28.06.2010 - 11.07.2010 16 °C
Where do I even begin? This is without a doubt my favourite place on my trip so far. I am sitting in the airport in transit in Seattle right now wishing I was back in Canada (and also hiding from anyone with an American accent). Is it natural to have feelings of home sickness for a country that is not even yours? Probably not. Who's idea was it to have only five weeks in Canada and six in the U.S. of A? Oh yeah, mine.
The first stop was Shuswap. This is where I had my first experience with trailer park trash (in Perth we would call these people 'Mirrabooka locals'). For some unknown reason these Shuswapians were invited back to our hostel to come and join us in the spa. It was here I learnt that the way to let a guy know you like him is to just walk up and straddle him, and that there really is nothing wrong with not having both of your front teeth. Don't judge me if I choose not to take these lessons in life with me.
The next stop was Banff. I did not really take advantage of everything that Banff has to offer. I do regret it a little now, but I still loved it. I just happened to plan my holiday so that I was in Banff for Canada Day. There were also about ten people I had met from previous bits of the Moose tour who were there at the same time. S Club 4 (they know who they are) and I had our Canadian flags and Canadian tattoos (though I could not resist having just one Aussie tattoo - I kind of felt like I was cheating on my country otherwise). We headed to the pub for our $2.75 drinks with plenty of time for a shooter or two before the parade (which of course went right past the front door!!). The next day (aka, the hangover day after Canada Day) was spent once again not taking advantage of anything Banff has to offer, unless you count MacDonalds.
From Banff I had two nights in two wilderness hostels. Luckily, as usual, I was completely unprepared for this. The result was me having to wash my hair and myself in a bucket while wearing my bikini in a sauna that was completely dark except for the light from a small torch I had borrowed. I am actually kind of glad I was unprepared with my not so clean hair as it was a fun experience. In all the camping trips I have done in Australia I have never once had to do this. Mostly because in Australia it is warm enough to go swimming during the day if you don't have access to a shower. My first bushman's shower was in Canada. Cool. I think I did annoy the tour guide who had wanted everyone to go swimming in the freezing cold water in the not much warmer weather. Sounds appealing on a summer day that is colder than my normal winter days. Refreshing you say? I was kind of hoping for a stinking hot day where everyone but the Aussies were dying so I could say' oh your hot?, how about we find a nice pool of water that's a warmish 35 degrees and go for a good swim? At least it would be refreshing'.
The wilderness hostels were really pretty cool. Given that I love camping I really enjoyed having to make do with the limited facilities at these places. And the good thing about drop toilets in Canada (yes that's right, you read correctly, the GOOD thing about DROP TOILETS) is that it is not 35 degrees during the day. Peeing behind a bush is not actually the better option over here. Though Canadian drop toilets are not as deep and you can see the bottom. Bit weird. No, I don't know why I looked. In the second wilderness hostel I got to try my first smore (and second, third and fourth). I also learnt not only why it is important to fold your flag up and put it away during the night if you want to keep it (very important) but that if you want to hang something out to dry, you generally don't hang it out in the rain.
I decided to get off the tour again in Jasper. I am a little annoyed at myself for listening to everyone else who was asking why I was wanting to stay there when there is not really anything to do. I could easily have spent an extra few nights there. While I know most people prefer Banff to Jasper, for once I am going to have to go against the grain of normal society and say that I feel the opposite way. I loved Jasper. I spent one day walking around town, and wish now I had thought it out a little better and hired a bike and gone riding along the river. But it was still great. The second day I walked into town and back again and then walked up Whistler's Mountain. I had panned to walk back down, but as it turns out it is not a good idea to do a 12km walk before going up a mountain. Luckily someone gave me a free pass for the tramway as I was walking up. The view from the top was worth every effort. Though it was more the walk I enjoyed.....
From Jasper I had another two nights in Banff. The first of these was spent back in the hostel bar where I spent Canada Day drinking with the Aussies I had met on my previous tour to Jasper. Wow, drinking in Banff, there is something new. The second night I did something slightly more original, I went on a three hour trail ride with a steak cook up through the National Park. This was great, though one of the rules in the National Park is that you can not go any faster than a walk. Luckily I was at the end of the line and this meant I frequently had to catch up to the horse in front of me. Is it my fault that my horse chose to canter? After I kicked it? Just a little? I never knew in western riding until now that when you dismount you leave your left foot in the stirrup. I could not do it. After over 20 years of riding I felt like I was breaking laws by doing this, and that my mum was waiting there to see if I would do it so she could bust me when I did. What do they do in western riding if the horse takes off? Given western riders don't learn to trot (I tried this, it may be easier not to rise to the trot if you never learnt to do it, it's not the easier option if you did), I am guessing western riders don't learn how to run with one leg either.
Banff to me was the end of my Moose tour. From here we did go to Kelowna for one night, where I did get the chance to drive my first go kart. Though they were not the best go karts in the world I did manage to lap the only guy (the tour guide) and I under took two people at once on one corner (I am a little proud of that). But Kelowna was just not the same. I spent most of my time sulking like a small child who did not want to leave Grandma's house. Even more than I do after a camping trip at home. I just wanted to be back in the Rockies. I got over this a little bit by going on one last hike in Vancouver up the Grouse Grind and then back to Jericho beach for one last little look. At least I had Calgary to look forward to.