by Mady Madrinan Rivera, RN, GN’68, BSN’69
Just a couple of weeks after UPNAAI’s 35th Reunion in 2012, when world class traveler and PGH-SN Class’68 mother hen, Nati Matitu, announced that our next UPNAAI Post Convention excursion for the summer of 2013, would be to the Canadian Rockies, her hash tag was #TheMostSpectacularPlaceOnEarth. It was indeed a perfect week spent with some of my best friends and colleagues, embracing the pristine, natural beauty of Canada together. It was a time for grand sightseeing and new experience that afforded each of us a new perspective: a balance of mind, body, and spirit.
Our congenial group of 53 UP Nursing alumni and family met in Vancouver, where we were introduced to our articulate Chinese-Canadian tour guide, Uncle Joe. Our guide made the long rides to our destinations interesting, as we snaked through Canada’s vast lands (second largest in the world trailing only Russia) and its living sanctuary of spectacular scenery and untouched wilderness. He also made sure to provide us with a wealth of information about our neighbors to the north, its provinces, its people, history, and culture.
The Canadian Rockies Experience:
On our first day in the Rockies, we enjoyed an impressive photo opportunity in front of lofty snow-capped Mount Robson, the Canadian Rockies’ highest peak at 12,972 ft. We continued our mystical journey through the Icefields Parkway, often called the most scenic mountain highway in the world, with views of tremendous glaciers, turquoise lakes, rushing waterfalls, castellated mountains, wild forests, and canyons. Later, a ride on the massive Ice Explorer allowed us to step onto Columbia Icefield’s glaciers and walk along crevasses to taste clear fresh meltwater from the mountains.
Our next day in the Canadian Rockies brought us to the top of Sulphur Mountain. A titillating 14-minute, 6,850 foot, gondola climb featured spectacular views of glacier-clad peaks, majestic Lake Louise, alpine meadows peppered with wild flowers, and the valley of Banff below. Numerous additional stops bestowed similar gifts for the senses: the Bow River and Waterfalls, Emerald Lake, Peyto Lake, and Lake Okanagan to name but a few.
A relaxing ferry ride on the newly minted Coastal Celebration took us from Vancouver to Victoria through the Gulf Islands. Lunch was in Little Hong Kong, where we were treated to highly sought-after tropical fruits such as Dragon fruit, lanzones, and rambutan. British influences were prominent at downtown Victoria, the Empress Hotel, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, and in many lavish parks. The highlight of Victoria, also known as the “City of Gardens”, is the magnificent, world-renowned Butchart Gardens that offered an expansive feast for a gardener’s eyes and soul.
We spent our last beautiful Vancouver morning in historic Gastown, the city’s original downtown; adjacent Chinatown; and vast, urban, water locked Stanley Park where the First Nations Totem Poles are
proudly displayed. After many departed for their respective homes, those of us who stayed behind savored one last night in Canada by taking in the Asian-inspired International Summer Night Market, a warm starlit gathering that featured street foods, shopping, and fellowship.
Visits to Kamloops Ginseng and Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farms informed us on the usage of preventive medicine to increase one’s immune system; a lesson rivaled only by ice wine tasting in Kelowna, a tutorial in nurturing the spirit.
Academically, Professor Dula Faraon Pacquiao, UPCN Class ’68, spoke on “Cultural Diversity - Finding a better understanding of oneself as a foreign graduate in the workplace.” The take-away for me was the consideration of ideal places to retire after focused soul-searching of where one might be happiest. Having kept her eyes and ears open the entire trip, the agenda of NP “Dr.” Delia Zambrano Reyes, SN’68, was to analyze the group’s needs, so she could bring a fresh approach to her Diabetes Counseling practice. Her take-home directive to all was, “Now is the time! If not now, when?”
In addition to lessons on Salmon Run and the Chinese contribution to the Canadian Pacific Railway, our tour guide also passed on additional wisdom here and there. Perhaps influenced by Confucius, Uncle Joe reminded us to live in the moment. “C’mon, you guys! It’s okay to spend money on holidays to maximize your once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
As promised, it was, indeed, the trip of a lifetime to one of the most spectacular places on earth: a perfect week spent with UPNAAI classmates and friends that filled to the brim with countless opportunities to widen our horizons and appreciate God’s gifts. Each of us departed with a new perspective: a balance of mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait until the next UPNAAI Post-Convention pilgrimage. See you all there!