I'm not sure if I have published this before so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do it now. Again, maybe.
Written in journal in April. When I told dad that I was considering moving back to Ontario he said, “well you’ve done what you went out there to do” or something to that effect. Have I? I saw the Pacific Ocean, check, and while it only lasted three and a half years I did indeed find work. Is that really all I came out here to do? If so then yes, but I’d like to think there is something more. I think that, and it’s only in the last three months of my forty-seven months here, I did learn several other things.
The first, and easiest to describe, is my ability to live with less. Even when I first came out here I was anchored to Ontario, and then to my condo, with the “stuff” that filled all the corners of my world. It was only in February of this year that I learned to value what was truly important to me and to devalue what wasn’t. I now have my entire life down to the size of my truck and I see little need to possess more than that.
Next up I learned, or more accurately became away of some hard lessons about my personality – some good and some bad. I won’t say I’ve learned anything as I’m still trying to sort it but I do believe that the choices I make in life and environment have a lot of influence on me.
The third thing I have learned is that when I make plans and do so against my “gut feelings” that they rarely work out. In fact, I think it is safe to say that they ‘never’ work out. I have dictate so much of my life based on the opinions of others. Now you may disagree but that’s because on the “larger scale” m life makes brave fundamental shifts. Those shifts are when I follow the path that appears before me no matter how different it is from the ‘norm’. It is in those shifts that I am free and in sync with the universe. And then, when things are going well I dig in my heels and try to remain in my “comfort zone” and that’s when the path becomes rugged.
The fourth thing I’ve learned is that one can find their spiritual connection wherever they are. You don’t need an ancient redwood forest to connect with nature. It is true the energy you feel may, will, be very different between a park in the city and a great uninhabited forest but the important thing is to still feel the energy and the connection. Now, I had learned that in the past but I have a point of reference. I have stood in a park in the middle of a city of millions and I have stood on the edge of a great forest with not a soul in sight. It is all about awareness and connection to your immediate surroundings.
The fifth thing I’ve learned is that I can achieve my goals only if I step outside of my comfort zone. If you had come to me when I was 13 years old and told me some day I would drive over 4,600 kilometres just to see the ocean I probably would have pointed out to you the fact that I didn’t have a car much less a driver’s license. And now, thirty-three years later I’m wondering how long it would take to drive to Halifax. The most disheartening limitations placed on your goals are usually put there by yourself.
The sixth thing I’ve learned is that I really do not like working in retail. Yes, I need to work in it because I’m experienced and it pays the bills but that doesn’t mean I love it. Experience wise I could probably run a large retail outlet or a chain of stores but it's not where my passion lies. I’ve been in retail pretty much since I was 16 years old. I had a feeling last year that I was fed up with it and it has only become stronger this year. I kind of wish I had pursued becoming a history teacher, or instructor or trainer of some type even if it involved retail. The other option, which has been lost to not so great eyesight and being out of shape was to be a law enforcement officer. I guess I could still be an Auxiliary cop or Peace officer or even a security guard... I guess.
In neo-pagan terms April is half-way through the year with October 31st being new years eve to many of us. April is a month symbolic of new growth, re-birth and fresh starts.
April has two meanings for me personally. April and September seem to be when most of the path altering events occur in my life.
The first, as you will read below, is the significant number of personal, in some cases, life changing events that occurred in April.
The second meaning for the word April was that it is the name of a girl I knew in high school. We met in art class and for the year had one of those ‘love to hate’ relationships. I wouldn’t say that we hated each other, really, we were more like brother and sister or cousins. Shifting from that comparison I did find her attractive and wish we had dated but the challenge, other than our clashing personalities, was that I was attracted to a friend of hers. Ah high school, the birthplace of drama.
April 1989 met my first girlfriend
I can remember that day like it was just last week and yet it was 28 years ago. I rode my bike down to the park, or I’d walked maybe, that part isn’t entirely clear. I remember she was sitting on the footbridge to the man-made island reading one of those romance novels. I remember finally getting up the nerve to say hello to her. I remember playing shadow tag with her at the front of my house when my parents came home.
April 1989 kissed a girl really for the first time
The same girl I met who then became my first real girlfriend. We lasted for 6 months. It had already ended while we were both working at a summer resort but I ended it the week I was going to start college.
April 1990 left college after completing my first year
I graduated my first year but had struggled the entire time with depression and decided I should leave school, a decision I would later regret for several years.
April 1994 lost my virginity
Yes, I was 23, I lost my virginity during a weekend visit with the woman who would later become my first wife.
April 1994 wrote the theory of subconscious thought and time shifting
A graph and theory that, while I have in my possession the original copies, I have been unable to replicate. The theory is a simple chart explaining the time shifts that occur between the subconsciousness and reality. I was quite actively involved in 1994 in writing theories and explanations for how one could fall into the cracks between time. A graph I drew up in the nineties later matched to an equation by Dirac, even though I had never read or heard of the mathematician before.
April 2003 officially divorced from my first wife
After eight and a half years of a most disappointing, deceptive, disloyal, degrading marriage I asked for a divorce on November 8, 2002. I left on March 30 and the divorce was official in April 24. I believe she got re-married, to her fourth husband, two weeks later.
April 2003 reunited with a close friend after nearly a decade
I followed the signs to find and reunite with a friend whom I had fallen in love with a decade before, months before I met my first wife. Unfortunately, our relationship was never meant to follow that path and in April 2013 we went our separate ways when I moved out west.
April 2008 played casino slots for the first time
I was visiting a girlfriend, or a woman who would be my girlfriend (I think we might have lasted about 3 months at most), and stopped in at the racetrack casino in London. I gambled and lost about $50.
April 2009 opened my bookstore
After leaving Canadian Tire in March for a job that lasted about a week and then falling ill for a week that landed me in hospital I decided to open my own bookstore. It seemed like a good idea at the time and would have succeeded had I just moved to Hanover months before I did.
April 2011 closed my bookstore
After fighting a debt for almost a year I lost and went bankrupt at $16,250 in debt. The ending result was the closing of my store, losing my apartment and ending up on welfare (for the first and hopefully only time ever in my life). I still tell people that, after my divorce, going bankrupt was the best thing to ever happen to me in my life. It gave me a fresh start and I haven’t looked back or fallen in debt since. Another unexpected advantage to going bankrupt is that scammers avoid your credit like the plague. I’m quite happy to not have a credit card or loan or mortgage.
April 2013 saw mom alive for the last time
After a two-year battle with breast cancer my mom ended up in hospital for the last time. We all knew that the end was coming soon. I said my goodbyes to her “see you later” I recall saying. She died in early May.
April 2013 left Ontario for my quest for the west
Two days after visiting my mom in hospital for the last time I began my “quest for the west” as I called it. April 15 marked the first day of a 30-day drive that paused for a few months just east of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta at a summer resort. I worked there until September and then continued to the Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island and the completion of my personal goal to reach the Pacific Ocean.
April 2017 left Alberta to return to Ontario
After leaving my job in February, and two months of unemployment I decided to return to Ontario. At first, I went for a visit, with the intent of returning to Alberta or B.C. but after 2 weeks in Ontario I made up my mind to stay. I think the 3.5% unemployment rate verses 9% in Alberta might have played a significant role in that decision.
April 2017 met a friend in Winnipeg
While this doesn’t seem significant I’ll explain why it is. I’ve been playing in the metaverse since 2008 and in that nearly 10 years I’ve met a lot of people, probably hundreds, virtually but never in person. Anna, her avatar name, is the first person I have ever met who was involved in the grids that I have been.
So, that's been my April's so far...
By the way, I know a few of the photos feature women and I'm definitely a guy, but I liked the pics and they were Creative Commons 0 Free for Commercial Use so I used them.
First, I know some of you are now asking yourself "what is an LOA story?" Well LOA is an acronym for the Law of Attraction. It, in the simplest terms, is the philosophy that "if you can think it you can make it happen". Now, realistically we're not talking about flying to the Moon or elephants appearing in your living-room simply by 'thinking' it into existence. The Law of Attraction is the universe working in harmony with you and you working in harmony with the universe. As a Pantheist this is one of the founding pillars of my belief structure, that we are a part of all that is and surrounds us.
I'm just recalling a journal entry here from Tuesday, September 19, 2017 about a very simple example of a LOA story.
This week I decided I needed to get a stylus pen to better operate Telxon's small on screen buttons at work. I was talking with a co-worker about it because they use one and said I'd have to go to Dollarama and pick one up.
I've twice been to Dollarama since, including the morning of the LOA, and I forgot to pick up a stylus pen once again. I didn't mention it to anyone else, I just reminded myself I needed one.
I went to visit my dad that afternoon and not five minutes after I sit down he hands me a package with a blue stylus pen in it from Dollarama. As it turned out he bought one to use with his phone and picked up an extra one for me "in case I needed one". I didn't know he had done this until that very moment.
I talked with only two people at work, and no one else, and here the first thing to be handed to me is the very thing I've needed.
That's the Law of Attraction.
I have decided that the blog about the pen journey is boring so I'm halting it for now. Perhaps in a few months when we are in the grips of a cold and dark winter I will continue but for now it's just too much.
Second step, Nordegg, Alberta to Red Deer, Alberta (Part II)
From Part I
It’s really kind of neat how things travel. I don’t mean obvious things like cars and people but rather small somewhat insignificant items like the pen I used for writing this blog entry draft…
Departing from Nordegg, Alberta the pen hitched a ride with me and headed east on David Thompson Highway 11. The distance from Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House, the first town, is approximately 90 kilometres.
The road from Nordegg to Rocky is paved highway surface. Normally the conditions are pretty good except for in the dead of winter when it can get a little sketchy in parts particularly around Misty Valley and Saunders. They take pretty good care of plowing it in winter but it can still get pretty rough at times when the winds come down off the Rockies. This is one of the two plows that are responsible for snow removal on over 400 kilometres of roadway.
Things I have witnessed along the stretch of highway between Nordegg and Rocky Mountain House include: multiple gigantic rainbows (not all at once but it is not uncommon to see a double rainbow here), orange sunsets reflecting off a blanket of smoke in the sky from forest fires, fog that lifts up in the air in small columns like pillars, sunbeams across the sky from the horizon, and lots of wildlife including: black bears, elk, deer, moose, coyotes, wolves, wild horses and a cougar.
Another place to stop on this stretch of highway is the Alex Fire Lookout. It is on the east side of the highway around Alexo area and marked with a sign and gravel road in fairly good condition that runs on an angle up the ridge. The photo below shows a view from about two-thirds of the way up that road of the valley below.
The highway takes you past two historical sites, Alexo and Horburg, both settlement communities whose foundations are now lost to history.
Alexo is a ghost town located at an elevation of 1,260 metres. This once thriving coal mining town included a hotel, cookhouse, bunkhouse, store and 30 cottages. The mine closed around the same time as Nordegg due to declining demand for coal. The town-site is gone and all that remains is a youth summer camp called Camp Alexo. There is lots to explore down the ridge from the summer camp. Hang a left at the Y-intersection and continue all the way down until you end at the North Saskatchewan River and connect with the Saunders Creek recreation area. I've included a link to the Wikipedia page on the interesting history of Saunders Creek.
Next down the road is Horburg, Alberta. Horburg is identified by the nearby gravel pits and the recreation area signage though not located side by side. According to Travel Alberta Horburg is a small campground with an excellent North Saskatchewan River access for boaters. There are 80 kilometres of hiking, mountain biking and OHV trails in the area.
The photo below reflects more the height of trees in the area than the colour. In fact during my time out west I saw very few red and orange trees that were almost drowned out by seas of yellow, brown and green.
And finally, we arrive at the third stop in the journey of the pen, the town of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Rocky Mountain House has a long history dating back to 1799. According to Wikipedia “In September 1799, a group of Nor'Westers (North West Company employees) under John McDonald of Garth travelled upstream of Fort Augustus by canoe and horseback and established Rocky Mountain House.”
Rocky Mountain House has a population of about 13,000 and includes most of the amenities you need except there is no Walmart and only a limited number of international banking services. The town is almost industrial in nature and the area around the highway 11 stretch through the community constantly smells of exhaust so keep your window open a bit when you drive through. The Main Street of the town is rather unattractive following a streetscape remodelling in the past 5 years that included the construction of dismal concrete walls and a notable lack of vegetation or colour.
A little history, on December 10, 1799, France was the first country to adopt the metric system used by all countries in the world today except the United States, Burma and Liberia (and Trump says the US is a world leader, not in the metric system they are not). Rocky Mountain House did not actually become a firmly established town until 1912.
Alberta's biggest challenge is not their 'lack of history' but instead that they might have 'too much' history. So much of the settlement of the west and Alberta has been lost in time due the lack of sufficient records kept by explorers and settlers. As the next step of our pen's journey will take us out of Alberta I decided to mention the Historical Society of Alberta and their ongoing efforts to preserve the history of Alberta and Canada.
I separated this step of the journey into two parts so it isn't quite as long. The next part, or paragraph we'll say, is Rocky to Red Deer. I'll have it posted later tonight or tomorrow night. Until then let me know what you think by clicking in the comments below. If you don't see the comment section please click on the blog entry headline and it will appear with the refreshed page. Thank you, Kevin
It’s really kind of neat how things travel. I don’t mean obvious things like cars and people but rather small somewhat insignificant items like the pen I used for writing this blog entry draft.
Let’s forget for the sake of this discussion the journey from China (most likely by container ship) to the distribution center and so on, a path that could span thousands of kilometres, and instead on where the pen has travelled since it was handed out by the business.
The pen was manufactured and labelled for the Windtower Lodge and Suites in Canmore, Alberta. I am not sure if the next step in its journey was direct or not but it eventually ended up in Nordegg, Alberta which I’m using as the ‘first step’. Let me take this opportunity to give a shout-out to everyone at the “straight-forward lodge style hotel”, 160 Kananaskis Way in Canmore Alberta, as their offering of this pen to someone inspired this blog entry for you today. Thanks.
First step, Canmore Alberta to Nordegg Alberta.
The distance from Canmore to Nordegg is 252 kilometres by highway, most likely it travelled in the pocket of a tourist as they made their way around “the loop”. The loop, as it is known to several merchants along highway 11 is a circle of highways that connects Calgarians to the Rocky Mountains and back again. The circle is defined as Highway 22 north to Highway 11 west to Highway 93 South to Highway 1 East which eventually runs back into Calgary. I will talk about ‘the loop’ another day but for now let’s focus on the shortest route between Canmore and Nordegg.
The 252-kilometre step takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in western Alberta. Beginning in Canmore, Alberta you need to take the Trans-Canada Highway, known as Highway 1 in Alberta and British Columbia, north-west to the resort community of Lake Louise.
According to Wikipedia “Lake Louise is a hamlet in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks and overlooked by a stately chateau”. It sounds as lovely as it is in real life. The area boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area and less common amenities include high class ski resorts, canoe docks, skating rinks, wildlife center and hiking trails, most services transition between the seasons and are thus available year-round, weather permitting of course. The town of just over 1,000 is situated in the Rockies at a modest elevation of 1,600 metres.
Next our first step takes us into Banff and Jasper National Parks, two of the most accessible and frequently visited national parks in the country. Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada established in 1885. For my American readers that is just eighteen years after the Dominion of Canada was founded (1867) with the signing of the British North American Act that united four new provinces together. The Banff National Park received over three-and-a-half million visitors during the 2014/2015 season and has an area coverage of 6,641 kilometres square (2,564 square miles, or larger than the city of Anchorage, Alaska, the 4th largest city in the U.S. land coverage).
I visited Banff National Park several times between 2014 and 2017 via Highway 93. You can expect to find many photo opportunities as you travel this usually year-round expressway cutting up through the Rockies. Please take caution to use the designated pull-outs and picnic areas to take pictures as the winding highway filled with blind curves and unpredictable weather conditions can be quite dangerous for pedestrians. During the time, I lived in the area, the highway had at least one fatality each year as the result of a vehicle collisions.
After Banff we take Highway 93, known as the Icefields Parkway, north to the Saskatchewan River Crossing. The Saskatchewan River Crossing, or just “The Crossing” to locals was so named when fur traders, explorers and adventurers used this spot to cross the North Saskatchewan River on their way to British Columbia in the 1800’s. Since then a full service resort including hotel, store, restaurant, gas station and local tours has been construction.
Bit of advice, while the restaurant meal is decent both it and the store are expensive. I bought a regular bottle of iced tea and a snack there for almost $2.50 more than the same items cost in nearby Nordegg, Alberta. As for the gas, don't even think about it! The last three years running a litre of gas at the Crossing could run you anywhere from 25 to 75 cents PER LITRE more than the isolated hamlet of Nordegg just 100 kilometres west or even the tourism driven town of Jasper 100 kilometres north. The Crossing is located at the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 11, our next turn.
Highway 11, or the David Thompson Highway as it is named, is a 318 kilometre stretch that includes some of the most accessible hiking trails in the Rocky Mountains. The stretch from Saskatchewan River Crossing to the town of Rocky Mountain House is approximately 200 kilometres and drivers will notice a significant decline in elevation as they go from Rocky Mountains to foothills to rolling ranch lands.
A must have book, that I will write about another time, is called “The David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide” 2nd edition by Jane Ross & Daniel Kyba. This second edition of the very popular hiking guide was produced in 2016 following two years of substantial public demand. It is the most comprehensive, easy to follow and beautifully pictured book available on the market today for a very affordable price of thirty dollars. If you are hiking or visiting the David Thompson Country you simply must pick up a copy of this book published by Rocky Mountain Books I will write about the hiking trails and “DTH11” another day but for now our pen has almost arrived at its first stop, the community of Nordegg, Alberta.
The hamlet of Nordegg in west-central Alberta is located within the municipality of Clearwater County. It is in the North Saskatchewan River valley in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains about an hour east of The Crossing. A former coal-mining town named after Martin Nordegg once boasted a population of approximately 2,500 people in the 1940s and had state of the art amenities including a hospital, retail stores, banking, postal services and railway. The Brazeau Collieries mine made international headlines in 1941 after a large underground explosion billed twenty-nine miners. Following a couple fires and a decrease in demand for soft coal due to the development of the diesel engine the company and mine closed permanently in 1955. Millions of dollars in Federal and Provincial grants have gone into the restoration of the mine buildings and site. A land exchange with the Province of Alberta has stimulated re-development in the town-site of Nordegg. The community of 250 residents maintains postal services, retail stores (convenience, fuel, beer/liquor/wine, an ‘on again off again’ public school and a granite quarry supported by dedicated community efforts, provincial resource management and tourism.
The pen made its first stop here in the community at a small outdated and under-serviced convenience store, before hitching a ride 191 kilometres to Red Deer, Alberta and the next stop in its journey east.
Second step, and next blog entry, Nordegg Alberta to Red Deer Alberta.
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