Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Westward Ho! or Are we There Yet?

4:30 pm (Ottawa time)
I'm at 36,000 ft (more or less), somewhere over Winnipeg, on my way to Calgary! It is a very last minute trip, initiated by an email from a man named Arnie from Norway. Arnie wrote me that he is the current owner of my great-grandfather's ancestral farm in Norway, and that he was coming to Canada to hopefully learn more of the family history and to perhaps see the farm where he settled. We are even related (although distantly)

   "The first woman of my family on our family farm Nedre Havn was Rannei Skjenna born about 1760. We are relatives for sure - but a bit remote."

Back around 1910 my great-grandfather Olaf left Norway, and his birthright, because he was in love. Apparently his family were not enamoured with Mari, my soon to be great-grandmother, so he came to Canada (via the US) and settled in Buffalo Alberta with her by his side. It is a very romantic start to a life of hardship - homesteading in the prairies was no easy feat. They started with a sod shack (yes - sod - people actually did that, not just in stories like Little House on the Prairies). Together they made a life here - and raised 7 children.

I quickly forwarded the email off to my Dad, who happened to be visiting Alberta, and he got the ball rolling, setting up visits with other relatives (my cousin Doris, my uncle Graham, my great-uncle Olaf, and of course Melvin out at the farm). I'm happy to be tagging along, getting a refresher of my roots and visiting places of my heart.

The flight was about 1/2 hour late leaving (oh hurrah more time at the airport... but really that's no big deal cause I'm travelling with my Mom so we are having a great gab fest - it's fun to travel with my Mom! Plus it gave me a chance to buy cheap watch, cause I left my watch at home, and it's just a cheap $ store watch anyway and not nearly dressy enough for travelling...), but the flight itself has been good (as soon as I wrote that we started bumping around - stop it!), and we are around 2/3 of the way to Calgary.

Lunch was a salad with tomato, asparagus, sun-dried tomato and Parmesan ; pan-seared herbed chicken breast with marinara sauce, mixed pearl pasta and seasoned green beans ; freshly baked cookies with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Then it is a 3 hour road trip to Medicine Hat. Through the prairies, and through the landscape that is dearest to my heart. I love being able to see as far as the eye can see. I love the way the light reflects golden off the endless fields of grass. Alberta is the home of my heart. I'm sure to cry at least a bit on the drive (but don't worry, I've got waterproof mascara on!).

I've never minded flying, in fact I love the feeling of takeoff.

The engines rev - even though we are not moving yet I can feel the power gathering - then acceleration!  I'm pressed back into the seat as we race down the runway, the plane gathering momentum as we go and then... up, up up... at first it seems like we are going straight up (how must it feel for astronauts!), I can barely lean forward enough to see out the window. As we get a little higher the power lessens a bit - there's always that little pocket of fear that pops up as the sounds of the engines change... but here we go, still going higher. I can see from the buildings down below that we are flying right over Carm's sister's place where he has gone after dropping my Mom and I off at the airport. I send a little kiss his way... soon we have climbed about the clouds and it is just fluffy whiteness below...

(we are 38km from Minnedosa - wherever that is! Oh, now we are 47km from Virden. I can feel that the plane is starting a slight descent, even though we are still 900km away (all this info from the Air Canada in board whichamacallit screen. Oh technology, isn't it great! But still no wifi on planes - that would be awesome! Then I'd be able to use google maps to see what's below me.)

If I could make one complaint about the trip - my window isn't totally conveniently placed - I have to sit forward in my seat to see the patchwork below me. I love looking out the window!

5:44 pm and we still aren't there. I'm starting to get restless... and I have to use the restroom but my Mom is asleep next to me... and we are crammed like sardines into a tin can... oh an update - 369 miles to our destination...


We are here! The plane made a great circle over Drumheller - on our side so the view was great - I even saw some rv's in the camping spots! I won't talk about the bumpy approach - we were sure tossed around!

Now for the car trip to Medicine Hat!