My first on the road visitor!

Waterton Dad

In addition to visiting friends on the road I am eagerly anticipating meeting up with a a handful of friends at various locales.  My first visitor was one of the most important people in my life, my Father. He met me on the Canadian side of Glacier National Park in a cute town called Waterton (http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/waterton/index.aspx).  We were able to kick around town and have lunch at The Prince of Wales Hotel (http://glacierparkinc.com/prince_of_wales.php) before heading out to Cranbrook, BC.  In total we were able to spend three full days together, it was a wonderful treat to have the time with him.

Things have been tough since the loss of my Mom, we have all been heartbroken trying to figure out our footing without this amazing woman in our lives.  No one has been more affected than my Father. He dedicated his life to the well being of her and in her final years spent every moment ensuring her needs were cared for and that she had a smile on her face.  I am so thankful for the presence of him in our lives, he has been the perfect example to me of true love.

Throughout the years my Dad has also struggled with his weight and he currently is working diligently to gain control of his health.  He has adapted a diet of whole food clean eating and exercise.  He is an inspiration to me as I travel on my own journey.  I couldn’t be more proud of this man.

Today is his birthday and I am so happy to be able to write this post about him.  I love you Dad and happy birthday!!

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel

Glacier Map

Glacier Map

Glacier Red Tour Bus

Glacier Red Tour Bus

Color Me Happy in Calgary!

I have been lured by the idea of getting to Calgary for the past decade (I can’t believe I can say decade, time sure does fly), partially drawn to the Calgary Stampede but more importantly I wanted to get up there to see my good friends Darren and Colleen and finally meet their daughter Ava.  It had been over twelve years since I had seen them and I could hardly stand the thought of any additional time passing.  I rang the doorbell and glanced through the window beside the door (creepy, aren’t I?) and I about started jumping with excitement when I saw them heading towards me! They popped open the door and it was if no time had passed, we immediately hugged one other and I knew that I was home, at least for the weekend.

Warning, there are a few things that happened during this trip to Calgary that aren’t really meant to be talked about on this blog, but I am trying to keep things honest so I will admit that we pretty much decimated their wine rack.  I won’t drop a specific number of bottles consumed but we heartily celebrated our reunion, all three nights of my stay.

On my first day there they took me on a tour of Calgary and the surrounding area, they were the perfect tour guides.  It was a great introduction to the city.  We made one stop at the Dollar Store, which, believe me nothing was a dollar, to gear up for a Color Me Rad run later that afternoon.  Colleen had graciously bowed out of the run to make room for me.

We got home and got changed for the race which was going to take place fairly close to their house at the Canada Olympic Park.  I was excited to see the park up close and personal, I just had no idea how up close I was going to get.  To alleviate traffic issues Darren had Colleen drop us at the backside of the park, and we were simply to walk down the other side and to the Color Run.  What we didn’t realize was that this hill was now crisscrossed by a Luge track that had people careening down the mountain on small coasters.  We had to cross this track several times before we finally made it to the base of the hill and our destination.  Honestly, because of the treacherous climb down to the race by the time we were lined up to run the 5k I was ready to be done.   Some ran, and I walked the race and by the finish line there was not an ounce of us that wasn’t some shade of pink, purple or green. I am still finding random bits of color in my suitcase.

When we arrived back home we all decided to hang outside while each of us took turns trying to wash the color from our bodies.  While we were all sitting outside suddenly Darren threw a blanket to me, it turns out that the weather is a lot cooler up in Calgary and I had no idea that I was even cold until he started bringing out more blankets and a parka to warm the foreigner.  He told me that my pattern of behavior when I get cold is to stop communicating and just sit there listening, this is the first time in my life that anyone has purposefully done something to help facilitate my talking, typically they sit there silently wishing I would stop talking! Ah good friends indeed!

I left after three wonderful evenings, a good discussion with Darren about how long is too long to stay at a friends house and loads of love.  I can’t wait to reconnect with them again soon!

Color Me Rad

Color Me Rad Entourage

Color SJM

I wanna be a cowgirl….

Calgary Hike

The super secret entrance that only we knew about into the Color run.

The Olympic Tower.

The Olympic Tower.

Calgary City Art "Wonderland" Jaume Plensa

Calgary City Art “Wonderland” Jaume Plensa

Calgary Art & Calgary Tower

Calgary Art & Calgary Tower

Silver Creek Lodge, Canmore Alberta

silver_creek_lodge_1

A friend of mine manages a handful of properties in the Canmore area and had been encouraging me to visit for years.  This road trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to see several people and places I had been trying to see in Canada.

My friend Barb set me up in Mountain Zen at the Silver Creek Lodge (http://www.silvercreekcanmore.ca/).  I have to tell you that after being on the road for a bit it was nice to check into a luxurious suite for several nights.  I was so excited about it I even lengthened by trip by two additional nights!

The Lodge is located in walking distance to the Main street of Canmore which is filled with great restaurants and adorable shops.  I can’t imagine many places in Canmore are missing the view of the mountains, they are so prevalent but the views from my suite seemed extra special, as if placed there just for me.

I was able to work out in the gym they had onsite as well as enjoy a relaxing soak after my Lake Louise hiking excursion in one of their three hot pools.

I wish I had listened to my friend Barb sooner, I might have had the opportunity to have several trips to Canmore under my belt already.

If you are looking for a place to stay while in Canmore consider Mountain Zen at the Silver Creek Lodge!

My sweet suite!

My sweet suite!

The view from the hot pools

The view from the hot pools

The magnificent GM Barbara Scott!

The magnificent GM Barbara Scott!

Loading up to repack my car

Loading up to repack my car

Frankenstein is a fan of Canmore too!

Frankenstein is a fan of Canmore too!

I Climbed, I Conquered Lake Louise

lake louise 1

It was with great excitement that I was heading to see the beautiful Lake Louise in Alberta Canada.  I was told that I needed to do the hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House (www.lakeagnesteahouse.com) above Lake Louise.  I drove from my hotel in Canmore, trying to stay off the rumble strips as my eyes kept wandering to the amazing views of the Canadian Rockies.

I pulled into the park and squeezed my car into what was most likely an illegal spot amongst thousands of other tourists and headed down to the lake.  A quick walk down a path from the parking lot had me on the edge of Lake Louise and at the base of the Fairmont Hotel (www.fairmont.com/lake-louise).  There was a nice leisure walk along the lake but I was given strict instructions that the Tea House was my destination.

Now for those of you who do not know me, I am not outdoorsy.  I have found myself walking around REI a handful of times wishing I was an outdoorsy person but oddly, nature is not a natural fit for me. I was teased prior to coming on this trip as I went for a feather duvet over a sleeping bag for my tent experiences.

I found the map with the arrows showing me where to start my ascent.  The first few hundred feet I was thinking, wow, hiking is fun, look at me out with nature, maybe I am outdoorsy after all!  That feeling stopped about three feet after that when I found myself panting heavily trying to catch my breath.  I was confused, I had been working out regularly for months how was it that I was already out of breath? It should have occurred to me but I didn’t realize until someone told me that the altitude was much greater in the Canadian Rockies than it was in Seattle. Of course! Duh!

At one point I decided to take a video of me hiking, I had important things to say…this is all I could muster (sorry for the large video, I can’t figure out how to reduce the size!):

I found myself stepping to the side so that little children could scramble up past me, there were many moments of humiliation but I persevered. By the time I reached the top there were a lot of crying children, some bloody knees (not mine) and plenty of pride having successfully completed the 3.5 km hike, with an elevation gain of 1,300 ft.

What I found to be so interesting about the Teahouse besides the views was that the dry supplies are flown in by helicopter once a year and the other supplies are hiked in by employees on an almost daily basis. Quite admirable particularly having just hiked it myself.

What my take away from this experience was that I know now that I….am still not outdoorsy. If I never do that hike again it will be too soon, however, I am very happy that I completed the climb. The views were gorgeous, and a personal challenge was conquered.  I took another few videos that sum up this part of my journey:

Trail Sign

Trail Sign

Trail

The trail before I wanted to cry

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake, approximately 2/3 the way to the top

Teahouse

Teahouse at Lake Agnes

Lake louise tea house

Lake Agnes

LL View from top

View from the Teahouse

View from Teahouse

View from the top, the Fairmont Hotel can be seen at the bottom left of the pictures, see how small it is?!

Red Ants Pants – White Sulphur Springs, MT

Red Ants Sundown

I decided when I set out on this trip that I was going to be flexible with my schedule, if something came up and I needed to diverge from my original plans I would.  That something happened early in my trip, I received an email informing me that one of my favorite songwriters was going to be the headliner at a music festival.  Robert Earl Keen (http://www.robertearlkeen.com) was playing at the Red Ants Pants Festival (http://redantspantsmusicfestival.com) in White Sulphur Springs.  Having never heard of either I quickly pulled up my map to see how far this diversion would take me.  It turned out that it was further East than I had planned to go in the first weeks of my trip but I massaged my schedule to make it work.  Without this music festival there would have been no Livingston and no Red Lodge, and that would have just been no good!

I have done a lot on my own but a music festival was not included in that list, I didn’t want to go solo, I wanted to go with a friend. It turns out, however, that when you are in the middle of nowhere Montana the friend pickings are a bit slim.  I was committed to going regardless so I packed my cooler full of fresh veggies, fruit and Bud Light. That’s right, beer.

Several years ago I was at a local Seattle bar and there was a Bud Light rep giving out visors, for some reason (too much of said beer?) I decided I NEEDED a visor so I approached his table.  He told me he would love to give me a visor but first I needed to say something to the camera.  I hadn’t even noticed the camera, but with my eye on the prize I grabbed a can of Bud Light and said “Sometimes when I am feeling lonely and missing my friends I turn to my Bud…my Bud Light” the guy thanked me and handed me my visor! It turns out that was actually a first round audition and I was given a call back for a Bud Light commercial which ended with an inch of the back of my head finding its 15 seconds of fame in a local commercial filmed at the Showbox.

My Bud

Anyway, armed with 6 of my best “Buds” I pitched my tent and headed into the music festival.  I immediately found a seat on a hay bail and within seconds a girl, Kate, sat beside me and became my new bud! We spent the rest of the day listening to music, dodging hippies and drinking beer.

The evening ended with a gorgeous sunset and some amazing music by Robert Earl Keen.  It was definitely worth the diversion and a lesson learned in the importance of flexibility.

Red Ants Pants Seating

red ants pants lineup

Red Ants Pants Canned Beer

Red Ants Teepee

REK Stage

The Road is Long.

I knew this trip was going to be challenging; leaving the comforts of home and the scheduled workouts to go solo is something I have never excelled at doing.  When I left Seattle I was averaging five workouts a day week and on the road I am averaging three.  I keep telling myself I need to get into a groove but I need to ensure that it doesn’t take six months to see “How Sarah Got Her Groove Back”.

One of my biggest obstacles is also one of my favorite personal characteristics, I am social.  I hate missing out on a party and let’s be honest these first two weeks have been a bit of a celebration.  I am experiencing a freedom that I haven’t had in years, no one dictating my schedule and absolutely no routine.  I have had the opportunity to meet up with friends in Missoula, Livingston, Red Lodge, Lethbridge, Canmore, Calgary and Whitefish.  These people all have played a great importance in my life and most I hadn’t seen in years, I needed to and wanted to reconnect.

I don’t regret a moment that I have spent these past few weeks.  I have been reveling in the experiences that I have encountered while trying to find a balance with healthy eating, working out and blogging.  This journey is nothing without the experiences, but it is just embarrassing without the fitness and healthy eating.  I vow not to change the name of my blog to “Gaining Weight Off the Interstate”.

Now, that I have been honest and told you that I am slacking a bit and struggling to find my footing it is only fair that I share in some of my successes as well.  Since I started working out regularly in preparation for this trip I am down about 25 pounds.  I wish it were more, I wish it happened quicker but I am committed to a slow and steady weight loss.

The other struggle I have been having is the cadence of my experiences vs my blogging.  Currently I am backlogged in the blog arena, I have about a week and a half delay.  I am finding it difficult to continue experiencing these experiences while trying to carve time to write.  Again, I need to find my balance.

I have some great posts coming up and I want to thank you all for sharing in this journey with me, without you all it would be a long and lonely road ahead.

Below are the few pictures I have of myself, some with friends, some solo. I will be better at taking and posting pictures of myself.

Sarah Update 1 Sarah Top of Mt Sarah & Karri Sarah & Barb

Red Lodge, a Caring Community

Red Lodge - Wholesome Foods(Robin Taylor & Associate)

We walked up town and to the weekly summer farmer’s market to meet one of my host Cheri’s friends, Martha Brown.  Martha and her husband Marty moved to Red Lodge about four years ago and decided that they wanted to connect with people who were passionate about food in their community.  They organized a forum about local food and over 200 people showed up; obviously this was something of interest to the rest of the community as well.

They formed a group, The Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council  (http://montanaruralhealthinitiative.info/?p=1191) whose mission is to vigorously promote a sustainable local food system that encourages a better quality of life for our citizens, improves the community’s economy and self-reliance, and preserves the land for generations to come.  This group has done a lot of interesting events to raise awareness and money around local produce and healthy eating.  They have hosted a Ceramic Art dinner at the ceramic studio and had the artists create plates that were then paired with a local chef’s creation.  They gather about once a month to view documentary films and invite a local chef to prepare food to share while they discuss the movie.  They also have seen a great interest in their farm tours, starting with 8 people they have grown to 40 people on some visits.  These farm tours give individuals an inside look at local farms, and gives them an opportunity to meet the farmers and learn how the farms are managed.

One of these farms, Wholesome Foods is located about 45 minutes outside of Red Lodge.  Martha had told me that this farm lost its farm managers un-expectantly, as in one day they were there the next morning they had vanished, leaving behind large crops that needed tending.  The owners of the farm were unable to manage the crops and were going to have to let four acres of veggies die.  When a group in Red Lodge heard they gathered together and volunteered their time and sweat equity, over 80 volunteers weeded and harvested the crops saving over 50% of the veggies that sold for around $10k.  You may be able to spot a volunteer in town, they often can be seen wearing t-shirts with “The Great Veggie Rescue 2013” on the back.

I spoke with Robin Taylor who was one of the volunteers and part of the concerned citizens in the community.  When “The Great Veggie Rescue 2013” was over Robin approached the owners of the farm and asked if she could take it over, working with interns to continue to bring both the community and school kids to the farm to interact and learn.  Robin hopes to help manage the farm and prepare it to become a viable business for the next generation, she is hoping to hand it over within the next five years.

Both Martha and Robin introduced me to Alyssa Charney of Food Corps (https://foodcorps.org/where-we-work/montana) which is a national nonprofit working on a small scale with locale and sustainable solutions.  They are focused on reducing poverty, promoting healthy communities and protecting natural resources.  Alyssa has been in the Red Lodge area for about two years and in that time has worked side by side with children, creating a local garden, working with the school cafeterias to get access to local produce as well as getting kids excited about food through the summer camp.

I was incredibly impressed with the amount of work, and un-paid volunteer work that is happening in this community around food.  They are kind-hearted people who are passionate about health and food and want to ensure that their community is being fed in the best way possible.  It is admirable.  It makes me think that if every community had champions like this that we might all be able to all have access to healthier foods and nutritional education for our youth.

Red Lodge Martha(Martha & Marty Brown)

Red Lodge - Garden Alissa(Alyssa Charney)