Sunday, July 9, 2023
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Not only did we start camping when we arrived here three years ago, but we have been covetously looking at campers. With nighttime temperatures below freezing in the mountains even in July,a camper greatly extends the season. It also gives us air conditioning and protection from mosquitoes during the rare - but becoming less rare - hot spells. It lets the cats come camping with us (although they may hate it and only ever do it once). We didn't want to buy a new vehicle so it had to be something what we already owned could pull, i.e., something small. But we still wanted separate beds for everyone.
So, when Terry saw the camper on kijiji (aka Canada's Craigslist) and it met all our requirements we pounced on it. Even though this is the end of camping season. Most campgrounds that don't specifically do winter camping have either closed or will close after this weekend - Canadian Thanksgiving. Snow will come at any time, it's already October.
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Back when we bought the cabin, a friend alerted us to a canoe going cheap. We bought it and stored it under the deck at Terry's dad's until we could get it to the cabin. Then we joined the foreign service and the canoe stayed right where it was.
While visiting this summer, we decided to finally take the canoe to the cabin. In the process of moving it to the car and then to the cabin we noticed how beautifully lightweight it was (one of the reasons we got rid of the COVID canoe was it was too heavy and bulky). We discussed Terry driving it back to Calgary. In the end he did. And this weekend, 15 years after first acquiring the ride, we put it into water!
Saturday, September 24, 2022
The kids and I spent three weeks in the US this year. Starting in MA, we spent time with mom (board games, card games, Cider Hills, and for me and Alex the first of five college tours!) then with dad (another college tour, with dad as tour guide, Duck Tours, and his annual BBQ).
We drove down to PA in time to meet Terry who had been driving from Calgary. Staying with his sister most of the time we hit the Turkey Hill Experience, laser tag (a surprising number of injuries!) another college tour, and time in and around the pool. We even tested out our origami kayak in there. And then again at a state park with an actual lake. We visited folks in the Lehigh Valley and swung by the cabin on our way to the last two college tours - one being Penn State. Will Alex be blacklisted if I mention I was not too impressed with the Penn State Creamery ice cream?
Storms in our plane-change city made us nervous but I reminded myself that if storms delayed our landing, it would also delay planes departing. At touchdown our next flight still showed a departure in 20 minutes and we were 20 long gates away. I am out of shape. That it all I will say about that. The plane was in fact significantly delayed so we could have crab walked backwards - lesson learned. We once again had time to spare and then some. Super smooth otherwise, and from landing in Calgary to being in the cab home was less than an hour. We did arrive after midnight, though, and I had work bright and early the next day!
Monday, August 1, 2022
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Back during our first full summer when we were camping neophytes and made lots of mistakes, we spent a couple of nights in the Peter Lougheed area. There are multiple campgrounds and one we visited was Elkwood. Elkwood had actual showers (in one location for the entire campground), an ampitheatre that held concerts and park ranger informative talks, and a ton of bike trails. We swore we'd come back one day and thankfully, Schnerp.com let us do exactly that!
[side note: schnerp is a site that alerts users to cancelled reservations to their chosen campgrounds so they can try to snag the newly opened spot. The window is only open for 10 minutes and the first 2-3 times we tried someone else got the spot before us.]
We ended up never using the showers nor did we attend the concert but the campground was as nice as we had hoped. We arrived Friday after work and a fast food dinner, the nearly eternal summer daylight allowed us to still get the tent and gear all set up before s'mores and getting ready for bed. I was also thrilled and surprised to sleep as late as 7am and only woke a little cold in the night.
I had heard quite a bit about renting kayaks and canoes from a nearby campground (our PL #3 if all goes well - next year) and wanted to check it out. Boulton Creek Campground has all the Elkwood does PLUS a general store, ice cream shop, and aforesaid rentals. It's also where we buy the token to use for showers if we so indulged. We went for the ice cream and decided the watercraft rentals were a bit rich for our blood. It's a cool system though, you handle the paperwork for the rental and get the oars/lifevests at the shop, but the craft themselves are at the waterside about 10 minutes' drive away.
Due to various logistics this is the only camping trip of summer 2022 and it was definitely one for the books!
Sunday, July 17, 2022
While I was busy hiking mountains, Terry took the kids to a neighborhood breakfast at a new establishment we had been meaning to check out. They were on the early side so although the pancakes were cooking, the band was not yet set up and the ponies for kiddie rides were just coming in. Apparently they were wearing cowboy hats. How disappointed am I that Terry took no pictures???
This morning we went to a nearby neighborhood for a church's pancake breakfast so I could see what this was all about. This time we arrived about 15 minutes after it officially began and the line was down the street, the tables they had set up were full and they were setting up additional ones, the band was in full swing as was the petting zoo. These things are basically like block parties but better in just about every way! What an amazing thing for communities to do in a city.
Friday, July 8, 2022
Before we had ever arrived in Calgary we had heard about the Gopher Hole Museum and it was on our bucket list. Then COVID hit and we didn't really travel. It isn't open year round, either.
These two unique establishments are only 15 minutes away from each other!You have to book a time with the alpacas because it gets really full. The operation has only been in business a few years and they say each year they are learning a lot, growing the business, and breeding new alpaca babies used to hanging out with humans. They advertised 22 babies and they were so cute! There's two pastures, one with the moms and babies and one with the males. You get a baggie full of feed and can hang out with them quite a while. Some are happy munching the grasses and some greedily chomp down on handful after handful of feed. The babies were frolicking around. One mom and baby were resting and the mom started growling when I got a little too close. Many seemed unbothered by a little petting of their necks but were more interested in other things to hang around too long. They do have incredibly soft fur.
We also enjoyed watching the prairie dogs scampering around. They were 100% not freaked out by us humans, with nary a panicked "cheep" to be heard. They were mostly running around, popping out of one hole and into the next. We caught one with a mouth stuffed with grasses - for what purpose we had no idea.
Next up was the Gopher Hole Museum. Honestly, it was a lot smaller than I had expected - just one room. However, gophers are quite small and the diorama are stacked on top of each other so they fit a lot into the space. The dioramas are quite detailed and pretty humorous.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Between Terry's broken ankle and wanting to spend every free moment skiing during winter, we have not been hiking. Although some trails are still closed for avalanche risk, there are still plenty of amazing hikes in the Rocky mountains that in our three years we have not yet done.
Arrived at the parking lot at 10am and it was firmly closed. So we went back to the Lake Louise info center to regroup. After a conversation with one of the park guides and some more conferring, we decided on Moose Meadow to Ink Pots.
It was nearly deserted until we hit where the trail merged with the path from Johnston Canyon to the Ink Pots. Lots of mosquitoes, some wildflowers getting an early start, and a lovely walk through the woods. The Ink Pots were worth the trip. We also discovered a lovely river just beyond, and the mountains of course behind it all, making a ridiculously beautiful spot to stop and eat lunch before adventuring on.
Btw, the Lake Louise parking lot fills by 8am even on a weekday, and Lake Morraine by 6am!!!
So we hiked through the snow (!?!? no joke) across a ridge to another viewpoint that overlooked Bow Lake and some different mountains. The snow was very slippery and slushy so Terry's ankle began bothering him before we got to the farthest point on the trail; however we saw enough to know we wanted to come back later in the summer when more had melted and make it all the way through to the end. The prairie dogs were abundant - a few were so big and fat I thought they were a different animal - and it was as always fun watching then scamper about.
The wildlife highlight, however, came on our return trip. This marmot popped out of her (his? I'm going to assume this was a mama with babies inside who wanted to keep an eye on the giants happening by) hole. At first she just popped out, checked us out and dived back in. But then she got curious and took a longer look. This was when she assumed the classic "senior year photo pose" and let us photo her from various angles. A small group came by and she again dove back into the hole, and returned moments later to check them out. We must have hung out with her for at least five minutes (a long time, wildlife-wise) and it was with regret we said goodbye and finished the hike.
Sunday, July 3, 2022
This has been an unusual year. The snow isn't melting as fast as usual, many hiking trails and campgrounds that would normally be open are still closed. Lots more bears around because the continued snow at higher elevations means they need to come farther downhill to find food. And, for the first time since 1991, Sunshine Village was open for skiing.
It was only one lift operating (Strawberry Express), and off that lift only two runs. The line snaked far up the end of the hill although I timed the wait and it was only 15 minutes. We had decided not to schlepp our poles up the hill because we were already carrying a bunch of stuff and it turns out we do use the poles more than just as a mental safety blanket. At one point it started to rain as we got on the chairlift and midway we moved into bluer skies and the rain fell away. The rain. While we were skiing. On July 1.
We arrived later in the day because (1) I had meetings I couldn't miss in the morning because this wasn't a US holiday so we didn't get out the door until after 10:30am and (2) there was a car crash that mandated a rerouting so it took an extra half hour to get there. All this to say that by the time we had done two runs we were very hungry for lunch and were comfortable calling it a (ski) day.
Quite an adventure for one day!