Checklist for the West Coast

As most of you may know, I’m currently living in Western Canada, something I never thought I would be doing. But since I’m here, I couldn’t resist the urge to make a checklist of all the things I want to do/accomplish!
When I first got here, I wrote a blog post called Things to do out West, wherein I made a list of lots of things I thought would be fun to do while I was living out West. So I went back to check that list out and divide them into three categories: Accomplished, Planned, and Maybe Another Time.

 

ACCOMPLISHED:

  • Listen to live music at Better Than Fred’s – OK, let’s talk about how amazing this was! We actually just went last night, and I know, that means we bent the rules for the No Spending Month. But in fairness, we decided to bring all the bottles to the bottle depot and just used $20 from that money to pay our entry. The band was called Mud Men, a mixture of Traditional Irish and Country Rock. They had two bagpipe players – you read that right! Bagpipes!! – a guitarist/lead singer, a bassist and a drummer. You may have guessed it, my favourite part was the bagpiping! They played really well, although it was a bummer than the singer was losing his voice. Fortunately, one of the bagpipe players stepped up to the plate and helped on vocals. He was also a fantastic entertainer!
  • Volunteer at the Art Gallery – This was actually a really cool experience. I talked about it in my blog post Volunteering, but then went again to volunteer after Christmas break. They had an opening reception on March 3rd for the newest exposition and I volunteered to work at the bar. I had to take an online course to do so, but it was totally worth it! I worked with a great young man, with whom I had lots in common. We served a decent amount of people, all pleasant and polite, and it was never overwhelming.
  • Learn to shoot a gun – And more than one kind too! I went to the shooting range with Max a few times since I got here and it was really interesting to learn something new like that. It really wasn’t something that had been a part of my life until now, and I didn’t know how comfortable/uncomfortable it would make me feel, but I’m glad I tried it because I understand it better now.
  • Attend the Festival of Lights – It was so beautiful! I’m so glad we got to attend this event, even though Max was pretty busy with work. It was way back in November, mind you, so all the details aren’t super sharp in my mind, but I remember seeing so many beautiful trees, listening to great local musicians, seeing fantastic young dancers on stage, and getting to eat ginger bread cookies! Check out my blog post  November in a nutshell to read more about it!
  • Listen to local music – Not only did we get to see local musicians at the Festival of Lights, we also attended a house concert in Valleyview + went to see Mud Men at Better Than Fred’s! They were all amazing shows, but I’m hoping to get to see a few more bands within the next couple months too. Notably, there’s a fiddler’s jamboree in mid-April and there’s open mic nights at the local Starbucks!
  • Volunteer at the SPCA – I’m so glad we took the time to do this! I had been a volunteer at the Greater Moncton SPCA quite a few years back, but then I got busy and I basically stopped going. Every year or so, I thought about doing the orientation again, but I could never fit it into my schedule. Well, now my schedule is pretty much wide open, so I thought ‘There is no better time than now!’ I was surprised that Max was excited about it too, I didn’t picture him to be the volunteering type. We both went to the orientation session last week and visited for an hour or two afterwards with adorable cats and dogs. I can’t wait to go again! (For pictures of our adorable new friends, check out What can you do without spending any money?
  • Go to the Jump Yard!! – This was AMAZING! I honestly didn’t know what to expect. We were 4 frenchies who met there one Saturday afternoon, half excited, half nervous/embarrassed. Why embarrassed, might you ask? Well, because there were about 150 screaming kids roaming around the entire jumping area. We suddenly realized that maybe Saturday afternoon was not the best time to come to a place who’s biggest target audience is children. But that wasn’t a reason not to try it, so we made our way to some lockers, put our special socks on – yeah, they give you these special socks you need to wear on the jumping mats – and heading out for an adventure! There were foam pits that you could jump into from a swinging rope, there was a tightrope walking area, there were basketball nets for slam dunking, a huge open area for doing tricks and jumping off the walls, plus a whole room for playing trampoline dodgeball!! And for an entire hour of fun, we only paid $15!
  • Visit Jasper, AB – Checking this off my list was incredibly special because my amazing boyfriend actually surprised me by taking me there for My 25th Birthday. We spent the entire day together, taking in these amazing views, surrounded by mountains and lakes. It felt like being home, but in a surreal way. Definitely a moment to remember.
  • Listen to Red Moon Road in concert – I AM SO HAPPY TO SAY I DID! They were coming to play a house concert in Valleyview, which is about an hour away from where I live now. I booked the tickets about two months in advance, hoping to God it wasn’t already sold out. I also had my fingers crossed that Max wouldn’t be out of town working that night. And in the end, everything worked out perfectly! Ok, maybe not completely perfect for the band because apparently the power had been out all day so they had to get ready and practice without electricity, but nevertheless, their performance was breathtaking and honestly brought tears to my eyes. To read all about it, check out one of my previous posts, A stranger’s house that feels like home.
  • Go to Card’s Board Game Café – Oh my God! I am in love with this place! Seriously, we went 2-3 times a week after our first visit and if we weren’t doing a No Spending Month right now, we would still be going that often! What a great place to hang out. From my experience, they’re beverages are fantastic too, and I’ve heard nothing but good comments about their food. Plus, you get to play board games for hours on end, and it only costs $5 per customer!! I think it may be the best business idea since slice bread.
  • Build a box fort – This wasn’t initially on the To-Do list, but I was pretty pumped when Max suggested it! It wasn’t so much a fort as it was a wall, but on on side of the wall is our “fort,” also known as our work space. We got a desk for free off of Kijiji, which I used to do paperwork, computer work, and knitting, and Max has his reloading station where he works behind me. Pretty great set-up for people on a budget!
  • Get a job – Well, this wasn’t on the list either, but it was a given. And guess what? I did get one! I’m currently employed by the Grande Prairie Public School District as a Substitute Educational Assistant. Basically, I work with special needs kids and help out during class when needed. I was worried at first because a subbing position means casual work, which means no guaranteed shifts. There was an upside to this of course: plenty of time at home with Max since work is slow for him too nowadays. But to my surprise, I’ve been getting calls every day for the past two and a weeks, some even to request me to work later in the week! I’ve got to say I’m pretty grateful to all the people who call in advance, it makes my life a little easier to be able to pencil it into my scheduler earlier than 30 minutes before school starts. But in all seriousness, it’s a pretty amazing job and I’m so fortunate to have landed this position. Feel free to read more about it in my other blog posts, I FINALLY WORKED TODAY! and A change of routine.
  • Go Salsa Dancing!! – Ohhhhh yesss! This is something I had been longing to do, especially with Max! Did you know that we actually took Salsa dancing lessons together back in 2012? We weren’t dating at the time. It was actually an awkward time where we were kind of friends but things had been rocky between us. And for some reason, we thought ‘You know what would be a good idea? We should take dance classes together.’ I was pretty surprised that it actually ended up happening. I remember mentioned to him that I wanted to take lessons but I didn’t have anyone to go with. I remember him suggested some of my guy friends, and then quietly mumbling, ‘Well, I’d go with you.’ And so began our journey into dance!! Ok, he might not be as pumped as I am, but I LOVE dancing! And so when I saw a poster online about a Salsa event called Salsaddiction, I had no choice but to force him to attend with me! Kidding! He was more than willing to come dancing with me, he’s such a sweetheart – and a good dancer too! It was certainly one of the best date nights ever, one that I’ll surely never forget!
  • Go on a road trip with friends – OK so this ended up happening twice, although one of the two times we a total bust. The first trip was with my gal pals, Amanda & Angel. We just made a quick day trip up to Wherever-Amanda-Comes-From (I honestly can never remember the names of Alberta towns) to pick up some furniture. I may or may not have fallen asleep once or twice during the drive – sorry! I know, I’m a bore. But we had lots of laughs regardless, and they seemed to be having a good time singing random songs at the top of their lungs! As for the second trip, Max, Ben and I were supposed to head up to Edmonton for the day to visit the West Edmonton Mall, which I have still yet to see. We were more than halfway there when all of a sudden, my car starts acting up. Ruh-roh. Turns out the alternator was kaput. Long story short, we had to get towed to a garage, drive their company truck to find a new alternator, wait a few hours, then drive back home in time for supper. Read more about my misfortunes in my blog post Car troubles.
  • Eat Crooked Creek Donuts – This, like half of the items I just mentioned, was not on the initial To-Do list. However, the boys let me know that my visit to the West Coast would not be complete without trying some of the amazing homemade donuts from Crooked Creek. So when our trip to Edmonton got cut short, the first thought that came to mind was to stop to see if they would still be open. And guess what? They were!! Honestly, my mouth is drooling a little right now thinking about eating one of those delicious donuts. When we got there, they were just taking them out of the oven so they were soft, warm and fresh, the taste of sugar and butter envelope all my taste buds. So that was definitely the highlight of that trip!
  • Attend the Maple Syrup Festival – I hadn’t heard about this, but when I saw that it was a free event, I jumped to the occasion! And apparently, it’s a French tradition, so we heard and spoke to so many francophones during the event! It was so nice, and such a change of pace to be surrounded by people who spoke our native language. Oh, and we even got to see Bonhomme Carnaval!
  • Go bowling – Oh. My. God! I bowled with the big balls for the first time in my life!! To be quite honest, I was so nervous, but we had a great time! We were actually a big gang of people who all met up the the bowling alley here in town, and it was so busy that we had to wait to get an aisle. Fortunately there was an arcade and some pool tables we could use while we waiting so we played a round of pool and got some drinks. As for the bowling part, we weren’t as bad as I thought we would be! I think that’s a win in itself!
  • Go see a show at the Entrec Centre – OK, initially this was meant was in ‘Go see a concert at the Entrec Centre’ but in the end, we decided to go in a different direction and saw a Horse Show instead! Half the reason for that was because the horse show was free, but also because it was a great new experience for both of us! It was quite impressive too. We first went around and looked at all the booths they had in the main building. Mostly, it was all about farming and whatnot, but there was some pretty cool stuff. Then we made our way to the building where they had the petting zoo -YES, A PETTING ZOO! – and the horse shows. There, we watched this incredible cowboy show how meticulously trained his three horses were! He talked about training techniques and showed us all the things he was able to make them do, all by simply giving them a look or raising his hand!
  • Yoga – I had initially said I would like to take a yoga class in town, but what with our budget and our decision to do a No Spending Month, I opted out for doing yoga at home. I have to say that despite that the fact that I miss doing yoga with others, it is still very rewarding to do at home, by myself.
  • Get organized – This wasn’t on my initial list, but I am so happy that I accomplished this! All this time off meant I had time to do all the things I never had time for when I was working full time. During these past few months, I was able to get back on track with Meal Planning, Budgeting, Cleaning and Organizing the bedroom/bathroom/kitchen, and so much more. It is so satisfying.

 

PLANNED:

  • Go to a Dinner Theatre – Haven’t gone yet, but it’s in the calendar for April 7th!
  • Go Rock Climbing at the Regional College – Oh my God! I can’t believe I haven’t gone yet. Ok, adding to calendar…
  • Go to Banff – Plans have been made, we’re going April 2nd!
  • Visit friends in Calgary – We’ll be doing this the same weekend as our visit to Banff, so if you’re reading this and you’re in the Calgary area, send me a message so we can hang out while I’m in town!
  • Travel to the Northwest Territories – Tentative plans are being made. I’m trying to see where I could go without going too much over budget. If you have any tips or ideas, leave a comment below!
  • Jam with friends – Does jamming with my boyfriend count? We definitely don’t play music together as often as I would like, but it’s getting there. I’m also hoping to get together with friends from down home sometime soon.
  • Go to a music festival – Tentative plans are being made. More to come on that later.

 

MAYBE ANOTHER TIME:

  • Bingo – I decided it would probably be better for my budget if I didn’t go and get addicted to bingo. But I promised Julie a round when I get back to Moncton, so it’ll be on my East Coast To-Do list instead.
  • First Nations Event – I honestly forgot about this and haven’t heard about anything going on lately. Maybe later on then.
  • Join a choir – Given the fact that I have been/will be travelling a lot, it was feasible for me to join a new choir right now. I do miss it though!
  • Take a new class – Do you know how expensive those are?? I looked around and did some research, and as much as my heart wanted to say yes, my wallet said no.
  • Alaska – I’m still undecided about this one. I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Alaska. I don’t know why, but I just do. I remember a few years back my mom asked me and my brother “Where would you like to go if we made a trip to the States?” Me: “Alaska!” For those of you who don’t know, my mom is not a winter person. She and her husband go down south at least 2-3 per year, even in the spring/summer! So you can imagine we did not go to Alaska. But I still can’t decide if I should try to make my way there while I’m here in Alberta, or if I should wait and do an actually trip there, when I have enough time and money to visit and explore. Opinions? Let me know what you think!
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