Friday, February 24, 2017

Canada 2017 Update

Monday I returned from my second trip to Alberta, Canada! I went last year, partially for book research so I can experience subzero temperatures, but it was hot. -_- Thus this year I've gone for round two and I got to experience subzero temperatures and more. So much great book research!

Day 1:

I got up 4:30 a.m. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Then I got dropped off at the airport. I managed to find one of my favorite coffee shops, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I tried it in New York and I was elated to find it at the Atlanta airport!

Then I hopped on a plane and flew to my layover in Minnesota which is now the eleventh state I've visited in the US. Whoop whoop! Apparently they have a thing for mosquitoes ... Explain this to me Minnesotans. I know some of you creatures read my blog.

When I arrived in Alberta, it had just snowed and it was -10 Fahrenheit. This is the coldest temperature I've ever experienced and guess what northerners who have mocked me for being a Southerner experiencing extreme cold, I WAS FINE. I bundled up in lots of clothes and I wasn't freezing my bahookie off. I was actually warmer than my Canadian friend Cassia so HA! *clears throat* I learned a lot of really neat things about snow that I hadn't thought about before. 

Number 1: It's actually colder on clear sky days than cloudy days, because the clouds actually work as insulation.

Number 2: Snow is really noisy. It creaks and squeaks and crunches, especially when it's this cold because the snow is much dryer. It is really difficult to be stealthy in snow. Your best bet is shuffling under the snow so it only swishes. 

Number 3: When snow is this dry the wind blows it around like sand on the beach. It's really pretty. 

Number 4: When you're walking deep snow it is nearly impossible to cover your tracks behind you. You make big holes with your feet. Also when you walk your foot prints look more like long shuffle tracks. When you run your prints are more defined. 

Number 5: Snow can be deceiving. A patch of snow can look normal then you step in it and it's a foot deep. This can be treacherous when you're running or walking somewhere dangerous like on ice.

Lastly, Cassia and I got donuts from Tim Hortons. BECAUSE THEY'RE AMAZING! Eat confectioner's sugar, Dunkin' Donuts, Timmies beats you with their Canadian Maple donut. I know the Americans reading this part are like "Say what?" and Canadians are like "YEAH TIM HORTON'S!!!!"

Day 2:

Today Cassia and I went skiing. This is my third time going and we went on fresh snow, which is wonderful. I'm getting better!

I started going fast and I wasn't as afraid as last time. Yay me!

It also snowed while we were there hence why I look like someone dumped powdered sugar on me.

I also learned that you can't make snow balls with very cold snow. It doesn't work. It just crumbles to pieces.

There were also snow couches.

Day 3:

We went to the exotic butcher that's near Cassia's house. THEY HAD SOME CRAZY MEATS I WAS IN HEAVEN! I like crazy foods, okay? Look at this! They have ostrich meat and kangaroo and camel. IT'S INSANE! We bought buffalo bacon, elk stew meat, and wild boar jerky. 

We also went to this awesome art store and I got more art supplies. You can never have enough of those. 

When we got home, I tried my Wild Boar jerky. It's goooooooooooood. It's moist and salty which was different. 

Day 4:

We went to the ice castle again this year! But in the day time, so it was a totally different experience!

It totally looks like Narnia doesn't it?

It felt like I was in another world.

I am the Snow Queen. Fear me.

The Silver Skate Festival was right next door so we mosied on over there. We tried kicksleds which are apparently popular in Scandinavia (Some insight, my Scandinavian friends?). They're a lot of work, but they're super fun.

We also tried bannock which I've been dying to try, because I have it in my books.

Bannock is an Inuit bread that you roast on stick like so.

It tastes amazing! I'm so happy that I know exactly how it tastes for my stories now!

According to a First Nation man Cassia and I spoke to this is a multi-purple dwelling made out of spruce. He said you can actually waterproof this with moss.  

It was significantly warmer inside than outside and when the door is closed the smoke is naturally sucked out up top. He was smoking salmon here. 

We also got to lay on a buffalo pelt. So soft ... I also have those in my books so another awesome experience for that.

We also made lanterns! Aren't they pretty?

Also it's Canada's 150th year as a country this year! Whoo hoo! I'm so glad I got to be there in year 150!

Lastly, the festival does a daily burning of a big wooden statue of a lion as a symbol of burning away winter to make way for spring. There were drums playing in the background, so it felt really tribal. 

Day 5:

This day was kinda tough for me. After I took a shower that morning, I go the news that my birth grandfather whom I only got to meet once but connected online had passed away suddenly. This was a great shock to me and I ended up crying in the bathroom for a couple hours which made us late so we couldn't go snowshoeing at the Strathcona Wilderness Center. 

Instead, Cassia and I sat among the reads on a frozen walk and just talked. 

It was really serene and was what I needed that day.

We talked about our characters for hours. 

I'm still grieving and I miss my grandpa a lot. I wanted him to see these pictures, because he loved the ones I showed him last year when I went to Canada. I miss him so much and I hope he knows I'm thinking of him. 

Day 6:

We went to one of my now favorite Sushi places on the planet (next to Rusan's and SusHi Eatstation)! 

The sushi is so big and delicious! I got the Dragon Roll!

Day 7:

Today was Valentine's Day! I woke up to Cassia's mom leaving us little gift bags! I got a Tim Horton's gift card, chocolate, a really nice pen, page tabs, and a highlighter. Writer supplies! ^ ^

While Cassia was at school, I got to meet the one and only Adriana @ Crazy Little Thing Called Life!

After Cassia, got out of class we went to a hot pot place which is basically where you build your own soup. It's so good. ^ ^

Then we went to downtown Edmonton and got to eat more bannock!

After that we went to the Disney Store cause why not?

Then we got ice cream and went back home and drew ships of our characters! I drew Matt and Ingrid together. ^ ^


Day 8:

We decided to stay home today and we made borscht! Borscht is a Ukrainian/Russian soup made of beets, cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables.

I also made my buffalo bacon.

It was super good! It was thick and savory and not gamy at all.

You eat borscht with sour cream on top and I like to sprinkle some extra dill. Yum!

Day 9:

I hauled my cape all the way from Georgia so we could do an epic fantasy photoshoot!

Cassia has this really cool area behind her house that was a perfect location!

I thought an apple would be a cool prop and it turned out it was!

We had a lot of fun. I love doing photoshoots. 

The sunset was absolutely gorgeous on this day.

Cassia said it's because of the snow clouds rolling in!

We went ice skating! I hadn't been in a year!

Day 10:

We went to West Edmonton Mall, which is one of the biggest of not the biggest indoor malls in Canada!

The architecture is so cool! 

And there are so many stores including North America's biggest LUSH! I got bathbombs and bubble bars. There's also this awesome place called Beaden where you can build your own necklace! I found an inukshuk pendent and a crystal pendent that looks like it's from my books!

We also saw a sea lion show!

Yes it was in the mall!

The mall that also has a FREAKING PIRATE SHIP!

And a giant whale in the floor because why not?

Day 11:

My loot from the previous days that I gathered while packing.

This is the best energy drink I've ever had. It actually didn't taste like pee. 

We made elk stew which was really delicious! 

Day 12:

The previous night it snowed so the next day we got to do some snowy activities, including build a snowman! 

We named him Gibby because we started watching iCarly for old times' sake on Netflix.

We also went sledding!

Cassia's grandparents came over that night for dinner and her grandfather sheltered a defected Nazi during World War II. This is the belt he left.

Then we finished off the trip with the most Canadian pic ever. 

Day 13:

I went home, but while at the airport I won a free donut from Roll-Up the Rim! I got another Canadian Maple. 

Overall, it was a great trip. I loved being able to spend time with one of my closest friends for two weeks and I learned so much about cold weather. Next time I want to go in the summer!

Have you ever been to Canada? What is the coldest temperature you've ever experienced? Have you ever been skiing or ice skating? Have you ever seen northern lights?

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