The next day, we were driving to Jasper in the same weather, only to get to the village where it was snowing like Christmas Eve. Our plan of camping was quickly thrown out the car window and we were lucky to find a room in an airbnb in the village. When we woke up the next morning, there was still snow on the ground and we still could not see the mountains as we made our way to Five Lakes trail, but at least it wasn't snowing or raining anymore. During our walk along the trail, as the wind shifted the clouds, we could see the silhouette of the enormous mountains surrounding us, but still no luck seeing the summit or getting a clear view.
It turns out that we worried all for nothing as the very next day, as we were driving through the Icefield Parkways on our way to Banff, the sun finally came out and we enjoyed two days of clear blue sky and enough mountain views to last me a few years.
When it was finally my turn, I was a little nervous at the thought of throwing my pizza in the air, but finally decided to try it, why not. It's not like I'll get that chance again soon right? It turns out, I may have the Italian chef gene as I did pretty good for a first timer. I managed to throw it up in the air and not drop it, then added sauce, cheese, olives (yum!) and basil and some kind of leaf that I was told was really good and it was. Then into the wood burning oven it went for about three minutes and an eternity later it was ready to eat. Just in time as I had not had lunch that day and was starving.
The whole group sat together to eat the best pizza we had ever had. I admit that I might be biased because I made it myself with a lot of love, but it is truly the best pizza I have ever tasted.
And then, right when I thought it could not get better, they announced that they would put all the gelato out on a table and we would get to try all of them with every king of toping you can imagine including balsamic vinegar, lavender flowers, basil, nuts, grated chocolate, etc. I tried the strawberry, pistachios, vanilla, raspberry, lemon, had double helpings of our chocolate gelato and went for seconds. Needless to say, I wasn't hungry anymore way before I stopped eating. And surprisingly, other than our chocolate gelato, my favorite was strawberry with some balsamic vinegar. It seems disgusting, but trust me it is the most delicious mix ever.
If you have the time while in Florence, I definitely suggest trying a cooking class. I had so much fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.
I absolutely loved the road trip I went on with my friend Karine in Utah, Nevada and Arizona. These states are gorgeous all around with their mountains of red limestone, deep creeks, deserts as far as the eye can see and narrow canyons, but, in September when we went, it is HOT. In some parts, it is scorching.
On the second day of our road trip, we were hiking in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada before driving to Zion National Park in Utah. We started early as we knew it would be hot. I had intentionally chosen small hikes so we could slowly get used to the heat as, being from Canada, we are not used to this. The two hikes were about 30 minutes each, but after the first one, I could feel myself getting dizzy and dehydrated even after drinking from my water bottle every two seconds. As a lifeguard and having lived in Florida before, I can recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and this was it. We took a break before deciding to do the second hike. We stayed in the shade, drank cold water from our refrigerator, ate fruits and veggies and salty snacks and we were both feeling good enough to go. And it was so worth it as the view on the deep red and orange mountains and valleys took my breath away.
We then started the drive to Zion with the air condition bringing as much relief as possible from this heat. Unfortunately, as soon as we started going up a hill, the engine was not strong enough and the air condition would stop. Let's just say that when we arrived in Zion at about 4PM we were both sweaty and exhausted, but excited to be there. Zion is also a lot cooler than Valley of Fire and, as the sun was starting to hide behind the mountains surrounding the canyons, we felt a huge relief. Unable to resist getting a first glimpse of the canyon, we both put on our swimsuit under our clothes and headed to a small trail called Lower Emerald Pools, with the intention of going for a swim in the river afterwards.
We took the shuttle and exited at Zion Lodge, crossed the bridge and started walking on the easy path. On the way, we noticed tracks heading to a small beach by the river and called it: if we were to swim in the river today, this would be the perfect spot. A huge boulder hid a small pool from the current and the bottom looked sandy and soft.
I know a lot of people are afraid of thunderstorms, and it's a logical fear: thunderstorms can be destructive and dangerous. But personally, I love thunderstorms, always have! I don't know if it comes from the fact that my parents used to bring us outside, under the little roof in front of our front porch, and look at the lightning or count the seconds before the thunder, or from the fact that I used to be a lifeguard and used to get paid to hang around with my friends when the pool was closed for a storm, but either way, I still get as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning every time I see a storm coming in. My favorite thunderstorm ever, though, is the one that struck will my friend Gabrielle and I were in Chefchaouen.
"Home is not where you are from