Retirement makes you evaluate your new priorities. One of them, for us anyway, is to explore some new places. You realize that, inspite of being really old, your parents are still providing lessons. Todays lesson is keep on moving and being curious because some day you’ll be content to just “be”. So since we have the time to focus on our spare time (which is all we have now) we have made a bucket list. A list of places and experiences that we would like to check off.
The first tick is The Rocky Mountaineer. I’ve seen ads and promos for this train adventure for some time. But seeing the ads now, when you can actually consider it!, made me act. Especially since the company was offering “free upgrade” to Gold Leaf. A bucket list bargain. Perfect.
Our tour is booked. We chose a shorter train excursion so that we could squeeze in some visiting time. Having family out west makes any trip out of Ontario a chance to reconnect with expats. Frame it around a birthday (my brothers) and voila.
We fly a discount airline (Swoop) out of Hamilton to avoid the hoopla in Toronto. However it seems incompetence and chaos are contagious. Our flight was delayed 8 hours (and then some) and upon arrival in Edmonton our bags took another hour plus to hit the conveyor. This regardless of the ungodly hour (2 am) and that our flight appeared to be the only one. Ugh. On the very bright side, I get a text from my nephew who is waiting to pick us up. He’s my hero.
Ben (my nephew) navigates through the airport jungle and onto to open road. Seems like the entire city is calm and peaceful except for the airport?! Weird. At the hotel we are grateful to collapse into bed and conk out.
Rudy’s daughter and son-in-law pick us up the following day and bring us to their house for lunch on the deck. It’s a hot sunny day and the deck is shady and breezy. What a perfect venue to catch up on years of missed in person stuff. It was awesome. There’s no better feeling than knowing (and seeing!) them thrive in love and life ❤️
After lunch we head to Ben’s house where my brother and his wife and Ben’s girlfriend are waiting. Another deck and more reconnecting. The sun is warm but it’s assisted by the very heartwarming heat that happens naturally when you’re bursting with love. Definitely priceless.
Rudy’s daughter leaves; they have an older dog (we get it) and have to work the next day (we also get it). The rest of us start the process to head for dinner. Ben has chosen a locavore restaurant that’s walking distance from his house. We have reservations at 5:15 pm. The place is https://www.rgerd.ca/ and it definitely lives up to to its rep as a buzzy high end eatery featuring everything local. Our meal is amazing and everyone agrees it was a fabulous choice. We celebrate my brothers birthday in style. After dinner we Uber back to our hotel.
The next day my brother picks us up for brunch. Again, we meet at and walk from Bens place. His neighbourhood, it turns out, is an up and coming hip area with tons of foodie options. Our brunch is outside (another stellar weather day) at https://www.tiramisubistro.ca/. I’m delighted with my asparagus risotto topped by scrambled eggs. Everyone’s meal looks delicious and is accompanied by hot, strong coffee. After brunch there’s a lot of hugging and kissing as we pile into my brother’s suv 🚙 for the trek to Calgary. He’s going to drop us off on his way back to Medicine Hat. The 3 hour drive flies by and before we know it we are pulling into the Hyatt.
It’s a bit sad to say bye to my brother. We thoroughly enjoy his company and dry sense of humour. And always look forward to the next time.
Not enough time to pout … we are off to dinner with my very dear friend Donna. Or D as I’ve called her for years! She lives in Calgary with her husband and spends most of her time in her pottery studio. Her two daughters join us also; I’m known as their fairy god mother going back years from when they were little. They are now close to 40. Yikes. Lots of history for sure. The best treat of the night is meeting the granddaughter, Paige. She’s adorable and the spitting image of her mother. Such a delight. After dinner the youngest daughter (now a police officer) drives us back to the Hyatt. What a full and emotional couple of days.
Rudy has arranged for us to play pickleball in Calgary. Can you say “hooked”? ! After breakfast we Uber to the park https://www.calgary.ca/csps/parks/locations/tennis-courts.html where we are greeted by Pauline who shows us the ropes. We help set up the nets and start warming up. For the next few hours we meet and play with an assortment of people and they are good competition. Soaked in sweat we Uber back to the Hyatt to collect our stored luggage and hop over to the https://www.fairmont.com/palliser-calgary/?cmpid=google_pal_search-brand-na_brand-e-revsh&kpid=go_cmp-193628073_adg-16368288753_ad-431543331027_kwd-638130390_dev-m_ext-_prd-&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIifSKveSW-QIVCWpvBB3CUgbYEAAYASAAEgLZ9fD_BwE
After a (extra long and steamy) shower with my favourite amenities (leLabo Rose31) we head to the bar for snacks and wine. It’s a good time to review our itinerary for the next phase of the trip. The Rocky Mountaineer!!