Monday, January 26, 2015

Banff, Alberta - A day in the Mountains

After a night out of epic proportions, and after a refreshing night sleep at the Fox Hotel and Suites, we woke to the crisp mountain air and stunning views. There isn't anything like waking up in the mountains, it is simply one of my favourite things!

We had our complimentary breakfast, stopped at David's Tea for a quick cuppa and off we went. Our goal was to take in the beautiful light in the mountains that fine day and to hopefully find some wildlife (in particular a moose). We drove down the Bow Valley Parkway. This drive is stunning on the worst of days so the drive though the mountains between Lake Louise and Banff was no exception. 

We spent the morning and early afternoon driving and stopping to take beautiful pictures. We soaked in the fine weather and even found a herd of beautiful Elk. They were all male from what we could tell and this image shows a smaller Elk of the herd. They were gigantic and so plentiful. We watched in awe as they were so close and so magestic. Simply wonderful!

We had a quiet lunch at a bistro in Lake Louise and turned the car around and travelled back to Banff on the same road. It is something to be able to see the same scenery but from the opposite direction - you can hardly tell that it was the same road with the beautiful vistas changing in the light of the afternoon. It was stunning and what made it even more lovely was the gentle, soft snow that began to fall.

At around 3 PM we ventured to our last stop of the day, to Banff Trail Riders. Our good friend purchased a romantic sleigh ride for 2 for my birthday and Christmas, I thought it was such a delightful present! We got there, signed our waiver and off we went with Bart leading us through the snowy mountain trail. It was a wonderful, delightful hour in which we chatted happily with our driver, Megan. She was knowledgable about the area and we got a couple hikes and snowshoe trips added to our list because of her. We spent the hour wrapped up under a giant buffalo skin with smiles a mile wide and the cool breeze kissing our cheeks.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Banff, Alberta - A night out with the locals

Banff, Alberta.

It is located in the Rocky Mountains and is a simply delightful town. Since it is only about 130 KM from Calgary, where we live, we try to travel there often. 

We headed out to Banff after work on Thursday. We have a friend who works out in Banff and she had secured a hotel room for the night for us. We rolled into town around 7:30 and were treated like gold at the Fox Hotel. 

Once we checked in, we made our way down the road to the Keg where we had a wonderful meal with wonderful wine. My friend and 2 of her Aussie friends joined us and it was light hearted and fun conversation. After a delightful, delicious meal, we headed back to the hotel and spent an hour or so in their amazing hot tub. They have this 'grotto' type hot tub area that is completely enclosed with waterfalls and jets all over. In the middle, if you look up, you will see the stars as there is an opening in the ceiling. 

Once our bones were soaked thoroughly, we went back to our hotel room, showered and opened a bottle of wine. My friend and one of the Aussies joined us and we chatted happily as we rid the bottle of all its wine. I had thought that we were going to have a nice, quiet, cozy night in but it turns out that isn't what my friend had in store. It was Thursday night in Banff and this is when the locals (or at least all the people in Banff on work visas) come out on the town. 

We headed out to a local pub called "The Rose and Crown". We grabbed a beer and sat down to enjoy some of the night life. Some more locals joined us as they knew my friend and before I knew it, we were a gaggle of people. Delightful! The band started playing these random songs from the 90's and we were up on our feet shaking our groove thang. Before we knew it we were off to find more locals and after a brief stop in a couple other bars, we settled on Hoodoos.

Hoodoos is a dance club and it was hopping. We had to stand in line for about 15 minutes but since it wasn't cold, and there were plenty of people to watch and be entertained by, it passed quickly. One thing is for certain in Banff, everyone seems friendly and willing to chat a little, particularly while standing in line.

We ditched our coats and grabbed some drinks. If you are looking for the place where locals go, Hoodoos on Thursdays is it. Drinks were $3 for a hi-ball and they specialize in Jager-bombs (which are also $3). A couple bevies in hand and we were back on the dance floor. The DJ was doing a great job of keeping the beats going and before too long, it was last call and we had danced the night away!

We walked back to the hotel, happy with knowing we had an incredible night, tired from all the dancing, and still full from the incredible steak dinner we had earlier that night. We were contented. The only thing that would have made the night more perfect was if it had snowed. We bid our good nights and slept like babes.

An epic night in Banff. Great lodgings, wonderful food, awesome night life, and amazing friends. What more does a girl need. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

What my 2015 is going to look like.

Lately, I have been reading some really good articles on self improvement. A few that really resonated with me are "Clear the Clutter", "How to Break Into the New Year" and "10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal". I really like lists. Since reading these, I have given it a lot of thought... some things need to change in my life. So, this year I made a list of resolutions that I would like to complete. They are as follows:

1.Geat healthy. This includes eating better, exercising regularly, solving this Thyroid issue, and setting some goals.

2. Try a new recepie each month. While I think I already do this, I want to make sure that I am ever expanding in my tastes and likes with food. It is a new relm that I enjoyed dipping my toe into last year, now I want to dive right in!

3. Do something nice for a friend or loved one each month. We are surrounded (or should be) by people we love and care about but rarely find the time to show them. I want to show 'my peeps' that they are awesome in my eyes and that I love them.

4. Be thankful. I want to take more time to be thankful. I purchased a "Gratitude Kit" from Chapters (it was on sale) and it contains 52 thankyou cards and a journal. Each week of 2015 I am going to be sending out a Thank you note to someone... just to say Thanks. In the journal, you can write things you are thankful for each day.

5. Read 1 book a month. I love to read but find that it takes a back shelf to the other things that I have on my list... this will change this year. I am going to read books I am interested in reading and explore different authors and genres. My library card is all ready to be put to use. I WILL NOT BUY ANY BOOKS THIS YEAR (I already have too many to store... I must read the books I have before buying anymore!)

6. Head out to the Mountains at least 1 time a month. I love the mountains. They calm me, bring me peace, make me quiet and pensive, give me energy, make me feel better. Why wouldn't I go out there as often as I can??

7. Spend more time with me. I need to start thinking that I am valuable enough to spend quality time with. Whether it is reading in a coffee shop, hiking, skating, sitting in the library fawning over books, rummaging though piles of stuff at a thrift store, or going for a drive.

8. Practice an art form everyday. I love crafting and creating and exploring and thinking about crafting and creating. I don't do enough of it. It makes me happy to make something out of nothing. I will spend time each day doing this (either 15 mins to 1 hour to 4 hours...). Whether it is writing, sewing, scrapbooking, yoga, baking, etc. I will make sure to exercise my creativity each day.

9. De-clutter my life. We all have too much 'stuff' and we don't need all the stuff we have. I have already started the purge, but I want the de-cluttering to go farther and deeper than my closet and cupboards. I want to get rid of the extras that have been hanging around, whether it is the 10lbs I gained from quitting smoking, to the emotional cargo that I carry with me each day. We all have "stuff", I just want to get rid of mine and live a cleaner, fitter, happier life.

10. Be kinder, gentler, a better listener and a better person. I want to just be better, softer, kinder in my thoughts and feelings towards others and towards myself. If you can't love yourself, who can you love?

11. Keep learning. I want to keep learning and taking courses to expand my horizons and knowledge. As they say, Knowledge is power. I am currently taking an online "Social Media" course that I hope to finish soon and I would love to take my Level 1 Sommelier.

So, that outlines my year. I know that I will do many, many things aside from all of this, namely, travelling with Justin, working on creating solid learning programs, and hiking all over the mountains. I merely wanted to get some of the more 'soul filled' thoughts down on paper. I read somewhere that often, when people are going through changes, it is important that they write about them. This not only allows them to explore their thoughts and feelings in a free environment, but it also has some type of accountability attached to it.

Here's hoping that 2015 will be just as amazing as 2014 was. :) I think I have the right people and the right attitude, now I just have to go out and make it happen!!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Welcome 2015

While 2014 posted some challenges, it was a most epic year!

A brief re-cap...

1. Travelled to Arizona and California for work, Victoria for a weekend, Drove from Calgary to Vail, Colorado, Yellowknife and Hay River to say good bye, Las Vegas and LA for work, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton and New York. WOW!!
2. Started a new job that has presented some really great and growth-filled challenges
3. Moved into my own place with a room mate and later, Justin
4. My family moved to Red Deer
5. I found my man friend, my lover, and my best friend.

2014 was an incredible year, but with all that we have on the go, I am certain that 2015 will be an even better year!

Thank you to my friends and family for sticking with me and helping me through. Thank you also to Justin for going on these adventures with me... for staying calm in the light of my mis-direction, for being an ever encouraging participant in wild ideas, and for being such a light and inspiration in my life. You make me want to be better each day. Love you.

ON TO 2015 - Bring it!!! :)