We left Martin's house early in the morning and caught the train to Amsterdam Airport - an event in itself!. The train was full and we had to stand in the doorway until the next stop where Meg and fern moved up the train and found a couple of seats. Sam and I then got a seat at the next stop but every time Sam stood up to collect another piece of our luggage from the doorway, someone else would sit in his seat. Eventually we managed to both have a seat, and sat there, hoping that the girls would know when to get off the train, as they were in another carriage. Fortunately, it all worked out and we alighted in the terminal together. Our flight was uneventful, but it was sad saying goodbye to Fern and Meg again at London airport, where we went on to Calgary. Doris and Dave met us at the airport and drove us back to Panorama - a 3 ½ hour trip, stopping at Banff for dinner, and then at the side of the road near radium Hot Springs overflow park for a side of the road loo stop - an interesting experience in freezing, snowy conditions, but "when you have to go……."
Thus began 10 days of living in paradise!! During the time there, we looked around Invermere - the town 20 minutes down the hill from the ski village, had a carol singing night/party, skied every day, drank tons of coffee and had a course of Hellerwork - deep tissue massage done on us by Doris - thanks Doris. For the first couple if days of skiing, we had to drive about 1 km to the central village area to start skiing as the back runs which end up at the house weren't open, so Doris would drive us there and come and pick us up when we were ready to come home. The second day, we tried to ski back to the house, but by the time we got to the top of the chair where we needed to take a run home, they had closed the run, so we had to ski back down to the village in the almost dark, with no-one else on the hill, as the lifts had closed. We were up nearly at the top so it was nearly a km run back to the bottom. I was so scared of spending the night up there, that I didn't stop the whole way down!! Sam kept trying to ask if I was alright, but I was on a mission - no time to think about the steep gradient or black signs on the runs!! When we got down, we rang home, but there was no answer, so eventually, we walked back the km in the dark, in our ski boots!! What a day!!
Sam was very busy at the party, meting everyone, and asking if they knew anyone who went hunting with dogs, and was rewarded for his efforts with a contact and ended up going hunting for cougar 3 times.
The first time he went hunting was the day the girls arrived on the bus from Vancouver, so I drove down to meet them in Invermere. You have got to love Greyhound. When I arrived at the bus station, I received a message that the bus was delayed and would be 2 or 3 hours late so I went shopping and coffeeing for a couple of hours only to get back and find the girls had been there an hour waiting for me!!! They had missed a connection due to the first bus being delayed, and were told that they would have to go to Calgary and catch another bus back - about a 12 hour addition to the trip!!!, but then the company put them on a mail run bus and they went straight to Invermere. The next day, Sam got to go hunting again, so Fern used his pass and we went out together, and also spent time with Jordan and Meg, helping them learn to ski.
Unfortunately, Sam's last hunting day was Christmas Day, which didn't impress me overly, as I considered Christmas Day a day to spend with the small amount of family I had with me this year, but Fern and I had a lovely day skiing and boarding together, which shot her up to favourite one in the family at that point!!!
On Boxing Day we drove to Radium Hot Springs and sat in the outside pool while our hair turned into icicles which was quite an experience, before returning home to play a last game of Dutch Blitz before the lovely job of packing.
We had such a fantastic stay with Dave and Doris. Who would have thought that 3 months in Taurenhof all those years ago would lead to life long friendships all over Canada.
The next day we caught the 10.30 am bus to Banff, where we had a 3 hour layover to explore the place before catching the bus to Vernon for us, and Vancouver for the girls. Sam, after lugging a poster tube around the world, managed to leave it on the ground at Invermere, so had to organise to get it sent home- an expense we had been trying to avoid, but necessary now!!! When the bus arrived at Banff, we went out to board it, only to told that the bus only had 4 seats left - not sure what the point of booking tickets in advance was - so we had to wait another 2 hours for another one that they had put on at Calgary when they discovered, after loading 100 people's luggage on the 55 seater bus, that they didn't have enough room!!!. When the next bus arrived, it was also full, but had just 5 seats left so we piled on, but were all sitting with randoms. I was next to a lovely lady, Barbara so we had really good conversations and the time went quite quickly, so it wasn't too bad, but our opinion of Greyhound went down. Barb told me that at the Calgary stop, they had security checks like at USA airports, but at all the other stops, we just hopped on with no checks - obviously would be terrorist only get on at 1 stop!!!
Our bus eventually arrived in Vernon at 11.30 pm, so we had to once again say goodbye to the girls - this is getting tough - and waited outside for Gregg to pick us up.