Friday, August 31, 2012

Road trips and "ghost towns"

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Remember last week when I was complaining that I wanted to go on a road trip? And remember how it was Erin from Charlie Foxtrot who fueled my desire to go to Drumheller? And remember how I was pointing the finger (specifically the middle one) at my house guests, saying they were the reason I couldn't go?

Funny story.

Last Saturday, my couch dwellers and I went on a little day trip. (Turns out they aren't to blame for my lack of road trippin'.) And we met up with Erin and Raimund. We didn't go to Drumheller, but we did go to a ghost town. OK. That's a lie. Not my lie, though. Wikipedia's lie. You see, our trusty online encyclopedia said it was a ghost town, but it turns out, people legit live there. There are even people building brand new log-style homes. (They aren't cabins. They're much too huge to be considered cabins.) So anyway, no ghosts. Womp. Womp.

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Despite that, though, the trip was exactly what I needed. It got me out on the open road. I saw beautiful sites and I got to meet Erin and Raimund. Win-win-win. The only thing missing was the Richard Cheese and the honey mustard pretzels. We did start the day off with some greasy A&W, though, so I'll call that a win, as well.

So anyway, here are some pictures of Alberta's wannabe ghost town. Enjoy!

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There are no gas pumps and the restaurant had one table. Enough said.

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This little beauty was my favourite. It's just so darn cute with the stencils on the shutters.
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Erin scopin' out the joint. She really wanted to go inside one of the houses. Who am I kidding, so did I.
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This guy was hanging out on an overgrown road.
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I'm not sure what this place is... or was.

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And then there was the bright orange, locked shitter. It seems only Jim's trophies are welcome.

Well friends, there you have it, my road trip to a supposed ghost town that wasn't really a ghost town at all.

Have you ever been to a full-blown ghost town? Was it as magical as it sounds?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's a little thing called sarcasm

I have this problem. You see, when I write posts for this lil' blog of mine, I do it with a very specific tone in mind. It's generally jovial and almost always sarcastic. My challenge is, I don't know when people get it. I don't know when people take my little rants and ramblings seriously and when they totally get me and are at home with a smirk on their face thinking, 'Holy man! This girl is hilarious.'

My only indication of how my word-vomit is being perceived is through the comments left below it, and sometimes I realize people REALLY don't get me. It's like when you get a text message from someone and you read it with a super nasty tone because you're in a bitchy mood and just assume everyone is out to get you, while, in reality, no one is out to get you and the message was super neutral. (I am so very guilty of this on a semi-regular basis.)

So anyway, this realization that my friends out there aren't picking up what I'm putting down has me thinking there really does need to be a symbol for sarcasm. Remember when that was proposed way back when? I do. And, to be completely honest, at the time I thought it was the worst idea ever. See, as a writer, I thought having a new form of punctuation was about on par with Meriam-Webster putting the word "man cave" in the dictionary. I mean, really? What is this world coming to?

But, the truth is, now that I write this snarky little blog, it seems sarcasm marks would be quite handy. Then, there would be no messing around. People would just know for a fact that I was being silly or rude, but never serious. I feel that would make my life a whole heck of a lot easier. Because, I don't write this blog to gain pity or emotional comfort from my pals, I do it to make them laugh or think.

So, what do you say, shall we come up with our own little sarcasm marks?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Modcloth, you cruel, cruel mistress

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Friends, I've had a rough week. You see, Modcloth had it's 70 per cent off sale on Monday, which means I should have had the best Monday of all time. But, it just didn't work out that way. I had it all planned out. I was going to do my shopping on my lunch break to ensure I got all of the gorgeous dresses I've had my eye on for months. It was going to be magical. I imagined frocks of all colours dancing around in my cart and, then, as I hit "Check Out", it was going to be my turn to do my very own victory dance. It was going to be comprised of fist pumps, headbanging and that thing where you cross your arms over your knees while you twist them in and out. Can you picture it? Pretty magical right?

Yeah. It was going to be the perfect moment. Well, you know, the perfect online shopping moment. The actual perfect moment was going to come at the post office a couple weeks from now. I would open my mailbox and inside would be a package slip with my name written on it. I would again bust out my happy dance, and then I'd bring the slip up the counter and get an enormous package full of things. All the things. Every thing I could possibly dream of. It was all going to be in that box.

I would then take the box home, and I would commence my own personal Modcloth fashion show. It would begin in my bedroom, or, as I like to call it, my dressing room. I would put on the perfect outfit, it would hug each and every curve to a T, and then I would strut my stuff on the catwalk, or, you know, down my hallway to the living room. Waiting for me there would be my screaming fans, or just Ian, but you get the point. It was going to be day to remember.

The only thing is, I wasn't able to finish shopping during my lunch break and by the time I got home from work, the items in my cart were all sold out. I tried my best to find other dresses to love, but there just weren't any left. And, so, my magical fashion show will remain a dream.

Sigh. Life is hard.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: blog pals

I read a lot of blogs. (I'm sure if you're reading this, you likely do too.) So, this week, I wanted to shine a little light on a few of the bloggers responsible for my favourite corners of the interwebs. The women who make me laugh with their posts, their comments and their emails.

You, ladies, are the bestest and I am oh!-so-thankful that I "know" you.

Needle and Nest


Melissa is one of my all-time favourite people to get a comment from. She is so freaking funny and to the point, while still being over the top with a mixture of ridiculousness and enthusiasm. As for her blog, she is the only full-on mommy-blogger I can handle. As someone who doesn't want kids, I generally steer clear of family-style blogs, but Melissa has the perfect balance of DIY projects, pictures of her kids, stories about being a mom and stories about being an all-around awesome human being.

Kaylanaut

Kayla is a self-described goofball, which means I can tell you she's weird and she likely won't get mad. The thing is, she's weird in all the right ways. She's clever and silly and intelligent and into science and video games. It doesn't hurt that she has also wants to be an honourary Canadian. She's working on learning the words to O Canada as we speak, so basically, she's well on her way.

Veranellies


Trisha and I are bros. We've been emailing up a storm for a while now and seriously, she is bad-ass. I love this girl. She's always making me laugh with the quirkiest anecdotes. Plus, she has some awesome features on her blog. My favourite, by far, is her Behind the Scenes series where she interviews artisans from around the world. So awesome!

Lisa, bless her heart, was the first blogger I met in real life. Yup. We had an IRL meet up. It was awkward. But we've overcome it and now we're pen pals. I call that a success. Next time we're face to face, we've agreed we'll drink beer instead of coffee. We figure that should loosen our lips and bring on some of the laughs that we so often get when reading each others' comments. (By the way, Lisa is another mommy-blogger. Well, to a certain extent. She's a blogger, who's a mom, but her blog doesn't revolved around motherhood. So, what I'm trying to say is, she's tolerable. Ha! Just kidding. Love you, Lisa!)

Charlie Foxtrot

This is Erin... and me. Erin and her bf Raimund were the second and third IRL bloggers I've met. This photo was taken on the weekend when the three of us met up to explore a supposed ghost town. (You can read more about that adventure over at Charlie Foxtrot!) Erin is another super-cool mom. *Remember how I said I don't read mommy-blogs? I think I lied. Turns out, mom's are cool. Who knew!?* Anyway, Erin is also an awesome photographer and she lives only four hours away. I see many more ghost hunting meet ups in our future.

Little Lady Little City


If you follow me here or on Twitter, you already know I have a huge hard-on for Amanda over at Little Lady Little City. She is such a wicked-awesome human being and she's living the life that I pretend I'm cut out for, but that, in actual fact, would leave me constantly complaining. Isn't it nice to live vicariously through others? I think so!

Before this post gets too crazy long, I think I better cut myself off. I know I could go on and on and on, but I think I'll leave it for another thankful day.

What blogs are you thankful for? Are there any I should check out?

Monday, August 27, 2012

At this time last year: August

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If you're new around these parts, "at this time last year" is a looking back series I do once a month. I started it four months ago after I found myself continuously wondering about my past. And then, after the first go-round, I decided that this just had to be a regular Gypsy in Jasper feature. There are just so many photos and adventures that I never did share here on the blog. Plus, it feels good to look back and see all that I've done.

In August of last year, I was living in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut - a hamlet of about 2,500 people on the west coast of Hudson Bay.

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While there, I went caribou hunting. (I wrote a whole post about it, so if you're interested, definitely check it out.)

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I watched our freshly shot caribou get skinned, gutted and cooked. And, I also ate raw caribou kidney, bone marrow and boiled tongue. (I wrote about that, too.)

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I was exploring the tundra, looking for low-lying plants to photograph.

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I was soaking in the town's mining history.

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I was returning home to Yellowknife after seven weeks away from Ian, my friends and my oh!-so-comfortable bed.

What were you doing at this time last year? Can you remember?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cabin lust

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Do you have 10 minutes to spare for drooling, wishing and pining? You do!? Then I recommend you head over to Cabin Porn. Yup, that's a thing. And, yup, it's as amazing as it sounds. Seriously, there are so many gorgeous cabins that I desperately want to live in. Can you imagine how glorious it would be to live in the middle of nowhere in a cute little cabin? I immediately think of Amanda over at Little Lady Little City. I know all days aren't good days when you're in a teeny tiny home, but her life sounds pretty glorious more often than not. (You know, aside from the sore muscles involved with building a house from the ground up.)

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My dream home has always been a log cabin next to a river. I love the idea of having an office with my desk pushed up against a big window looking out over the water. And I also adore the idea of falling asleep to the sound of a rushing river.

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What would your dream home be? Could you live in a wee little cabin?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who me?

Photobucket Did you know that I'm great, I'm Canadian and I'm a blogger, thus making me a Great Canadian Blogger? Yeah, me either. But according to Sara, I'm worthy of the title. So, today I'm honoured to say I'm over on her blog kicking off her new Great Canadian Blogger series.

So, what are you waiting for? Check it out! I talk about maple syrup, being hospitable and living in a national park. Could I be more Canadian? Probably not. But I could probably work the whole being great thing. Meh. Either that or I could just look up funny comics about Canadians. Yeah. That'll do.

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OK. Now that you've had a laugh, get your butt over to Life out of a Lab Coat!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What to Wear: to a bonfire


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What up, friends? It's What to Wear time again. I wish I could say I lived the occasion I dressed for, but sadly, time got the better of me and our first house guest (of three) has arrived for the weekend, so it's tortierre and beer time. (I'm writing this Wednesday night, not this morning. I swear, I don't eat fatty meat pies and drink beer at 8 a.m. Although, I wouldn't put it past me on a Saturday morning a little closer to 11 a.m. Actually, that sounds pretty damn good.)

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Although I didn't light a bonfire with my mad fire-making skills, this is definitely an outfit I would wear to do just that. It's warm and cozy and it protects most of my body from the awful mosquitoes that have infested the park this summer.

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I got my poncho on Monday from my pal Carlos, who just got back from a trip home to Mexico. He gave me this gorgeous orange gift on his birthday. What a guy, eh? So thoughtful. So amazing. And what a great shopper. He bought the perfect size and colour. I have to say, I was super-duper impressed and surprised!

Photobucket From head to toe: 
Poncho: Gift
Tank top: Thrifted
Jeans: Forever 21
Shoes: Army and Navy

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Well, my bloggy pals, that's all from me today. Don't forget to check out all of the other lovely bonfire outfits being sported on blogs all over the interwebs.

Jill at Jilly BeansTALK
Sondra at Abhaya
Adriana at Horses of Ares
Lisa at Not Ladylike

What would you wear to a bonfire? Are you into ponchos? This one's my first and I L.O.V.E. it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dreaming of the open road

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I love road trips. I especially love them when I'm the one in the passenger seat manning the tunes and the munchies. I mean, what's better than cranking Girl Talk or Richard Cheese and singing all the words while maowing down on some honey mustard pretzels? The answer is nothing. Nothing is better than that. Well, I guess having Ian as your driver, singing equally as loud, is also kind of key. But, I mean, as long as someone's driving, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy.

With the summer quickly coming to an end, I find myself longing to take one last road trip before the highways are covered in a thick sheet of ice and snow. But, with my house being the hostel that it is, all of my weekends are booked up between now and the beginning of September. So, what's a girl to do? Throw the house keys at my guests, as I peel out of the parking lot? If only!

Right now, I'm dying to go to Drumheller. I blame my burning desire on Erin, who posted some awesome pictures from her visit a little while back. And, if not Drumheller, I'd like to head back to B.C. for some fun times in Vancouver or Kelowna. Really, I'd go anywhere. I just want to hop in the car, look out on an open road and know that in a matter of hours I'll be arriving in a fun destination.

But, for the moment, I'm stuck and instead of heading out the door, I'm looking longingly at gorgeous photos of highways.

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Have you been on any fun road trips this summer? What's your favourite thing about being out on the highway?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: daily highlights

Photobucket There are certain moments that occur on a day-to-day basis that I truly love, but as often as I love them, I find myself taking them for granted. So, in an effort to give those daily events the appreciation they deserve, I thought I'd document them here.

So, here for you, are my favourite moments of the day:

Showering.

Pressing publish on Blogger.

Gazing at the mountains on my way to work.

My first cup of coffee... followed by my second and often my third.

The first comment on my latest ramblings.

Lunch time with Ian.

Submitting a great story or photo to my editor.

Quitting time.

Checking in on my favourite blogging pals.

Cooking dinner with Ian - which usually means cutting a few vegetables and watching him do the work.

Sneaking dessert from Ian's candy stash.

Crawling into my cozy bed.

Everything on that list is fairly minor, but they are all things that make me happy. And, once you throw in the daily variations, like a hike or gardening or movie nights, it makes for a pretty sweet life.

What are your favourite moments of the day?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Uncovered: a week without makeup

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I have been wearing foundation religiously for years. Literally, until last week, I felt awkward even running an errand without it caked on my face. OK, caked might be a slight exaggeration, there was no spatula involved in my makeup application, but there was definitely a well-used sponge.

I don't know what started me out on the belief that my skin had to be concealed. But whatever it was, it got me good. It had me believing that I couldn't be happy without an even coat of paint. And it even had me feeling awkward if my friends saw me in the morning pre-makeup. (Seeing that sentence typed out in front of my face actually makes me feel kind of ashamed. It's so silly that I - a woman who promotes self-love and body acceptance - can't even show my true skin to the people closest to me. Or, at least I couldn't before last week.)

Remember the other day when I posted about the pow-wow in Jasper, and how I got called out of bed to cover it? Well, I had so little time to get myself together, that I just threw on a hat and my glasses and ran out the door without a second thought. That's right, I spent four hours in public without even a pinch of makeup. And after that day, I went home feeling strangely empowered. So, I told Ian, "I think I want to ditch cover-up." To which he responded, "Why not? You look fine without it."

Of course, like any girl would say, I responded with, "Fine!?" But in all honesty, by that point I didn't need Ian to gush over my beauty to give me the confidence I needed to take on the challenge.

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Here I am, bearing it all for you. No hair in my face, and no makeup covering up my rosy skin. Nicole o'natural!
Yesterday marked an entire week without coverup. I still wear mascara and chapstick every day, but everything else in my makeup bag has been left untouched. And, I gotta tell you, it feels pretty great. I save time in the morning when I'm getting ready and I save time in the evening when I'm washing my face.

Plus, I've come to realize the skin I'm sporting is actually pretty awesome. I mean, sure it's rosier than I would like, but I don't have issues with acne or enormous pores, I just have some cute little freckles.

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So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, life uncovered isn't so bad. I actually feel more confident in my own skin than I have in years.

Do you wear makeup every day? Have you ever tried spending a day or a week uncovered?

P.S. Although my post is titled "a week without makeup" that doesn't mean I'm right back to wearing it. I've actually decided to ride this no-foundation train until the emergence of my next big zit. Fingers crossed that day never comes!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Honesty hour: photography

Photobucket I'm not a professional photographer, as I'm sure you can all tell. I've actually only been taking photos for a couple of years. But, it is part of my job. So, I do it often and I fumble my way through it. Up until recently, my editor was the primary photographer for our paper, so that took a huge weight off my shoulders. But, a week ago, he left for a new job in Calgary (high-five him!). So, now the pressure's on me to take front page worthy photos.

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This week is rodeo week in Jasper. So, the logical thing would be to have a rodeo photo on the front page next week, but holy man, guys, taking photos of fast moving, bucking animals is HARD. I swear, rodeo has to be the hardest subject to photograph, especially here in Jasper where they hold it in an arena with horrible fluorescent lighting, forcing you to max out your ISO so your photos aren't horribly dark. And, of course, once your ISO is through the roof, your photos turn out grainy as shit, like the ones you see here.

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For me, the only consolation is that I know my photos are far more impressive than anything the point and shoot cameras captured last night. I can't even imagine the mess of blur that everyone was capturing as they enthusiastically snapped photo after photo, thinking eventually they'd get a good one.

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In an attempt to turn this experience into a positive one, I'm thinking, maybe this little photography assignment is the kick in the butt I need to start reading some photography tutorials. I'm sure there was something I could have done to improve these pictures. But, with my limited knowledge, I don't yet know what that something is.

How did you learn to take photos? Do you know any sites I should check out for pointers?

Friday, August 17, 2012

This week at work: survival training

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On Wednesday, there was a wilderness survival workshop at the Palisades Centre here in Jasper, so, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to both take part and cover it for the paper.

Part of the workshop was learning to use a compass and a map. For me, I think that was probably the most valuable part of the day. I am the worst for taking, giving or figuring out directions. I don't generally know where North is or what the East side of town means and I definitely don't remember landmarks. I'm basically the most oblivious person on the planet. I blame that on growing up in a small town where no one paid any attention to street names. If you wanted to get somewhere, you'd say, "It's three doors down from Jimmy. You know, across the street from Samantha." There was no, "It's on the East side of town, at the foot of such and such mountain on such and such street." Nope. Never happened. 

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On top of learning how to navigate, we also learned how to make a fire. Well, some people did. I already had that shit down. I was a Girl Guide after all. Our challenge was to light a fire that would burn for at least three minutes, using just one match. I nailed it! No big deal.

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The last thing we did was make a shelter using sticks and an emergency blanket - something that should be in your survival kit. Oh! By the way, we also learned what you should have in your kit, AND we found out that you should always have it on your person, not in your pack! News to me. All this time, I've been carrying all of my survival gear - like my chapstick, my brush and my makeup - in my backpack. What was I thinking!? I kid. I did discover, though, that, although my survival kit isn't made up of concealer and blush, it is still totally insufficient. I guess a few Bandaids,  a book of matches, a can of bear spray and a raincoat aren't really going to get me very far if I get lost, stranded or injured somewhere.

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So, this is what I learned:

a) write a pack list
b) pack a survival kit that corresponds with the activity I'm doing and keep it in my jacket or pants pocket
c) always tell someone where I'm going before I go and tell them when I can be expected back
d) don't hike alone (I'm still going to break that rule)
e) stick to the plan - if you say you're going somewhere, go there and not another place
f) know when to keep moving and when to stay put
g) always take the co-ordinates of where I start and where I want to go
h) stay together as a group
i) don't let my ego get the best of me
j) never think "It couldn't happen to me."
k) my gear is only as good as my knowledge how to use it
l) my body can last 3-5 minutes without oxygen, 3-5 days without water and 3-5 weeks without food
m) check the weather report before going out
n)  chill the ef out and try to keep calm

Do you think you could survive in the wilderness? Have you had any scary experiences getting lost or trapped somewhere?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This week at work

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I feel like my post title suggests negative things to come, you know, since it's about the ol' day job. But, let me assure you, there is nothing negative about what I'm about to write. I have had a great week. I've done and seen and reported on really fun, interesting and exciting things. (That doesn't happen every week - hence why I don't often talk about work - but this week, oh! this week, it's been grand.)

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You see, on Saturday, I woke up to a text message from a colleague informing me that in half an hour, a pow-wow would be taking place in Jasper. So, I dragged my lazy butt out of bed, threw on some clothes, grabbed a water bottle, my camera and a notebook and ran out the door. (I'll admit, I was pretty grumpy about getting called out of bed to go to work on a Saturday, but, as you'll find out, it was worth it.)

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What I didn't know before arriving at the pow-wow that morning, was that this particular cultural event was incredibly significant. You see, when Jasper became a National Park in 1907, all of the First Nations people who used the land for hunting and gathering or who lived on the land all year around, were kicked out and relocated. And it's only in the last few years that Parks Canada has been working with all of the different groups to rebuild those relationships. Now, I knew all of that already, but what I didn't know was that Saturday's pow-wow was the first to ever take place in the park.

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And because of that, the energy and vibe was so incredibly positive and enthusiastic. I feel so privileged to have been there to hear the people speak about their land and their ancestors. And, I was also reassured to find out that Parks Canada has set aside a sliver of the park as First Nations land to be used for spiritual and cultural activities and events. The sentiment of the people who gathered on that site Saturday was that the pow-wow and the designation of land are both positive steps forward.

"It's been a long time coming," one man told me. And it's true. It's been 105 years since these people were removed from their homes and their hunting grounds. This acknowledgement is definitely long past due. But, as they say, it's better late than never.

*Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the other amazing thing I covered this week. I'll give you a hint, it would have made Les Stroud proud.*