Calgary and Osoyoos, 2013

I had planned to visit my sister at her new house in Calgary this summer, but then she dropped me an email and said that plans were afoot to surprise our aunt on her 80th birthday and could I change the dates I was coming? It turned out that I could, and the way airfares worked, I got to do a roadtrip with Sue and Jake on this trip, as well as meeting my nephew for the first time. (this was typed up in October, so may be a bit sketchy)

Thursday June 6, 2013

Knowing that I was going to be moving around a lot and not having a lot of time to exercise, and finally having recovered from Tough Mudder the previous Saturday (well, besides some truly epic bruising), I was up early enough to do a kettlebell workout before leaving the house. Took public transit to work, fairly easy to do as I was going carry on only and caught the CT2 (bit of walking on either end, but I went with comfy boots and my Utilikilt). I had an afternoon flight, so just worked half a day then headed to the airport in Boston, going Green line to Blue with a bit of a wait at Government Center. There was no line at security, the Air Canada flights that use small planes depart from the tiny three gate part of terminal B that's just guarded by a metal detector, so security was a snap. I grabbed a mug of tea from the tiny Cosi stall there, and ended up spilling it as I was juggling stuff and had to run for more napkins. *sigh* The plane to Montreal was a bit late, I had to show my Nexus card to board since I'd put in that number when I did web check in. I was in row 2, next to a big guy, and squeezed myself toward the window and read the whole way. It was a short hop to Montreal with a fairly short turn around time to make the walk to the customs and immigration hall. The Nexus machine was there so I only had to do an eye scan to get my customs card, but they ask for the filled in full customs card anyway. *sigh* Then back through security on the Canadian side and through a metal detector again. I have to remember that it's a bit of a hike between gates/sections at YUL. I didn't see any food I wanted to eat at Timmie's, so grabbed a an expensive chicken ban mih at the bar, with water to drink.

This leg of the trip I had an empty middle seat next to me, so it was less cramped. I was still a bit hungry, so I splurged on the trio deal which came with a gin pomegranate martini, cashews and salad. Jack the Giant Slayer was available on the seat back entertainment system so I watched that, then started the new OZ movie but only got up to the 48 minute mark, though really didn't enjoy it enough (beyond the eye candy of Rachel Weisz) to go to much bother tracking it down to watch the rest. Coming in for landing, Calgary is smack in the middle of a bunch of farms, the city comes into view in a valley, and I finally got a glimpse of the Rockies. Sue and Aunt Monica were there to get me, though I came up on them from an unexpected direction due to a construction related detour in getting out of the secure area. Sue drove us back to her place and I babbled on about Tough Mudder. I was tired, and still hungry (yay training) and picked up a croissant and drink for the drive. When we pulled up, Uncle Roger was out walking, but Jake was at home. Sue made me an old maid cocktail, she'd shared the recipe via email and I was looking forward to trying it, it was good. We talked a bit about training and my trip to India, but I was beat and headed to bed at 11pm (I had to be up at 7am for the drive tomorrow as well). It was hard to hide the surprise from Monica, we tried to talk about our camping trip and for me seeing them in Montreal next later in the summer.

Friday June 7, 2013

I woke on my own at around 7am, got dressed and packed my stuff, borrowing Jake's exercise clothes duffle for overflow. Breakfast was simple, tea and cereal, and we were on the road before Monica and Roger. I breathed a sigh of relief after saying see in July to Monica, I could stop lying. We drove through rolling foot hills and onto the TransCanada highway into the Rockies and through them. Sue made me an almond butter sandwich, but because I was still a bottomless pit of hunger, at a Timmie's stop I got more tea, raspberry lemonade, soup, a roll, and a dutchie. Luckily there was a combo special in effect and it only came to $6.50.

We were surrounded by lovely mountains, glacial rivers (flat and rapids), lakes, hemmed in by snowy peaks. There was a bit of rain, but the sun peeked through occasionally. We went through so many national parks, I almost wish I'd been keeping a life list: Banff, Revelstoke, Jasper, Glacier (though looking at a map, we might have just skimmed the edge as it's the one south of the border).

We hit some traffic in Kelowna, then crossed the lake to West Kelowna and got out of the urban area during rush hour, around 4pm BC time (I'd forgotten the time change, it's always discombobulating switchign time zones again after initially flying from one to another - somehow a lot of my trips span switches in/out of daylight savings time). We hit up a Starbucks for a bathroom break and more tea for me (had a London Fog this time, so addictive). For a while we were on a two lane road between hills and a gorgeous lake, one rumoured to have a monster in it.

We went straight to the farm first instead of the hotel downtown. Max was sleeping and Marc was out in the in field. Marc came back in and then we (Sue, Jake and I) went to the liquor store to grab some wine for dinner - Cedar Creek has a Gurwertztraminer that I couldn't resist. From there we stopped at Ambrosia to order Indian food for everyoen for dinner. Then we finally checked into the hotel, and after settling in, we went back to the restaurant to pick up a big cardboard box of leaky styofoam that got curry sauce all over us as we transported it back to the farm.

Katherine made sald and we had just picked farm fresh strawberries (amazing). We ate out on the big back deck, and I finally met an awake Max. Katherine commented that the kid looks a bit like me, but I think it's more that Marc and I look a lot alike and Max takes after his dad. Prana Farm had two interns at the time, Brittany and her daughter Spphire, living in tents they'd pitched between the two farm houses. Mon and Dad and their dog Mischa were there, the latter a bit slow and having trouble untangling herself from her leash rope. Max is a very messy eater, pictures were taken. :-) I truly enjoyed relaxing with wine and wind and a gorgeous sunset. Marc had to disappear for a bit to pack the truck for the market the next day, but we all had time to for a bit. We left at 10pm BC time to head back to the hotel room.

Saturday June 8, 2013

Sue got up early to go for a run before it got too hot (highs in the mid upper 30s, oof), but I slept until about 8am. I went down to the breakfast buffet and ate half a heavy waffle and then some raisin bran. We were out of the hotel and ready to drive to Penticton by 9:30am or so to visit the farmer's market and to keep the car out of sight for Monica and Roger arriving alter that day. It was much warmer in the interior of BC than it had been in Alberta. We had about an hour drive along our backtrail, and Jake parked the car by the lake. They had a long street closed off for the market and stalls selling things other than food. Marc and Brittany were set up near the end where we'd parked, it was like Jake and Sue had done this before. :-) We chatted for a bit then I went off to explore. Surprise surprise, I was hungry again, and couldn't resist a mango raspberry tart (bought from a friendly baker, apron pristine behind her table of temptation). I also found what was close to my ideal leather purse (smallish with a handle, no shoulder strap), buying it from a a big motorcycle dude in a stall filled with leather goods. As I was wandering around, lots of people commented that they liked my unmotorised zombie apocalypse t-shirt. I had also put in purple gel and spiked my mohawk up a bit, so I was sticking out a little. :-) I got money out from the CIBC ATM for the purse and other uses this wekeend, then walked to the end of the closed off area. It was longer than expected, I was a bit over my 45 minute allotted time, and Sue and Jake were lurking behind truck, hiding just in case Monica and Roger came to the market first on their way to Osoyoos. I picked up a basket of cherries on the way out and shared those as we drove around the rest of the afternoon.

Next up was a wine tour! The valley is ittered with wineries, our only constraint was to not go to the ones on the list that Sue gave Monica and Roger. :-) We drove up a 5km road, past bikers, to See Ya Later up on a hill - there was a lovely view over the lake. I tasted some light whites, Jake got a few bottles - he was tasting reds and had come prepared with an empty wine box with dividers in the trunk. The we went back down and out of town a bit to Blasted Church. They had a friendly dog in the wine tasting area, Sue and Jake gave it a good petting and it leaned against them a lot. I got their cabernet sauvingon but never drank it - doing carry on only meant it wasn't worth taking back to Calgary, so it turned into a host/ess gift. Then it was time to get out of Penticton since Monica and Roger were reported via cell phone to be at the market and were soon to be going on to Sue's list of vineyards for thier own wine tour.

We stopped in Oliver for lunch, getting pretty slow service at the Firehall Bistro - it was pretty busy. I had a veggie burger that fell apart as I ate it, but it was good. Sue saw Monica and Roger drive past (we avoided taking seats on the patio) and I saw the farm truck go past a little later. After lunch, we went back down the hill a block to where we'd stashed the car off of the main street, and had time to make one more vineyard stop, at Stone Boat. While we were there, we got the all clear to visit the farm. We drove back to Osoyoos and dropped Jake off so that he could get his run (way too hot for me to consider joining him). Sue and I popped out to the field to see Marc and Katherine and Jim (her father) as they were harvesting a last minute order from a restaurant (not coincidently where we were going to eat that night). I got sent to the house to babysit since I wasn't up to picking aarugula in the heat. Katherine's mom got Sue and I set up with Max on a blanket under the tree and chilled with him - he kicked my bruises once, the brat. :-) I got Sue to take a picture of Max and me so I could see for myself any facial similarites, but Max wasn't smiling when he was looking at the lens. The farmers were back from the field at around 3ish, and Sue and I went back to the Best Western. I got the fitness room pass and did a hill interval workout on the treadmill, since they didn't have any free weights). I was back at the room at 5:20 and had a very quick shower and changed to leave at 5:30. We made a quick stop at the liquor store for Jake to grab something and then walked to the Watermark for the surprise dinner. We had some difficulty finding the main entrance (it was around the side) and Monica was probably out on the balcony of their room, so we skulked along the wall trying to keep out of sight. We found everyone in the know about the surprise waiting in the lobby. Marc went up to get Monica and Roger and to give some sort of excuse in the change in plans, and we were seated in the restaurant, on the patio. Staying quiet didn't work well (there were open walkways between the rooms and the restaurant entrance), but we pulled off the surprise anyway, Monica was floored. :-) I also had 2 cocktails, a Jasmine with sparkling wine addded, and a sake based one called "I'm sweet You're Sour". I had the smoked salmon appetiser and shared a bit of pickled beet on Prana arugula salad. My duck confit main course was delisious. Once we were all full and happy, we all went back to the farm for chocolate strawberry cake. Roger was very tipsy (I had to give him as assist with his seatbelt in the car as we drove him over), but he managed to arrange showing us a 2 hour DVD of family movies covering Monica's life with him (with lots of family visit segments, and many many cut down xmas trees in the deep snow in Quebec). Jim had a screen he lent so we didn't have to watch the projection on the wall of the house, and Jake supplied the projector. It was getting a bit chilly (desert air drops the temperature once the sun goes down), but Marc fond me a blanket. Roger kept insisting that young me was Marc, it was kind of frustrating. :-) It wasn't that late a night, everyone had been up pretty early, so as soon as the DVD finished, we split up to head to our hotels and beds.

Sunday June 9, 2013

Time to hit the road home, so much driving this trip, but it was worth it. Glad we had a full day in Osoyoos at least. During the drive we were going along a road with a bald eagle flying along over the river beside us. There was also a trailer overturned in a section of road with tight curves. There was a herd of elk (huge animals) grazing inside the wildlife fence that edged the highway. There were green overpasses that the animals could use to cross the highway, it was neat going under them, as well as through some short tunnels in the mountains. We had a bit of rain on and off during the day. We stopped at the Subway in Revelstoke for lunch, and again at a Tim Horton's for tea. There were huge and bold ravens in the parking lot there. We hit a big storm in the foothills coming back out onto the prairies. There were lots of loaded down long distance cyclists in the pass (only one road to take), but more roadies around Osooyoos. We dropped Jake off at the airport so that he could pick up the rental car he was going to take on his business trip that night. He made it to the house soon after we did, as there was a bit of confusion over my using my US debit/credit card to pay for gas.

Sue and I went out to dinner, walking first to the bank machine so that I could try to get some more cash, but that failed. We doubled back to go to 1600 World Bier Haus in the mall. It was a bit busy but we were able to get a table with no wait. I had a small but expensive cocktail (it was $6/oz for Hendrick's gin), a good spinach salad, and awesome sweet potato fries. For dessert, we went a few doors over to Marbleslab for white chocolate raspberry caramel ice cream. We walked back the the house via the reservoir and the park lands around it. Sue went right to bed but I stayed up for a bit recording notes - we planned to be up at about 7am to get me to the airport before she had to be at work on Monday.

Monday June 10, 2013

Sue knocked on my door at 7:15 and I got up and dressed then, though I think my eyes had popped open a bit before. I went with pants instead of the Utilikilt that day, betting on metal detectors rather than having to opt out of a scanner and get patted down (I won). I had a regular breakfast for me of cereal, yoghurt and tea, and packed up. We left just before 8:30 and had heavy but moving traffic to the airport. I had a moment of thinking I was in YVR instead, the two airports share a similar aesthetic in their departure areas. I had problems checking in, the kiosk wouldn't work for me or the agent at first, but she finally logged in, checked my documents and got my boarding pass to me. By that point it was just after 9am, and I had to wait until 9:22 before could enter customs and immigration (they didn't want you to start in too soon before your flight apparently). I used my green card for the Global Entry kiosk (no form needed this time), then my Nexus card at security (short line). I got some more tea and then sat and read at my gate. At some point I noticed a gate change, so wandered out to get a bagel and then noticed another gate change - my flight was delayed an hour so they were moving it around. I finally boarded the regional jet (a United plane for this leg, I got a cheap multi airline itinerary) and my totebag barely fit in the overhead bin. They had no personal screens and Oz was being offered only on the westbound routes anyway. I listened to music on my phone music and read. It was a tight fit in the aisle for the bathroom, it felt like was tacked on back of plane - overall not the best flight experience, but bearable. It was 3+hrs to Chicago, where I had a 2+hr layover so I wasn't worried about making my connection.

I made it to ORD with about an hour and 45 minutes to go before my next flight, and had a long trek through the tunnel to terminal C. I grabbed a fruit smoothie and a yoghurt+berries for dinner, since all the sandwiches were around $10 - I got those two items for about the same price. I skipped tea though as it was getting later in the day and I had hopes of sleeping once I got home. This flight was also late, due to maintenance paperwork. In apology, they offered free DirectTV, and Oz was playing. I messed around with the interface but wasn't able to find a way to fast forward to where I'd left off on my previous flight. I set it playing on mute and read to see if I could get it past what I'd already seen. The flight attendant was snippy with my tea, and the woman next to me kept encroaching since she was working on a laptop. I was feeling irritated in general and didn't get to the end of the movie in the sub 2hr flight.

At Logan, I took the bus shuttle to the Blue line, then transfered to the Green line, and then had a 20 minute wait for the 88 bus home. I could have taken the 87 and walked up the hill in the rain, but opted for the wait and a shorter walk. Made it to my door at 11:30pm.

Back to my diary page.