Six years ago, we moved back home to the Maritimes from Calgary. In the six years, we've had a chance to have friends visit us in New Brunswick, but we have always wanted our girls to see where we used to live and catch up with friends still living there. Once we told the girls we were going, they were excited and started a countdown, telling their friends a few weeks beforehand. They were definitely interested as Rebecca was born in Calgary and Abby had only heard of and seen pictures of our time there.
The trip to Calgary was definitely part of the story, having to drive to Halifax for our flights, stay in a hotel (the girls' first) and get up in the early morning to take three planes to Calgary through Toronto and Regina. As Rebecca tells it, because its so far -- we had to take 3 Planes! Both girls did well with the travel, but were naturally exhausted after their 20 hour trip to the west. We were fortunate to be able to stay with our good friends Ramona and Michael. It was the girls first time remembering a meeting with them (Ramona visited when they were really young). Each morning that we were there, we were treated with delicious gourmet breakfasts which got us all started on our days of adventuring and visiting. Upon our daily return to their house, I would be remiss to not mention the amazing desserts which we feasted upon while chatting and showing photos of our day trips.
Above you see some of the desserts we sampled frequently! And yes, Abby was happy to eat them.
One of the evenings we returned to have supper and a chocolate fountain. Needless to say, the kids loved it.
Our first day trip in the Calgary area was east toward Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum. Our first stop was the 'worlds largest dinosaur' in the town square. You can ascend to the mouth of the dino, which only excited the kids even more for the museum tour. Rebecca and Abby were very interested in all the exhibitions. Some were the typical large dinosaur displays, but others were interactive and interesting for children and adults.
It was difficult to take photos in the museum. Abby was entranced by the caveman markings on the wall that changed every few minutes.
The girls were excited to do the simplest of things: play in the water. This was the perfect solution for getting used to the new time zone!
Alberta: where computer desktop backgrounds are made! You quickly find out why they call it the Big Sky province.
Despite the 32 C weather, on the way back, we stopped to view the scenery (and blue birds, first time!) at Horseshoe Canyon lookoff near Drumheller. Years ago, Sheena and I took our bikes down in the valley for a scorcher of a bike ride.
The following day, we took the girls out to see the Rockies and visit some of the sights we had seen while spending our weekends hiking in the mountains. The first trip we took was to Troll Falls and Marmot Creek Falls in Kananaskis Country. Troll falls is a great hike for kids and we decided to climb above the falls to see more of the waterfalls in the hills above. Troll falls are named for the small sized holes in the rocks beside the waterfall. Here's Abby showing the rock formations.
We took the kids in behind the falls. With the heavy rainfall earlier in the week, there was an excellent flow of water.
Rebecca stands tall as a mountain climber in the rock above Troll Falls.
Here's us posing at a lookoff above Troll Falls with one of the K-Country Mountains in behind (Mt. Kidd possibly).
After our daily excursions, the girls would retire to Ramona's library for some quiet reading, drawing and reflection. It was a peaceful spot.
Being in Calgary, we naturally had to take the girls to some ethnic restaurants. Ramona and Michael knew of a great Chinese restaurant in Edgemont for a Dim Sum brunch. It was an excellent and tasty meal -- the girls enjoyed the turning table with food at the ready. We also made it to a Japanese restaurant in Dalhousie. The service was exceptional and they ended our meal with a couple of nice songs. Until we watched the video itself, it wasn't until then when we noticed the simultaneous reaction from the girls at the end of the song.
There was lots to learn about the big city, but we found the girls were naturals at taking the busy transit train. On the trip downtown, Rebecca was looking at a book and sharing the pages with a older Chinese couple. They both seemed to seem to laugh at the pictures at the same time.
Later in the week, we took the girls to the Highwood Pass area of Kananaskis Country. Highwood Pass is 2200 metres above sea level at the start of the hike to Ptarmigan Cirque. The hike is a 6 kilometre loop to the top of a 'cirque', a valley with a theatre type formation of the surrounding mountains of Mt. Rae and Mt. Arthesua. Although earlier in the week, we had spent our days in hot weather of the foothills, the mid morning in the mountains was a cool 12 degrees with a slight wind. The cooler spring had just given way and the snow was just disappearing from the trail -- in late June!
The hike was 230 m of elevation gain in 3 kilometres, which is a bit noticeable when you are already at 2200 metres at the start. The girls trucked along on the trail though, despite noticing a difference in their lungs. We made little goals for them to reach along the way and then started to find these rest stops on the trail. They looked forward to each one and counted the way up. The exertion was making it warmer for them too. We frequently crossed snow along the trail in the woods.
Here are the girls proceeding along a little lookoff before leaving the treeline.
We reached the cirque and the real mountain climbers in them took over. The girls spent lunch exploring the rocks all around the bottom.
A family shot during our lunch break. It really had sights on all sides of the Highwood Pass area.
Rebecca and Sheena take a walk and chat down the return trail. Mt. Rae is in the background.
On our final weekend, we took the girls to a rodeo in Airdrie. Many towns in Alberta have a rodeo circuit visit them and I found they're much more authentic than the Stampede which everyone has seen at least once on television. These rodeos are held on a rodeo ground outside of town, where grassy fields are turned into parking lots (rapidly becoming muddy fields) and cattle corals fence off the beer tent from the spectators area. It really was a fun experience -- and after two downpours on the break, we realized our footwear was slightly inadequate. :) Cowboy boots do have a purpose!
Here we sit on our jackets watching the preshow antics of the rodeo clown. He and the announcer provided the commentary for the events.
Here he was getting the crowd fired up fo the first event!
Many cowboys getting ready near the grandstand. In between the arena and grandstand the areas where the animals are 'mounted' prior to the gates opening.
Abby showing off her rodeo stamp! She's wearing her ring made by a new friend in Cochrane.
Here's Steph and Rebecca (trying to blow a bubble) while watching the show. It was a late night, but lots of fun for our last evening in Calgary.
We were able to see many friends on our trip and were grateful to be able to visit all that we could. To those we couldn't see, we hope to catch up with you sometime soon in the future!
For our Western friends, thanks for the dinners and playtimes, we certainly enjoyed them. Special thank yous go to Ramona & Michael and Steph for graciously allowing us to stay in their houses for the week. You guys made it possible for all of us to have have fun visting our old stomping grounds out West!