12 September 2014

First Weekend in Winnipeg

Last weekend was our first "official" weekend in Winnipeg (I don't count the weekend before of unpacking and moving).  We had a great time!

On Saturday, we went with friends of ours to a festival downtown near Legislature called ManyFest.  It was chock-a-block full of people, food trucks and performances.  They had tons of great things for kids to do and they even featured a couple of runs over the course of the weekend.

It was a gorgeous night for it...the sky was blue and everyone was soaking in the final weekend of summer!

Legislature...in summer glory.

On Sunday, I traveled to Fort Whyte Alive for Prairie Yogi Magazine's Prairie Love Festival.  I was volunteering my time and met some amazing yogis while I was there!  I also had the chance to catch up with a few yogis from Moose Jaw who made the trip to Winnipeg for the Festival.  There were DJs, yoga venues, a speakers venue and lots of gorgeous scenery as well.  

Me and some volunteers taking on Ellen's selfie...

Fort Whyte Alive is an outdoor paradise just on the edge of Winnipeg.  They hold classes to teach you about canning and preserving, talks to educate folks on nature-related topics, harvest meals to celebrate the Farm they have on site, canoeing in the summer and much more!  I can't wait for Dave and I to explore this little gem further!

One of the many trails at Fort Whyte Alive.

05 September 2014

Dear Winnipeg...

Dear Winnipeg:

So, it's no surprise to you that you weren't really our first choice for our next moving destination (I'm sure you've overheard us).  If anything, we wanted to drive our U-Haul in the opposite direction...toward the ocean and mountains and general awesomeness of the West.

That being said, I fully expect to enjoy you, Winnipeg.  I'm going to take advantage and celebrate all that you have to offer.  Every street festival, every outdoor adventure, every snowflake and raindrop and ray of sunshine.

Because...here's the thing.  We make the place.  I learned that growing up - moving from one place to the next.  A lot of people might laugh (or shudder) at the thought of you Winnipeg, but I'm walking into you with open arms and a big goofy grin on my face because you are where I am and I am where you are.  

So, instead of locking my door and closing the curtains on my window, I am going to embrace you like a long-lost family member and make the absolute best of things here.  I am going to love on our little living space and take long walks along the Assiniboine River.  I am going to meet new people and explore the different neighbourhoods.  I am going to approach you like I want to approach every new adventure..with excitement and energy and an adventurous spirit.

Because...you deserve it, Winnipeg.  

Hi, Winnipeg.  I'm Heather...I'm looking forward to getting to know you better.

With adventure in my heart...

02 September 2014

Au revoir, Moose Jaw! Bonjour, Winnipeg!

On the road again...

So, remember all those plans I had to take on Moose Jaw like a tourist before Dave and I headed out across the Prairies to our new home in Winnipeg.

Yeah...that didn't happen.  Taking pictures of murals didn't happen.  The Western Development Museum didn't happen.  A dinner at The Little Red Market Cafe didn't happen.  


What DID happen was awesome.  Time spent with friends that are family to us in Moose Jaw.  And, lots of it.  A swim and soak in the mineral waters at Temple Gardens, long walks under the big sky and a continuation of our minimizing in preparation for our move to our tiny little abode.

It was wonderful and sad and lovely and just perfect.  We really couldn't have asked for anything more.  

That is kind of the wonderful thing about "see you laters" as opposed to straight-up "goodbyes."  There doesn't have to be the last-minute cramming for your departure.  You KNOW you will return and there is something ultimately comforting in that.

Things I am going to miss most about living in Moose Jaw:

Having our wonderful friends nearby.
That sky.  Seriously...they don't call it "The Land of the Living Skies" for no reason.
The yoga community.
Walks and runs through Wakamow Valley.
The first snowfall (usually in October).
Main Street during the holidays.
Coffee at 23 Main Street.
Walks through Crescent Park.
Hikes at Buffalo Pound.
Being only 7 hours from the Canadian Rockies by car.
The big tree that I could see from our upstairs office window in the house.
Our garage - for those cold winter mornings.

Things I am looking forward to while living in Winnipeg:

Exploring Manitoba!
A new yoga community to discover.
Long runs along the Assiniboine River.
Walking everywhere and not always needing a car to get to something exciting.
Exploring a new city.
There is a MEC within walking distance of our place!
Having amazing friends nearby.
Having a parking spot in the city with electricity so our battery doesn't die in the cold winter.
City Farmer's Markets.
Living in a 585 sq. ft. space with my love and seeing if tiny home living is for us.

We are jumping in...both feet...ready to go!

24 August 2014

A Moose Jaw Gem: Wakamow Valley

So much happened in Wakamow Valley while we lived here.  Long walks, longer runs, winter picnics, and play-dates with friends.  It's been cold, it's flooded, the colours explode in the fall and the humidity sticks to the foliage in the summer.  

It's where we go to calm our senses and take in the changing of the seasons.  

I'm really going to miss Wakamow Valley...it's such a gem in Moose Jaw.

22 August 2014

Moose Jaw Main Street

Few things were as striking to me as Moose Jaw's Main Street when I first moved to town.  I mean, really!  There is the cobbler, the coffee shops, the Mae Wilson Theatre.  At Christmas they string lights across the road (think "It's a Wonderful Life" come to life) and in the summer they shut it down for Sidewalk Days and small town parades.  While some things have changed, much has stayed the same for a number of years.

Main Street in Moose Jaw is where you see the tourists pop in for the Underground Tunnel tours and where locals sit out on benches to watch the world go by.  You see more people meeting and greeting on Main Street than anywhere else in the Jaw.  In the winter you might see someone skiing down the middle of the road and in the summer, people strolling by shop windows.

My good friend Daniel visited a few weeks ago and he marvelled at how many people were walking from place to place.  That's the thing about a small town with a Main Street like this...you can walk and talk and slow down and breathe and notice things you just don't when you are whizzing by the miles of strip malls prevalent in so many cities these days.

At one end, Main Street is flanked by the old Train Station, now a Saskatachewan Liquor store, but still maintaining its grace and stature at the end of the road.  The other way leads up, up and away toward Diefenbaker Lake or Saskatoon, depending on your mood.

Main Streets are passing fancies in most places...relics of times gone by.  I'm happy to know that Moose Jaw's continues to thrive and create spaces for the people who live and visit to enjoy their town just that much more.

11 August 2014

Moving Time!

Friends, it's been a hectic summer.  No lie.

Dave and I were in the midst of decision making.  At the beginning of the summer, we were deciding what direction we were going to move in next and then the military, during the first week of July, made that decision for us...

Winnipeg, here we come!


The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of cleaning our condo in Moose Jaw, putting it on the market, selling it (including all furniture), visiting Winnipeg for a week for a house-hunting trip, finding a condo there, squaring away paperwork, hosting a friend of our from the States who came to visit...and...just keeping up with life!

We will be moving to our new home at the end of this month.

The change of scenery will be good and lucky for us, we have amazing friends family in Winnipeg that will help make our transition that much easier.

One of the benefits of being in the military...you have friends everywhere!

We are savouring our last couple of weeks here in the Jaw.  We will be doing some things we've always wanted to do...camping at Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, visiting the Western Development Museum, taking pictures of murals and enjoying the last little bit of summer with our friends family here in Moose Jaw.

It is a bittersweet time as Dave has been here for almost a decade and this is where we began our life as a married couple.  While we are excited for the change, we are sad to be leaving such incredible people and this friendly community.

Stay tuned.  Lots of updates over the next few weeks.  I plan on being a tourist in this little prairie city...will you join me?

02 July 2014

Canada Day Weekend

Happy belated Canada Day!

Dave and I took off for the Canadian Rockies to enjoy some time in the great outdoors.  For this trip, we decided to make our way up to Abbot Pass Hut, Canada's second oldest mountaineering hut (and location of Canada's supposed highest outhouse!).

I knew going into the trip that the ascent would be fine; however, I was (and always have been) a bit nervy about the descent.  Let's just say I don't like the second half of the saying, "What goes up..."

We drove out on Friday afternoon following my yoga class.  We drove 8 hours, listening to Canada Day special broadcasts on CBC Radio, chatting and noshing on snacks we packed up before we headed out of Moose Jaw.  Our destination was just over the Alberta border, near Field, British Columbia to The Great Divide Lodge where we hoped to catch a few hours of sleep before catching the 8:30 AM bus to Lake O'Hara, where we would begin our hike up to Abbot Pass and hut.

We arrived at the lodge at 2:00 AM, just before they closed the registration desk for the night and quickly made our way to our room to jump in bed and get some shut-eye.  We woke the next morning feeling groggy and chowed down on some tortilla wraps full of bananas and almond butter to fuel us for our ascent.

The nice thing about the Lodge is that it was literally a three-minute drive from where we needed to catch the bus.  We drove over, parked our car and queued up with other hikers to jump on the school bus that would drive us the 20 minutes up to Lake O'Hara.  Some on the bus were doing the same climb as we were while others were just going to up to O'Hara to enjoy the day trails that are there.

The bus rattled and rolled over the rocky road and people were in good spirits as we headed up.  Dave and I chatted and yawned attempting to wake ourselves up.  When we reached the lake, we off-loaded our packs and prepared ourselves for the day ahead.  We had asked about the conditions on the climb and were told that there were a number of snowy sections and that novice hikers had been turned around by the amount of snow that remained at higher altitudes.  Dave and I were determined not to turn around!

The climb begins with a gorgeous trail that hugs the shore of Lake O'Hara.  You are surrounded by pines and can ogle the cabins that rent out there for between $300-$400 per night (much more gucci than the hut we would be calling home for the next two nights!).  We continued on the well-marked trail that would take us to the halfway point - Lake Oesa.  We passed through forest and hugged a river rich with water from melting snow.  We climbed through rocks and boulders left by glaciers long gone and finally saw the icy surface of Oesa in front of us.  We took a brief pause to have a little bite to eat, put on our gaiters and helmets and assess the ascent route up to the hut.

It was clear spring has been slow in coming.  Snow covered the majority of the route and we knew it would be slow going as the snow surface seemed to crumble around our feet with every step.  The snow surface covered slippery scree underfoot and each step had to be made with careful consideration.  I discovered that quickly when, at one point, I placed my right foot, only to have it keep going.  I slid a good body length and when I finally stopped, looked up the slope with tears in my eyes at Dave - scared out of my mind!

After my slip and slide, we continued up - slowly picking our steps and assessing our path along the way.  We followed in the footsteps of those who went before us, relying on their toe holds and matching their ascent plan.  When we finally summited, it was the biggest feeling of relief!

We made our way into the hut which is just...awesome.  There are two large communal tables, a kitchen stocked with pots and pans, a wood-burning stove and an upstairs bunk area that sleeps 24.  The hut itself is made out of huge stones...all of this was brought up by both horse and man and provides mountaineers a wonderful space to get warm, grab a bite and put their feet up.

When we summited, the weather was fairly good, but it quickly turned wintry as blizzard-like conditions set in.  Horizontal snow, cold temperatures and howling winds surrounded the hut for the next two days.  None of the mountaineers who came to summit the two peaks on either side of the hut - Mount Lefroy and Mount Victoria, were able to make their ascents due to the conditions.  Dave and I prepared the food we brought up, enjoyed nips of Scotch and kept the fire burning to keep us warm and dry.  We kept our fingers crossed for better conditions on Monday when we would be making our descent.

Monday dawned and we rose at 3:45 AM with a group of gentlemen who were hoping to summit Lefroy.  Unfortunately, while it didn't work out for them, the weather improved and we all began picking our way down from the hut around 7:00 AM.  While it took us five hours to summit, the downhill only took us two!  We slid our way down and carefully heel-stepped ensuring we weren't going too fast to be unsafe.  I am terrified of going downhill, so Dave's guidance and reassurance were much needed and appreciated during this time!

We made it down and marvelled at how gorgeous the weather was...sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted us as we once again boarded the school bus to take us back to the car.  That night, we celebrated our achievement with pizza at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company in Canmore and a couple of pints of Grizzly Paw Brewing Company's best brews.

These trips are needed.  They give us time to reconnect...to ourselves, to each other and to nature.  Now, on to our next adventure!

For a little taste, check out this video below!