Since I was alone for Christmas this year I decided to sneak away to Lake Louise. Lake Louise is my definition of heaven on earth. It really doesn’t matter what season you visit, it’s nothing short of majestic. There perks to visiting in winter include an ability to walk/skate on the frozen lake, and, this beautiful ice castle that they build as the entrance to the lake each year.
The fact that I was there on Christmas meant that there were a lot less people there than on any other normal day. There were (at most) 50 people there. Normally you’d see 500-1,000 people, if not more. Regardless, we’re Canadian, so even with only 50 people around, there was a hockey game taking place on the lake. Thankfully everyone was wearing masks. They were pretty strict about it, actually. If they saw anyone without a mask, they’d give them a mask and stand and wait for them to put it on their face.
Every February at Lake Louise they host something called the ‘Ice Magic Festival’ where they have sculptures come in from around the world and they carve the most beautifully intricate sculptures all around, and on, the lake. They also construct an ice bar to serve drinks and do horse-drawn carriage rides around the lake. It usually draws quite a crowd though (hundreds of thousands of people over the two week period) so I’m not sure if they’ll do it with COVID being as bad as it is in Alberta right now. I guess we’ll see.
Even alone it was still pretty swell. Lake Louise is always magical. I say that a lot about the place, but it really does earn the title.
To anyone who reads this blog, or might read this post, have you ever been to Lake Louise? Have you ever heard of it? Is it on your list of places to see? I highly recommend, in any season. Also, if you read this, how was your Christmas? Magical and safe, I hope.
A lot has happened this year. But, since most of it isn’t really worthy of recollecting, I’ve picked an event from each month as a memory of a year that I’ll be happy to say goodbye to.
In January I sent a lawyer after my former employer for wrongful termination and, in him working his magic, I was able to get four times the amount that was initially offered in severance. January also marked my mom’s third surgery in less than a 30 days. January was also the month I started this blog. Its inception was with purpose to give me a place to vent about the stress I was going through.
In February I went to the Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise, fulfilling a dream that I’ve had for more than ten years. It might have just been the coldest day of the year, but nothing (ABSOLUTELY NOTHING) was going to keep me from that lake.
In March I got extremely sick. I went to the hospital multiple times, spent most of the month on different forms of antibiotics and sleeping. It was a long, very cold, very dark month. Knight looked after me and listened to my cry the whole time. This man would get up and out of his pjamas to go to the store in the middle of the night and get me a smoothie, because I wanted one.
In April I went to the Cancer Clinic with my mom, five days a week for many weeks. I watched as she got her treatments, cleaned up after her when she got sick and threw up, made her feel better when she was feeling depressed. I saw the people around her, each with different forms of cancer, each in varying stages of the disease, many with smiles on their face because they were thankful for the life-saving treatments they were receiving. Cancer is an extremely scary illness that affects so many people in our world and I am so thankful that my mom’s was caught early enough that she is now happy and healthy.
To everyone affected by cancer this year, I see you, I feel you and I understand you. Whether you went through it yourself, or you helped a family member or friend through it, you’re amazing. Remember that.
In May I went to Niagara Falls/Toronto. It was a quick trip, jam packed with ensuring I hit all the tourist spots and, all the local spots that were recommended to me before I went. I stayed in a room that had the most stunning view of the falls, took a few turns on the Skywheel, walked the falls at night to see the light show… it was a magical weekend for me. May also marked the birth of my niece, Aya.
In June I got a job offer around the end of the month. It was a digital marketing job, working in publishing. The employer hit me with a lot of paperwork – asking me to sign away my intellectual property rights and several other things. After some amendments were made to the contracts, I signed them and was given a start date of July 15th.
In July my job offer was rescinded. On July 13th, to be exact, precisely two days prior to when I was supposed to start. I was mad, pissed, unhappy and felt like I’d been cheated. The only explanation I got was ‘corporate restructuring’. Wowee. July also marked the birth of my nephew Phillip.
In August I went to Calgary to see an allergist and have a breathing assessment test done. I reckon being trapped in a 2×2 box on a hot summer’s day with no air, being forced to showcase who well, or poorly, your lungs are functioning feels quite similar to what summer in Arizona feels like. IT WAS HOTTTTTTTT.
In September I took a few solo road trips through British Columbia. The Gold Rush Trail was stunning and the Highway Thru-Hell was filled with A LOT of road construction. My mom, finally being healthy enough to travel, went with my dad to Denmark to visit their new granddaughter, so I had a month filled with peace and quiet and was reminded how much I appreciated living alone for ten years. I also saw my best friend, her beautiful family and spent a short amount of time in Vancouver. Twas a good month for me. Even if I was still jobless.
In October I worked the Federal Election. It was long, arduous and awful. The supervisors were idiots and the other clerks were extremely rude. But hey, we won. And, much like I predicted in October, Andrew Scheer did lose and has since resigned his post. I’m extremely glad we don’t have a pathological liar in charge of our country.
In November I turned 31. I had a bit of an existential crisis, lost my marbles for a wee bit and god, my birthday, the actual day itself, is not something I want to remember.
In December I made a commitment to purchasing gifts from Thrift Stores for my family. The way we do things in my family is, because there are so many of us, each of us gets one sibling or parent to purchase a gift for. That gift we’re supposed to spend between $75-100 on. After that, we usually gift each other small, minor things that we think would bring smiles to each other’s face. IE My brother Tyler really loves Starburst candy, so my brother Aaron bought him a bunch of Starbust for Christmas. Me, I spent the month searching thrift stores, and wound up purchasing some new, or almost new gifts for each member of my family for between $5-10 each.
2019, I won’t miss you. You’ve been a long, shitty, disappointing, difficult, heartbreaking, gut-wrenchingly awful year. To the good that did happen, I am grateful and I will always remember it. To the rest, it will serve as a reminder of things I never want to experience ever, ever again. This has been, without a doubt, the hardest year of my life. This has been the most difficult of all 30 years and two months I’ve spent on this planet.
I have resolutions. I plan to, hope to, desire to stick to them. Most of all, though, I hope that 2020 is whole lot fucking better than 2019 was.
Growing up in Canada you kind of, sort of, might start to believe that what you see all around you is what everyone gets to see. That everywhere is as beautiful as you have it and that the sights you’ve come to call home are sights that others get to call home as well. It’s a naive way of thinking, but some would say we’re pretty sheltered up here anyways.
I started travelling when I got to University and it was at that point that I realized that not everyone gets to see what I see.
And don’t get me wrong, every place has a beauty about it in its own way, but I happen to be a little bit biased in my belief that Canada is ‘next-level’ on the spectrum of beautiful places in this world.
Some of these photos were taken by me, some of them I’ve found online. About two years ago my house was broken into – stolen was all of my electronics including a laptop that contained pictures of all of my travels – so if a photo was taken by me then it’s been in the past two years that I’ve been. And if it’s credited to someone else, I wanted to show the beauty but no longer have my photos. Insert sad face for stolen computer.
Here are a few places I’ve been that I think everyone needs to see:
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Picture the most beautiful, pristine lake that you could possibly imagine, surround it by escalating mountains covered in snow, fields of green and one of the most expensive hotels in Canada to stay at, and that is the luxury that is Lake Louise.
Visit in the winter for walking, skating, skiing or snowshoeing on the lake itself. In late January each year they host the ‘Ice Magic Festival’ where artists create incredible sculptures of ice that stay until they melt.
Visit in the spring, summer or fall for some of the most turquoise blue waters you’ll ever see. There’s a trail around the lake for you to walk, if you so feel the desire for exercise, and if you’re really an outdoorsy person, you can hike up some trails on those mountains at the far side of the lake for some pretty exceptional views.
Any way that you look at it, Lake Louise is a must see.
I actually grew up in Vancouver, so this one has a strong bias for me. This multicultural maven of a city is just as beautiful as it looks. Situated almost perfectly between the Coast Mountains and Pacific Ocean, it really doesn’t matter which way you look in this city you will see a beautiful view.
If you prefer the city life you can wander down city streets staring up at skyscrapers from every angle, drinking some of the best coffee in the world and shopping in stores to suit any budget. There’s a cafe on every corner, a ‘sorry eh’ at every passing and not enough time in a day to see the multifaceted face that makes up its downtown.
And if you much prefer a nature, Vancouver is filled with parks and natural landscapes that allow you to get out and roam, ride a bike, go to the beach, hike a mountain, walk through the forest… all in the same day. I recommend the Grouse Grind. But, there’s much to do in this city, and I strongly recommend you try it all.
In Northern British Columbia, about an hour’s drive from Prince George, you will find the entrance to the ‘Ancient Forest’. This several kilometer hike is through the largest Ancient Inland Rainforest in the world. Trees are much like those you would see in the Redwoods National forest in that they’re more massive than you could possible dream up, and they’ve likely been there for thousands upon thousands of years. The densely packed plant-life shelters you from weather (the trees are so thick you cannot feel rain) and the beauty is unimaginable.
OLD TOWN, QUEBEC CITY
If you want a true feel for French-Canadian culture, Quebec City is the place to find it. With a mixture of old-world charm, quaint city streets lined with history and the smells of amazing food pouring out of the shops and restaurants surrounding you, Quebec City feels a lot like a European destination in Canada.
While you’re here, try the poutine, it’s better than anything else on earth.
NORTH OF 60 (YUKON, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, NUNAVUT)
As someone who’s been lucky enough to visit the Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut territories, I’m leaving this one open and saying they’re all worth the time if you’ve got it. Honestly, north of the 60th parallel is a whole different world in Canada. In the summer the sun doesn’t set and in the winter the sun barely rises. It’s a way of life the locals are accustomed too and the tourists are fascinated with when they witness it.
For no other reason, I recommend the trip for the Northern Lights. Watching Aurora Borealis dance across the midnight sky is unlike any other experience you will ever have. You can rent some snowmobiles and take them out into the middle of nowhere (for fun) and for better views of the lights by night, or, in summer, you can go golfing at midnight.
I wish more people would make it farther north. It’s expensive, don’t get me wrong. But it’s well worth the experience if you ask me.
PRINCESS ROYAL ISLAND – THE GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST
No, that’s not a polar bear you’re looking at. That’s the elusive kermode ‘Spirit Bear’ who calls the rainforests of British Columbia’s coastline home. Princess Royal Island as a unique little fishing destination nestled in the coastline islands of British Columbia.
Fun fact: Twelve of the 17 crew of U.S. Air Force 44-92075 were found alive here in 1950, during the first lost nuclear/Broken Arrow episode of the Cold War.
The Island is a protected zone by the World Wildlife Fund for having one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Animals you’ll find in these forests: black bears, grizzly bears, deer, wolves and foxes, and nesting populations of golden eagles, bald eagles, and the endangered marbled murrelet.
If you ever want to feel at one with nature, it’s a difficult place to get to, but once you’re there, it’s worth every second.
HOPEWELL ROCKS – BAY OF FUNDY
You might have seen these rocks before in photos for weddings or engagements, or just plain instagram swoonworthy photographer shots. People largely flock to these rocks out of fascination, but stay for the peace, serenity and beauty that is the area when they get there.
A few years back I got to go to the Bay of Fundy for a work project and I’ve got to say, the way the tide rolls in and swallows up the beach, making those rocks look like they pop out of the ocean is pretty cool to see. Thinking back on it, I wish I could take a camera and take a time lapse of the tide rolling in. Something tells me it would make an incredibly satisfying video. Nevertheless, I am rambling.
If you’re ever on the East Coast, check out Hopewell rocks. Take some beautiful photos and take some lunch. As a girl who grew up next to the pacific can tell you, there’s a certain peace to the Atlantic Ocean air that will make your whole day melt away.
FOGO ISLAND, NEWFOUNDLAND
When I think of Fogo Island, I am most sad that I no longer have my old computer with all of my photos on it. (Important interruption: print your photos, boys and girls. Or, at the very least, save them to an external hard drive) Fogo Island is my definition of peace. You go there to escape the world, and when you’re there, you really do. It’s just you, some Newfies you can hardly understand because they talk so fast, and the ocean.
If you’re ever wanting a dream get away for inner peace and calm, Fogo Island is the place to go. I would love to wander those rocks again. To just take some time for me.
When you grow up in Canada, one of the things you hear about every year is the Ice Magic Festival of Lake Louise. That and also that Niagara Falls is a must see in your lifetime. For me, though I’d lived within driving distance of Lake Louise for almost my entire life, I’d never actually been to the festival.
I love Lake Louise, and try to visit several times a year, but I’d never managed to make it in late January/early February when the Ice Magic Festival is taking place.
Fast forward to 2019 and the year that I’m making things happen. Knight and I decided to take the weekend to see the Festival. It was supposed to be bitterly cold, but I convinced him to come anyways, knowing that the colder it was, the less tourists there would be out.
We began at a little bakery in Lake Louise called Laggan’s Mountain Bakery. This place had a line up that was almost out the door. The Baked Goods were delectable. As someone who eats strictly gluten free (Celiac Disease) finding gluten-free baked goods in a tiny little town in the mountains was quite a score. I ended up picking up a few, eating one then and saving the rest for home.
To the lake we went.
Despite my best hopes, there were still quite a few tourists out to bare the blistery -31 degree weather. I guess they, like me, decided it was still worth it, no matter how cold.
It had snowed quite a bit since the sculptures were made, but I still made my way around the lake to try and make out what each of the sculptures were. Some of them were difficult to tell due to the sun being behind the mountains and the snow having fallen. Even still, it really amazes the talent people have to create such intricate statues and sculptures out of ice.
Though it was tempting, we decided to not stop at the Ice Bar and opted to wander into the hotel to shop and warm up. There’s so much history in the Fairmont Lake Louise, wandering the halls just makes you feel as though it could be filled with ghosts of guests past.
There’s a gorgeous restaurant inside the hotel that overlooks the lake, the festival and the mountains in the background. It might be a little too rich for my blood, though. So, after checking out the sights of inside, we made our way back out to the lake. My desire was to walk far enough onto the lake that I could get a photo without anyone in the background.
Saying that you’re walking out to the middle of the lake is a weird thing to speak. But when you get there the view is so, so, so very much worthwhile.
About a third of the lake was plowed from what I could see. A portion was arranged for public skating (I wish I had brought my skates) a portion was arranged for playing hockey (it is as picture perfect as the photos showcase) and a portion was arranged for cross country skiing. Basically, it’s an outdoor lover’s dream.
To me, Lake Louise is the prettiest place on earth. It really is. Of all the places that I’ve ever been, my heart always comes back to Lake Louise and those incredible mountains shadowing over the picturesque lake, the forests, the animals, the majestic world that is the Rocky Mountains.
It was a perfect day… a picture perfect day wandering the festival, eating incredible food, watching the tourists in awe of how much snow there was.
There’s something I used to tell my friends a lot, that still stands true to this day. If ever I lose my way, that’s where you’ll find me – the tiny little town in the mountains. The place where everything’s good and everyone knows everyone. To me, that will always be Lake Louise.
2019 has been kicking my ass. That’s become a phrase that I’m using a lot this year. At 1.5 months into this year, I’m wondering where the time went while also wondering why everything is going so slowly.
This just in – I am still unemployed. And it’s not for lack of trying. I even had a professional writer take a look at my resume to tell me what was wrong with it. It’s good. Trust me, it’s good. Somehow though, that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that I have ten years experience, a degree, or anything that’s listed on my resume. I am just another one of the bunch. And since the bunch is plentiful, here I am… serving as the token unemployed millennial. Such a stereotype. Such I am.
In other news, my mother’s chemotherapy has been delayed. The poor woman seems to be allergic to just about everything, so, I guess the doctor’s are hesitant to completely destroy her immune system until they know that she’s not going to adversely react to the medications she’s required to take through the process. Knowing that this process is being prolonged is affecting my anxiety in copious amounts. It’s hard enough to have to watch your mom go through something like this, but it’s getting harder knowing that it’s so much more complicated than we originally thought it would be.
I’m still homeless. It’s been difficult. Though I’ve lasted 12 days at this point so I am pretty proud of myself for that. I find myself missing simple things… like being able to open the cupboard and see exactly what I want to eat in there… or being able to leave the dishes in the sink and wash them later. Or just sitting down on my own couch. Things are just things, I am aware of this. I am now realizing though just how much comfort some of these things can bring… especially when you might just be in a frail state yourself (and not wanting to admit to it).
I have a CT-Scan booked for Saturday. I was quite amazed that I actually got it booked so quickly. Hopefully though, they’ll be able to see what’s really going on inside of my head and provide me some relief to this constant pressure in my face. The doctor thinks it’s internal damage from a broken nose, but needs a CT-Scan to see the extent of the damage. I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about in my life already…
To take a moment and talk about the bonuses – Knight and I travelled to Lake Louise to see the Ice Magic Festival this past weekend. It was magical, and everything I’d ever wanted it to be. I’ve had dreams of seeing it since I was a kid, so being able to be there and see it up close and personal was a pretty big check off my bucket-list.
Here’s to trying to see the positives through all the mess.