Time is a thief.

On February 7, 2016 my husband Devin Featherstone and I welcomed our new addition to the world. Kai Austin Featherstone joined us shortly after Beyonce performed at the Super bowl. My entire world changed from that moment on, as all mothers (and fathers) worlds presumably do.

At the time I was working in the office as a manager for a group of flight attendants, for one of Canada’s largest airlines (WestJet). The job was wonderful, but time consuming and I didn’t want to be a parent that was constantly on their phone working while at home (we all find what works or doesn’t for our family). So I made the decision to return to where I started, and renew my flying career. The decision was a tough one for me to make. I started flying in 2008, and had worked my way into my most recent position, taking additional courses for leadership, shedding tears as I assumed the responsibility of both a corporate world and keeping friendships with people who would eventually report to me, it was a long but fulfilling process.

My family, including my mother, have appreciated travel for as long as I can remember. By the time I was 10 I had ventured to different countries with my parents that included the French Polynesia, Australia, The United States and so on. By the time I was 25 I had already completed more solo trips than I could count including a month long journey to India (inspired none the less by a google search), and a 6 month stint in Mexico working for Club Med.

The flight attendant life came quite naturally to me. When I first joined in 2008 my life could fit into a small moving box, my ties were limited in Calgary Alberta and I’ve always enjoyed people. It’s interesting though, my return to flying is because of almost the exact opposite. I have a house, a beautiful family and am grounded here in Calgary. My choice to go back was mainly because of the time off, the time I get to myself and the fact that I get to travel to interesting places (while getting paid to do so). It lessens the “mom guilt”.

When I signed my contract to become a Flight Attendant again, I promised myself that no matter the layover I had I would take the opportunity to get out and explore. There is something about fresh air and new cities that I find so intriguing. As a hiking and wandering enthusiast I’ve decided to share my journeys with anyone who’s interested. This page will be dedicated to sharing the time I’m in one city, the cost (from the airport to whatever destination) and where I’ve started my journey (i.e. uber landmarks) with a hope to inspire wanderers alike to get out there- no matter how short your time in a city is!

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Devin (husband), Kai (son), me!
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Hiking in Vancouver (grouse grind) Kai was 9 months

Starting Slowly

Becoming a new mother, father, step parent, etc. is no easy task. You’re physically and emotionally drained- you’re trying to establish a connection with this new little person who lets face it has created a loving chaos in your home.

Forgetmenot Pond

Quite often Devin and I are asked when a good time to start hiking, running etc. with a new one is.
There is no correct answer to this, because every single person is different.

During my pregnancy I gained a whopping 60lbs. Which was way, way, way out of my comfort zone. I lost the additional gains quite quickly after I gave birth, but I still felt horribly out of shape and out of sorts.

Although I was active during my pregnancy doing spin classes, yoga classes, walks etc. my body felt truly wrecked. It also didn’t help that Kai was constantly up every two hours to eat for the first 5 weeks of his little life.

I had total doctor approval to resume physical activities, beyond the tearful walk I would do around the block of my house, at 6 weeks and wanted desperately to get back out into the mountains. I wasn’t sure how I would do, or how to do it so it became a guessing game.

Our first hike that we attempted (Devin, myself and Kai) was Prairie Mountain in Bragg Creek Alberta. For those that have attempted this hike, you know that the elevation gain alone is 700 meters which is quite large for the approximate 3.3km hike up. So it may seem silly that this was my first attempt after giving birth, but I wanted to attempt something that I knew, and that I had done before almost as a gauge for my physical level.

Kai was quite tiny when he was born, weighing in at 5lbs 10 ounces. After the 6 weeks allowed for both our growing and healing, he was around 7 lbs. which allowed him to fit snugly in the ergo babe with the infant insert. This is what I used frequently for my initial journey into hiking with a baby. Ergonomically speaking (ha) it was quite comfortable for myself and Kai. I felt comfortable with it, and that my friends is the first step in any activity with your child- feeling comfortable.

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Kai at 3 days old

So our hike began. My first attempt I only made it about a quarter of the way to the top but I felt good. I felt accomplished and knew the next time I was going to attempt this hike I was going to get a little further and even further the next.

My advice to new moms, and new hikers is to take it slow. Appreciate every single moment- the good and the bad because it goes by so quickly.

Now, I can climb prairie mountain and two years later I’m watching my son take his steps and make his journey to the top.

 

Alberta moms/dads and people alike here are some suggestions for beginner hikes around the area. Go slow, be safe and look at warnings that are listed on most parks C

 
anada websites. Always follow your doctors advice!

-Johnstons Canyon

-Troll Falls

-Forgetmenot pond pathway

-Grassi Lakes

-Upper Kananaskis Lakes

-Rawson Lake (a little bit more challenging)

Judgey McJudgersons

This post is going to be a little bit of a different format than my previous ones.

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I’ve decided that I’m going to start incorporating some different content than just cool spots to check out on different layovers. I’ve been asked a lot about great hikes and spots to go with your little one, so moving forward I’ll offer some suggestions for local spots as well as what we do to prepare for these adventures.

That being said, this post is not about hiking. It’s about the emotional relationship with being a working (and travelling) mother and everything that comes with it. Yes, mom guilt influenced by peoples prying questions, and even worse responses to personal answers.

When people find out that I’m a flight attendant and travel for a living while raising a two year old, the most common questions that I get are “Don’t you miss him and feel badly about being away?!” or “Well who’s watching him?” obviously a million social media memes pop up in my mind for rhetorics that are likely a little too inappropriate. Mainly about the second commonly asked question (Well Rebecca, my dog Stevie is trained in child first aid and can whip up a mean dish so he stays with her.)

My answers:

Yes, I completely miss my son when I’m away for periods of times. And there are days that I do feel terribly about being away. But there are also times that I’m happier than a pig in shit to step outside of my parenting role, even if it’s for two days. While I’m on the road I have the ability to socialize with adults, to have a hot cup of coffee, to crawl into bed at the end of the day without boogers smushed into my arm.

Maybe this makes me a bad parent, and maybe it doesn’t. Being away occasionally is good for me and it works for our family.

I was in an office position before coming back to flying, and I would miss things. Like Kai’s first steps. I was constantly checking work email, and putting my position in front of my family. It wasn’t working. I felt burnt out on both ends. Guilting myself when I took any time to be alone (think yoga class). This lifestyle works for families, but didn’t work for us. And that’s okay. Just like our decision to have one kid, and someone else’s to have five. My new flying lifestyle may take me away but it also allows me to be home for large stretches of time and to be fully invested in my son and husband.

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What works for one person may not work for the other: and that is how its supposed to be.

As for the second question, and maybe this gets a little political, but the answer is always my husband, who from the very beginning has been just as active as a parent as I am.

I may have grown Kai in that little uterus of mine, however, he is half me and half Devin and we both share a very equal responsibility in the daily duties of raising our child. If I had a nickel for every time I reply my husband and people elude their shock and confusion- I would be a very wealthy woman. This doesn’t just come from older generations, it for the most part comes from people my age (I would say 20 something, but thats a lie. 30’s).

We are also in a position that with both of our work schedules we are able to have an equally shared responsibility with Kai. Some people aren’t able to have that equal balance. Single parents, parents who have partners out of town, stay at home parents and so on. Being a parent is hard, the biggest lesson after my teenage angst phase that I learned is that parents are people too, and they are trying to do the best with what they have.

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With social media, there is a constant awareness about parent shaming and how crappy it makes people feel. But, it still happens and constantly.

This post isn’t supposed to be inspirational. It’s supposed to bring awareness about the thoughts that might cross your mind about someones day to day lifestyle. If it doesn’t fit into your traditional expectations, yet everyone is safe and no one is getting hurt- that’s okay. Our lives are not supposed to be cookie cutters. The boarders of my daily routine shouldn’t fall into the boarders of yours.

My life is the reflection of the choices that I’ve made along with my husband, that we have decided are right for us.

Let’s face it- not everyone looks good with red lipstick.

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Cholla Trail- Phoenix, AZ

Layover Time in Phoenix: 19 hours

How To Get There: UBER (magic) 5149 N Invergordon Rd Paradise Valley, AZ was the address that I used to get to camelback mountain. With traffic it was a 19 minutes. You do have to walk uphill after your drop off, but follow the oodles of people and you’re bound to find the trail head. The walk to the trail head is actually quite visually stunning as well- there are enormous, gorgeous houses peppered along the sidewalk- great daydream material.

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Difficulty: Cholla trail is clearly marked with signs that say this is an extremely difficult hike. For the beginner hiker- yes- this will be an extremely difficult hike. If you’re accustomed to small scrambles it’s actually not too bad.

Length: The hike is approximately 4km round trip but it’s straight up. It took about 2 hours to do the hike and that included a nice sit at the top.

The Hike: I really enjoyed this hike. The views are spectacular and there is enough incline to know you’re going to have a sore booty the next morning. The top of the trail has a bit of scrambling and some areas aren’t clearly marked. On the way down you’ll notice blue spray painted dots which are pathway indicators. Proceed with caution, if you’re not comfortable scrambling to the top- there are still beautiful views of the city and mountain range mid hike.

After our summit we decided to walk the additional 2km to Dierks Bentleys Whiskey Row and finish the day with a Margarita (or two).

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Round Trip Cost: Going with a friend always makes the cost a little less expensive. To Uber from our hotel (by the airport) it was $13.00 USD. Back from Whiskey Row it was another $13.00 USD. Grand total (drinks not included) $26.00 USD

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Additional notes: Thank you so much to Sporting Life Canada @sportinglifecan for the sweet gear (Nike top, Rebecca Minkoff bag, Altra Shoes) and to Austin for being my hiking buddy on such a long day 🙂

Winnipeg Magic

Layover Time in Winnipeg: 12 hours

The Trail: Winnipeg Ice Castle

How to Get There: Because of the frigid temperatures, and the fact that I was short on time (I appreciate sleep even more after kids) I took a taxi from the airport to the forks (downtown Winnipeg). Unfortunately Winnipeg hasn’t been UBER-fied yet.

To pre purchase tickets go to: http://icecastles.com/winnipeg/

Difficulty: Not a hike, and a completely small children family friendly winter activity. The most challenging part was making sure I had enough layers on to keep warm.

Length: You can make this tour as long as you would like it to be. The Ice Castle is equipped with slides (for adults and children), musical performances (think Frozen), fire pits and hot chocolate.

The Hike: As mentioned before this is definitely not a hike, it is however, a magical winter wonderland. Each icicle is created by hand making the castle an artistic gateway.

I went at night so I missed out on the musical performance, however there was still something spectacular about checking out the giant ice palace at night. Coloured lights are strewn throughout the walls of the ice giving your adventure a mystical twist.

A family fun place, I would recommend taking little ones (or big ones) who enjoy climbing and sliding. A big ice tunnel was created for the brave to race to the bottom on plastic mats.

Winnipeg is a Canadian city that is often overlooked (going to Winnipeg). It’s slowly changing, becoming a hub for the creative and people who are starting up small and trendy businesses. Not only does Winnipeg boast some amazing restaurants- it’s very accessible and the city is gearing towards an outdoor lifestyle.

If you decide to go to the Ice Castle in Winnipeg, look for a pair of skates. The sidewalks in the forks have been transformed into ice skating pathways that lead down to the river.

Round Trip Cost: I purchased my tickets to the Ice Castle ahead of time and it cost me $17.00, so I saved $3.00 by doing that. The cab from the airport to downtown cost $22.00. I shared a taxi back to the airport which cost me $5.00 (make new friends).

Total cost: $44.00 CDN- normally our hotel is downtown so it would have cost a little less but still a very accessible activity.

Additional Notes: The Ice Castles are only open for as long as the weather permits. If you’re going to Winnipeg, act fast before spring hits!

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver BC

Layover time in Vancouver: 14 hours

The trail: Grouse Mountain winter lights walk.

How to get there: Vancouver is one of the easiest city’s  to get around in that I’ve ever been too. Known for moving towards a greener environment the city is full of accessible and quick transit. I started at the bridgeport sky train station and took it to waterfront station. At waterfront you hop on the ferry. Once you’re at the terminal on the other side of the bay, you will see the bus number 236- this bus takes you right up to grouse mountain.

Difficulty: This one was easy! Eventually I will post the grouse grind (not as easy), but by the time I landed in Vancouver, got changed, and headed out to the train it was past two pm, and that is the cut off time for the snowshoe grind (shoot).

Length: This is only about a 1.5km loop- it’s very kid, grandparent, person of any kind walk.

The hike: I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a hike- it’s more of a beautiful nature walk, best taken in after dusk.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out the wonders of Vancouver British Columbia, I would highly recommend it. The entire city is visually stunning. The streets are full of big city art, small city music and crisp coolness unlike any other that I have been to. To be fair, I had always wanted to live there.

When you get to grouse, if you aren’t doing the grind up the mountain, you will purchase a  return ticket for the tram that takes you up the mountain top ($44.95CDN plus tax, discounts available for BC residents). On clear days, you can see for miles and the majority of downtown Vancouver.

Grouse mountain is a place for all seasons. It’s notoriety in the summer for the grouse grind is almost surpassed in the winter for the ski hills.

I’m not much of a skier, but there was plenty for me to do at the top of the mountain. The picturesque scenery greets you as you enter the winter wonderland. A great big fire pit, ablaze against the beautiful backdrop of a skating pond that locals, and tourists alike pirouetted across. If you didn’t pack your ice skates, have no fear- they along with snow shoes are available for rent.

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Ice pond at grouse

To the left of the ice pond is the start of the light walk. Its very clearly marked, with the recommendation that you apply snow shoes, as it can be slippery. I went without snow shoes or grips and took a stroll in my bogs and felt completely comfortable.

As you follow the shovelled pathway, it’s easy to get lost in the hypnotizing lights strung amongst the trees. One of my favourite parts was walking upto a giant strung square of dripping lights, and seeing a couple in a warm embrace underneath them in the centre.

If you’re skilled in night and light photography- I would highly recommend you take advantage of this.

Towards the end of the walk you’re met by a 12 foot moose made completely of lights. Skis and kids will likely be thrown at the base as people take in this very Canadian display of night beauty.

A note of advisory for those tight on time. I went on the long weekend, and there was a VERY long line (I would say 2 hours) at the top to get back on the tram that takes you down to the bus.

Make sure before you go, you take a look at the weather advisory grousemountain.com occasionally if the winds are strong, they close down the trams for safety reasons. Save yourself an hour and a bit bus ride for no reason!

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Me standing with the giant moose.

Round trip cost: When taking transit in Vancouver, make sure you purchase a day pass- this will allow you to transfer at each location and get you back in one go. I have a compass card, and re-loading it for a day pass was $10 CDN

Grouse mountain tram $47CDN

Total cost: $57CDN

Additional Notes: If you’re going in the summer, and you haven’t done the grouse grind- I would highly recommend it. It’s challenging but so rewarding, plus you only have to pay for your down trip on the tram.

Total time (drive, hike and lunch) 6 hours- Definitely Doable on a short layover!

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Hiking To The Hollywood Sign

Layover time in Los Angeles: 20 hours

Los Angeles is, and will always be one of my favourite cities. The people, the beaches, the food: I can’t seem to get enough.

The first round of schedules that we get when returning to flying, doesn’t give us the choice to request destinations that we would like to have a layover in. For some reason, as fate would have it- I lucked out with a layover in LAX.

I’ve always been obsessed with the Hollywood sign, and had dreams of hiking up with a bottle of cheep champagne, sitting in the “O” and saluting the sunset. Not quite do-able, considering that would cost up to $1000 USD in fines, and likely place me in a cell for the evening.

Instead- I settled for the classic, hike behind the sign with a bottle of water (I’d recommend bringing one). It was still great.

The trail: Wisdom Tree and Cahuenga Peak to the Griffith Observatory

How to get there: I’ve driven in Los Angeles and as many tourists would agree, try to avoid it in Los Angeles at all costs. I used Uber to get to the trail head. From the airport area it cost approximately $30 CDN one way. and I used the address: 3052 Lake HollyWood Drive Los Angeles (wisdom tree).

Walk towards wonder view drive from this drop off location and follow the road until you see a dirt path. Thats where the trail starts.

Note: Uber prices change depending on time of day, etc. so this is just a rough estimate.

Difficulty: Moderate, although towards the end of the hike the footing is a little challenging. If you aren’t used to steep(ish) hills and some tricky footing you might think this hike a little more challenging.

Length: There and back from the Hollywood sign is approximately 3 miles. I continued onto the griffith observatory and it turned into about a 7 mile hike but made for a great lunch spot- souvenir shop and uber pick up.

The hike: The start of the hike felt home like, dirt trail and a little steep. It’s a popular hike so you’ll definitely see people on the trail. I’m not always a big people person when I’m hiking (blame it on the furnace face) and as I was climbing up (the initial mile is uphill) I noticed a good two dozen people hanging out at the wisdom tree. I decided to not join the crowd. I regret that decision now, from googling pictures the tree is quite statuesque. However, I do feel the need to mention that with the swarms of people there has been notable damage to the tree itself (look but don’t touch people, and stay on the trails).

Instead of going strait to the tree, I took the alternate path up to Cahuegna Peak and felt like I was on top of the world. Not a lot of people were up there. I think I crossed paths with maybe 5 people. There is something about solidarity that I find so alluring.

As you follow the path, you get to a mini cliff. Take caution when descending. It felt like I wasn’t supposed to be going that way- but it’s accurate. It takes you to the sign. After an additional mini climb, you stumble upon a fence and VOILA, there (behind the fence) is the Hollywood sign.

Keep walking and you get to a little flat where you get a better view. You can turn around here or follow Mulholland Drive until you see fire roads. There will be signs directing you to the Griffith Observatory- follow those signs, and enjoy the views of the Hollywood sign.

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View on the way to the Observatory

Round trip cost: $60 CDN for the uber. I did buy lunch at the observatory, but be forewarned you get tourist taxed. A veggie dog in a bun will cost you around $7 USD.

Additional Notes: If you enjoy hiking in the company of others, @trailmothers is a group of mothers who frequent the area often. Be sure to check out their facebook or instagram page and send them a message- meet ups welcome!

Total time (drive, hike and lunch) 5.5 hours- Completely Doable on a short layover!

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Sunset from the Griffith Observatory

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