So, after 15 weeks of planning, 2 years of saving and a lifetime of dreaming, we are finally here. ‘D-day’ has arrived; we’ve done it- we’ve left our old lives behind, snatched the opportunity and flown the miles to begin our new adventure and an incredible chapter in our lives. We are here- really here.
It’s hard to know even where to begin, as the last two days have been somewhat of a whirlwind!
We dragged ourselves out of bed at ungodly o’clock on Saturday&somehow managed to say those last heartbreaking goodbyes as we bid a final farewell to Mary and Roy, who had been kindly hosting us for the final days prior to our departure. A bleary-eyed Theo seemed completely indifferent to what was going on, and concentrated solely on getting into the taxi (into which our 2 boxed bikes, trailer, bags AND ourselves miraculously fitted-something my compulsive organising nature had ensured the day previously!) and we were finally on our way. The trip was wonderfully smooth and hassle free; not a hint of traffic and we strolled straight up to check in with no queues or fuss. There were no qualms with getting our bikes booked on- in fact, good ol’ Thomas Cook managed to forget to charge us for them as additional sports luggage. £100 saved- thank you very much!!
We had plenty of time to stop for breakfast, absolutely no delays, no issues- not so much as a hand baggage search (my pet hate- you spend all this time packing it ‘just so’ and ensuring everything fits, only to have someone tear everything out in a mindless fashion and then leave you to clear up the mess!) – and Theo was absolutely enthralled by the sights and sounds around him- pointing out every aeroplane, baggage cart and service van as he stood glued to the window, taking it all in! Generally and overall, it was quite possibly the best airport experience I think I’ve had- always a good start to your travels.
The 8hr flight passed without incident also, and Theo did far better than we anticipated. Take-off and landing simply didn’t phase him; and as we ensured we had an abundance of toys, stickers, books and snacks to keep him entertained, he was really very good- getting bored and restless on occasion, naturally, but as we took it in turns to look after him, making sure he got to stretch his legs and so forth, we avoided the meltdowns I had been dreading. And in true cheeky Theo-style, he woo-ed, charmed and entertained all the passengers around us also!
When we arrived at Calgary, slightly dazed and a bit lost, we were welcomed at the arrivals gate with our very own sign (I’ve ALWAYS wanted one of those signs!!!) by Gillian and Jason, from the One Giant Step blog, who I met via Twitter. Our hosts for the two days we were in Calgary, they were absolutely incredible at taking the best possible care of us- from cooking us the most delicious meals to taking us to buy sim cards; from giving us great advice and tips for our forthcoming trip to keeping our glasses topped up (!!) We were simply overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to us, especially by people who don’t know us and yet were happy to welcome us into their home&then truly put themselves out to ensure we were comfortable, settled and prepared. Given the sheer state of exhaustion we found ourselves in following our flight and then the adjustment to the time difference, we couldn’t have survived the first few days without their help! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the chance to share experiences and learn more about our hosts; and as we continue to prey on the kindness of WarmShowers and CouchSurfing hosts in future, I don’t doubt we’ll continue to meet and learn more about a whole spectrum of people from all walks of life- part of the huge appeal of this rather quirky choice of finding accommodation!
The only real tough part to date has been the combination of Theo+jetlag. Well…the combination of us+Theo+jetlag! The 7hours time difference is quite a jump and Theo has struggled to adjust. And as he becomes overtired, he becomes extremely demanding, whingy, over-excited and agitated. In a state of sheer exhaustion ourselves, our patience and tolerance levels rapidly reduce&we become unfairly short and snappy at Theo. It’s been a struggle at times- especially as we’re obviously conscious and aware of the need to adjust and as such have pushed ourselves to stay up later and work our sleeping patterns into Canadian time…but Theo, obviously oblivious, continues to fight to sleep at his ‘normal’ times- resulting in 3am starts (!) after we’ve had only a few hours sleep ourselves. How families do it when only visiting for 10-14 days or less, I’ll never know- certainly it’s going to be around 4-5days before Theo is fully adjusted. Imagine going through that for half of your holiday. *shudder*. However, for us, it’s a small price to pay- and as it is 7.30pm here (2.30am in the UK!) and Theo is still awake and playing happily, I’m guessing it’s taking effect and we’ll be sorted in no time.The important thing is for us not to lose sight of the bigger picture and allow our tiredness to affect our enjoyment or appreciation of this amazing trip- and to remember to take several deep breaths and step back from the situation when it becomes too challenging. I keep telling myself- this trip will be a mix of the good, the incredible, the bad and the downright miserable. But collectively, all will create the greatest experience of our lives. I need to appreciate the trip as a whole- even the less-than-perfect aspects. Jetlag included.
Although we’re obviously here, and on paper, our adventure has begun, the fact that we have yet to take to our bikes or use our tent still makes the entire venture seem like a far-off dream. I’m actually looking forward to getting going for real- because shamefully, we have been rather reclusive since our arrival&have yet to truly taste the ‘Canadian experience’, whatever that may entail. Roll on tomorrow…
Exhaustion claims me; for now, goodnight.