Canmore and friends

How can a mere 24 hours be so remarkable and rejuvenating? Well, take some very dear friends I met during my two years at Augustana University College, add mountains (magic in itself) and toss in cross country skiing, good food and a whirlpool and presto you have created a recipe for a good time.

We converged at my place on Saturday and took two vehicles to Canmore, Alberta. The day was perfect. The weather was warm with clear, beautiful blue skies. In a mere hour we had exited the hustle and bustle of Calgary, traversed the foothills and were greeted by the mountains. We weaved our way through the town to Canmore Nordic Centre Provinical Park. After renting skis for me (this was the first time I have ever officially skiied in my life), we donned our gear and hit the trails. I did my best to keep up with the ladies. I was a sorry display of athleticism but there was no way you could remove the stupid smile on my face or the determination in my heart. I wiped out twice. Once out of stupidity. I wanted to turn around to take a picture of the landscape but neglected to remember I had trees tied to my feet. The second time I lost my balance heading down a hill trying to get my skis into the groomed tracks. At the end of a few fantastic hours in the mountain air exercising, we all left with a little bit of sun on our face, aches in our legs and shoulders and words still streaming from our mouths.

We rounded out the day with a dip in our hotel's hot whirlpool to ease the aches away. Then enjoyed a fantastic Spanish and Mexican food at Tapas restaurant and begoda. The meal was divine.

It has been a long time since I have spent time with these 3 great friends and we had a lot of catching up to do. It was interesting to hear about the paths everyone's life has taken. It was enlightening to find out what each person does to motivate themselves, cope with upheavals and participate in the world around them. I was inspired. I also felt such peace and contentment being present and in the moment with these friends.

Once again I am finding friendship the key to good living. I cherish these moments and hope to create more.

Our time in Alberta is quickly approaching its end. Only 3 more months and so many "tourist" items left on my list. Thankfully February has provided enough days with decent weather that we have managed to squeeze in some Calgary attractions.

J and I took the kids to the zoo at the beginning of the month. We had a great time. The weather was perfect, the animals were alert, and the kids well-behaved. J managed to take some wonderful animal pictures while the kids and I delighted in watching

hippos sleep,
red pandas race around their enclosure,
giraffes saunter,
tigers roll on their backs or pace through their home,
rays skim through water,
and a baby gorilla play in the straw.

The zoo was a great way to spend time as a family. So great that we invested in a membership. All we have to do is attend at least 3 more times and we will have paid it off.

For Valentine's day we combined family time with visiting the Calgary Tower. After traveling downtown via the C-Train (which the kids still rave about to this day), my mom-in-law and I took the kids to the top of the tower while J and his dad went to some photo exhibits. It was a hoot watching the kids walk on the glass floor and observe the world in miniature below them. They thought it was neat "sitting" on the buildings and watching the cars and C-Train travel by. The glass floor initially freaked me out. It is amazing how your sense of sight strongly affects your body's reaction. I actually had the sensation of falling when I was stepping on the floor. We spent about an hour cruising through the Calgary Tower and enjoyed attempting to see the sights through the clouds and snow surrounding the tower. We capped our day off with lunch at a restaurant and then supper with my family (sis, her kids and my folks). Two free meals, a tourist attraction, and well-behaved kids created a special day to remember. Check out the train yard, Saddledome, and Stampede grounds as seen looking east and slightly south from the Calgary Tower.

Four days in Dublin meant
hanging in pubs
poking through shops
absorbing the charm of old buildings and bleak weather
being with dear friends

I have more words and commentary but I still feel unable to concisely capture my thoughts and experience. I cannot decide if I want to review my trip chronologically or in moments. Or if I want to reveal how it has opened my eyes regarding my likes and dislikes.

All I know is that it was a good trip. It was a necessary break from being a parent and partner. It made me a little more aware of myself. It enabled me to understand who I am as a traveler and what I like to do on a holiday. It reminded me that my friends accept me for who I am and I need not worry about being perfect. It also reinforced how important my friends are in my life. I need them and should always remember to have fun with them. The four friends I spent time with are charismatic, thoughtful, funny and frickin' gorgeous.