February 1 – 3, 2013
Ahhhhh. The southern Calgary – mid-Edmonton commute is a wondrous thing. I didn’t encounter a single traffic light for over three solid hours. Even withIN the two cities. SOMEone hired – and keeps hiring – some damn intelligent city planners. Giant 6+ lane highways with overpasses, underpasses, oversized green signs, exits, frontage roads designed specifically with everything the roadtripper needs – PERFECT. Oh, I am so thrilled to be back in Alberta.
Let’s back up just a wee bit… Not as far as mid-December, mind you (when I last wrote), just a few days ago to Friday.
One month after my jubilant return home to Calgary, I wasn’t at home when I wrote this.
I was on a luxurious king-sized bed with four pillows all to myself, two cookies, and one steaming mug of tea.
Despite the fact that I had already spent Wednesday and Thursday at home, sick on the couch with tea watching an identical TV to the one hanging in that room, my hotel room afternoon seemed so novel, unique, special, indulgent.
I still haven’t recorded any of the adventures my family and I embarked upon in Tasmania and have not yet delved into a pretty standard Christmas holiday. Instead, a thrilling jaunt up to Edmonton for the weekend has got the travel juices going enough to rekindle my blog whose name no longer applies – crap.
Work on Friday was a professional development day; an early start and a work-straight-through means I was heading out the door at 1 pm. I begrudgingly departed with a loonie to bump up my tire pressure before selecting one of my long-forgotten, self-burned cds and hit Deerfoot Trail/Highway 2/The Queen Elizabeth II Highway (take your pick on a name!) and headed north! Wooo!
It was a pretty grey, dreary start and the post -36 degree-Wednesday 6 degree Friday made for muck on the road – and my windshield.
By the time I hit the brilliance of frontage-road Gasoline Alley just before Red Deer, my speedometer settled out close to 130 and was making an easy trip of it on the ultra straight divided highway with fields of snow and the sticks of the leafless wind breaks as far as the eye could see.
My multi-purpose stop at a gas station revived me – empty bladder, hot mocha and fresh Tim Bits, new cheesy early 2000s cd selected – and wait…is that an angel choir in the background I hear???
As I pulled back onto the highway, I looked in the rear view mirror to see the last remaining clouds – that had already shifted away from my front view – start to break up behind me and beams of late afternoon sunlight cracking through. For the second half of my journey the world was the richest blue, cheeriest yellow, and brightest white – still with a tree, barn, fence, along the way to add a story.
I’ve whole-heartedly become an open-space, big-ass sky lover.
I ventured onto the lovely Anthony Henday (216) ring road to take me around the eastern edge of the city before diving into the thick of it on Yellowhead Trail (Hwy 16) to arrive at my fancy pants hotel.
After my steamy shower, just for the heck of it, with lush hair condiments, I delighted in my kitchen-ish setup to prepare that tea and cookies I mentioned earlier. Later I ate dinner in the entirely empty hotel restaurant reading my Zen book and continuing to plan my goals for 2013. Monica rolled into Edmonton from Strathmore and we spent the next couple of hours catching up on our respective returns home from Australia.
In the morning Monica, Shirley (from Red Deer!) and I headed over to the ATA for our hot breakfast and a “debrief” of our year. I had no idea what to expect from the day – it was completely wonderful. To connect with others who had lived a year like mine, in a similar place, in a small country village, a giant city, a progressive school, a years behind school, a return home. All of it. It was incredible to share and hear and learn. In the afternoon, as a group, we worked on making concrete plans to support future Canadian exchangees to Australia and Australian exchangees to Canada. It felt productive; useful; growth; improvement.
To top it all off, at the end of the afternoon, there was a draw and I won!!!!! My Saturday evening was spent playing with my new iPad mini, downloading, exploring, Skyping, and more playing! Wahooo! Thanks ATA and IEEP!
In the morning I enjoyed listening to CBC Radio with my radio app on the new iPad while I leisurely packed up and enjoyed a coffee before another zing home on the QE II. Along the way, I came to realize that I missed trucks last year. Yup, trucks. Real ones. The ones that take people to work. That have heavy equipment in the box. I also felt this little twinge of gratitude upon viewing all the oil refineries throughout Edmonton. Life in Alberta is pretty sweet for a whole slew of reasons, including the opportunities that dino deaths zillions of years ago provide us today. But ya, trucks. I missed them. Is that weird? And that’s the end of my Edmonton weekend.
To Joan, who has been anticipating this post, my apologies for its blandness. Well, let’s extend that to everyone who might be taking a moment out of your day to peruse this…I’m just gettin’ back into the swing of things. I’ll try to spice ’em up a little better as we go.
Oh PS – anyone catch the news from the Groundhog? Is spring on the way or will we get more snow?!?!