Staying at Jackie's
Friday 24th April
With nothing much left to do before we leave Canada, today we had a lie in and read snowboard magazines. We got up for a leisurely breakfast (Jackie is spoiling Christian by making bacon croissants for him) and then organised bags, e-mails and other such things for our imminent departure.
The world's biggest cuckoo clock
Jackie's landlord had lots of people to show round that afternoon and seemed to have no qualms with throwing her out of her own home for 6 hours. And so at 2pm we left to get out of the way. Chris and I closed our bank account, filled up the truck for the long drive to Calgary, picked up sale forms so that Jackie can sell the truck on our behalf and bought a couple of Kimberley mementos for ourselves, including pj's and a christmas tree decoration (I will try and get one from every place I visit from now on).
One of Kimberley's happy hydrants
Chris and Jackie, Jackie's step father and wife (yes, exactly the same names, I know, confusing) kindly invited us over for dinner, seeing as we were banished from our home. They are a really welcoming couple and we had great BBQ food, a giggle and a beer. Christian made friends with their dogs, Earl and Dozer,who were happy to show off and roll about for his benefit. This evening we watched "A lot like love" this was far less scary for me and I got to bed just fine.
Saturday 25th April
The lovely landlord obviously didn't think the 6 hours of homelessness had put us out enough yesterday and so this morning we had to get up early to vacate for his 9am showing. We went down to the local coffee shop and grabbed some snacks from the bakery next door. We spent a lovely 2 hours dosing ourselves with caffeine and chatting about everything and nothing (the amount of chat being directly proportional to the amount of caffeine); it was a bit like being in Friends.
Back home, we undertook the delicate task of weighing our luggage. With a limit of 2 bags each, of up to 23kg, plus an extra bag for snowboards, you would think that we wouldn't have a problem getting our stuff home. However, we spent a happy hour with Chris and Jackie's bathroom scales moving a book here, a heavy sock there, to make sure every bag was under weight.
Meanwhile, Jackie was upstairs making haystacks (yummy dollops for oats and coconut stuck together with chocolate and the all important PB) that we ate whilst watching The Trail. This is not a film to watch unless you have tasty snacks to distract you or you have a penchant for bad acting. After the film we were all in need of some decent entertainment and so Jackie took her last chance to play some Little Big Planet and she's getting good.
I also dropped a quick call to Mum to say happy birthday but she was apparently out somewhere living it up, so I guess she was already having a happy birthday.
Sunday 26th April
We're hitting the road again. We got up at about 9 and were out by 11. Troy was packed to the max with people, luggage and things from Jackie's mum's shop. We were starting the drive to Calgary and Jackie had a few stops planned along the way, to keep us all entertained.
First stop: Fraggle Rock! Seeing as Christian is too young to understand quite how exciting this stop was, he took the photos. To be fair to him, it was just a rock with a signpost, but it did look a bit like the original home to the Fraggles and Dozers (workin', workin', workin'). Next stop and equallly exciting for all of us, was to see a roadside llama. The only one unimpressed was the llama himself; we couldn't even coax him over with food. To be fair though if he had understood Christian and Jackie's rather offensive description of his anatomy (bunny ears, a small horse head, bad hair and creepy human toenails) he had every right not to want to talk to us.
Now on to Fernie and just a quick stop at the Red Tree Lodge to show Jackie where we used to live. In Sparwood, just round the corner, however, was the worlds biggest truck. So, we took a break and ignored the no climbing signs in order to get pictures of us up by the drivers hatch. It really was huge, it made Troy look very unimpressive. So, having added a height complex to our already flakey truck's list of ailments we got back on the road.
Sparwood's giant truck
We went through Crow's nest pass, a cool looking valley between the mountains, and stopped at the Frank slide. This was an old town that had been buried under a landslide in 1903. Over 70 people had died after they had been warned not to build a town their by the natives who called it the mountain that walked. We walked round and clambered over rocks the size of small houses, over a mile from their origin on the mountain face. The one hundred million tons of limestone rocks would have poured down at about 120 miles an hour, causing their devistation in just over a minute and a half. It was both scary and awesome that all that potential power and destruction sits above our heads out here almost every day. Moral of the story, don't undermine a mountain next to your back yard.
Sitting on a boulder at the Frank Slide
Juice, chips and haystacks kept us going until our next stop, a very pretty waterfall. It was at this stop that I decided to take lots of photos, trip over a rock and lose the car keys. But the panic was short-lived and Christian went back to where I fell over the rock and there they were. Our final port-of-call before getting into Calgary was the fantasticly named Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. This was the site of a cliff that natives forced the Buffalo over. Unfortunately, this practice was so effective and the natives naievely belived that these sacred animals would never leave the plains, that it resulted more or less in their extinction in these parts. Aside from the cliff we also got to see its inhabitants, lots of marmots. We all loved watching and photographing them, but Christian liked them most and made friends with one little guy who he managed to get right up close to whilst he preened himself.
The Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Back on the road, and before dark we arrived in Calgary. Chris had made us a fantastic dinner of pork mince in cabbage leaves and a chicken and mint curry. It was delicious. We watched a cheery documentary on war and then went to bed.
Monday 27th April
Got up this morning at Chris' house and drove into town to try and sell, or at least fix the truck. We were offered a couple of grand by this one dealership but the grumbly sounds and flashing warning lights were obviously having an impact on this figure, so fixing it seemed like our best bet. We bought the necessary parts and as a pre-empive thank you to Chris for all the fixing he was about to do, we took them out to lunch. Chris had chosen a Vietnamese restaurant with a spicy chicken or beef noodle soup that was supposed to give you a natural high from the spices. Anything to reduce the car-related stress I had been feeling for the past week, I thought, and tucked in.
Back home Chris started changing our spark plugs.We tried to help but found the best we could do was stay out of the way. So instead we sat inside, making cups of tea and pampering Lucy the cat. Not quite the last day we had forseen, but hopeful that it would at least result in a more saleable truck.
Lucy the cat
So, leaving Chris in the driveway with his wrench in hand, we went to the airport with Jackie. The old silver card trick was still working a treat and even though the bathroom scales seem to have been less accurate than those at the airport, our misdemenour was overlooked and we now had plenty of time to enjoy the lounge. We said our thank yous and goodbyes to Jackie, our final big Canadian farewell, and then crossed the security line between our Canadian adventure and home. We tried again to eat as much as we could in the lounge, however there was less on offer here. But before we knew it, the flight time had arrived and we were starting the long flight home.
Between the films and sleeping, I felt the excitement of returning to England and the prospect of catching up with our friends and family over the coming weeks. It is time to go home now, but the past 5 months have been such an amazing experience full of friends and memories that will last a lifetime. The little town of Kimberley will always be our Canadian home.