Northern Nuptuals

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So where was I? I believe I had landed in Fort St. John in the northern half of British Colombia for my first stop in Canada after months of traveling Latin America. I was met by my dad, sister Mariah, cousin Jonathan, and Uncle George who were all up from Saskatoon for my cousin Dean's wedding. Ringing any bells yet? We were seated with my uncle/godfather Bill, aunt/godmother Helen, and several others at the only Greek restaurant in town for dinner of lamb chops and Greek salad not to mention tiny fish and plenty more. It was, to put it mildly, nice to see everybody again. After dinner (thanks, Uncle George!) we went back to the hotel and met up with some more cousins including the groom-to-be and his brother Theo. I was fresh off my 23 hour trip from Rio that very day so I wasn't ready yet to have a big night out but that made no difference. We had some drinks (including Cpt. Morgan and Dr. Pepper, a winning combination) and met Dean's friends and the males of Jen's family before heading out into Fort St. John for a night that didn't quite rival Rio in splendour but definitely did so in company. Eventually, Jonathan and I could take no more and walked back the "three blocks" to the hotel. When I got back into the room I'd had enough to wonder who else was sleeping in the dorm before crashing like a brick on the very non-bricklike mattress.

Morning came as it always does, a couple hours before you'd like it to. We were downstairs for breakfast by 9 AM which included delicious Belgian Waffles in thick Canadian maple syrup, sausages, orange juice, and all the usual fixings that were especially delicious after two weeks straight of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with scrambled eggs. There was a nap involved before the wedding for Jonathan, Mariah, and myself and then we headed out to the acreage where Dean and Jen were to be wed. Arriving home after a long trip is a combination of traveller's anxiety and the terminally ill's miraculous recovery. When you're traveling (or when I am) I want to see everywhere I am thoroughly because who knows when I will see it again? Take it all in, see it properly, you're rushing! It feels like a second chance and you see the world in a new way but you only feel this at home where you don't generally look at the surroundings with new eyes. You want to do it right this time, soak in every great experience there is to have and really LIVE. Forget the old routine, work 5 days, drinks on Friday night, a day of activity on Saturday, and rest on Sunday. You're going to make the most of it and that sounds to me like the recovery of someone who thought their time was up. So I was taking in the surroundings with wide eyes and thinking that it was not at all bad to be here at home and loving the countryside while finally having my family at my side too.

It helped that the place they chose for their wedding was stunning. On a high bluff overlooking an ancient river valley sat a table on a white blanket surrounded by green grass and standing with far away cliffs at its back. This was where the ceremony was to take place. I greeted more family that I hadn't yet seen and met a few new people and decided that while all the groomsmen were just standing around I'd get the hang of my camera in the northern hemisphere. We had our little photo shoot until the photographer came up to Dean and, looking at me, told him that everyone was to remain seated during the reception. Fair enough, I know how to stay out of the way of her photos but she doesn't know that and of course once one person is up and roaming more will follow. But it didn't bode well for my efforts to get some nice photos for them. Still, I tried my best from the seat and they came out alright. The minister was almost always in my way (to quote him, repeatedly, "Come on!") when the photographer wasn't and my angle meant I rarely got a look at Dean's face. But Jen's was there looking very beautiful in the afternoon sun and as they finished their hybrid Greek-Ukrainian ceremony and walked back down the aisle I was able to stand and get a photo or two as well.

Afterwards, when Dean and Jen drove off in their very nice wedding-day car, I was finally able to get a few photos that their photographer somehow neglected/ignored/forgot about of Dean helping her into it. Then we went back to the hotel as there was nothing to do in Fort St John but admire the scenery, gas up the car, and then wash it, and waited for the reception. It was set up and organized quite nicely with each table having the name of a Greek island and decorated in blue and white. I was shocked in the end to see that Dean only had two tables to Jen's many more but it was far away for most of our family to get to. I knew that would make our plans to really get the Greek music going difficult but it turned out that would not be the only factor. Dinner was incredible and I had two helpings not to mention a few Caesars (mmm, Clamato!) and wine while Dean, Jen, and others had some nice speeches and I wracked my brain for a funny anecdote. After a disorganized start and one of the worst-equipped DJs known to the industry there was a zambekiko that nobody was drunk enough for and then a Zorba remix that was faster than light. We danced so fast by the end and so soon after dinner that I had to disappear to the room after to throw up.

In the end though, we did a Tsamiko (Jonathan did not return from the room as he had been feeling as bad as me), kalamatiano, and other Greek dances which some of the largely-Ukrainian group joined in on while the others formed a circle and clapped or snapped photos. I was out of there with Mariah around midnight and probably asleep around 1. We were up again at 5 AM to get breakfast and head out of town towards Saskatoon. Little did I know, we were stopping at West Edmonton Mall en route (hence the REALLY early wake up) for some waterpark mayhem. We took Jonathan on some of the water slides for the first time in his life and it was hilarious - you should have heard him screaming coming down the Thunderbolt! In his terror, he was also leaning all the way back on the sled-skid so when it jumped off the slide and into the water all his weight resulted in a backflip which had everybody in sight roaring. I should confess that his idea of later playing in the kiddie area and using the various devices to soak people was much more fun than I gave him credit for initially.

Then, after a nice bowl of Pho, we were off again for Saskatoon. Everything is really green and colourful as though it's spring and I was loving our prairie landscapes not to mention the skies and sunset. It's something you either get or you don't but the more I'm away the more I appreciate the simple beauty of this province. The funny thing is that I still feel as though I'm on the road, traveling. Maybe I needed a plane ride into Saskatoon for closure or maybe as much as things are the same you can never go home. Certainly I'm happy to be here but as we drove up to our driveway I felt no sense of anything either positive or negative. It's as though I was away in Calgary for a week or something rather than almost a year. On the plus side I am - so far - very interested in continuing to explore the options here at home and make life a bit more interesting here in Saskatchewan while I save for the next big trip, house, move, or whatever is coming next. It will be hard when I'm going to be so busy for my first month back and on that note, I should go and plan my best friend's bachelor party coming up this weekend!

Fort Saint John Photos

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