Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hiking the hills

I'm crouched over my laptop at an Edmonton Starbucks, sucking back coffee and wifi. There's a scent of homeless man around, and I think it's coming from the table behind me. A smallish man is quietly reading a paper to himself and coughing into a napkin. I may relocate even though he's respectful (re: use of napkin). Wow, the frosty streets of Edmonton are a far cry from the beauty of Banff, which is also cold - colder in temperature and cooler in attitude.

The bus pulled into the station at 6:00, and my flight leaves at 16:00, so I'm dawdling in the most pleasurable way under these circumstances by drinking coffee and writing. Yesterday I stored my luggage at the hotel (which was much classier than my hotel in Ed last week) for the day and set off for the hills to do some hiking. Yeah, "hills."

But first, Banff. A resort town nestled between looming, snow-capped mountains, where streets are named after wild animals (Buffalo, Elk, Wolf) and lined with boutiques, cafes and chain stores. On the sidewalks groups of people walk about looking happy. Without glancing at the grey skies and snowy mountains behind them, you might guess from the contented faces that these people were vacationing at a beach in 35 degree weather. Or maybe you wouldn't, because these people, dressed in fashionable fall jackets and gloves, appear happier than those at beach resorts. There is no rush for buffet food or drinks in this place. Here, few people compete for many resources (for sale), which is to say there seems to be a lot to go around (like hotels and restaurants). The air smells fresh and pure. Judging from their accents, most service staff are far from home: I heard Japanese, Aussie, Kiwi, British accents, and many other languages spoken. Mornings start out cold and warm up around noon, then the chill deepens in the afternoon and in the cozy caffeine shops Lululemon- and Sorel-wearing families decompress over chai lattes after shopping for skis for the kids and before dinner at The Keg.

HA! But that's just the external expression of spending habits, and who gives a North Face about that, really. I encountered lots of friendly folks while hiking in the woods. And I was in them thar hills (wearing all of my sweaters like Heidi in all her dresses) for hours. I climbed upwards, past crystal clear turquoise streams and towering pines, not knowing my direction or what to expect but admiring everything around me, and after a few hours I turned on my heel and started the tramp downhill, giving my calves a break. I followed up with a huge dinner with wine in anticipation of a long bus journey. Which started with a half-hour wait in the cold wind, put out like a dog for the night because the bus station manager was closing up. The small inconveniences of a small town.

My affair with Banff was over in a lover's heart beat. I'll be back.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A scent of snow

Mountains today! I stepped off the night bus at 6:00, bleary-eyed and excited. My hotel room was ready when I arrived so I checked in and took a nap. Ran around the Safeway to find snacks and apples. Walked up part of a steep mountain and grabbed a gondola with a couple of British girls the rest of the way up.

The summit was windy and cold and crawling with shivering tourists (like me). The treetops were at nose level and the snow that hung to the top branches and way down on the rocks below smelled fresh when the wind picked up. I have been trying all day to dissect the scent of snow but all I understand is that it has a single note. Pure. Clean. Fresh. (Sounds like a laundry detergent commercial.)

I languished in the outdoor turquoise spa pool with the other tourists until the heat and lack of space got the best of me. The air was about 8 degrees but the water was a lovely 35 or so. I received a free towel because I asked for one just as the girl's manager was leaving the room.

Relaxed and warm, I trudged down the hill towards the centre and reflected on the day. The only disappointment was that the wildest animal in my environment was a bold chipmunk eating peanuts on a wooden fence. I heard that the bears moved on when the berry supply dried up, and I was probably too close to traffic for anything else to show.

Dinner was a bowl of udon with tempura shrimp and veggies and a seaweed salad in a tiny hole in the wall resto on Banff Ave. I think I've had some form of east asian food every day since leaving Ottawa and I'm contemplating more for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Take a message

A late night. An early flight. Looking out the window. Another flight. Waiting for a shuttle. Unpacking, channel flipping. A walk and a look around. Weighted eyelids, stifled yawns. Jammies at 8pm. Night night.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grand sweeping statements

I ran for 49 minutes tonight and set a PR for the fastest 1k recorded by this GPS - 5min/k. Kind of embarrassing: a few changes in recent years! I ran along the usual circuit but opted for an altered route with more flowers, plus I got swept up in a gaggle of runners I didn't know, and I am sure that's where the improvement happened. Change demands results. And I was treated to some flamboyant stranger gossip that I really shouldn't pass on (to all one of you, haha).

When I got home, I wanted to do some shoulders but my left one is sore, so instead I did legs with two 5-lb weights:

  • forward lunges x 20, 2 sets
  • leg lifts x 10, 3 sets each leg

It worked up my appetite for veggie pizza made with a pita, spicy sauce, spinach, broc, zucchini and dairy-free shredded cheese which isn't nearly as awful as you might think. It kinda melts, and it kinda tastes cheese-like, but perhaps not if you pride yourself on having a refined taste for cheese.

Where are my shoes?

We haven't even talked about last Sunday yet. 19k. I had planned on hitting only 15k but everything was going so well. I took to the other side of the river to see the trees and again, got swept away.

Michael C. Hall was a guest on Q today. I need to go now and listen to the interview and that deep voice again. :-)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday night fun run

Friday night runs are invigorating, and the weather tonight was perfect - not too hot but still warm. A few ducks still playing around in the lake, and a few cyclists. Not many runners. Plus rain started to fall just as my apartment building came into view - a bonus either way you look at it (Running in the sweet rain, yay! Or, almost home, yay!) 

I ran for an hour with speed increases during the Diamond Rings tunes on the playlist.

Had a moment. I realized that the crunchy material I'd been running on down by the university was a mess of fallen leaves, and I was struck by the realization that I was interacting with the first signs of autumn. It's tragic to see the signs of summer's passing but transformation is inevitable. Cycles provide opportunities for change as well as the security of routine. And really, all changes occur in cycles that carry on without us or our consent. 

So don't worry! Everything is moving along the way it should.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Big Tuesday

So much happened today! And didn't happen. To explain, allow me.

It was Back to Work after a long weekend. It's not uncommon for a steep plunge in motivation on the first workday morning following a long weekend - and I know I'm not alone here. But today was an exception and I think I know why. See, I've been plunking my butt into my desk chair 30 minutes earlier for a week now, and I think those extra minutes have isolated the crest of my energy wave! Wow that sounds like I've ingested some funky mushrooms; however, it's pretty accurate. I get to work, and then I get to work. Less dawdling, more focus. It's pretty cool that a change this small can have such a significant effect. My crappy job hasn't even changed! I'm just more alert and conscious.

|| Cutting naan dough into triangles ||

And I won a tee shirt on my way to the office! I gave a group of Shinerama kids a bill, and in response they pulled a white T-shirt down from the concrete building it'd been duct-taped to and handed it to me, screaming wildly. I got a high five from a tall guy in an alligator onesie. I barely got away with my life, haha. An awesome start to my morning.

|| Fryin' up the naan ||

I didn't run tonite but I did some yoga when I got home and it was amazing! Those 75 minutes pass pretty quickly during this amazing video.

I'm typing quicker than fire all of a sudden - I'll blame/tip my hat to the fantastic trance music revving my ear drums.