We’re here! Cooper and I have arrived in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. We drove across Canada to get here and what a drive it was! I’m always amazed at how The Universe works in mysterious ways and this trip was a perfect example of it’s magic. The weeks leading up to our departure were anything but smooth and steady, but what’s a good story without a few bumps, right?? 😉
When I first decided to drive across Canada, I settled on Monday, November 13th as the departure date. It gave me enough time to wrap up any loose ends in Montréal and to spend some quality time with my family before leaving. After all, I would be going from seeing my family 3 times a week to 3 times a year. And for anyone who knows me, my family is the most important thing to me. If my fam-jam group chat isn’t blowing up my phone, it’s probably my siblings chat that’s sending my ringer off the hook. On any given weekend, you can catch me at my parents house cooking with Dad and watching the hockey game with everyone. So, my main goal was to milk it while I could.
As October came to a end, the weather across Canada worsened. Storms blew in 20+ cm of snow across the prairies and this raised a few concerns. Originally, I was supposed to do drive with my good friend, Sabrina. She, also a Montréaler but now living in Ottawa, had an opening in her schedule, which worked perfectly with the timing of this cross-country road trip. Her family, like mine, expressed deep concerns for this cross-country drive. A.K.A her dad unapologetically calling us crazy, but we knew it was all coming from a place of love. So to ease everyone’s minds, and our own, we decided to move the trip up a week earlier and set off Monday, November 6th. All was ready to roll; suitcases packed, CAA insurance locked and loaded, en-route hotels booked. Things were shaping up nicely. The Friday before leaving was a busy day filled with errands and by the end of it impromptu plans were made with my dear friends on the farm, Aris + Amy. Cooper and I made our way over there for one last hoorah! before the big departure. Cooper ran their fields like a mad man while we chatted away on their cozy porch balcony. This wasn’t out of the norm for big Poops. He’d go off exploring but would always return in a flash when he heard us calling his name. This time was a little different. He returned to the porch, after a good minute of us calling after him, with a mouthful of dirt and twigs and burs stuck to his fur. I pulled out the burs not thinking too much of it. He’s a puppy, after all. The next morning Coops was out and about and returned with more burs stuck to his tail, which I saw him trying to remove with his mouth. As I was pulling them out, I noticed he was swallowing repeatedly. This hard swallowing went on for 10 minutes and all he wanted to do was eat grass. I know that dogs eat grass to try and induce vomiting, so I figured something was making him ill and he wanted to bring it up. But the hard swallowing concerned me. I called my vet and they said he probably ate a collection of burs and that he needed to either bring them up or swallow them fully and digest them. They recommended giving him a ‘Vaseline sandwich‘ – yup, you read right, two pieces of bread and big ol’ slab of Vaseline. This was supposed to help coat the prickly burs and help them pass through his digestive system easily. So we did just that.
I ended up bringing him to the vet 3 times that day. On our first visit, the vet gave him a medicine similar to milk of magnesia, which was supposed to help soothe and coat his esophagus. She didn’t think an X-ray was needed. By 8pm that night, the hard swallowing still hadn’t subsided despite the medication, he had zero appetite and ended up vomiting the banana I practically force fed him out of concern. I knew something was up. I brought him back to the vet and she took an X-ray. She returned, white as a ghost, and told me I needed to get Cooper to the D.M.V. (24hr emergency pet hospital) A.S.A.P. “IS HE GOING TO DIE?!”, I asked, fully expecting this question to be outrageous. She stared me blank in the face and said, “If you don’t get him to the emergency room tonight he will die.” SORRY, WHAT!? Thankfully, my best friend, Cortney, was with me at the time and offered to drive. I sat in the back with Cooper as she gunned it to the emergency room. As soon as we entered the doors the vets were already waiting for us. They took Cooper into the examination room while I spoke with a nurse. You know those moms (yes – I just put a dog and a child on the same playing field) who can’t get two words out because they’re crying too hard? Yeah, that was me. And no shame about it. It was hands down the scariest night of my life. The vet, bless him, was the sweetest guy and reassured us that we got him there just in time. Legally, he had to walk us through the surgery, step by step, and inform us of all the risks, etc. and I probably interrupted the guy half a dozen times saying ‘that’s cool, …okay great, …sure, …I’ll pay whatever the cost, just get in there!’. We had a good laugh at the end, but sh*t was I going throuuuuuugh it, emotionally.He showed us the X-ray and it wasn’t good. He explained that Cooper’s stomach, normally the size of a fist and his was larger than a human head, and was filled with ‘an organic material‘. He said it could either be some sort of fabric, leaves, tissue, etc. but it certainly wasn’t food. He also added that this intestines were full of air. They would have to perform an ‘exploratory surgery’ since they weren’t sure what they were going to find when they open him up. He said their surgeon was already on site and the surgery would last 2-3 hours, but reassured me he would call with an update.I went home and anxiously sat on my couch with my stomach in knots. They finally called at 2 A.M and said everything went well and that they had removed over 1.5 lbs of grass from his stomach!! They concluded that cooper must’ve ate a collection of burs at the farm and then ate grass to bring it all up. Instead, the grass stuck to the burs and formed a large mass, too large to expel orally, hence the day-long dry-heaving. They were going to keep him for a couple days to observe his recovery. I knew that scary Saturday evening that our Monday departure date was going to be affected, if not cancelled, and this phone call confirmed that. But to be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about leaving at that point. I was terrified for my little guy and just wanted him to be healthy. What a happy reunion it was that Monday afternoon 🙂
Unfortunately, that special window of opportunity Sabrina and I had to drive across Canada closed. She had work and school the following week and I knew I wouldn’t want to risk driving across Canada alone in winter weather. From then on forward I sought out alternative means of transport; plane or train. During Cooper’s first week home post-op, I weighed the pros and cons to taking a plane versus a train. A plane is faster, but I worried about Coopers experience in the cargo pit, especially with healing stitches. Our bodies naturally swell when we fly, and after undergoing massive surgery on his abdomen and stomach, I didn’t think it was a good choice to fly. The train, on the other hand, is 4 days of travel time, where I could visit him periodically, but still, 4 days.
After a few days of mental torment, I decided to reach out and text Tina, the sister of my girl, Amy, who owns the farm. Tina is a vet technician and I wanted to get her opinion on which travel option she recommended. She called me right away and I explained my dilemma. “Well, what was your original plan?” she asked. I told her that I was supposed to drive with my friend. “Well, I’m free…”, she said, ‘”..why don’t I drive with you? Plus, I’ll be able to observe Cooper every step of the way and remove his staples when they’ve healed!” And that was it! My guardian angel was on the other end of this phone line, offering to drive across Canada with me!!
A little backstory here. I’ve known Tina for many years, but we’ve never hung out one-on-one much. So we got to know each other well and, let’s face it, when you’re in a car for six days straight, there’s a lot to talk about! We quickly discovered we have a lot in common, but to be specific number 37. Allow me to explain as I did Tina. 2016 and the better part of 2017 was all about 1234 for me. I saw those numbers e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e I went. I caught 12:34 A.M/P.M once or both times a day, I’d see gas prices were 123.4, I’d glance at my car’s dashboard and the remaining gas mileage would read 234km, etc. Now, I’m not one for numbers or their spiritual connection, but after seeing them everywhere, all the time, I thought, ‘what the heck’, and google it’s meaning. It read, “Angel Number 1234 indicates that you may have to put some hard work and effort towards an important life-change… Trust that the work and effort you have put in towards achieving your goals…” Alright, I thought. Good enough. The frequency of seeing these numbers was so ridiculous that I told my then classmate and now colleague, Sarah, about it and we began sending each other screenshots / pictures of whenever we saw it. To this day, if you open our message history, it’s an album full of 1234’s. <3
When 2017 came around, I was seriously considering furthering my education. I knew this would entail another 3 years of schooling and I heavily weighed the pros and cons. In the early summer of 2017, the number 737 started popping up; 7:37 A.M/P.M, in addresses, or price tags, etc. So I looked it up for fun. It read, ‘Angel Number 737 tells you that study, education and learning will enhance your personal growth and development at this time and you will be guided towards all that you need to do and learn. Follow your intuition in areas that may be new, unexpected or uncertain. Indulge in a … line of study that ignites your passions…’ ‘Hmmm‘, I thought, ‘Aight, I’ll bite the bait.‘ I fully understand how this can and probably does all sound like hocus pocus, which is why I haven’t told too may people (…as I now announce it to the world?), but I took it as a sign. So I sent out my application for PRC School of Acupuncture and here I am now, awaiting the semester to begin in January 2018 🙂
While I was babbling on, telling Tina about my relationship with 737 and 37 in general, she was sitting there grinning ear to ear. ‘Whats up?’ I said. And after a good laugh and we discovered that 37 follows us everywhere. She too has been seeing 37 everywhere she goes and it followed us along our trip. We’d wake from a nap to see the car clock at 1:37 P.M. While in Canadian Tire in Victoria, an employee helping us answered a walkie-talkie page by replying, “yup – I’ll be there in 37 seconds!”. I reconnected with an old friend that Ashley and I went to university with, and when showing Tina his photo in Calgary, she broke out into laughter and flipped the phone around and saw his jersey number is 37, which caused an uproar of laughter. Tina woke up early on her last morning in Victoria and posted a photo on IG with a sweet message before falling back asleep. I woke up not long after, turned over to see she was still asleep and opened up my IG out of habit and saw her post and tag from ‘37 minutes ago’. Omgggg I thought in silence. Even now as I write this post, I glanced up at my battery percentage and it reads 37%. You can’t make this sh*t up, people! Anyways, point is we quickly bonded over 37. 🙂
Back to our trip. We set off that following Monday, coincidentally, the November 13th date I had originally planned. With a car packed to the brim, Cooper in the back, a boxful of plants, music for days and a ton of snacks, we drove away from Montreal and down the Trans Canada Highway. Each province has it’s special charm. Ontario is massive and it took two full days to get through it and into Manitoba. We stayed in Sault Ste. Marie the first night; one of the oldest settlements in North America. This town hugs Lake Superior and is about a 10 hr drive from Montréal. The next day we drove right through Thunder Bay and stayed in Dryden, Ontario. This was a heavy driving day – over 12 hours in the car. We stopped regularly though, stretched our legs and played with Coops. He was such a good little dude. He never fussed about getting back into the car. If we were getting in, he was game to join!
On day 3, which felt like day 23 as Ontario felt like it was never-ending, we FINALLY reached Manitoba. But we didn’t stop to smell the flowers. We ripped right through and reached as far as Moose Jaw before calling it a night. If there’s one thing we learned, it’s that driving through Canada at night is not ideal. It can be pretty freaky; you always expect a deer or moose to come running out of the woods onto the roads. And the ‘Warning – Watch for Deer‘ signs don’t let you forget that for a second. We agreed that getting up and leaving early in morning darkness felt safer than sleeping in and driving in nighttime darkness.
Where was I? Right. Moose Jaw … ahh Moose Jaw. There’s not much to say about this small Saskatchewanian town. We arrived at 8pm and left at 7am, but if there’s one thing we did experience it was the bone-chilling winds this city covered us in. We practically drew straws for who was going to take Cooper out for a quick pee in the -20C weather. Even he looked up at us like, ‘for real, fam? We doin this?’, as we braved the cold. It was certainly and in-and-out city.
Next Stop: CALGARY! We were thrilled to roll into this cosmopolitan city. Not only was it the first big city we’d hit since leaving Montréal, but it’s the home of a very good friend of mine whom I met in University, Ashley. Before leaving Moose Jaw, we calculated it would be a 7 hour drive, so we’d reach there late afternoon. We didn’t, however, take into consideration the time change! We were driving back in time and would gain an hour each day forward from here on out. So we ended up rolling in at 1pm with plenty of time to kill and that we did. For a split second, we debated driving through the city and continuing on to Banff, but I knew I had to see my homegirl in her hometown. So were did we go to kill time? The dog park, obvi. 😉 After striking up a conversation with other dog walkers in the city, they recommended River Park, a massive off-leash dog park that offers over 50 acres of running space for our canine friends.
Like Moose Jaw, our little tushes weren’t prepared for the chills the Prairies had to offer. We toughed out as much of the walk as we could before our toes completely froze over and we quickly hobbled back to my car. This cold, snowy weather, Ashley later explained, would be quickly melted by a chinook, a gust of warm westerly winds that Calgary is infamous for; it’s also a term these Montreal girls had never heard of nor experienced. We found shelter from the cold in this adorable basement thrift shop called Thrift Couture. The shop was shared with another entrepreneur, Luna, who beads her own jewelry, sells gorgeous silver rings and an assortment of crystals. They were by far the sweetest women we met on our cross-Canada trip. They welcomed us in from the cold, Cooper too, and fed us red wine while we shopped. We stayed in there for over two hours chatting before buying a few goodies. It ended with Tina playing a few songs for us on her guitar. This will definitely be a place I’ll revisit the next time I’m in Calgary. We spent the rest of the night at Ashley’s house (where we met her down-to-earth and loveable husband, Brendon) and ate pizza, drank wine and played our ukuleles together. Oh – and did we plan out these matching outfits? Nope. Just another freaky coincidence. Ashley serenaded us with a beauty of a song. Can you tell how mesmerized I am in the photo below? 😉 ❤️ We woke up early the next morning and took both our pups out for a walk before parting ways. What a heart-warming experience it was to visit Calgary.❤️
Next Stop: BANFF! We knew we were approaching the climax of our trip. Beautiful Banff was only an hour away and we couldn’t have been more excited. We spent a few hours roaming through Banff’s picturesque mountainsides, lakes and trails. We saw magical wildlife up-close like mountain goats, a herd of caribou and deer to name a few. The treetops were covered in fluffy, white snow, which looked like something out of a fairytale. We spent the better part of the drive in total awe, letting out the occasional “can you believe this?!”
We stopped in Salmon Arm for our final night. Tina and I found a cute little market where we bought food for a DIY charcuterie board, kombucha and salsa & chips before heading back to our hotel room. We ate, watched the only show the hotel TV offered (Criminal Minds), and played our ukes while coops slept on the bed. The next morning we headed for the rockies, where we were hit with all kinds of weather; snow, rain, slush, sunshine, before reaching sunny Vancouver. We parted ways at the Tswassawen ferry where I continued on solo to Victoria, and Tina headed north to Van city to meet some friends. Cooper and I arrived to our new home just before sunset. We unpacked a fair amount before hitting the sac. The next morning Tina texted me. She said she was going to ferry on out to Victoria, where we spent two days here exploring the city together, setting up my apartment and hitting up open mike nights for Tina to do her thang! It was such a joy to have made these memories with my 37 soul sistah. ❤️ ❤️
- 1 butternut squash, halved & deseeded
- 2-3 large garlic cloves
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 large organic carrots
- 2/3 cup red lentils
- 1 tbsp Cha's ayur masala curry powder
- 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 3 cups vegetable broth (I used 3 cups water + 1 organic veg-broth cube)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- salt + pepper to taste (I use 1/2 tsp sea salt)
- 1 cup red rice
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Preheat oven to 385C
- Halve the butternut squash and discard seeds. Sprinkle with salt + pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the butternut squash cut-side down, and place whole (unpeeled) garlic cloves in the butternut 'holes'. Bake until tender - about 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool
- In a large soup pot, sauté onion and garlic until translucent
- Add carrots, lentils, spices and coconut milk. Combine well
- Spoon butternut squash into pot and squeeze roasted garlic clove out of it's peel and add to the pot as well
- Add 3-4 cups of vegetable broth (depending on desired consistency)
- Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes on low
- Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth
- Add maple syrup, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly
- Cook red rice as per instructions (usually 1:2 rice:water ratio)
- Serve soup with 1/4 cup cooked red rice and 1/2 sliced avocado
- I like my puréed soups to be thick so I only used 3 cups of vegetable broth. Feel free to use 4 cups if you prefer and thinner soup consistency!
- This soup will keep fresh in an airtight container for up to 1 week
- TIP: I divided this soup into 4 500mL mason jars and froze them for easy grab'n'go weekday lunches!