What's with the change?

The Lengths You Go To...

Where: Icefields Parkway, Alberta
When: August 2013 (The slow journey home)
What: Refusing to let a downpour get in the way of a good campfire.

Less wild than it seems
Canadian Rockies... a highlight of our 10 months in North America. With a hire car (sorry, 'rental' car) and two weeks to go and do whatever we wanted, the freedom was enticingly good. Too bad the rest of the world have the same idea... but more on that another time.

There are so many awesome options for back country camping in North America. I quickly learnt that back country means walk-in, walk-out and camp basically wherever, not in the regimented allotted sites that national/provincial parks seem to be big on. I also learnt that back country camping is not an option for a couple of backpackers travelling with a year's worth of stuff and a $25 tent.

We reached the Icefields Parkway midway through the road trip. By this time we were used to showering every four days and eating whatever we could cook in our one pot. This campsite didn't actually have a name. Unless 'Overflow' was it's official title. After an entertaining and occasionally awkward conversation with the ranger, we learnt that the campsite was opened to hold all the summer travellers but had been opened this year due to another site further north being completely wiped out by the Alberta flooding. (Didn't hear about it? It was worse than Superstorm Sandy but you know, NYC is very important.)

Nothing like RVs to ruin a great shot

The best part about 'Overflow' was the walk-in section (100m, not 10 kilometres). Finally we got to leave those smug RVs behind! And we could take uninterrupted photos of the *choose your own superlative: stunning/breathtaking/staggering* scenery and pretend we were more wild than we really were. We got a pretty good fire going considering all we had were damp logs and a rule forbidding kindling collection. Thank you hairspray! (It doesn't serve any other purpose on a camping road trip)

I do love making a fire (not in a criminal sense). I especially love the achievement of getting a fire cranking against the odds. Then the rain came.

Why did we even build a fire in summer? Was it particularly cold? Not overly*.  But we'd paid the honesty box $8 and we had marshmallows for dinner. Plus it seems to be the thing to do in North America- it ain't camping unless there's a fire (even if you are wearing singlets and shorts).

I refused to let the rain ruin my hour of poking, blowing and splinters. I took matters into my own hands.

After twenty minutes of getting quite wet, I retreated to the tent, ready to concede defeat. 

If you've sensed there is a fairy tale ending to this story, you won't be disappointed.

Thumbs up!

On the down side, the umbrella was left reeking of smoke. As were all my clothes and everything in the bag the umbrella was later shoved in. 3 months on and after a hose down and being left out in the sun, the brolly is still a scented memento of an interesting road trip.


* Apologies for seeming like I'm interviewing myself. I slipped back into the North American style of asking myself a question then answering it.

Photobombing Vintage Style

Where: Navy Pier (Chicago, IL) 
When: June 2013 (extended route back to Toronto after Bonnaroo festival)
What: Possibly the world's first photobomb.

I'll save you the time... according to Wikipedia, Navy Pier is a 3,300 foot pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. Built in 1916,  Navy Pier is Chicago's number one tourist attraction.

Perhaps tourist trap is more fitting but what the hey, it was a beautiful early summer's day on sparkling Lake Michigan. Of course we were going to hang out at the water (particularly as Toronto's waterfront is so cleverly blocked by condos). 

There was quite an interesting historical element to Navy Pier, if you looked hard enough through the overpriced memorabilia. I was particularly taken by the following photograph from 1921.

A few headlines sprang to mind when I saw this picture...

"Woman wins Apathy of the Year AwardRewarded with bouquet shoved into sash"

"Wind changes during I'm a Little Teapot recital"

"World's first recorded Photobomb"

It's not until you read the caption closely that a whole new level of intrigue arises.

Mayor William Hale Thompson (that's the teapot guy) with Evelyn Slader, Queen of the Stockyard Districts (must be the cardboard cutout on the left), and one of the contestants for Queen of the Pageant of Progress, 1921. Who...? I must have it the wrong way around. Perhaps it's this way:

Or maybe the caption writer was as short changed for time like the content writers at my work who have been known to write "human not included" in a catalogue disclaimer.


Huh? What's this all about?

November 10, 2013

Peta Panned was originally set up as part travel blog / part existential crisis. I began writing it whilst living in Toronto, Canada on a 'working holiday'. I fell into an existential crisis of sorts partly thanks to the poor wage I earnt working as a cashier in a restaurant (I am an experienced primary school teacher in Australia). I suddenly realised I was suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome, the avoidance of growing up. Or was I? Was I just making the most of my 'youth' before youth travel visas are beyond reach.

As I found full-time work in admin and juggled finishing my Creative Writing courses (via correspondence), I struggled to find the time to update the blog-- at least to the level you deserved. This was very frustrating as I had so many things to say. When I left Toronto with my travelling sidekick, the time to share the ensuing travel (mis)adventures was even more scarce (as was power and internet often).

We returned home to Australia in September, jobless, homeless and with $50 left on my credit card. Back to our parents' houses we went. And with it, any motivation to write. From living out of each other's pocket in tiny apartments, tents and rental cars, we were suddenly an hour's drive apart without a car or even a mobile phone. But, we'd been there before after living in the UK so we knew what we were getting ourselves into.

Fast forward 2 months and it has dawned on me that I have indeed 'grown up'. Faster than expected, we have our own place to live in a beautiful spot in Newcastle, cars and full-time jobs. My plans to go back to substitute teaching (with all that glorious time off to write) were abandoned when I stumbled onto a job as writer for an educational resource company. Although I wasn't looking to give away teaching, the opportunity to combine my two loves was too good to miss. Plus, it's a whole lot better than the summer jobs I was looking for (usually over the Christmas period stores hire casual workers for the increase in customers).

While choosing which photos to print, I realised that so many brought back funny or interesting memories. A good story is a good story, no matter how old it is. Right? Hence the Retrospective Travel Blog.

I hope you enjoy my rambling reminiscences as I attempt to regale you with stories of my travels- the good, the bad and the mundane (as is often the case). By sharing them, I'll remind myself of why I've had to start all over again (again).


If you're new to Peta Panned, please enjoy reading my old 'existential crisis' posts. The first post is here.