Across Canada – Brooks, AB to Moose Jaw, SK
My first day in Calgary was spend exploring the city with a couch surfer called Bilal. I like to explore cities with other people, so I had put up a message on the couch surfing website and Bilal who was also new to Calgary had answered. In the evening we went to a couch surfing meet up together, which are always a great way to meet people from all over the world. Held at a local bar I got chatting to loads of different people including a local Calgarian called Lloyd. Lloyd’s family originate from South Wales and he invited me to go indoor climbing with him later that week. A good start to my visit to the city and I hadn’t even met up with my friends yet
It was great to see Andrea and Brady again, who I had met through Richard and Karina when they came to stay in Comox last summer. It was also really nice to hang out in one spot for a while and be welcomed into not only their home, but their social circle for a few days. It reminded me that life isn’t just about being on the move constantly and that there is a nice life, and really nice people waiting for me back home in the UK.
I ended up staying in Calgary for a week, which I hadn’t expected to do originally. The city itself is big, too big for me I discovered after trying to cycle my way around and realising how far things were! I went on a bike ride with Brady along some nice cycle routes and we took in some of the sights, but using a bike as transportation in the car dominant city isn’t pleasant. On that note it has been really nice to park up the van and pull the bike out and use that as my city transport. I really enjoy having these two, very different modes of transport at my disposal.
Attempting to cycle Calgary made me think about Cardiff and how easily cycleable it is, and that perhaps that is my limit to a size of city – if it’s too big to cycle then it’s too big for me! When I left the UK I had always expected to return to Cardiff because I know what a great place it is – and I find it reassuring that after visiting cities all over the world it hasn’t lost it’s appeal as a place to one day settle down. One day.
Andrea and Brady were great, I enjoyed spending time with them and their housemates so much that I had to kick myself a little kick up the backside to eventually leave. I had been climbing with Lloyd a couple of times during the week and he had invited me to stay with him and some friends in Canmore, an hours drive into the Rockies, where they had plans to go out in the evening. So my next stop was Canmore – in completely the wrong direction!
It was fun returning to the Rockies and I had heard only nice things about Canmore. Lloyd had other couch surfers staying with him and we all went out drinking and dancing in the evening. The following day I had also arranged to meet Sam and Lucy who were not far away in Banff for a bit of a reunion. It was great to see them again and although the weather kept alternating from blinding sunshine to heavy rain, we spent the day exploring Canmore together and sharing travel stories. They have some very exciting plans for the next few months of their trip which I enjoyed hearing.
After leaving Canmore I headed East (the right direction!), stopping at Cypress Hills Provincial Park which was another one of Bill and Rita’s recommendations. I went for a bit of a hike to the highest point of central Canada between the Rockies and Labrador. Looking south there was a nice view over the prairies and over mountains of Montana, which got me excited for the next portion of my trip.
Next I headed to Moose Jaw to visit Vé and Tyler – some friends from Comox who had moved so Tyler could continue his pilot’s training for the air force. Moose Jaw is a little town and I had a look around with Vé and Tracy, their roommate, and we also visited the Tunnels or Moose Jaw – where Al Capone apparently ran the Canadian arm of his bootlegging operations during prohibition. The weather turned out to be nice so we also sat out in the garden drinking beer and playing board games. It’s a hard life.
I have been enjoying spending time with friends, old and new over the last couple of weeks and this is a much nicer balance of being sociable and travelling alone. I hope to continue this over the next few weeks as I will be visiting more friends before meeting Jim in Toronto, who is flying out to join me in my trip for a couple of weeks.
Tomorrow I leave Moose Jaw and head south into the US. My rough plan is to head down to South Dakota and then East towards Chicago to visit Chris and Martin – some old friends from the UK who I haven’t seen for years. I am excited about going back to the US again and also mixing things up in terms of scenery. As I had been warned, there is only so much of the prairies a person can take!
I may have to rename this trip “Across North America”.