Search This Blog

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alberta is Bipolar

So, this week has been amazing. Last night I went to the fun rodeo, which was a lot of fun, aside from the freezing cold weather and pouring rain. However, i loved the horses and wished so bad that I could go riding. I took a ton of photos for the paper, too.

Today, on the other hand, has been much less thrilling. Sundays are quite boring around here for me. Most people here spend Sunday with their family and friends.. both of which I am lacking here. Not to mention, shopping is not an option. Perhaps next Sunday I'll go to High Level for something to do.

Of course, Sunday is usually spent skyping with friends and family and Chris, for me. But today, it seems all my friends, family, and boyfriend all have a life.

I went to the lake to do some reading earlier and to clear my head. However, by the time I got there, it was pouring. I had the chance to watch some cute ducklings dance in the rain and listen to the numbing sound of the rain patting on my car, and then came home to watch a movie. Which froze partway though. In the words of my mother: "I hate DVDs."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alberta is starting to grow on me..

This has been a surprisingly fun week, even though I haven't got much accomplished work-wise. It's not like I haven't been trying, but it's been SO hard to get ahold of people!

Lisa and I have had a ball this week. Wednesday I decided to sleep in because I didn't need to be at work until 10:30. Lisa has other plans. She text me at 9am to get out of bed because there was "apparently" an ambulance at the dentist office next door; plus, she wanted me to meet someone. So, out of bed I got. When I got to the office there was no ambulance to be found. Whether it was there or not is still being looked into... But, I still got to meet Denise, which was nice.

Later that night, Lisa invited me for coffee with Anna (or Anne? I forget now), which was a lot of fun! We gabbed and gossipped, as women do over coffee!
This morning I slept in and came to the office just in time for lunch with Lisa. After lunch, Susan, the old reporter, came in to meet me with her adorable daughter. We talked about upcoming events and such, and it was great to finally meet her. Just before she left, Ben Peters, one of the first people to own land in La Crete, came in and we talked. He's written a number of stories about his pioneering days. He's such an interesting guy -- La Crete'ers reading this, I think you should sit down for coffee with this guy, he has some great stories! He's written and published a few, so I'm going to talk about them in my feature.

In the afternoon, I got a chocolate craving, so we went and bought soo much chocolate. I definitely didn't need that much! But I justified it like this: if my boyfriend has to be three provinces away from me, then I can eat all the chocolate I want! Who am I trying to impress? haha, hopefully he still loves me when I've gained 200lbs.

After work we went yard saling. So much fun! I had never done it before! I got so many good finds! I got a bunch of photo frames, a coat, a tea pot, two skirts, boots, a bunch of hangers so I can FINALLY finish unpacking! It was a lot of fun. We plan to do it again soon!

Then I came home and started putting up my photos. I bought a large frame, which holds a whole bunch of photos, so I filled that with photos of family and Chris, and then a couple smaller ones for work. Then I hung a few around the house.

It's really starting to look and feel like home here! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Becoming a Fire Fighter...?

Last Monday, Peter Weibe, the fire chief for our local fire department in La Crete, stopped by the office to introduce himself. While he was in, he asked if I'd like to join the fire department. I laughed at the idea, but he said a reporter in High Level had joined their fire department and it really ended up benefiting both the fire department and the local newspaper. He said I wouldn't be running into any burning buildings, because I would be taking photos, primarily, working as media. I considered the idea, and eventually convinced Lisa to come to the meeting that night.

Her husband didn't like the idea, but I was still glad she had come. There are about 20 firefighters, I was told, and I would be the only girl on staff -- which makes me a little nervous.

While I was at the fire station Monday night I got to try on a bunch of firefighting equipment. I could hardly even walk -- then the firefighters all took off on a run! I wished them luck and decided to ride in the truck instead. We met them at the playground, where they proceeded to use the playground as an obstacle course. Whether it was for training or not, it looked absolutely hilarious! There were about 8 grown men in firefighting suits going down slides head first, sliding down poles, and crawling through tunnels. Definitely a sight to see!

So now I need to decide whether I want to go through with it or not. At this point, I'm still not sure...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Perfect Weekend

Last night Abe came down to set up my TV, because of course, I have no idea how to work anything electronic. After that, I started asking him where to get photos printed and where to buy a kettle, etc. so he suggested Martha, his wife, take me for a drive around the town to show me everything while he sets up my TV. So Martha, her daughter, myself and max (their dog) all went for what we thought would be a short drive through La Crete. Little did we know, however, that La Crete actually has a lot to offer! We were over an hour on our little adventure, but now I think I know where just about everything is. Most importantly: I know where the rodeo grounds are!

Of course, when I got home it was nearing 11pm, which is 1am in Ontario, so I couldn't get ahold of Chris before I went to bed, which made me really sad. After about four attemps at calling him, an email, and probably 4 or 5 texts, I gave up and went to bed. At midnight, I received a quick I love you and goodnight call from Chris, so I could sleep happy.

This morning I went to church with Abe, Martha, and Martha's mother, in Fort Vermilion. It was really nice. I hadn't been to church in a few years, so I was a little nervous, but everyone was really welcoming and Abe and Martha introduced me to a ton of people. I am so lucky to have them as landlords. They really take care of me! A few people noticed my face from the picture in the Northern Pioneer, which I found a little embarassing, but also flattering.

I got home shortly after 130 and called Chris, so we met online to have a skype date. We've been finding it hard to find the time to just talk and "hangout" so we played checkers, chess and hangman on skype. It was a lot of fun. We played for about an hour and a half before he left to visit with his family. Then I visited with my room mate on skype for a while. It probably sounds silly that I've been sitting at the computer for most of the afternoon, but it's sure been nice to visit with everyone from Ontario! Skype doesn't make the distance seem so far.

I've found a bunch of chocolate so I think it would be wise to go for a walk later... but we'll see how ambitious I'm feeling after this chocolate bar!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Grocery Bags & Recycling

One of the first things I noticed here is how people pack their grocery bags here. First of all, I have yet to see anyone using a re-usable grocery bag (I haven't used mine yet because I haven't finished unpacking, and they're all full of shoes, dresses and girly things!). Secondly, people sure do not believe in packing their bags full around here.

I had to laugh to myself, because today I bought groceries after work and most bags only had one to three items in them. It's nice for those who don't want to carry a heavy load, but either way, those groceries have to come in. So whether you use 1 bad for the 5 items I've bought, or 3, I am carrying them all in at once. So there I am, walking from my car to my apartment, carying likely 9 or 10 bags, each with a couple of items in them. Sure, they weren't heavy, but that's a lot of handles to grip! And not to mention, these are all going to end up in a landfill and never completely decompose.

I'm not sure if Alberta is less "green" than Ontario (I always thought it would be more "green") but hardly anything can be recycled. It's strange. I'm used to recycling, composting, and filling my re-usable grocery bags as full as I could in order to live "green" and it seems people are not quite as concerned about those things here. Not to say that they're ignorant of living green, it's just strange to throw away cardboard, paper, and table scraps.

Ahhhh well, I guess we have SO much land up here (because no one else lives here except Santa) so there's no one else to complain about the recycling and compost going into the garbage!

A Productive Day (First official paper completed)

Today was my deadline for next week's paper. I submitted 10-11 items, which is great because Tom, my boss, had said that by September I should be submitting between 8-12 items per week, but I shouldn't worry about getting that many right now. And, I had a shortened week! I'm so excited to see the paper when it comes out this week.

Friday night and this morning I went to cover the events at the Bible Camp in La Crete. They has a special family camping weekend event called Creation Family Camp, with Dr. Silvestru, a geologist known worldwide. He was great! He talked about creation, evolution, and religion. I wish I could have stayed all day for the rest of the events, but I had a deadline to make!

I've had a pretty productive day: attended an event in the morning, sent the paper out to my boss this afternoon, went grocery shopping, and just finished making and eating dinner. Spaghetti -- one of my favs! I wanted to treat myself for getting the paper out. I am also looking to skype with someone tonight and have a celebration drink, so text me friends!

I think I'll go for a walk before my skype date tonight with my boyfriend, Chris. There's still like, 5 or 6 hours of daylight left, I may as well take advantage of it while I can!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The first paper

Today the first paper was published since I've been here. There's a bio on me on page 5, which is somewhat embarrassing to see my photo in the paper. I'm used to having bylines in papers, not photos!

There's also a small event I covered which appeared in the paper. Not a whole lot yet, but next week I should have a few more articles. I've got a few ideas I might want to try out with the paper, in a few weeks, so I'll have to talk to Tom about them.

I'm glad for the paper coming out today with a touch of me in it, because I was beginning to get a little discouraged. It's kind of given me a second wind. This next issue I should have a few articles in, and then the following weeks it should be more steady.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dirt Road

Sometimes, all you need is a long drive and a good cry.

Finding Home

This morning I had an english muffin for breakfast, and I put my mom's homemade strawberry jam on it. It tasted just like home!

I'm not feeling too homesick yet, but this place doesn't quite feel like home yet, either. It feels more like I'm just looking in from the outside. Perhaps after a few months it will feel like home, and once I finish unpacking my things.

I think I should figure out where to print photos and get some printed to put around the house. I wanted to bring photos, but I didn't have much room (after shoes and dresses, of course!). I'm sure there's a printing place somewhere here, I've heard someone mention it, but I haven't found it yet.

I finally got my old laptop out so I can play all my favourite music, which has made this place more homey. Music can do great things! It still just doesn't feel like it fits, just yet. Not that it feels like I shouldn't be here, I just don't feel like a La Crete-er yet. Or an Albertan. Everything is so different and unknown.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First Impressions

Despite the advice and warnings I have received about La Crete, it really is a great place. Everyone I have met has been very kind and more than helpful. I would be lost without my co-worker, Lisa! Who, to my surprise, is also a Mennonite. Who knew not all Mennonites wore dresses? I am learning so much and having so much fun learning a new culture and part of Canada.

Today I went to pick up some office supplies, which is not quite as easy as you may think. There is such thing as my beloved Staples out here, and what we know and love as the Source is more like their Staples here. Well, it’s their Staples, Source, and Telus phone store ... all in one.

Today was my second full day as a reporter in La Crete. Yesterday I wrote a bio on myself and covered a small event. Today, I did some more interviews and finished a story about the new doctor in town. Apparently, he is the first permanent doctor for La Crete. I’m glad he arrived just before I did!

It’s still hard to get used to it being light outside until after 11pm and panicking that I’ve slept in when I wake up at 7am to a bright, mid-day sun.
I have a few more interviews set up for tomorrow, and then this week my deadline is Saturday at 5pm. If the weather is nice, I may go to Fort Vermilion to the beach for the day!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Advice That I have Received Since Arriving in La Crete

I haven't been here long yet (about 24 hours) but I thought I would list some of the advice I have been given from people in the community since I've arrived. I'm not going to name any names on here, so if you want to hear the complete story, just ask me! I'm going to keep updating this, so be sure to check back often!

-"Give it a week"

-"People usually drive around 120km/hr or 130km/hr here. There usually aren't any cops between here and the ferry."

-"Don't be seen in public smoking, drinking, or with a boy."
This is due to the fact that I am a girl in a mennonite community

-"The Mennonites here are ignorant, so don't take it personally."

-"You should learn Old German. Not so you can understand what people are saying TO you, but ABOUT you."

July 10: Last Trip Day

Today was an early morning. I woke up at 6:30 and jumped in the shower. I told Chris to wake up and get ready, because we were leaving in 20 minutes for the airport. He had to be there between 7 and 730 to make the flight. We had argued about this: he said he didn't have to be an hour early, both the ticket and myself thought he should.

I got out of the shower and dressed at 6:45. Chris was still in bed. I was obviously not impressed.

We finally get out of the hotel around 7am, when we should have been to the airport. It's about a 5 minute drive though, so at this point, I wasn't too worried.

Chris, who is never in a hurry for anything, decided to take his time and take the garbage out of my car before we left. By the time we got to the airport, it was 7:21 and I missed the turn for parking. I turned around and got parked at around 7:24.

We got inside and fought with the Kiosk to print his ticket for a long time. I had already checked him in online the night before, so all we had to do was print it. That took forever and finally we had to go to an agent for help. When we finally got there, she told us we were took late. She could see us at the kiosk struggling from where she was sitting, she obviously knew we were frustrated, and instead of helping us print the ticket, she lectured us about being late (I think it was 7:32 when we got to her, two minutes after we should have given her the printed ticket but we had been at the kiosk trying to print it). She told us we were too late and would have to take the next flight, as well as pay an additional $150.

We went to the lady who was helping us get our new ticket for Chris. She asked how many items he would be checking and he said none. It was 7:37 at this point and boarding time for the plane was at 7:40. She gave the lady who did not help us make the flight a disgusted look. She said, "You only have that one carry on?" we said yes. She could see that we had already checked in but just needed the ticket printed. She shot the first lady another dirty stare. "You know what," she said, determined, "You are getting on this flight." She quickly closed up her station. "I'm going to rush you through security, say your good-byes." Chris and I kissed each other in the airport quickly and I muttered an "I love you" through tears. I watched Chris and the lovely Air Canada lady run through the airport and to the front of the security line until I could no longer see him anymore.

I think this goodbye was good. I cried a little bit, but it all happened so fast that I didn't really have time to be sad and cry. Before I knew it, he was gone.

I headed back to my car. We had parked in such a hurry that I had forgotten where I had parked my car. When I finally found it, I got out all my maps of Edmonton and Alberta. My GPS had died the day before, so I was on my own.

After getting more than a little lost, I made it through Edmonton and on to the 16 until I found the 43 and headed North. For the longest time, a yellow hummer and I were playing cat and mouse on the highway. Ironically, I stopped for a rest the same time he did, and when waiting inside to pay for my snack he said hello. "Where are you headed," he kindly asked. I told him La Crete, and that I had travelled from Ontario. He said, "I know, I saw your plates. They brought brought back memories," he said and smiled. I smiled back at him and we both went off to our separate cars. Just as I turned my car back on and was about to pull out, I see him briskly walking toward my car, smiling.

"Would you like to have lunch," he asked. I smiled, happy to have some company. Though I didn't want to stop driving, I was really tired and after the emotional morning with Chris leaving, I could use a rest. And a friend.

We had a lovely meal talking about Alberta and Ontario and making light conversation before we both left heading in opposite directions.

I made it all the way to the La Crete ferry in good time; however, the La Crete ferry is possibly the smallest ferry ever. Some of the boats that go by mom and dads on the canal are likely bigger than this ferry. So I had to wait my turn . . . for an hour and a half.

I was supposed to call Abe and Martha when I got to La Crete. Well, I got here and guess what: no cell phone service. Great. So I finally pulled in to a small gas station and called Abe who came to pick me up.

Abe and Martha have a beautiful how that sits high on this flat, Albertian land. It's white with green trim. As we drove toward it, I thought: wouldn't it beawesome if it was that big house? And guess what, it was!

Abe showed me my apartment and then invited me into his house for a cold drink and to chat. Luckily, he's a mechanic, so he said he'll give my car a look. Abe and Martha are really nice people and have given me lots of advice and help in getting me settled.

After I quick call to mom and Chris to let them know I was alive, I headed out to get groceries. It was 9pm and the sun was still shinning strong and bright. I just picked up the necessities, some fruits and veggies, a little meat, cereal, milk, a few soups and pastas. My bill was 99 dollars and change. Things are so expensive here. What I had bought I could have got for at least 20 dollars cheaper back home, likely even more cheaper!

I brought in my groceries and started unpacking my car. It was about 10:30 and the sun was just starting to go down, but it was still quite bright out. by 11pm, the sky was orange and the sun was setting.

July 9: Trip Day Five

Today is the last day Chris and I will get to spend together.

We slept in and went for a little drive around Banff. It is such a beautiful town! We went to a small river and took some photos, then to the Spaghetti Factory for some grub. After a delicious meal, we went to hang out at the river. There was a beautiful waterfall and a bunch of activities, such as white water rafting and horseback riding. We would have loved to do either or all of these events, but we didn't have a lot of time. So we put our toes in the ice cold water and then started our drive through the rockies toward Edmonton.

We decided to head North through Lake Louise instead of East to Calgary. I wanted to see more of the rockies. I am SO glad that I took the long way! Those mountains are remarkable. Words and pictures just can't do them justice. You just have to go see them for yourself.

We stopped along a beautiful lake in the rockies. The water there is so blue! It doesn't even look real -- there's got to be food colouring in there!

We arrived in Leduc (just outside of Edmonton, where the airport is) at around 7:30pm. We saw a bunch of expensive hotels, so kept driving until we saw a motel that looked pretty cheap. It advertised that it's rooms were 59.99 so we a pulled in. As we parked, I noticed that suite was only 99 dollars. So... we booked a suite!

It was amazing! I loved it! It has a jacuzi, fireplace (which we never did figure out how to turn on), a full kitchen, and it was huge! I loved it! We didn't even want to go out for dinner but by the time 11pm rolled around, I was hungry. So off we went, at 11:20pm, to McDonalds!

It was a really fun and carefree day and I'm really glad we got the chance to relax together before Chris has to leave me.

July 8: Trip Day Four

Last night Chris and I stayed just outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta. The motel we stayed in was cheap, in more ways than one. We liked the price -- hated the motel. But we had tried three hotels in Medicine Hat (a beautiful city, by the way) it was nearing 1AM. We looked up the nearest town on my GPS and found a motel. I called and booked us a room.

When we got there, it was possiby the sketchiest motel ever. It was like, a scary movie. First of all, it wasn't even on a real road. Secondly, the walls were a weird brick, like in my gradeschool halls. Finally, internet. Luckily, we weren't there for long.

Since we had made such great time, we decided to go to Banff for the night. Driving pthrough Calgary was nice. It was a beautiful city and I wish we could have stopped, but I had bigger and better things on my mind: mountains!

As we were just entering the rockies, Chris saw a sign for helicopter rides in the rockies. You will never believe it, but we did it. I actually got on a helicopter. It was amazing! You could see for so long! All you could see were rockies.

When we got to Banff we checked into an adorable two star motel. It looked like a little cottage. The bed was so soft and everything had dark wood trim. We brought in our things and headed out for a walk for some grub.

We ended up at this nice little Irish pub. Chris tried desperately to get me to eat uncooked seafood, but I stood my ground. At the pub Chris had two beer and I had one cider and due to lack of food that day, we were both a little tipsy by the end. We had a fun little walk through Banff and in the mall in the evenig working off our buzz.

July 7: Trip Day Three

Winnipeg, Manitoba to Medicine Hat, Alberta.

By the end of the day my car was dying. No more AC, no more windsheild washer, and no more cruise control.

The praries suck.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 6: trip day 2

July 6th – Trip day two.

We got off to a somewhat late start this morning. We were on the road by 9am, a little later than I had planned, but I figured the extra hour of sleep was worth it. Leaving the motel tired would just be pointless and if I wanted to make it out of Ontario today I needed some extra rest.

We left Wawa at 9am, in the rain. The drive from Wawa to Thunder Bay was a lot longer than Chris and I had planned, but the drive was breathtaking. I can’t even describe the beauty. Driving through enormous rock cliffs, past giant hills – arguably small mountains – dressed securely in green bush and evergreens. The lakes were so blue, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen water so blue in Canada.

We stopped at Rossport at a beautiful sand/rock beach. We pulled over along the road to take some photos and dip our toes into Lake Superior. The feeling of cold, fresh water rose right to my cheeks with only the toes on my right foot exposed to the water. I walked in up to my knees, took some photos with Chris, and we were back on the road.

I was really excited for Thunder Bay. I’ve spent two summers in Thunder Bay so it was kind of like going back to my hometown. As much as I wanted to stop, we were behind schedule due to all the construction we had hit coming from Wawa,but driving through was still exciting. First we came to Sleeping Giant, one of the Ranger camps I have stayed at, but never attended. Two of my ranger friends, Kerry and Kiersten, are there right now as staff. Then we went by the Terry Fox monument, which was always a fun stop while at rangers. Then we drove by the exit for Atikokan/Quetico Provincial Park, where I lived for the summer when I was 19, returning to rangers as staff. Finally, we passed the exit for Sioux Lookout/Ojibway Provincial Park, where I spent my first summer away from home and my first ranger summer, when I was 17.
We stopped in Dryden for dinner. I had been to Dryden as a ranger. And now I write to you from highway 17, on our way to Manitoba. We’re about four hours from Winnipeg, where we plan to stay for the night. Hopefully we make it!

We haven’t seen any wildlife – deer, moose or bears – which is partly good, I suppose, but partly disappointing. I’ve seen tons of bears, deer and moose in my summers in Northern Ontario, but Chris hasn\t and I really wanted him to see some. Now he may never believe my stories of canoeing through northern Ontario and seeing a deer upstream, having a bear attack one of our tents on a canoe trip (we were not in the tent at the time) or nearly hitting deer through Sleeping Giant.
Still loving the drive! It’s gorgeous!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5 - day 1

July 5th, 2010: Trip Day 1.

This morning I left my mom and dads around 9:30am, with a few tears streaming down my face, as well as my parents’. I had almost kept it together until I hugged my older brother, Bradley, goodlbye. He is autistic and mentally handicapped, so it’s hard for him to understand what’s happening. After I gave him a hug, he looked into my eyes and said “Bye Ashley, see you tomorrow.” It just about killed me. I smiled, as tears bega to flow from my eyes, and said, “No, Bradley. I won’t be back tomorrow.” He didn’t understand.

On my way to Toronto my air quit. Great. It’s only 32 today, and over 40 with humidity. After I picked up my boyfriend, Chris, who is driving to Edmonton with me, the heat really started to get to me. I drove until Parry Sound when we stopped for gas and then he took over.

We stopped in Sault Ste Marie for dinner around 7:20 and when we finished at 8:15. That’s when we noticed the leak in my car. The leak that I had fixed yesterday. Unfortunately, the mechanics were all closed, so here we are, on the road to Wawa, hoping my car doesn’t die. In the rain.

To pass the time, Chris and I have decided to play car games since HE forgot to bring the book we were going to read to each other. We played car games, such as 20 questions and told each other stories from our childhood. The time has sure passed by quickly having one another to keep us company.
Now I am writing to you from Wawa, Ontario, where we have stopped for the night. We arrived at 11:30pm. I’ll keep you updated as I go!

Xo to my family and friends, miss you already ... but you outa’ see how beautiful it is out here!