Use Your Words - Oh, Canada!

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once, and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

weather ~ curtain ~ shed ~ wonderland ~ vacation

They were submitted by Southern Belle Charm - thank you, Minette!

This clearly calls for a vacation summary! Why? Because I can use those words to tell you about the first five minutes of our first day in Edmonton: 

After one of those nights (finally collapsing on your hotel bed after enduring a long-haul and a domestic flight, picking up your bags and rental car, installing your GPS, checking into your hotel and grabbing a bite to eat next door) during which you wake up at 1am, 3 am and 5am:

It was finally 7am, a decent time to get up and take a shower. I knew it was almost 7 because I had quickly checked my watch. I was going to go about my business when I somehow felt I needed to consult it another time, and I did. This is what it said:

This must be a joke or a mistake!

Of course traveling to Canada in October does not guarantee perfect fall weather, and we came prepared and brought our warm jackets and shoes, but frankly I didn't expect a winder wonderland on our first day of our vacation!

Well, let's prove my watch wrong, this should be easy: with a quick move I opened the curtain only to basically freeze in my own movement. The street lamps shed enough light to confirm that there was actually snow falling.

It didn't even look like it was going to stick, but as we made our way to the car after breakfast we actually had to use an ice scraper to clean our windshield.

And it wasn't just the snow. Severe northerly winds were blowing, forcing us to explore Edmonton in short time instalments, meaning we basically went from coffee to coffee. Or pancakes. Or donuts. Tim Hortons' chilli bowl with grilled cheese sandwich quickly became our new go-to comfort lunch.

So on our first day we visited Rogers Place, home to the Edmonton Oilers and West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America, and it doesn't stop at shopping: there is an ice rink (unfortunately under construction and only to re-open in December), a water park, a miniature golf course, a sea life cavern, movie theatres, bowling, you name it! You could spend en entire week there without getting bored!

The next day the snow had disappeared from most areas, the nasty wind had calmed down, the sun had come out, but temps had dropped even lower. Time for even the hubby to buy a hat!! After checking out Edmonton some more (read my separate post on bridges if you're interested)

We made our way to Calgary where of course Colin insisted we'd check out the Flames' arena, called Saddledome, you can see it from the Calgary Tower:

Can you see the Rockies in the background?

We were strolling around in Downtown where we encountered the Wonderland Statue

and later made our way to the Bow River and crossed it by using the Peace Bridge.

Next up Banff National Park. We still hadto settle a score with this supposedly gorgeous area because 10 or 11 years ago when we visited it was ugly, so very foggy we couldn't see a thing. This time we got super lucky, look at this! Lake Louise at its best!

Banff village, so pretty!

Bow falls (looks like we followed this river or the other way round!) We even took up an old hobby and went on a geocache hunt!

Somewhere on our way, Kamloops bound. What a view!

I remember having had a hard time finding a place for dinner that wasn't a fast food restaurant. In the meantime, to my pleasant surprise, they opened an Earls Kitchen and Bar where you can have a nice meal in a cozy environment and a hockey  game - perfect!

Speaking of meal, our Swiss friends who moved to 150 Mile House, BC, five years ago (where did the time go??) defrosted a turkey and arranged for an amazing Canadian Thanksgiving meal! 

It was wonderful to see them again! Them, their other Swiss friends who are spending a year exploring Canada (check out her blog, great stories and fantastic pictures!), and their Scottish highland cattle. 

Ahem, the white one on your right? Definitely not Scottish. Here's the story: Earlier this year, people in the Wiliams Lake area had to leave their homes to escape the wildfires. Our friends packed up their things into their RV and headed to Quesnel, BC, where they were camping out on a friends' farm. 

Our friends' 10 yo son is a huge animal lover and helped out with the cows all day long.

In the meantime their own cows at home were in distress because the water pump that usually runs on electricity wasn't pumping. Our friends desperately wanted to get back to their home to check on the animals. However there were road blocks, and police said it was too dangerous to go in. After much convincing they were actually escorted so they could open the gates enabling their cattle to get to the nearby pond for water.

Yet, after three long weeks when they were allowed to return to their home (fortunately the fires decided to leave their area alone after coming dangerously close) the calf had died from exhaustion. The boy was devastated. 

Now you can't replace a loved "pet" by another, but the white calf their friends got him as a thank you for all his hard work, partly made up for the loss.

So still having their unscathed home, their cattle and their friends was a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. As for us we were super thankful to be invited into their home and to be able to spend some quality time!

Part of it - for me - was of course taking the kids to the school bus the next morning!

We were on our way as well, next stop, Everett, WA. When we visited in 2014 Colin wasn't tall enough to participate in the guided tour. This time? No problem! It was pretty impressive to see how those huge airplanes are being assembled, and how many they put together per day, week and month. Let's just say Boeing employees may expect a nice Christmas bonus!

Out bonus was that after a rather rainy Friday (spent the evening having dinner with friends whom we hadn't seen in over ten years and didn't even take pictures, shame on me!) Seattle took pity in us and showed its sunny side! We did the touristy things like Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

In the evening my SBUX friend Patrice and her family took us to a hockey game. Colin had complained to her. "Seattle doesn't have an NHL team" he said. She did some research and informed him that while his statement was of course true, this didn't mean there was no hockey to be seen. They ordered tickets for a Western Hockey League game. The Seattle Thunderbirds were playing against the Victoria Royals. Interestingly we had spotted their team bus at immigration a couple of days ago! 

Even though the Thunderbirds lost, it was a great night. Instead of their usual green and blue jerseys they were wearing pink and blue during October, breast cancer month. 
My favourite part was during intermission: they turned down the lights and played "sweet Caroline" - almost 6,500 people were singing along!

Sunday, absolute picture perfect blue sky! Thank you, Seattle! Stroll along the waterfront, a ferris wheel ride, 

a walk (and a geocache) in the Olympic Sculpture Park at Elliot Bay

and to top it off a Sounders soccer game with my friend Christine at CenturyLink Field, and we won against Dallas which confirmed advancing to the playoffs! 

Looks like in the meantime the Sounders made it to the Western finals and will play against Houston Dynamo on Nov 22nd and Dec 1st!

As for us we made our way back to Vancouver, and I got inspired by their way of handling  the lack of parking space!

Even though we have been to Vancouver a couple of times I can't remember having ever seen the steam clock at Gastown, so that was really nice!

On our last full day hubby was annoyed by me so I went my own way for an hour or so. Aaaahhh!

By dinnertime we were one happy family again. Boston Pizza, a hockey game and a glass of wine!

On our last day we got the absolute worst weather! It was pouring really badly. Good thing we remembered there was this Guildford mall. It is probably the toughest shopping place to find your way around, but then again, we had time. Our flight wasn't till 6:40pm. We still had to resume our Walmart tradition: I shop for the real things like Halloween stickers or canned black beans, the guys keep wheeling silly items to me...

C spent some quality time at the LEGO shop.

To each their own. I liked this shop!

Time to say goodbye!

I hope you enjoyed traveling with me! So glad I finally finished my summary. Next up: Halloween and some hockey events worth mentioning, and before we know it it'll be the return of our Elf on the Shelf..!

Before you leave, please go and check out my blogger friends' posts: