So the time has come for us to depart the sunny shores of Canada!
The last few weeks have seen us fit in so much but I will try to cover it all here.
We managed to get some rafting in Calgary. A great little day trip that sees you throw a rented inflatable boat in the river and just go all the way until you either get tired and get out of the water or continue a couple of weeks until you get to Saskatechewan. We chose the former and got out somewhere downtown.
We had a visit from one of the instructors from the 2018 Globetrotter USA Camp. Devin Powell was up in Calgary with his lovely wife Carol-Lynn.
He was fighting on the card for UFC in Calgary. To say that I was nervous while watching it is a massive understatement. It was like watching Ireland V England in the Six Nations and the result was similar! Devin managed to dispatch his opponent with a devastating combo of liver kicks. You could literally see the poor fella’s soul exiting his body.
What made this whole experience better was that I managed to score some decent tickets for Prof. Gigante and I. So we went and grabbed some Brazilian BBQ (I mentioned the place in an earlier post) and then headed to watch the show.
To see a a team or fighter that you support win is always such a good thing. In this case it felt very different. Devin and his wife are such good, down to earth people. This win is part of one of their much larger goals and you got the feeling that so much was riding on this performance. Being a relatively stoic sports fan I don’t usually celebrate too much. In this case, having a brief glimpse of how hard Devin worked and what it meant, I was literally jumping from my seat in the crowd and went berserk when he landed the finishing blows!
The celebratory drinks were excellent!
The next day we headed to the mountains with Devin, Carol-lynn and one of their friends, Trevor. I managed to have a good training related chat with Trevor (who teaches at 2 different BJJ schools) over breakfast and his insight was very much appreciated!
We hiked up Johnston canyon and had a nice chilly dip in the waters of the falls. Turns out they are only 3 hours removed from a glacier and were absolutely baltic. We had a great fondue dinner at a spot in Banff and a few drinks to boot. It was genuinely one of the best weekends of our time in Canada and both Sarah and I genuinely wish the best upon the Powells and Trevor in the future! I also look forward to getting to Maine to visit Nostos MMA to get some training in at some point!
A few days after later I got a call whilst on the way to Gigantes BJJ gym. One of the blue belts wanted to make sure I was attending class that night. A bit strange, but it was one of my last nights in town so I figured there would be some photos to be had.
Much to my genuine surprise, as the end of the class came around, Prof. Fernando pulled my up in front of everyone to say goodbye and handed me my Blue Belt!
It was genuinely an honour that was not expected. At the end of the day, he is one of the toughest coaches I have trained with and he strives to keep the quality of his school’s jiujitsu up to a ridiculously high standard. I have seen a 15 year old green belt from Gigante BJJ take out adult blue belts in competition!
I will definitely do my utmost to make sure I keep my end of the bargain and to represent Gigante BJJ’s standards as a blue belt on my future travels!
Moving forward, we started packing for our 1700 KM drive from Calgary to Jasper, Jasper to Kelowna and then Kelowna to Vancouver for the Holiday weekend in August.
Everything was going to plan until I got a massive smack of Sinus Tarsi Syndrome. Completely took my right foot out of action for a week and then the left foot start acting up aswell! You have not lived until you have seen an otherwise fit and healthy Irishman trying to use crutches without a single working leg. The surprisingly large amounts of pain aside, it has been a very humbling and educational experience. Sarah has been doing everything for me. All the driving, cooking, packing.. you name it. She is genuinely a saint of a woman!
The pain will subside but the memories of this amazing road trip across Canada will remain!
This week we are staying with some friends in Vancouver. I am hoping to get back on my feet and to get out to visit a couple of gyms. The lovely folks at Alliance and Checkmat have invited me along for a session, so hopefully later in the week I can go see how large the target on my back has become!
I will close out the Canada adventures later this week when I jump the plane to Australia!