Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Final Leg

Day 6

Barkerville, the historic gold rush town, was our first stop of the day.   It is really cool but so remote.  Sacha, who loves museums was in a grumpy mood when we got there and took a while for him to warm up to it but once we hit the general store and picked up a couple pieces of liquorice for the kids and soap candies for me, moods improved all around.   It was our first really rainy morning and it was not crowded at all.  We took the stage coach ride and panned for gold.   We found 6 flakes the size of salt crystals, Sacha was slightly disappointed, he was hoping for a golf ball sized nugget.  I also purchased their authentic sour dough recipe to take home.


After Barkerville, we stopped at another historic house, Cottonwood House for lunch.  It was on the road to Barkerville.  They had some good soup and scones.

Then it was on to Horsefly to visit our friend Marc and his 4 month old chocolate lab puppy named Charlie.


Day 7

So it was kind of crazy to plan a trip with two kids under 7 that only had one non-driving day but I would say they did really well considering.  And if they don’t know any different (all people travel like this as far as they know), then they don’t expect anything different.

We spent the day playing in the tall grass and picking wild flowers  in the fields around Marc’s house, and briefly touring the town; it is about 3 blocks in total.   Marc had signed up Andrew and himself for a horseshoe tournament at the pub in the afternoon, so I took the kids to swim in Horsefly lake.  I think it was the first time either one of them had swam in fresh water and it was very pleasant.  Not too cold and fun to watch baby trout swimming around. 

It was very nice to have a day to relax and hang out, I even got another new bird, the hammond’s flycatcher and saw a merlin.


Day 8

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig.  We took the Fraser Canyon route home.  We were pretty tired so we debated about finding a lake to stop and take a quick swim but we decided to press on home instead. 

It was a really great trip and I would definitely do something similar again.  Ideally giving ourselves a bit more time so we didn’t have such long driving days. 


This map says the drive was 11 hours, but that is not even close.  It is more like 6, we stopped for lunch in Cache Creek in a sit down restaurant and stopped for gas and it wasn’t anywhere close to 11 hours.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 5

The day started off a little rough.  We had stayed at our timeshare in Banff for the night and because of that, there was no free breakfast with it like the other hotels.  I had promised the kids that we could go to McDonalds for breakfast.  It might have the only McDonalds for 100km and because of that it was very crowded.  I found a table with the kids and Andrew lined up to get food.  There was a major disagreement about who got to sit next to me and who had to sit across the table.  This lead to screeching and thumping each other so before our food was even ordered, I dragged them both out.  This lead to more crying and screaming and carrying on and us pulling over on the way to the grocery store and both children being removed from the car and being given a stern talking to on the side of the road and the option to take up residence there if they decided that they wanted to continue to carry on as they had been.

But after this initial set back, everyone’s attitudes changed and we had a great day.  Our first stop was Lake Louise, which was crowded but beautiful.  The kids got to splash around in the ice cold water,  run around chasing ground squirrels and I got to add two new birds to my life list (Clark’s Nutcracker and Grey Jay).  Somewhere between the squirrels and the car, Alice lost her camera which was really disappointing because she was having such fun taking pics. 


Next up was the Athabasca Glacier.  I had been there when I was about 9 and there are signs to show where the glacier was in different years before receding.


We were the same age as Alice in 1982, so I thought this was an especially cute picture.  That’s me in green huffing it up the hill in the back ground.  It is really steep.  I was definitely the fattest person that actually climbed up the hill while we were there.  (You can take buses up to the top).  We walked all the way to the glacier and the kids go to stand on it but I wouldn’t let them climb up too high on the actual ice but I didn’t think it was safe. 


We had dinner in Jasper and filled up the tank.  The next leg, between Jasper and Prince George was the one I had been most worried about on the whole trip.  It is 4 hours, after dinner with little or nothing to stop for.  So after dinner, we whipped out the ipads and headphones and gave them to the kids.  It turned out to be the most civilized part of the trip, we didn’t have to take music requests, we could have adult conversations and admire the view.  We made such good time that we pressed on all the way to Quesnel rather than spend the night in Prince George like we thought we would.  


If you are ever driving the yellowhead highway, I totally recommend the bakery at Purden Ski Village.  We had ice cream but their pies and baked goods looked amazing and the bathrooms were really nice!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 4

We spent the morning at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller and it was amazing!  It is such a great museum. I loved looking at all the dinosaur fossils and dioramas. The kids definitely enjoyed it too.  I think we spent about 3 hours just walking around and didn’t even get to everything they had to do. 


The ticket prices were really reasonable too, because Sacha and Alice are both under 7, they were free and it was just $11 for adults.  I felt that Sacha and Alice were a bit too young to take part in the “Dig Experience” programs so there is something to come back for when they are a bit older.  Since it is only 90 minutes outside of Calgary, it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a second trip down the road. 


Stegosaurus are my favourite!

We took the Dinotrail drive through the fossil canyons around Drumheller and then headed down to see the Hoodoos.   The hoodoos are really unique.  Rocks that are left on top of  pillars of sandstone after the rest of sandstone has been washed away.  The prime examples are roped off and you aren’t allowed to climb on them, but you can explore the cliffs behind.  The kids had a blast climbing up and sliding down the sandy slopes, and hiding in sand caves.  But we didn’t last long there because it was so stinking hot. 


IMG_6623 - Copy

Alice had blisters on her feet from wearing her shoes on the wrong feet in the museum, so she ran around the hoodoos with bare feet. 

IMG_6610 - Copy

We had hoped to meet up with my friend James who lives in Calgary for a meal but it didn’t work out.  We were heading through Calgary on our way to Banff around 3pm and he was still working.  One day I will see him in his native environment.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 3

Because if the time change, crossing into Montana we didn’t get the earliest start to the day.   The kids each had a camera and were very excited to take pictures of the amazing scenery in Glacier National Park.

IMG_6437 - Copy

IMG_6454 - Copy

I had done quite a bit of research before the trip about the park.  I new we didn’t have a lot of time to really explore it so I had some key spots that I wanted to get out and look around as we drove the amazing Road to the Sun.   Unfortunately, that park was so crowded we couldn’t stop at 2 of the major places I was hoping to see.  There is a walk called Trail of the Cedars.  It is also where you park your RV and board the touring vans because cars have to be under 21’ to drive along the Road to the Sun.  I can see the appeal of the touring vans even if you have a normal sized car like we do.  The road is tiny and it winds its way up the steep cliffs of the mountains.  I was often clinging to the handle in the car, trying not to hyperventilate.  Glacier National Park and a healthy fear of heights don’t mix well.  So because the Trail of Cedars parking area doubles as the bus stop, we couldn’t find a place to stop after 10 minutes.

IMG_6492 - Copy

We pressed on and stopped at a couple view stops along the way and got out and explored at the Weeping Wall.  There was one point with amazing views but too steep for me to get out, and I definitely wouldn’t let the kids out, so Andrew got out and took pics.  (and made fun of me).

I saw a couple mountain goats near “The Loop” but again, because it was so busy, we couldn’t pull over anywhere to take pictures.  There was a small parking area nearby where we could have parked and walked back but it was so full, double layers of cars in each spot.  So that was disappointing, I am not sure if the kids even saw them.

Logan’s Pass is supposed to be the highlight.  There is an information building and telescopes and it is the base point to start quite a few hikes.  I definitely wanted to stop here, it was even close enough to the Loop that we could have walked back to see the mountain goats but just like the Trail of Cedars, the parking lot was full.  We tried to park for 1/2 hour, it was a gong show, everyone was trying to get parking, some giving up and leaving, some circling around and around, some following pedestrians back to their cars and some just planting in one spot and waiting for something to open up.   After half an hour, we decided to give up and press on, I was really disappointed but the kids were getting antsy and hungry.

IMG_6521 - Copy

IMG_6493 - Copy

Alice and Andrew at the Weeping Wall, I like this pic because Paul McCartney is almost “bunny ears-ing” Alice.   I would definitely go back to Glacier National Park, unfortunately with my work schedule I would only ever be able to go in the middle of the summer and I don’t think we would ever be able to escape the crowds which is unfortunate.  I would probably combine a trip with Yellowstone at the same time, spending a week between the two.  I would also take the red bus tour, the scenic buses have reserved spots at all the big sites and don’t have the parking problems.  I would take one of the boat tours on the lakes and I would check out the other half of the park around the Blackfoot reservation, and possibly take one of the jeep trips you can do from there.   I would also make sure we were on the road and in the park before 8am, even with the time change.


After the park, we had a quick ice cream stop in Vulcan, Alberta underneath the USS Enterprise and headed on to Drumheller.  It is such a huge change in scenery in a short time - huge rugged forested mountains, to flat grassy prairies within less than an hour’s drive.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Road Trip Day 1 and 2

Day 1

We said goodbye to Granddad at Margot’s house on Sunday afternoon.  He was flying home and we were starting out on our road trip.  By the time we hit the Peace Arch Border Crossing it was about 4pm. 


This first leg was almost exactly the same as Day 1 of the road trip that Mum and Sacha and I took in 2011.   We have done this porting of the drive many, many times so we decided to get as far as possible as quickly as possible and skipped over seeing Leavenworth and driving through the mountains this time.  We did see two wild fires burning across the river in Ellensburg though, where it was 34 degrees at 9pm at night.  I was very thankful that we had AC in the car.

Day 2

I had been doing an elimination diet to figure out what I am allergic two for the two weeks prior to the trip.  I had a solid week of only eating lamb and yams and then starting to add in new foods.  I figured out that I am allergic to some dairy (like a straight glass of milk but not processed dairy like cheese) and wheat.  By breakfast on day 2, I knew I couldn’t keep up this elimination diet on the road trip. So I ate pretty terribly and by terribly, I mean deliciously.   And I did not have hives all week while I was away, I am thinking stress and minor allergies were what was causing them.

Back in 2011, I remembered a fabulous playground in Spokane Washington and I knew we had to stop there again this time.  It is called Discovery Playground and it is so much fun.  The kids love it.  There is so many different ways to play, mini trampoline, water park, giant flowers, different slides, musical chimes, sand table and more and more.  I recommend anyone with kids under 8 who is travelling through Spokane to make a stop here.  I wish we had such a great playground closer to home.


IMG_6436 - Copy

We stopped for lunch in Coeur D’Alene at a little restaurant called Susie’s Home Kitchen.  The food was great, the kids loved it and it was super cheap which is a bonus.  We also stopped at the local Kmart and I found a cute little Vivatar camera for Alice, it was only $15 and the only thing you could really do is point and click.  It was perfect for her.  I also picked up some headphones for each of the kids which came in handy a couple of times with ipads helped with long stretches of driving.


We made it to Whitefish, Montana which is about 1/2 hour outside of Glacier National Park.  The hotel we stayed in had a pool and the kids got a swim in before bed. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Run, Run, Run

Yesterday was our traditional Pasley Island Games (PIG) up at Pasley.  We spent Friday night at Bowen and my uncle came and picked us up from the dock to ferry us over to Pasley, where a dozen of my cousins and aunts and uncles were already up.   This year they had a great face painter up in the meadow.  Alice got an Elsa princess crown and Sacha got Spiderman.  There were lots of butterflies and dragons and superheros running around by the end of the races.  

Alice ran in the Maple Leaf race and came first!  Her cousin Makena came in second and it wasn't even like the years when I raced and in my age group there were just three of us running.  I would always get third anyway.  Sacha missed his running race, I am not sure what he was doing when it was called but he came second in the potato sack race.  Alice took part in the potato sack race too and a relay race which her team came third, but it was a generous third and I think it was mainly because her leg of the race she had to sit on a balloon and pop it but she was too light, so she just kept bouncing on it until a spectator came in and sat on it for her, which of course led her to tears because she wanted to pop the balloon BY HERSELF!

After races, lunch and the traditional family photo we hit the water.  Alice had a great time playing in and out of the water with her two little cousins Makena and Chloe.  They were so cute all together.  She figured out that she could float with her life jacket on and swam all around.  Sacha never trusted his life jacket.  He wanted to get in the water and we tried to encourage him for about an hour but he couldn't do it.  Finally with a bit of help, he was nudged into the water, against much protest.  He started screaming his head off.   He was terrified he would drown, that sharks would eat him, that whales would touch him.  I thought if I could calm him down enough to get him to try to float, he would get over it and have fun so I kept him in the water, clinging to me for about 15 minutes.  He never calmed down and finally I just took him back to the dock.  I was in the water for about 2 hours and my shoulders are now sunburned.  It was a fun day. 

Today, Dad heads home and we leave for our road trip in a could hours, we spent the morning cleaning and packing.  We are going to meet up for a late lunch with Dad and Margot and then head on our way to Glacier National Park in Montana.  I have pics of PIG but they are on my camera which is already packed up and in the car. I will post them later.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Now and Then



Those goats sure shrank over the last 5 years at Maplewood Farms!