jeudi 10 février 2011

2010, Part Four: Our Trip Out West

I've decided to cut my post on 2010 into five parts, as it's just too long for a single one.

Part One: Our Plane
Part Two: Finishing my M.A.
Part Three: Our New Jobs
Part Four: Our Trip Out West
Part Five: Our Wedding

It was quite the year!

Our first trip with our plane began only a few days after I submitted the final version on my thesis. I left all the trip planning to MB: all I knew about our plan was that we were heading to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, which I had never seen before.

First leg: Ottawa -- Oshawa -- Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Oshawa Airport
Georgian Bay

We left on such a gorgeous, sunny day. We stopped at a small airport north of Toronto so MB could do a short check flight with his insurance broker. Then we flew north, flying low along the edge of Georgian Bay, then through Killarney Provincial Park, and across the top of Lake Huron all the way to Sault Ste. Marie, where we stopped for the night. We discovered that not having a car when travelling is pretty annoying... especially since a lot of airports are out in the middle of nowhere, and not in town. The taxi to the closest campground cost us $30.

Windmill farm near Sault-Ste-Marie, Ontario
The next morning, I had my very first hitch-hiking experience! We decided to try hitching a ride back to the airport, being the broke plane-owners that we are (we didn't mention to the people who picked us up that we were flying out of the airport in our own plane!). Matt planned out the next leg of our flight and we were soon in Kenora, Ontario -- right on the Winnipeg border. We thought we'd be able to make it to Calgary that same day, but we ended up having to spend the afternoon in Kenora waiting for... a spare tire! Ours had a bald spot and Matt didn't think another landing on it would be safe. So we ordered another one and they changed it for us there, but it did take a while for the tire to arrive (on a cargo flight).

Matt called a few small airports in Saskatchewan, trying to decide where we could spend the night. We ended up flying to a small airport in Maple Creek -- it was right in town, and the person we spoke to said it would be ok if we set up our tent right on the grounds of the airport. It was perfect! And when we got there, the flying club member offered the pull-out couch in the "clubhouse" - so we didn't even have to set up our tent! (I really wish I had thought to take a photo of the clubhouse...)

My first glimpse of the Rockies, when we landed in Springbank, Alberta
Rundle Mountain, near Canmore, Alberta

From Maple Creek, we flew all the way to Springbank, Alberta -- just outside of Calgary. We were only a few hundred kilometres from the Rockies, and I was so excited when I finally glimpsed the mountains. From Springbank, we rented a car, because we wanted to go visit one of MB's pilot friends in Canmore, Alberta. Canmore is right at the foot of the mountains -- SUCH a gorgeous small town.

After spending two nights in Canmore (and hiking up one small peak), we drove off to Banff and then Jasper. We spent the night in Jasper -- it was FREEZING cold! And then I convinced MB to spend one more night in Banff. He seemed antsy to get back to our plane and keep going, but I thought we should take our time and see a bit more of Banff.

Was happy to be in the car when we saw this momma bear and her cubs!

Turns out he was excited about the next leg of our flight because he had a surprise planned... As we were flying through the Rocky Mountains, slack-jawed at the beauty and wonder of seeing the mountains so close up, MB looked over at me and said, "Kim, I couldn't wait for us to get to this precise spot. (We were flying over Revelstoke Park in British Columbia.) I think this is the most beautiful spot in Canada, and I wanted to tell you, right here, how much I love you. You are the woman of my life (la femme de ma vie)."

AMAZING view of Revelstoke Park -- we were SO close to the mountains!

 At this point I looked over and smiled at him, thinking how sweet he was. Then he kept going, saying his prepared speech without a hint of nervousness... and I finally realized what was happening. The tears started streaming down my face as I looked at him, then looked at our surroundings (kind of worried that he should be watching where we were going), then looked back at him.

"Look in the glove box." (I didn't even know our plane HAD a glove compartment! My ring had been right in front of me this whole time!)

"Will you marry me?"

Just before landing in Kamloops
When we landed in Kamloops I still had a GIANT grin on my face. We had Indian food that night, and spent the next day with another pilot friend of MB's, hiking. Then before we left for Vancouver Island, we went to the dropzone (skydiving centre) at the Kamloops airport, hoping to get a jump or two in that morning. We still hadn't called our friends and family to announce our engagement, so I told MB I had an idea: why not get our photo taken, with our skydiving gear on, and a sign saying "Nous faisons le grand saut!"?

While a fellow skydiver took our photo, a photographer approached us and asked what our sign said. We told him, "it means we're tying the knot!" MB, being the chatty person he is, quickly told him how he had just proposed. The photographer didn't waste a minute, and called a reporter, who asked MB to tell him the whole story over the phone. The next day, we found out we had made the front page of the Kamloops Daily News with our engagement story!

We flew to Campbell River, on Vancouver Island, next. While MB went mountain biking with a friend, I wrote an email to all our friends.

Instead of sending out the photo of us with our sign, we sent out the front page of the paper! My mom AND my dad cried as they read the article (I made them check their email while I was on the phone with them).

A quick stop in Tofino (hitch-hiking into town again--I was getting used to it by then!) and then a gorgeous flight along the coastline, and we were in Victoria. As I was looking down at the Pacific Ocean, I told MB I had NEVER seen a whale. Less than 30 seconds later--the words had barely left my mouth-- I spotted a whale spray! I gasped as I saw the whale's tail come out of the water. It was incredible.

In Victoria, we stayed at my friend Steph's, who graciously offered us her bed in her tiny condo. We walked around town, visited the Royal BC Museum, contemplated taking a whale-watching tour (but decided against it), and then went out for sushi that evening with Steph and her friends.

We flew back across the country in a single, very long day, stopping just for fuel (every three hours or so).

What a trip.

(Continued in Part Five...)

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