Things I Should Have Written About a Long Time Ago: Part One

I posted a week or so ago about how insanely busy the last year has been, and that I hadn’t posted in awhile; well in the last year, several things have happened that definitely deserve a blog post, and I promise I will get around to them. But for now, I wanted to do a quick post on probably the biggest thing that happened in the last year: I got engaged!

On February 19th, Zach and I were off on what I thought was one of our typical mini-road trips where we head out into the mountains to photograph our favourite spots. The weather wasn’t great, it would snow heavily periodically, so we kept changing our plans on where we were headed.

Every time we changed our plans, Zach seemed to get a little more stressed. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with him, so I did my best to cheer him up and enjoy the day.

The Ice Castle at Lake Louise is one of my favourite parts of winter

We eventually settled on a quick stop at Lake Louise before heading into Field, BC for lunch at Truffle Pigs.

Look at those chicken wings!!

The day was going well, and lunch was absolutely incredible. After we finished at Truffle Pigs, Zach asked me if I had ever visited Natural Bridge, in Yoho National Park. I hadn’t, and neither had he, so we headed there, not knowing what to expect.

The first view from the parking lot was not anything special: a snow covered frozen river. However there were tracks from where people had walked down to the river, so we decided to follow them. We found ourselves down on the frozen river, walking into a wondrous cavern filled with a frozen waterfall.

I was pretty engrossed in my camera, working to photograph such an incredible place. Zach called my name, I turned around, and there he was: down on one knee with a beautiful ring held out in front of him.

I obviously said yes! Zach is the piece that was missing from my life for so long. In the time since the proposal, we have been working towards making our life together: we now have a beautiful home and a dog that makes our little family complete. This blog post obviously doesn’t do the whole proposal moment justice, but I really wanted to write about it and share photos from the incredible day. I look forward to a lifetime of making memories with this amazing man ❤

We celebrated that evening with Champagne and a hotel room in Canmore ❤

Where did the time go…

It has been almost 10 months since I last wrote anything on here.

Man oh man, where the hell does the time even go…

Let me quickly catch you up on what has happened in the last year and why I haven’t been on here.

Last fall I applied to go to school to do my Primary Care Paramedic certs in Edmonton. This was a huge step for me, as it would mean moving out of the town and job where I had been for the last 5 years.

Then I didn’t get in to school. I was wait listed and kinda gave up hope on getting on. School was scheduled to start on January 8th, 2019. I was told I was wait-listed in October. So I went on with my life.

On December 11th, 2018, I was driving to a job interview for Calgary Fire when I received a call from the school asking me if I was still interested in a spot, as they had one with my name on it. I of course said yes! I was scheduled to fly out for two weeks in Ontario 3 days after that, returning only days before class started, so things were a little bit of a blur. I got as much of my life together as possible before flying to Ontario for Christmas, then came back and basically jumped straight into the school year.

I finished the classroom portion of school at the end of May, and about a week later shipped out for a wildfire export, with one of the fire dept I work for, to High Level, Alberta. I ended up spending about 6 weeks in High Level on the Chuckegg Creek fire, with only 3 days off in that stretch. I spent those days off in the Northwest Territories because I was already so close, and why not?!

I came back from High Level and had a lot of catching up to do with the rest of my life. Here are the highlights for what has happened since in definitely not chronological order:

  • Went back to work at Kananaskis Emergency services
  • Roadtripped to Squamish
  • Got engaged
  • Road tripped to Pincher Creek/Waterton
  • Got a dog!!!
  • Moved into my own house with my partner
  • Celebrated a birthday
  • Got a new tattoo
  • Did the Calgary Firefighter Stairclimb for the 4th time!
  • And probably a whole lot of other stuff…

I am sure I will get around to writing more in detail about a bunch of these topics, so for now this is just the highlight reel.

If you look at the headings on my home page, you will see I have added one titled Dahlia the Doggo. This is the story of my new furbaby and how she came into my life, I highly recommend taking a couple minutes to read it (obviously 😉 ) and other than that, that is all for right now! More to come soon ❤

David Thompson Country

You might have heard the plan announced this week to develop new provincial parks in the area between Banff and Rocky Mountain House. If you haven’t, then you should read about here. Its incredibly exciting to be developing this area in order to better manage it and also to better protect it. The development of this area is being compared to when Kananaskis Country was formed, which I happen to think is incredible but will admit to being biased about 😉

I will admit that I have not spent nearly enough time exploring that area, but about a month ago went on a mini road trip to explore. Here are some of my favourite photos from David Thomson Country:

Christmas Lights: Spruce Grove

I LOVE Christmas. Like love love love Christmas.

I have ever since I was a young kid. To me, Christmas was always about family traditions. My parents wedding anniversary is December 19th, and we always spent the weekend closest to that date in Ottawa going to artisan craft shows, museums, eating dinner in the Byward Market and seeing the Christmas lights on Parliament Hill.

For the holiday itself, we would always have dinner at my grandfathers house on Christmas Eve, a totally informal potluck dinner where the family crowded the living room and visited with each other while watching Christmas movies. Christmas morning was spent with my parents and brother, and then we would usually drive to my Aunt and Uncles house for dinner with all my cousins, and in later years, all their kids.  On the drive home from dinner, we would always drive home the scenic way, touring through the neighborhoods with the best Christmas lights. 

Zoo Lights at the Calgary Zoo

Now, living across the country from my family, I have had to create my own holiday traditions, but taking in the best Christmas lights displays that I can find. I have gone to Zoo Lights (at the Calgary Zoo) for the last 3 years and highly recommend going! But last night I was shown an absolutely magical (although obviously on a smaller scale) display that is absolutely free to check out!

Central Park in Spruce Grove, just outside of Edmonton, goes absolutely over the top, decking out every tree in the park with festive lights. There is parking nearby, so grab a hot chocolate and go for a stroll. When the weather is more cooperative, I’ve been informed that there is also skating around the perimeter of the park. I will definitely be back! 

Looking back on the last year…

I will admit it has been awhile since I have posted.

Almost an entire year. 

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing things… In fact it is just the opposite! I have been too busy doing ALL the things. Between working multiple jobs, spending time outside and getting some travelling in, I have been too tired to feel inspired to sit down and write. I even stopped shooting on my DSLR for awhile there. But the last couple months have allowed me to slow down, gather my life together and start to feel creative again. Let me catch you up on my last year…

 

Oh yeah so… my hair is varying shades of red/pink/purple now

Highlights of my year:

  • Traveled to Ontario to see my family in January. And August. And heading back again in a couple of weeks
  • Participated in my third Calgary Firefighter Stairclimb in April
  • Completed my training as swiftwater rescue technician in May
  • Got my class 2 drivers license in May
  • Completed ITLS (International Trauma and Life Support) also in May
  • Trained my ass off for, and competed in my first ever Firefit competition in June (it was a disaster LOL)
  • Worked as a canoe guide for the summer
  • Broke my thumb, three ribs and re-dislocated my knee between April and August
  • Roadtripped around the west coast with my family
  • Started working (super casually but LOVE it!) at Canmore Brewing
  • And have basically been all over Alberta in the last 6 months or so.

It has honestly been a wild year, in so many ways. I am working on doing some writing, catching up on all the amazing places I have been and things that I have seen and am trying to get settled into a better schedule for writing. Its so easy to let writing slip, and then you look at how long it’s been since you’ve posted anything, and you feel so bad that you don’t want to post anything… Its a vicious circle that leads to more procrastination. But I am here. I’m back and better than ever!

 

Focusing On the Things that Matter

In the past couple years, my life has changed a lot.

We all have that road map in our heads, the ‘game plan’ for how things are supposed to go. For most people, myself included, it goes something like:

  • Go to post secondary school
  • Get a ‘real’ job
  • Fall in love
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Live Happily Ever After

So what happens when that doesn’t exactly work out…

I thought I had everything figured out, that I was on track. Steps one-four were done. I was married to a good man… but… Things there didn’t quite work out. So here I am, 25, divorced and childless.

And it has taken me awhile to realize that that is okay.

So what happened, why did things fall apart? Well long story short we both ended up wanting very different things.

About 3 years ago, I became a firefighter. This is the part of my life that I didn’t know I was missing until I found it. I fell in love with firefighting and I fell in love with my life in Kananaskis. I want to be the absolute best firefighter possible, and that meant putting a hold on having kids (along with some health complications in that regard, but that is a whole other story).

When you find that one thing that sets your soul on fire, that completes you, your reason for waking up in the morning, you follow that. Chase that. If you walk away from something that lights that passion in you, I fully believe you will live to regret it for the rest of your days. I was not prepared to live with regret for the rest of my life.  If someone tells you to choose between them and the thing you are most passionate about, it is no choice at all.

So while I cried myself to sleep for my share of nights, mourning the loss of what was and what could have been, I know I made the right choice. The right choice is rarely easy, and it is one I will live with for the rest of my life, but I am okay with that. I am self-aware enough to know what I need in life and what I am not capable of living without.

My message to other people going through difficult relationships is this:

Know yourself. Know what you need in life and know your limits. Do not give up on yourself to make someone else happy. You do not want to live with regret for the rest of your life, you only get one life to live. You must be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else. Find someone who is prepared to truly be your partner, who will support your dreams as you support theirs.

As a side note, a relationship ending does not make either party ‘bad’, it just means you were not right for each other. To my ex-husband, I wish you nothing but happiness. I hope you find something to be passionate about and that you can find someone with whom you will be happy and with whom you share your dreams.

Moving forward from a rough couple of years, I am focusing on the things that matter and on pursuing my dreams. While married to an RCMP officer, I could not really look at having career dreams or aspirations of my own, since we would be moving every 3-5 years for the rest of our working lives. Now that I am on my own, I have the freedom to pursue my own career. And that is exactly what I am doing!

I want to become a full time firefighter. This is my dream since the day I became a firefighter. When I stepped into that bunker gear for the first time, it felt right. I knew that that was what I was meant to do. I could help people, make an actual difference in the lives of people who needed assistance. And since I started training, I have wanted to do more, to be able to help more. Over the last 3 years as a firefighter, I have taken some amazing courses to make me a stronger rescuer, and I look forward to taking many more over the course of a long career. I will write more about my career aspirations later, since that could be a blog post in and of itself…

I know that this post has been a little loopy and non-linear, but these are all things that I have been struggling to put into writing for a long time. I can’t even tell you how many times I have sat down to write about this, or about things that are currently happening in my life, but felt a block because of the dark shadow of my failed relationship. They say you have healed when you can talk about what hurt you and you no longer cry. If that is the measure for healing, then I am doing very well these days.

I want to say a huge thank you to all the incredible people in my life who have been there with me through all of this. To my parents, thank you for raising me to be strong and for supporting me when I am not. To my fire family, you guys have been my rock. You guys got me through a time so tough that I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but here I am, out the other side and stronger than ever. And finally, to KM. You have been there for me as my best friend through all of this. I don’t know what I would do without you. I love all these incredible people in my life and am so lucky to have them.

Cheers to moving forward, to living your dreams and to becoming the best version of yourself possible.

 

Drumheller in a Day

 

Now, while I highly recommend spending more than a single day in Drumheller, sometimes busy schedules get in the way and one day is all you have to spare. If one day is all you have, then these are the things you absolutely must do:

Royal Tyrell Museum:

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The Royal Tyrell Museum is a place I have loved ever since I was a little kid. I first visited this museum at the age of 4 and have been back several times since. Plan on spending a couple of hours here, exploring and reading through the incredible displays.

 

Horse Thief Canyon:

Horse Thief Canyon is a beautiful showcase of the badlands, and is definitely worth the short drive, followed by a little on-foot exploration.

The Giant Dinosaur:

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This giant fellow is pretty easy to find, since its massive 😉

No trip to Drumheller is complete without a photo with the giant dino.

 

A Brief History Of Flannel

 

I love flannel. If you look in my closet, you will find way more flannel than any person who isn’t a lumberjack should own. There is just something so incredibly cozy about a good flannel shirt, or soft flannel sheets. But I bet you don’t realize the incredible history behind flannel, or why it was developed in the first place. Lets dive into this a little…

According to the Wikipedia entry on flannel (yes, there is a Wikipedia entry on flannel…) :

Flannel is a soft woven fabric, of various fineness. Flannel was originally made from carded wool or worsted yarn, but is now often made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fiber. Vegetable flannel is made from Scots pine fiber. Flannel may be brushed to create extra softness or remain un-brushed.

Historically, flannel, or flannel like material, can be traced back to 16th century Wales. While flannel now comes in a huge array of colours thanks to modern synthetic dyes, the colour of flannel use to be correlated to the colour of wool used to make it. If you wanted black flannel, better go find yourself a black sheep.

Flannel has not always been a fashion statement: originally, flannel was developed for its capacity to keep people warm. Being made from wool, it was a great insulator, warm when wet and densely woven to keep the wind out. The large quantity of sheep in Wales (and Europe in general) made production of this fabric affordable. While it was originally made from hand-carded wool, the Industrial Revolution made this woven fabric more accessible to people of all economic standings.

Flannel came to be manufactured in North America in 1889, starting in Detroit, when Hamilton Carhartt (I bet you recognize that last name!) wanted to make better work clothes for men. Prior to this, flannel was being imported from Europe. Loved by railway workers, frontiersmen, construction workers, and of course loggers, flannel came to be known as a shirt for ‘rugged men.’ Flannel was also used for uniforms, undergarments and patches for soldiers during World War I & II.

In the 1950’s, the grey flannel suit became a staple for businessmen, making flannel stylish, as opposed to just practical. After the 50’s, the popularity of flannel seemed to die off for a bit, before the grunge look of the 1990’s brought it back, but now flannel was mostly being made out of a cotton blend. Flannel has been mainstream for quite awhile now, but with the rise of the Lumbersexual movement, flannel is now more popular than ever.

It seems like every store in the mall now has flannel of some sort. But not all flannel is created equal. Things to consider when buying flannel:

Quality stitching: look at the seams. Will this shirt hold up for how you are going to wear it? I wouldn’t go to the Gap to buy a flannel shirt that I planned to wear hiking.

Thickness: Men rarely have a problem finding nice, thick flannel. But most women’s flannel is (excuse my language) bullshit. It’s thin and doesn’t hold up for more than a season.

Softness: You can find thick flannel that is still soft. You don’t want a shirt so stiff that it can stand up on its own, and you don’t want a shirt that’s going to make your skin itch (more of a concern with wool flannels).

So now that you have an idea of what to look for in good flannel, lets take a look at some of the best (in my humble opinion) flannel shirts on the market right now:

Pendleton – Hawthorne Flannel Shirt

hawthorne-flannel-pendleton

 

This one is for the guys. This thick, luxurious flannel comes in a variety of traditional patterns. Fits a tad on the slim side, so women can get away with wearing it as well.

 

 

 

Pendleton – Canyon Wool Flannel Shirt

This shirt is perfect for the flannel purist. It is made out of wool, but is still soft enough to wear next-to-skin.

pendleton-canyon

 

Patagonia – Fjord Flannel Shirt

Patagonia has really nailed it with this shirt. Both the mens and ladies shirts have a great cut, traditional but still flattering. This cotton flannel is super soft and thick, making it the shirt you want to pull on when the mornings are chilly.

Roots – Algonquin Shirt

Inspired by the rugged wilderness of Algonquin park and the incredible history of logging and bushcraft, this shirt pays homage to its namesake. This flannel is thick, but soft and the twill and faux suede details set it apart.

 

Eddie Bauer – Stine’s Favourite Flannel

Christine, or ‘Stine’, was Eddie’s wife and an incredible woman all on her own. As a sporting woman, she helped influence the women’s’ line of clothing at Eddie Bauer. Much like the woman it’s named after, these flannel shirts are classy, yet adventurous. I personally own the heathered grey with white polka dots, because not all flannel needs to be plaid 😉

eddie-b-stine

 

Eddie Bauer – Expedition Flannel

Technical flannel? You bet. Say hello to Flannel 3.0. This material is a blend of synthetics that feel almost as soft as cotton flannel, but the choice of material helps this shirt to give extra insulation, and wick moisture away from the body. This is available for both men and women. I gave this flannel a try back in the fall and was pleasantly surprised by how much I love it, despite it being a synthetic.

expedition-flannel-shirt-m

American Eagle – Ahh-mazingly Soft Flannel Shirt Jacket

Seriously, that’s what it’s called. Ladies only for this shirt! The fact that I fell in love with a shirt at American Eagle was a bit of a surprise, but this is seriously my favorite flannel shirt of 2016. The material is the softest I have ever felt, it is as smooth as butter on your skin.

american-eagle-super-soft

 

So now that you know a bit more about flannel, and some of the amazing flannels out on the market right now, I want to share with you the best way to take care of your flannel:

Flannel shrinks. Badly. You can lose up to an inch in length and ½ an inch in width on a flannel shirt if you wash it wrong. Wash your flannel with gentle detergent in cool water (my washer has a ‘tap cold’ setting that I use) and hang it up to dry. I will toss my shirts in the dryer for a few minutes on tumble dry – low to fluff them up before wearing them, but if you dry your flannel on high heat, you are going to find your shirt significantly smaller than when you put it in the wash.

 

Do you love flannel as much as I do? Get your flannel selfies ready and stay tuned for a contest coming up in a few weeks.

The New & Improved Banff Gondola

You might have heard that the Banff Gondola recently did a renovation…a 26 million dollar renovation. Having not been up the Gondola in a couple of years, I wanted to check it out.  I was quite impressed with the new facility; it has a modern look and is brightly lit with natural light.

The new interpretive displays are fantastic, and perfect for visitors of all ages. The new restaurant and lounge up top is also incredible. Definitely the best view in Banff to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer.

I highly recommend checking out the renovations for yourself, but until then, I will tide you over with some photos:

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