I am on my third Winter season since moving to Canada and boy, does each one get colder. You would think that I would be used to the cold by now, but the third layer of socks I am wearing today begs to differ.
When one thinks of a Canadian Winter, I picture sliding down snow covered ski slopes, gliding across frozen lakes or speeding in a snowmobile up a mountain. Its pulling your outfit together by wearing that perfect toque and fluffy snow boots and not having a winter jacket that makes you look like a hefalump.
My Canadian winter is not like that. I always have fluff on my trousers from my snow boots that I can never get off, and while I leave the house thinking I look cute in my toque, I catch myself later with it lopsided or on backwards and look a bit of an idiot if I do say so.
I cannot ski, snowboard or ice skate, and I have never had a Smore. (I can hear the gasps already). It’s not that I haven’t tried however. I tried ice skating as soon as I moved here where it wasn’t as much gliding as it was hurtling to the ground. I have also taken a lesson in skiing but too traumatized to go back.
Having a blog title named Clumsy Lorr, are any of you surprised I was not good at these activities? Baring in mind I spend most of winter picking myself off the floor or clinging onto the sides of my car while I de-ice it.
So what do I do in Winter to keep myself occupied while most of my friends are at the ski slopes? (Me at the bottom of the slopes, at the bar) After 3 seasons I have found some things I do enjoy, that does not put my (or others) life in danger.
I love going for snowy walks, some longer than others. Plonk me anywhere in the mountains and I will sit and gaze at the view forever.
Sometimes I go and explore a frozen waterfall or two, and pretend I am Elsa from Frozen
I often take road trips with no real purpose just so I can see the white capped mountains and snow covered trees. I am blessed with having friends that will want to take a trip at a moments notice. We often choose a general direction and sit at a junction wondering if we should turn left or right, and choose wherever it pulls us. We should study a map like sensible people, but we do not.
I do not ski or snowboard. But I have snowshoed. Does that have the same cool factor? I mean have still fallen over and got stuck in the snow, but I didn’t go full speed into a tree and break my neck. Which would have happened if I continued trying to ski.
This is why I do not date in Winter. The risk of someone asking me to meet them on the slopes? Can you imagine the horror, worst date in history. At least in Summer I can pretend I’m fit enough to go on a hike.
So while I do not live the most dare devil life, I feel blessed to have been able to experience the winters that I have, something I would have never been able to do while still living in the UK. I say not living a dare devil life, but you have not seen me crossing the road on an icy day.
I have found enjoyment in the things that I do take part in, safely keeping my two feet on the ground. Except when they are up in the air from falling over.
So, if you have been reading my blog, its no news to you that I have moved to a small mountain town in The Rockies, Canada from London, England.
The nearest big town is 90 minutes away and the next city is 3 hours by road. Public transport, pffftt that’s nonexistent here. Travelling to the city for the day with a 6 hour round trip is pretty standard, while if I was too leave London for this length of time I would feel I would need to stay the night as its ‘so far’ Now I drive 90 minutes just to go to the grocery store.
Now what do we classify as a small town? Well my small town of Invermere houses around 4000 people. They consider 300 people turning up for a governmental vote a good turn out.
The traffic is one very big difference I have encountered since owning my car. In London travelling to work by car is a very big no no, if you are stuck in a jam for 10 minutes, it is considered a good journey. Here in Invermere, if there are more than 5 cars in a queue, you question where all this traffic came from! The size of the cars here are ginormous! Trucks and 4x4s are the go-to car. I am made fun of owning a ‘tiny’ Toyota Yaris Hatchback. Something back home I would consider a large car.
I am not sure if this is a small-town thing or Canadian thing; I know the Amber light back in Europe means slow down and stop. Here we all put the pedal to the floor and speed up, when it turns red, we eventually slow down.
Being in London meant that you had access to everything pretty much 24/7. Banks were even open Sundays and some until later in the evening. However, trying to do any kind of chore was hassle. Whether it was the Post Office (minimum 20-minute queue), Doctors (minimum 45-minute delay), Grocery store (bash your trolley into minimum 5 people’s ankles). I quite enjoy that living in Invermere I can go to the post office and be in and out in 5 minutes. The only time I had to wait a while was Christmas. The grocery store is never a hassle and is only ‘busy’ in the Summer Months. The self-service however is a universal nightmare in any town or city just FYI.
Everything does shut at 5pm however, which can be a pain. I mean the grocery store does stay open until 10, but you can only get groceries at the grocery store unlike the city stores. Our downtown shuts down at 5pm, and if you happen to drive through it you will not see one single person or car parked. If you do, you assume they are a tourist and lost, followed by some tumbleweed.
One thing I do relish in is the fact I have a garden. In London I would have a windowsill or if you were lucky a tiny tiny terrace with room for one plant pot. This year I have been able to grow tomatoes, egg plants, lettuce, raspberries, plus a surplus of sunflowers and other plants. It has been the year I have discovered my green thumb. Luckily for me I have a landlord that has let me take over the porch with this new discovery.
The length of time it takes for any mail to get to Invermere is a bit of joke. I pay for Amazon Prime, and it still takes at least 4 days. When I left London, I was starting to get stuff delivered the same day! I think it takes the same amount of time to mail something to the UK from Invermere as it does to the next province.
When I lived in London, I swore I would never leave, but life happens and here I am in the middle of nowhere. I love London for its amazing history, I call it the city of contrast. As there is no where else you will find a 1000-year-old building next to a brand-new skyscraper shaped like a gherkin. But living in the mountains is an experience I never knew was possible. I never realised how important they were to me until they went out of view for a few months because of the forest fires. Seeing the mountains daily is many of us ‘Valley People’ keeps us going, they keep me grounded.
The true test of how much I miss the city will be when I visit the UK in October, then we will see how fast, or slow, I will be returning to the mountains.
Everyone knows I love adventure, and living in The Rockies means I have
unlimited access to it, but working in the Hospitality and Tourism industry
means that time to explore can often be limited.
So what happens when you find out your adventure buddy has the same two days
off as you and the same adventure-seeking attitude as you? Go to Jasper of
So what do you do in Jasper exactly? which is a 6 hour journey one way from Invermere, on a budget, wanting to explore everything, but also find time to relax, in just two days?
So here is my little guide to fellow clumsy adventurers on what we did to get the most out of Jasper in two days and how I tried to keep upright.
Clumsy Moments: No trip of mine would be complete without me falling over or driving the wrong way down a street, and naturally Jasper would be no different.
Time of year: This is important, because Jasper is on the top of everyone’s list to see, so in the height of Summer it is super busy, and in winter, not a lot of the roads are open so you cant see a lot. So we went mid May, where the highway is clear and most of the sites to see are accessible. Plus the coach loads of tourists from around the world are still yet to arrive.
Accommodation: There are not many hotels in Jasper due to it being a National Park, so finding somewhere to stay is often limited and expensive. Of course you can stay in the HI Hostel, but this is normally booked up, and this time it was just cheaper to book a hotel. We stayed at Pocahontas Cabins, which was about 45km North of Jasper Town site. We had our own cabin which had a kitchen and bathroom.
Food: I purposely booked somewhere with a kitchen, so we could cook and prepare meals for our stay without spending a fortune on over priced food. We spent $100 on groceries, which fed us breakfast/lunch/dinner for two days and had food left over to take back home. There also aren’t many places to eat once you leave Jasper Town, so pack a lunch so you don’t get hungry!
Getting There: We decided to leave after work on the Tuesday to get to Jasper, however that did mean we didn’t get there until after 1am, but I’d rather do that than travel in the morning of your arrival. Extra exploring time!
First things first: Head into Jasper and the information centre. You will need to get yourself a park pass for however long you are staying there. We also grabbed a good old-fashioned map as there is no cell service in the park. There is something quite fulfilling from finding your way using a map and not using Google Maps. Just make sure you know what way north is, so you don’t go in the wrong direction, not talking from experience of course.
What to see first: I always like to get the most out of anything, so planning is a must. If you are staying for two days like us, do everything the furthest away. On the second day, do everything that is on the way out of the park. This not only makes sure you see more but also makes your journey home much more pleasant and does not feel as long
Pyramid Lake:This is one of my favourite places in Jasper, it is so stunning and beautifully romantic that you can imagine why people choose this spot to have a wedding ceremony here. There is Pyramid Island which you have to walk across an insta-worthy bridge to get too. Most people don’t explore this tiny island, but make sure you go to the far side and sit and admire the great Pyramid Mountain, and you understand where it gets it name.
Medicine Lake: Head out towards Maligne Lake and just take in the beauty of this road. If you are the driver however make sure you do you keep your eyes on the road, often my buddy would be looking scared as I swerve into the other side of the road. Medicine Lake is a must see. It is a unique experience as it is surrounded by forest fire devastation, and at this time in the season the lake is hardly full. Don’t just view the lake from the car lot, take a walk down to the shore lake and see how far you can throw rocks.
Maligne Lake: This lake in May is still frozen, but you can see it is close to melting. In warmer weather this would be a great place for a lunch stop at the side of the lake. We just took some easy strolls around and admired the historic Maligne Lake Boathouse.
Clumsy Moment: In the wake of the lake defrosting, it leaves a lot of mud. Which of course is where I decide to walk, rather than the trail, and I still have a pair of very muddy boots.
Maligne Canyon:This is where we stopped for lunch. We took our packed lunch and wandered around the Canyon and stopped at a bench overlooking the falls. Also if you are in need of caffeine, which by this point I most definitely was, there is a cute cafe and gift shop.
Evening Fun: This is where having your own or access to a kitchen comes in handy. Cook up a storm, open a bottle of wine and relax on the porch and watch the sun set over the mountains. Mountain Bliss
Breakfast: We took off back into Jasper Town and treated ourselves to some Avocado and Eggs on Sourdough that Shoreditch hipsters would be proud of. Coffee was not half bad either, so good in fact, we took another one for the road.
Highway 93A:Rather than taking the main route of just the 93, take the A road. Until recently this road was more of a dirt track (way more fun) but now paved. It is much quieter and you can take your time enjoying the beautiful surroundings. If you are lucky enough like we were, we saw a stunning Mama Bear and her two baby cubs.
Clumsy Moment: You do need to be prepared to see wildlife here, be prepared with your camera at all times. Unlike us who were munching away on snacks as I saw a grizzly bear in the distance, and I almost threw the tub of trail mix out the window in order to get my bud to grab his phone to take a picture.
Athabasca Falls: Second to Pyramid Lake, this is my favourite place that I will visit again and again. We spent about an hour here, and that’s without doing any of the trails. Make sure you notice the battle that was had between the water and the rock and it really leaves you thinking how powerful Mother Nature really is.
Athabasca Glacier: On the way back through the Icefield’s we stopped for a little stroll around the bottom of the glacier. This glacier recedes 5 metres every year and has lost over half its volume in past 125 years. Insane!! There are a few parking lots depending how far you really want to walk.
Clumsy Moment: There are lots of rocks and creeks to cross while trailing around here, don’t go climbing on the rocks like an excited 5 year old expecting not to fall over.
Other things to do but we didn’t: Book yourself into the Glacier Skywalk. Apart from the astonishing views being the draw to this attraction, learning about the sheer engineering in building the Skywalk is enough to draw me. On your drive home stop off at the Peyto Summit and get a snap of the lake at sunset that will make all your instagram followers jealous!
Thanks again for reading! You can click on the link on the right side to follow me for Blog updates or check me out on Instagram for all my latest snaps. See you soon!
There I am, standing in my plaid (pronounced plad) shirt, dusty jeans and Blundstone boots, a regular outfit of mine, my friend turns to me, ‘Do you know you dress Canadian now?’
Until that point, I had not really thought about how I dressed and how different it is from when I lived back in the City. Now a shirt, jeans and boots are my staple outfit, whether it is grocery shopping, a night out or coffee date.
While my dress sense may have changed, there are still a lot of aspects to my life, where I remain ‘English’
English v Canadian English
You say tomato, I say Tomato. Unfortunately this is a true story. We have one particular gentleman who comes into our restaurant and always asks for the soup, I had to repeat Tomato several times before the grandson interjected and said tomato. Second occasion I served the guy, I checked the soup, and it was tomato. Exact same story.
I have travelled to quite a few countries where I could not speak their language, and survived, Iceland, Norway, Egypt to name a few, however I have had more Lost in Translation moments in Canada than anywhere else.
I have written emails at work where I was told that my email was far too ‘British’ and that I need to adjust my writing style as the client will not understand. There’s Google Translate so I dont’t see the issue!
There are some terms however I have become accustomed to, just so every time I speak I am not met with blank stares. For example, I now say (while cringing inside):
Sweater instead of Jumper
Wallet instead of Purse
Cell instead of Phone
Backpack instead of Rucksack
Trash instead of Rubbish
Parking Lot instead of Car Park
Trunk instead of Boot
My favorite thing that people say to me is ‘well you don’t sound English?’ Yes, sorry I don’t sound like I have stepped out of a scene from Downton Abbey, ‘I from Essex mate’, for you that don’t know, an Essex accent as a unique twang to it.
Telling the time here is also very different. When I say I will meet you at half 7, they think I am saying half 6, as in half way to 7. There have been several times where I have been late to something.
Double Fisting. When I was first told I was double fisting, I spat out my drink. What it actually means is you are holding a drink in each hand. Who knew eh?
Talking of which we say eh practically after every sentence, along with ‘for sure’.
“Can I get another coke?” “For sure you can”
Luckily I am taking my English test soon so
I am one step closer to becoming Canadian. Ironic thing is the test is in
I used to think I had quite a high threshold to being cold. Turns out I am a bit of a wuss.
In the height of Winter, I would have several inches of snow on my car every morning. It takes a long time getting all that snow off your car, then you have to sit and wait another 10 minutes for the inside of my windscreen to defrost. Everytime I opened my car door, the snow would fall into my seat, so I would have a frozen bum driving to work. By the end of winter I mastered how not to do this.
My laundry room used to be outside. Only in Canada where I would have to wrap up like I am like I am hiking to the North Pole, just to walk 2 seconds to the laundry room.
I did not enjoy when my hair would freeze, (yes this actually happens) mainly because I thought I suddenly had turned grey and panicked.
I look at stop signs, and often see these
as an optional instruction rather than the law. Half way across a junction, I
often remember that I should have stopped 100 yards before, so I think stopping
in the middle of the junction is a good idea. I assure you it isn’t.
What we call a T Junction is called a 3 way stop here. 3 cars will stop and all look at each other, because they are too polite to just go and I am screaming in the car behind, JUST MOVE!!!
Don’t get me started on 4 way stops, lets
just say this would have been a lot easier if you put a roundabout there
Tim Horton’s Lingo
Asking for a Double Double (Coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar, a staple drink here in Canada) in the Tim Horton’s drive thru. My friend wanted a coffee with 2 cream and 3 sugars, so I asked for a double double with an extra sugar. Simple right? Oooooohhhh no. ‘Well that’s not a double double mam; it’s a coffee with 2 cream and 3 sugars!’
Another time I asked for 12 mixed
doughnuts, the guy did not understand, I kept explaining to which he responded,
oh you mean a dozen? No mate, I mean 12 doughnuts.
I am now not allowed to speak to the server at the drive thru when I am in the car with other people.
Sassy v Sarcastic
Being British, you are born with a very dry sense of humor no one else in the words seems to get. Unfortunately this got me in a lot of trouble when I first moved here, and well, still does. Back home I am sarcastic, here, the sarcastic term is rarely used and you are called sassy, which I find far more glamorous.
I will say things so convincingly that I then have to reassure the person that I did not mean it, and that I am actually a nice person. Convincing someone I am nice is actually quite hard to do when I take the piss out of them (make fun) all the time.
If I ask a colleague for a favour, they will do it, if I promise to be nice for a day. To which other colleagues respond ‘Never gonna happen’
They don’t realize the meaner I am the more comfortable I am with you, if I am being nice, that’s when you should be worried.
We all know it’s easier to sit on the sofa with Netflix than get up and go to the gym and get healthy. It’s no different when you are struggling to come up with what your achievements are, as it’s easy to admit failure rather than admit your triumphs.
I recently celebrated my one-year mark of living in Canada. It was a day I was excited to celebrate, but as it got closer I dreaded it. So I let it pass without so much of raising a glass to myself.
All I could do was reflect on my mental and emotional struggles, rather than tell myself ‘Girl you upheaved your life to the other side of the world and still alive to tell the tale’. I was constantly thinking, ‘What if?’ What if I stayed, would I be happy?
The thing about that ‘what if’ feeling when you think about your past is there is just no bloody point. We can’t change what has happened, as much as we want to.
So rather than focusing on what could have been, I decided to list some of my Kick Arse (I’m still not saying ass) moments of 2018.
Getting on a Plane
This was probably the toughest of all 2018 moments. It was going to be way easier for the time being for me to stay and carry on with my life as it was. Following your dreams are not always easy, but I still chose to take on the world, as I saw that leaving the country I grew up in and moving halfway across the world, was the only way I was going to better myself.
Within a day of living in my now lovely home tome of Invermere, I was looking up at flights back to the UK. I did not unpack my bags for 3 days as I was dead set on not staying where I was. Over the next month or so all I did was sleep, work and watch Netflix, the only time I would laugh would be at the comedy shows I forced myself to watch. Then my amazing friend Hayley, one day dragged me to the car rental, where we hired a car and drove to Calgary for a mini getaway. This was probably the best kick up the arse I received all year. Driving through Banff National Park with the frosty trees and snow-capped mountains. I fell in love. Without Hayley, would I have stayed? It doesn’t matter, as I am here now.
Working My Up
In a nutshell, I start out as a server, I move into the assistant manager position, and now I am a sales coordinator. All in the same hotel, same year. This isn’t me patting myself on the back; this is me just noticing the changes I made in myself over the year. Once realising that Invermere is now home to me, and in order for me to stay past my work visa, I would have to push myself career wise. So that’s what I did.
Being ok that everyone leaves
It can be very hard making friends outside of your work when you are somewhere knew, let alone a new country. I have been here a year and only just started meeting people that are not connected to my job. It is great meeting other travellers, as you can become friends almost overnight as you can relate more to each other. It sucks nonetheless as they do move on and leave to carry on seeing the world. Which is amazing, but for a while took its toll on me as I felt I was never going to have that companionship like I do with my friends back home. However I soon realised, as I was growing with my confidence, that this was just the way it was, and rather than backing away and stop making new friends, I would embrace the time I did have them. I had a grand time with some incredible people, and even though they have left, I know have several continents I can now visit!
Letting myself be myself
People used to tell me that when you travel ‘you find yourself’. Pffttt, ‘Bitch I know myself’. I did know myself yes, but maybe not as well as I thought. After years of wanting my nose pierced, but not being able to due to the ‘appearance’ I had to portray in the power suit world, one of the first things I did was get it done and it felt amazing just being able to do something I couldn’t before. I also wear the brightest dresses to work, and a good red dress is my trademark, so Ive been told! I have also learnt to become patient, calm, and try really hard not to stress out. (I know my new Canadian friends and colleagues will probably beg to differ, but they did not know the old me). I would get stressed and angry at someone if they walked the wrong side of the escalator on the tube, or incredibly annoyed if I had missed my train as the doors were closing, even though there was another one in 3 minutes. It’s not hard to be patient in a mountain town of 4000 people however. I know this sounds silly, but not getting wound up by standing in a queue for 20 minutes because the server forgot your coffee order, is a tiny victory.
As I was struggling with reflecting back on my year, a wise friend of mine told me to list an achievement for each month of 2018. I scoffed in his face naturally, but actually when I forced myself to think about it, it was quite easy to come up with something. So I challenge you to do the same, an achievement for every month, and I promise you it will be easier than you first think.
Welcome back guys! We left last with Nicola and I leaving Vancouver and travelling to Victoria.Read Hereif you haven’t already.
Days 5-7 Victoria
It was a pretty complication free drive, apart from the never ending rain, and making a last minute dash to catch the ferry to the Island, standard Laura & Nicola lastminute.com.
At this point we have had 3 days of constant rain. Rain that just. Did. Not. Stop. As many people like to remind me ‘oh you should be used to it as you are from the UK’. Firstly, this was the reason why I left the UK and secondly, no, it does not rain as consistently as it does over here on the West Coast, and Victoria was no different on the day we arrived.
So I have not stayed in many hotels in my time in Canada, I have either sofa surfed or hosteled by way around. What completely took me (and Nicola) by surprise was upon check in, we not only pay for the whole stay up front, we then have to pay a security deposit of $300. By credit card of course.
I hand my credit card over; already knowing full well it’s going to be declined. (New to the country, very, very low allowance). Nicola is looking at me sheepishly like I should know how to deal with the situation. I don’t.
Anyway long story short, after several more dances around with my card, and a hike in the rain to the bank, we were finally allowed to check in. To which we dumped our bags down and marched back out to the liquor store to get some well-deserved beer.
While staring aimlessly at the beer fridge trying to find something my fussy mate would actually drink, I step back and almost take out a very expensive wine display. I had to grab the bottles to stop them falling. I then did this again 2 minutes later, I was then told to go and wait by the cashier, before I bring the store to oblivion.
Walking back to the hotel with beer in hand, one of the cans drops out of my 6 pack, and crashes to the floor and bursts in the middle, spraying beer everywhere and rolling down the street. When I finally grab hold of it, part of me is thinking ‘shall I drink this?’ Thinking that’s a tad inappropriate, I regrettably throw it in the bin.
The next day we go and do touristy things, and NO RAIN!!!
Firstly make our way to The Empress. Which is really just a big posh hotel, which does fancy afternoon tea we cannot afford, but does not stop us going inside and taking a look and looking completely out of place.
We then go to The Miniature Museum. Which was absolutely bloody amazing, Nicola and I loved it. We were told most people usually spend around 45 minutes in the museum. 2 hours later, we walked out. Best 16 bucks I have ever spent. (I am not sure what this says about the pair of us)
No trip would be complete without Nicola getting drunk and stupid. We went to the delightful Phillips Brewery, made our way through some tasty flights, spilt a few pints, (guess who that was) and well I will leave the rest up to your imagination.
What’s Mile Zero? It is the end of the famous Transcanada Highway, which starts in Nova Scotia and goes all the way across Canada, finishing in Victoria, BC. It is the longest national highway in the world!
Most people do really awesome things, like run the whole way, or cycle the whole highway. We just drove from one side of BC to the other!! But to give you an idea, you can fit all of UK & Ireland into BC and still have room!
Don’t ask why it is called Mile Zero when everything is in kilometres, and don’t get me started on pints that are clearly not the size of a UK pint.
Day 7-10 Seattle
After recovering from a pretty hefty hangover, we make our way on to Seattle. Don’t worry I have my passport; Nicola took good care of it after I left it at home the first time.
So we are sitting in the queue to cross the border, all very patriotic with the big monuments, and Google shouting at you ‘Welcome to the United States’ as we cross the imaginary border. Now as we get closer to the Border Agent, we are getting more and more nervous. Both thinking, should we have filled in some more forms, our passport is enough right? (Yes we both had done our ESTA).
We are then at the Border Agent and I hand over our passports. She looks at me, ‘Where are you from?’ Me: ‘Invermere’ I suppose it would have been more believable if I hadn’t just handed over my GB passport.
Questions continue, both of us just forgetting everything about ourselves, ‘What’s your date of birth?’ ‘Errrrrr….’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Errmmmmmm’
Next thing we know, there is a big yellow form slapped on my windscreen and we are told to go and park up, as we have to have a secondary inspection. Well this is it; we are going to be barred from the country.
Our finger prints were scanned, more interrogating questions, and then paying $16 USD for the pleasure.
So what touristy stuff did we get up to?
The first Starbucks. Not to burst your bubble, but this isn’t actually the first Starbucks, because the original one moved to the building it is in now, thus just being the longest running Starbucks. We went to take a peek, stood in the queue (outside) to get a coffee then realised we both don’t actually like Starbucks coffee, so we left.
The Underground City. This was actually pretty fascinating. Seattle was originally built on lower beach land, and due to a fire that burnt down half the city; they decided to build a few storeys up. Which left a whole underground world that you can go and tour around. Just the kinda nerd stuff we are both into.
The Gum Wall.A wall full of gum. I don’t need to go in more detail.
The Space Needle. A revolving floor. A clumsy persons worst nightmare. No matter what city I am in, I love to watch the city life go by from a great height. (London is still by far the best). We sat down at the window and I decided to do a time lapse as we revolved round. I put my phone on the ledge to capture us going round, then just watched my phone stay there, while we carried on revolving round. It took me longer than it should have done that it’s just the floor moving and not the window ledges.
Crossing the border back into Canada
I forgot my work permit. I was lucky to be allowed back in. I keep my work permit pretty much under lock and key, and if you have read this post, you will understand why.
Make you check out my other clumsy and travel stories on the links below.
Fortunate enough for me, shortly after Natalie was here, I was blessed with the presence of my childhood pal, Nicola.
Some factoids about the pair of us:
We have known each other since we were 6 years old (now 28 & 29) where we were plonked in the same class.
Our friendship is at that stage where we are only nice to each other when needed. For example on her arrival at the airport, she greeted me with the middle finger. I expected nothing less.
Getting older meant we moved further away from each other, bought houses, moved to cities, chased careers, and time to see each other was down to once or twice a year.
What would happen when we did meet up? Get drunk. Obviously. I would list the funny stories but it would need a whole separate post!
Random fact: She calls me Karl (Pilkington) and I call her Ricky (Gervais). If you don’t know who these two guys are, I suggest you You Tube them immediately.
After picking up a middle finger wheedling Nicola from the airport, we make our way back to Invermere. She of course wastes no time in noting how dusty my car was (In Canada it was considered sparkling but what do I know!).
Nicola’s welcome into Invermere was I doing some emergency swerving while driving to avoid the deer that just decided to jump in front of the car. Welcome to Canada mate.
I couldn’t write this post without including a note about us dressing up for Halloween. Nicola loves fancy dress, me not so much but we managed to coordinate a costume. Nicola – a witch (fetching) and me, her black cat. I even had a tail.
It sure was double double toil and trouble that night!
After a day of recovering from the shenanigans of the night before, we set off on our 10-day road trip. We would be driving across British Columbia, to Vancouver, then onto Victoria and then crossing the border to Seattle.
Day one: Invermere, Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Revelstoke.
Very proud of ourselves for getting up and organised we were out of Invermere by 8.30am. First stop was Lake Louise, (after stopping at a couple of view points through the park). (Note, so much better getting there before 12 to avoid the coach load of tourists in your instagram photos).
No matter how many times I visit here, each time I come the Lake always looks different and I soak in a different experience each time. It was even more amazing watching Nicola taking it all in for the first time! Actually that’s a lie, it was funny as hell watching her deal with the cold in her 101 layers
She and I
We are then back on the highway heading towards Golden.
Then it suddenly hits me…I left my passport at home.
Nicola just looks at me, “I am not even surprised”. Not the first time I have done something like this.
Now considering we are planning on crossing the border, it really did throw a spanner in the works. We had no choice, but to go back home and get it.
I was not allowed to look after my passport from that point. Probably for the best.
Day Two: Revelstoke to Vancouver via Kamloops
I am probably the worst person to have driving, as I get very easily distracted, ooooo shiny thing. ‘Keep eyes on the road Laura! often was shouted by Nicola.
My favourite thing along the journey was watching the trains go through the mountains. We actually stopped to watch trains go past each other, through tunnels that were dug out into the mountains. I was mesmerised.
So mesmerised in fact, I made Nicola drive for the next stretch of the journey so I could stare gormlessly out the window at the trains.
Driving with Nicola goes something like this:
Nic: Laura what does this road sign mean? Me: I don’t know.
Nic: What do those red flashing lights mean? Me: I don’t know, but maybe we should slow down.
Nic: Did you do any driving test when you started driving in Canada? Me: No….
Nic: Don’t you think you should? Me: Pffttt….I will just Google it
Day 3-4 Vancouver
It rained, as you can see below.
Stay tuned for Part Two where we make our way to Victoria, and attempt to make it across the border…
The question that people ask me most is, what made you leave London and come to the mountains? (Actually, the most asked question is what part of Australia are you from because the English and Australian accents sound identical apparently).
What made me move to the middle of nowhere, to a country that I have never been before?
The quote, ‘The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go’ you know, which is on everything in every gift shop? I never fully understood it, all I could gather was that it must mean something to someone.
This time last year, I started planning my move to Canada, but then it was just an idea. Not even a set a date to leave, as if there was something that was holding me back. Something was holding me back from shaking my doubts into a concrete plan.
At this point, I had been living and working in London for around 4.5 years. Even though it was the best thing I could have done for my 22-year-old self, by 27, the glory and glimmer started to chip away, right at my soul, slowly with washing away my self-esteem.
Amidst this chaos and confusion, I ended up being signed off work for a short while.
Little did I know, that this is when I will be making my next life-changing decision. Next thing I recall I booked my flights.
I had signed up for a Travel Company* that places people with working holiday visas into jobs. Jobs that won’t chew away my sanity and swallow my soul. Just as, I was currently going through in my London job.
I started to learn more about The Canadian Rockies, and the places I could potentially live & work.
The more I researched, the more my horizon expanded, I was being drawn to the life, the complete opposite of what I currently had.
There are many reasons why I ended up here, my crumbling career, my degrading health, my shattering relationship, it all had a part in how I am sitting here today.
I think fate is the biggest one, why all of this had to go wrong in that order for me to end up here.
If these things didn’t happen, would I have ended up in Toronto, Vancouver, and The Middle of Nowhere? Would I still be with my boyfriend? Would I have even moved to Canada?
I often wonder, how the life would have turned out for me. But then I shut the voices in my head…
The Mountains are Calling, and I Must Go!
*anyone thinking of starting a new adventure, but do not know where to start, The Global Work and Travel Company is what got me out here. They help you with job finding, trip planning, as much or as little help as you need. They help you put your dreams into a reality,
As most of you know I have packed my bags and hopped over the pond to Canada to spend a year on a Working Holiday Visa.
After a very comfortable flight, quick process through customs, and a dodgy photo from the customs robot, I was allowed to sit in the queue at the immigration office, hoping my holiday visa was going to be granted.
So its my turn, I shakily hand over my papers, but he just wants my passport to ‘check my file’. He is taking what seems like a life time clicking the mouse every two seconds on the computer. What is he doing? Has the UK sent a warning out about me?