Looking back

Exactly a year ago today I was boarding a plane on the start of my adventure out west.

I had graduated college a few weeks ago and I had just come back from my graduation trip to New York. When I got back I had a day to wash my clothes and finish packing my things to fly out to Calgary.

Early in the morning my family got up and drove me to the airport. It was scary for me. I had never flown anywhere by myself before. I had never lived some place other than my family home or residence while I was in school and even then I was living with friends.

So this was all new to me…and it was thrilling and exciting all at the same time. I couldn’t wait to see the mountains and begin my own life on my own, but it was hard to say goodbye to my family.

I had all my of clothes packed in a humongous suitcase and I had my backpack with my camera and equipment as my carry on. When I landed in Calgary it was all new territory to me, so I was nervous. Once I grabbed my bags and I caught my bus to Banff.

The drive there was amazing. We went from Calgary, being surrounded by houses and buildings, to outside of Calgary, with wide-open fields and acres for cows and horses to graze on, to Banff…. being surrounded by mountains. Literally the roads curved around and up and down the mountains…I remember looking out my window and my jaw just dropping from the sheer magnificence of the mountains…

When we finally came into the cute little town of Banff, I started freaking out a little more…now I had to find the house I was to be living in. When I got off the bus I think the driver knew I was fairly lost and he asked me where I was trying to go. When I told him the address, he called me a cab and loaded my heavy suitcase for me.

When I got to house I was given a quick tour and told my room was upstairs. After that I had the joy of dragging my overweight suitcase up the two flights of stairs to my room. That night I wandered around the town trying to orient myself, but I just ended up getting lost. (You’d be surprised at how quickly you can get turned around in a small town).

The next day I had training for my new job…I was a photographer at Warner Stables…I was the cowgirl telling you to smile, as you rode by on your horse! The job itself might not sound all that exciting to you, but to me it was amazing! I was outside all day, surrounded by horses, amazing people from all over the world, and I was photographing all day long! I loved it!

While working there I met amazing people. People from back home (from Toronto or surrounding areas), people from New Zealand and Australia, a couple of Brits, and the local people as well (the one’s who were born and raised in Alberta). While I was there I met Robyn. Robyn I decided was a lot like me…we liked order, knew how to tell if someone was acting fake, weren’t a huge fan of drama, loved photography and loved the outdoors. We were so in tune with each other we were even finishing off each other’s sentences. Gotta be honest, at first it was kinda creepy, but you got used to it eventually. We quickly became best friends and spent our time off together. We’d go for froyo at Skoki’s after work or go on hikes, we even road tripped to Jasper together. She showed me the cool little places in Calgary like the cupcake shop called Crave and Peter’s Drive-In, which has the best milkshakes! We became best friends!

While I was in out west I lived life to the fullest! I saw the Northern Lights for the first time. I hiked up to Grassi Lakes. I watched the sunset at Lake Minniwanka, sat on the dock and watched the stars come out. I hiked up to Johnston Canyon, both during the daytime and at night. Canoed in Vermillion Lakes. Hiked up to Takakkaw Falls….like almost right underneath the falls! Watched the sunrise from the top of Tunnel Mountain. Went for a horseback ride along the Bow River and up Windy Knoll. I even went to the Calgary Stampede for the first time!

My last adventure was to go camping in Jasper for three days. That was amazing! Took one of the most scenic drives in all of Canada; the Icefeilds Parkway from Banff to Jasper. We wound up and down and around the mountains, drove by the ice fields, and saw a bear get within a few feet of our car. We camped out in a tent, feasted on marshmallows and chocolate and photographed everything! We saw a ton of lakes, waterfalls, and mountains! Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Sunwapta Falls, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, Pyramid Lake, Athabasca Falls, and Tangle Falls to name a few!

That camping trip was one week before I flew back home. I stayed out west for 5 months. Almost half a year. Crazy how much can happen and change in that amount of time. I met some amazing people, did some amazing things and crossed some things off my bucket list. I had an amazing time and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

One of the major things on my bucket list is to travel to each and every province and territory in Canada. I want to see this great country we live in, from coast to coast. I want to see what makes each province and territory unique; the smells, the sights, the sounds and the flavours. I want to see all of Canada!

I miss the mountains. I miss the people. I miss the adventures. As I think about my future I wonder when I’ll go back out west. I’d love to go back tomorrow to be honest. If it weren’t for certain things holding me here I’d move out to Calgary permanently. Maybe I’ll just have to find my piece of paradise somewhere here in Ontario!

It’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that!” Than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.”   ~Unknown

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