Friday, January 30, 2015

Trans-Canada road trip: Lacombe to Brandon

Trans-Canada road trip: Day 2

August 15, 2012

Click for larger image (link to map)

We woke up after a refreshing sleep at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Lacombe, AB. After a wonderful homemade breakfast, we packed up our overnight bags, loaded them into the truck, hugged goodbye, and headed on our second day of driving. The plan for this day was to drive straight east from Lacombe, eventually angling southward until we joined the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) in Regina, SK. The day was sunny with big white clouds and blue skies, and the sun shining on the rolling hills and later, the prairie fields, made the day bright and the scenery beautiful.

The road stretching over hills for miles
Oil derrick

Our one interesting story of the day happened just after crossing the Saskatchewan border. The road quickly became a mucky, bumpy construction zone for quite a few kilometers until we approached a town and could turn onto another road that was paved and not under construction. With all the bumping and jostling, we were just hoping that none of our breakables were ruined. (Because of the great packing job Jonathan and my Dad did, everything survived the trip in great condition!)

Start of the construction...
Canola (yellow) and flax (blue) fields

We hoped to make it to Winnipeg, MB before stopping for the night, but by the time we reached Brandon, MB, about 40 minutes from Winnipeg, we were beat and decided to stop there to look for a place to sleep. Bad idea... Some kind of horse competition or show was going on and every hotel or motel we could find was totally booked up. Finally someone at one hotel called around and eventually found us a room at a nearby hotel. Phew, we were sure glad we didn't have to sleep in the truck that night!

- Ali

Daily driving total: 1,158 km (719.5 mi)

Next up: Brandon to Nipigon

Monday, January 26, 2015

16 weeks

Today I'm 16 weeks pregnant. I don't know why, but that number just seems like such a milestone to me! Seems so much further along than 12 weeks, and so close to 20 (although, of course I realize that it's exactly in the middle). :)

Last night my sister called me for a birthday talk and during our conversation she told me she wanted to see my belly, so today I asked Jonathan to take a picture for her and all of you to see.

When I looked at the photo, I was actually pretty surprised. Looking down from above, I think my stomach looks huge, but in these photo it's actually not really even all that noticeable. In any case, there have definitely been changes to my body so far, even if they're not yet very visible in pictures. Jonathan has been taking photos of me each week since the day we found out I was pregnant, and already it's so interesting to look back on the first couple weeks and compare them with our latest pictures. It will be fun to see the whole pregnancy-worth of photos by July!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Trans-Canada road trip: Kelowna to Lacombe

Trans-Canada road trip: Day 1

August 14, 2012

Click for larger image (link to map)

After getting back from our Vietnam trip, Jonathan and I spent a few weeks in my hometown of Kelowna, BC with my parents, siblings, and grandparents. During the August long weekend (BC Day is the first Monday of August), our family had a joint celebration for my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary and my great-aunt's (my grandma's sister) 90th birthday. Lots of family and friends came to town for the weekend and we had a great time all together!

All too soon, our time in Kelowna came to an end, and Jonathan and I got busy packing up most of my stuff that was stored away at my parents' house while I was living in Tanzania and South Korea. On August 13, 2012, Jonathan picked up a U-Haul trailer and he, my dad, and I filled it with my things. My grandpa, who was over at our house for part of the time, helped, too.

The next day, Jonathan and I started our drive eastward. For our first day of driving, we decided not to take the usual route northeast through Banff National Park, which Jonathan had already experienced, but to take a different more northern scenic route through Jasper National Park. It took longer, but it was different than normal and fun to show that part of the Rocky Mountains to Jonathan.

By the end of the trip we had driven through seven provinces and one state, and gone 5,975 km (3,712 miles). Quite a trip, but we had a grand time, and I enjoyed showing Jonathan this great country of mine!

Moving out the bookcase my dad made me
Somewhere between Kelowna and Kamloops, BC
After leaving Kamloops
Chainsaw carvers taking a break and looking at their creations in Valemont, BC
Us in picturesque Valemont
Mt. Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

We stopped in Jasper, AB to look around at the town and the surrounding scenery. Our next stop, not too far away, was Athabasca Falls, which I hadn't been to since I was a kid and living in Alberta. It was great to see it again, and we lucked out to be able to see a rainbow above the falls!

Our rig (we borrowed my parents' truck and later my brother, who was visiting his girlfriend in Maine, drove it back to BC)
Train and mountains in Jasper
Capturing the view just outside of Jasper
Athabasca Falls

As we left Athabasca Falls and kept driving, the faint rainbow grew more vivid. We stopped beside the road for Jonathan to grab some photos, and then kept driving. But it just continued to grow brighter, and we ended up stopping again at a better vantage point for more pictures. The rainbow eventually turned into two rainbows, one of them quite brilliant and stretching all the way across the sky over the mountains.

After that breathtaking vista, we continued driving, passing the Columbia Icefields late in the afternoon. We didn't have time to stop and explore there, but we'd love to go back someday. The last time I was there was for a family reunion when I was about four years old, so I definitely don't remember too much.

Once past the Icefields, we drove on into the evening and night, and finally arrived at my aunt and uncle's house in Lacombe, AB around midnight. How great to be able to stay with relatives and have a comfortable bed that night and a homemade breakfast in the morning!

- Ali

Daily driving total: 1,048 km (651 mi)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hope, BC Campmeeting

July 27-29, 2012

Immediately upon returning from Vietnam, Jonathan and I spent the weekend at the British Columbia SDA Campmeeting in Hope, BC. The campground is one of my favourite places, and I was happy to be able to spend a few days there. The year before, during the weekend before our wedding, I'd been able to share this special place with Jonathan and show him around the area, and we were happy to be able to enjoy the weekend there again.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of us went on a short hike up to a series of waterfalls. The following are photos from that hike.

Cedar trees galore
With my sister, Bryn, at the first waterfall
Part of our group at the second waterfall
Trans-Canada Highway from our vantage point
With my friend, Jodi
There's a reason the Lower Mainland is ecologically classified as a temperate rainforest...

About Campmeeting & the campground:
British Columbia & Yukon Territory Campmeeting is held for 10 days once a year starting the last weekend of July and ending the first weekend of August (BC Day weekend). The campground has tenting and RV sites, as well as cabins and a lodge. Meetings are held multiple times per day in the main auditorium, as well as in the children's and youth divisions, and various seminars are also available daily. Older children's and youth divisions hold outdoor games in the afternoons, and trips to a local lake for water skiing and wake boarding, canoeing, and other outdoor activities can be arranged. A swimming pool and horseback riding are also fun on-site activities to take advantage of. Several hiking trails can be accessed from the campground, including a trail to Third Ledge and another to the Waterfalls (the hike we took).

About the area:
If you've never been to the little town of Hope, BC before, plan to turn off the Trans-Can Hwy the next time you're headed to or from Vancouver, and spend a little time driving around the area. Or, better yet, just spend a week at BC Campmeeting in late July/early August! Beautiful lush mountains, courtesy of quite a bit of rain (an average of 80+ inches of precipitation annually), surround the area. The town holds chainsaw wood carving exhibitions and competitions, and many carvings are displayed throughout the downtown core. In addition to strolling around downtown, other fun places to spend time include Lake of the Woods, Kawkawa Lake, and walking (or cliff-jumping) at the Othello Tunnels beside the Coquihalla River.