Ok, belated New Years resolution - let's get posting more frequently!
If I'm honest, I will be surprised if anyone is still reading this. So if you are - thank you and um, why?! I'm very grateful and all but you have far too much faith in me. If it helps, I've been busy studying and stuff (stuff = eating food and drinking prosecco with my family to celebrate the holidays). I just handed in my first essay for my Masters course so I fancy another break. Maybe with prosecco.
We packed up our tents on Day 3 of our Trek America Canadian Roadtrip adventure at a delectably early hour, bundled into the van and set off into the morning. We were leaving Vancouver and heading out towards the National Parks, the part I'd been looking forward to the most!
Before we entered the wilderness, we had a quick Walmart stop-off where I spent $90 on God knows what (ok, let's admit, it was mainly Cheetos. And a packet of cookie dough which I ate on the bus) before legging it to the liquor store and spending an extra $40. Thank God for credit cards right? It didn't help that the GBP-CAD exchange rate hit 0.50 whilst we were there (that's 50P per dollar!! It's practically Monopoly money!!)
Luckily for me, my bank account and my waistline, where we were headed there were no more Walmarts...
Our next destination was a Canadian cowboy ranch where we were to stay for one night. This was situated in Wells Gray Provincial Park and we were given the option of going horse riding in the park or going for a walk to see a waterfall.
I chose the horse option.
After quite literally signing our lives away on a waiver, we were taken around to the barn where we were told riding hats were "optional". My travel insurance policy definitely made it clear that hats were not optional so I snapped one up quick. One of the cowboys jumped up on a horse and gave us a quick driving lesson (including a demo of how to get the horses to walk backwards which I definitely tried, unsuccessfully).
The track mainly wound through woodland, dipping and rising quite drastically in places so that we had to lean backwards and forwards to help the horses as they scrambled up the banks. It was incredibly peaceful - but perhaps a little too much, according to our guide! She encouraged us to shout and sing and generally make a racket to put off any bears lurking nearby. Apparently they'd had a fair few sightings in recent weeks and whilst there were no problems, sights of a Grizzly stalking the edge of the paddocks had put them on high alert.
I was quite sad not to have seen any bears on our trek and kind of wanted to keep quiet just in case there were some about. On the other hand, I'm not the best rider in the world and if Doc (the lovely blue-eyed horse I rode) had suddenly decided to bolt, I probably would have been bear food. We saw some tracks and some poo though so you know, swings and roundabouts.
Back at the ranch, the next thing to do was set up camp and make dinner.
You know when you're given two options as a group and you want to make a good impression and look cool so you go along with the majority and then end up really regretting it? And you know when those two options are sleeping in tents in a nice open field, nice and close to the toilets and the main ranch buildings versus sleeping in a creepy log cabin in the middle of a forest with only an eerie looking hut for a loo?
This is where we slept:
I was petrified.
We put all thoughts of mass murderers aside and went off to make dinner. It was my group's turn to cook and we made a delicious chilli with tacos and corn. Michele acted as executive chef (and then I snuck a load of ketchup and BBQ sauce into the mix when he wasn't looking because it was all tasting a little bland).
We had a fair amount of free time to kill afterwards.
Some explored the ranch, taking in the natural beauty of the sunset.
Others hit the saloon bar with force.
We hid away in the old wagons, drinking tequila and getting increasingly silly.
Meanwhile, there was a larger group having dinner at the saloon. We were quite surprised to see their desserts being delivered by authentic saloon barmaids:
And then there was nothing left to do but watch the horses running in the peaceful gloom...
...Until it was time to go to bed in the creep AF log cabins. But you know we survived and all that and before we knew it, Day 4 was dawning!