I’m going to begin by sharing this post I wrote about a very special Christmas I had overseas.

If you go over to read that post, I’m referring to the first Christmas I spent overseas. The one in The Netherlands.

Like I said before, after the first time I saw Amsterdam, I vowed to go back and live there. So I did.

I found a school called Youth With a Mission, which apparently a lot of people have heard of. I hadn’t but I found out about it through a friend. I did a bit of research and decided it would meet my educational and adventure needs as well as my travel wishes. I had waited four long years to return to Amsterdam. Patiently working at McDonald’s, going to university, saving my money for another trip of a lifetime… a part of me thought it would never happen. But a lot of me still believed.

You know, I just didn’t want to force it. I wanted to go back if it was the right thing to do, not just on an emotional whim. So I waited, and then I went. And I wanted to stay, desperately.

However, part of the school program I attended (called a Discipleship Training School, aka DTS) required an outreach. Mine was to South Africa. Do I dare admit when I heard I was starting my journey in East London I nearly jumped out of my skin because I had wanted to go to England so bad?

Yes. East London is a city in South Africa. And yes. South Africa is a country, not a region.

Things I didn’t know before I went… but I know now!

My months in Amsterdam were amazing. I didn’t want to leave. I even bought a bike from a junkie in the market and rode it around town like I owned the place. And when it was time for me to go to South Africa I tried valiantly to do my outreach in Amsterdam instead. I claimed I didn’t have enough money to go all the way to the bottom of the world (and actually I didn’t) and wouldn’t you know it. Somebody sponsored me, like an answer to prayer.

So I went to South Africa. And I had the TIME of my life. And I vowed to return to South Africa and live there. And I waited six long years, but I did return.

But I didn’t live there. But I sure tried. I had an amazing visit and it confirmed my love for the country and the region of southern Africa. And maybe I will live there one day, but I don’t have the desire as strongly any longer.

After my months in South Africa I returned to Amsterdam for another couple weeks. It felt like home honestly. I thought about staying on with Youth With a Mission, but they only took two year commitments and, well, two years is a long time when you’re 22.

So I went back home and thought long and hard about moving overseas. And then something weird happened. I went to Bible school in Alberta, and then I got distracted and moved to northern B.C. for 18 months. I think I was a bit lost for a while, not really fitting in anywhere and not ready to stay in one place. The early 20s are a funny thing. I think people choose to either settle where they are and embrace adulthood, or they wander, searching for…


At any rate, I continued to restlessly search for the unknown for the rest of my 20s.

Skip-bo and the Farm

Something my family spent a lot of time doing was driving. I don’t know how many times we went back and forth to my grandparent’s farm in Alberta but trust me, it was a lot.

My guess is between two and four times a year for 10 years.

Anyway, we loved going out to Alberta and spending time at the farm even though we were “from B.C.” Yeah, we were branded by our cousins for being from over the mountains and through the hills. To me it was so weird that someone would care (and have an opinion) about where I lived. However, I think we all tried to fit in with our cousins as best we could even though we didn’t understand what made us so different.

This meant playing in/around/on cows, farm equipment, junkyards, derby cars, snowmobiles, etc. etc. etc. At home we didn’t have any of these things. Just bears and stuff and junk. Mountain trails. Dogs who chased you home from school. Kids stuff. We were in Alberta now.

Of course we also spent a lot of time with our grandparents. They were nice people. Really really nice. My grandfather spent a lot of time restoring classic Fords and my grandma spent hours tending to her vast flower garden, greenhouse, and vegetable patch. They were simple people who lived quite a ways out of town. There was no TV, no Internet, no video games, no radio stations, no entertainment really. So, when our cousins weren’t around the four of us Roste kids could play with our mom’s old toys from when she was a kid or…

  • Watch one of the two VHS tapes in the house:
  1. Disney classics Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, and Robin Hood, all on one tape
  2. Hockey’s Greatest Hits
  • Play games (here are my favourites):
    • Skip-bo
    • Racko
    • Othello
    • Old Maid
    • Dutch Blitz

    And…that’s about it.

    But actually, we all loved games and especially Skip-bo. My grandpa was pretty good at it and my grandma was ruthless. They taught me all I’ll ever need to know about cards and strategy and my family still gets together regularly to rally at Skip-bo. Sure we try other games now and then but nothing really compares. Especially now that we have all sorts of in-laws who don’t quite “get it” yet. They’re so funny.

    Anyway, so this little passion began for me basically as soon as the game was released…OK, since I learned how to play. It’s a simple game anyone can play so I don’t think it’s the game I love so much as all the years of happy memories of my grandparent’s farm and spending time with my relatives and family.

    It’s weird. Even though there wasn’t much to do and even though we had to wash dishes by hand and do chores and stuff, I always had the best time and cried and cried each and every time we had to leave. I loved living over the rainbow but…well I can’t explain it. I guess you just know when you’re loved and you want to hold on even when you know you can’t.

    Moose vs. Sunfire: A Love Story

    Today’s story isn’t mine, but it’s true.

    It happened up in Northern Alberta.

    In the winter.

    In the middle of the night.

    I think you know where this is going.

    Moose vs. Sunfire: A Love Story

    By Jered

    Back in the days when I had long beautiful hair I had an adventure that involved a moose. I say the adventure involved a moose, but really, if not for the moose there wouldn’t have been an adventure to tell of.

    So as I recall it was the night of December 21-22. I had just finished working a 12 hour shift somewhere around the Grand Cache area, packed up all my gear, and been driven and hour or two to Grand Prairie to pick up my car (a magnificent specimen of a 1995 Pontiac Sunfire) where my co-worker and I were going to drive to Edmonton as we both had flights home for Christmas at about 9 a.m. on the 22nd.

    The guy who drove us to GP was keen on showing us his new place and i think by the time we actually got on the road it was somewhere around 1 a.m. At around 2:30 a.m. we were well on our merry way driving a stretch of road between Valley View and Fox Creek (which was incidentally called Moose Row) discussing the cosmos and ethics/etc. when there 20 feet in front of the mighty Sunfire was a moose crossing the centre line into my lane.

    All I could actually see of the moose was its white legs the rest of it was as black as the surrounding backdrop of trees and midnight sky. There wasn’t much I could do in the time it took to cover 20 feet at 110 km/h and then there was the distinctive sound of of the age old battle clash of moose vs. Sunfire as I broadsided the moose and the windshield shattered and it became rather difficult to see where I was going.

    I was, though, able to see out of my driver door window and noticed that the ditch on the opposite side of the road was fast approaching, and recalling that there had been an oncoming car about 150 meters up the road and that I was now in their lane, I cranked the wheel to the right in an attempt to avoid a head on collision. And somehow it worked and I was able to get the car back into its proper travelling lane, however as I could not see out of the windshield I was not aware that the oncoming car had swerved into my lane to avoid me when I had gone into his lane.

    So as it turned out when we both eventually stopped we were half on the road half on the shoulder of the right lane, and about five feet from each other. The first thing I did was get out and go around to see if my travel companion was OK, though thinking about it now I suppose I could have just turned my head and asked him.

    And he was OK, but quite shaken up and had received a knock on the head when the moose came down on top of the car. I was unscathed except for a few cut knuckles, which I figured must have been from when i cranked the wheel in my attempt to avoid the head on collision, as when I went to pull the car completely off the road the steering wheel wouldn’t turn very far because the windshield was pressed up against it.

    So to make a long story short other people came and stopped, the police arrived and ambulance arrived, my co-worker went in the ambulance to the Fox Creek hospital, I loaded all our bags into the police truck and met him at the hospital, where he had some scans of sort to make sure he was OK after the knock on the head.

    The hospital staff was very helpful and tried to help us change our flights, but there were none available until the new year, so then they worked on finding us a ride to Edmonton, but the buses were long past running and there was only one taxi in Fox Creek at that time and he was busy, so a taxi came from Whitecourt (which I think was about an hour away) to fetch us after buddy was cleared to leave, and then drove us a couple hours to Edmonton where we arrived 30 min before my flight with 3x more luggage than I had planned on taking, which I was able to place in a storage locker, and then I somehow made it on my flight, flew home and had a merry Christmas. And so did my co-worker, though he was quite stiff and sore for a few days.

    And as for the moose, well, it died. Eventually. Along the side of cold, lonely Moose Row. And as for the Sunfire, it died too, so I guess in the end it was a draw.

    But I realize that most incidents involving cars and moose at 110km/h don’t have as fortunate outcomes, so I do count myself blessed and I am thankful to God for His looking out for me.

    The End.

    Lone Ranger Roste

    My brother and me at his wedding

    My brother and me following his wedding ceremony

    Yes, it’s true. In just a few short months I went from being part of the majority to being the last single Roste in the bunch. I’m the lone ranger Roste.

    And I feel OK about that. How could I not? I mean, just look at my brother’s face—could he be any happier?

    So, while many might steer clear of a mid-January wedding in the sub-arctic temperatures of south eastern Alberta (seriously, -22 degrees on average), my brother and his bride forged ahead. I don’t know what they were thinking, but they seemed to have a great time.

    My brother has lived in the Hat for a while…maybe he’s impervious to the cold?

    If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the people in Medicine Hat are rare. I think it’s something about prairie people that I didn’t quite grasp back when I tried to live in Alberta (it was so long ago I didn’t even know what a blog was) for a year. Of course I lived farther north, kind of in the middle of the province. Perhaps I was a bit to “urban” to really “get it.”

    Get what?

    That’s the thing. I have no idea.

    But what I do know, is the Hat is moose country. Observe:

    The Medicine Hat Moose

    The Medicine Hat Moose

    My dad clued me into the Medicine Hat moose. I never saw him, we took a different route to the reception (aka the wrong one), but ran out in between the wedding and the reception to do some spotting.

    This sucker is big. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wrangle him or anything because he was in his enclosure. I did think about scaling the fence. However, it probably wasn’t appropriate in a dress. Plus as I was considering the climb my brother drove past and honked. Probably warning!! me about the $500 fine for vandalism, which moose wrangling probably is. Vandalism.

    Medicine Hat Moose

    Attention!! Vandalism is a Crime. $500 Reward

    Moose Recreation Centre

    While lost we accidentally discovered the MOOSE Recreation Centre

    All in all it was a short, freezing, and sweet trip. The roads and weather threatened disaster but you know, things went really well. The main roads were visible and it never really snowed when we needed to drive.

    At the ceremony

    During the ceremony

    The wedding was beautiful, and great (people are really laid back in Medicine Hat, did you know that?), the guests showed up mostly, the food was really good, and the DJ was even awesome! What else can you wish for? They even managed to get their marriage licence in the nick of time.

    First dance

    First dance

    Top quote from the wedding happened when the pastor realized they didn’t have a marriage licence at the rehearsal. My brother: “We were supposed to get the license!?”

    “Congratulations” Mr. and Mrs. Roste!

    Packing List: Multi-Trip Edition

    When you’re doing multi-trips for work, how do you pack? This is my best attempt at a packing list for multi-work trips. You’re welcome!

    Packing List Multi-Trip Edition

    Figuring out a packing list when going on multiple, consecutive trips is DIFFICULT to say the least.

    It is hard to know what to say about my recent travels because every bit of it is for work and I have about a five per cent interest in bringing work into my personal blog.

    However, I have a 90 per cent interest in writing about travelling so…well, like I said. I don’t really know what to say.

    The Edmonton trip was planned in 2009, in pencil pretty much since I started working in July. The Dallas trip was a lot less expected. I think I had 10 days notice or something. We have affiliates in Dallas (head office, if you will) and had some meetings to attend. It was all very “whirlwind” and adventurous. I enjoy random trips just as much as planned trips. However, I really had no idea what to expect.

    Especially since the trips were back-to-back and I was encountering not only two very different climates and weather conditions, but three different dressing conditions.

    Oh, what to pack!?

    Keeping my Robyn-proof Packing List (Golden Rules edition) in mind, I tried to pack to the best of my ability. Unfortunately there were several hiccups including:

    • I’m still moving and have stuff spread out and/or packed
    • No clear idea of what I need
    • Very little time to actually plan/pack

    Golden Rules of Roste travel:

    Multi-trip Packing List Edition

    1. Always write a packing list. Then share with Celia because she’ll remind you to pack underwear
    2. OK, this didn’t happen and I have no real reasonable excuse. However, I did send a guilt email later (from Texas) as a passive apology.

    3. Write an events list and what kinds of outfits you’ll need
    4. OK, well this didn’t happen either, but I did ask my boss what the dress code was for each event and had a pretty good idea of what I needed.

    5. Leave enough time to pack three times:

      1. First pack whimsically, vaguely attending to The Packing List
      2. Second compare to the events list and pilfer items out
      3. Third repeat again, this time making sure items packed are versatile and can be combined more than one way

      True I skipped the first two steps, and really only packed once. But I have a valid excuse! Most of my clothes are still packed so I had to use everything I had. Also, I really did try to pack versatile clothes so I could wear items more than once and in more than one situation.

    6. If you’re on a long bus/train trip, avoid shirts with sleeves. You won’t be able to change/shower and you will smell. It is unavoidable. However, your stench will be seriously lessened if you have no sleeves
    7. Well this is just common sense. One of my original travel rules.

    8. Don’t bring a sleeping bag, blanket or pillow unless you have a car. Just bring one warm coat/fleece and one sheet—bring your Quillow instead of a sheet if it’s not summer
    9. Genius…who wrote this?

    10. Divide your toiletries into sections: Stuff you’ll need while travelling, stuff you’ll need overnight and stuff you’ll only need periodically
    11. Always use a backpack unless you’re staying in hotels. You will never regret this
    12. Used a suitcase, but also stayed in hotels. Unfortunately I must have dragged my suitcase at some point because one of the wheels got a flat side (?) and made this really annoying *klunk-klunk* all over Dallas and Seattle.

    13. Only bring books you’re willing to ditch when finished reading. If you meet cool people you can trade books
    14. Yeah…I only brought books I needed plus that one monster Robert Jordan one I’m still slogging through.

    Overall I’d have to say, I’m an old-pro. I not only wore nearly the clothes I packed, but also had clean (and appropriate) clothes the entire trip(s). I say wearing nearly all the clothes a giant success because I always wanted a backup. Just in case. You know how it is.

    Updated packing list for Edmonton