Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lauren Takes to the Air - Part 2

Warning: This is probably the longest blog post ever. I would suggest getting a going to the bathroom, getting a snack and finding a comfortable seat if you are going to read it. Don't say I didn't warn you. Also, there are cool pictures in the middle of the post, so if you don't want to read it all, at least scroll through and find the pictures!

Here it finally is . . . the trip to Calgary. Yeah, I know, that happened two weeks ago, but my life has been a bit hectic with work for the last two weeks. I think I'll leave that for a separate post because I want this to be all about that time that I went to Calgary to see my best friends!

The Friday that I left, I dragged my suitcase and backpack (which was also filled with work stuff) on my commute because I wanted to go straight to Calgary at work. It was pretty hard to focus that day because I was so excited to see the friends that I hadn't seen in four months! I'm pretty sure I was bouncing in my chair. Finally, 4:30 pm rolled around and one of my wonderful coworkers gave me a lift from the trailers to the terminal, so I didn't have to struggle along with my suitcase down the service road.

Since my flight was kind of at a weird time, my dinner that night consisted of chocolate banana bread from Starbucks, a bag of cashews, an apple and my water bottle (filled up AFTER security). I did have one little slowdown at security though. I had some medication to take with me that needed to stay cold. Instead of making a huge deal out of it by packing it in an unnecessarily large lunch bag, I put an ice pack, the medication and the prescription into a sock. I'm an engineering student, it was efficient. However, the security lady was pretty confused as to what was going on in the sock and made me unpack it, so she could check it out. Cool.

After a 10-minute delay (I think I just have bad luck with flying), we were finally boarded and ready to take off. The trip from Calgary is a brief 58-minute flight. That's pretty much how long it takes me to get to work! I was happy that we were served a snack though! For dessert to my random dinner at the terminal, I had a bag of weird, little chip things. Kind of like someone smushed a bag of Doritos, except they were supposed to be like that. It was awesome to go over the mountains because they are so much bigger than what we have close to Vancouver!

I had chosen to carry on my bag, so that I could get off as fast as possible, since I was losing an hour with the time difference. I was at the back of the plane and the wait was excruciating. I powered through the airport to find my way out (pretty abnormal for me considering how much I love airports), but my best friends were somewhere around here! I finally made it through the doors and Brittany was waiting to meet me! Everyone probably thought we were dating because I ran over and we were hugging and jumping around. She also turned bright red, as usual.

After that, we headed out to the car, which I was told not to make fun of because it was the only rental car available. We got out to the parking lot and Jaime and Angela were squished into the back of a silver Mustang. As I loaded my suitcase into the trunk, it looked like there was probably more room there than in the backseat of the car.

We drove through Calgary and it was very different than many of the other cities I had been to or lived in. There is A LOT of urban sprawl. High-density and medium-density just isn't a thing in Calgary. The houses also just keep going and going. It's also divided into quadrants. And neighbourhoods. Not suburbs (like of Toronto and Vancouver), but small divisions of the quadrants that all have basic services, like banks and grocery stores. It could get pretty confusing if you aren't familiar with it . . . or even if you are! I could feel all of the knowledge from my Society and Space geography class coming back to me as we drove.

We spent about 45 minutes at the house before going to meet up with some other friends. There are a lot of people from Guelph in Calgary. We stopped briefly at one of the residences at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) where we may or may not have snuck in. As soon as we got off the elevator, a friend from Guelph we didn't even know was going to be there, saw us and ran out from a lounge on the floor. Very random! After that stop, we were headed to downtown Calgary. We got to take the train, the CTrain, which I had to clarify was not the "Sea"Train, since we have the SkyTrain in Vancouver. Yes, I know that "sea" would not make any sense in Calgary. Although I am directionally-challenged, it's not that bad! I think an accurate description of how excited I was can be found here. It totally freaked me out though how the train tracks run right across roads and walkways. There are gates telling you to look for trains, but nothing really to stop you from just walking in front of them. Yikes!

After our exciting train ride, we did some walking around. I couldn't tell you where we were or where we went, but I can tell you that I managed to sustain some injuries on the walk. I was excitedly walking and talking to friends and didn't see the leg of the construction sign sticking out in front of me on the sidewalk, right about shin-height. I think a lot of other people saw it coming, but it was too late to warn me. That bruise is still going away, even two weeks later. About 30 seconds that happened, I stepped off a curb and rolled my ankle. On the same leg that had slammed into the construction sign. It was pretty impressive though, I think, because I fell all the way down to my knee and somehow recovered and kept walking.

There were lines all over the place and we ended up at some sort of country bar. We spent our time chatting and playing buck hunter. That experience should be pretty good proof that I am not a hunter. I should never, ever go hunting. My hand-eye coordination is not good, AT ALL. We didn't stay out too late because we had plans to go to Lake Louise for a hike the next day!

We got up bright and early(ish) for Lake Louise the next day. After making some breakfast, we packed up and headed out. Jaime was getting very excited once we started to get close to the mountains. She probably could have set her camera to just take video, considering how often she was sticking her phone between the front seats and taking pictures, haha. We got to the entrance to Banff and didn't even have to wait long to get in. Along the way, we saw a group of cars pulled over to the side of the road. There was a moose taking a bath in one of the rivers! (No, Erin, we didn't want to shoot it.) Also, all of the water we could see was a turquoise colour. It was so pretty! We got caught up in some traffic because a camping trailer, attached to a car, had ended up in a ditch and been blown apart by the impact. It looked like everyone was okay, but they wouldn't be using the trailer ever again.

We thought we would have trouble finding a parking spot (and we were nervous about where to safely leave the Mustang), but we were pretty lucky to see a car pulling out a spot . . . just as we had passed by it. However, I wasn't losing that spot! I jumped out of the car and stood in it until Brittany could back up. Pretty sure everyone else hated us.

After walking down to the lake and lunching on sandwiches that my lovely friends had made the day before, we took the cliche shots in front of Lake Louise. We're just SO HAPPY to see each other. I think we need travelling pants. It's that happy. Then, we ventured towards the trails. We were pretty ambitious when first choosing a trail, but it became pretty clear that my chicken legs weren't going to handle that. Angela took the backpack from me and we ended up going to a look-out, which gave the chance for another photo op and some great views of the area. Eventually, some other friends found us and we ventured a little further, to a steep, rocky area. Jaime found an inukshuk and Brittany kept saying she wanted to see a bear. Um, no thanks. After spending some time up there (and getting rained on), we headed back down to walk around the lake. It was a pretty long walk and we took plenty more pictures. We also saw that a wedding had been taking place recently. That would be a pretty cool location for it!

After tiring ourselves out, we headed back towards Calgary. I definitely fell asleep in the car, only to wake up when we pulled into a McDonald's in Canmore. Yum, fries! We had plans to visit downtown again that night, but considering how exhausted we were, we decided to make a "family" dinner instead and hang out in the hot tub. Worked for me!

On Sunday, we had breakfast and then it was time to take Angela and Jaime to the airport. So sad! We said good-bye and Brittany and I headed back to the house to relax. I wasn't leaving until late that night! Somehow, being in Calgary made my voice come back. (You might remember it was pretty much gone from the Ontario trip.) This was great because Brittany and I could talk! Since we had made so much food that weekend, we decided to go for lunch/dinner after dropping the car off. We found a Montana's and that filled us right up. I had the Chipotle Firecracker Burger, which was really good, except for the fact that I kept ending up with deep-fried jalepenos in my mouth, as much as I tried to remove them from the burger before taking a bite.

Since we didn't have the car anymore, another friend from Guelph was able to drop me off at the airport. I got there right on time, but of course, with my bad luck, the hour flight to Vancouver (okay, actually an hour and seventeen minutes) was an hour delayed! I had some chocolate milk and talked to my parents while waiting and finally got on the flight. I had an emergency exit row seat with lots of leg room and enjoyed more of the chip things.

The boyfriend was waiting for me when I got back (he's the best!) and I went straight home to bed. What a great weekend!

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