We originally listed our place on Airbnb through a disaster program - the Fort MacMurray fire had forced the evacuation of almost the entire city and numerous families were left without a place to stay. Although our place is a long way from Fort MacMurray and we weren’t expecting anyone to be looking for accommodations this far south, we wanted to do it anyway, just in case. We got a request from a family almost right away. 12 people! A couple with 10 children ages 6 months to 17 years, who had been looking & were unable to find a place that could comfortably fit them all. They were a skiing family, some of the children skied competitively, so they were well acquainted with the ski resorts in the mountain parks & with our neck of the woods. What a fantastic group! - the place was left immaculate, with no indication what-so-ever that 10 children, 2 dogs & a cat had been living there for 6 weeks. I don’t know HOW they did that.
We decided to stay listed & see what happened. And great things happened! So many amazing people came to stay at our place that first summer & fall. We had “parents-of-the-groom” & the groom’s grandfather who were so kind to send us a photo of the wedding which took place nearby, with all the men decked out in kilts. Brian is Scottish, we loved that.
We had a family who came up for the first time from Wyoming for the Calgary Stampede. They brought their 2 young children & his parents. She was such a delight! Every day as they drove into the city for the Stampede & back to the cabin, she would message me - “who owns that huge mansion on the corner of the 2 highways - the one that looks like a hotel with the 6 car garage?” “We just saw a moose!” She messaged me every day to tell me what they’d seen & done that day - when they left, I felt like I lost a close friend & I really missed her!
We had the most charming, world travelling, Airbnb frequenting Irish man & his lovely partner come to stay for a birthday get-away (hers) - he wrote us a review that I still can’t believe we earned. It really made us feel we had joined the world of Airbnb hosts & maybe actually belonged too!
We had a family group from Boston - adult children and their parents. Very keen hikers, woodsy, outdoorsy types. They did their research & were really well informed about the area. They spent most of their days doing day trips to the mountain parks and in the evenings, they would take walks around the neighbourhood at the cabin. They knew they might encounter bears while hiking in the mountains & practiced using our bear spray trainer until they got the procedure down to a science. Bear encounters are really, really rare around our cabin but they would go for their walks all kitted out with bear spray, bear bells & walking sticks, just in case. Our neighbour encountered them one evening and they asked him which direction they should walk to see a moose. He told them that they really didn’t want to see a moose except from a good long distance - moose have terrible eyesight & they tend to charge at anything that moves, even cars. They thanked him & set off to see some deer instead. I loved that they got so into the place they were visiting they wanted to explore & see everything there was to see, including things that "the locals" go out of their way NOT to see (up close anyway)!
Just a little humour here .....
We’ve had ladies groups on week-end breaks from kids & husbands - and they've all said that the peace & quiet seemed to be just what they needed to get recharged. They’ve all been wonderful. We had a couple from Nebraska who came because their son was had been hired on with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra & they came to visit him & to see him perform. She sent me a link to his biography & I feel like I know him - & I look for him every time we see the symphony now.
So, here’s to all those amazing guests! We love them all, we thank them so much for staying at our place & we really hope to see them again. Yes, we have had a few “duds” too, but the great ones are far more plentiful & frequent.
And while we're at it, we’d like to extend our most sincere thanks to all the wonderful hosts here who have helped us, knowingly or unknowingly, as we started out & found our way, and who continue to help us every single time we visit the Community. Thank you, all!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Karen & Brian
And a shameless plug: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJhFtv5UTk8
@Karen & Brian, that’s very interesting, that you started your hosting out of a charity experience. Maybe that sets the tone and brings you all those great guests!
If ever I travel to Canada, I’ll keep in mind your shrewd sense of humor. You put such informative signs up, how to distinguish the traces of the wildlife. ;-)
Do you play practical jokes on your guests too?
No practical jokes on the guests @Helga, we play it pretty much on the straight and narrow as we never know how some guests would react! We do have a framed photo of one of our squirrels on the fireplace mantel & if guests look closely, they'll see that the little guy is peeing - Brian didn't notice that when he took the photo & we get a huge kick out of it.
Hamlet, the peeing squirrel:
Hamlet has this concentrated look, like small kids do, when they want to avoid being set onto the pot.
And on your handrail too...
I’m not sure I believe the no jokes statement. I believe, the grizzly bear bells are offered in a basket on the mantel, right under Hamlet’s guard ;-)
the pepper spray reminds me of a guest, a young lady complaining bitterly, that she could not see the Louvre after all that day, as police wanted to confiscate her tear gas spray, if she went in. And they outright refused to keep it for her at the door and hand it back hours later. It was so expensive, she could not give it up, besides she needed it for the rest of the trip.
“I guess the anti terror unit did not have their wardrobe tickets in their equipment “
it took some time to explain, that in a city where terror attacks happened, it’s not a good idea to go armed into a museum. Not in Europe. No, that was just the reason to have self defense means with you. At leadt she fid not get arrested. And saw the museum two days later.
@Karen & Brian, WOW! I wanna come!!!!!!
Loved your stories! Reading through the bells/pepper spray part of your post--before the sign--I recalled being in Yellowstone National Park where a ranger told us EXACTLY THAT! ;-)) Very funny, and VERY TRUE. Bells are cute, probably cleansing to the bowel, and PEPPER IS A CONDIMENT, for goodness sake! :-)))
GREAT POST! Thank you!
Wow, I am so loving December!
Best to you and to all,
Hello @Karen & Brian
Great story, I thought it very interesting! :)
Just two question if you don't mind! Can not the hiker carry some gun with him/her as a last resort? Meaning, just in case the bear spray fails or if the bear is very furious and decide to attack. What is the longest distance that the bear spray can reach the bear?
Hi @J Renato - it's illegal to open carry a gun (and also illegal to carry a concealed gun) in Canada. In areas where hunting is allowed, you'd be able to have a rifle (with hunting license as well as gun permit) so if you were charged by a bear while hunting deer & shot the bear, it would be a self-defence thing - that likely has happened a few times. Hikers, day-trippers and tourists are not allowed to have guns.
Good questions about the bear spray - I wasn't sure so googled it & found this site. Everything about bear spray here:
Bear attacks are fortunately very rare and Parks Canada is really good about keeping track of the bears & posting signs on the trails if a bear is in the area, so hikers are usually forewarned & can avoid those areas. Grizzly bears are considered more dangerous than black bears - I hope to never meet either one up close! - Karen
First Karen, thank you for looking this up. That said, @J Renato (and all), if you're in a National Park, the rangers truly do try to keep the aggressive animals away from the trails. STAY ON THE TRAILS, and pay attention to the signs. The poop of grizzly bears containing little 'bells and smell of pepper' signs are not humor; this is real. Grizzly bears are far larger and far more aggressive than black bears... and for fear of repeating myself, "Bear Spray" (capiscum--a pepper) is a CONDIMENT. Heck, I use that all the time! Some fruit, a little lime juice, and some cayenne pepper (yep, capsicum) is YUMMY!
If you're out in the wildnerness, you MUST be more aware. You are not in Disneyland.
And all THAT said, have fun!