HI-Shuswap Lake: Why Did I Come Home?

I mean, you can tell from the title I had fun so this post is really just going to be me going on about how much fun I had.

With pictures!

So, the first weekend in August is BC day where we celebrate…. how arrogant we are about not being a frozen tundra like the rest of Canada? Something like that. The important thing is we get the Monday off. This tends to fall close to, or spot on to, my birthday, so I tend to have an easy time of convincing people to do what I want. And I wanted to camp. The problem is some of the pickier of my friends are just not outdoorsy kind of people. So, when I was procrastinating I found something. A hostel. On Shuswap lake. And I spent a year convincing people to go with me. Then Adam moved here, and I was like, “we’re going, care to join?” And surprisingly enough they did. We went up with a group of 7 people.

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The front is a blink and you’ll miss it type place- the sign is on the far left. It’s right on the Trans-Canada Highway. My parents knew it as “that building” and couldn’t believe there was anything there. I knew better though. After my rural hostel experience in Austria I believed in the travel magic to deliver unto me awesomeness.

The concept is that there’s some rooms in the house, you can tent where you find room, and most importantly, the dorms are old cabooses.

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There’s three cabooses, but I’m working with a blackberry camera here so I don’t have the greatest scope. One was booked out by a family, one was female only, and one was coed. I booked the three girls into the girls dorm just in case more guys came for the coed, and Adam was in there. The rooms weren’t the biggest dorms. I mean, they were cabooses! Each had 6 bunks, a bathroom, a chill out area, and a kitchen.

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The mattresses were some of the best I’ve had in hostels, and the pillows were beyond badass. The cabooses got cool in the night, which is a big plus for me, and I slept well for the first time in months. It’s been hot in Vancouver and I was just so, so happy to be in a real sleep environment where I could get blanket cozy.

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Just off the cabooses was a common area and a hut with another kitchen, bathroom, and shower stalls. I’m going to be real here- I didn’t shower the entire time I was there. Two of my friends did though and assured me the water pressure and heat were excellent. The kitchens were great too.

The real beauty was the water. You walked down this path, passing a sweat lodge,

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to get to the lake.

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That water. It was cold, but we still went in. I haven’t seen water that amazingly clean in a long time. The canoe on the dock? You can use it for free. You can row to a beaver dam. There’s just so much cool.

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Alternate dock activity? Drinking and eating chips.

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Or, like my friend and I, bonding like men. This involved manspreading, holding cans, and saying yup to each other. We bonded. Also note: I am wearing all the clothes I packed save for a driving t shirt, plus Adam’s hoodie. The weather report said it would be over 30 degrees every day. We had a lot of rain and thunderstorms on the last day we were there. I need to learn I don’t pack well after a couple of drinks.

But…

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I found something to do. Read all day, party all night!

When you book you get an email explaining things. Like….

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THE CAT! I love this cat. He would absolutely not let me take a picture, so I just took one of his face. Beautiful, cuddly cat.

AND

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DOG AND LLAMAS!

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Look at those majestic animals. You can feed them. Feed Llamas! The animals are great. It’s so naturey.

As for food, we did a huge Costco run and brought up cold cuts for lunches and hot dogs and s’mores for nights around the campfire. But what about breakfast? I’m assuming you asked because you, you are an involved reader. Pat yourself on the back.

Well, for like $5 a day the hostel does ALL YOU CAN EAT PANCAKES!

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These ones are blueberry peach. Now, we all know I can eat. I never got more than 3 pancakes in. It’s filling.

So, would I stay here again? HELLS YES. I already want to go back. We became good friends with the workawayer, (BECAUSE THEY ARE WORKAWAY HOSTS AND SUPPORT IT AND SO MANY GOOD VIBES!!!) and like, the owners of the hostel… it’s just like… indescribable how hospitable they are. Being there just felt like a magic wonderland of everyone being friends. Travel magic wonderland. If you go in with the expectation that it is a rural hostel, it’s a 10/10. Go here. Stay here.

And to book and for prices and such, and much better photos, click here.

As for photos, I’ll leave you with this one:

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It’s a llama. Judging me for leaving the awesome hostel and going back to real life.

 

 

 

 

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HI-Shuswap Lake: Why Did I Come Home?

Travelling When Your Body Just Won’t

I have compartment syndrome.

It’s a super scary condition where your muscles don’t want to be contained in their muscle holder anymore.

The magical medical practitioners think it happened as a combination of stressing myself out way to much and overworking my already injured body. As a kid I wanted nothing more than to be a prima ballerina. This didn’t pan out as I have exactly 100% the opposite natural body you want for ballet. I have hips, I have a bum, and I hold weight in my stomach. It’s not exactly graceful. But I tried. I loved- still love- to dance. When I was 15 I went to my then family doctor and asked about this weird pop thing my hip was doing. He told me it was nothing and not to bother him with stupid problems. Yeah. I continued to throw myself into performing through dance, intensive theater camps, and started competing in musical theater the next year. My hip didn’t get better. It wasn’t until I was 22 during a rugby practice where a coach heard the noise. At that point I had been playing for a few years with a break to study abroad. My coach looked at me, informed me that wasn’t normal, and gave me the name of a sports specialist who I saw that week. Keep in mind I hadn’t really seen a doctor that wasn’t at the walk in clinic since I was 15. I went and he diagnosed it as snapping hip syndrome in 5 minutes. I walked out with a physio referral and started on that path. I probably wouldn’t have been in that sort of pain for that long if I had been better about resting and not going in to intensely. I was still playing rugby and… man, I love playing rugby. It’s definitely one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I love the crap out of that sport, I loved the people I was playing with. So play I did.

After my friend passed away I kind of gave up on life. I stopped playing rugby, stopped going to the gym… stopped giving a shit about anything really. I lost my biggest support system and that took its toll. I still have to deal with it every day. Losing someone you were that close to messes you up. My feet started to scream bloody murder whenever I stood up and after much fighting my Mom made me go back to the doctor to get orthotics. I went and mentioned that when I walked a lot my shins hurt SO bad and it hurt to even touch my calves. That’s when I got the compartment syndrome and instructions to keep very lightly active- which at that point I wasn’t, to not google compartment syndrome and, most importantly, to keep my stress levels down. I tend to be a very high stress person so I figured that was impossible, got my orthotics and hoped for the best.

Eventually it all caught up with me and I found myself having to miss a day of work to spend in the hospital because I was absolutely sure my foot was broken but had no idea why. The doctor at emergency checked me out and diagnosed me with plantar fascitis in both my feet. I had no idea what that meant and vowed to wear my orthotics more. He gave me celebrex to take and I was, once again, told to be lightly active, rest, and keep my stress levels down. During all this I managed to do two summers working at summer camps in Italy. I didn’t have the same problems there. Working with kids is pretty stressful so I still can’t figure out why I wasn’t in pain.

By this point my sports specialist had retired, which was terrible because he was the best doctor I’ve ever had. He was direct but caring, and you could tell his focus was completely on his patients. My mother had found a new doctor and my feet were getting much, much worse. I could only walk for about 5 minutes before the pain became unbearable. My mom kind of took matters into her own hands and made an appointment with the doctor and bribed me out of the house with a shopping trip. My anxiety level was high, but I like the new doctor. I’m still on her patient list. She referred me to a pain specialist in the same clinic who wanted to start K Laser. I had four treatments and things were better. I could walk for a half hour after the first one. After the fourth one I went to London and Paris and something weird happened. I walked. I walked for five hours one day and didn’t even feel a hint of a throb. I was enjoying walking. I reported this back to the doctor when I went for my fifth and final treatment. He thinks it might be a climate thing and that I should move to Europe.

Alas, the point of this trip isn’t to talk about all my pain and reinforce the fact that I really, REALLY should live in Europe. Bonjour France, je veux moi? It’s to talk about the how. Since I did spend two summers in Europe with chronic pain while working and whatnot I’ll give my list.

  1. Carry all medications with you in your carry on. Luckily they only lost my luggage on the way home, but damn were those some bad days until it got restored to me.
  2.  Make sure your medication is legal in the country you’re going to. I worry about this all the time even though celebrex is pretty standard.
  3. Talk to your doctor about transitioning through time zones. When I went to Australia I lost a whole day. I tend to keep my Ipod on Vancouver time no matter where I go so that I don’t accidentally wake people up when I call home. Sometimes you end up taking what you take at noon at home at eight pm away, which is reasonable. However, sometimes you end up needing to take it at 2. Figure out the time zones and talk to your doctor.
  4. For the love of all that is and ever was do not start your medication on the trip. Take it for at least two weeks before. Finding that celebrex worked for me was hard. I went through some other pain meds that had side effects that… wouldn’t be what you’d want in a shared bathroom situation. (This also plays into why I hate ensuite bathrooms at hostels, but that’s another post.). You need to know how your body reacts to what you’re taking. For instance, I had to learn the hard way that if you ignore the label and take celebrex without food you will not be a happy camper. I tend to prize celebrex because it worked for me but meds are different for everyone. I’ve even heard of some people having weird side effects from the generic. Do not take this grace period for granted. Seriously. Very, VERY important.
  5. Give yourself permission to feel like shit and hermit for a few days. I’ve been to Genoa many times but I’ve never seen any of it. There’s a hotel there  that’s not far from the train station and whenever I’m there it’s where I stay. It’s clean, not to expensive, the shower water pressure is awesome and their wifi is full on badass. I get an inordinate amount of food, take the longest shower ever and just relax. I’m an introvert with extrovert qualities and I need the recharge time. Even with a cold it’s not fair to do a shared room when you’re sick or injured. Let yourself have that down time and don’t let anybody make you feel bad for it. If you’ve booked a hostel and just need a day to hang around the building and the two blocks around it, that’s fine. Take care of your mental health and your physical health will follow. After my Genoa stays I go wherever I need to after feeling like a renewed person. If I have a bum around the hostel day, usually I feel ready to go and end up having amazing nights.

When you have chronic pain it sucks. Going places sucks. Getting out of bed most days is a marathon… but it’s possible to push through it and have some great experiences.

Just give yourself permission to feel it otherwise I’m sure your head will explode.

Travelling When Your Body Just Won’t

Crossing Canada Part 2: The Beginnings of Budget… sort of

I’ve been doing a bit more research. Canada is huge. I mean, obviously it’s the 2nd biggest country in the world. As such, there’s tons of things to do.

Have I mentioned before I hate budgeting? I feel like it kind of ruins the dreaming with pricing and such. The problem is I know how to budget- account for things like hostels and meals, make a per diem rate… there’s many ways. The thing that always gets me is what’s labelled the “entertainment” budget. Museums, festivals, taxi’s if the transit isn’t 24 hours, club covers… do drinks go in the food and drink budget or entertainment?

What I like to do is make a big bumper list of things I’ve seen and researched. Museums and attractions that look amazing, restaurants and clubs I’ve heard about, outdoor excursions… Here are 3 quick tricks I’ve learned with this:

  1. always round up to the nearest $10. Something is $14.50- budget for $20. Prices can always change and they tend not to go down. It’s also way more fun to have more money than less.
  2. Figure out which big budget attractions are worth it to you. I’m going to say it. I’m not a fan of climbing crap. I hate getting midday sweaty, and honestly, the stuff you’re climbing is the stuff you want in the picture you take at the top. I have issues with my ankles, feet, and calves. No matter how wonderful it is for some, it’s not for me.
  3. Don’t get discouraged. I get it. You see the big number and your mind goes “holy crap. I will never be able to afford that.” Remember, the city will be there. You can go back and do things you missed. It’s especially great when you go with people who haven’t been to the place before.

Budgets suck, but it’s the nuts and bolts that make trips possible.

Crossing Canada Part 2: The Beginnings of Budget… sort of

The Planning of a Trip Crossing Canada Part 1: The dream and inception

In Paris I met two awesome guys who were just beginning their travelling (One of them is a writer. Check out his road stories here). They walked places because they were scared of the metro, so we drank with them, explained the system, our views on life… all the wonderfulness that I call travel friend magic. While they were talking about their trip and asking for advice and such, and they said, “one day we’ll be as wise as you”. It was weird, because I don’t think of myself as wise, and I’m pretty sure my liver’s with me on this one. But I guess I do sort of have a handle on this. A lot of the time I get asked to help people I’ve met with their trip planning process and it tends to go as smoothly as a trip can. So, I’m going to plan my next big trip. I’ll write about every part of the process.

Life just gets better when there’s a trip in the works.

The first question: Where?

I plan trips, look at trips, revolve around trips all the time. I need a constant supply of dreaming or else I get really, really depressed. This makes where the hardest question. Where do I commit to? In high school it was Europe. I love Europe. It calls my heart. But, I think on this trip I need to do something different. I think it might be a Canadian thing, but I’m big on knowing my ancestry- I know how my Nonno and Nonna came to Canada, and how their ancestors ended up in Italy. I know my dad’s a mix of English, Irish, and Scottish. If you go far back enough you’ll hit French and Dutch. I curse that part for making me the tallest person ever. I love knowing exactly what parts of the world make me, me. Seriously, that genetic testing thing rings all my bells. I would die of happiness if I’m part Neanderthal. Can you really know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re from?

My Mother had a dream of packing up a car and driving across Canada with a map on the roof. I don’t know about doing that now, though my dad has delusions involving Vespa’s and teardrop trailers. No thank you. However, the cross Canada idea is a good one. How can I see other places and not appreciate where I live? Also, it’s super awkward when people are like,
“Oh! I love Canada! I did this, this, this and this.” Now, due to having family back east and a Mother who loves the dickens out of Canadian history I’ve seen more of Canada than a lot of people I know, but my response is usually, “I watch tv in sweatpants.” So, this next big trip? Let’s do some Canada.

The second question: Basic Logistics.

How do we get around? I’d love to rent an RV, but I’d need friends. Most of my friends think the idea of me in an RV 24/7 is a little… unfavourable. Thanks guys. Plus, while I have a sabbatical option for my job others can’t commit to a full however long that would take. I need a trip where it can be a “meet for a leg of it” option. Then I thought of it. Via Rail.

They have unlimited rail packages. Coast to coast by train. Including stops to Churchill- one in the summer for belugas and one in fall for polar bears. All the other appendages too, but polar bears and belugas get special mention because they’re freakin’ BELUGA WHALES AND POLAR BEARS!

The third: Broach it with friends.

I do this every trip. So far no one’s come with me. But, I did pop a little “hey guys, I’m doing this next summer! Who wants to come along?” into the group chat. Like I mentioned, this style is perfect for people to come on a leg or two.

Fourth: The dreaming.

I have a whole year. I need to get an idea of what I want to do and how much things cost.

Also, I am obsessed with travel books. I’m a writer, I’m obsessed with books in general. (side story, one time my friend Heahter and I were at a bar and she saw a guy she thought was hella hot so I struck up a conversation and he was like, “I’m a writer.” So naturally I was all, “what are you reading?!” and he just went, “I don’t read.” Heather and I looked at each other like wtf even is this guy? Writers read.) Upon further investigation I found Rough Guides is due for a new edition of their Canada book- it will arrive in my mailbox on June 23rd.

I love guidebooks, and I like Rough Guides. I find them laid out well, and they tend to hide the super history in the back so if you want it you can get it but it doesn’t like assault you with info you need to sift through.

Guidebooks are all well and good, but if I’m going to see some historical stuff, I want a good handle on it. And I need credits. So my course options are Canadian History to 1867, Post- Confederation Canadian History, and History of British Columbia. I shall take them, learn, and bother everyone around me.

Now I let it simmer. The next step is a budget and savings plan, but I like to save that for when my excitement is at peak. Right now I’m going to ride that sweet, sweet, trip anticipation high.

PS: Any suggestions/stories are much appreciated!

The Planning of a Trip Crossing Canada Part 1: The dream and inception