Thursday, 25 March 2010

An Athabascan Adventure

Athabasca, Alberta.
About 140km north of Edmonton.
In the beautiful Athabasca River valley. Well, it's probably more beautiful in the summertime.
This time of year, it's... snowy.
And cold.
But still pretty, in that cold, snowy kind of way.

I just spent a few days there, as I was asked to come adjudicate some of the sessions at the Athabasca and District Music Festival. I was excited to go because my great gramma lives there, and thought it would be fun to bring the kids so we could all go for a visit. But as it turned out, it was the few days before the home and garden show, and a family trip was not a possibility. So I went by myself.

All by myself. It almost felt like a holiday.


After all, I was going to Athabasca. Not the most popular destination for a solo getaway.

But it was fun. I adjudicated a few choirs and 94 solos, sung by brave little grade 1-3 boys and girls. Between those 94 kids, there were six songs! Six! Needless to say, I've been singing "Ali the Alligator" since I got home.

Before, between and after I was madly writing 94 pages of comments to those cute little kids (and running out of positive adjectives after 4 pages!), I was having a retreat of sorts. They put me up at the Red Roof Gallery Guest House.

This house is the second property of an artist, and she uses it as her gallery, her studio, and occasionally as a guest house. It's really wonderful. And it was the perfect place to start reading my birthday present, a new book on beginning oil painting. I was going to start reading it sometime soon, but there was no phone, internet, or tv at this guest house (hence the retreat-ness), so what else was I going to do?! I'll admit that I was a little uncomfortable in a house that quiet. I'm definitely not in a "quiet" season of life (mostly thanks to Chanelle!).

fresh muffins and fruit, hot chocolate, and many other yummy treats were waiting for me

Della McLean's painting of one of my favourite paintings, Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring

Della's working studio

creepy doll outside my bedroom (with Kevin Low in the background)

painting of creepy doll
(I'm sure its sentimental value overshadows the creepiness for the owner,
but for me, not so much...)

her wall of fame - Catrina Le May Doan, Gordie Howe, Mike Clemons, etc...

It was really a beautiful house, and I recommend it to anyone going to Athabasca, or anyone (mom) who needs a quiet retreat.

The other great part about the quick visit was seeing my great gramma (my mom's dad's mom). Can you believe we have 5 generations on the Pylypiuk side?! I was pretty sure she'd be around, so I didn't even call her to tell her I was coming. I just buzzed up and said, "Gramma, I'm downstairs!" To which she responded, "You're downstairs?!" It was funny, but I guess you had to be there.

Here I am with my great gramma Baba Mary

It was neat being in Athabasca, because my other great grandparents lived there, too. I definitely have some roots in that little town. People there know my last name (Pylypiuk) and know my relatives, and that always makes the world feel a little bit smaller.

I took the opportunity to take a couple snapshots:

the house my great gramma moved into after selling her farm
built in 1928 (obviously been redone)
I remember staying here with her and eating Bugles, thinking they must have been some kind of Ukrainian snack since I had never had them before

the United Church, over 100 years old
I'm guessing both my great grandparents went here at some point

And the one snapshot I forgot to take was of Gramma G's restaurant. Not much to look at as it used to be the bus depot, but it was the best soup and sandwich I've ever had. Even better than The Upper Crust. I've never been so glad that I ordered pickles on my sandwich. I already can't wait to go back.

And the best part of the trip, of course, was getting home. Chanelle gave me the biggest hug. Elysse and I laid in her bed and she asked me all the things I did. So I described everything I did and saw and ate, and then asked her what she did that day. Her response (after some serious thought):

"I played, and played, and played. And played and played. And then I stopped."

Now to end this novel of a post, this is what my drive home looked like:

The end.


Sarah Willett said...

Sounds like a nice break. To me I think it would be a little disconcerting to be alone since I am never alone.

Janelle said...

that place looks so cute (despite the creepy doll). and that is incredible you have 5 generations! and judging little 1-3 graders - how adorable. sounds like a fun trip!

Natalie said...

What a treat! Looks like you had a wonderful little get away. I love that you got to stay in such a quaint house and enjoy good food. I bet the surprise visit with your Great Gramma made her week. So great.

I would have loved to have heard those little voices sing (even if they all sang the same thing) - I'm kind of wishing I'd put Blake into the festival. Maybe next year.

The best part of going away is coming home. I bet you were missed!

Jordana said...

We drive through Athabasca every time we come back to Edmonton, good to know there's a cute little place to stay if we ever need to ;) Even if it's just Athabasca, it's always to nice to have a little break from every day life, I'm glad you enjoyed it.