Monday, August 31, 2009

let the ridiculousness begin

Saturday. The day we were to get a casual start and mosey on home.

We woke up and did our lounge around on the deck with tea and coffee routine and at some point someone noticed the flat tire. Completely flat. No air whatsoever. Nada. Zip. That car's going nowhere. So the boys, being boys, decided that they should change the flat. They prop the car up, get out the spare, and attempt to remove the flat. Well, this car has special anti-theft bolts... and the rental company has failed to supply us with the tool needed to remove said bolts. The car is searched and searched again, but no tools are discovered. Jason has an inspired idea! He has this sort of spray that will fix a leak from the inside of the tire, and a portable air compressor! So they inflate the tire and spray in the goop. Voila, one fixed tire! We decide that it's best to go into town to have it looked at, and maybe change the tire anyway. Tanya decides that it's best to feed us first, so she cooks up another gourmet meal. After lunch, she and the boys decide to have another game of disc golf while I go mope around by myself taking artsy photos of trees with my film camera.

It's getting late.

So at around 4:00-4:30 Tanya exclaims that her mechanic will be closed by 5:00 and it's about a half hour drive into town. Ummm. Yeah. So off we go! We made our way into town and got to the mechanics in time. They checked the tire for the leak and it was gone. That spray stuff worked. We still wanted to get the spare on, but they didn't have the tool to remove the tire there. Apparently each tool is unique to that specific year's model, and the chances of us finding one in small town Alberta at 5:00 on a Saturday are pretty much astronomical. We're out of luck. We'll have to just pray that that goop holds our tire together.

Here's Shane pretending to eat a burger that he made out of the rocks on the curb at the mechanics'. He also juggled. We were bored.

So, by the time we get out of there it's around 5:30, and it's apparent that we're not going to get home that night. We decide that we'll camp the night in Jasper with Kyle, and then get an early start on Sunday. Oh how naive!

Shane and I went ahead of Kyle so that he could drop Tanya back at her car. We decided to meet up in Jasper and make a plan from there. We went to the information centre and found out that all of the campsites were full for the weekend, but there was a few sites left at the overflow campground, back towards Hinton and the hotsprings. We thought that would be great! We could camp and get a nice soak in before bed. We decided that we needed to go swimming again, and we stopped off at one of the small lakes on the way to the campsite. We got changed into our swimsuits and were making our way to the water when Shane got stung by an unholy hornet! This thing was huge! And black! And ominous! Poor Shane was in so much pain! His leg was swelling up and then the palms of his hands started to look all red and he said that he felt itchy and weird. Kyle's ladyfriend America is allergic to bee stings, so we both looked at eachother and knew the urgency of the situation. We had to get Shane to the hospital.

Here's Kyle in the waiting room of the hospital. Cinderella Man was on the TV. "You're the champion of my heart!"

Kyle was the champion of my heart that day! Seriously. If he wasn't there, I don't know what would have happened. I don't know how to drive and we were not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but we were at least twenty minutes outside of downtown Jasper. Thanks for taking charge Kyle, and saving my little Shaner!

Here's Shane post benadryl shot, with the nurse. She told us not to let him drive because the shot would kick in and knock him out in about ten minutes. Shane was skeptical.

So we drove back to the lake and were planing on taking that swim... but at the other lake (next door to the incident). It was a way nicer beach! We should have gone there in the first place! Unfortunately, by the time we got back there the wind had picked up and it was pretty cold!

Here's Kyle braving the elements. He was out of there pretty quickly.

Well, our plans for swimming were foiled by the arctic winds, so we decided to just go set up camp and then maybe try out those hot springs before bed. We got Shane to drive the three minute drive to the hotel near the lake so that we could park Kyle's car for the night. Shane was pretty groggy by this point, but we made it! Kyle and I went to ask if it was okay to park the car there and they were super nice about it. Five star hotel service!

We walked back to the cars and started loading Kyle's gear into our car while Shane napped in the back seat. We were just about to pull out of the parking lot when I noticed that the air pressure warning light was back on. We checked the tire, and it was completely flat again! So we parked the car and started loading everything into Kyles car. As we were doing that, a storm rolled in. There was crazy flashes of lightning and the rain was pouring down sideways. We didn't want to camp anymore. All the hotels in Jasper were booked for the weekend, so we drove back to Hinton! We stayed at the Twin Pines. I saw the sign for that hotel when we were driving in and I thought it said Twin Peaks. I wanted to stay there, and we did!

Here's little drugged up Shane in his cocoon in our hotel room. He was wearing his sweatband halo and was wrapped in a sleeping bag when we brought him into the room. Poor little guy, but so funny all at the same time!

Kyle promised that he'd stay up and have a pizza party with me, but he fell asleep. Party pooper!

The next morning Kyle said he felt ripped off because he paid for a hotel room but he slept in his clothes on top of the bed! Haha! That's what you get party pooper! We went downstairs for our complimentary pancake breakfasts and tried to figure out who to call about our car situation. The girls at the front desk were not super helpful so we decided to deal with it when we got back to the car and the five star hotel.

Along the way we stopped to dip our feet in this river. It was about six inches deep all the way across, but as you got further out towards the centre of the river, the water became unbearably cold. It was pure ice water! It was so amazing, and super clean and clear. Gotta love those glacier fed rivers!

Here's Kyle and Shane demonstrating near and far, and just how shallow this river is.

Here's some people off in the distance, still only ankle deep in the river.

We got back to the car and waited around in the parking lot for at least an hour and a half for the tow truck to come and take our car away. A great way to spend my birthday!

Here I am celebrating.

We were driven into Jasper to the car rental outlet so that we could trade our car for the last available car in town! The outlet was to close at 2:00, but they stayed open for us. It still took until 4:30 until we had our new car, and then the lady forgot to give us the keys! haha! Luckily she was just packing up her stuff to leave, and hadn't actually left yet, when we noticed. We decided to just drive to Kamloops to stay with Shane's aunt and uncle, miss a day of work, and head out on Monday morning.

Here's some more mountains that we saw on the way.

The sun was setting as we drove into Kamloops and we finally had cell phone reception again. We had been trying to call Shane's aunt and uncle the whole time, but we couldn't get a signal anywhere. I blame those effing majestic mountains; blocking our phone signals with their looming majestic scenery. Anyhow, we finally get through, and find out from their house sitter, that they are on vacation in Newfoundland! (Seriously? Could this really be happening?) Luckily, Shane had met her about a month prior at Fleetwood Mac, and she said right away that we could come over. She was already in bed, but she'd leave the door unlocked for us. Thank goodness!

Shane bought me a birthday chicken dinner and we made our way to the house. We got in at around 10:30, had our chickens and I fell asleep watching Beetlejuice. Do I know how to party or what?

The next day, we woke up early so we could get home by lunchtime. We said our hellos goodbyes and were on the road by 9:00! Unfortunately, we drove two hours in the wrong direction! We got turned around somewhere, but Shane didn't realize until we were in Salmonarm. We ate some lunch and went to a super crazy big thrift store (that happened to be closed that day, but a nice lady let us in to do some quick shopping! I want to go back so bad!) and headed back to Kamloops. I didn't take any pictures.

We found the right exit, the one with the "overdrive" building... stopped in for a quick Shane Turner Overdrive photo shoot, and hit the road.

Here's the Overdrive at the overdrive.

I hate the Coquihalla highway. It's scary, and not super scenic... although I could have just been freaking out too much to look at the sights... that's probably it. It's a long way down, yo! I'm nervous in cars at the best of times, let alone on the edge of a highway on the top of a mountain... throw in those freaking wind gusts and I'm a goner. After a few hours of Coquihalla racing we ended up back at Lake of the Woods, only this time it was pouring rain! Shane went swimming anyway. I watched from the shore. I wanted to go home. Who's the party pooper now, April?

We made it back from our epic journey only two days late, and all in one piece.

The End.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

good day sunshine

The weather reports called for horrible weather for everyday we were meant to be in Alberta. The forecast called for rain and cold and perhaps a thunderstorm or two. We woke up to another gorgeous and sunny day! Hallelujah!

Here's the miles and miles of blue skies and sun drenched landscape.

We all got a bit of a lazy start to the day, sipping our teas and coffees on the deck. We eventually showered in the outdoor pump shower (we had to boil water on the stove!) and got ready for the day. We skipped breakfast and went straight to lunch.

Here we are about to enjoy a Thai feast that Tanya whipped up for lunch. Tanya is an amazing cook! She can turn a hand full of lint and nuts and some leaves into a gourmet meal! There was no lint in this meal, however. Just deliciousness!

Here we are climbing up to Jason's fire watchtower.

Here we are looking for fires. There were no fires today; just gorgeous views.

Later on we played a nice long game of disc golf and then we were off to more hot springs! On the way there, we stopped at a small waterfall and did a photo shoot!

Here's the waterfall, trickling away. The real attraction was just behind the waterfall.

Here's the amazing woods! There was at least six inches of cushiony soft fresh green moss on the ground and all the trees were bare and turning silvery grey. It was an amazing sight.

Here's our photographer, Tanya, getting artsy to great effect! I never think to use that "colour accent" setting!

Here we are doing another couples portrait. We took quite a few until we couldn't take it anymore. There were so many hungry mosquitoes here!!!

Here's another effing majestic mountain on the way to the hot springs.

Here's another couples portrait.

Here I am sneaking up on a mule deer. That is sheer joy you are seeing on my face, people. I really wanted to touch it, but I didn't because I know that would be bad.

Here's the mule deer ignoring me.

Here's the river along the path that we followed to get up to the source of the hot springs.

Here's Shane warming himself on the boiling hot water of the spring. These were manicured with concrete blockades and the water had been redirected and piped in to the blockade. Not as impressive as the natural spring, but still pretty nice.

Here's the ruins of the original hot springs resort that was built in the early 1930s. It's only been abandoned since 1984. The white cracks and streaks on the walls are mineral deposits from the spring water.

I didn't bring my camera into the pools. It was your average swimming pool type resort. Turquoise pools and concrete, the smell of chlorine and sulphur, lots of people, etc. It was nestled into some pretty spectacular mountainous scenery though. We hung out there for a bit and raced back home to catch the final bit of sunset, and to have a bonfire!

Here we are posing for yet another couples portrait. This time with sunset and windswept faces.

Here we are getting our wiener roast on! Marshmallows too! I'd been waiting for this moment for the entire trip! A perfect end to a perfect day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

she'll be comin' 'round the mountain

After a surprisingly restful in-the-car-on-the-side-of-the-highway sleep, we drive the remaining hour to Hinton, Alberta. Our final destination! As soon as we got to Tanya and Jason's we began exploring!

Here's our little Hobbit hole in the cabin.

Here's Tanya and Jason's back yard!

Here's the woods behind Tanya and Jason's cabin.

Here's the field where we picked wild strawberries. They were everywhere!

Here we are doing a variation of "the happy couple portrait" on a hang gliding launch pad.

Here's Shane's cousin, Kyle, in front of the cabin. He dropped by for the festivities!

We went to the visitor centre that Tanya works at. She runs a little gift shop at Kelly's Bathtub. Apparently this lake is named after this dirty old miner from the 1800s that fell in while fishing. They started referring to the lake as "Kelly's bathtub", the name stuck and the rest is history!

Here's Shane comparing dental work with his new friend the grizzly bear.

Here I am holding hands with a fellow cougar.

Here's Kelly's Bathtub!

That water was pretty irresistible. We made like Kelly, and had a bath. The water was pretty cold, so our swimming session didn't last too long before our limbs started to go numb!

After our quick dip, we dried off and headed for a bigger lake to do some canoeing!

Here we are racing. It was pretty much three against one the whole time. Shane let Jason do all the work and he beat us by a mile... or two. Seriously. That man can paddle!

Here's the bounty of our fishing attempts. Shane caught the biggest one. Catch and release!

Here we are making our way through a twisting maze of reeds. This river was carved out by some busy beavers. We had to portage (and I use that in the loosest way possible, as the dam was all of ten inches wide) over a beaver dam at one point.

Here's Jason and Shane gaining on us. They totally just pushed past us! It was crazy! These paths were pretty narrow... I don't know how they managed to push us aside!

After canoeing across the lake and down the beaver river and back again, we were pretty pooped. We headed back to the cabin and had ourselves some barbecue steak (mmmmeat) and potatoes, and the most delicious salad with home grown greens from the garden and those wild strawberries that we picked in the afternoon.

We did a little star gazing through some crazy high powered binoculars after dinner. What a treat! Light pollution is the pits! I miss seeing stars in the sky at night.

Here's the full moon in all its glory!

Here's Jupiter. Through the binoculars we could see its five moons! My camera could not capture them though. You'll just have to believe me. It was nerdtastic! We stayed up chatting for a bit before crawling up to our Hobbit hole for the best sleep ever!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

the smell of cinders and rain

I missed a day... make that two days of vacation posts because I had to go see the magnificent Bat for Lashes last night! This show totally blew me away. The showmanship was incredible! Natasha and her band are fantastic! I was particularly smitten with her lady drummer who was beating the crap out of those kettle drums and singing sweetly simultaneously!

It was a weird vibe in the audience though... the venue (~ironically that's also the name of the venue~) was packed and there were some fan issues. People were actually arguing over who was a bigger fan. It was kind of ridiculous. I just wanted to watch the show. I didn't need the bad vibes from the corner.

Anyhow, I just don't have time to post another vacation photo tonight. Regularly scheduled programming will ensue tomorrow... or the next day... only time will tell.