Before you begin reading this section, make sure you have read Part 1.
After spending four days in the Okanagan Valley, it was time for us to start up that ’76 Chevy and travel on to my next gig in Sicamous BC. It was my brother Mitchel’s 23rd birthday in Australian on the 24th June and then again in Canada on the 24th June. He was so lucky as he did get two birthdays due to the time differences in both countries! We decided to make the whole weekend a party for him, so over the weekend, we let each person we met know it was his birthday. Obviously, he didn’t feel much like hiking on the Monday!!
On that Friday, I performed at the Family Tree RV Park in Sicamous, then on the Saturday we headed off to the Rockwater Pub in Golden. There was a blackout that covered the entire town of Golden so we weren’t sure what to do in terms of my gig that night. While we were pondering over a couple pints of beer with the chefs, the owner Pat made a sarcastic remark about acoustically performing on the deck to the patrons. Before he could say anything else, I popped my ukulele out of it’s case and began singing. To this day, it was probably one of the most fun nights I had in Canada. Everyone really appreciated the effort and actually sang along with me to songs they knew. We had a great night there and made some wonderful friends.
We woke up the next morning in excitement as this was the day that I was performing on a Buffalo ranch! Mitch had never seen Buffaloes before so we couldn’t get ready fast enough. We arrived only a short time later at the Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch just out of Golden.
This place has only one word that can be used to describe it: MAGICAL.
Everything about it is magical.
Mum and I met Leo H. Downey last year when we stumbled across the most exciting
thing yet- a buffalo ranch. Mum, having an advanced knowledge of the history of buffalo and indigenous people, was attracted to this incredibly. Meeting and talking to Leo, we were quickly inspired by his life story and the adventures he has had so far and every day living on the ranch. After also discovering that he was a musician, we all hit it off quickly. This year, I was honored to be given the opportunity to perform as part of the 6 hour concert ‘Buffapolooza’ at his ranch on Sunday 25th June. Myself, Leo, Duane, Ryan, David and a few other brilliant musicians performed throughout the day. There wasn’t just music though, we were also treated with buffalo burgers, a meet and greet with the buffaloes and even a demonstration on how Leo learnt about making fires out of the environment around him. Do yourselves a favor and grab a copy of his book and give it a read. Very inspiring. We made some great friends (Shout out to Sven, Marcail and Belinda) and our skin felt amazing the next day after a mud bath and swim in such a special river. You can see lots of pictures on my Facebook page. Thank you Leo for this experience that we’ll never forget!
We were sad to move on from our little piece of paradise but more adventures awaited us. This new day bringing another gig, this time in a great little town called Radium Hot Springs. I performed that night at the Horse Thief Creek Pub which is renowned for it’s live music. I was the 159th person to perform on that stage this year so I must have been somewhere in the early 100’s when I performed there last year in July. This venue is a musicians best friend as not only did I have a brilliant sound man; Larry, but the audience were there to listen to me which I loved. Mitch and I were also surprised by our friends from Banff who drove out to spend the night in Spur Valley and to watch my show. We had a great night with them, and continued on by golfing the next day in Spur Valley. Dad would be jealous and proud. Mitch and I have some work to do to get to their levels but it was such a fun and relaxing day.
The following night, I was performing back in Calgary in a rustic pub called The Brass Monkey. When Mum and I stumbled across open mic night they held last year, we made a great entrance by driving under a tree in the RV. Of course, such incidents don’t disappear from people’s minds so even a year later, I was welcomed as the one who drove into the tree! Besides that, we were also greeted by Parker (The owner), Shaun, Cory and a tray of shots. That Was A Fun Night. I was hosting an open mic night with assistance by a brilliant local musician; Gil Tougas. We kicked off at 7:30pm and the night didn’t end til close to 1am. It was amazing. There is nothing more that I love than actually meeting, listening and jamming with musicians and Calgary is full of them!
The next night, I was really close to where I played the night before- a block away to be exact. I performed at this lovely cafe called the Cornerstone Music Cafe. This place was really cool as out the back were many rooms, completed with pianos, where people get music lessons in and out the front was all vegetarian and gluten free meals with Canadian wines and beers to compliment. Compared to the pub shows I had mainly performed, this was really special as the place held a capacity of around 20 people. It was booked out and everyone was there completely to watch my show. Everyone was so lovely and I even was lucky enough to find two singers and a guitar player to perform a few tunes for us all. Mitch and I were spoiled with home made mac and cheese and I was spoiled with a lot of kind words by everyone there.
Since we had a couple of days left in Calgary, we decided to spend one whole day sightseeing the stunning city and the other day getting tattoos together thanks to the great team at Barron Tattoo in Calgary. Our time in Canada was unforgettable and we felt completely reconnected as siblings so we wanted to capture our time by meaningful tats. Mitch got a stunning world map and compass on his forearm and I got a Mandela inspired lotus flower on the back of my neck. Mine was over and done with within a matter of 20 minutes but Mitch’s took much longer. So long, the tattooist even ducked across to the bottle-lo (liquor store) to grab some grog (Alcohol) to ease the pain. They were a cool bunch of people so we chilled with them for the afternoon til Mitch was finished.
A BIT OFF TOPIC:
Mitch was my translator while in Canada- Hence the above brackets. I would get excited about fairy floss and he’d turn to the Canadian friend and explain that fairy floss is cotton candy! This happened a lot. Most days while we were in Canada, we completely forgot we were in a different country as we felt so much at home but some times it was just fun to confuse people.
Our Calgary friend Dave James took us out on Canada Day to explore a few more things in the city like the Music Museum. It was amazing and so fascinating. We were shown how sound works, how the body reacts to different sounds, how the brain is wired for musicians and differently for listeners, and even had in depth information about famous Canadian artists. I love Shania Twain, so I just HAD to get a photo with her.
That night, we drove out to the Balzac Campground where i performed to everyone inside the office while they were cooking burgers on the bbq outside in the pouring rain! When it rains in Canada, it really rains. I love performing at this RV Park. Everyone is so supportive and kind. After my show, we all ducked down to do some karaoke when the weather cleared up and celebrated Canada Day with a bottle of Maple Whiskey at the bomb fire while watching the fireworks.
Our time in Canada was coming to an end and we were really not wanting to go back home. Mitch has planned to go back in April to work and live and I will be finally taking my boyfriend Alec for his first Canadian adventure in September 2018. During our last two days in Canada, we dropped off our lovely RV to the storage place. A big shout out to Gills Auto for repairing it each year for us and to Dee Sinkler for having it look amazing when we arrive by giving it a nice clean. We had a hard time letting Maple go and Mitch even teared up while we were cleaning her out.
Our friend Doug Shields also took us to a rodeo on our very last day. This was in Airdrie (A little town on the way from Didsbury to Calgary) and our friend Morgan Grant was competing. Morgan and his wife Gillian Grant (Doug’s daughter) are quite well known in Canada and the states for their lives in the Rodeo world. Gillian was Miss Rodeo Canada and Morgan has won quite a number of rodeos including the Calgary Stampede. Both are HUGE achievements. It’s pretty cool to know royalty! Morgan and his mother were competing this day and they both were incredible! Gillian now organises events and rodeos, and has even offered me a spot in one when I return to Canada next year in September. More will be announced then.
When Dougie dropped us off a the Calgary airport on Monday 3rd July, our hearts were heavy so we checked our bags in, sat at the bar with a few cocktails and went through some photos and videos together of our last six weeks.
Thank you Canada for welcoming the Cooke’s into your country. I feel like it is now my second home and I can’t wait to return ❤