It’s almost embarrassing that it’s taken me over three months to write a blog post about my time in Canada. It wasn’t because it was boring or horrible – there’s just been a lot going on since I got back to Australia! I flew out to Vancouver on June 7th and brought two suitcases with me. My plan was to leave the contents of one suitcase in Canada, and come back to Australia with an empty suitcase (this, of course, didn’t end up happening). I got up nice and early, grabbed an Uber at 6:00am to take me to the bus stop, and caught the bus at 6:30am. The bus took about an hour, so I checked in my bags and waited to catch my 9:20am flight. Lucky for me, the seat between me and the other lady in my row was empty, so I didn’t have to feel squished for the 15-hour flight. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t sleep during the flight, so I ended up watching about 3 or 4 movies. I arrived in Vancouver at 7:15am (gaining two extra hours that day, despite having been on a plane for 15 hours). Once I got through customs and got transferred to the domestic terminal, I was ready to meet up with my friend Kim, who is from Saskatoon and had lived in London at the same time as me. We hadn’t seen each other since we were both in London, so it was great to catch up!
She had to leave about an hour later because she had to go to work, which was fine because at that point, it was about 3am Australia time and I was definitely getting the shakes. I hung out in the food court for a few hours (I had a 6.5-hour layover in Vancouver) and at about noon, Ron (my brother-in-law) came for a quick visit! It was also nice seeing him since the last time I saw him was in Shanghai!
Unfortunately we couldn’t talk long since I had to go back through security and find my gate. Somehow, I was able to spend the majority of the next flight talking to the man next to me, who had just come back from Bangkok to visit his son. I arrived in Saskatoon at about 5pm, where my parents were waiting to pick me up. We drove to my sister’s house (which I got to see for the first time, as well as meet her kitties!) and had dinner. I was extremely exhausted so luckily, Lauren put me straight to work and got me working on the favours for her wedding. I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay awake until 10pm that night if I didn’t have something to keep me occupied!
The next morning was Lauren’s bachelorette party. I got up early to go pick up the canoe rentals with my dad, but on the way there, his truck had a problem (of course). The bridesmaids were all meeting us at Lauren’s house so that we could go early to unload the canoes before meeting everyone else for brunch. Unfortunately, because my dad could no longer use his truck, the morning started out quite hectic, since we had to switch vehicles and reload all of the canoe stuff. However, we finally got on the road, unloaded all of the canoes, and still had a bit of time to spare before Lauren and all of the rest of the guests arrived at the Berry Barn. The lunch was nice, and I was glad to finally have some perogies again!
After filling up on food, we were all ready to canoe back to the city. While the weather was nice (in terms of no rain), it was extremely windy and even though we were going WITH the current, we actually found ourselves paddling quite hard in order to go AGAINST the wind.
After a few hours, everyone was feeling pretty worn out, and we were only halfway there. We made a last-minute decision to stop where we were (actually having to turn back and go AGAINST the current, which is when the wind inconveniently decided to die down and not work in our favour), and get picked up there. We had to wait a bit for one of the bridemaid’s moms to come with the canoe trailer, so we made use of our time by taking pictures and playing games. We went back to Lauren’s to have a campfire, eat hotdogs, and visit with each other.
And I didn’t end up going to bed until 2am – I was the last bridesmaid standing, despite still being so jetlagged!
On Sunday, I spent some time with Lauren and Tor, and then that evening, my mom and I drove up to the cabin. We had five full days to get everything prepared for the wedding the following weekend! The next few days were spent doing whatever I could help with for the wedding – continuing wedding favours, working on the playlist, getting the seating chart typed out, etc. Then, three straight days in the kitchen started. I was set up in the neighbour’s cabin because I’d have more space and I’d be away from all of the stuff happening in our own cabin. I spent the first day making all of the parts of the wedding cake, so that I could put it all together in the upcoming days. During the second day, I made the cupcakes.
Lauren decided on two types of cupcakes (coconut-lime cupcakes with Malibu frosting, and Nanaimo cupcakes), so I quadrupled each recipe and ended up with 100 Nanaimo cupcakes and 85 coconut-lime ones. I was up until about midnight and it got to the point where we didn’t even know where to put all of the cupcakes! The next day was the day before the wedding and the day that I had to ice all of the cupcakes. I had been by myself in the neighbour’s cabin up until that point, but my mom said she had to come in to steam all of the dresses. I continued doing my thing, and started making the icing. I started piping the icing on the cupcakes but then when I looked over, all of the icing was literally melting off of the cupcakes – I had never seen anything like it before! I thought that maybe my icing was too liquidy so I added more icing sugar, but it still didn’t help. The butter was separating from the rest of the icing and dripping everywhere! Lauren walked into the cabin to tell me that the dress rehearsal would be in a half hour, and I started freaking out when she left. I still had 185 cupcakes to ice – I didn’t have time to sit through a dress rehearsal and dinner! I broke down and started bawling my eyes out, while scraping all of the icing off of the cupcakes so that I could put the icing in the fridge. The kitchen was a complete mess and was covered with icing sugar, and I felt so defeated. I figured that everyone would just have to eat cupcakes without icing, I was ready to give up. Luckily, right when the dress rehearsal was about to begin, my mom’s best friend, Karen arrived and did as much as she could to keep both me and my mom at ease.
I was shocked (and so grateful!) when I got back to the kitchen later that evening and everything was completely clean – she really WAS a lifesaver (along with my Godmother, Marlene and one of the bridemaids, Sarah who both came in at different times, saw how stressed I was, and asked what they could do to help). They all made my anxiety levels go much lower! We went through the rehearsal a couple of times, and then went to the cabin where Tor’s parents were staying so that we could have a rehearsal dinner.
I didn’t get to stay very long because I was so stressed about finishing the cupcakes, so I ate and ran back to the “Cupcake Cabin.” I spent the rest of the evening making icing to pipe onto the cupcakes and because the mixing bowl could only fit a double recipe, I basically had to make four batches (of double recipes, so eight batches) of icing.
The piping was going great, and I even had some company from the bridesmaid’s mom, who came to steam the wedding dress that she had made for Lauren. After awhile, all of a sudden, the cupcakes started leaking again! And it was then that I put two and two together, and realized that the steamer was causing the cabin to act as a sauna, which was making the icing melt! Luckily, the photographer was there and before I had a chance to start freaking out, he started taking all of the cupcakes outside. So there I was, icing all of the cupcakes outside in the dark. It was another late night, but I eventually got it all finished, along with the wedding cake!
Saturday was the wedding day! I had to get up early to help with the sound check for the ceremony, and then get some last-minute preparations ready. I ran over to the reception area to see it for the first time (since I had been locked up in the Cupcake Cabin for days), and to sort out table numbers and seating charts. Lauren and a couple of the bridesmaids headed into La Ronge to get their hair done, so Lindsay and I headed back to the cabin to do our own hair and makeup. However, the weather wasn’t on our side because it started to pour. Not only that, but the girls were about an hour late from getting their hair done. We decided to push the ceremony back an hour in hopes that the rain would stop. It didn’t. However, the ceremony was still so beautiful! Lauren looked absolutely gorgeous in her dress, and it was a proud big sister moment for me (as well as an extremely emotional time). We all made the decision to walk down the aisle without umbrellas or jackets, and I was so thankful to see that there was a tent set up for the bridal party to stand under during the ceremony. As we all stood there shivering throughout the program, unable to feel our fingers and toes, it was still such a touching moment and the love that Lauren and Tor showed for each other was so genuine.
After the ceremony was over, we took pictures in the forest (and in the rain). Also, shout-out to Aaron Closs, who took some amazing photos! Then, the bridesmaids escaped so that Lauren and Tor could take pictures together, and I had about a half hour to finish writing my speech (obviously we know that I’m a writing-procrastinator).
I finished right when Lauren and Tor got back, so we all walked to the reception area to start the dinner. Luckily, the rain had stopped by this point, but we were all still covered in jackets and blankets in order to stay warm. The dinner was absolutely amazing – shout-out to Cravings, who made a delicious meal! Then came the speeches… I have to say that I was extremely humbled and grateful that my sister asked me to be the maid of honour, and it meant so much to me. I couldn’t hold myself together while saying my speech and I definitely ended up crying (and was told that I made quite a few other people cry as well).
After all of the speeches were finished, the dance started! My playlist kept people on the dancefloor the entire night, and there was only a handful of us remaining at 1am, when my mom shut the party down (boooooo). I’ll be the first to admit that it was probably for the best, since I ended up taking the role of “stereotypical drunk bridesmaid.” Let’s just say I didn’t end the night gracefully…
The next morning was a struggle for me because I had to show up to the wedding brunch, and I’m pretty sure I was still drunk. Walking down the road with dark sunglasses on, I got a few laughs. However, I was determined to visit with as much of the family as I could, since it had been nearly a year and half since I had seen everyone, and the day before had been so hectic so I hardly got to talk to anyone. After the brunch, I helped out as much as I could with cleaning but when I started to get light-headed, I decided to go back to the cabin and rest since we’d be having some more family coming to visit later that day. The next few days were spent cleaning up, and then finally relaxing – the first week in Canada had been such a whirlwind, I didn’t even have time to be jetlagged! I went into town a couple of times to visit my friends and their kids, and it was really nice to catch up.
The next Saturday, I planned to drive down to Saskatoon and stay there for a week. I stopped in La Ronge to make a couple of visits, and then I made the 4-hour drive to Saskatoon. As soon as I got to the city, I went to my friend Steph’s house because she was having her annual barbecue (which she has done ever since we were in high school). This is something I’ve had difficulty coming to terms with, but during my time there with the people I’ve known for 10+ years, I felt really uncomfortable and awkward. The first thing I noticed when I arrived is that no one got up to give me a hug, which was really weird for me considering all of my friends in Melbourne and I hug every time we see each other, even if it’s two different times in the same day. The second thing I noticed was that most of the conversations consisted of topics that I couldn’t really contribute to. I quieted down quite a bit, and wasn’t sure what to do next. Honestly, the last time I felt like that was when I was travelling and would meet a group of people that I didn’t really vibe with. But in that moment, I could just say, “Oh, I’m just going to do my own thing.” But what should I do when I’m with a group of friends who I haven’t seen in a year and a half? I really just felt like an outsider observing a group of close friends. I don’t blame them for moving on with their lives, since during the past four years, I’ve only been home three times. But it was just one of those epiphanies where I realized that things definitely weren’t going to be the same. I ended up leaving after a couple of hours, and visited with one of my sister’s bridesmaids until 2am that night.
During the next week, I had two meals booked each day with different people (so it was an extremely busy week!). All of those separate meals were a lot more fulfilling, since I definitely prefer doing one-on-one conversations when catching up with people. I met up with a few high school friends (Cameron, Alyssa, Crystal, and Steph), made a day out to Kindersley and Rosetown to have lunch and dinner with cousins, and also met up with Breann (my cousin who I met in Melbourne), my Hudsons co-worker GJ, my long-time friends Stephanie and Mikela, and had a dinner with Lauren and one of the bridesmaids, Sarah. And between all of those lunches and dinners, my parents and I had to drive back and forth 45 minutes to Delisle, where my storage unit was. We went through everything in that storage unit (which I haven’t seen in two years), and sorted everything into ‘keep’ and ‘donate’ piles. Then we had to load all of my stuff into my dad’s trailer so that it could be stored elsewhere. It was definitely a lot of work!
That weekend, I went back up to the cabin, where I did some more relaxing and visited some more friends. Then I went back to Saskatoon for my last weekend in Canada. On Saturday morning, Lauren, Tor, and I drove down to Regina for the Roughrider game. They went to visit Tor’s grandpa, while I went to visit some of our cousins since I didn’t have much time to catch up with them during the wedding. Then, I picked up Lauren and Tor, and we drove to Cathedral Social Hall, which is where my friend Ryan works (who I met in Melbourne). The four of us had dinner, and then we walked to the Roughrider game, which didn’t start until 8pm.
We ended up losing, but it was still nice to go to a game while being back, as well as have time to catch up with Ryan since I hadn’t seen him since leaving for Asia in December. Tor drove home, and we didn’t get back to Saskatoon until about 2am.
My last three days were spent with my family, and I really enjoyed being able to hang out with my parents, or my sister and new brother-in-law.
It was also bittersweet having to leave because I had really enjoyed my time back in Saskatoon, but was also looking forward to getting back to Melbourne. I left Saskatoon on July 10th at 4:30pm, had a 2-hour layover in Calgary (and actually had a quick catch-up with my friends’ mom, who was travelling to Victoria), then flew to Vancouver and had another 2-hour layover. My flight to Melbourne left at 10:30pm and I arrived in Melbourne the morning of July 12th (and skipped over July 11th). My trip back home was great, and it really made me start questioning whether I should stay in Australia for longer, but I’ll save all of that for another post. Love always