Aug 28, 2013

Into the West: Part 2.

I need to catch up on my blogging. I have a lot to get through these next few days; but I should start by finishing the expose on the trip out here.

Day 4: River City, South Dakota to Billings, Montana.

This is was perhaps my favourite day of all during the trip. It had nothing to do with the scenery (which is left wanting... I am sorry, American Midwest, but your tumbleweeds and rolling fields of corn get tiresome), and more to do with our destination: The Dude Rancher Lodge in Billings. This hotel was featured on some American reality TV show about recovering the worst hotels in the country.. so obviously...

The carpet through the ENTIRE lodge. It is the brands of the 4 cowboys who
started the hotel in the early 20th C. 

This was actually really cozy. 

Incredibly red bathroom. It was nearly overwhelming.

And it never stopped.
Billings, Montana was pretty neat, though. The staff was friendly enough, although the front desk lady kept disappearing on her shift to go out for a smoke. I happened to be sitting in the lounge room because I was skyping with Boyfriend, and people kept asking me if I worked there. 

We had breakfast in the Dude Rancher restaurant (because we wanted the full experience). Literally the best egg omlette I have ever had. Ever. It was so big that I couldn't finish it. 

All in all, the stay was pretty great. The hotel was quirky and historical, which worked for me - and unapologetically so. It was actually my favourite of all the hotels we stayed in. Fact. 

Day 5: Billings, Montana to Spokane, Washington.

Idaho and Washington were much less pretentious about their welcome signs.

This was a long and intense day of driving for Housemate. It took us through the mountain in Idaho (which were a lot steeper than going through the Rocky Mountains). We cranked the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and felt really small as we made our way through the winding hills. Incidently, we were only in Idaho for about an hour. Before Idaho, we drove half an hour through Wyoming (even flatter than South Dakota). But once the Idaho mountain range cleared and we drove into Washington State, the landscape started to look a little more like southwestern Ontario. 

That being said, here are some photo highlights.
I thought this was about the cutest thing ever. Reminded me of Little House on
the Prairie.

Of course you do. 

Coming upon some of the smaller mountains.

Such a gorgeous landscape.

River. Loved the hills in the background. It reminded me of being in El Paso, TX. 

Windmill gardens along the highway.

Day 6: Spokane, Washington to Langley, British Columbia.

This was the day we arrived. This is the day we drove through the mountains. This is the day I forgot to take photos of the 'Welcome to Canada' sign. Go figure.

In the distance. The Rocky Mountains.

Getting closer.

And those were the only photos I took. Until Langley.

Behold, Langley. 
The last photograph gives you a good idea of the view that Housemate and I get to see everyday. The mountains act as both a backdrop to daily life here in Langley, and also a mark on the compass - pointing us in the direction we must go when we have lost our way in a new place. 

Upon first arriving in British Columbia, I was a little amused by their license plates - which clearly boast "Beautiful British Columbia." But after being here for a little over a week, I have realized that this is very true. While home is still beautiful - southwestern Ontario's farm landscapes, northern Ontario's forests and lakes - British Columbia has the right to boast. From what I have seen thus far, this is one of the most gorgeous provinces I have ever been to. 

And so, welcome to my grad school journey. I look forward to taking you all along with me. 

Aug 14, 2013

Western Adventure: Roadtrippin'

It's been a busy last few days as Housemate and I set out on our trip to British Columbia. We decided to go through the USA, since there is more to see and it is much cheaper and quicker.

Day One:
Burlington, Ontario, Canada - Davenport, Iowa, USA.

Because it made sense to stop at one in Michigan before there were no more.

Illinois is really proud to be the home of Lincoln.

Really stoked that the people of Iowa have nothing better to do then welcome us...

Rush hour traffic in Iowa.

Day Two: Davenport, Iowa to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

This was a much more interesting day. We went to John Wayne's birthplace, got pulled over by the Iowa state pole-eese for going 40 in a 25 (and got off with a warning), tried to go to the Religious Arts Museum (it was closed.. which was too bad. They apparently have wax Jesus). Then we went to South Dakota which consisted of an absurd amount of corn fields.

What a bizarre place for a row of mailboxes..

How 1950s. I don't even think Happy Days could contend with this place..

They love their presidents...

Construction in Iowa. Thank you, sign, for telling us what to do..

Madison County, John Wayne Drive, and a bird.

How patriotic...

Thanks, sign. I was confused as to where I was.

I don't know about you, but I have ALWAYS wanted a lifesize black and white
cutout of John Wayne.

Missouri Valley. This way.

More John Wayne.

The irony of America. Freedom to bear arms. It is their God-given right, after all...

Gee, South Dakota sign... you are so smart.

Day Three: Sioux Falls, South Dakota to River City South Dakota.

This was the MOST BORING of all drives, ever.
Until we got to the badlands. Those were interesting to see. It was a nice break from corn fields and bison and cows.

There, we made a stop off at the 1880s Town. Tourist attraction. Too expensive. Took photos of the outside and continued on our way.

We also stopped at Mount Rushmore. That was a pretty cool sight until the video. American political propaganda is an interesting thing. They spout paradoxes all over the place about freedom and liberty and happiness and no one questions it. Instead, they all stand with their hands over their hearts singing the words to their dear National Anthem, believing that they live in the land of the brave and free; slaves to their own ideologies. The only reason we stayed was because they light the faces up at night and we heard that was pretty cool. It wasn't worth it, and the glowing faces didn't show up in photos very well.

Oh, America.

The view coming down to the Missouri River.

There are a lot of rabbits in 1880s Town.

So. Cool.

Hmm. I wonder if it is carrying Harrison Ford...

The Badlands. 

Western Hospitality, eh?

The "fifth head."

And we stared at the four stone faces...

Such a tourist..

The sunset sky in South Dakota.

Tomorrow we make our way to Montana. I expect I will have more landscape and 'wild west' photographs.

Aug 13, 2013

Introducing: My Man!

Back when I was a teenager, relationships and friendships were not completely christened until they became 'Facebook Official.' This was back before Facebook gave its users the ability to 'like' every photo. Instead, friends would leave nice comments to show their support - in the form of cyber gushing, oohs and awws, and whatever else.

So, to keep with social network prescriptions, my boyfriend and I made our internet debut this weekend. Since this blog is part of the internet, I figured that carrying over the announcements and officialities to my little neck of the universe would be a great idea.

So this is us. I am just going to call him Boyfriend for now.

And we have a great story.

Boyfriend and I met when we were both still in high school. We went through different high schools, and knew each other from attending the church youth group. I cannot remember why or how we first started talking, but I guarantee you that it was made possible by the wonderful world of MSN Messenger (a now obsolete 2000s reference that has been replaced by Skype and texting).

Over those years, we mostly chatted online, and acknowledged each other publically only when absolutely necessary (Boyfriend was pretty shy). Then, Boyfriend left for university. We continued to chat through his university years, going out for coffee on occasion when he was home on weekends.

Then I started my undergrad at Redeemer, and everything changed. We still chatted, but I remember finding myself more and more annoyed by him and his persistence to keep a friendship going. I hadn't realized he was interested in me until the summer when we went to see the movie 'Leatherheads' (starring Rene Zellweger and George Clooney) and honestly, I don't remember anything about the movie except that he held my hand and I was 19 years old and terrified.

And then, I pulled my favourite relationship move and ran far away. I remember not talking as much after that, and only going out for coffee once a year to stay in touch. The messages stopped. The texts stopped. And I seemed to be free to live my life. I thought that was what I wanted, and I guess in some ways I needed to spend my time 'living my life' at Redeemer.

There was a whole year where we did not speak to each other - or at least, I did not respond. 

But Boyfriend was faithful. He waited until the right moment to congratulate me on grad school, and to inquire if he could take me out (on a real date!!) before I left for two years again. I finally accepted after a few weeks of talking and catching up I realized that I was still terrified, but this time I couldn't run away emotionally. I guess I never really had, it simply took me a whole to figure out that a romance that had begun when I was a teenager was meant to continue.

Boyfriend and I always had a connection, but I was too young and too naive to realize that what we had was something more than friends. It always had been.

So on the warm June night of the date, he picked me up in a rebuilt yellow and black Ford Mustang and took me to dinner, for a walk, to our (incredibly) small town's fair, and finally to a campfire at his home where talked for six hours and shared our first kiss as a couple. 

The rest, as they say, is history.