Sunday, 27 January 2013

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour ...

A few months ago, C and I missed out on getting tickets to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, so there was no way that we were going to miss the festival's world tour on its stop in Calgary last week.  The world tour selects the top films from the festival to go on 'tour', travelling all across the world.  Last weekend, we were lucky enough to see eight amazing films, ranging in length from 2 minutes to about 45 minutes, from all over the world and showcasing all kinds of mountain adventure activities from kayaking to skiing and everything in between.  Each film was incredibly unique and equally inspiring.  Good news for all of you who are not in Canada is that it is very likely that the world tour will be coming to a town near you some time in the near future.  Click here to find out when and where you can check out this amazing film festival!  In the meantime, you can be inspired by this video ...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

First cross country ski experience ...

Heading out on the 'real' trail for the first time

 For Christmas in 2011, C gave me a pass for a day's cross country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre.  The Nordic Centre was developed for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.  It is still a world class facility, regularly hosting world championship competitions for skiing, biathlons (cross country skiing and rifle shooting) and mountain biking (in the summer of course!)  It is also incredibly popular place for locals year round - biking and trail running in the summer time and cross country skiing in the winter time.  I rang to book a lesson and sounded like a total novice when asked what kind of lesson I was after.  "Ah ... a cross country ski lesson please."  "Classic or skate?" was the reply.  "Ah, I don't know.  Just regular cross country skiing please."  It turns out that 'regular' cross country skiing is called 'classic' and involved a simple walking movement on skis.  On the other hand, the 'skate' technique involves pushing the skis out like you are skating on ice and it looks much harder.   The classic version was actually very easy to pick up as it involves simply placing your skis in a pre-made track and walking with a bit of a glide on the end of each step. 

The beautiful trail.  You can see the two 'lanes' of tracks

The lesson was well worth it for the tidbits of information about correct technique I picked up, particularly in the stopping department.  Stopping (or rather, crashing) has always been my fear in skiing (well, the whole two ski holidays I've been on.)  I have nightmares about the dreaded snow plow.  So, it was great to learn how to stop correctly on cross country skis.  

Making snow

After the lesson (and some much needed time by the fire ... the Australian and the Texan didn't dress warmly enough for the lesson), we headed out onto the trails where, right at the end, I got to put my newly learned stopping skills to the test.  The final 200 metres to the lodge involved a downhill run before flattening out.  Just near the bottom, in 'my' set of tracks stood a small child, motionless.  Panic set in as I gathered speed and hurtled towards him, all memory of how to stop out the window.  Finally, I breathed my way though it (!) and managed to come to a stop, with the front of my skis coming to rest on the end of the child's skis.  That was when I decided to call it a day.  But, I'll be back again because not only was cross country skiing great fun, it was also a mighty good workout and I could barely walk the next day!

The Australian and the Texan!

Friday, 18 January 2013

A 'beach' holiday in Parksville ...

After spending a few days with C's parents in Victoria, we headed up the island to Parksville where C's parents have an apartment at one of the beach resorts.  We spent a few days here resting, relaxing and doing lots of walking on the beach.  I love the beach in the winter time, it's so wild and refreshing.  Especially on the west coast of Canada.  There is something magical about the water on the west coast, the way the light reflects off it is just beautiful.  Abbey enjoyed herself too, she slept most of the way home thanks to several days of fresh ocean air!

Our little home for our 'beach' holiday

Abbey the beach dog

Treat time

A beach jog

Walking on water

Taking a swim
Scruffy dog

Caught mid flight

A game of chase

Reflections in the water

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Abbey's first Christmas ...

It's a weird feeling being away from family at Christmas time.  This was my second Christmas away from home but the last one (2008) didn't even feel like Christmas because I was in the middle of an amazing dream adventure in Tibet.  This Christmas was a little different because I was surrounded by a bunch of Canadians who are all living close to their family which meant every time they talked about their upcoming family Christmas, I'd get a pang of homesickness.  But, the idea of a two week break from work and the prospect of a road trip buoyed my Christmas spirits.  C and I spent Christmas Day with his family, opening presents, enjoying a pancake brunch, taking a long walk around the nearby 'bog' and tucking into a Christmas feast in the evening.  I was lucky enough to speak to all my family via Skype which was great, albeit not the same as being in the same room, let along country!  I'm already looking forward to an Australian Davidson/Kaldy family Christmas at the end of this year!

The Great White Huntress (attempts) to catch a duck for Christmas dinner

Abbey loves her new Hudson's Bay blanket (I sense a theme coming) ...

... and C loves his Hudson's Bay chocolate!

Abbey's Christmas treats

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Reaching the wild, west coast ...

When we arrived in Vancouver (well, Whiterock, just south of Vancouver), we had a few hours to kill before we jumped on the ferry across to Victoria.  We decided to check out the beach ... Abbey's first ever experience of the 'real' beach (an ocean beach, that is) ...

Rugged up for the wild west coast

Abbey's first time at the 'real' beach!

Mmmmm, this cedar log smells pretty good ...

... so does this seaweed

A Christmas road trip ...

For our Christmas holidays, C and I decided to take a road trip to Vancouver Island to visit his parents and see a new part of Canada (for me at least).  We were happy to head out of Calgary as the temperatures took a huge dip just before we left ... top temperatures of -25!  We took two days to drive across the Rocky Mountains and through BC to Whitefish, just south of Vancouver, were we caught the ferry across to Vancouver Island, finally ending up at C's parents' place in Victoria.  The roads were a little hairy on the way out there given that there had been a big snow storm the day before but the snow-drenched scenery was just beautiful.  Here a few snaps of the drive ...

Our route.  We stayed in Kamloops on the first night

Heading out of Calgary and towards the mountains

Driving along and then we stumble upon this sight ... caribou!!!  (which we now think might be elk!  Any help on that?)

I braved the deep snow to get up close and personal with the caribou (behind a fence of course!)

Road warnings all the way ...

... and wildlife warnings
A walk break in Field

Snow plows working up and down the highway ...

... followed by this guy who tidies up the wall of snow after the plow

Frozen waterfall

Pine trees heavy with snow

Heading down and out of the mountains

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Vancouver - A Walking City ...

While we were in Vancouver, we took the time to do some exploring.  It's such a great city to walk around and we were incredibly lucky with the weather and had sunshine and warm(ish) temperatures for the whole weekend.  Here are some pics from our walking adventure ...

Granville Island

Water taxi trip

First Nations totem pole

Awesome dog beach
Downtown Van from the dog beach

English Bay

Friday, 4 January 2013

Sir Paul ...

Waiting to go backstage with my VIP pass and my pink paper (to wave when Paul gave a shout out to his family and friends in the crowd)

Our reason for heading to Vancouver in November was to see Paul McCartney in concert.  We were super excited about the prospect of seeing a real, live Beatle on stage and our excitement escalated when we discovered that we might have a chance of meeting Sir Paul himself.  The connection came through the owner of the company that C heads up.  Let's call him D.  Well, turns out that D was going to Vancouver for the concert as well and that D's best friend is Sir Paul's second cousin!  So, somehow, on a Sunday evening in Vancouver, we found ourselves at a pre-concert party in an amazing apartment overlooking downtown Van and the surrounding mountains, being handed a VIP pass for the concert.  C, a major Beatles fan (he possibly knows all there is to know about the great band), was beside himself with excitement and the buzz in the room as we prepared to leave for the concert was unbelievable.  Eventually, the time came and all 50 of us walked to the stadium where we were ushered backstage into a private hospitality suite organised by Paul's people.  There was some talk that Paul was going to make an appearance and while we waited to see what would happen, we enjoyed the free-flowing wine and beer.  Next thing we knew, we were heading out to a pre-arranged spot for a group photo with Paul before he went on stage.  I must say that he seemed like a delightful man, wandering around backstage with a cup of tea and his wife trailing behind him.  We had the group photo (still waiting for Paul's people to approve it to be sent out to us all), he said a few words and then he was off.  Next thing we knew, we were in our seats and watching the great man on stage.  What a surreal experience!

Follow that pink paper!

Backstage with our VIP passes

"Hello everyone!"

"Shall I sit here?"

Just a few minutes later on stage

A few videos so you get a sense of the evening ...