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This has been a vacation that will be remembered with great fondness. I was able to spend time with each of my dear sisters as well as some of my nieces and nephews. I enjoyed listening to my nephew play the organ. I was thrilled to watch my third oldest sister perform in the Cowboy Poet Festival in Pincher Creek. My youngest sister and I helped out with Children’s Day at the Ukrainian Historical Park out east of Edmonton (which included scooping homemade ice cream to 1400 kids, tug of war, and milking a fake cow). The next day we hiked through five miles of lush countryside and talked. My next-oldest sister and I wandered around Red Deer and saw where we used to live and go to school. The boot racks are still in the entrance to the elementary school. The hill on the playground that was so huge when I was small is only up to my knees now, and the house that holds my earliest memories is empty and for sale. It’s a lot smaller now as well. The playground down the street has been stripped of its playground equipment. We stopped in at the church we attended as children, and I admired the stained-glass windows that I remembered from my youth. The Red Deer River still runs wide and swift through the city, and the water tower still looks like a giant green doorknob.
I was so glad to be at my nephew’s wedding, to see the joy on their faces as they start their lives out together. At the reception, I was happy to visit with more of my family. We all worked hard in the preparation, set up, and clean up as we talked and visited. We took some time out of the kitchen work to get out on the dance floor and have some fun. I was able to spend Sunday with my foster parents who are so dear to me, whose example will always be a shining light in my life.
Last night my sisters and I got together for a last party, which was attended by most of my nieces and nephews, along with a few friends. We ate, played games, laughed, and talked. Everyone had a turn on the guitars as we sang along to favorites, old and new. I looked around the room at these people whom I love so much, and my heart was full. I am so glad I was able to go to Alberta and spend time with my family again, as well as see the wide, rolling prairie that will always have a special place in my heart no matter where else I live.
Today I donned my new cowboy hat, picked up my suitcase, and got on the plane to head back to Utah. Goodbye, Alberta. I will be back again.

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