We got some unexpected extra time in Canmore, Canada, a small but ultra modern mountain town just outside of Banff. While the RV got worked on, we decided to get our workout on as well. We hiked up to Grassi Lakes, a steep 3 mile hike with a very rewarding summit. The first overlook gives a panoramic view of the largest lake and the surrounding town.
The other side of the summit offers lakeside strolls of a few smaller lakes, all so clear that you can see to the bottom! Tiny fish appear suspended in air as they hover beneath the water's surface.
This is me, trying to hold it together. Despite our gorgeous surroundings, remember, I am still losing it.
Then, a few things happened.
1. We found a really nice community center with free WiFi. Being too emotionally drained to even deal with Canada anymore, this became our fortress of solitude.
2. All of you amazing people showed us so much love and support- The blog comments, the texts, a few words of wisdom and even the simple acknowledgements like, "that sucks, man". It changed my outlook on everything, like just because everything is going wrong, doesn't mean I've failed. Sure, it's going to be a hell of a lot harder than I had imagined--like many of you probably predicted-- but it isn't failure.
And 3. A good friend who has always been there for me when I've felt my lowest offered to PayPal us some cash for a proper anniversary dinner! I almost said "Oh, you don't have to do that!", but Jeffrey told me not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Boy, was he ever right! It was a night of relaxation and face-stuffing luxary that set the perfect backdrop for a new outlook on tackling this beast of an RV!
We chose Brazilian BBQ, and for those who don't know. .. it is a force to reckon with! You start at the vegetarian salad bar and buffet style sides. Then you're given this little coaster thing that is green on one side for "more" and red on the other for "all done". As long as the green side is showing. .. men with open-fire rotisseried meats keep walking by and slicing off tasters for you to feast upon. (No meat photos for my veggie buddies!) We had to roll ourselves out the door. SO DAMN GOOD!
Here we are... 600 miles and just a few weeks from home and .... nothing.
We've been broken down more than days than not. My spirit is busted, and the only thing that hasn't gone completely tits up is Jeffrey's patience and ability to put up with my lack thereof. Yes, we are in the most majestic place either of us have ever seen, but it's hard to remember it's beauty when you're squinting through 7 constant days of grey rain and occasional teary eyes.
We finally said, "fuck it" and started spending money on having a good time instead of just RV repairs. We rented a little motor boat and explored Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. It's the largest of the park's lakes, and the only one that motorized boats are allowed in. We got caught in a sudden downpour at the furthest point of our boating expedition. Luckily, I brought my giant coat (thanks, NorthFace). Jeffrey on the other hand, got soaked... all while laughing and saying, "I ain't afraid of rain!" (I think we've both become manic in the face of anything 'bad' at this point).
In all the mayhem, we both missed our anniversary. I'm not big on those sorta things anyways, so it was nice that there wasn't any pressure around it. In retrospect, we did have a very romantic evening hiking along Moraine Lake, the "Jewel of the Rockies".
And like Canadian Mountain clockwork, the rain replaced the sunset and left us in a peaceful drizzle. The raindrops hit the surface of the blue water in such a calm chaos that it left us in a meditative state, wrapped in each others arms, thankful that we had one another no matter what. So, it kind of was a perfect way to spend our anniversary-- loving each other, just because.
The rv may be temporarily docked at the campsite due to some carburetor trouble, but it could not have picked a more beautiful place to do so! We explored Alberta by the truck, stopping off at random places along the road for quick strolls and panoramic views of the vast mountainous terrain.
We finally(!) embarked on our first home of the trip! We chose a short 2 mile hike with high payout according to the guidebooks. Boy oh boy, we're they right! Johnston Canyon is home to some of the most inspiring waterfalls and cascades I have seen. The trail itself transforms into a cliff hanging catwalk bolted onto the side of giant boulders, sometimes just feet above gentle rapids, but more often 80 feet above! There are two giant falls, one with a cave viewpoint that puts you so up close and personal, you can feel the spray on your face.
Make sure to click on the photos to see the full image :)
We finished the night with a twilight hour visit to the park's namesake, Lake Louise. Normally littered with hundreds, maybe even thousands of tourists by day (seriously, they close it when they reach capacity... They CLOSE nature!) -- we had the place to ourselves for a romantic stroll where we shared a lakeside beer and a smooch. <3
Until next time, I'll be scampering in the woods like a carefree idiot. Bye bye!
Let me start off by saying, Canadians are the gosh darn nicest people around! Unfortunately our discovery of Canadian mannerisms came at the cost of Jeffrey trying to do innumerable roadside repairs. A house clamp here, a squeaky belt there, new alternator, steering and suspension check, carburetor tuning... When I asked Jeffrey if there was anything else he fixed, his reply was simply, "Not yet".
So it's been a bit of a slow and steady, bumpy start for us. But every single time, not just one, but several locals and travelers stopped to see if we needed any help. And they were quite persistent when Jeffrey would tell them he's got it covered. We were offered jumps, helping hands, tools, literally more than we would ever need! What a great community of strangers!
Rolling on, we traveled into the night, trying to make our reservation for Banff National Park. We foolishly passed a small mountain summit gas station thinking we would have enough to get her to the next major town. Foolishly, meaning we didn't. Not even close. We coasted to a nice trailhead pullout and stayed the night. The best part about having a home on wheels, is that every place you stop is as comfy as the last!
In the morning, I made breakfast while Jeffrey took the little truck into town to fill the gas jugs. Not the way we planned it, but damn comfortable for an emergency pullover!
Now we're just moments away from Banff and ready to park the 'ol Crust Bucket and put our legs to work on some of the gorgeous Canadian hiking trails. Till next time, keep calm and keep rolling on <3
So we've been hiding out on Whidbey Island getting the inside perfected while we wait. These are a few (terrible) shots of the original motif.
And now, introducing the newly renovated, salvage chic decor....
Here is our beautiful little kitchen, with our "master bedroom" in the back! (for you non-RV gurus, the driving area is below the bed, behind the ladder). The door with the mirror leads to our bathroom and opposite of that is the outside door.
A very dear friend gifted us the most darling tiny mason jars, intended to be shot glasses. We used some Museum Putty to affix them to the serving window to transform them into wild flower vases (#wildflowerwedneday here I come!). Holds strong, even when in motion.
We ripped out the oven and are replacing it with our portable camp stove. This frees up space, since we need our stove for tent camping anyways.
We replaced the hardware on the cabinets and drawers, and slapped on about a million coats of paint to cover that HORRID '70s wood paneling.
Our accent wall is made from reclaimed cedar shingles rescued from a neighbor's yard-waste.
The counter-top, ladder, kitchen hood and full-length mirror are up-cycled from the original RV interior. We installed new faux-hardwood floor planks and cut a thrifted coffee bean bag to create a makeshift curtain.
After throwing the best happy-birthday-Kelly/ going-away-party last weekend, I thought it would be fun to share our tips on hosting a successful goodbye celebration! A huge thank you to all of our amazing, caring and out of control friends. YOU made a great event simply perfect!