My very last pageant, my own retirement pageant, took place this past weekend in Merritt.

I drove up early on Wednesday, my first time driving on the Coquihalla highway.

The 2010 B.C. Ambassador candidates had already been up in Merritt all week rehearsing and preparing for their events on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday evening, I met the cameraman from Shaw Cable who would be interviewing us the next day.

It’s a small world: turns out he lived in White Rock, graduated from my high school several years before me and graduated from BCIT’s broadcast journalism program, the school I am planning on transferring to.

Thursday morning was our designated “press day.”

We were interviewed on the Kamloops Midday Show, and did a segment with Shaw Cable. The three of us did two newspaper interviews with local Merritt papers: the Merritt Herald and the Merritt News. Our final interview was with the Merritt radio station.

Friday, I co-emceed the candidates’ personal speeches in the afternoon, and their community speeches and talents that evening.

Saturday morning and afternoon were dedicated to hair appointments, rehearsals and a visiting royalty luncheon.

Finally, the pageant night had arrived.

The slideshow I’d spent hours working on displayed hundreds of photos of the 2009 Team’s past year and went off without a hitch. I received many bouquets of flowers, and walked through the audience in a brand new gown. I gave my retirement speech without blubbering, and I proudly crowned one of the three 2010 British Columbia Ambassadors.

It was a great night.

And even though the week leading up to it had been dramatic and stressful, the evening was nothing but positive.

I will miss being an ambassador, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

Equipped with many memories, friends all over the province and the skills I’ve learnt over the past year, I am ready for the next big thing.

I am, and forever will be, @HayleyWoodin, Miss White Rock 2008 and British Columbia Ambassador for 2009/2010.

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This weekend was my last pageant as a B.C. Ambassador: in seven days I will be passing on my crown and banner to another deserving individual.

On Friday, I travelled to Penticton with the newly crowned White Rock youth ambassadors and Miss White Rock 2010/2011, my sister, @ChloeWoodin.

My mom chaperoned us, and we met up with my other two ambassadors in the city of peaches and beaches.

The gala was lovely, and the 14 Miss Penticton candidates all did a great job. As usual, the visiting royalty had the opportunity to bring their greetings on stage.

Saturday morning we rode in the Peachfest parade, and spent the afternoon mini-golfing and go-karting before attending the royalty ball that evening.

This weekend was special not only because my sister and I both got to go to a pageant together as sparkleheads, but also because the Penticton pageant was my first out-of-town experience as Miss White Rock 2008, and my last as a B.C. Ambassador.

It has been a full two years, coming full circle. And although I will miss being an ambassador, I am looking forward to temporarily retiring from the public eye.

Final stop, Merritt on Wednesday, the beginning of the end.

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@HayleyWoodin

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Lytton is a small town, its city centre located about an hour outside of Hope. It’s known for it’s white water rafting, the First Nations population living there and on the reserves surrounding it, and it’s temperatures; Lytton is, after all, Canada’s Hotspot.

It’s also a very cool place geographically because it is surrounded by three distinct mountain ranges, and is situated where the Fraser and Thompson rivers meet.

This weekend was the Lytton Ambassador Pageant, so I spent three and a half days amidst excitement, culture and almost unbearable heat.

I drove up with the White Rock girls and coordinator on the Thursday.

As usual, we were running just a little behind schedule, so we missed the bus that was supposed to take the 25+ visiting communities onto the reserve for a Healing Gathering.

Our only option was to head up there ourselves.

After about an hour of off-roading through pouring rain, we made it to the Powow in time to watch the candidates give their speeches and to make our visiting royalty greetings.

We left shortly after due to the less than desirable weather, and on our way back to town, saw a black bear cub galloping across the road.

We met up with the sparklehead crew later on for a barbecue and pool party, even though it was still raining.

Again, we didn’t stay too long. Instead, we went exploring.

The Lytton Friendship Ambassador for 2009 took us on a tour to the West Side, a residential and ranch part of Lytton on the other side of the Fraser river.

We took a two-car reaction ferry across: a reaction ferry is propelled by the currents in the river, and also runs along several cables attached to each shoreline.

There used to be about 30 reaction ferries in B.C.; the Lytton ferry is one of five still in operation.

Besides ranches and houses, the West Side is home to the spiritual Stein Valley.

Hikers and adventurers can spend months hiking the entire valley with its many trails, but we decided to walk about 15 minutes deep to the Asking Rock.

This massive boulder was once decorated with First Nations paintings from over a hundred years ago. Today, you can still see the remnants of the art. It is a First Nations’ custom to bring a gift of tobacco to the rock as an offering to the ancestors who were once there.

After hiking back up, we returned to our hotel which was creepy and filthy to say the least, (it is apparently haunted, and is definitely inhabited by black widow spiders…)

Friday was my favourite day of the trip. After a delicious breakfast, we went to a resort just outside of town called Kumsheen, known for it’s white water rafting.

We spent a couple of hours in purple wet suits paddling the mighty Thompson river through rapids with six foot high waves.

To give you an idea of the size of the Thompson, it is the third largest commercially run river in the world, with a volume that day of about 48,000 CFS (cubic feet per second).

Perhaps the coolest part of our rafting trip was getting to hop out of the raft and swim down the river.

Like when I went last year, we swam in a calm section, in between rapids.

But this year we were allowed to swim through six foot high rapids!

This clearly would not have been possible without our life jackets, and I did swallow quite a bit of water, but it was totally worth it.

That evening was the talent and fashion show portion of the weekend.

Saturday we visited Hell’s Gates, located on the cliffs on the other side of the Fraser.

We took a short but rocky tram ride across and spent a couple of hours taking pictures, learning about the area’s history and browsing the fudge and ice cream parlour.

Finally, we attended the pageant itself, which lasted about five and a half hours.

The B.C. Ambassador team is very close to the 2009 Lytton royalty as both programs are run by the same coordinator.

The three of us were honoured on stage with hand-carved paddles, each with engravings unique to us: mine has a hummingbird backed by mountains, symbolizing inner and outer beauty.

We were also given beaded roses, four each to represent four of the world’s ethnicities: red for the East, black for the West, yellow for the South and White for the North. The bouquets were awarded to us for our work in bringing communities and people of all types together.

Sunday morning was spent with a nice sleep-in, followed by breakfast and the car ride home.

The Lytton pageant was a lot of fun, and I am simply ecstatic about my paddle.

Next stop, a weekend at home for the first time in weeks: the Miss White Rock Pageant and Spirit of the Sea Festival is five days away!

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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Friday morning I drove up to Kelowna with six of the White Rock youth ambassadors, including Miss White Rock and White Rock Friendship Ambassador.

For once, we were on time with plenty of time to spare.

The pageant was held that evening at the city’s theatre. It was a lovely gala: the visiting royalty were piped-in in a sparkly procession, and the Lady of the Lake Society (the organizers of the Miss Kelowna pageant) were awarded $10,000.

That night, I travelled with the Lytton ambassadors to Oliver so we’d be in town for the parade the next morning.

This time I sat of the back of a bright yellow Miata. I also remembered to wear sunscreen: no awkward sash tans this time.

Afterwards I attended the Oliver pageant wearing a short dress for a change. The gala was semi-formal, so I was happy to get some use out of my hot pink grad dress.

The White Rock crew and I headed back to Kelowna that night, and headed home the next morning.

All in all it was a short but sweet weekend.

I didn’t get to spend too much time in either city, but from what I saw of the countryside, both Kelowna and Oliver look like amazing weekend getaway spots, complete with lakes, beaches, cute restaurants and vineyards galore.

Next stop, Lytton. Three days away!

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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I spent this past weekend in the Tournament Capital of Canada, Kamloops B.C.

I drove up with some of the White Rock ambassadors and organizer Donna Friday afternoon. We made it just in time for the dinner and dance (no impromptu Graces).

It was way too hot to dance, so the evening ended early.

Saturday morning was spent in the park where we had a lovely breakfast at the community centre, and a scavenger hunt.

Once again; way too hot to get too competitive.

Next we had some free time.

Last year, I went to the Kamloops pageant with Donna and my White Rock princess Niki. Donna took us to the Sun Rivers golf course where we drove balls on the mountain driving range and drove the golf kart in circles.

This year, I made a point of going back to the golf course with the girls.

For my second time golfing ever, and my last time being a full year ago, I did quite well. My swing and follow-through were good, and I consistently drove the balls 75 yards and in a straight line.

After lunch at the course and the pageant in the evening, we went out to dinner in downtown Kamloops before heading to bed.

I woke up Sunday with extremely sore muscles.

I don’t know how I did it, but I pulled my left hamstring. My right shoulder was also super stiff.

But the golfing experience was definitely worth it: all in all it was a fun weekend.

Next stop, Kelowna and Oliver. Three days away!

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@HayleyWoodin

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My five day adventure has sadly come to an end, but it’s good to be back home.

I visited five cities (Osoyoos, Oliver, Peachland, Princeton, Williams Lake), participated in four parades (the one in Oliver is in two weeks), spent at least a full 24 hours driving to get to and from all of the places I had to get to, and spent my time with the B.C. Ambassador girls, Lytton, Oliver and Lower Nicola ambassadors, and royalty from Osoyoos and Vernon.

It’s hard to sum up the experience in a post: what made the trip so enjoyable were the inside jokes, goofy dance moves and the little moments shared with the friends I’ve made throughout B.C.

My fellow B.C. Ambassadors didn’t attend the Osoyoos and Princeton pageants with me, nor were they in three of the four parades.

I missed them dearly, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to have travelled alone: the experience pushed me to meet new people and socialize, and I only had myself to rely on to make sure I was where I needed to be and on time.

This trip was by far one of my favourites out of two years of travel.

Next stop, Kamloops from July 9-11. (I’m spending more time on the road than at home!)

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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