Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Bertha Lake.

Monday was Seamus' birthday. We had the day off, so walked to Bertha Lake. It was a windy but warm day, a result of another chinook, and there was lots of snow on the trails up on the mountains. The lake was partly frozen, weird since the temperature in the village has barely been below zero. Anyway, we took lots of pretty photos because the sun on the ice looked cool. We are taking so many photos. They probably all look the same. Sorry. Anyway, as always, all photos are here
So, I think Seamus had a good, if quiet, birthday. We got takeaway food from the restaurant, and had a bottle of wine, and he watched football and I read my book. Like most of our nights, really.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A change in the weather.

Even though it's still quite warm here, these photos show the changes we've seen in a couple of weeks. The first two photos are me on top of Bear's Hump, two weeks apart...note coat, hat and snow on mountains in the second photo. The last two photos are of Bertha Falls. We first went two weeks ago, and yesterday the waterfalls were already semi-frozen and covered in snow. I liked finding icicles, it was cool. Yesterday was Seamus' birthday, and we walked to Bertha Lake (also partly frozen). Pictures of this will follow when the internet connection is better.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Canada's national dish

Every country has a speciality food. England has fish and chips, Ireland has stews, Italy has pasta, Finland has pea soup, Canada has...poutine. It sounds nice, doesn't it? All French and sohisticated. It was invented in Quebec, but is eaten all over Canada now, generally as a sort of fast food. And it consists of...chips, cheese and gravy. Wikipedia tells me the word poutine translates (loosely) as "fat person, especially a woman". So maybe not as nice and sophisticated as it first sounds. In fact, poutine is pretty much something people would eat at the end of a night out in Northern England. And it tastes bad. I actually think it would be nicer with British-style chips, which are chunkier than the North American fries we've been eating. The fries here are ALWAYS thin-cut and crispy. At the restaurant of the hotel here, they sell fish and chips every Friday. The Canadian locals LOVE this. However, let me assure you that these fish and chips are nothing like what we eat at home. The fish is small and the chips are stupid, crispy fries. Chef James tells me that if he made the kind of chips we eat in the UK, no Canadians would eat them. Along with my newly-found evidence of poutine being disgusting, I am now convinced Canadians have very bad taste.

So, poutine. It wouldn't be that bad if the chips weren't so thin. But the gravy just makes them all wet and soggy, there's not enough cheese and the gravy is too thick. I was not a fan of poutine.

On the subject of strange Canadian food, Seamus had his heart broken earlier when a can of Campbell's beef soup turned out to be....brown water. He was hoping for soup with meat in and instead it was just thick brown liquid. I think the intention is to use this soup as a base for beef stew or something, in which case it was poorly-advertised. Our Walmart trips are so confusing. We have no idea what we're buying half the time. But the good things we've found so far include the previously-mentioned Oreos and really good bread (even if it does cost $3.47 a loaf). And I had a really good cocktail the other night. By the way, do Caesars even exist in Europe? It's this spicy cocktail with Vodka, Clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce, tobasco and....asparagus. They're so popular here but look so wrong.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The animals of Waterton.

One thing I love about Waterton (and Canada in general actually) is the ANIMALS. In the first couple of weeks, we saw racoons, eagles and seals. Now in Waterton, we're surrounded by deer. They're on the grass when I walk to work, outside our bedroom window, in the creek. I love it! The other day, when we walked to Boundary Bay, we came across this one on the trail. He looked kind of upset by us.
The sheep are a new thing. I think they only come into the village in the winter. The other day, it was a cold day and we saw about twenty in the field by our house. Then we saw this one (in the top photo) by the waterfalls. He charged at us...but I think it was unintentional. I think we were just in his way.
There are also some cool birds, and if I knew about birds, I could tell you what they are. One has crazy hair. Also, ground squirrels, which are like regular squirrels but smaller. Plus we've seen a few eagles, and mountain goats. And I saw a cat once.
Today, it was -5 and icy when I walked home, and I remembered how much I like cold weather. I want snow.
P.S. You can click on photos to make them bigger by the way.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Our roadtrip adventure.

In case I didn't mention it before, Waterton is 40 minutes from the nearest shop. In the summer, we have shops and restaurants open in the town, but right now we don't have anything. Pincher Creek is a...not-very-exciting town, but it does have a Walmart. But it's not always that easy to get into town. There's a staff vehicle, but we can't drive it with UK licenses, so we have to wait for someone else to be driving in at a time when we're also free to get groceries. Yesterday we got a lift in with another guy, went to Walmart, spent a large amount on groceries (we spend more every time with we go shopping, food is disgustingly expensive round here) and headed back. Ten minutes in, our type burst. In the middle of nowhere. Andrew went round to the boot but couldn't find a spare, so we phoned the hotel, who sent the maintenance guy with a spare. Nearly an hour later, Seamus went round to the boot (to get me my cookies, I needed feeding)...and promptly found a spare. But no jack. Just as this happened, another guy from work drove past us on the way to Pincher Creek, gave us his jack and we changed the tyres (ok, I say "we", I was just sitting in the nice warm car, eating cookies whilst all this was going on). It was an old tyre though, so we drove veeeeerrry slowly home towards Waterton (passing the guy with the spare tyre on the way...). And this was pretty much the most exciting thing that happened yesterday.

On the subject of grocery shopping,'s so hard to find the food we want here. THERE IS NO GRAVY HERE. Or Marmite. Or frozen vegetarian food. But after three shops, we're at last eating a semi-varied diet. And one great thing about Canada is the Oreos. I like just regular Oreos but they have such a selection here! The last three boxes I bought are:
-Oreos with double cream
-White chocolate covered Oreos
-Mint-flavoured Oreos with fudge filling and dark chocolate coating

In conclusion, it is a very good thing that there's a (free) staff gym beneath our apartment.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The day we walked to the USA.

Because Waterton is right in the South of Alberta, we're really close to the US border. Actually, Waterton Lakes National Park is joined with Glacier National Park in Montana, the first International Peace Park in the world. So, yesterday we walked all the way to Boundary Bay, where the border is. It took four and a half hours, and it was another lovely day (this weather is so weird for this area of Canada, yesterday was sunny and 17 degrees). I was a bit scared of bears, since the night before I'd been talking to Claudia, my boss, about bears, and this hike is more remote than anywhere we've walked before. We met a deer on the trail, and a big-horned sheep charged at us when we got back to the village, but other than that, we only encountered squirrels. It was a cool day! In the picture of Seamus, notice he is wearing just a t-shirt. In the middle of November!

More photos here

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Where is Waterton?

Since nobody seems to know where Waterton is (it's not surprising, it's very small), here are some maps showing where it is on a map of Canada (very South-West of Alberta, right on the BC border, and also the US border), and a google map. Because I love google maps. Isn't it cool? It's not that green right now, in fact it's kind of barren while we're waiting for snow. Guidebooks describe Waterton as the "hidden gem of the rockies" and it's true because, as impressive as Banff was, it was very touristy, and definitely a party town. Waterton is definitely the kind of place you'd come to get away from all of that. There's nothing commercial here because...there's nothing here. I can see why it's such a summer place, but I imagine it's even nicer in winter when it's quieter. I can't wait until it snows. There's fairylights strung around the hotel I work in, it looks so cute. I love Waterton.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Waterton life.

Although our apartment is pretty much like typical student accommodation (it used to be hostel), I really like it; it has high, slanted ceilings, and a huge window in the living room (right now, it's really windy and loud in here). It's clean and has a big, new oven and a washing machine and...a really uncomfortable sofa. But it has cool views of the mountains, and plenty of space, and is directly above the (free) staff gym. The photos above show you (sort of) what it's like, along with a picture I took when I was walking round the lake on Sunday.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A day off.

After seven days straight, I had the weekend off work. Kind of pointless, really, since Seamus has worked both days. Today, I went down to the gym and it felt gooooood to exercise after so long doing nothing (apart from all the walking we've been doing). I think my calves are going to feel it tomorrow though. Then I went for a walk round the lake. The weather is freakishly warm for this time of year - about 13 degrees today, and blue skies. I took a lot of photos but flickr is broken and won't let me upload them. The weather's been really strange since we've been here. The first two days, we walked around in just jeans and t-shirts. Then on Wednesday, we hiked up to Bertha Falls, a waterfall on the mountain. The higher we climbed up the mountain, the more snow there was. At the top, it was like proper winter. Down here in the village, though, there's nothing and it's warm. The sheep are down in the village today though - we read they only come down from the mountains in the winter, so they obviously think it's time. So now we're surrounded by deer and sheep! I'll post some photos later, the view out of our apartment window is so cool.

In other news, Seamus accidentally erased everything from my ipod. I am now stranded in Canada with only his music....this could be a long winter.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Some Waterton photos.

Write to us.

Our walls are bare, and I like getting post, so if anyone wants to send us photos, pictures, cards, whatever...I would like that. Our address is:
Box 178
Waterton Lakes National Park
T0k 2M0

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Waterton so far.

I'm writing from our apartment in Waterton Lakes National Park. We arrived here Friday, started work Saturday, and moved into our own house tonight. Before this, we were in a hotel room, which was posher than here, but had no kitchen and we couldn't unpack. At some point, someone else will move in here (we have two bedrooms) but for now, we have the whole place to ourselves. It's a nice apartment, overlooking the tennis courts, lake and mountains. And deer. There are deer EVERYWHERE. It's so cool, they're just walking around the streets. So, now we're unpacked (which is good after three weeks of living out of a backpack), we have a kitchen so we don't have to eat three staff meals a day, and Seamus is watching hockey and it's all good!

So, Waterton. Well, it's small. Its main season is summer, and a lot of the businesses are now shut for the season (general store, pizza house, museum, opera house (...cinema)), leaving open three hotels, a post office and...a jewellery shop. There are meant to be a hundred residents at this time of year (2,000 in summer). It's beautiful though,a really pretty little village right at the bottom on the rockies, with a huge lake, beaches, hiking/cross-country trails, tennis courts,'s so lovely. Lots of photos will follow. The nearest grocery store is a half hour drive (and we don't have a car). We've worked four shifts each so far. My job is "front desk" of a hotel, but that also involves serving in the gift shop, waitressing, food preparation and bartending. It's HARD. There's so much to learn, but it's fun, and everyone is really nice, and I get good tips. Seamus works in housekeeping, and seems to like it, and is really good at making beds now.

It started snowing today! It's still only about -2, so hopefully we'll get big snow soon, then we can ski and snowshoe all we like (if we ever get a day off). We've done some little hikes, but it gets dark early now. I can't wait for more snow! My hotel has a restaurant and bar, so we still have some entertainment, we have free use of a gym, pool tables. It's very cool here. I will post some photos soon. Right now, we're watching the elections. Go Barack!

Sunday, 2 November 2008