Since joining this group in June of 2021, I have gradually discovered my style as well as gaining more confidence. Around a year and a half ago, I began going out and about, typically several times a week, for lunch, browsing the shops, doing a bit of grocery shopping, and when the mood took me, taking a stroll on the walking trails.
Early in 2022, what I had been thinking about for some time was I should spend several days away from home as Aurora full-time, taking no male clothing with me. The more I thought about it, the stronger the urge became. Then early in May of 2022, I decided I should act on it. I reserved two nights at separate hotels; the first night in Canmore, and the second night in Jasper. On both occasions, I told them of my preferred name, which they duly made note of.
On the morning that I set off, I was up early, had breakfast, and put on my makeup. Once the car was loaded, I set off wearing one of my skirt outfits. It was an exciting feeling, to dress as a female and know I had no male clothing to fall back on during the next three days.
On the way to Canmore, I stopped at a Boston Pizza in a town in the foothills. Although I was somewhat nervous, I had no problems, and the staff was friendly towards me. My next stop was on the road west of Cochrane, on Highway 2A. I pulled up at the side of the road to take a few mountain photos. I was fiddling with the camera, looked up, and saw three E-Type Jags driving by on the other side of the road. I was too late to take a photo, only admiring them as they went on their way. All three purring nicely, exhaust burbling in the fresh mountain air.
On arriving at the hotel, I had a real feminine moment. Three women walked into the foyer just in front of me, while I was still sitting in the car. One of the women wore an outfit similar to mine; a denim skirt, black leggings, and a black top. Even donning the same style of black Chelsea boots. I chose to wait outside until they booked in and had gone on their way to their room. I was feeling awkward at meeting someone wearing the same outfit as me.
Other than that, I had no trouble booking into the hotel. I was greeted as Aurora and directed to my room as one would normally expect. The hotel included a swimming pool with gangs of teenage girls in the vicinity. I had to park close to them and toting my luggage had to walk through them to get to my room. I was a bit apprehensive, as many of you well know, teenage girls are not known for pulling punches… meaning that they are likely to giggle behind their hands and give you knowing looks. Remarkably, they took no notice of me. They saw me and made way for me, but there was no whispering or tittering behind their hands.
Once in the room, I got everything organised, had a shower, and then redid my make-up to go out for supper. A good restaurant was within walking distance. Two occurrences of note happened during supper. A couple, somewhere in their mid-fifties, were shown to the table next to me. I heard them muttering a bit then. When the waitress came by, they asked to be shown to another table. The other occurrence was with the waitress who brought my supper. She complimented me on my lashes, saying, “I’m a lash tech… your lashes are great!”
The rest of the evening went by quite normally, and when I returned to the motel, I sat out on the verandah for a while to enjoy the evening air.
The next morning, I was up bright and early, booked out of the hotel then went for breakfast at a nearby restaurant. The restaurant was not fancy in itself, however, the Three Sisters Peaks could be seen through the picture window.
I realized I had misjudged the driving distance between Canmore and Jasper, spending more time driving than expected. Also, when stopping to take photos, walk some of the trails, etc., I realized I was not in fact, dressed to fit in. All the other women wore clothing suitable for hiking or being out among nature. My clothing was suitable for a girl about town. I stopped at Saskatchewan Crossing for lunch, which is where the David Thompson Highway joins the Icefields Parkway that runs from Banff to Jasper. There is a big hotel there with a restaurant and gift shop, and the place was crowded. As I worked my way in, two young women walked close by. I heard one of them say, “I think that’s a guy!” They both seemed amused by this, however, I took it as kind of a compliment as she only thought I was a guy and didn’t seem to know for sure.
After lunch, while I was walking the grounds and admiring the view, the tourists were more interested in the antics of a Black bear than in taking any notice of me. One older couple followed the bear across the road and even went into the bush after him, but soon gave up the chase and came back out.
There are signs in the National Parks saying, “You are in Bear Country.” It is illegal to approach or feed the bears. Bears are dangerous. I have always thought that sign is written in the wrong order. Anyone approaching a bear, especially a cub, need not worry about it being illegal.
My experience booking into the hotel in Jasper also went in a normal fashion. I was referred to as Aurora and Ma’am and bade to enjoy my stay. The “Rocky Mountaineer” the Canadian version of the Orient Express was alongside the railway station on the other side of the road. I took several good photos of it.
During breakfast the next morning, the waiter referred to me as Ma’am, and when I asked him where the washrooms were, he directed me to the back of the restaurant and to the left. I was gratified to find that the only washroom there was the Ladies’.
I did stop at all the popular tourist attractions, like Maligne Canyon and I even went up to Maligne Lake where they have a sightseeing boat. However, I had not been in the mountains at that time of year for some time and I forgot that in May, the lake would still be frozen. This is where I felt the most out of place regarding my clothing as there was still lots of snow and everyone else was wearing hiking boots and carrying backpacks.
I ate lunch at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Restaurant where they have photos of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and other famous people during their visits to the original “Wilderness Restaurant.” The restaurant and the gift shop were crowded, and although some people nodded and smiled, no one gave me any odd looks.
All in all, it was a very good three days, and it felt really good to get up every morning, take a shower, dress in a skirt outfit, and put my makeup on. Especially knowing that I had no alternate way to dress.
Just by way of a note about Banff and Jasper, they are both tourist towns, Banff more so than Jasper. Banff is so much so that the prices in the tourist shops are in Canadian dollars and Japanese yen. The prices in the restaurants are such that they encourage you to have soup and a sandwich.
Regarding the Rocky Mountaineer; I have had thoughts of going on one of their extensive tours as Aurora and taking only female attire with me. That would be an interesting experience to be amongst so many people as Aurora. However, at this time it is far too expensive for my pocket.