Better Late than Never

This past week was an emotional roller coaster for me.  If you read one of my previous posts than you already know I had to miss out on a couple days of my omniten trip that I was really looking forward to.  To sum it up my flight was canceled due to the Polar Vortex.  It’s not everyday Columbia Sportswear asks me to go on a trip with them and it’s not everyday that a Polar Vortex happens.  

Worst timing ever.

While my season’s omniten was snowboarding in Utah,  unable to go outside due to the weather, this is how I spent my time.

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3 days later, I was able to fly out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  I was back to being excited and couldn’t wait to meet the omniten.

While sitting in the airport I met a really nice girl, Chantal.  Her flight had also been canceled so we shared our stories and our emails before having to say good bye.  

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I landed in Chicago with time to spare before my next flight, my excitement grew stronger.  Until the pilot came on announcing that we would have to wait to get off the plane.  

I missed my flight. 

With tears in my eyes I followed the pack where 90% of us had to rebook our flights.  I was ready to give up, book a flight back to Ottawa, I was sick of being disappointed.  Instead, I booked another flight, with a connection in Texas but it was the earliest flight I could get.  I was offered three seven dollar food vouchers for my overnight stay in the Chicago airport.  

I spent them well. 

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I didn’t have many options.

I wasn’t in the mood for two bananas but you don’t get your money back from a voucher.  I went on search for the seats without the arm rests (so I could sleep) and came across a fellow airport overnighter.  I offered him a banana and food voucher, hoping for nothing in return except a good conversation.  And I got one.  As well as a bunch of his homemade recipes; he is a talented cook.  These recipes are what inspired a 6 hour conversation with a stranger where we shared personal stories and unforgettable experiences.  I left the Chicago airport with a new friend, thanks to an extra banana, the polar vortex and Columbia Sportswear.

Without a blink of sleep, I headed off to Houston Texas.

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I don’t normally take selfies but if I ever got to Salt Lake City, Utah, I wanted proof.   

Exhausted I made the connection and arrived at the Omnigames halfway through the first day of games.  Considering I didn’t know what the games were and I had never met a single person that would be there, I felt confident.  Before I became an omniten I followed most of the previous seasons of omniten.  I had grown to know them and I had grown to love them.  

It took me 4.5 days to get there, I hadn’t slept for 36 hours, I had been through 3 different states within 20 hours, but it was all worth it, even if it was just for this.

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This was the first time in 4 days that my tears turned into happy tears.  

Gina was my first twitter friend.  She was the reason I continued to use twitter in the first place.  It was nice having a girl to talk to who loved the outdoors just as much as I do.  The unfortunate part was our lives never crossed until this trip.  

Meeting some of the omniten meant more to me than meeting an Olympic athlete or my favourite movie star.  It was like meeting a long lost friend or family member.  You will hear the omniten sometimes talk about the omnifamily.  

It is definitely a family. 

Some of my best memories go out to the nights that turn into mornings and the friends that turned into family.  

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Family brings everyone cheese from their home town in Wisconsin.  

 

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Or braids your hair like a sister would.

 

It is not the gear that made me want to be omniten, it’s the community that gets formed.  

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Due to my flight cancellation, delayed flight, and missed flight I missed out on the first half of the omnigames which means I was unable to compete but still able to participate in what was left.  At first this didn’t bother me until I found out what the prize for winning the omnigames was: a trip to Jordan.  

Being part of omniten doesn’t require special training, it’s a lifestyle. 

My first activities were familiar ones, skidooing and archery.  I immediately felt at home, but with a change of scenery.  

 

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My first two shots looked like this

 

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I participated in the omnigames and in my mind was still competing. I was fending for myself, for a score which in the end, did not exist. 

 

I gave it my all and enjoyed every bit of it. 

 

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I skiied the hardest I have ever skiied before, with my omnisister by my side and taking this photo for me.  We had to stop for one at least. 

 

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The gear and the games were fun, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.  But what I really want to thank Columbia Sportswear for is bringing all four seasons of omniten together.   

I thought I was going to have a hard time saying good bye, and I did.  I hid it well, but it hurt that I wasn’t able to spend more time with these people.  That my week long trip turned into a day and a half.  What kept me strong and kept me from tears was I knew this wasn’t good bye.  Like John Q said “Goodbye is for people who will never see eachother again, this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later”.  The thought comforted me.  Even if it isn’t through Columbia, I will see some of these people again.  

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Sitting on my flight home from Salt Lake City to Ottawa I thought my trip was over, my experience had ended, that was it until next time.  Until the man beside me asked “is that a journal you’re writing in?” I replied “yes”… and the trip continued, my experience had been extended and my knowledge grew.  The gentleman beside me was a 75 year old ski lover who shared his wisdom and life with me and listened while I shared mine with him.  We talked the whole flight and before I knew it I was facing another good bye, except this one was real, because I knew I would never see him again.  I felt the pain in the back of my eyes as water glazed over them, I didn’t want to say good bye.  I don’t like good byes but he left me with this:

I find people are always trying to plan out their life, and how they are going to get there… We need to free ourselves and be open to opportunites.  Never fear change.”

Hardly being able to control my emotions I shook his hand and he said “thank you for being you”. 

 

Maybe I’m just lucky… getting to be apart of omniten, meeting all these amazing people throughout my travels that made the struggle of getting there that much easier, and heading home with words that will stick in my mind forever.

Whatever the reason, it happened.  Everything happens for a reason. 

And though my trip was cut short, my time with these people was tight, I am thankful I didn’t give up because 

better late than never.  

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