It’s been a long time since I was in my hometown of Whitehorse, but I’ve made a trip back for the first time in two years. I will likely blog some of my time here since I do usually like to write while I’m travelling. And this is just that now – no longer necessarily a hometown visit, but more of an actual adventure.
Have you ever been to a football game? How about in mid-November? In Canada? Man, was it ever cold.
Last weekend, I went to McMahon Stadium in Calgary for about my third football game ever. It was the first time I had ever been to an actual important game – the Western Canada Final.
I can’t really say I’m much of a football buff; I barely understand the rules of the game. I have always known, however, that I am supposed to be a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. You know, like these guys:
An intimidating thing to live up to, but this has been drilled in to me by most of my family since birth, so when I knew I was going to see the Western final, I certainly knew who I was cheering for, despite the fact that the game was in Calgary.
Anyways, back to the cold. The terrible, lurking, skulking, freezing cold. I headed to the game, bundled up in layers upon layers of clothing underneath my winter jacket. I was told it would be cold, so at least I did come prepared. I mean, I’m from the Yukon. I can handle a little cold. But I’ve never been outside somewhere that cold, just sitting there. I could not believe how quickly it creeped right in and I was chilled.
But there was something about sitting in those seats, bundled up and suffering together with fellow fans in the freezing cold that really makes you feel like you are a part of something. Even someone like me who is barely a football fan can feel totally included just by putting on a Riders jersey. Even better, the Riders came out with the win.
A few weeks ago, a friend and I took a short trip out of Edmonton. We left late on a Thursday evening, and were back home by late afternoon on Saturday. This little trip was a lot of fun, and I have to say that I enjoyed being a tourist without going far from home!
We left without much of a plan, except for wanting to hit an AJHL hockey game in Brooks, Alberta on Friday night. The rest of the time, we just went with the flow. At my last job, I spent a bit of time travelling around Alberta, but I never really had much time to do any sightseeing. It was nice to stop and take a picture of whatever struck our fancy along the way, such as this lovely bird that you can find in Hanna – the home of Nickelback… Alberta is so proud.
We stopped many places along the way – from Galahad (a medieval -themed village I picked off of the map), to a mining interpretive site (which was literally on the side of a back highway), to Dinosaur Provincial Park (one of the richest areas in the world as far as dinosaur fossils are concerned).
We finally made our way to Brooks in time for the hockey game and I have to say I was extremely impressed by the production that this small town put on. The arena was beautiful, and clearly the Brooks Bandits are a first class organization, as far as junior hockey is concerned. This game was the season opener, and they had a few banners to raise so the pre-game show was very cool to see. I wish I could go to games here more often!
The next day, before heading back to Edmonton, we stopped at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, which features a collection of more than 130,000 dinosaur fossils and is actually an important location for palaeontological research. This museum was extremely well-done and informative, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the area. I thought that one of the coolest things about seeing all the exhibits was that this area of Alberta really is one of the centers of the dinosaur universe, where many important discoveries have been made.
After spending a few hours at the museum, it was time to head back to Edmonton. I guess the point of this post is that I wanted to write about how much I enjoyed all of these experiences that were not all that far from home. Having not grown up in Alberta, I haven’t seen many of the things or done many of the activities available here. I always say that I want to travel more, but I also need to keep in mind that there are plenty of exciting and affordable things to experience much closer to home. Whenever I start to really feel the travel bug from now on, I’m going to take a look at the long list of touristy Albertan activities I have not had the chance to do.
As a student in Physical Education at the University of Alberta, with a focus in culture and event management, I took plenty of courses throughout my degree that examined the culture of Canada. In many cases, these courses had at least a lecture or two on hockey and the importance of hockey to Canadian culture. This is one of the reasons that I was excited to start my volunteering stint at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships here in Edmonton.
After spending a few months in Hawaii, it has been nice to be able to dive back in to hockey. And not only hockey, but the best kind: the kind that brings the world together behind a group of young, talented athletes. None of these guys have truly made it yet, so they are willing to put everything on the line at this tournament. I look forward to the World Junior Hockey Championships every year, and to be able to contribute and be a part of this fantastic event was an amazing experience for me.
I had forgotten how much I missed spending time at Rexall Place. The energy of the crowd at these games is like nothing I have ever seen before, and it was an amazing thing to experience firsthand. I had forgotten the hum of the crowd in the background of everything during a game, and just how loud a goal for the home team sounds in that arena.
I am thankful to have been a part of this event, and all the payment I could ever need was given to me every time each member of Team Canada fist-bumped my 9-and-10-year-old flag bearers when coming off the ice after warm-up. It was amazing to be able to provide that kind of experience to a few lucky young Albertan hockey players. It was also incredibly rewarding to be a part of coordinating the giant Canada flag that would make its way around the 200-level of Rexall Place at the beginning of each Canadian game. People would reach enthusiastically for just a brief graze of the flag. It was as though by touching this flag, the crowd would all feel as though they were a part of something bigger. The sight of every arm extended into the air, reaching for the flag is an experience that can only be described as magical.
Stepping back into hockey was the perfect way to dig right in to Canadian culture. From the volunteers willing to do anything and everything to help backstage, to the fans going all out to support the team at games, to the players that will do whatever they have to do on the ice, so many people put everything they had into this event. Holding the World Junior Hockey Championships in Alberta is a prime example of a celebration of hockey and Canadian culture.
As some of you may know, the slogan of this year’s Championship is “I Was There”. I love this slogan, and I love the way it shows how much hockey matters to the majority of our country. I definitely now have my fair share of “I Was There” moments. I was there when Paul Brandt sang a flawless, bilingual Canadian anthem – and sounded amazing doing it! I was there standing in the same room as Bobby Orr. I was there watching the one-and-a-half sections wide by ten rows tall Canadian flag make its way around the entire arena. I was there at ice level watching our flag be raised after Canada’s first win of the tournament. I was there when Petr Mrazek of the Czech Republic became a crowd favourite in a Canadian arena. I was there, chatting with the kids I worked with backstage after their interactions with Team Canada, realizing that this was truly one of the magical moments of this event.
I’m now safely back in Edmonton and in the process of getting settled into my new room at Slanty House. I was disappointed in the lack of snow in Edmonton right now, but I’m glad to be here. I spent a few days in Kelowna, during which my mom put me to work making jewelry, and then the two of us made the drive over to Edmonton. I just love Jasper National Park.
Now that I am back in Canada, there are many things I am excited to have around me again. The following list is in no particular order.
1) My roommates. It was so nice to feel that I had a place to come “home” here, and fitting in at this house is just so natural for me that many of us agree that it’s almost as if I’d been here all along.
2) Hockey. It’s nice to be able to see hockey games on TV, and even to see shinny games happening on outdoor rinks. One thing that I didn’t even notice I missed was seeing people wearing NHL jerseys at all times. I was walking through the Vancouver airport when I saw a guy wandering around in a Canucks jersey. That really brought home the fact that I am back in Canada.
3) Fall/Winter clothing. I love sweaters, turtlenecks, layering, boots, leggings, and mittens. I was able to wear none of these things in Hawaii. Which brings me to my next point…
4) Having a full closet. I’m excited to have more than a few select outfits to wear. Living out of a suitcase is totally reasonable, but it also gets old after awhile. I don’t know if I’ll want to touch any of the clothing I had with me for a few months. Then again, I definitely don’t need summer clothing right now and won’t for awhile.
5) Loonies and Toonies. I despise carrying around $1 bills, always thinking I have a lot more money than I actually do. Not to mention, who doesn’t love being able to pay for purchases entirely in change?
It’s very strange to be here while everyone is frantically studying for exams, but I guess that means I have lots of time to settle into my room and try to accomplish things (such as posting to my blog, obviously).
Welcome to my blog… this is something new to me, so I’m sure I’ll learn how things work as I go along.
I finished my last day of work on Wednesday, and am getting ready to road trip down to Edmonton and Kelowna with an eventual flight to Hawai’i to spend a couple months there. I figured this was probably a decent time to start a blog so that I can keep everyone updated with what I am doing. Plus, I have been so inspired by Kristin & Justine’s blog about their Europe travels, viewable at http://www.wonderandwanderlust.wordpress.com.
Basically the next few weeks will be full of driving, visiting with friends, and hopefully golf. The end of September will be spent touring the sights of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the beginning of October will finally see me on the Big Island of Hawai’i! I am very excited about this adventure, and really have no idea what to expect. I will be living with my Aunt and Uncle in Waikoloa, and getting to know my young cousins. I hope to spend lots of time lounging in the heat, as well as taking in all the touristy sights I can.
In the meantime, you can follow my adventures in the next month including driving the beautiful and wild Alaska Highway down to Edmonton as well as cruising along the California coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I’m excited about every piece of my journey to come and am looking forward to being able to share it with all of you…
Lots of love!