Monday, 16 December 2013

A Christmas Letter

This is our second Christmas in Canada. We've never been organised enough to send out Christmas cards, let along write a Christmas letter. We love receiving them, bring them on please! So here is our attempt.

The O'Hara's Christmas Letter 2013

Well, haven't the last 20 months just flown by! We've had too many good times to count since we've been here. We've eaten great food, made great friends and travelled to some amazing places. As we keep telling our bank, we're here for a good time, not a long time. Some highlights of our Canadian time include;
  • Meeting my brother in New York;
  • Travelling with our Canadian and Australian friends to Vegas;
  • Going to Taco parties in LA;
  • Going to Chicago with our friends from Mexico;
  • Going to weddings in Wisconsin and California; and
  • Visiting the Niagara Falls on the American side.
We've been doing our best to integrate ourselves into Canadian life. I'd say around 50% of the time it's been a success. Sometimes lost in translation gets us confused, sometimes it's our skills. Here's some things that we haven't quite gotten right:

  • O'Hara has been fishing around 10 times. Not even a nibble. He has seen them swimming past his line on an underwater camera. They're just not interested.
  • I can't shovel the snow from the driveway with any success.
  • O'Hara ran the car into a snow bank, because he was distracted by an excavator.
  • I spend too long talking to border security, in the hopes they are distracted and give us extra passport stamps.
  • O'Hara's toenail has left a scar on someones ankle.
  • I will be the only one in the room laughing at beaver jokes. Other times I make beaver jokes in inappropriate company or at inappropriate times.
  • O'Hara is maintaining the Ugg boots are appropriate to be worn by men. No one agrees.
  • I still think that east is towards the coast. I get people lost when giving directions.
  • O'Hara is a retardant for wildlife. He's down about 15-1 for bear sightings with me.
  • I thought that the large bins that appeared around Halloween were for waste pumpkins. O'Hara carried mouldy carved pumpkins up our driveway to the street, only to find them full of sand. For the ice. Obviously.
  • O'Hara bought one set of warm, one set of cold lights for the Christmas decorations outside. Two-toned is not trendy.
  • I make fun of Canadians too much. It's too easy. #sorrynotsorry.
  • O'Hara asked two girls if they wanted to dink with him on his bike to the pub. That means something different here.
We've had some great successes. We've travelled to places we never saw in our future and seen things most people only see on TV or in postcards. Some of our best successes include:
  • Living in Canada for nearly 2 years and not ending every sentence with 'eh!";
  • Instead referring to everything as "brutal";
  • Doing fully sick "jumps" on our snowboards;
  • Conveying sarcasm;
  • Using our "Canadian" accents to translate from Australian. "Oh Heeirra";
  • Fly kicking Christmas trees;
  • Loving the shit out of poutine; and
  • Travelling further east in Canada than most of the Canadians we've met. 
We love having guests and have had some wonderful times with our friends and family. More of you are welcome. Have I not made this clear enough?! We've explored, hiked, fished, kayaked, camped, swam, drank, eaten, played candy crush, snowboarded, sledded, skated and talked with some of our favourite people in the world. Our most favourite guest of all? ...... Gilly! I managed to win her back over after two nights and a few walks up Kenna Cartwright. I thought that friendship was over, so what a relief when she loved me again!

As my Christmas gift to every one, O'Hara and I got out the cheese and created some wonderful "traditional" Christmas photos. I am taking a huge risk putting these online guys. These photos will probably end up on that "AFP" website (I'm not saying the full name, otherwise it might come up in a search). Y'all are welcome! Merry Christmas xxx

Oh my GOODNESS! Gifts xxx
Cringey, cringe, cringe!
You can probably tell, we're basically Canadian now. I'm surprised they haven't handed us new passports yet.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Christmas Preparation Weekend

Christmas preparation has began at the O'Hara household! Last year we were out on the east side for the few weeks before Christmas so we didn't get too involved with decorations. We didn't even have a tree, it was depressing.

This year is different. We have no holidays planned until next year *sob*, so we had to get a tree. And put up some decorations. And drink eggnog. And make a Christmas wreath. It's been a fun weekend.
Crazy wreath ladies!
On Saturday we got up semi early to get our second day up the hill in. One of my favourite things about Sun Peaks is we get some random inversions happening. It means it will be freezing cold and raining in town, but then sunny and wonderful up the hill. There has been record snow for this time of year, which means our boards haven't suffered the rock death that they normally would for his early.
Saturday snow day!
Saturday night I had a girly night, with some Canadian friends attempting to teach me how to be crafty. I needed a lot of assistance. A lot. Luckily Alexis is super nice and stopped my wreath from becoming a Jersey Shore disaster. There was still bulk glitter, even with assistance.
The process!
On Sunday we went out to Woodward Christmas Trees. It's a Christmas tree farm just outside of Kamloops. They also have a wine tasting room. Amazing. We went out there on Sunday morning with Alexis and Hal. There is already snow, and it was a winter wonderland.
Tractor ride! Clearly I can't pull of the half shaved head look. 

We mastered the Canadian experiences this weekend. The weekend was perhaps only topped by O'Hara's last weekend. That weekend involved snow boarding, ice skating and hunting deer.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Australian Invasion in Vegas

We're on our way to creating an annual Vegas trip tradition and on November Long we went on our third trip to Sin City. Activities were significantly organised by O'Hara which meant we managed to have a boy weighted weekend. Not a sad thing, as it meant we checked off a lot of bucket list items that we hadn't got around to on other trips. We also hired an 8 seater "car" for the adventures. There were 3 people in our group 6'3" and over. It was cosy.
I almost got everyone. These people wouldn't work with me!
Day 1: Shooting big guns and driving fast cars
Since we first went to Vegas, we've wanted to do this. There are a few different places you can go to shoot ridiculously unnecessary weapons, O'Hara chose the Pro Gun Club. This ended up being a really good choice. It was located about 40min away from the strip, at an outdoor range. The weather was perfect (around 24C) and it was a good morning in the sun. From memory we shot a hand gun (Glock for the girls, 50cal Desert Eagle for the boys), AK-47, grenade launcher, Uzi, sniper rifle, and a Saw.

It was bad arse, and it was fun. I learnt that I am a terrible shot, I suspect my right eye is not the dominant one even though I'm right handed. It was hard work just keeping my eye closed and the sight lined up. Epic fails. Lil was a legend at it. Jealous.
Guns and big bullet shells. Super bad arse.
After guns, O'Hara, Clint and Greg went to drive race cars. O'Hara wasn't too impressed with his skills. Apparently he spend half the time trying to change gears by turning high beam on. I don't think I need to worry about him quitting his day job. I spent the afternoon drinking margaritas by the pool with Joey. Super class and another check of my Vegas bucket list.
O'Hara et moi

Day 2: Valley of Fires
The first time we went to Vegas we did a trip out to the Grand Canyon and since then we've wanted to explore more of the outer areas. There really is so much to see in that area and surrounds. We tossed up between Death Valley and the Valley of Fires. In the end VoF won out as it was only a 45min drive away. We couldn't guarantee not being hungover and sleeping in, so chose the one that was easiest to get to. It was beautiful. If you're lucky I'll put some of Lil's (much nice) photos up, so you can get a better feel!
This is our crew. We are amazing.
This was a good choice. VoF is a spectacular place, with the beautiful red rocks keeping us entertained into to the late afternoon. We didn't even end up seeing Lake Mead which we were planning on going to for a picnic. We did see 4,000 year old petroglyphs that were very cool. It makes me angry at society that some were vandalised, but it's amazing how these have lasted. We also managed to get two takes of "What Does the Moose Say?" in. That was special. We left at 11, so if you want to spend a full day there I'd recommend going a bit earlier. Picnic or not, we had a lovely day and didn't allow blood sugars to get too low. It was a little touch and go towards the end there.
The ones who didn't have to climb to the highest point, and 4000 year old petroglyphs.
We ate some delicious meals out with one dinner being at the Tapas restaurant in the Cosmopolitan and another Fleur at Mandalay Bay. I managed to eat myself into a literal food coma on the last night. It wasn't pretty. It's nice eating out at good restaurants though, as we don't get that opportunity in Kamloops.

Our first night we made a trip out to Fremont St to give the newbies an idea of old Vegas. As always it didn't fail to disappoint. That place is not G Rated. There were flashing nuns, a creepy guy with a lady on a leash, a "firewoman" and an old guy dressed as a slutty angel just to name a few. It was dirty, cheap and amazing. We still didn't win big.
Steph did a good job as shooter. Probs got us up 5 bucks. Jackpot!
We sucked at Craps. We continue to not follow our plan of only playing at tables that look like they're having a good time. We'd get bored and just choose a table at the casino we are at. We had a couple of low wins, but mostly just losses. Clint was convinced Joey was bad luck... then she won $300 in the pokies (slots). Jel.
A beautiful moment, and a beautiful view.
We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which is a really good time. It's nice staying in a fancy hotel even if you don't spend a lot of time in your room. When you're wandering back to your room, it's a good opportunity to explore. I swear I didn't take the same route more than twice.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Learning to Curl (and be Canadian)

I'm sure you've all heard of curling. Probably mocked it at some point in your life. Laughed at the guys sweeping the ice with a broom. Made a joke about how women should be good at it. Well laugh all you want, this game is freaking hard!

We joined the McArthur Island Curling Club's Learn to Curl program. It's an 8 week course where they teach you the basics of curling, and give you the the opportunity to join a league once you're done. We've been doing it for 5 weeks now, and I think to some extent we've improved. Those first few weeks I was in a whole lot of pain every Wednesday.

Let me set the scene, you have a shoe with a teflon coating on the bottom... and you have to slide on it on the ice. It's been going about as well as you would expect! The ice is actually covered with tiny little ice bumps that they apply with something that looks like a spot sprayer. The bumps help the stone move to the end of the ice, fast ice is "keen" ice.
Teflon and strategy
The basics are there are 4 people on a team, and everyone throws 2 rocks in a row (one team at a time). The captain "skip" throws last, and if you win the toss you get the choice to have the last throw "the hammer". Scoring is done the same as lawn bowls. You push out from the "hack" and the rock is thrown from something like a lunge position (hard), and you have to try and balance and slide on your teflon coated shoe with your back foot out behind you toes facing down. The slide is how the rock gets it's momentum, you're not supposed to push out the rock at all (but that is hard too).
Focus face, and they're "hurrying hard!"
The rock is thrown with a slight spin, either moving your hand from "10 O'Clock" to "12" or from "2" to "12". The Skip at the other end of the ice tells you where the want the rock, and which way they want you to curl it. For 3 weeks I think I needed bumpers, as I had huge issues getting the rock to stay inside our sheet of ice. The sweepers have to work out how fast the rock is going, and whether they need to sweep (to make it go further) or leave it in order for it to land where the skip is requesting. This is also really hard to gauge, and the majority of the rocks I'm sweeping for either run out the back or don't make it into play. The struggle is real!
We're cool!
I'm also not someone you want on your team. Not just because I'm a hazard, but I also get too much enjoyment from other people falling over. Twice I've actually said "YES". Out loud. Sorry team!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Halloween. Festive Season 2 of 3

Once October hits, it seems like there is festive season after festive season. Thanksgiving, Halloween, then Christmas. There are decorations and everything that goes with each of these events. It's full on! In Canada, the gap between Halloween and Christmas is the biggest. Conveniently this is the biggest change over, as many houses go all out for both events.
Just a giant evil cat watching some ladies! Me trying to be Kate Moss. Failing.
The weekend before Halloween, we went to a house party that has the sweetest Halloween set up you've ever seen. Interior and exterior was wild! I can't really do it justice trying to explain it, you'll have to take my work for it that it was impressive.
<1% of the decorations!
For actual Halloween we took it pretty easy and had a dinner at our house for fellow friends that didn't want to deal with trick or treaters. Living in a Condo and down a long driveway is beneficial if you don't want to hand out chocolates. Once again we bough a giant box of chocolates "just in case", but have since eaten the majority of them ourselves. Win, win! We didn't carve our pumpkins until Halloween night this year. This prevented the soggy faces that we experienced on October the 31st last year.
Guess which is mine, and which is O'Hara's. You can tell we don't have stencils!
That weekend Kamloops had its first snowfall! Finally. I think the best way to describe my (un-ladylike) excitement for the snowboardings season is "frothing"? I'll have to check with the baby brother if I've used that word correctly in a sentence. I can't wait. 3 weeks!
Take selfie with snow in hair. Check

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Autumn Weekends

I am not Autumn's biggest fan. I've always struggled to get into that season, because in Australia there is nothing good about it (aside from my birthday... obviously). We don't have the holiday season coming up, no Thanksgiving, Halloween or Christmas, no beautiful trees or colours and often it only cools down a few weeks before winter. It's just the doom and gloom before Winter hits. Given, in places like Cobar that's when the weather is actually at it's best. I still don't like it.

The majority of North Americans are obsessed with "Fall". Ask them, you know it to be true. They love the holidays, the beauty, crafting, cooking, decorating, eating, family. They love the fashion "you can look cute with boots and layers without needing full Winter clothes", and everyone loves the harvest. I've found a few that side with me, "it's cold but there isn't anything fun to do" but they're definitely few and far between. 
Confession. This year I've become a bit of a sucker. I don't know if it's because the weather is better, or if I've started to notice the beauty and have a better wardrobe... but I've kind of fallen for Fall. I love Thanksgiving, and layering and root vegetables, and pumpkin pie, and the way the sun comes through the coloured leaves. Sucker. It reminds me of the first time O'Hara and I travelled to Europe in September/November. We were walking to the top of a hill in Switzerland somewhere and we finally understood why people liked Autumn. It's freaking beautiful!
Yay for wearing gumboots! O'Hara loved playing photographer...
This weekend I travelled to Vernon for the Pumpkin Harvest Fest at Davidson Orchards. They had everything you could possibly want (harvest wise). Mulled apple cider, pies, cakes, pumpkins. It was worth the drive. Sunday we attempted for the second year to see the Salmon Run. We've been in "off" years since we've been here, and this year was an improvement on last year (zero) but we're still waiting for the big kahuna. Still, I got to see some fish, splash around in my new gumboots and marvel at the beauty of the leaves.
The giant dead fish are particularly beautiful!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Canadian Thanksgiving. Round 2

Despite what How I Met Your Mother says, Canadians have quite a lot to be thankful for. I think everyone who is lucky enough to get paid for working, have the opportunity for an education and lives in a free country has PLENTY to be thankful for. This is our second Thanksgiving in Canada, last Thanksgiving we learnt all about some Canadian specialties. No Wheat Salad this year. Yet.

This year we were invited to KD McG's (AKA Korah) mum's house for a Thanksgiving feast. I don't use the term feast lightly, but that is what it was. I thought I would burst from eating, then had three pieces of dessert. I'm sorry but you haven't lived until you've had pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing.

Before dinner we went around the table and said what we were thankful for, for the past year. Korah had warned us that's what would happen so we had some time to think about it. Do you know what? Having to think about this, really made me realise I lead a very blessed life. I am thankful for a whole lot! This is what I had.

Firstly, I am thankful to have two loving and supporting families in Australia. Who (while barely) have forgiven us for living in Canada. I'm also thankful that my wonderful friends from home still love me.

I'm thankful that I was able to have the opportunity and job that lets me work in Canada and we were able to buy a home here. I'm thankful that I've been able to make new wonderful friends while living here.

I'm thankful for having Korah in my department for the last year, which has let me become friends with her and Mike and the opportunity to have Thanksgiving dinner with her family. I am so thankful that they invited us to their family dinner, and included us. They are wonderful people.

Finally, I am thankful for my husband. He makes every day a good one.
I'm also pretty thankful for Stacey (Steve's GF)

Monday, 14 October 2013

We bought a house..... in Canada!

Wow! We didn't really see this one coming, but after about 15 months of renting our condo (townhouse equivalent I think to the Aussies) the unit next door came up for sale. O'Hara and I had talked about buying on and off. We'd think about buying, then something would happen that would make us think we'd be home sooner rather than later. Then that would sort itself out and we'd start thinking again. Being an expat is like being on a roller-coaster of emotions. I'm slowly getting used to it!
Excuse the scrubbiness, but us drinking champas in our new house. I promptly smashed the bottom of the light.
The housing market in Canada (in Kamloops at least) is cheaper than it is in Australia. Vancouver is ranked one of the most unaffordable cities in the world, but I think part of that is to do with wages and I'm sure Sydney is up there as well. There is also often talk here about a housing bubble bursting because the interest rates are so low, but that seems to be a risk here and at home. The deciding factor for us was when we worked out we were paying about $200 a month more in rent than what a mortgage + property taxes + strata fees would be for exactly the same place.

So we did it! The whole process was fairly simple. We don't have Permanent Residency (or the application submitted) so we had to have a 20% deposit. We were able to use our contributed NRSPs. These are kinda the equivalent to super except we don't get a tax break because they aren't "registered". We may end up getting registered "RRSPs" now, because we shouldn't need to draw on the cash before we leave (famous last words no doubt...).

With a 20% deposit it meant we didn't have to pay mortgage insurance BUT we did end up having to pay Property Transfer Tax. If we had PR we wouldn't have had to pay this as we are first time home buyers. That was a fun little surprise as O'Hara was signing the paperwork 2 days before possession. Please, we actually need another $3,600... Luckily we had a good lawyer that told us we needed to pay it (after everyone else told us we didn't), otherwise we would have been pinged come tax time. Thank you Fulton & Company.

We went with a variable interest rate which may have been a bit risky, but we're only paying 2.6% at the moment so there's no complaining here. Now we just need to get a couch so we don't have to sit on dining chairs when we're at home! Unfortunately we just booked a trip to the UK, and I bought the new iPhone so it may take a while. I clearly have the right priorities.
The best way to move! To an empty lounge room with a view (now full of sh*t)
We have three things that were super exciting. 1) Our bed faces the other way so we have a much nicer view. 2) The condo was literally one across from our rental, so we just passed everything across the balcony. In Canada appliances come with the house even if you're buying, so Teresa we did not move the fridge this way! 3) The old Man Cave (they left the sign of rules - they're gone) is now a Sophisticave. It's the game room where we can hang out and drink scotch from the bar that's now there. Much better.
It's not creepy guys!
Visitors are welcome! You can stay in our shrine room for the non-existant child! You're welcome!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

My Island Home

Guys, this was possibly the best trip we've had in the last 18 months. It was our trip home. This is my opportunity to rave about how much I love my home, don't take it as a dig at our host country!
Sydney housemates reunite at the same restaurant 5 years later
O'Hara was seriously lucky and was able to have nearly 3 weeks in the Motherland. I wasn't quite so fortunate, but I've since realised that 8 days in Australia is substantially better than none. When we arrived in Canada we'd been living in Cobar for the pervious 18 month. While I love Cobar it's hardly a good representation of the awesomeness that is Australia, so it was almost a shock as to how much fun my country is. It's only a few weeks into spring there and it was plenty warm enough to swim in the ocean - though I understand Australia is experiencing a crazy hot year. *Cough* climate change *cough*. Sun Peaks is also opening a week later this year. *Cough* PROOF *cough*.
We planned the trip so we could attend the wedding of our beautiful friends Hayley and Pat. The wedding was absolutely spectacular. I haven't laughed and cried so much at a wedding ever. I'm sure part of it was the emotional turmoil of seeing my friends for the first time in 18 months, but there was a lot of love during that day. Fitzy, my goodness do we miss you. Ever day. But especially on these days. We also got to relive the London days of playing cards (Black Bitch obvs), eating scones with jam and cream and drinking Strongbow and Leffe (damn I wish it was only 99p).
You wish you could be friends with this lot!
Cheeky cards and beautiful trees - when did driving in Australia get so pretty there?
While staying in Canberra we visited O'Hara's grandparents in Batemans Bay and spent an afternoon on the beach, got to hear about his parents amazing trip around Aus, tried to convince his siblings to visit us (some again), and have incredible lattes from a new coffee shop in Curtin. I also forgot what good coffee tasted like. North Americans, can you please get your shit together! Seriously. Please! A good latte shouldn't need syrups or sugar and it absolutely shouldn't scald your mouth - note: Rachel took me to a coffee shop owned by New Zealanders in LA... that place is good times.
O'Hara's parents, aunty and grandma
We spent 2 nights in Sydney staying at Coogee. Ah, our old stomping ground. It's so weird spending time here sober. That didn't happen a lot. Sun, beers, good food, beers, more good food, beach, sun, beautiful beer gardens, more beers and many, many good friends. Heaven! Speaking of good food, we literally (not figuratively) had a suitcase full of food to bring back. Best! We also somehow rounded up 5 generations of Baxter kids at a pub one night. We would have had 6 if Simon had manned up and come out. GOSH Simon!

I was not impressed when we had to leave on Saturday afternoon to get on a plane back to Canada. Especially as I kept cheekily checking the weather in Kamloops and it was not something to look forward too. My homesickness is worse now than ever, the only thing that keeps me a little sane is that I have a little kangaroo and emu on the front of my passport. This means if I really want to, I can always go home to the most amazing place on early.
FIVE generations of Baxter College kids!
Beach, beach, beachy, beach I LOVE you!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Vancouver Colour Run

I have been waiting to do this since I first got to Canada. There was one in Seattle shortly after we arrived but it sold out in seconds. I think the novelty has worn off a little since it started, as this one wasn't hard to get tickets for. YES!
We didn't make an Australia on purpose, but it's cool!
The Gold and Green Machine was our team, and there was 12 of us that ran/walked on the team. The Colour Run was held at the PnE in Vancouver which isn't the best location. I think Colour Me Rad (just another version) is held at UBC which would be a bit nicer. We were following witches hats around a big concrete area for a lot of the run, which meant we just cut across. It was kinda silly.
The colour part through was awesome. Just running through doesn't really get you super colourful, but we worked out pretty quickly you can just pick up handfuls of the colour powder and use that to throw/smear at each other. There was a big group of us which meant a lot of people throwing colour at you... which meant we looked pretty amazing by the end. We had perfect weather for it, not raining and not so hot you were a sweaty brown slime by the end.
I think this run has got a fair bit of negative press recently, as it's clearly more of a money making scheme disguised as a charity run. This is obvious, but it doesn't make it any less fun! If you realise you're just paying $45 for a fun day and some awesome photos, it doesn't seem so bad.

Below are some videos we made, posted here for the parentals who don't have Instagram :) - side note: does anyone else hate it when people take blurry photos for you? You touch the screen to focus?! Not hard.

Taco Twerk for the Labour Day Long Weekend

This weekend seems like ages ago, and really it's been a while. While O'Hara was busy training for another Mine Rescue competition, I decided to take a mini-break to LA for a long weekend. I only just discovered that I can fly directly from Kelowna (a 2hr drive away) for the same as it costs from Vancouver or even Seattle! Huge fail taking so long to work that out. It also means we can go during winter and not need to brave the Coq.

This was a last minute decision trip, as Rachel had just told me her family was having a Taco Party for Labour Day. It doesn't take much to convince me to take a trip to visit Rachel, so the promise of a beach weekend with a taco party meant I only needed to briefly check flights to work out it would be a good time.

LA put on some awesome weather for us while I was there, I tried once again to use a standup paddle board but failed even worse than in the lake. I can't quite work out my centre of balance, which should really be surprising considering the giant nature of my body. On the Sunday morning in preparation from the taco party, Rachel's dad hosted a cross fit class for the 10 people who were keen to work out. It ended up being a competition between 2 teams of 5, where each person had to get to 250 points by doing various exercises. I thrive under competition (shock!), so didn't really feel like I was working out super hard. That turned out to be a huge understatement as I struggled to walk, and lift things for the next 5 days. As they say, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

One of my favourite things about living in Canada, is being able to see American friends more than once every 3 years. I love that I can visit Rachel and her family for a weekend, you don't know what being hosted is like until you've spent time with this family! I now recognise US Customs workers at Vancouver airport, so I think that's a sign I am utilising my living arrangements perfectly (except that we STILL haven't been to GA!).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Shuswap Cabining Weekend

We made the most of the rapidly disappearing summer last weekend. Our lovely friends have just as lovely friends who have a cabin out at the Shuswap.

Cabining is an age old Canadian past time. The equivalent of going to the shack or beach house in Australia. It reminded me of the good old days, spending your summers on the boat, swimming and developing a great tan before going back to school. Remember the days when you actually got tanned over summer? I guess my skin health thanks me for not doing that anymore, but I miss the envious "you're sooo tanned" comments.

This wasn't just a weekend of meeting some friends of friends (love doing that!) and hanging by the lake. This was a weekend of firsts. Some had their first keg stand, some their first cliff jump into a lake, some their first view of the salmon run, some their first paddle board, some their first homemade cider keg stand (everyone?), some their first skinny dip in a lake, and some their first skinny dip full stop.

Unfortunately we're at that age and some have professional careers, so including photos of these events isn't really appropriate. We had a wonderful weekend friends! Here's hoping Autumn brings just as much fun.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Some Summer Weekends in Kamloops

We've been in Kamloops for the last three weekends which has been really nice. Last summer we were travelling a lot, so didn't get to enjoy the lovely summer heat in town very much. We now don't have a weekend at home until October so I guess it was good timing. Summer has been awesome in BC as well, as long as you like hot and no rain (who doesn't?). Kamloops is dry as a chip, so it's not pretty but it's hot.

The first weekend was the August long weekend. Our friends Greg and Lil came up to the 'loops because Greg was playing in a soccer tourney. We floated the river TWICE that weekend. The river was moving a fair bit slower than the Channel in Penticton but there aren't many better things to do than float down a river, in the sun, drinking beers with a good group of friends. My underwater camera has decided to die so I sadly didn't get any photos on either trip.
This is what happens when you try and fit people and floats in your car!
Next weekend was the much anticipated Kamloops Ribfest. We missed out on going last year, but had friends that loved it. They loved it so much the went all three days, and it sold out each day. We were in Vancouver for work during the week, but came back Saturday so we could attend. We were pretty excited! On Sunday we got the kayak out (finally) and paddled down the river to Ribfest (again). I think we would have tried 4 different types of ribs over the weekend. Not sad about that at all!
Granville Island Brooms and a blurry kayak shot.
People will wait for these delicious bad boys!
This last weekend we had a quick visit from an Australian uni friend and his wifey. They moved to Vancouver at the start of summer and were on a cheeky interior trip before their baby arrived. Looking forward to visiting them in Vancouver with their new bub soon! We also went out to Barriere for a chicken rotisserie BBQ. Homegrown chickens and everything! I don't think I've ever had chicken that tasted that good. There is no comparison!

I'm looking forward to the weekends of fun that are coming up. In particular a short trip to the Motherland in September!!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

E is for "Eh!?"

You'll notice "eh" is larger font than "freedom"
Ahhhhh, Canadian slang. This phrase is both surprisingly popular and not. All at once. Confused? I was too, until I realised it's the Australian version of "but", so it's popular in some areas but not others. Where we are in southern BC it's not all that common, but you'll still hear it enough. The problem is, it's kinda catchy and really easy to slip into saying it. I think I probably did a bit before moving here, so now I have to consciously avoid it or hear the dreaded "ohhh do I detect a bit of Canadian" when I talk to people from home.

I don't really understand the spelling to be honest, I see it it more of a "meh" sound, but we all know how they pronounce "out" so I'll leave it ;)

I do like it how Canadians embrace the phrase. Around Canada Day (and really all through the year) there is a lot of merchandise you can buy with that phrase on it. I love that they own it!

The scary part comes when you have an Australian living in Canada and you get classics such as "it's good but, eh?". Lost!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Jasper - We Saw a Bear!

We had one final weekend with my parents before they (sadly) had to go back home. We decided to do  a trip up to Jasper. a) because we hadn't been there before and it's on our bucket list, and b) because it's supposed to be bear central, and O'Hara was getting desperate. 
Dad loves having his photo taken almost as much as O'Hara
I also developed an obsession with photographing wildflowers
We booked our accommodation really late so the only place left was the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Fairmont Hotels are generally pretty fancy, and this one had some really beautiful grounds but the hotel room was pretty sketchy. There was a mouse in our room, never a good sign. 
Our room was shit but there were fun props!
Jasper however was incredibly beautiful. Canada in the summer, especially the Rockies is incredibly busy. There seems to be a huge mix of people touring, but I guess when you have 300 million neighbours you're always going to have lots of visitors. 
These are the things tourists come and see!
We spent the weekend hiking, viewing lakes and canyons, eating and drinking out delicious stash of wine from the weekend before. We also managed to fit in some pretty incredible wildlife viewing. O'Hara finally saw his first bear. He's only been here 15 months. Pretty sure Mum and Dad managed to  get into double digits in their 2 week trip. It was a decent sized black bear who walked in front of our car, stopped next to us to eat some berries and then wandered past our car. O'Hara had the biggest smile on his face. We also saw a herd of Elk ladies with their babies, and one daddy Elk with his giant set of antlers. Best.
Hi family! Hi bear!
Can't wait to see the family again, I hated having to say goodbye all over again. Sometimes being and expat is truly shitty. Luckily Skype and the Internet exist. I wouldn't have coped nearly as well 10 years ago.