Wednesday, December 14th 2016 – Dogsledding

So a week ago, myself and a fellow Aussie friend did one of the most iconic Canadian tourist things that you can do out here in The Rockies. We went dogsledding!!!

And dear holy jesus, it was the coldest I have ever been in my whole life. The temperature outside was about minus 16 degrees celsius, and we were still game enough to go dogsledding.

We had our tights and underclothes on, with a couple layers of sweaters, a Canadian winter jacket, snow pants, scarves, beanies and gloves!

After we decked ourselves out in the winter gear, we headed down to the Great Divide parking lot, just 2 or 3 kilometres down from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, where we met up with our guides for the 90 minute Great Divide dogsledding adventure πŸ™‚

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As sunny and beautiful as it looked, there was a distinct chill in the air. The kind that made your nose hairs freeze and made your eyelashes stick together when you blink. That really dry cold moutain air. You know the kind I’m talking about.

We were then introduced to our team of dogs as well as our guide Megan “Queen of Kimgmik”, from Kingmik Dog Sled Tours. She was really cool and told us all the names of the dogs and handed out packet hand warmers (we would definitely need these later on).

Bonnie and I snuggled into the sled and made ourselves as warm and comfortable as possible and I soon pulled out the GoPro to get as much footage as I possibly could without my hand frezzing and snapping off haha.

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While we waited in the sled, the dogs became very impatient and we could tell that they were ready for this adventure just as much as we were!

It wasn’t long and we were off sledding down along the already carved path in the sled behind the dogs, casually passing people on the cross country skiing trail.

The dogs were beautiful and canine athletes in their prime.

Bonnie and I just sat back and enjoyed the view while listening to our guide tell us stories about how long she had been dogsledding for and more about the dogs as well as the area around the Great Divide.

The snow capped trees surrounded us on the trail, with big white mountains directly infront of us, just so grande that it was overwhelming.

After about forty minutes, we reached the Great Divide arch and turned around and Megan parked the dogs so we could get our for a stretch and move our feet around. This is also when the hand warmers came in handy. I pulled them out of my pocket, gave them a shake and placed them on the inside of my gloves to warm up the hands.

We got some fun pics with the dogs and gave them another quick pat before heading back for the rest of the journey.

As cold as it was in the sled (your body isn’t really moving and your feet get cold from laying still) it was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I have had the pleasure of being a part of while out here in Canada.

Check out my amateur GoPro video and get in contact with this amazing team if your looking to do a tour while out here in The Rockies πŸ™‚

 

 

Tuesday August 9th 2016 – It’s been a year already..

Today, is one year since I left Australia for my big overseas adventure.

A whole 365 days had gone so quickly and I wonder how the time has really flown by.

I never expected it to go so quickly, but somehow, between work, socializing, exploring and meeting some truly incredible people, another year in life has come and gone.

I want to re cap on what I have learnt while being away for a year

1. I live to travel

Everything that I do, that I save for and think about is where the next destination is. What is the next adventure? Where else in the world do I want to explore.

The more than one travels, the more focused they are in doing so to keep traveling.

I have seen so many wonderful sights in the last year in the USA and here in the Canadian Rockies. This continuesly inspires me to want to see more.

2. Bad things will always happen whether you are travelling or not.

Don’t be afraid of something happening and letting it stop you from travelling. Whether some one is sick or going through a hard time, life will continue to go on.

I don’t mean to describe this in a selfish way, I just mean that sometimes it can’t be helped when something happens and you can’t be there for your family in the flesh.

Things have happened back at home in Australia in the last 12 months, things that I would typically be around my family for in a time of need.

Unfortunately, being on the other side of the world from your family can have its challenges. Being away doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I am chasing my dreams, and realistically it can be difficult to be home at short notice.

I speak to my family regularly over Facebook chat and on the phone a lot. I wish I could be there more.

But something inside me, part of my fate and calling I guess you could say, has lead me to be here in Canada right now to travel, work and explore. So I make the most of my time while I am travelling, and I remember that good things happen too 😊

3. No two days are ever the sameΒ 

Each and everyday is a new and exciting adventure!

Something new is around each corner and you can never expect what will happen each day.

This is why every day is different, especially in Lake Louise-

September 17th 2015

 

October 13th 2015

October 31st 2015

 

November 23rd 2015

 

December 14th 2015

 

February 8th 2016

 

February 26th 2016

 

March 22nd 2016

 

 

May 2nd 2016

 

May 8th 2016

 

July 1st 2016

 

August 4th 2016


Lake Louise is so beautiful that it blows me away. I still pinch myself every day that the view is constantly changing and evolving with the weather and the season.

There is something new every single day πŸ™‚

4. Through traveling, you find like minded people.

People are like magnets, what we are is what we attract.

I find myself to be a happy, positive and outgoing person. That is also the sort of people that I seem to attract.

I have met people out here that lived unique and interesting lives and I find them fascinating.

Like Buddha says “What you think you create, what you feel you attract, what you imagine you become”.

I enjoy and appreciate having friends that motivate and inspire me, and in return I hope that I inspire them too ❀

5. Lake Louise is it’s little own unique snow globe.

If you are looking to work in Lake Louise, or most places in the Canadian Rockies, be prepared for the isolation.

Some people aren’t up to handling the isolation out here, but for those who enjoy the tranquility, Lake Louise is perfect for you.

Lake Louise is 1,600 meters (5,200 Ft) above sea level. The air is much thinner and the life is much quieter.Β Coming from a town with a population of 35,000 people and a car, my local coffee shop and several shopping malls, I underestimated the feeling of being part of a town and society.

Here in Lake Louise, I don’t have nor do I need a car. I get my groceries about once a month from Canmore where I car pool or get the shuttle and my days off are spent hiking or sun baking. We have a small colleagues takeaway shop that stocks toilet paper and other bit and pieces of groceries and a staff pub next to it.

It is a rare opportunity that when I do go away for a few days to Calgary or other places, I realize again what society in a normal city is like. Traffic jams and sky scraper buildings. People rushing about on the concrete side walk on the way to work or appointments.

I love the peaceful tranquility of Lake Louise. I walk to work which takes me 5 minutes. The staff accomadation is like dormitory style. I live in a building that has foor floors, 11 appartments on each floor and in each appartment, is 2 rooms with queen beds. I have my own room and share the appartment with another Australian.

All of our spa friends live in the same building, and when ever we want to visit our hang out or pre drink before going out to the pub, we just walk down the hallway and we are at someone else’s house.

This is a different way of life. This isn’t like living in a town of 35,000 people where I have my dog, a car, tupperware parties and my local pizza take away shop.

It’s not wrong, it’s just different. And I’ve never been happier.

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Wednesday March 16th 2016 – The top 11 things Aussie’s should know about when coming to work in the Canadian Rockies

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1. Don’t pay someone to help you apply for your visa, don’t waste money on people who think they can help you with your visa.

There are a lot of companies out there that offer assistance and other things like helping you find a job and help you find accommodation, to make sure you have your tax file number, or here in Canada it is called ‘social insurance number’ or SIN, but I assure you, 90% of the time, you won’t need somebody to help you apply for your visa.

Although the Canadian government website might look a little bit confusing at first, when it boils down to it, it is just like any other government website, with a web full of links and departments. If you follow the prompts and actually read the instructions carefully, give all of the accurate information that you can possibly give, at the end of the day, they will only say no to you if you have a criminal record or something on your file that you would probably already know would stop you from entering another country.

This is the first link I will give you information on-

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/iec/index.asp
This link is to the International Experience Canada Program for Australians between the age of 18 and 30.

If this is what you are looking at applying for, keep reading below!

First you must become a candidate. It’s a competitive gig wanting to come to Canada against every other Aussie wanting to do the same thing as you
Like I said, I would encourage against companies like Global work and travel, and as great of a company they are for travel, the help that they offer is kind of pointless, because no one other than yourself can legally complete parts of your visa for you anyway, so keep that in mind.

Once you have become a candidate, you can then apply for your work permit.

Make sure for this that you have copies of all of your paperwork that you submit. You will be asked for a Police Certificate. DO NOT get a state certificate, it has to be a federal government certificate.

I only realized that they are 2 different things after paying $40 for a useless state issued certificate only to have to go back to the police station again to get a federal issued certificate.

Read their response carefully and sometimes the wait time can be lengthy, but hang in there!

Once you receive your permit, you still don’t actually have your VISA until the day you step foot onto Canadian soil, then your 2 years starts from then πŸ™‚

2. When you are applying for a job, remember that workplaces over here in Canada are exactly the same as they are in Australia.

Don’t think that because we are half a world from each other that working in a job is completely alien to what a job is like in Australia.
The only difference is, your applying online or over the phone.

Do research into the company that you want to work for. Check out reviews, look at the companies website, check out what sort of products or services they offer. If it is something that you want to do for a job, give it a go.

A lot of companies have online applications now so it is no different than applying for a job at Coles in Australia.

You might have to do the long distance phone call and work around the time difference for an interview, but here in Canada and especially the Rocky Mountains, the businesses out here are very used to people applying from overseas. It is a very diverse culture out here, so don’t be afraid. If you feel more comfortable making sure you have a job before coming to Canada, that is understandable, that is what I did but there is no shortage of job opportunities here in Canada, whether it is in housekeeping, stewarding, waitressing, serving, front desk, don’t be afraid that you won’t find a job.

3.Don’t be offended when someone asks you where you are from, especially if they are from Australia.

Being in the customer service industry I’ll often come across other Australians, and I’ll ask them where are they from?

Typical answer, Australia.
You might think, well dah I can pick that accent, but they can’t always pick yours. Depending on how long you have been in Canada for, your accent is likely to begin to change. Not by a great deal, but I’ve been asked if I’m from the UK, New Zealand. I don’t get offended, my accent has altered, it’s not any that it’s any less Australian, or any more Canadian, it’s just altered, due to the diversity of culture here in Canada.

4. Buy a good camera

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a go pro or a Sony or a Nikon, but get a good one. I have taken hundreds of photos and posted them to Facebook and my blog for my friends and family to see, but no photos have yet done any justice to the beautiful landscape here in the Canadian Rockies. You also want a good camera, whether it’s on your phone or whether it’s just your camera in general, because it is very very easy to make friends out here in Canada and very easy to socialize. You want to cherish and capture every single moment that you can.

Don’t be that person that is constantly taking the weird photos of people, you don’t need to do that, but just every now and then, try and get some nice group photos or photos with you and your best mate or the photo at the bar or on the ski hill or when your canoeing or just of scenery in general, but take lots and lots of photos, when and where you can. This applies to everyone. You might be type of person who comes to Canada, planning on being here for a short amount of time, like the ski season. Or the person that comes out here for their career, and you know you will be out here for a while. Either way, Canada’s landscape is awe inspiring, so don’t miss any opportunities for amazing memory makers.

Which brings me to point number 5-

5. Don’t be afraid of taking risks and opportunities

Since working for Fairmont, starting 6 months ago now, my life has changed a considerable amount. I have grown to become a lot more independent and with that a whole new kind of confidence about myself that I never knew existed. And it’s not just because of the company that I work for, but having moved across the world basically. You don’t think that it will affect you as much as it does, until you start to become settled and realize how different your life has become.

You are in a new home away from home. Maybe its because of all of the fellow Australian’s that are around, maybe because Canadian’s are actually really nice people like the clichΓ© says, or I might just be very lucky to have found a new home away from home. Either way, don’t be afraid of the opportunities that present themselves to you.

Again this applies to not only long term workers but short term as well. You won’t get anywhere in life by saying no to opportunities. Fairmont is very good at recognizing employees that have an outstanding set of work ethics. This may be with customer service, front of house or heart of house. It’s plain and simple, if you are good at what you do, Canada will throw opportunities at you.

6. SAVE, SAVE AND SAVE SOME MORE! $$

This applies to both short term and long term workers. Just because there may be a job lined up, remember that not only are the wages lower, but being in a foreign country, you will want to travel and explore and have adventures πŸ™‚

The minimum wage is extremely different to Australia. And although in the weeks and months leading up to the big trip, you may work and work and work some more, and having a very minimal social life, the social life you may have with your new friends could become more eventful. Every week there is something new on, or a new person starting or someone leaving. There is always an excuse to socialise. There has been my first Halloween, my first Canadian Christmas and Canadian New Years.

I would recommend trying to save where you can, but back to the whole taking up opportunities where you can, enjoy your social life. You don’t want to get what we call here in Canada, FOMO (fear of missing out). If you make great friends out here, you won’t want to ‘miss out’

Having a social life here in Canada, and especially in Lake Louise is important because Lake Louise is very small community and is very easy to become isolated. You need to have people to lean on when you are on the other side of the world.

7. You won’t have a car, so get used to public transport

If you are coming out here from Australia, you are more than likely not going to have a car unless you have excessively saved like I mentioned in the previous point, you will have to get used to public transport.

Learn the bus schedule and try to stock up if you can afford to. Also try to get rides with friends when ever they are also doing groceries.

Note, WALMART may become your new best friend.

8. Shop at a thrift shop or watch out for the donations table

This relates to Walmart as well! Not only have you just spent thousands of dollars on flights and other necessities, but you will probably also need basic things like sheets and a fry pan!

You will find thrift shops and second hand shops everywhere, and out here at the Chateau, in the colleague services building, is a donation table. Due to the high turnover here, the donation table gets used quite frequently. There is constantly clothes, shoes, appliances and even small furniture that shows up on the donation table, but it usually doesn’t last long. People save money and items get recycled which is great for the environment!!

9. Familiarize yourself with ‘Gratuity’ and ‘Tipping’

You may find yourself in a job where you will receive tips. Which is a great thing!

But don’t forget to tip in return. A lot of places like food and beverage, a standard gratuity amount is about 15%.

Don’t feel like you have to pay that if the service isn’t worth it. But if your server has worked for their tip, gave happy and friendly service, fast delivery of meals and of course food and beverage quality, then please tip appropriately.

T.I.P, To Improve Performance.

If a server receives a low tip, they should know that they have not done their job to an expected standard, and should try harder next time.

Tipping is also standard at places like spas and salons, and any other service industry like taxis for another example.

It takes a little while to get used to, but remember it is not wrong it is just different. You are a guest in a foreign country, please respect foreign customs.

10. Get an emergency credit card

So you have a job, an income and a roof over your head. I would still highly recommend having an emergency credit card.

If there is something that you need to fly back to Australia for last minute, even though travel insurance may cover it, you still need to spend the money in the first place. And flights back to Australia aren’t cheap. It doesn’t need to have a huge limit on it, just something to get you by if need be.

And if a medical emergency comes up, remember you are in a foreign country with different health policies and coverage. Again, travel insurance may help but it may not be available straight away.

11. Get provincial health cover and also long term travel insurance

Here in Alberta, there is a provincial health coverage called ‘Alberta Health’ (original right?)

It is just like our Medicare in Australia. It will cover basic things like a doctors check up for example.

What it doesn’t cover is more expensive things.

Then there is more personal health cover that may be included as part of your employment. Similar to HCF except it can be either paid through your work (as a group plan) and deducted from your pay check or paid directly from your employer if you work for a fabulous place!

There are many great benefits ( I am covered through a company called Great West Life), with benefits like $250 worth of glasses and/or contact lenses and/or prescription sunglasses every 24 months, $500 of chiropractic and massage every 12 months and many great others.

Having long term travel insurance is a serious back up plan that I would highly highly recommend looking into. I am covered through Cover More which can be purchased at any Flight Centre.

If you come over here to Canada and decide to go skiing or snowboarding for example and have an accident that can possibly become quite costly, it would be worth your while having travel insurance that will help you out big time! Or if for example you do need to make that emergency trip back to Australia, most insurance companies will cover last minute flights for things like death in the immediate family etc.

So I hope that this is something that helps people who are coming to Canada, or who are thinking about it and not sure about what things that need to be taken into consideration.

Again it’s just all stuff I’ve learnt along the way and need to share!

Missing my beautiful Aussies!

xx

33 sleeps to go- Social Insurance Number Canada


Just like any other country, Canada has a government department that is used to identify each individual that is working in their county.

Here in Australia, it is know as a tax file number.

This is used to ensure that each worker is paying the correct amount of tax whether you are an Australian citizen or an international traveller working in Australia.

It also gives Australian residents access to numerous government benefits.

In Canada, a social insurance number has the same purpose.

Because I will be classified as a temporary resident, working a working holiday VISA, it is essential that I have a social insurance number.

All this working overseas business is becoming a little bit complicated, but all the finer details and boxes must be ticked and finished for basically my own safety and legalities.

I’m not going somewhere overseas to do things half arse.

So today, I completed my application for my SIN, sent away my paperwork to Canada (to a town called Bathurst by the way of all places!)

It’s easy enough to download from the Canadian government website, and the paperwork is minimal.

http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sin/forms.shtml

Of course a form of ID is also required, my working permit was sufficient ID, because when I applied for it, which was also through the Canadian government website, endless amounts of identification was required for it.

So basically, they’ve made it all pretty user friendly πŸ™‚

Now just to wait for the application to come back and to get myself a Social Insurance Number!

xx

Grand Northern 2014 – Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Kanab and The Grand Canyon

Wednesday 11th June/ Thursday 12th June/ Friday 13th June

This morning most of the group joined the optional extra of White Water Rafting (Sorry, I don’t know the name of the company) I didn’t choose it, I scored a sleep in instead.

Today our tour saw us travel south through Wyoming and into Idaho. Our stop was at the beautiful area of Bear Lake.

The scenery was amazing. It looked like the kind of place that people had their summer holiday homes in the movies.

Grand homes stood by the fresh water blue lake. It is the second largest natural freshwater lake in Utah, after Utah Lake. A fresh sunny area to stop for lunch and a stretch before a movie afternoon back on the bus and on to Salt Lake City.

We arrived in the late afternoon to our motel, the Comfort Inn Salt Lake CityΒ We had time for a quick freshen up before a walking tour to Temple Square. This is the Mormon Temple and Salt Lake City’s most visited attraction. This luxurious church took 40 years to build and contains open gardens, historic art, visitors centres and assembly halls.

I’m not personally a religious person, but this visit was quite breathtaking.

 

 

That evening we had reservations for dinner at the Red Rock Brewing Co. Most of us were eager for food after a long bus day. We ended up walking several blocks in the wrong direction to the Red Rock Brewing Co. Beer Store – the actual brewery! That’s when we all found out that this was our tour guide’s first Grand Northern trip.

Finally when we reached our destination, we found a seat ate. The food was hardy and filling. Really great meals, almost pub like comparison to here in Australia and to die for wood fired pizzas. You won’t be disappointed!

After dinner, a large group of us contikians went for a drink at the Beerhive Pub. Being a Wednesday night and Salt Lake City not being known as a party town, one drink was all we enjoyed before turning in for the evening.

The following day, we departed Salt Lake City for Kanab. Along the way, we stopped in at Bryce Canyon for a hike and some fresh air. Trust me its needed when you sit on a coach for hours day in day out. Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah and consists of dry red rock formations known as hoodoos. There are several different hiking trails, with different distances and difficulties, all the trails connecting.

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That afternoon, we checked into our accommodation at The 4 Seasons Motel Kanab. I was sad to find out that since the contiki, it has since closed down. While it was a little run down and tired looking, the rooms were a great size. Perfect for the ‘not-room-party’ party πŸ˜‰ If you ever go on a contiki, or top deck etc, they will tell you ‘no room party’s’-Β  that’s a load of crap, everyone has them! Just don’t make a mess of the room or damage anything and you’ll be fine. But more of that to come later.

We had an included dinner across the road at the Chuckwagon Cookout located inside the Little Hollywood Museum. The food was just as good as the home cooked meal from the cookout at Teton Trail. Some much love and warmth put into their food. Can not recommend enough. Yum!

So back to the room party part. After we explored the little hollywood museum following dinner, we all headed back to the motel. The night was still young for us partiers, and with no night life in the town- the guys in a corner room (which was huge!) hosted a room party. I think most of the group managed to fit themselves in and we played never have I ever and drinking games for hours.

The evening may have ended in a nudie run or two through the carpark on behalf of a small group of gentleman. It was a night to never forget and full of many laughs and contiki bonding moments.

On Friday June 13th, the day finally came for one I had been waiting the whole trip for- the Grand Canyon! I was so excited, this was something that had been on my bucket list for probably the longest out of everything.

We arrived at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon early in the morning and began the day with breakfast before going for a hike through North Kaibab Trail. It was some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. The photos that I took will never do it justice, and the real images I’ve saved in my memories I’ll never forget. You can talk about it and show people pictures, but it really is something to be seen for yourself to truly understand the magnitude of the park and the beauty of nature.

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We spent all morning on the trail until it was time to return and have lunch at the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room. It wasn’t an included lunch and was a little pricey, but you expect that in a high tourist traffic destination. I chose the buffet and great food with a lot to choose from, and fresh too.

I took a few more photos out on the deck, then it was time to pack up and leave to go back to Kanab for one more night.

Most of us had a quiet night of laundry catch up and chinese for dinner from Fusion House. If your looking for an affordable, fresh and filling meal, I would highly recommend this place. Great options for sharing too.

An early night that evening was in order. After all, the three biggest days we were about to have on contiki were almost upon us. Viva Las Vegas, here we come!

Grand Northern 2014 – Yellowstone and Jackson Hole

Monday 9th June/ Tuesday 10th June

Yesterday was such an incredible day! I got to see snow for the first time and and my first rodeo. What an amazing experience! #contiki πŸ™‚

The morning began with us packing up in Cody and leave to go to Yellowstone National Park. It was such a beautiful place!

On the bus along the way, we saw buffalos and wilderness that went on for what seemed forever.

The wildlife here in Yellowstone is amazing.

People might find it weird to be facinated about animals, but when you are from a country where you’ve never once seen a buffalo before, it is pretty spectacular to be so close so such a creature.

 

Nature is truly amazing.

We spent the whole day in the wunderlust of Yellowstone National Park. The scenes were breathtaking and the pictures could never do a place like it justice.

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I was pretty proud of my nerdy moose beanie. Future contikians, take note. Take as many photos as you can!

Yellowstone National Park took up most of the day and before checking into our accomodation for one night, the Brandin’ Iron Inn. It was such a cute little place and right down the road from the shooting range, Big Gun Fun, where most of us contikians spent the evening. There were plenty of fun zombie targets to choose from and after practicing with a rookie gun, I stepped it up with one that had a little more power. Turns out I’m not a bad shot either!

The next morning, the whole team seemed to have a new lease on life. Maybe for once, I quiet night had been called for, and for a short time, our bodies were detoxing of excesive contiki alcohol.

Our day began with a visit to the ‘Old Faithful Geyser‘. This geyser is well known for erupting on average every hour to two hours, and is also known for the fact that it is located in Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park which was declared in 1872.

 

After our early morning visit to the geyser and Yellowstone National Park, it was yet again time to hop back on the bus as we travelled through the countryside and farm land of Wyoming. Next destination – Jackson Hole.

We arrived into the picture postcard town mid afternoon and checked into our motel, the Super 8 by Wyndham.Β Oh Em Gee, this place is so damn cute! All around us, mountain ranges as far as the eye could see. Jackson Hole is a very popular place during the winter time for skiing and winter sports.

The evenings plan included a visit to the Teton Village for a Trail Ride and home cooked meal by the Madson family at Teton Village Trail Rides.

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The food was AMAZING!!! Probably the best food I’d had so far on the trip. There’s nothing quite like a good home cooked meal topped off with toasted smores over the fire πŸ™‚

By this point of the trip, I was certainly beginning to feel the fatigue of so much activity and frequent partying nights out. With some exciting locations yet to come, myself and most of the group opted for a night in to catch up on laundry and rest.

Next stop!Β Grand Northern 2014 – Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Kanab and The Grand Canyon

xx

 

Grand Northern 2014 – Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, Deadwood and Cody

Friday 6th June/ Saturday 7th June/ Sunday 8th June

Today was a very long bus day. There was a short trip to our first stop, Mitchell, South Dakota to the Corn Palace.

A very country vibe and quite a cool place indeed πŸ™‚

The whole building was covered in corn and the pictures and designs we made from, you guessed it, CORN! So cool!

 

I loved visiting this place! We shopped and took some silly photos. It was such a unique place and a very quirky American icon, not to be missed πŸ™‚

From there it was another couple of hours on the bus playing celebrity heads and eating lots and lots of candy.

When we reached Badlands Naitonal Park, it was like we were free children in a playground. We were able to get out doors and breath in some fresh country air!

We drove through the park listening to ‘The Lion King’ music and admiring the amazing scenery.

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It is hard to explain the beauty of nature in a place like this. Even though the day was overcast and dark, the colours on the rock were like nothing else in this world.Β We even stopped in for a little picnic in the park πŸ™‚

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That afternoon, we stopped in at the cute little town of Wall Drug to pick up supplies for the rodeo in Cody and took some fun photos around in the unique town.

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Finally the day was drawing to an end as we headed to our final destination for the day; Keystone, to tourist one stop townΒ for anyone visiting Mt. Rushmore. Our contiki accomodation that night was the Washington Inn and Suites.

That evening our dinner was buffet style at the Keystone House Restaurant next door. I won’t beat around the bush, it wasn’t the best meal I’d had on tour. It was included though so nothing to complain about. I stocked up on the fruit and snacks for the bus trips.

I managed to sneak in some ‘in-the-sink- laundry and hang up some spare clothes before calling it a night.

Saturday, June 7th

This was one of the mostΒ exciting days that I had really been looking forward to out of the whole trip. I am sure that most of you reading could agree; visiting Mt. Rushmore is way up there on the bucket list when visiting the USA!

The morning started off cold and gloomy in Keystone and we were worried if we would even be able to see anything by the time we reached the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. However our luck rolled in as the clouds rolled away and we squeezed in some great typical tourist shots.

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CONTIKI!!!

 

 

We unfortunately did’t have the same luck when we headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial. The whole moutain was covered and we could barely see maybe 5 metres in front of us.

There was a lot to learn though. The Crazy Horse Memorial has an incredible story. It is not as well heard of because it is still a work in progress and it is tributed to the Native American’s. Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, work began on the statue after Mt. Rushmore had been completed and to this stay is still privately funded. If it is to ever be completed, it would be one of the world’s largest statues.

It was great that Contiki included this in the tour, as most tourist’s I guess would not know about it otherwise, and I loved exploring through the museum.

 

The afternoon was spent in the historic town of Deadwood. Have you ever heard of Calamity Jane? Well her travels through this town was a huge part of her story. We had found the Wild West! A small group of us found the No. 10 SaloonΒ to watch the reenacment of of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok and enjoy a cold beverage after all of our running around. Yes, what do you expect, we were drinking every day on Contiki!

The evening came to an end exploring back in Keystone in a local’s secret pub, Halley’s 1880 Store. This one is difficult to explain unless you’ve been there! They had only a few select beers and mixers, but not only was this place a bar, but a mixture of that and a thrift shop/ Vinnies. But cooler! As I was sipping on my lolly water drink, I ventured down to the basement where spare car parts, jars and chest of drawers. The basement kind of gave me to creeps, so I went up to the attic, where I swear I saw a ghost! But noy only that (ghosts and spirits don’t bother me too much) but household items galore. Bicycles, crockery, books, clothes, board games…

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This place is a hoarders heaven! They had everything

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Some say it was the lighting, others say its a ghost, the owner says her name is Lucy!

 

It wasn’t until about 2am and after going through old business journals and ledgers, launghing over the adventures that had already been, that we all decided it was time to call it a night. Tomorrow, we had rodeo!

Sunday, June 8th

Well today I decided to sit up the front of the bus, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. This one is for all of the Aussie’s that have never seen snow before.

Remember, it is June in the USA and we are all in thongs and shorts and what ever is comfy for our bus trip. As the contiki bus climbed into the mountains of Wyoming, little by little on the side of the road, specs of white began appearing in the shrubs. All of the Aussie’s that were awake including myself begged Marv, our driver to pull over for just 5 minutes. 80% of the Australians on the bus had never seen snow before!

 

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Yep, I’m standing in the snow in thongs!

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We were simply blessed to see snow. Real snow! Not something seen where most of us were from in the land down under. Just awesome.

Our contiki accomodation for that evening was at Buffalo Bill’s Antler Inn. We continued the contiki ritual of drinking and quickly getting ready with the 15 minutes we had left before heading out for yet another night in a new town.

Our contiki group had a very warm welcome at the local Cody Rodeo. Yeehaw!

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Such a cheesy group photo!

I even managed a beer and a gross American hotdog at the rodeo. When then ended the night at the Silver Dollar Bar where we all probably drank way too much (surprise surprise) and requested all of the classic travel songs from the old jukebox in the corner.

Need to know more? Next we headed toΒ Grand Northern 2014 – Yellowstone and Jackson Hole

xx