The adventure has reached Canadian soil...
Last week I spent 6 days in what will be our new home. My eyes first landed on Ft. McMurray, AB at 1 o'clock a.m. after a grueling day of delays and flights with an infant in tow, so I must admit, I didn't see much. When I awoke later that morning it was to the sun beginning to come out, at about 9a.m.! I think I can get used to that, as I am not much on mornings! However, the downside is that it is dark by about 6 p.m. The landsacpe itself was quite beautiul, white with snow, hills, a large river and lots of trees. In that respect it felt a lot more like home than Houston, while a great place to live, it doesn't earn points on the pretty scale.
My first day was filled with house hunting. Let me say at the very begining, be grateful for what you have and the American lifestyle. I expected to find homes on large lots and with nature all around given the remoteness of the location and the sheer size of Canada itself. The American missed that one...I discovered that the houses are situated very close together and that people live on top of one another, quite literally. It is not at all uncommon for the top levels of a home to be occuppied by one family and the basement by another. I found this to be more than a little unappealing....Not only are the living quarters close, but small by our standards as well. Now, I openly admit that everything is truly bigger in Texas, but these homes reminded me more of starter homes and they are for established families. Wait until you hear the prices! A 1800 sq. ft. newer home is pushing the million dollar mark!!!! My house in Texas would be worth close to 2 million....CRAZY!!!!! As we are not Canadian citizens it is unadvisable for us to purchase, so we will be renting...for $5500/month. (Close your mouths, flies will get in) Day one was definitely an eye opener!
Days 2 and 3 were spent about the town and getting to know the shopping....what can loosely be called shopping anyway. There is a Walmart, several groceries(which I will expand on later), a sporting goods store and a small mall for lack of a better term. Not as bad as it could be, but I will be making a pilgrimage to Edmonton(home of the LARGEST mall in North America) 4 hours south rather often in an effort to maintain my sanity! Now for the grocery experience...I HATE to grocery shop and this trip about had me in tears! I paid $10 for 5kg bag of flour(roughly 11 lbs.), saw the largest jar of Cheez Whiz on the planet(a Canadian staple, eeww) and was unable to find a can of Rotel! The metric measurements made my head hurt and it was all so expensive!!! I do not want to ever go back! Thank God Chris does most of the grocery shopping!
We also visited the community center and I must say, it is impressive! I was so worried that we would be spending the long winters indoors with not too much to do, this trip alleviated that fear. It houses a library, 3 pools, water slides, a gym, 3 ice rinks, a concert hall, a daycare, numerous classes and more. I was happy to see it busy and full! Days 2 and 3 receive a combined score of 6.5.
Day 4 was back in the house trenches and an overall stressful and unfulfilling experience. More of the same, different day. I would not recommend this to anyone.
Day 5 brought no progress on the house hunt and the sinking feeling that I would be coming home with no house to go to and a moving date a few weeks away. Tears and yelling ensued...
Day 6 packing to come home and no signed lease-despair. But God once again came through for me. At 9 p.m. just hours before we were boarding the midnight flight home, our prayers were answered and we signed a 3 year lease on the only house I liked during the hunt. SUCCESS!!!!!
Now sitting back at home on my couch and after a week of sleep in my beloved bed, I can honestly say I think it's all going to be OK.