I gave myself a month

Kyle and I left Belleville on April 27th and we arrived in Jasper exactly one month ago today. In some ways it feels like we’ve been here for months and in other ways it feels like I fell asleep on night one and just woke up today. If I feel like blowing my own mind a little bit more, I remind myself that it was only just two months ago that we realized that we were westward bound…

I decided to give myself a month. A month to settle in; get familiar with our new home, my new job and the people around me. A month seemed like a good amount of time to get my bearings before sitting down to write anything about my new life here in Jasper.

I’m a long way from home

I love road trips. I’ve always loved the idea of doing a true cross-country roadie and, I kind of still do. Just not like the way we did to get here. Not having a time limit would help.

Sara Hamil, Jasper the dog, Shiloh Shepherd, car, road trip, travel, moving, cross country
The face of road trip madness.

It took us five solid days of driving (meaning 8-ish hour days for the sake of the animals), plus one day to visit family and take a break in Winnipeg, to get to Jasper. It took three days alone just to get out of Ontario (Ontario is a LOT of province, dang!) Honestly, as far as multi-day road trips go, this one went as well as could be expected. No vehicular breakdowns or animal freak outs (we already knew that Jasper was a great traveller and, as it turns out, Hastings isn’t half bad either); we made it to each scheduled stop in good time (save for night one in Sault St. Marie after we took off from Belleville a few hours later than expected. Oh well!)

It was just long. So, SO long. Which of course only served to remind me just how far from home we were really going.

But I really do love it here

You know when you dream about something for so long, or when you remember something really fondly from years ago, but when you finally get to it you discover that it was’t quite as amazing as you thought it would be? I was secretly worried that was going to be my experience in moving to Jasper. I’ve loved this place since childhood and I’ve wanted to move back to the Rockies for so long, but I had this very quiet fear (that I didn’t dare voice to anyone) that it wouldn’t actually live up to my expectations once I got here.

Jasper the dog, Shiloh Shepherd, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Skytram, Whistlers Mountain,  Canadian Rockies
Jasper the dog on top of a mountain in Jasper the place. I had literally dreamed about doing something like this and still can hardly believe it’s actually happened.

Thankfully, the mountains know what they’re doing.

This place is exactly what I was hoping it would be. We’ve been out exploring and enjoying it virtually every chance we’ve had; walking the dog at the peak of a mountain, hiking and biking the trails, soaking at hot springs, taking boat cruises across turquoise lakes. There were a dozen elk hanging out on our front yard on our very first night here. I kind of have to keep reminding myself that we’re not on vacation: we live in this place now.

elk, wildlife, animals, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
This is what a welcoming committee looks like in Jasper.

I’m also really enjoying my job and all of the new and different projects I’m already sinking my teeth into. It’s a refreshing change of pace and just the challenge I didn’t even realize I wanted.

Everything is brand new and, while I was anxious that it might be too much all at once, I found myself falling into step (and into love) right away.

This place has been good for me

Speaking of anxiety, aside from Jasper being fun and beautiful and me enjoying the new path in my career, I’ve also found that this change of scenery has made quite an impact on my overall wellbeing.

This town moves at a different pace and the people here are extremely laid-back. Despite being somewhat remote, I’ve yet to feel boxed in. And those mountains! There’s just something about the vastness of this place that makes it a lot easier for me to get out of my own head.

Old Fort Point, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, Rocky Mountains
I’m finding it difficult to feel anything but good when I’m surrounded my sights like these

I’ve been much more relaxed and peaceful since we got here. I feel rejuvenated and full of purpose, while simultaneously feeling really okay with just going with the flow. This is going to sound pretty flower child here but, being surrounded by this authentic wilderness makes me feel so connected in a way that makes me realize just how disconnected I was before.

I feel humbled and I feel content and I really like it.

But I miss so many people

I miss my friends. I miss my family. While I’m head-over-heels in love with this place in every other way, the only thing that keeps it from being perfect is the fact that so many of the people I care about are so damn far away.

So I text. And I call. I write postcards and letters and plan trips home and try to guilt everyone to come visit (Seriously friends and family: get out here. We’ll take good care of you).

I’m slowly meeting new people and even have a few I would dare to call my friends (and awkwardly hope that they feel the same way because MAN, that would be embarrassing) but I’m never going to stop missing the incredible people I left behind. You guys are awesome and I love you all!

Now come visit!

And so it goes

“It’s so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it’s the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”
– Paper Towns, John Green

As long as I’m admitting to secret worries and fears here, I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been a small voice in the back of my head asking again and again, “what if you’re making a mistake?” Some people came right out and asked me, “Are you sure?” and all I could commit to was an, “I guess we’re going to find out!”

Because I knew what I wanted, but I’ve always been one to be cautiously optimistic (which generally equates to keeping mum on my hopes and dreams for fear of jinxing myself).

But a month later and I think it’s safe to say that I made the right choice. I feel at home here and this path just feels right. It’s as if I was just waiting for the gates to open and now there’s no telling where I’ll go or what I’ll do next.

And that’s pretty awesome.

But anyway, here I am. I’m back even though I’ve gone somewhere new. Now I just need to get back into a rhythm…