The Moose Network Experience & Why Canadians Need to Explore Their Own Country

As I unwind from this epic trip (“unwind” being somewhat ironic as I’m celebrating Canada Day in the nation’s capital), my mind keeps circling back to a couple of places: British Columbia, and Montreal. I find myself aching to get back to both of them because I know my time there wasn’t done. It feels kinda ridiculous. I could head out and explore somewhere in Europe, but instead I’m drawn to my own country.

Except it’s not actually ridiculous, and getting an outsider’s perspective helped me see that.

Corbin and I were the only Canadians onboard our Moose Network’s Hoodapus bus to the Rockies, minus Rachel the bus driver/tour guide extraordinaire. Our first morning, introductions were slow and quiet. I was pooped. Rachel tried to coax funny, quirky stories out of us, but only a few of us had something to contribute. Flash forward two days, and rumours are already circulating about Corbin and I apparently sleeping together.

It was fun watching everyone else’s reactions. Once, when we rounded a corner, Lareina the Australian chick spotted snow and was nearly overcome with excitement. When we finally touched fresh snow at Peyto Lake, she described it as the “inside of an ice box.” I loved that. Most Canadians would describe it as “four months of pure hell.”

The same goes for anytime we spotted a wild animal. Elk, sheep, bears, etc… even Corbin and I had our faces pressed up against the window. I was ecstatic to see a grizzly bear from afar. The gang was absolutely dying to see a moose, but they’re rare in the Rockies. Considering Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park actually has a cull in place to cut down on moose populations, I found this amusing.

At times, while driving through the Rockies, I picked up my red journal to record thoughts rather than the details I had been carefully tracking. It was overwhelming. Against the mountains, I had never felt so insignificant yet so alive in my life.

Apple to Apples is pretty good for bridging language gaps, apparently.

I love Canada. I don’t think I ever appreciated Canada and its surprises until now, and I’m so glad Moose Network helped me discover them. On the way back from Jasper, Rachel pulled into a road and gave us some brief info about the previously mentioned Peyto Lake, named for a wild man who tamed a cougar and became a legend with the ladies. It was snowing, raining and freezing, and I had no desire to get out of the bus. But I zipped up my coat, covered my camera and dashed down the trail in the direction of the lake. Rounding the corner, I stopped in my tracks: ahead of me was the most surreal colour of blue peeking through the trees, a combination of rock dust and magic. It became my favourite stop, and I would have never known it existed.

My Moose Network group became super close over the course of a week. We watched the Stanley Cup final game, went barhopping in Banff and Kelowna, wore funny hats, discussed love lives, sang together on the bus and snapped a million photos. And every time someone expressed complete awe over our surroundings, I thought, “Shit yeah, this is my country.”

  • June 30 2011

    Hahaha! Only 4 months of pure hell? You Canadians have it too easy! I would have described it as more like 6 or 7 months when I lived in North Dakota. Of course I do tend to get a bit dramatic at times. *sniff sniff*

    • June 30 2011

      Hahaha, well, it’s a little different on the east coast…

  • June 30 2011

    I loved the rumours almost as much as Emerald blue lakes and wild grizzlies. Haha, good post Candice. See you in Newfoundland I hope!

  • June 30 2011

    Canada sounds awesome, I know how you feel when you are standing beside such behemoths. I feel that way when I visit my family in northern Norway. Truely awe-inspiring, from the reindeer that chase the bus to the massive fjords.
    Safe travels,
    Leif

    • July 07 2011

      Agreed, Leif! Kinda chilling, really.

  • June 30 2011

    I really, really want to do one of these tours :) I love Canada. A lot. Canada Day is my favourite holiday (thought that may be in part because I grew up in Ottawa, and the atmosphere downtown on that day in that city is UNREAL. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it :) ). When I watched the story of Canada in a light show projected on Province House in Charlotettown last year, I teared up. I get all gushy and emotional about how beautiful this whole country is. And I know I’ve only seen a small smidgen of it. There are 2 reasons I spend most of my vacation time within Canada… 1 is because the people I care about are spread all over this vast nation… but 2 is because it’s so pretty here, I don’t see why I need to go any further to relax and be amazed. ;)
    (next year I may have the opportunity to go to vegas, florida, or montreal – airfare, hotel, and conference fee paid for by my clinic… I’m leaning towards montreal, because i’ve never been, and some people think i’m crazy to not chose vegas or florida instead. i’m counting on at least you to support me in this decision ;) )

    of course, i loved France and would like to go back, and very much enjoyed my time in Mexico… so I’m not opposed to straying outside my own country. But I only have so much vacation time, and I’m probably gonna keep up using up most of it exploring Canada :)

    • July 07 2011

      I hope you do get the chance the do a Moose Network tour! They have ’em all throughout Canada now. Tons ‘o fun. Get on dat.

  • June 30 2011

    Canada — f*** yeah! I am really glad you enjoyed exploring your own country. It’s something a lot of people never do.

    • July 07 2011

      I know! But I feel like each province is practically it’s own country…

  • June 30 2011

    I love this post. There’s a lot of Canada I haven’t seen, and a lot of places I’ve seen but didn’t give myself enough time to explore (like my trip to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI). I certainly don’t discourage people from travelling internationally, but it’s nice to redisover your own country.

    • July 07 2011

      Same, now I feel even more pressure to do everything, AGHH.

  • June 30 2011

    I will make it to Canada one day! I mean, it took me ages to really discover Mexico and my family is from there. Exploring places near home (or at home) always surprises me.. like, why did it take so long to do this?

    • July 07 2011

      I know eh? Even exploring around my city is a treat sometimes. I love it.

  • June 30 2011

    Wow, that lake is a kind of blue you don’t see everyday! At least, not where I’m from. Beautiful!

    It’s nice to see someone so enthusiastic about their own country. It’s easy to think everywhere else is better and prettier, without always realising the grass is also a verdant green on our own side of the fence. I’ve seen much of my own country before, but I now get to explore it again with husband who’s only seen what I’ve shown him. It’s a real eye-opener to experience the familiar with someone who’s never seen it before.

    • July 07 2011

      That’s so cool Sunee, I love seeing it all through someone else’s eyes as well! Makes you appreciate everything a little more.

  • July 01 2011

    We have a seriously kick-ass country, and I will shamefully admit that I didn’t even fully appreciate it until I went OUT of it for awhile. When we came back from South America…the skies were bluer, the mountains were prettier, and even Calgary was tolerable (minus the traffic).

    Congrats on an epic trip! Ready to come join our commune in the mountains of BC when we start it?? :)

    • July 07 2011

      Hells YEAH! I’m there. But you still have to return to NL.

  • July 01 2011

    Happy Canada Day Candice!!! Definitely understand the outsider’s perspective… I grew up outside Canada so every time I went back I learned to appreciate all the little things (timbits especially). I wished I was in Ottawa, I’m struggling to find other Canadians here and all the ones I know have left or are on holiday!

    • July 07 2011

      Nice, James! Where are you from in Canada? No better place to celebrate than in Ottawa!

  • July 02 2011

    Um, I’m pretty sure I need to explore Canada…I’m not too far away either. If I got in the car this moment I could probably cross the border in 10 hours. Also, I’m pretty sure the Minnesotan accent and Canadian accent are the same (or close relatives). If you ACTUALLY got to spend time with Kate and WIlliam, you better be spinning that into a post! Or if you glimpsed them…or were in eye sight of someone who glimpsed them…or were in the same country as them. Pretty much your whole trip seems FREAKING AWESOME! :)

    • July 07 2011

      Hahaha, I actually had some people comment on my accent and say it sounded like an American accent. I was flabbergasted. No Will & Kate, unfortunately. :(

  • July 02 2011
    Rachel (bus driver!)

    Hey Candice!! I love love this post. Each trip for me makes me feel the same! It was a pleasure to have you onboard and I love’d those ‘rumors’ too! haha. .Come see me again soon and bring friends that I can show around!! :) xo

    • July 07 2011

      Bahaha, oh the rumors. I’ll be back soon! Miss ya!

  • July 03 2011

    I couldn’t agree with you more. As a Canadian myself, I’m often planning trips abroad or down south when some of the best adventures are to be found on home soil. It’s cool you mentioned BC and Montreal. Firstly, I’m from BC (Vancouver Island) so I have a bias towards the province as being a little ‘nicer’ than most others. Secondly, Montreal is my fav city in Canada – well ahead of Vancouver, Toronto or Edmonton. I haven’t lived in Canada for nearly 6 years but if I were to come back and settle it would be in Montreal.

    • July 07 2011

      Hey now, don’t forget about St. John’s! Hahaha. But I agree, I would happily live in Montreal for awhile.

  • July 04 2011

    I’ve similarly come to appreciate traveling in my own country. It’s a completely different kind of travel—less of an assault on the senses, more slow and still—but when else do you get those “shit yeah” moments?

    • July 07 2011

      I know eh? “Assault on the senses” hahaha I couldn’t have said it better.

  • July 04 2011

    Ugh, I forgot to put in the Captcha code twice and had my comment erased. I don’t want to rewrite my comment again.

    I’m slow… just know that I commented – something something, yeah Canada… beer commercials rock.. something something.

    • July 07 2011

      Hear ya loud and clear! I think…

  • July 04 2011

    your posts are lacking anything about me lately ;) hahaha
    jealous of your tour through the Rockies, I wish I had had more time for it too, and boy do I now have questions to ask Corbin when we meet for drinks later this week… ;)

    • July 07 2011

      PSSST check the latest. And totally ask Corbin for all the deets, we snuggled like a mofo.

  • July 05 2011

    That last photo, with the blue of the lake, is just completely awesome! I think I would stop in my tracks too, if I saw such a sight. Perhaps you can take me to this lake some day, hehe ;)

  • July 05 2011

    You closed your comments on your most recent post, so I’m going to annoying and leave another one on this post. I certainly have no earthly idea what you went through, but my heart was aching as I read your most recent post. I want to crawl through the interweb tubes(?) to Newfoundland and give you lots of hugs and take you out for some beers. Except maybe we should go for diet cokes, because using mind altering substances isn’t a good way to deal with issues (or so I’ve been told).

    I know I’ve never met you, but I feel like I know you and your true self and heart. Sometimes shit happens and it’s through no fault of anyone. Mistakes happen, apologies and forgiveness should happen more often. So even if you did a HORRIBLE, HORRENDOUS, WORST THING EVER, it’s not how far you fall, but how high you rise after your fall. And I really can’t imagine you did anything THAT bad, but even if you did, apologize and then allow yourself to forgive yourself and move on, not making the same mistake.

    You are truly a great, talented person who is a friend to many. Your kindness, compassion, intelligence, and sense of humor is obvious in all that you do.

    If you find this annoying (I wouldn’t blame you), you can give me the middle finger and forget what I said (you can also delete this comment, I just wanted you to see it), because I’m a know-it-all that knows nearly nothing. But, hopefully you know, you’ve got a lifelong reader and friend here in MN! There is nothing you can do or say (or anyone else can) that will change how I see you and the person I know you to be!! Last I checked, my fat ass didn’t fit into my computer so I’m sending you hugs and love, virtually!

  • July 07 2011

    I really want to do one of these kind of tours somewhere in the world, there is a lot of back and forth on whether group tours are worth it but I think in the end (if it’s something as close as yours) you end up with some great friends and great stories. Sounds like a good experience to me!

    That lake is the most beautiful I have ever seen. Previously I though Lake McKenzie in Australia was the most beautiful but this one definitely beats it with that color!

    Glad you had a great time exploring your homeland :)

    • July 07 2011

      I wish it were a clearer day so I could get a better shot! Agh!

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