the B&B to relax before heading out to the thing I’d been dreading – Eating out alone.

Lucky for me I picked a small local restaurant with hardly anything there. I slid into a booth, ordered, ate and left in a breeze. Not that bad I thought to myself, walking back in the snow and bitter wind.

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