The Mountains of Banff, Alberta

I saw mountains for the first time two days ago. I was struck with awe and wonderment, almost moved to tears, as we drove further into the range towards town. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing and I felt true, genuine happiness from just the beauty of these natural wonders. The fresh air filled my lungs and the trees and mountains filled my sight from all angles. This was everything I had ever hoped it would be.

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Driving the loop surrounding the large glacial Lake Minnewanka in Banff, Alberta.

Justin was right in describing these views as primordial. These mountains are primordial and whether you are seeing them up close or far away, they evoke this very visceral feeling. It makes sense why I was so innately driven to tears.

After driving for several hours, we made it into the town of Banff. It’s about a 4 / 4 and a half hour drive so we were feeling excited but definitely needing to rest and figure out what our plan was. We knew that one thing was for certain – we needed to get out there and be even closer to the giant wonders surrounding us.

We came up with a rough plan and headed to a trail near Mount Rundle. This trail was quite long so we didn’t do the whole thing. I hope to come back with bikes in the near future and head along some of the trails in this area and another area as well. Mount Rundle is seen from various parts of Banff, but it was amazing to see amongst Bow Valley. This trail also had Hoodoos, which are rocks that are formed from years and years of erosion.

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Hoodoos are located in the bottom left of this photo.

We walked for a while along this trail and eventually turned back after several stops at the lookouts. After our walking, we decided to eat at a simple but really cozy Irish pub in town for dinner, all the while taking in the mountains surrounding town.

The next day, after various changes of plans, we decided to drive along the Lake Minnewanka loop. This drive takes you all around the large glacial lake with various stops for hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping grounds. We stopped at several different places, the major one being directly at Lake Minnewanka where you can boat, rest, bike, or hike. We, however, got fries and ice cream cones and sat near the lake on some rocks, taking in the reflective, still water and the mountains surrounding it. The lake and mountains together were stunning; one of the most beautiful views we saw during our time in Banff. It makes a lot of sense why Minnewanka literally means “Water of Spirits” (in Stoney / Nakoda, a Siouan langauge).

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Lake Minnewanka, Banff, Alberta

From that point, we continued along the loop and made a few more stops at various parts of the lake and mountain ranges. I can’t express how genuinely happy I was, seeing these mountains merely exist. They are here because of nature and time. They are just here. It takes time to become that collosal.

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Justin and I realized how grateful we are to be this close to Banff. The 4 hour drive is not long, especially considering how much time was needed for these gigantic, towering beauties to form.

Supply Teaching

I’ve officially been added to the supply list for the Edmonton school board that I will be working for! It’s been an exciting week with various phone calls from an automated robot who Justin and I have humanized and grown to love and hate. (He starts calling at 6 in the morning to notify me of possible supply jobs.) Finally, after many anxious emails and phone calls, I accepted my first supply job and went to a junior high school today to cover for a teacher.

I’ve been so nervous, anxious, and excited leading up to this day. I hadn’t been in a classroom for almost a year and a half. For some reason (anxiety), I started to think I was forgetting everything I had learned and that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a classroom again. And it’s true. At first, I wasn’t completely comfortable today. But as the day went on so much came back to me. Importantly, the love, passion, and comfort I feel for teaching came back. It felt so natural again and I think I worried that I lost all this after being out of it for a while. But I realized that just because I had been waiting and trying to get into a classroom or a school doesn’t mean I stopped liking it or stopped caring.

So today was my first day back into a classroom and my very first day as a supply teacher. I’m still nervous for so many other firsts that will happen along the way, but I am really happy that I can say I love what I’m doing. And I can confidently say that I didn’t forget the things I learned after all. They just got tucked away, like books on a shelf. Now, I am reading them again.

First Week

Edmonton is full of large evergreen trees. Spruce and pine floods my peripherals when I am driving around. There are many old houses and large spaces of vast, flat land. It’s refreshing to see so much land. And then, every once in a while, you drive through a part of the river valley and over the North Saskatchewan River. It excites me every time. It’s hard to look away from all the trees and the river.

I have settled in pretty well this first week. I’ve been able to see so many friends of Justin’s and a couple of my own which has been filling my heart up a lot. I’ve seen my very close friend Kailene a few times already and we have more plans again this week that I am really looking forward to. We are still getting used to the idea that we are not provinces away anymore. I’ve also been getting to know the various animals in my current household (Piper and George the cats, Winston the pug). It’s been really uplifting and exciting having all of them around at various times and bonding with each of them in different ways. Justin’s sister has also been really sweet and even made me a few decorations for my bedroom! I like my new surroundings a lot and the people around me.

It was helpful seeing many friends before leaving Toronto. I really needed that and I’m so grateful for who I was able to see. I feel really happy to be here, but I have to admit I’m missing home and my family. Today is probably the first time I am truly recognizing and acknowledging this feeling. I know it’ll get easier the more I adjust and the more that time goes on but right now, it’s gonna be a little hard at first. It really hit me after I talked to my grandma and brother on the phone. I wasn’t even really sure why I felt sad today until I finally just cried and thought, oh this is homesickness. I am missing things. I just really miss people and certain rituals and parts of my life that are changing. Not changing in bad ways, just changing, adapting, and evolving. I’m really quite happy but change, transition, or moves of all sorts are very hard and this is a big one.

I’ve also been really sick and that always makes me feel emotional and incompetent. So with my sickness combined with a lot of change, I’ve been curling up in cozy blankets, having ‘lots of tea, sniffing a bunch of peppermint / eucalyptus oils, getting really nice hugs, cuddling animals, and crying when I need to.