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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

500 Pop-Tabs – American Voyageur

An update and phenomenal story from the American Voyageur.

The Westcoast Blogger

Parents of the American Voyageur,

Well it’s been a whirlwind the past few days… so much so that finding time to update you has proved more difficult than usual!

Last time we wrote we were on our way to Canada for four days of camping. The first two nights we camped in Calgary. We arrived at the campsite to the great surprise of Jamie’s brother as our campsite manager!  He and his friends Griffin, Ryan, and Zach were super excited!  We made a delicious stir fry dinner and headed out to laser quest. Everyone got really into it and dressed in black. Griffin and Matt B. ended up winning and everyone had a great time!

The next morning we made a huge pancake breakfast and then it was off to Canada Olympic Park where we went Zorbing and took a really cool tour of the park. For those of you who don’t know what Zorbing is, I suggest ‘youtube-ing’!  It was super exciting and fun!   Alex C. was the first one to go down in the ball with Ben (our tour director) and then we all went!  Some of the girls like Alex E., Dana, and Julie were pretty scared and weren’t sure if they’d go, but after all was said and done they screamed the entire way down and had a great time!

Then it was off to the famous “Calgary Stampede” where we saw a really cool rodeo and had free time to ride the rides, eat dinner, and check out the scene and the people (cowboys). This was where Griffin, Zach B., and Matt F. won really cool pocket bikes, and Dana tried cotton candy for her first time (not to worry dad, she brushed her teeth right away)!

From there we were off to do laundry.  With our help, it was a success!  Sammy, Jordana, Shelby, Zach B and Mady all had an interesting experience!!

That was it for Calgary and it was off to Banff in the morning.  The weather was not on our side and at first we didn’t think we would be able to hike, but after spending some time in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise having lunch and playing games, the sky cleared and we got to hike up the to the Tea House.  The hike was a challenge –  just ask Dana and Jordana but not Jamie who ran the whole way up to the summit.  Eventually we all made it, indulged on soups, hot chocolate, cookies, and of course, tea.  After a break we headed back down and onto our next campsite to set up. It was there that Stan met us (Founder of WCC) and after dinner he surprised us with a trip to the Banff Hot Springs pool to warm up and play!

The next morning it was off to the Columbian Icefields.  We rode buses with monster truck tires down the moraines and up onto the lateral glacier.  We all indulged in refreshing drinks of glacier water, took ‘cool’ pictures and ate lunch. Scott, Jayme N., Jon, Zach B., Jamie S., and Ryan were crazy enough to take their shirts off for a few pics!  It was FREEZING but the pictures are awesome!

Enroute back to the village we stopped at Peyto Lake (famous for being shaped like a dog’s head) to take pictures and then into Banff for some sports time in a park. It was there that we played football and Ultimate Frisbee and Teddy had a laugh attack!!  Some of the guys really enjoyed the opportunity to show off there disc skills. Then it was free time to have dinner, browse around and compete in a photo scavenger hunt. Jaime N., Mady, Griffin, Sammy, Shelby and Matt B. made up the winning team; “Team Snuffleupugus”, by submitting their photos just seconds before other teams started arriving.

The next day it was off to Penticton, B.C. and we couldn’t wait to check into our hotel and sleep indoors. We had pool/shower/chill time, then had an amazing BBQ dinner in the hotel, followed by seeing the movie “Public Enemies”.  The movie choice was democratic, good thing because that way no one was to blame when the reviews were an unfortunate unanimous two thumbs down. The next morning we woke up and headed to the beach to swim, play sports and just chill in the sun before having a picnic lunch and going tubing on the lazy river. Songs were sung, and groups were floating and playing over the hour long tube ride. Then it was back to the hotel to shower and change before we walked to dinner at The Pasta Factory and then headed to karaoke. It was there that we saw true talent!  Young Ben amazed us with his Elvis Presley performance and Ethan wowed the crowd by encouraging us to get up and dance! Everyone was involved in at least one number and most did far more than that!  We danced and sang the night away and it was great!  Then it was back to the hotel to have some free time before bed.

Then it was off to The Marriott Residence Inn in Whistler, BC. It was awesome. We checked in, and went grocery shopping for our condos. It was our job to plan out an Italian meal for our 2ndnight, so we all got to pick pastas, pizzas, salads, and desserts. Then we came back to the hotel to drop off our purchases and it was out to Whistler Village for dinner.  Some girls like Mady, Sacha, Sammy, and Teddy went for sushi, while some of the boys like Scott, Jake, Jayme, and Richard went to the famous Mongolie Grill. Then it was free time to look around and explore the village before we came back to the hotel for free time and bed.

Our 2nd day in Whistler was a particularly action-packed day. We all had a bit of a sleep-in and most of us went skiing while the non-skiers rode the new “Peak-2-Peak” gondola.  The skiing was great. After renting our skis, boots, poles and helmets, it took 3 chairlifts and a bus to get us to the top of the mountain.  It was there that Ryan face-planted several times (not to worry mom, we got it on camera) and others like Charlie and Max got to show off their skills on the jumps. We all had a great time skiing down and even using the T-bar to get up! Even though some like Liz, and Sarah rolled off a few times, they eventually got the hang and made it back up!  Then we all had our picnic lunches at the top of the mountain with an amazing view ahead of us, and headed back down. It was amazing to be skiing in t-shirts in 70 degree weather!

When we got back to the bottom, we met up with the rest of the group and went mountain biking. Some guys like Richard, Jaime, Max, Ian, Matt F., Zach B., Charlie, and Ethan did the single track mountain trail while others like Liz, Alex E, Courtney, Dana and Steph took an easier trail. While the bikers were touring Whistler, the non-bikers walked around the village and then caught the shuttle back to the hotel to start prepping for dinner in the condos.

Then it was back to Whistler village for the game “Trade it Up” whereby each team received a paper clip and an hour to walk around the village, approach people, and see what they could trade it for. The winning team was Shelby, Mady, Griffin, Max, and Sammy, who traded the paper clip for a salad dressing Tupperware, and then traded the Tupperware for twenty dollars, and then traded the twenty dollars to a woman who promised to donate it to charity, in exchange for a necklace made of 500 pop-tabs. It’s an awesome necklace!**

Now, we’re back to the US and enjoying Seattle. We will write you in a few days. California is only 3 days away and we cannot wait!!

Trip Voyageur Staff

*****P.S.: Below is an email we received from the woman who traded us the necklace for $20 in Whistler:

Last night while in the village square in Whistler BC, we were approached by a few young people from a WESTCOAST CONNECTION tour, doing a paper clip trade. We didn’t think we had anything worth trading but my 12 year old daughter was wearing a long aluminum soda pop can tab necklace. She has been collecting tabs for a very long time in an effort to collect enough to contribute to a charity that recycles the tabs to purchase wheelchairs. The young people from your tour group gave her $20 in exchange for the necklace. Tonight when we got home from our trip to Whistler she used the $20 to make a microfinance loan through Kiva.org to Chhum Soveat an entrepreneur in Cambodia. I hope you’ll get word to the young people on the tour because their $20 will help change the life of this young mother and her family. I’m sure the game has ended and I doubt if the group was able to trade away that string of tabs, but the $20 will keep on giving and giving. This entrepreneur will pay back the loan and my daughter Abbey will loan the money to someone else after that. I hope you’ll get this message to the tour group and they’ll have a look at the www.kiva.org site and look up Chhum Soveat.

Happy Summer!