I have never lived outside of Canada before. In fact, I’ve never lived outside of the province of Ontario! I grew up an army brat to a Health Services Officer in the Canadian Forces. We shuffled our lives back and forth between the Military Hospital in Ottawa and the Military Medical School in Borden, with one slightly offset posting to Kingston.
When I found out there was an opportunity for me to move to Colorado Springs, I jumped at the chance. Not only would the weather be better, I would be pretty much in the centre of the U.S. with easy access to flights across the country. This was my chance to see more of the states!
So for day three of the #AtoZChallenge (which is really still day one for me because I’m catching up on my letters), I would like to talk a little about what it’s been like being a Canadian in Colorado!
Let’s see, the view: for starters, I can never, ever, ever get sick of the view of Pikes Peak every morning as I drive to work. No matter the time of the year, the majesty against the wide open skies of the prairie-desert is awe inspiring. I have probably taken a hundred photos of the peak since I’ve been here.
Big sky and big mountains! Makes you feel pretty insignificant.
The weather is strange here: I have been referring to mother nature as being ‘bi-polar’. Before “winter” came along, weather was crazy! (I use it with quotation marks because winter here, is not really winter, if you’re comparing it to winter in Ottawa or Barrie, Ontario. We’ve had about four or five snow dumps here, where the snow pretty much melts the next day. There’s a 24 hour sidewalk shoveling bylaw after a snowfall here, but most of the time we sweep the snow, or wait for it to melt within half a day!) During the spring, summer and fall, it was like clockwork. Around 2 p.m., we would see clouds making their way over Pike’s Peak, and within half an hour, it would be raining like I’ll get out, complete with lightning, thunder and hail! By 3:30 – 4:00 p.m., the sun would be back out and everything would be completely dry!
The daily storm’s coming in!
Prices: One thing that I’ve always had a hard time with, is the huge discrepancy in prices between Canada and the U.S. In fact, there have been a few times where we were able to get Canadian items cheaper in the U.S. And what’s with the permanent price difference on the spine of paperback books? At one point when the Canadian dollar was really strong, we were paying an extra $5+ for the SAME book, taking into consideration the exchange rate. Don’t even get me started on gas. Canadian gas is taxed up the wazoo. What used to cost me upwards of $70-80 to fill up my husband’s truck, now costs a little over $50. I was worried when I came down here if we would be able to afford to live the same way as we did in Canada, but to be honest, even the groceries are cheaper!
The people: I know everyone says that Canadians are really friendly, however, I have never noticed so much friendliness as I have here. Customer service is still customer service. I’ve never felt like I’ve been inconveniencing and employee (except once), and even at my work, people I don’t even know say “hello” in the hallways!
Now that I’ve finished singing the main praises about being a Canadian living in Colorado, let me set the record straight. It’s not all butterflies and bubble gum.
Crime (hey that starts with C as well): The crime unnerves me. I think it’s also the fact that the media down here tend to REALLY enjoy reporting on crime. Shots are fired EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. in Colorado Springs. Banks and 7/11s seem to be robbed weekly. I just found a website that PROJECTED crime data in the city for 2014! In September of last year, we had 25 homicides so far! That’s a lot! In Canada, I’m always shocked when someone gets killed. Down here it seems to be a regular occurrence!
Fall Foliage: I really miss the vibrant red, orange and yellow that appears in eastern Canada during the fall. Now Colorado has it’s own autumn trademark, the glimmering golden shimmer of the mountain Aspens, but there’s something about the leaves in Ontario that I really miss.
I can never get sick of the colours in Gatineau Park
And there’s nothing quite like autumn in the Muskokas and Kawarthas.
All-in-all, I feel truly blessed to be in Colorado. It is an active state – no shortage of things to do outdoors! I have gotten some great skiing in this season, and already planning some trail hiking and whitewater kayaking in the mountains in the coming months. But, there’s a part of me that is still so proud to be Canadian, and gets homesick for those little things (like ketchup chips) back home. Oh and I’ll always spell it centre and colour, even though WordPress doesn’t like it and tries to tell me I’m spelling them wrong. And I don’t miss Canadian winters though! No way!
That’s more of a grimace than a smile. That was a stupid cold day. I can’t believe I went kayaking!