Sunday, 31 May 2009

An update.

We're back in Banff for the night after a very adventurous few days. We saw so many cool things! And stayed in a wilderness cabin, and camped backcountry, and saw glaciers, and made a fire of our own, and saw three more bears, and discovered that Jasper is better than Banff, but Waterton is the best.

Tomorrow we're going to Chicago (although we're not going to arrive there until Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, in what will be the longest-journey-ever). I will try and put some new photos up soon, because I have THOUSANDS.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Sulphur Mountain, Banff.

A few photos from today.

Tomorrow morning, we're leaving for Jasper, and I think we won't have internet until Saturday night (or later), so there'll be no contact until then. See you on the flipside, team xxx

Goodbye to Waterton.

Our managers, Claudia and Darcy.

Yesterday morning, we said goodbye again, and forever. We had a lovely holiday in Waterton, and we did stop to think whether we should be leaving such a lovely place when summer's just beginning. But then we came to our senses, and remembered we don't want to work for a company we don't believe in, with co-workers who don't care about their jobs, sharing a flat with drunk, stoned teenagers. Waterton is lovely in summer, too lovely to have to spend 40 hours a week working. We spent our holiday walking, eating, talking, playing Monopoly, wildlife-spotting and spending time with awesome people. Hopefully the rest of our travels can be just like that...

And now we're in Banff, and I realise how much better Waterton is. Banff is beautiful, but crowded and touristy, and there's no deer on the pavements, and no community (I doubt the postmaster here would care about me). Ok, so I like peace and quiet, but even objectively, Banff is not as beautiful as Waterton. Waterton is so small that you're right in the middle of the mountains. In Banff, everything good is out of town. Apparently, the town has more gift shops than any other similar-sized area in North America. It's horrible.

But, we're having fun. Last night we went to a pub quiz, and won the first round but lost the second round. Today, we paid a stupid amount of money to ride the gondola up Sulphur Mt, and took lots of photos whilst surrounded by Australian and British middle-aged tourists. There are British people EVERYWHERE. Although, Banff gets so many Japanese tourists that there are actually shop signs in Japanese, and menus have Japanese-language versions. There was a question in the quiz yesterday about which nationality spends the most money visiting other countries, the answer being Japan, which is truly highlighted everywhere you look in Banff. I think Germans must be next in the list. Every hostel is Canada is full of Australians, Germans and British (the Japanese must stay in the nice hotels, hence spending the most money).

Golfing with bears.

On our last night in Waterton, we went up to the golf course. The boys played a round ($11 on staff night! Isn't that amazing?) and afterwards, we had dinner in the club house. Apparently it's not a great course in terms of quality of playing (but I don't care about that, since my job was to drive the cart and take the flag thing out of the holes) but it's a pretty nice view, isn't it? Not that you can really get bad views in Waterton. We came across a huge bear on the course. Look at him! That's eight bears in five days. I've had my fill now, though, I don't mind if I never see another bear in my life. I'm almost becoming complacent now, in manner of the deer (we have more deer on the streets of Waterton than cars or humans). No more bears, please and thank you.

Monday, 25 May 2009

My first bear jam.

LOOK AT THIS! I wasn't zooming in either; this bear really is only about 15 feet away. A bear jam is when you get caught in a line of cars that've stopped to take pictures of a bear. We were driving down the Red Rock Canyon road at prime bear-spotting time (7pm), and we saw a row of cars ahead, so we knew there was a bear. Actually, it was a mum and two cubs. I'm trying to resist the urge to be girly and pathetic but HOW CUTE IS THAT?

A boat trip.

On Saturday, Alex, Seamus and I took the boat trip across to Glacier National Park in Montana. Once the Customs Office is set up, you're allowed to get off the boat and hike, but we couldn't, so we just cruised around. Saturday was such a beautiful day.
1)The US Customs Office. I think the Americans are a bit behind the times. I think this border is the biggest undefended US border anywhere.
2)A moose and a baby moose.
3)The mountains reflected in the lake.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Seamus climbs a mountain.

Sometimes I really wish Seamus would just write his own blog entries, so I wouldn't have to keep trying to recreate his adventures for the blogging world (i.e. my mum). Sometimes, we actually do things separately, and it wouldn't be fair for you to assume that everything I write is representative of Seamus too. He doesn't even read what I write! I could be writing anything about him, and how annoying he is when he wants to watch sport all the time on tv, whilst simultaneously clicking 'refresh' on Or when he won't make me tea in the evenings, because he says it'll mean I can't sleep. Or when he goes to bed really early and leaves me alone and bored when I can't sleep because I've been drinking tea. I could be writing about all these things in this blog, and he would never know!

Anyway, as I said, despite the fact that we have been spending nearly all our time together in Canada, we do actually have some different experiences. For example, I enjoyed my job 90% of the time. Seamus hated his. I spend quite a lot of time drinking with some friends and watching Gossip Girl, whilst Seamus watches sport all the time on tv, whilst simultaneously clicking 'refresh' on So, what I write doesn't necessarily cover what HE is feeling. Still, I don't think he's going to start blogging anytime soon, so you'll have to take my word for it that he's having a good time. And that, yesterday, he climbed a mountain with his friends (whilst I sat on a patio and drank juice). They had a near-death experience, when a huge boulder nearly hit them. They didn't get home until 11pm. But they had a lovely time, and didn't get bitten by any ticks, and ate some hard-boiled eggs on top of a cliff, which is a good time in anyone's book.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Friday in Waterton.

Friday was beautiful and hot. We went for a lovely walk, had a barbeque for Al's birthday, and went to the bar. Photos from top to bottom:
1)The boys just before they jumped in the lake.
2)A unicorn.
3)Al and his birthday cinnamon bun.
4)Me at the lake.
5)Me paddling (it was cold).

Seamus has gone to climb a mountain with the boys, so I think I'll go hang out in the sun. Waterton is a truly lovely place to come on holiday to. Shame about the work.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Cycling to Red Rock Canyon.

Yesterday, Seamus and I borrowed bikes and cycled to Red Rock Canyon, which was closed the entire time we were in Waterton. It was about 35kms there and back, and a beautiful day, and everything was green (except the rock, which We saw bald eagles, chipmunks, ground squirrels, deer, big-horned sheep and....BEARS! My first bears. You can barely make them out in the photo, there, but they are definitely bears, a mum and two cubs.

We spent the evening hanging out with friends, and it is really nice to be back and know it is only for a couple of days. Our final payslips were wrong, of course (not enough bonus and no housing deposit returned) so it's good we're here to fight for that back. Seamus is at the gym, then we'll go for breakfast and a hike. I love being on holiday!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The longest free ferry ride in the world.

Our last full day in Nelson was rainy but nice. We took "the longest free ferry ride in the world", which is always something I wanted to achieve (along with seeing "the oldest rock formation in the Rockies", "the most photographed tree in Canada" and "the most photographed hotel in North America"). It's cool to have dreams, you know. Anyway, the ferry is basically a commuter ferry that goes across Kootenay Lake. We arrived there with an hour before the next ferry, so went to a really nice pub whilst we waited, then we arrived back to the dock an hour before our bus back into town, so spent another hour in the pub. It pretty much turned into a day of drinking. I took a lot of photos, but they're all cloudy, because that was all the day held for us. Heavy rain, and grey cloud. Still, it was pretty cool, and I like free stuff. We stayed at a really good hostel the night before we left Nelson, maybe I should do some kind of hostel/hotel rating on this blog at some point. Maybe some point like tonight, when Seamus has gone to bed, and I am bored.

Anyway, on Wednesday, we woke up very early, and took an eight hour bus ride back into Alberta, and now we' Waterton. Yeah, travelling is full of new things. I think when we decided to come back to Waterton for a few days, we thought we might miss it, or that we might be missing out on some amazing summer fun. Well, we weren't, but it's nice to be back, especially since we're not working. So far, we've drunk a lot, and today we cycled to Red Rock Canyon and back (about 35km total). My hands got sunburnt. It was beautiful though, and we saw bears! My first bears! It's good to see everyone, but really, I didn't miss this PLACE at all. It's good to be on holiday, though. I'll post some Waterton photos's all GREEN here now, no snow! Such a change in two weeks.

Monday, 18 May 2009

In and around the farm.

We leave the farm tomorrow morning, following two weeks of hard work, good food, frustrating conversations with four-year-olds, and being woken up at 4am by a singing two-year-old. Here are a few photos from around the farm. Look at the beautiful views! Look at the tinest carrot in the world! Look at Seamus surrounded by a lot of trees! We've seen a lot of hummingbirds since we were here, but they move too fast for photos. They're tiny! We also saw a beaver. It's always good to see wildlife. Anyway, we're spending tomorrow day and night in Nelson, before our 5.40am coach Wednesday morning. The next few months are going to move so fast. We'll be home in no time.

The delights of Nelson.

A few photos from our day our on Saturday. I look like an idiot in the one of both of us (punching above my weight, much?) but there's so few photos of both of us that I have to put it there as proof. Just so you know Seamus and I still like each other after spending 24 hours a day together for the past seven months.

The one of me is at Cottonwood Falls (could a waterfall possibly have a more twee name?), where we went to the lovely market. Then we have Seamus, enjoying some ice-cream. The ice-cream was organic (of course, this is Nelson) and delicious. It was a treat after two weeks of no sugar. But don't you think it's unfair that if you eat really well, and barely drink alcohol, then you feel awful when you DO have a drink or vast quantities of ice-cream? I had two glasses of cider on Saturday, and felt crappy on Sunday, even though I have frequently had six glasses of cider in a day, and felt fine the next morning. Surely those with good diets should be rewarded when they have a treat?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Hitchhiking in Nelson, and thoughts on travelling.

When our farm hosts told us to hitchhike into town, I won't lie, I was a little appalled. And when I tried to explain that in the UK, people don't do that, they said "yes they do! We saw it!". I said, well, normal people don't do it, and of course, I am a snob. But it's true, isn't it? It's not something you'd do unless you were desperate. Which we rarely are, since much of the UK has decent bus services, or you just don't go to places without a lift. But in Nelson, hitchhiking is an acceptable, community-driven thing. So, since we live 3 hours walk from town, hitchhiking has become second nature.

Generally, we're picked up by women on their way to feed their horses or collect their children. Today, we were picked up by a young man whose first words to us were "I hope you like gangster rap". And then we got into a conversation about organic farms, which just goes to show, you shouldn't judge by taste in music. Hitchhiking is another way to meet people you wouldn't usually meet, just like working on farms. Later in our travels, we are couchsurfing, which is through a website that facilitates people staying on strangers' couches. Let's hope my mum is busy today, and that she doesn't get round to reading this blog. Anyway, all of these things are interesting ways to see something new. They depend upon trust and respect, and break up the endless rotation of hostels and train stations whilst travelling. So far, the people we've met in hostels have been predominantly Australian/British teenagers who wants to get drunk and/or laid. I have met so many interesting, REAL people in Canada, most of whom aren't Canadian, and weren't travelling themselves. Further thoughts on Canadians will be in an upcoming blog. The family we're staying with now are originally from Russia and Switzerland, by way of Quebec and Israel (yeah, there's a lot of languages floating around, especially if you include 4-year-old Bill's secret language, Oxit). They've had very interesting lives, and have taught me a lot (not all of which I agree with), and I doubt I'd have been exposed to this in a hostel setting. Besides which, living and working with people provides you with a whole different backdrop to just chatting in a hostel common room, or going to the pub.

On the subject of hitchhiking, anyway, I found a book in the secondhand bookshop today, called Timbit Nation, the story of a Canadian journalist who hitchhiked from east to west in the hope of finding the real identity of Canada (Timbits are doughnut holes that you can buy from the coffee shop chain, Tim Horton's, which is generally regarded as being much more ethical than Starbucks et al, but probably isn't in reality. Timbits are delicious). I love that kind of thing.

Aside from hitchhiking and other potentially-dangerous activities, we had a wonderful day today. We spent the day in town, doing "errands" (Katy-and-Seamus speak for "buying stuff and drinking beer"). We had to buy some gifts (for our hosts, and also some upcoming birthdays...), and we bought some fudge and new books (we're getting through books at an alarming speed now we're on the road). I ate a delicious tofu wrap, and drank some flat Strongbow. Travelling's great, forget what I said about meeting interesting people, it's all about the meals!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Living with children.

The family we're staying with have two kids, aged four and two. I'd forgotten how much hard work kids of those ages can be. Let's call them Bill and Bob. Bill is very clever, he taught himself to read when he was two, and is obsessed with astronomy. He reads, draws and writes endlessly. Bob is two, and when we first got here, we thought he was an angel. All he did was smile at everyone. Now he's lost his shyness and we see the truth. For some reason, he refers to both Seamus and me as 'Seamus'. I don't know if he genuinely believes we're both called Seamus, or if he thinks 'Seamus' is a collective term for helpers/guests. Anyway, conversations can be confusing:

[Seamus is washing up in the kitchen. Bob enters]
Bob: Hi!
Seamus: Hi.
Bob: Where's Seamus?
Seamus: ....I'm Seamus.
Bob: No, the other Seamus.
Seamus: What other Seamus?
Bob: DIFFERENT Seamus.
Seamus: You mean Katy?
Bob: Yes, the different Seamus.

This happens approximately thirty times a day.

Right now, Bill is crying because he needs a star on his ceiling before he can sleep. Seamus is quite a good parent figure. I think he could work out well as a husband. Lots of patience. Unlike me. I feel....tense.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Shell Waterton Project.

For the last few years, Waterton's had a lot of Shell employees staying in the hotels and eating in the restaurants. Shell have an ongoing project just outside of the park, of which I don't really understand because none of the workers will tell me. When I ask what they do at the project, they generally mutter things about "hell" and "struggles", and I know it has something to do with oil, but that's about all I could tell you.

One of the leaders of the project, Mr Simms, ate and drank in the Kilmorey every night, and ended up being a good friend. He taught me about ways to be a better server, bar tricks, engineering ceremonies, and Alberta liquor laws. He was part of the (now dissolved) Waterton Government. And just before we left, he held a big party for the end of the Shell Waterton Project. Seamus and I went along, ate, drank and I won a Shell hoody (size XXL) in the raffle. I never win in raffles! I am one of life's winners. It was a good party.

So, because I have neglected to tell you about my friend Mr Simms, here's a few photos from the Shell party. The people are (top photo, left to right): Alex, Tiff, Mr Simms, Claudia and myself. Alex is my best friend in Waterton, she's Slovakian and we like to talk about love and relationships. Tiff is my Front Desk co-worker, the only other member of staff that was on the Front Desk for the whole period that I was. Claudia is my wonderful, wonderful boss. She's from Essen, Germany, and the kindest, most amazing boss of all time. She looked after Seamus and me so well. When we left, she gave us thermos cups for our tea and some other gifts. She also had a hoody made for me with my name and 'Kilmorey Lodge' on it. We also had hoodies made for members of the Waterton Government. This meant I gained three jumpers during my time in Waterton, which is why I have spent several hundred dollars in the last few weeks, posting surplus clothes back home.

Thanks for the emails etc I received about my dog. It's made me a bit homesick, the first time I've been homesick the entire seven months I've been in Canada. Both my cat and dog have died whilst I've been away. I think this is the sign I have finally reached adulthood; my childhood pets have all died. However, I wasn't acting very adult yesterday (I cried whilst weeding the vegetable patch, then wiped my face with muddy was a disaster). But today, I feel much more adult. Still a bit sad though.

Monday, 11 May 2009

RIP Nemo.

Nemo Bennett, 4th June 1998 - 11th May 2009

One more thing to add to the list of reasons why 2009 sucks.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Hiking in Nelson.

Our farm is about five miles from Nelson. I know this because I walked home from town, after we'd hiked up Pulpit Rock. It was a lovely hike, with amazing views. We found a bug, the biggest bug I've ever seen. I wore my new hat and looked like an intrepid explorer. Seamus wore his new bandana and looked like a Canadian. Afterwards we went for a drink (we found an "Irish" pub that sold Guiness and Strongbow at a very high cost) and Chinese. I love Nelson, maybe more than any other place in Canada so far.

Today, I have blisters.

Friday, 8 May 2009

The farm in Nelson.

There's lots to say about our life right now, but not much internet time. For the last few days, I've been weeding, washing windows, cleaning cars, cleaning houses, washing up, cooking, raking, babysitting, and doing physio with a four-year-old. It's really interesting living with this family, because they are so unlike any family I know. We have probably eaten better this week than in the rest of our lives. We're also getting plenty of sleep, not drinking alcohol, not watching television, and going for lots of walks. My insides must be dancing with all the goodness. It's a beautiful day, and Nelson is still AMAZING. I love it here, and feel so comfortable. I would rather live here than Waterton (especially since Waterton continues to be a gong show in our absence...). It's such a cool city, with under 10,000 people, so perfect for me. There's plenty to do, beautiful scenery, lots of hiking, and everything is organic. That's everything I want from a place! I think Seamus likes it too, although he may need some convincing that this is the place we should move to.

Anyway, I must go now, I have some pictures to draw with the kids. Oh, by the way, cute as these kids are, I am fairly certain I cannot work with children. Or have children. Or be near children for extended periods of time. Sorry, mum.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Roadtrip to Nelson.

Yesterday we drove to Nelson with Al and Alex. Unfortunately, they'll be going home tomorrow but for now, we are minibreaking! Nelson is BEAUTIFUL and full of hippies. We left sunny Alberta for rainy BC, but everything is so green, and the air is humid again. It feels like home. I love Nelson, it has so many cute shops, and hills, and trees everywhere, and buildings that look like castles. Today, we walked around, ate a lot, climbed a little mountain, walked a labyrinth....we're going for dinner soon. I am enjoying being on the road again, and from tomorrow night, our home will be a farm. More later...

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Last few days in Waterton.

Because we have so much snow, it's been hard to do much during our few days off. We went for a drive and saw some chipmunks and ground squirrels, I sunbathed on a rock, we packed, went for a drink....and that's pretty much it.

We are leaving at 3pm today! We're going on a roadtrip with Al and Alex to Nelson, where we'll spend a couple of days before we go to the farm to start work there.

Our boss, Claudia, gave us a thermos each, mine says 'cowgirl' and Seamus' 'cowboy'. Claudia is fantastic, she has taken care of us so well since we've been here. I'll miss her.