No Better than First Class… Right?

I’ve traveled first class about half a dozen times in my life.  Almost every one of them was a fluke.  Like the time I actually wore dressy clothes to travel and was handed a new boarding pass at the gate.  Or the time I somehow managed to pay $200 for a business class seat from Frankfurt to Toronto (best $200 I ever spent!).

I can’t afford to book first class.  I don’t have enough frequent flyer miles to get unlimited upgrades. I’m definitely in the category of “economy traveler”! I’ve spent most of my travel time crammed among 100 of my closest friends!

So when I do get that rare opportunity to sit up front with the ‘important’ people, I handle it with the style and grace of someone with two left feet.

The warm damp cloth comes out, presented to me with tongs. I say thank you and look nervously around at my fellow frequent flyers before nervously patting my face and hands with it.

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I try to act nonchalant when I order my free drinks, as if  I spend my entire life drinking free booze. Then I try to sneak a photo or selfie of me basking in the ‘First Class Glow’.

Then there’s the time both my husband and I get upgraded and despite having just eaten a full meal during the layover, accept the in-flight pasta dinner and eat the whole thing, washed down with as many alcoholic beverages as the flight length will allow.

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You might think that it can’t get any better than that.  But you’re wrong.

I accidentally stumbled across the PRIVATE JET.  All of a sudden, I have somehow stepped it up a thousand notches. I have effectively avoided the pain and hassle of the AIRPORT. That moment when you drive right up to the plane, hop on with whatever you want in your bag: full-sized shampoo, 500 mL of bottled water, nail clippers, a knife.

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This is undiscovered territory. But avoiding security is not even the best part.  The immediate take off.  This 15 minute timeline between arrival at the airfield and airborne. It’s almost too good to be true. How can I ever go back to flying commercial?

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But I have to.  I have no choice. I’m just not rich enough/important enough/frequent enough.

But now, every time I fly, I wistfully remember what it was like to skip the 30 minute security check, the 2 hour wait, the 45 minutes of trying to cram 100+ bodies into a flying metal tube.

A fleeting memory.

The reminder of what I’ll probably never experience again.  But I’d never trade that one opportunity for anything.  For one exciting flight, I got to experience the best form of long-distance travel until we figure out teleportation…

 

YYZ; YOW; YVR: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Airport Codes.  If you’ve flown to Canada, you may have noticed that all major Canadian airports boast a code that starts with the letter ‘Y’.

‘Y’? You might ask?  American airports look more this the city they are hosted in.  So why do all Canadian airports start with ‘Y’? What’s with that?

Well first of all the International Air Transport Association (IATA) determines and deconflicts three-letter airport codes around the world. Back in the day, airports began receiving names. In the United States, they received three-letter codes that corresponded with their location or airport name: LAX (Los Angeles), MIA (Miami), BOS (Boston), CLT (Charlotte).

So back to Canada.  Airport codes in Canada were apparently named after each region’s radio transmitter codes and vice versa. Canada had secured ‘Y’ for the beginning of its regional transmitter codes, and therefore kept it to refer to its airports as well.

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Source: novaweather.net

Here are just a few.  Note that regional airports don’t all follow the ‘Y’ theme, but the majority of the international terminals do.

YOW: Ottawa (McDonald-Cartier International)

YYZ: Toronto (Pearson International)

YVR: Vancouver International

YEG: Edmonton International

YHZ: Halifax International

YXE: Saskatoon (John G. Diefenbaker International)

 

 

Ukrainian: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Did you know that the largest population of Ukrainians in the world outside of Ukraine and Russia is in Canada?

Although it is suspected Ukrainians came to Canada prior to 1891, but the best documented movement of Ukrainians into Canada happened then as Canada was advertised as a great place to settle for those wanting to escape famine and strife from the Austo-Hungarian and Russian rules.   It’s believed approximately 170,000 Ukrainians came to Canada between 1891 and 1914. Canada was also advertised as a great place to settle and farm by Canada’s Minister of the Interior – hoping for expanded agriculture in the prairies.  This is likely why the largest Ukrainian communities are in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Now, even though Ukrainian immigrants were needed for Canadian agriculture growth, during the First World War, the War Measures Act allowed the government to intern any person who originated from any ‘enemy state’ (sound familiar?).  As a result, about 5,000 Ukrainians were interned in various work camps across Canada.  Some weren’t released until almost 2 years after the war ended. In 2008, the Government of Canada established a $10 million fund called the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund (CFWWIRF) aimed at providing monies to commemorate those who had their liberties taken from them during the war. Some of the projects have included documentaries, monuments and interpretive centres.

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Commemorative plaque and statue at the location of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp, Banff National Park. Source: Wikipedia

Another large wave of immigration happened after the First World War when the Canadian government again opened immigration to former citizens of the Austrian Empire.  This saw another 70,000 Ukrainians come to Canada.

Ukrainian Canadians have a very unique culture, distinct from their European heritage and are very proud to protect that culture. The Ukrainian language is still taught in prairie schools, and Ukrainian dance is practiced regularly in these communities. Which I find funny because my Ukrainian husband refuses to dance.  Anywhere! 😉

Tuque: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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A knitted hat with a small or no brim.  Only in Canada.

It comes from the Middle Breton word toque, spoken by the immigrants who founded New France (now known as Québec).  When I write it, I spell it as toque.

I don’t even think about it when I say it.  If I’m referring to a knit hat (winter hat) I call it a ‘toque’.


My American friends call it a ‘beanie’. Calling it a toque also helps me meet random Canadians around the world.

Me in Telluride: “I wish I had worn my toque today”

Random stranger in Telluride: “Excuse me, but are you Canadian?”

Me: “Yes I am, how did you guess?”  (LOL)

So without further ado,  here are some of my favourite toques!!

Robertson Screws: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Did you know that Canada has a screw that’s mostly unique to our country?  It’s called the Robertson screw] or “square-head” screw.

First manufactured in Milton, Ontario (where my aunt and uncle lived when I was a child) in 1908 and patented in 1909, the fastener remains named after its inventor, P.L. Robertson.

Robertson screws look like this:

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And they look like that because Mr. Robertson cut his hand using a spring-loaded screwdriver and decided to design a safer screw.

Of course, there’s also a screwdriver.

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You can find Robertson screws and screwdrivers in the United States, but sparingly.  Apparently Mr. Robertson did try to pitch his great new invention to a company in Buffalo, NY, but gave up after they couldn’t come to an agreement.  His screws were then used in the manufacturing of Canadian Ford cars and the savings incurred were noticed by Ford Motor Company in Detroit.  However, Henry Ford wanted ownership on decisions about how the screws were used and Mr. Robertson didn’t want to let that power go.  So – today, Robertson screws and screwdrivers are mostly a Canadian ‘thing’.

 

Quinte: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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There were some good Canadian Q words/things.  Quebec and Queen came to mind.  Then someone suggested Quinte and I had to write about it.

 

Do you have that place that you always remember as a place that represents youth and adulthood at the same time?  The Bay of Quinte Region is that place for me.

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Growing up in Kingston, Ontario, The Bay of Quinte was about 45 minutes away from our hometown.  The bay itself is a zig-zaggy bay and the region hosts great Walleye fishing, wineries, golfing and sand beaches.  In Canada, having sand beaches nearby is something not to be taken advantage of.  Basically it was our version of living by the sea!  So where would we go on weekends, or on Fridays during the last couple of weeks of high-school (Shhhhh)?  Specifically – Picton Beach! And the best way to go was along the lake, taking the ferry over.  What an experience!

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Picton Beach is actually Sandbanks Provincial Park, but we call it Picton Beach.  The park hosts the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation – 10,000 years in the making – created when the massive Lake Iroquois receded, at the end of the last ice age leaving the puddle called Lake Ontario. The sand from the larger lake blew up, creating the dunes that rise almost 200 feet from the lake and stretch for 12 kilometres!

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Poutine: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

WPhat!?!?  What is this crazy word you speak of?

Poutine is definitely a Canadian food.  I know what you’re thinking.  There’s no such thing as Canadian food.  Even U.S. National Security Advisor Stu Smiley (played by Kevin Pollock) in the movie Canadian Bacon said “First of all, there is no Canadian culture. I’ve never read any Canadian literature. And when have you ever heard anyone say, “Honey, lets stay in and order Canadian food”?”

Poutine is so Canadian, I’ve seen attempts at recreating it here in the U.S. and they have all failed.

Poutine is a French Canadian dish consisting of french fries, cheese curds (squeaky cheese) and gravy. Few dispute the fact that poutine came from Quebec, however many communities in Quebec believe that theirs is the birthplace of the dish.

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Source: Papa Mario’s, Halifax NS

Here in the states, I’ve seen poutine made with shredded mozzarella, and every Canadian I know would tell you that is simply blasphemous.  It has to be curds.  And it has to be brown gravy.

Personally, the best poutine can be found in Kingston, Ontario at a place called Bubba’s Poutine and Pizzeria. Kingston is a college town, with St. Lawrence College, Queen’s University and the Royal Military College giving the downtown core constant attendance. Day and night.  Bubba’s is known as a late night drunk snack stop.  People travel past Bubba’s on their way home from the Ontario Street clubs.  And they pick up what – at three o’clock in the morning – seems like the most amazing food in the world!

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Here’s a recipe if you want to make it yourself:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/79300/real-poutine/.

In Newfoundland, there is another dish that is equally as delicious, but has its own twist:  Fries, dressing and gravy.  Instead of cheese curds, they use savoury turkey stuffing!  So delicious!

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Source: Stuffed at the Gill’s Food Blog: http://stuffedatthegills.blogspot.com

O Canada: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Our national anthem!!!!  Of course!!

‘O Canada’ came about in 1880 as a song for Saint-Jean-Baptiste day celebrations.  In French!!!  The English version wasn’t created until 1906.  I honestly thought the English version came first!  I’m learning stuff about my own country doing this challenge! We have sung ‘O Canada’ as our national anthem since 1939 but not officially until 1980 by an Act of Parliament and Royal Assent.

Today we sing it almost always as a combination of French and English.  Here are the lyrics:

O Canada! Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,

Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée

Des plus brillants exploits.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Of course though, the lyrics aren’t always so clear.  Most of my American colleagues only know the first two words and tune of the anthem, and also take it upon themselves to sing said two words to Canadians whenever they see us Canadians.  So now, I continue the song for them!  They sing “O Canada….”  and I sing back “something, something, something!”

Because I love creativity, here’s the song as sung in English by four…. of the same guy.  It slightly creeps me out that he’s looking and smiling at himself while he sings, but it’s a great rendition!

While the U.S. has specific rules regarding the playing and singing of their national anthem, ‘The Star Spangled Banner‘, there are no specific rules regarding how the ‘O Canada’ should be performed. Unofficial etiquette is to start or end any ceremonies with the song, men remove their hats and military members come to attention and salute the flag.

Both countries are obviously extremely proud of their national anthems.  And we know how important they are to each other.  In November 2014, the microphone cut out during the singing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ during a Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Nashville Predators hockey game, prompting the entire crowd to complete the song, Canadians and Americans alike. Not long after, to repay the favour, Nashville Predators fans sang the Canadian National anthem at a home game in the U.S.A.!

 

Avro Arrow: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

Good morning!  I didn’t have a theme reveal, but I decided – since I’m a Canadian living in Colorado – that I am going to focus my #AtoZChallenge on Canadiana.  Words, phrases, things, foods, places.  This should be interesting.  Believe it or not, I’ve had a hard time coming up with topics for every letter of the alphabet: I think mostly because I take those things for granted.

So, today I’d like to talk about the CF-105 Avro Arrow! This is a little different than my usual kayaking and adventure posts, but I hope you’ll find it interesting…

The CF-105 Avro Arrow made its first test flight almost exactly 58 years ago (March 25, 1958). It was supposed to be a state-of-the art Canadian designed (and made) delta-wing, hypersonic interceptor, intended to fly at Mach 2 speeds over 50,000 feet.  This aircraft was going to put Canada on the aviation map.

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Source: The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

 

But it didn’t quite happen that way and has gone down in history as a legend, a conspiracy story, a failure.

In February of 1959, the entire project was cancelled and within two months, there was very little evidence that the aircraft ever existed.

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Source: canadianhistoryforkids.com

 

This is where things started getting interesting. There were so many theories abound: one that a Russian spy had infiltrated the production line; many political theories; and rumours that one Avro Arrow was hidden from destruction, to name a few.

Only five years ago, information surfaced suggesting that an ejection seat from a CF-105 was found in the United Kingdom, owned by a private collector, refuelling speculation about the possibility that a complete jet was saved from destruction and possibly flown across the Atlantic. The owner of the seat told CTV News that he was “100% positive” he saw an Arrow land at RAF Manston Air Base when he was a teen, living near the base.

The Avro Arrow will go down in history as a Canadian legend, and unsolved mystery and to many a missed opportunity to make aviation history.

The art of packing….

Packing when traveling is something I have never mastered!  I ALWAYS bring way more than I need, and usually come back from a trip with only half of what I packed actually used.  Now, I get that you have to be prepared for various weather situations, but it was clear to me that I wasn’t being as efficient as I could be.

My trip to Africa was my first foray into ‘thoughtful packing’. I had a friend assist me in packing up one 60L backpack to last me two weeks.  Not only that, but said pack also needed to hold my mountain climbing clothing, altitude layers, sleeping bag and resort wear for the last two days in Zanzibar.

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Not too long ago, I discovered the freedom of flying without checking luggage.  I flew to Toronto from Denver for a wedding and only brought a small roller carry-on.  It was exhilarating!  I was able to walk in, get on the plane, and walk off!

So a month later, I tried it again – flying from Denver to Bangor, Maine. This time, I was a bridesmaid.  I carried my dress in a garment bag and laid it on top of the overhead luggage. On the way back I just crammed everything into my carry-on suitcase.  It worked so well!

I started learning how to come up with coordinating garments that would allow me to make multiple outfits out of a few pieces of clothing without anyone really knowing.  One pair of jeans, a couple of blouses and jackets.

Then I started rolling my clothes to make more room.  And I came up with this on my most recent ‘checked-bag-free’ trip from Denver to Washington, D.C.:

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This was actually a business trip.  I had dress slacks, jackets and blouses in there, along with workout clothes, a laptop, and toiletries!!

What are some of your light packing tips?