Monday, July 27, 2015

my nightmare...

I know dreams are just dreams. Just nonsense that your subconscious plays with while you're in REM cycle. But why is it that the happy dreams fade so quickly and the nightmares stick with you for what seems like forever?

Last night I dreamed that Thor decided that he didn't want to propose to me... ever. He made a steadfast decision to just stay in limbo like we are and never progress. He didn't see how our lives could mesh properly with all the government red tape and hoops we'd have to jump through. In my dream I was mortified, and woke up feeling anxious and struggling not to cry. This stupid unwarranted feeling has managed to cling to my waking brain and tug at my heart, keeping me on the verge of tears all day. I occupied myself all day with enough stuff so that I wouldn't dwell on it, but any given down time and poof! There it is again. The nightmare. It seemed so vivid and real. Yet I know it was just a dream.

It just doesn't seem fair. Any of it, really. Was that my fear surfacing? Or was it just nonsense mixed subconsciousness? Does it link to just the sadness I've been feeling since Thor had to leave last Wednesday that I just can't seem to get over?


Well, hopefully I'll dream better tonight.

Jules :'O(

Day 3 of Miette Hot Springs/Jasper National Park...

On our third day there, we decided to go check out the hiking opportunities, and while we weren't all too intent on seeking out anything epic like last year's Glacier National Park 6 hour hike (remember, I was dealing with gall bladder issues and not feeling all too well this year), we were curious about the path that lead to the "source of the hot springs." It was paved and then a boardwalk surface, not wheelchair friendly after the pavement ends, and not steep at all. An easy, short and enjoyable walk. First you happen upon the original remnants of the Miette Aquacourt. It was build in 1938 and stayed open until 1984, when it was finally closed due to unstable rocks and concrete, wear and tear, overcrowding and poor access. What's left is almost ghostly to observe. It was really cool. Still a unique space. You can smell the sulphur in the air and you know the source is close by.

The source of the Miette hotsprings is just across a little bridge. There are a few things to read to understand how it is formed, where it comes from. Stick your hand in this water, it's very hot. It's almost difficult to stand the sulphur smell here, far worse than even the natural Lussier Hot Springs in Kootenay National Parks, and I thought those ones were smelly! But hot springs water is said to be uber healthy for your skin to soak in, so any chance you can, you should touch it!

This happy little bumble bee was just sleeping/resting/sunning itself on a clover leaf. It's funny because in my yard this plant would be my enemy, but out here in nature, where it tickles the sides of the stream with it's pops of pinky purple pedals, it's beautiful. it's so wonderful to see all the colors in bloom. There were yellows, striking oranges, whites, pinks, purples and reds. So pretty, all the wild flowers. 

On the way back down to the motel, Thor and I noticed these crazy awesome little trickles of hot springs water that left this white hair-like mineral deposit stuff behind wherever it flows. It's very slimey, go ahead, touch it! It's hot as well and sulphur smelling. But it's really fun to photograph and really interesting to look at.

Whatever you do when you're in Jasper National Park, or at Miette Hot Springs, try and find someone to enjoy the experience with, or go with someone you love. It's really a unique space and it's a thrill to be able to say that this is so close to home, right here in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. If you go there via the QE2 hwy/Anthony Henday ring road around Edmonton and over to Edson/Hinton, the route takes about 4.5 hours. That's an easy drive to make. And when you're travelling with the one you love, or with friends, there's never a dull moment, and always something to talk about.

We decided to get a day pass on our last day at the hot springs resort. It's a couple of dollars more at $8.55 for the whole day instead of a single entry which is $6.05, but you can go in and out as many times as you want to. So we soaked after our exploration of the source, then ate supper early, then went back to the hot springs to soak again. Miette Hot Springs has 4 pools. One at about 38C, another at 41C, and two that are glacier fed and ice cold (with one cold pool being slightly warmer than the other). The whole thing is awesome because you can overheat in the hottest pool. Heat up, jump into the cold ones to cool down then go heat up again and repeat for as long as you want! It's really special there. There are mountains all around you, you're quite high in elevation here. The Hot Springs has a little cafe and a gift shop, adequate change room space and lots of showers. It never really felt over crowded and it's a world tourist attraction. English is not the most happening language here, as there are people from literally all over the planet that come to soak. Striking up conversation can be difficult because not everyone will know your language. Still, that adds to the atmosphere and mysticism of it all. I've found that this is the case at all of Alberta/BC's National Park's Hot Springs. I love that. 

The next day was our day of departure. We drove home via Hinton/Edmonton, stopping at a flea market and an antique store along the way, finding some mid-century lampshades/lamp for the cabin in Montana as we went. Thor was stoked about that, and the lamp really grew on me. I sort of wanted to keep it at my place, but I knew it would look great at the cabin.

The rest of our vacation was spent in Red Deer. I had my surgery, Thor taught Thanan to ride his bike (finally after we've been trying for many years!) which was a seriously proud 2 days. The rest of the holiday was really low key, but still special because we were together.

Looking so forward to next year's vacation!

Jules :Oyay!!
All photos on my blog are copyright to me.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jasper National Park Vacation Day 2

Back with some more photos of our little vacation in Jasper National Park. I can't remember as a child ever going to Jasper, maybe I did, but I just can't recall. Going here with Thor felt like a brand new experience. I love it when we get to have "firsts" together (especially after 5 years).

I had to take a photo of the doorknob to our motel room. All the knobs were the same throughout the motel, I loved them. They've since repainted all this yellow trim to be black. Spiffing up the place for the big event this September when the place will be absolutely crawling and rolling with cyclists as the Tour of Alberta completes a leg up at Miette Hot Springs.

This lady was cycling down the Miette Road with 3 men in front of her.  She wasn't going as fast as them on the decline. I wouldn't be either. If that were Thor and I, he'd be waiting a long time for me to catch up to him, I'm sure. I can't do a cycle like this with my current vintage bike, it's too heavy and doesn't have enough gears. If I had the right bike, I might attempt more distance and more hills. Cycling is an excellent work out. What a tremendously beautiful place to do one of the legs of the Tour of Alberta bike race in September, hey!?

Day two's prime objective was to go explore the town of Jasper itself. Thor had been there as a young boy when his family went on a road trip to that point and then back down south to the States. Here, we're standing with the 2004 recreation of  "Jasper the Bear" who was erected originally in 1948 by artist James Simpkins and adopted as the beloved town mascot thereafter. Jasper is a cute town with lots of similar tourist stores and LOTS of restaurants. Look out if you're planning to buy beer though... I think we saw an 8-pack of Kokanee for something like $38! Best to bring your own spirits from your local store rather than buying them up there. 

On the way back after a nice 6 hour day of bumming around Jasper, we saw some caribou along the side of the road. We stopped to take some photos. There were 3 of them in this group. It's a beautiful setting. It's common to see people pulled over to take photos of wildlife along the highway, but I advise caution when doing so, or when approaching the clusters of traffic pulled off to the edge. You don't know when you're going to have an animal come straight across the highway, and remember, this is their land, not yours. The national parks are having some major issues with people feeding wildlife. There is a strict policy about NOT feeding wildlife and it is punishable with a hefty fine. The government is asking that if safe, you can take a photo or video of people feeding wildlife, along with their license plate number and send it to Parks Canada. The offenders will then receive a fine, which is something like $1000. So DON'T FEED the wildlife! In Kootenay National Park, it's frowned on to even pull over and look at the wildlife any more, but I don't think they will fine you for just doing that.. ? I'm not sure about that though.

Back at Miette Hot Springs Resort and after having had a relaxing and rejuvenating soak in the hot springs, we were treated to this very stunning sunset. The mountain tops glowed as the setting sun hit their faces and the clouds filled with hues of peach, pink, orange, blue and purple. It seems like each night there were beautiful sunsets up there, and the view is always amazing. You can stay in the hot springs until 11pm and view them from the pools, or go to your room/cabin and watch from there. It's also worth mentioning that there were very few bugs up at that elevation (at least not this year), so no need for bug spray. Bring the sunscreen though!

I'll go into day 3 in the next post, that's all for today!

Jules :Opretty!
All photos on my blog are copyright to me. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 2015 Vacation Day 1

Despite having to have surgery, Thor and I got to have a nice little vacation this year to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We booked a room at the Miette Hot Springs resort in the motel back in June and hoped for the best when we got there. There were 3 main routes that google maps pointed out and we decided that we'd take the David Thompson Highway to Saskatchewan Crossing and then north on the Icefields Parkway up passed Jasper and finally to Miette. The drive would take 6 hours or so, but longer if you factor in stops along the way. 

Abraham Lake is always worth stopping at, and if you go to about the middle of it, there's a turn off called "Windy Point"... I think that's what it's called. It's literally always windy, extremely windy. It did nothing for my cute hairdo, and it takes a person's breath away, but I love stopping there anyway. The color of the lake is delicious and it's just something neat to experience. There are no outhouses there, so you'll have to hold your bladder until you get to David Thompson Resort. Incidentally, you can buy gas there as well. 

Driving up the Icefields Parkway is spectacular. Look around at the miles deep glaciers everywhere (while they last!) and take many stops along the way to breathe in the crisp clean cool air. It's otherworldly. We totally lucked out and a lady gave us her day pass into the park because she was leaving as we approached the park gates and didn't need it anymore. Otherwise, it's $20 per carload per day to be in the park legally. This truck and trailer were sitting on the side of the road as we climbed a small pass. Thor and I were both puzzled by it, wondering how long it had been there and why it was there instead of in the pull out we parked in. 

We talked about the Glacier Skywalk (I did that last summer) and decided to just stop at the Columbia Icefield ourselves without taking in the expensive tours. There's a spot you can park on the west side of the tourist stop, down a short gravel road. It's free to park, and free to walk up and get a good close look at the Athabasca Glacier. Free. That's awesome. There's one outhouse there. It's a somewhat small parking lot, but we didn't have trouble getting a spot. The hike up to the glacier is steep and bumpy, not wheelchair accessible, but take your time, it's worth doing. Definitely wear something warm. It's high in elevation here and it's cold up top. We got there just as a big lot of clouds rolled in, so we had to deal with rain drizzle, wind and cold, but it's cold up there always. It's a glacier! When you're up there, you are separated from the glacier by a stream that you can't cross, but you still get a sense of the enormity of the glacier, and there are history markers along the way to educate yourself with. These are truly massive mountains. You can do this totally free, or you can pay big bucks to take the big red glacier walk vehicle and go walk right on the glacier itself. For me, what we did was just right. No need to spend the money.

As we got closer to Jasper, the clouds went away and nice blue skies began to open up. We bypassed Jasper itself because we planned to go back there and check it out on day 2 of our vacation. To get to Miette Hot Springs and the Resort, you have to drive north of Jasper about 10 minutes, and turn right onto Miette Road. From there, you wind up the fully paved road another 15 - 20 minutes and then there you are! Here's a pic from the Miette Road segment.

Once there, you see the Miette Hot Springs Resort but not the actual hot springs, it's just a tiny bit farther up the road. A tiny bit. The Resort is a family owned and operated resort with 3 staying options. a motel, a chalet and individual cabins. Call and book early in the season, it fills up quickly. We stayed in the motel for $115 per night plus tax and tip, which is completely reasonable! It can be a bit loud, so bring ear plugs for sleeping at night. The cabins are likely quieter. The hot springs are just a 2 minute walk up a paved path way from the motel. It couldn't be better, honestly. 

More about the trip another day!

Jules :Oawesome!
All photos on my blog are copyright to me. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

In recovery...

Well, I got my gallbladder removed. The actual operation took just 45 minutes, but the process was about 5 hours in hospital including pre-op prep, surgery and then recovery to a point where I was able to walk out to my car.

Let me tell you.. if you're going to have this done, you can expect severe pain immediately following your return to consciousness. The pain is apparently caused by the dissipation of the air that they had to pump your abdominal cavity full of. The air sits inside of you until it miraculously goes away (seeps out of your body one way or another) but while it's in there it's WORSE than any gallbladder attack I had. I was in tears. I tried to just dumb it down and not admit to or give into the pain, but eventually, I fessed up and told the nurse that it hurt soooo much, as tears ran down my face. They kept giving me shots of pain meds and pills, but it didn't work. It just has to get out of your body over the following 24 hours. Sleep was difficult the first night and I relied on the pain meds every 4 hours.

I was fortunate to be able to have my surgery laproscopically. Dr. Panayides said that it was very enlarged and very full of stones. It definitely needed to be done. I was also very fortunate to have Thor by my side for it and for a week after.

So I'm 1 week plus a day into recovery and I'm frustrated that I'm not much better by now. I'm a smidge better every day, but I still feel an internal pulling/tugging sensation when I move, bend, walk, turn over, etc. If I press on the incisions, they are quite sore still. The second night, I bawled in bed as Thor tried to comfort me, because I was hurting so badly. I didn't think at the time, that I could do it.. that I could make it through the first 48 hours... and I'm a pretty tough cookie. Somehow, though, I did make it and I'm still managing to get through the days.

Recap of things you can expect post gall bladder surgery:

1) constipation (took me 3 days to get my bowels working again)
2) not being able to pee with ease for at least 12 - 24 hours (takes effort)
3) no appetite for a few days
4) extreme dry mouth, inability to produce any saliva at all for 24 hours
5) pain, pain, pain for 48 hours then slightly less pain daily
6) four incisions of about an inch or less that will be sutured, seeping and taped (belly button, right lower, right middle and center upper between rib cage)
7) lots of bruising around the incision sites, and rash if you're like me and allergic to bandage/tape glues
8) loud digestion (my stomach is very vocal now after I eat)
9) fluctuating bowel consistencies (sometimes solid, sometimes runny!)
10) bowel urgency (this doesn't happen all the time, but now sometimes when I eat, I'll need to use the toilet 30 - 45 mins after)
11) the need to sleep sleep sleep for the first 48 hours
12) no driving for at least 3 - 4 days
13) begin eating regular food again

Have at home post surgery:

1) your own suture tape so you can replace theirs if there's still bleeding
2) sterile non-adhesive bandages that can be taped on
3) a product like RestoraLax to move fluid to your bowels
4) a product like Senekot to help contract the intestines and bowels
5) if you're a woman, a loose fitting bra (I'm not kidding, for the first week I could barely stand to wear a bra at all)
6) Pillows to prop you up while sleeping, it's most comfortable to be on your back
7) Someone by your side at all times to help you and cook for you
8) Aloe vera and vitamin E liquid will help heal the incisions, and ploysporin

I think that's about all the advice I have. Except this: you're going to be soooo tempted to lift things, or do things but DON'T. Do as little as possible for the first 2 weeks at least. They say full recovery from this is 4 to 6 weeks. I believe it now. My other advice is that if you are experiencing gall bladder pain to the same extent or frequency I was, DO get the surgery. Because as much as it hurts after, it's already improving my life and I can see how beneficial it is already.

Jules :Orecovering!