12 hours on the long and winding road from Vancouver to Calgary has awakened in me a new appreciation for this amazing country, and for British Columbia in particular. What follows in lazy bullet-point form is a brief summary of my trip, a few notes on making the drive (for those of you who have been thinking about a road trip to “cow town”), and a reflection on the weeks to come.
ON THE ROAD
– I left Vancouver at 5:23am and was near Surrey by the time cars started to clutter the roads and the carpool lane on the 1 opened. If you make a big (or even little) road trip it is always best to leave early because the drive seems shorter if you do not have to sit in traffic for hours.
– The ride went well until I hit a speed trap just after Golden and was slapped with a 200$ speeding ticket for going 120 in a 90 zone. This highlights the dangers of failing to read road signs because I was 100% certain that the speed limit in that area was 110kph. Anyways, I took it like a champ and will pay the ticket this week (25$ off if you pay early). I find that if you are polite to cops they are less likely to give you the 200$ reckless driving ticket that could accompany that particular infraction… yay for being polite!
CALGARY FOR THE LAZY, SPOILED, AND YOUNG-AT-HEART
Some highlights: floating down the Elbow river in a tube, watching campy movies at Chinook, the AMAZING Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs, and spending time with my bestie in the North-Westie.
Some lowlights: horrific sunburn from failing to use sunblock on my back pre-Elbow rafting, forgetting to bring my swimsuit to the spa (hillarity ensued, see next bullet point), getting lost… repeatedly, and losing an hour of my life to the BC/AB time zone change (though admittedly I got it back on the way home!)
– If you make this road trip or if you are just heading to Yoho national park, stop at the Siding General Store in Field, BC (a tiny little town on the side of the highway, the cafe is in the upper right hand corner of the town). This petite, friendly, and turns out a pretty mean muffin… it has the L.Hancock seal of approval.
LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES
– If you go to a spa, bring a swim suit. Keegan and I were both silly enough to forget this crucial piece of apparel but were politely offered a “disposable swimsuit” at the front desk. They looked pretty funny while dry but it wasn’t until we stepped into the pool that we truly understood the levity (as opposed to gravity) of our mistake. When you stand up in one of these bad boys, all of the water around you floods into the belly and rear of the suit and remains there until you squeeze, shrug, push, and drain it out through the leg and back openings. This is not a graceful procedure and Keegan and I spent about 30 minutes in the hot-tub laughing hysterically at the absurdity of wearing a one-piece adult depends/plastic bag into a mineral pool. Since laughter is considered the best medicine, I think we got our moneys worth at the spa that day.
BACK TO THE REAL WORLD
– With my final “big” trip of the summer behind me (I am driving to Seattle tomorrow to drop Hannah off at the airport but that doesn’t really count), I can now settle back into something resembling a schedule. Today I stuffed envelopes in preparation for my role as volunteer/crowd controller at Thursday’s Graduate Student Orientation. Later in the afternoon I will be meeting with my grad. adviser in anticipation of thesis writing and PhD Applications, both of which I plan to start working on next Monday.
– My new housemates have moved in/are moving in over the course of this week and things have gone well so far. The biggest change — poor Moe (my lovely be-moustached cat) has to get used to having relative strangers in the house! It was a bit peculiar for me to show people around and then say “Okay, I guess you live here now… do your thing.”
Stay tuned for updates, pointers, and “avoid at all costs”s regarding MA thesis writing, quant/statistics TAing, and PhD application filling over the next few months.