Departure Day

I had four important things to do before boarding the plane on my departure day:

  • Drop Keys from the Apartment at Manager’s Door
  • Give Lisa Key from my PO Box
  • Stop at TD Canada Trust bank to deposit left over $110 I still had on me and get the receipt with my account number to give to Lisa so she can deposit checks under my name into my account
  • Get a Customs declaration with the serial number of my notebook so I have the proof that I have left the country with this item, in case I get questioned on my way back

It all went smoothly. Despite having crappy start to the day because of lack of sleep, I never forgot to get any of this done and there was no roadblocks on the way to getting any of this done. I was all set to take off. Lisa drove me to the airport and there was still enough time to get comfortably checked in, to check in my luggage and get a boarding pass. Being at the airport starts the travel rush instantly. I love the atmosphere at the airport. Everyone is going somewhere or came from somewhere and everyone seems so “worldly”. I love it.

A Night Before Departure

So finally it’s here. I’m done all the prep work and I’m only one night away from departing on my dream trip. As little kid would say – only one more sleep before vacation. I felt really excited. I’ve been waiting for this moment and now it’s here. I called Lisa to make sure I could still catch a ride with her to the airport. In order to have plan B in case Lisa doesn’t work out, I’ve looked up the schedule of Sky Shuttle service to Edmonton International Airport. The closest stop one of the shuttles has to my place was at Ramada Hotel on Kingsway Avenue in Edmonton. It’s the beginning of their University Route – one of three different routes Sky Shuttle covers in Edmonton. The cost was only $20 and they run once every 45 minutes starting in very early hours (only once per hour on Saturdays). This was a solid back up as taking a taxi cab from where I live in NW Edmonton all the way down to YEG (Edmonton International Airport) would be way too costly. It’s about an hour long drive.

After a few phone calls (Lisa is ridiculously difficult to get a hold of – she doesn’t have a cell phone, just a home line), Lisa picked up and assured me she’d be at my place at 7.30am (I beat her to ensuring she’s here). It was her day off so it worked out perfect. She also said on the phone that a friend of her would come along, but her friend was 17!

I went for a walk to Westmount Mall to get myself a couple of organic peaches (I only buy organic) and a chocolate bar as that would be the last food I’d eat in Edmonton. I got back and went on a computer to do one of the most important pre-departure steps – send email to my supervisor at work. Despite countless connection problems with my wireless internet, I got that email sent eventually and made an attempt to sleep. It was already after midnight but my body felt wide awake.

I lay in bed for about an hour and seeing that sleep is nowhere near, I turned the laptop back on. After spending another hour messing around on the internet, I made one more desperate attempt at sleeping which failed again so I got back on the computer for the third time. It was already after 4am when I eventually felt a bit of tiredness and crashed.

I don’t think it was the excitement of upcoming travel that kept me awake. I don’t know what exactly it was. I have never been big sleeper and I think it was the fear of not getting enough sleep prior to departure that made my mind believe it was going to happen so it did happen.

When my phone rang at 7am, I could not get myself to get up. I assumed that Lisa would not show up exactly at 7.30 anyway, so I spent another 15 minutes in bed trying to struggle through my losing battle of getting up. I eventually did, but was too slow getting going and then bang – Lisa knocked on my window. She in fact did make it to my place precisely at 7.30. Damn.

Luggage Size Issues

My luggage ended up being much larger than I expected. I cut down on items significantly, yet it still grew to be a monster. Perhaps having an extra set of shoes and bagging an extra camera bag did it. These two seemed to have taken up one third of available space. I had to save camera bag space for what it’s meant to store – my camera, lenses and a laptop computer. That itself was heavy enough so any thoughts of trying to squeeze more in there were easily defeated. I had several baseball caps, mostly unused that I wanted to take with me to Cambodia to give to kids, but there was no chance I could shove those in. I was able to force several small packs of chewing gums in so I should be good as far as stuff to give away is involved.

Traveling light is the secret to successful long term travel. I swear I trimmed down my items to only absolutely crucial pieces, then threw half of it in garbage yet in the end I still had a case full of stuff I could not fit in. Complete packing fail on my behalf. I’m sure I’ll be getting rid of some of those as I go along. Hauling it from place to place will teach me.

I’m however secretly hoping I would be able to get myself a better suitcase once I have reached my destination. The one I have is not very good. It’s one of those cool one with wheels, but it’s very easy to tip and exceptionally difficult to get back on the wheels. It’s also not very sturdy and lacks convenient side pockets. The sturdiness is the most significant downside which became apparent halfway through packing – the zipper seam got ripped as I have attempted to close it. Cheap piece of junk! I’m just gonna pray and hope it will make it all the way to Siem Reap without completely breaking apart. I will get myself a proper bag once I got there.

Apartment Inspection

After my bike was dropped off at Dave’s, I had but one last thing to take care of – apartment inspection. I left notice of leaving almost two months prior to intended departure and later left the notice with Matthew, on site manager notifying him that I would be leaving the country on August 31, 2009 early in the morning so the best time for me to do the inspection of the apartment would be in the evening the day prior (Sunday, August 30).

I briefly met Matthew after I left this notice with him, but he was just getting in a cab so I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him about it. To make sure the inspection will be performed as expected, I phoned Matthew’s phone on Sunday noon, but got the answering machine. I left a message reminding him that I was leaving tomorrow and needed to get the inspection done tonight.

Luckily, shortly after I have returned from Dave’s dropping off my bike, Matthew called me to let me know that he got my message and will be back from work at about 6.30pm in the afternoon so we could do the inspection then.

That worked for me, I had a little bit of cleaning to do so I got right down to it so the apartment look presentable when Matthew returns from work. He knocked on my door at about 5pm, which was great cause I wanted to be done with it and have my mind focus on leaving for Cambodia tomorrow, but I did not have the apartment ready quite yet. I asked him to give me a bit more time and kicked into gear.

I was really, really disappointed to learn that he won’t be able to give me the check with my deposit right away so I could drop it off at my bank the following morning and have the funds there to pay off my credit card. This really messed up with all my plans, but because of tight schedule, I had no option but to go with it. Apparently because the apartment building is company run, the company will be delivered the inspection report and will issue a check by mailing it off to my address about 7 days later.

That was the most awful news ever. That would mean that I won’t be able to deposit the check into my account while I’m still in Canada. That would also mean that I would have to ask someone to do it for me, but most of all it would also mean that if the check is not issued for correct amount, I won’t be there to take care of it. This was truly awful news but I had no choice but to go with it.

BTW, if you live in Edmonton and stay in an apartment managed by Davies Management, you may want to look into it. They are happy to take the deposit as soon as you move in, but will not give it to you as soon as you move out. You will be forced to wait to get it back. If you decide to move to another apartment, you will need this deposit to leave the deposit at your new place. I don’t know how they can leave people hanging without their deposit for a week. I find this absolutely unacceptable. Remember the name – Davies Management. The worst experience ever.

After I had asked Matthew to give me a bit more time to finish the cleaning of the apartment, I quickly all common areas but didn’t bother with the carpet. One more awful news on top of the delayed deposit check was the fact that they will discount the cost of carpet deep cleaning from my check. I really didn’t feel like fighting this off in any way, so I took it as necessary evil, however I have responded in like. I did not vacuum nor otherwise clean the carpet. I left it the way it was, claiming that I will be charged for deep cleaning anyway, so why should I bother vacuuming.

I have asked how much deep cleaning normally costs and was told it would be about $45 one time fee. Given that I have left $850 as deposit when I moved in at the beginning of April, I should still get $800 back in a check which will get to my mailbox while I’m away.

I have passed this information on Lisa with whom I have made arrangements that she would check my mail every now and again and will deposit my checks that I would get for me at any TD Canada Trust location. She would be my remote hands for this type of thing and I paid her with lots of freebies I gave her from my possessions. Apartment inspection was done with and I had only about 13 hours left till departure from Edmonton. Yeee!

Storing Bike at Dave’s

The last possession I had to store was my mountain bike. I loved my Specialized Hard Rock Pro. I paid top dollars for it, but it was my main means of transportation for two years and the only means for almost a year. Very reliable bike and a pleasure to ride.

Photo: Specialized Hard Rock Pro Mountain Bike
Photo: Specialized Hard Rock Pro Mountain Bike

I phoned Dave on Sunday to see if he was at home so I can ride the bike to his place. I got a message back that he’d be around till about 5pm as he had to go see his cousin afterwards. I sent him a text back that I was jumping on the bike ride away to head to his place.

It took me almost an hour to get there – Dave lives that far. It was a nice ride for the most part, except from Fort Road which had construction on it with traffic lights not working and car traffic restricted to one lane. It gave me no chance to cross the road. I was stuck there for good 15 minutes before there was a gap big enough between cars to quickly squeeze through.

Dave gave me lift in his car back home, I filled up his tank with gas. I had been meaning to do that all along as small thanks for storing my items while I was abroad. I was glad I got the opportunity to take care of it while I was still in Canada. It was my last day there, so it worked out last minute, but I did it, which is all that counts.

The picture of Specialized Hard Rock Pro mountain bike taken from

My Friend Lisa

I’ve had this weird relationship with Lisa for years. It’s hard to call it a relationship as we have never really been a couple but we’ve always been reasonably close. I met her in a club shortly after I’ve realized the toll corporate lifestyle has taken on me and decided to change my life and make it exciting once again. I was glad to see her as it was a while since she came out last and I wanted to tell her all about how I realized how worthless a life I was living and what I was going to do in order to change it around. But when I suggested going for a walk so I can explain myself, she turned me down thinking I had some side intentions. It was funny cause I really wanted to tell her everything that kept me excited and sharing this excitement would make it double.

She eventually agreed to go for a brief walk around the building with me so I got a chance to at least suggest that I’m looking to take a whole different approach to my life. As the time went by and I got much closer to polishing up the strategy of my new start, I called her to see if she’d be up for supper so I can sit down with her and follow up on previous brief introduction to my lifestyle change. I believed it needed more explanation as by briefly explaining that I’m gonna leave work to travel may have left wrong impression that I have gone mental. Unfortunately, I was not having any luck getting a hold of her on her phone for weeks.

It wasn’t until one week before my planned departure that I called her number and she answered. I didn’t even know what to say I was so surprised she picked it up. There’s been nothing but answering machine lately and I don’t talk to the answering machines. I briefly stated over the phone that I was leaving in a week and that there was no knowing when or whether I will be coming back. I thought it would be a good reason to go out one more time to enjoy the meal together.

She responded by reminding me of a terrible meal experience she had when I went to dine with her last time. It was the day before leaving for the Dominican Republic. I thought she over reacted as it really wasn’t that bad, but I get it that she didn’t like the food. However I did not even remember that anymore and she kept it in her mind and based her unwillingness to go for supper with me again on that. Duh!

I promised her we’d go to some nice place, such as Padmaradi – a vegetarian restaurant in China Town in Edmonton which is really awesome. And so we did. It was mostly a monologue on my part and I wasn’t even sure if I was making any sense to her. I had a lot to talk about. I actually realized how this reasoning behind leaving the corporate lifestyle and how it turns life into a miserable grumpiness and switching it for the lifestyle that brings daily adventure and excitement was difficult to explain. I saw it clearly in my mind, but putting it in words was failing and seemed like it didn’t have the beginning and the end and the stuff between was all over the place.

I find the same difficulty trying to explain my reasoning in words here. It is as clear as the sky in my mind, but often I fear that I don’t have the right ability to put my thoughts on paper without making myself sound like I went mental.

As I sat with Lisa over a bowl of nice coconut rice with fake curry chicken and fake beef, I spoke and spoke, presented one argument after another and despite being unsure if I made any sense, Lisa ensured me that I was making perfect sense. I already had most of my stuff stored with Dave and only had a few left over to take care of and Lisa in all her awesomeness offered assistance in that regard. I was also offered help taking care of checks that would be sent to my mailbox from my on line ventures. We made arrangements that I would give Lisa the key from my mail box, she’d get the mail and if there are any checks, she’d deposit them for me. I already knew from my bank that during my physical absence, other people can deposit checks that are made payable to me into my account provided they have my account number which needs to be written on the back of the check. So I would just need someone reliable back home to have this taken care of. Lisa offered to be the one.

Lisa has also offered to store the rest of my items I needed to keep and as form of payback for her services, I ended up giving her a lot of my possessions she really wanted. It worked out perfect. I wanted to unload myself so I can travel, she needed some items cause her job doesn’t pay that well and she can’t afford them. So I gave her whole pile of stuff and she’s gonna look after mine while I’m gone traveling.

Further to that, Lisa offered to give me a lift to the airport on my day of departure. That basically took care of most of the issues that needed to be taken care of and I got whole couple steps closer to leaving. Lisa kicks butt.

Buying Travel Insurance in Canada

If you’re traveling abroad, you definitely want to buy good Travel Insurance. At least that’s what all insurance companies tell us. Vast majority of people who buy travel insurance waste money on it, however those few who do get involved in an accident or become severely sick abroad would be in lifetime debt had they not bought the insurance prior to the trip. Buying travel insurance is obviously a big deal and an important decision to make prior to the trip. I faced the same issue myself – where do I go to buy best travel insurance in Canada?

Savvy travellers know that most travel insurances offered along with travel packages are a major rip off. Each time you buy a travel insurance along with the vacation package, you are overpaying hard core. This is somewhat understandable as majority of mainstream travel agencies sell mostly sun vacations which are so competitive, they are priced very low and deliver minimal mark-up. If travel agencies were to sell nothing but those popular vacation packages, they would not stay afloat for a very long time. Luckily there are travel insurances and that’s where they get you. While mark-up on popular vacation packages is minimal, mark-up on travel insurances most people buy along with the vacation is outrageous.

It is no different than extended warranties for electronics. It’s only thanks to those that big box stores are able to sell laptops and other gadgets for so cheap. So I’m OK with the fact that most people allow themselves to get ripped off on extended warranties or travel insurances. I’m one of the few who don’t fall for this but the reason I can get away with it is because majority of populace does get ripped off on overpriced travel insurances so travel agencies do have a buffer to work with and can let one person slip without buying one every once and again.

Here’s a comparison:

If you buy a Vacation to the Caribbean (Cuba or the Dominican Republic, for example) in Canada, the weeklong, all-inclusive package will cost you on average $800 plus taxes. Travel insurance for your weeklong stay will start at $80 and will go up to some $130 for a more complete package. You easily end up paying 10% or more of the cost of your all inclusive stay on top of the vacation for your travel insurance that covers you for a week.

Your other option is to call Blue Cross Canada and buy an annual insurance from them for the cost of $68 (in Alberta, not sure about other Canadian provinces and territories). This insurance covers your first 30 days of any stay abroad you take within a year from the validity of your insurance. That means that if you travel abroad let’s say 6 times a year and each of your stays is 30 days long or shorter, then this one time payment of $68 for the travel insurance covers your each trip.

If you didn’t buy this Blue Cross coverage, but instead purchased insurance individually each time you travel, you would be looking at a combined cost of $600 or more ($100 on average for each of your six trips, however if you take 30 day trips, the cost of insurance would be higher. $100 is typical for a one week vacation).

Photo: My Blue Cross Canada Travel Insurance Card for 2010/2011
Photo: My Blue Cross Canada Travel Insurance Card for 2010/2011

There are some terms of service associated with the Blue Cross travel insurance, for example that it doesn’t cover travel through war zones or other areas with advisories against travel to these areas issued by Foreign Affairs of Canada (published on so you do need to review it before purchasing, however for a normal travel through save and somewhat safe country, Blue Cross insurance covers you perfectly well for the initial 30 days of your stay abroad.

This is what I went with to Cuba, Dominican Republic and Iceland and since I still had 5 months of Blue Cross insurance left, I didn’t buy any additional coverage. I thought that my strategy would be to leave the country and move to another country after a month. Most tourist visas are valid for a month only anyway so unless you extend, you would end up leaving the country anyway. This way I’d be covered with my Blue Cross for the duration of following 5 months.

I remained opened to the possibility of buying health insurance from one of the insurance providers available in a country where I would decide to stay for an extended period of time. It only made sense that buying health coverage from Canada to insure me in a third world country would be expensive. But buying the same insurance from an insurance company that operates in that very country should offer the same type of coverage, but be noticeably less expensive to buy. And that was my plan when I was leaving for the long term travel. I didn’t have any solid travel insurance to cover me no matter what because I didn’t have the amount of money they cost. But I did have it figured out reasonably well to remain covered in case poop hits the fan.

Bald Eagles at Big Lake Near Edmonton, Alberta

My blood was boiling with excitement and anticipation. I was mere two days away from my big departure and had almost everything necessary taken care of. There were only a few minor things to still do – things that would ultimately end the “pre-departure preparations” and set me ready to board a plane to Vancouver. I was still physically present in Edmonton, Alberta but my mind was already in Cambodia. Last weekend’s road trip through the Rocky Mountains put me in the right mind set of a dedicated traveller. And that mood kept growing exponentially.

My plane was leaving on Monday early in the morning. I was half way through my last weekend in Edmonton when I found out that Big Lake – large lake North West of Edmonton is home to many pairs of Bald Eagles that nest in tall trees on its west bank during summer months. I knew my life from this point on would be all about exploring amazing corners of this planet so I thought that while I’m still here, maybe I should sit on my bike and ride there with my camera to get some amazing shots of these majestic birds of prey just before I take off for South East Asia.

The premise of this idea seemed very tempting and I was determined to do my best not to pass on this opportunity. I have lived in Edmonton for so many years and I didn’t even know that Bald Eagles can be seen in their natural habitat only few kilometres from the city. It would have been amazing if I got a chance to photograph some of those birds.

The trick was the Big Lake is just as the name suggests – big. I no longer had a car, only my awesome bike. It looked like I would have to cover about 40 kilometres each way in order to get to the west side of the lake. That’s all merely because of the size of the lake. It’s south east corner starts right at the north west end of Edmonton, but the lake spreads on for quite a bit so in order to make it all the way to the west side on a bike, I’d be pedalling for more than two hours. And then I’d have at least two hours to pedal all the way back home so riding itself would eat up a better chunk of the day.

This part itself was making the Bald Eagle spotting adventure difficult to arrange. But the trickiest part was that even if I was able to get there swiftly, I didn’t know where exactly the nests of Bald Eagles were. In order to truly have a nice spotting of Bald Eagle adventure happening, I’d need to dedicate whole unrushed day to the exploration of the forest on the west bank of Big Lake. If I only had a couple of hours, I’d be under pressure, rushing it through the forest to quickly find a nesting place of Bald Eagles which would likely prove contra productive and bring no results.

But that was not it. Sunday was also my last day to ride my bike to Dave’s. I needed to keep my bike with me until the last minute because it was my sole means of transportation. Besides, I would never fit it in the Toyota Corolla I had rented so riding it all the way to Dave’s was the only option. That meant I had to be at home in the afternoon not to keep Dave up waiting for me needlessly. He was doing me hell of a favour already. As tempting as the idea of riding a bicycle to the Big Lake to photograph Bald Eagles seemed, it was just not realistically doable.

Instead, I did last minute shopping, made last minute arrangements with Matthew – apartment’s on site manager to come do an inspection in the evening and left to take my bike to Dave’s as it was an hour long ride across Edmonton. I needed to do some packing as well and find the best way to get to the airport the following so I don’t have to take expensive cabs (Edmonton International Airport is an hour drive away from Inglewoods in NW Edmonton where I lived – it would be a mighty charge if I were to take this route).

Donating Pet Supplies to Edmonton Humane Society

I knew that Edmonton Humane Society was a pet shelter that accepted stray animals in, but I wasn’t sure whether they would also accept donations in form of pet supplies. The only way to find out was to get in touch with them so I called and was told by surprised lady on the other end that they absolutely accepted merchandise donations but they never get anything because people automatically assume that all they accept are live animals. I was told that they would much appreciate any of the items I had mentioned because they were in dire need for fish tanks and always short of cat food.

I had most of my stuff stored at Dave’s and only had one more load to take on Thursday evening. I thought of combining it with a drop off of pet supplies since office of Edmonton Humane Society was on the way to Dave’s. Since I only had a few more items I needed take to Dave’s, most of my car was available for fish tanks and other pet supplies and I had no problem fitting it in. The only challenging thing was one of the fish tanks – it rather large and heavy so it was extremely difficult for one guy to move it out of the apartment and fit it in the car. Despite of all the difficulties, I’ve gone through the struggle and somehow got it all done without help the previous night. I was gonna drive in a car to work and take off immediately after so I get to the Edmonton Humane Society before they close at 5pm and then I’d have the rest of the evening to drop the rest of the stuff at Dave’s.

The day after my intended drop off was the day I had to return my rented car so I wouldn’t be able to get anything done. I had to be at work until 4pm and car had to be back at Hertz by 5pm otherwise I’d get charged for an extra day. Given crazy traffic that hits Edmonton at rush hour (4pm), not only would I not be able to do anything with my rented car on my last day, I would actually have to rush it to make sure I get all the way downtown by 5pm to avoid extra charges. It was gonna be tight, but I have previously done some overtimes so I had hoped my supervisor would let me leave 15 minutes early to get to Hertz before 5pm.

But this wasn’t until the day after. Today I still had one last drop off to do. First at Edmonton Humane Society where I was going to donate all of my pet supplies and then the rest of my items at Dave’s. I left work exactly at 4pm to make sure I get all the way to 50 Street and Yellowhead Trail where Edmonton Humane Society was located by 5pm so I don’t miss people at the shelter with whom I made arrangements anticipate me. I drove swiftly but roads were congested so it took a while. I got to 50 Street just minutes before 5pm and pulled over by the door only to find it shut locked with a sign on it that Edmonton Humane Society had moved.

Their new location was at the opposite end of town. It would take me an hour to get there from where I was. They must have moved just recently as I have been at their original location only a few months prior. I could not believe the lady I spoke with about donations on the phone has never hinted me that they were at a new location to make sure I don’t needlessly drive to the wrong spot which is too far away.

Needless to say, I would never make it to their new location from where I was before everybody is gone. Giving it a try never the less was making no sense especially since by the sound of it, it would take a while to find it (that area isn’t very easy to navigate through). Plus I had Dave expecting me with my last load and I really needed to get to him before it’s too late so I don’t needlessly keep him up.

I was in a pretty tight spot there. I struggled the night before to get all of the pet supplies, including that giant fish tank into the car all by myself. Now it looked like I was gonna have to get it out of the car all by myself because the following day I had to return the car right after work which wouldn’t give me enough time to drop the items off. I was definitely not happy that I wasn’t hinted about shelter’s new location. Afterall, I was doing them a favor – I was intending to donate, give them some of my possessions for free and cover the cost of driving to get it all to their location. Was it really that hard to let me know that they had just moved so I don’t drive to their old location which puts me at the opposite end of the city?

The premise of removing that massive fish tank from the car was not very appealing, but there was no chance I would make it to their new location from work and still make it to Hertz by 5pm. But I was having hard time simply dumping all the hassle I went through when I moved that fish tank into the car all by myself in the first place. Seeing how all that struggle would have been in vain if I gave up on donating was not an easy thing to accept. So I’ve decided to keep it in the car and see if I can pull off some magic.

I drove to work on Friday, my last day at work before the departure to Siem Reap with all of the pet supplies still in my car. It was a beautiful summer day. I spent my day at work committed to my duties but had asked my supervisor if he would dismiss me an hour early stating that I had an urgent matter to attend to. I have never asked for early dismissal before but have gladly stayed longer when we needed to catch up with things so I didn’t expect it to be an issue and in fact it wasn’t. I was allowed to leave early which gave me hope that I would eventually put my pet supplies to good use instead of just dumping them.

I phoned the Humane Society during the day explaining why they never saw me come the day before as I had promised and insisted that I was gonna give it one last try but they better be expecting me so unloading goes quickly because I had to rush from there through heavy traffic to get to Hertz downtown before 5pm. I was promised that someone would wait for me but as it goes with larger operations, it wasn’t the case.

I got to the new Edmonton Humane Society location, quickly walked in and told the receptionist who I was believing she would be aware of me and have staff ready to move the items from my car. She had no damn clue so I asked to point me at the office of a lady I spoke with over the phone but she wasn’t there. I started walking around aimlessly, desperately trying to find someone who would know what needs to be done but since there was no one and I was running out of time, I simply told the receptionist that I was gonna take the items I am meaning to donate and leave them right there on the street for them to pick up when they get a chance. When lady who spoke with me over the phone shows up, she can then take care of it but I needed to act.

This was overheard by an elderly gentleman who was sitting nearby. He followed me outside and offered a helping hand which was great because that big fish tank was a difficult task for one person to handle, but not a big deal for two. We moved everything out of the car and just as we were done, the lady I spoke with over the phone walked up to greet me. I told her I needed to go but all of the items I wished to donate were right there on the street so they could do whatever they wanted with it.

I sat in a car and only just about made it to Hertz in time. Luckily Hertz is a professional company that deals with their clients on a professional level so the return of my weekly rental went smoothly and without headache. This has concluded my necessary preparations for the big trip. I only needed to pack up and be ready to board a plane on Monday. However I still had my bicycle which was too big to fit in a Toyota Corolla but since days were beautiful (whole summer of 2009 was beautiful in Alberta), I had no fears. I knew I could easily ride to Dave’s on Saturday and catch a bus back home for my last two days in Edmonton.

My Pets – Scorpions and Cats

Among the things I still had left even after major dumping and donation were assorted pet supplies. I was a passionate scorpion owner and breeder – one of few in the world who had a privilege of having a lady scorpion give birth in captivity. Very little is known about scorpions because few scientists study these majestic animals. As such, all you learn about raising scorpions in captivity is from other scorpion owners and after years of success nurtured by unconditional love for my favourite animals, I have become a world renowned authority in scorpion keeping and breeding.

I had a bunch of fish tanks I used to keep my pet scorpions in – one of which was of mighty size. I had several heaters, specialty bulbs, bedding, hideouts made of stones and equipment for breeding crickets and silk warms which were the staple of my scorpions’ diet. I was a responsible and respective scorpion owner but no matter how hard I tried, the lifespan of scorpions in captivity was never the same as in the wild.

Photo: Lady Scorpion, Leader of the Pack of Emperors Carries Scorpion Babies on her Back After Giving Birth
Photo: Lady Scorpion, Leader of the Pack of Emperors Carries Scorpion Babies on her Back After Giving Birth

In order to be a good scorpion owner one has to be fascinated by these animals. Scorpions are nocturnal creatures that spend most of their days in hideouts. They will not come running towards you when you come back home from work wiggling their tails. If you expect that, then scorpions are not for you. It takes a great deal of respect and patience to be a good scorpion owner but once you succeed to make your scorpions comfortable, you will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular shows imaginable. The mating ritual is a dance that lasts for about half an hour and is the most breathtaking scene I have ever seen in my life. It took place in the middle of the night and I have respected my roommates enough not to disturb their mating with camera flashes so I never took pictures. Instead I just sat nearby savoring the spectacle.

I consider scorpions to be the most amazing animals in existence. They have 8 legs, 2 large pincers they use as weapons and 2 small ones on their head they use to grind food with, a venomous stinger and two wings at the bottom of their bellies with which they pick up vibrations for navigation and location of food. They are so well equipped that imagining they used to be one meter in size during prehistoric times gives me shivers. That would have been one formidable predator you wouldn’t want after you.

Aside from my undying fascination with scorpions, I’m also a cat person. I had a cat I named Shadow whom I tamed. She was a wild cat who survived all on her own through tough Alberta winters. I have eventually become friends with her and she was my partner in everything. She was the most loyal creature on Earth and most beautiful at that.

Photo: Being a Wild Cat, Shadow was an Excellent Hunter Who Always Brought Her Prey Home to Show What She Caught
Photo: Being a Wild Cat, Shadow was an Excellent Hunter Who Always Brought Her Prey Home to Show What She Caught

After all of my scorpions moved on to the scorpion heaven, I’ve come to realize that Shadow deserved a better life than living in stress my frequent moving put her through. I went on to take one of the most devastating moves in my life when I said Good Bye to my best friend. I did it because I sincerely believed Shadow had suffered enough when she was all on her own without anyone providing for her and giving her love during brutal Alberta winters. I took my beloved cat to the Edmonton Humane Society and have never seen her since. I think of her all the time and pray that she ended up with an amazing family who loved her as much as I did.

When all was said and done, I was left with lots of cat care pet supplies, including unused cat food and cat litter mixture, cat toys and tools you’d use to look after your kitty. I thought the easiest way of getting rid of all those would be to dump them in garbage bins but these were all usable pet care items someone might put to good use so I’ve picked up a telephone and called Edmonton Humane Society again.