Thursday, 21 June 2012

Living on the west side

Like most cool people, I've always lived on the east coast. Now for the last 3 months I've been struggling to adapt to west side living. And it's surprisingly hard!

In my brain, east is towards the sea and west is inland. Now poor O'Hara is dealing with the fact that my navigation skills are basically zero.

A common situation is us driving towards a highway and O'Hara asking which way we need to go. I look at the signs for a while before deciding that we want to take the turnoff and go east... only to work out once we're on the highway that east is heading to the wrong side of the country (French Canada scares me) and having to do illegal u-turns. So many road signs here only seem to say "H(something) West" or "H(something) East". These little green signs are my enemy.

This is of course not helped by the fact that Google Maps doesn't work in Canada. Yep that's right. No probs in tiny little Cobar, or Hobart. Neither of which are thriving technological hot spots.

Example: We want to go to New Afton. That red arrow is where we get sent. The green arrow is where we want to go. On our first day of work we stayed on the highway, and had to do the old drive through the emergency only u-turn spot. I think this is a common occurrence for people coming to site. Note: I think now if you search "New Afton" rather than "New Gold" it works... but when we first arrived and didn't know where to go, no such luck!

Example 2: We want to get O'Hara to a rugby game. There is bad traffic so we're already late.  The red arrow is where it took us, again the green is where we wanted to go.
On a phone it wasn't that easy to see that where it was sending us was actually the highway back to downtown Vancouver. A 20min round trip. Fabulous!

But then Canada makes it all worth it when you get to drive with views like this:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Canadian creatures

Australia has some great animals. Kultarrs are some of the coolest and cutest things going around. Unfortunately lots of them are nocturnal and therefore not many people get to see them in the wild. Canada however seems to have a bunch of fun (and conveniently delicious) animals who are happy to just chill out on the side of the road. Or in the bush behind your house.

Moose: while I wouldn't want to come up against one of these on the highway (Australian equivalent of Roos) moose are awesome. Giants with sad faces and funny looking antlers. Awesome. In Cobar the rugby team had a pet camel. I want a pet moose. A friend at work knows someone who found an abandoned calf and they reared it as a poddy calf. It now sleeps outside their bedroom window and eats their flowers.

Bears: some people seem to have the same complete fear of bears as others have of snakes and sharks. I think because we've only seen them on the TV and they look so cuddly and adorable, it's hard to be scared. I kinda want a pet one of those too but I was told it would make me a bad Enviro if I separated one from it's mummy and took it home with me...

These little munchkins needed a little help crossing the highway near work

Bighorn Sheep: They don't even look like sheep, but they do have big horns. These funny looking things mostly appeal to me because of Buck Hunter. I've fake killed so many of these bad boys (unlike moose and elk, those bastards never die).

Elk: these guys get mad! Apparently they attack people and cars if you get too close. Rearing horse, thrashing legs like. Hilarious (unless it's you). I've tried elk. It tasted good!

Disclaimer: until today I hadn't seen any of these animals but I've heard many stories. NOW I'VE SEEN A BEAR!! AND BABY BEARS!! Also, I kinda helped them cross the road without being squished! I'm excited to see/eat more Canadian creatures. Maybe not eat the bears, those babies are way too cute!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

12 months is too long

This morning I was reminded that a very special boy turns one this weekend.

This also means it's been 12 months since we last saw you Fitzy. If we'd know it'd be our last weekend with you, there's so much we could have said.
We would have played more Frogger.
We would have stayed hungover on the couch, rather than shop.
We would have told you just how much we missed you, being so far away.
We would have bought another jug of cocktails... not let you drink the random jug on the table.
We would have had more espresso martinis and stayed up all night.
We would have dragged you to the football game.
We would have thanked you for all the stories, the free concert tickets, the fun.
We would have told you how proud we are of all the things you've achieved.
We would have stayed for the week, not just the weekend.
We would have told you just how excited we were to share our wedding with you.
We would have held onto the hug goodbye.

There is no way to explain just how much we miss you, all the things we wish we'd said.

Thanks for watching over us. We'll play Frogger again.

Love Pots and Pans (I have faith you know what this means) xxx

Friday, 8 June 2012

Wine. I like wine

The May long weekend (Queen's birthday equivalent I think...) had us heading down to Penticton. That's the home town of a friend in Kamloops, who kindly invited us on a weekend mini-break.

What I've seen so far of BC reminds me a lot of Tasmania. Daffodils, stone fruit, slow starts to summer/snow in summer, loads of local produce etc. I like it. There were loads of things I didn't realise I was missing out on living in NSW until I came here.

Penticton adds an additional element to Tasmanian similarity coolness. There is hundreds (I think) of delicious cool climate wineries! Initially we were sceptical, we went to a wine show in Kamloops that hosted a bunch of Okanagan wines and were weren't impressed. Too sweet, strange blends and overall not that great.

Penticton however had us completely sold. Their summers are apparently really warm, and the local thing to do is float down the channel between two lakes. Boozing along the way obviously. It looks similar to tubing in Laos, with out the risk of taking a shot of dud whiskey and dying.

Good weather, good wine, good scenery and good food. I'm pretty much sold!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Whatevar, I don't sound like a pirate yarrrr

I've always been asked what my accent is.

When I was in England it was a mix of NZ and South Africar. When I'm in Australiar it's Americar or England. Really it's a Tasmanian accent. It's different. Whatevar.

I expected when coming to Canadar that people would understand me a little better than O'Harar because my accent isn't quite as strong. I thought they'd laugh at some things we said like thongs, boot, bogans, ute, yarn, aluminium. I didn't think I'd get arsked why I spoke like a pirate yarrr.

This is from people who say oot, aye, aboot, tuque (they mean beanie), aluminum, givr (pronounced give-r with a strong emphasis on the 'r' - I think it means give her?) and pop (soft drink). Some of those depend on where you're from (like everyone in Australiar doesn't say youse), but since arriving I've heard all multiple times. They also spell with that bastardised version of American English.

Unfortunatly, I'm a minority and therefore have to have to deal with people asking me to spell "Canadar"and "bananar"and "tomarto".


Monday, 4 June 2012

Mobiles, bank accounts and cars oh my!

These are unfortunately all things that you need when you plan on living somewhere for more than about a month. Especially when you want to get paid and public transport isn't an option.

Mobile accounts turned out to be easy. Given you generally pay around $100/month and that doesn't include a new phone it'd want to be. Remember when Telstra was the only real phone company? That's what it's like.

Bank accounts are also easy... so long as you pay around $15/month. Joy. I guess you're paying for great conveniences like drive through ATMs.

Cars are cheap here. Not as cheap as the States but cheaper than Australia. This would have been awesome if someone would give us a loan. If GM or Dodge or someone cool had given us a loan we could have gotten something obnoxious like about 60% of the other people in this town.

I hope the girls here like big cars, because I feel like they are probably missing out on something in the bedroom.

Toyota it turns out has access to the Internet (unlike all the other car companies) so can offer credit to expats. So we did what 39% of Canadians did and bought a Rav4. The other 1% are shown in the above photo.

Driving on the right hand side of the road is terrifying. Add snow and trucks and it becomes something out of a nightmare. That unsettling feeling you get when you wake up from a falling dream, is similar. Even though you know you're doing the right thing it feels wrong.

I'm a bad driver at the best of times. When driving on the other side of the road I'm either putting on the windscreen wipers, mounting the curb or driving in both lanes. One time I couldn't work out if there was one or two lanes... until I was overtaken by a truck. The shame! After about a month I'm probably considered safe, and am always thrilled to hear other "lefties on the right hand side" stories.

Arriving at midnight

I enjoy reading old diary entries, travel journals and letters. I hadn't thought of writing about our Canadian trip as we're "working" here and I thought it'd be boring.

That was stupid.

So I'm going to get all 21st Century and blog about it.

We started our journey a mere 6 days after we got married. If you want to test your stress levels, plan a wedding and leaving the country within a week. Big mistake. Huge.

At 6am AEST, Friday 23rd March we boarded the plane in Australia. At 11:30pm Pacific Time, Friday 23rd March we arrived in Vancouver (that's an 17hr time difference - I think). A 10hr layover in LA meant a midday nap on a friends couch. Perfect.

Given we received our visa paperwork 2 days before leaving, we expected some dramas at the airport. Canadian customs officials turned out to be efficient and cheery. Boarder security in Australia could probably take notes. One lady was being grilled over food in her bag, but rather than threaten to deport her she only received a first warning. Shocking. Maybe they assume people only really want to sneak into the States. Why go to Canada with the USA riigghhht next door?!

After 35 hours of travel we had the worlds greatest sleep! This was the view from our Honeymoon Suite