Monday, July 02, 2018

Banff Roadtrip Day #4

Today was the day we finally really saw mountains! Previously, the clouds had kind of kept them hidden from us. But that morning when I got up to get gas and buy eggs around 6 AM, they were in full view. The mountain air smelled so good, and it was actually a little chilly - I had to wear a coat. Stark contrast from the humidity and heat of home.

After the kids we leisurely arose whenever they felt like it, we had breakfast and coffee and decided to leave to check out Calgary before Josh got there around 2 o’clock. I found a few things online that looked promising and we packed up and took off. One of the places we stopped at was an indoor farmers market. It reminded me of pikes place in Seattle, lots of fresh vendors and tasty treats. Kenna and Grayson opted to try a little tart at one of the pastry places and Zach and kenna bought Fruit Popsicles which looks really delicious. Had it been a little later in the day, we probably would’ve eaten lunch there.

After that, we headed to an indoor play area near the airport. I stopped along the way to get a few groceries and the boys played there for hours. They loved it so much, I actually left to get Josh with Kenna and bring him back there. The Calgary airport was very easy to navigate, Josh plane was right on time. I love the picture that we took when the boys realized he come to the bouncy place.

After that we jumped in the car and headed to our favorite town on the trip Canmore. There we rented a log cabin type Airbnb that had an out door open air heated pool. This was the favorite pool as voted by the kids. Probably, because it was so deep and pretty warm. But most likely because it had the most ginormous hot tub!

Accommodations were a little more cramped in this house. But it is peak season for their national parks, so we couldn’t be too picky. I slept with Grayson and Zach in one room Josh and Kenna in another and Gramma on the couch downstairs.

We drove around the really cute downtown and found a Mexican restaurant. They said that they were overly busy, so the service wasn’t that great and the food was only mediocre, but we still love to the downtown area.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Banff Roadtrip Day #3

Since the kids had so much fun on the water slide the previous night, we decided to see the sights of moose jaw in the morning. We remembered seeing Max the moose by the interstate so we made sure to stop and get our picture with him. Then we drove around downtown Moose jaw to check out the cool murals painted on the side of the buildings. It’s sort of something that they are famous for.

Then we hit the road on our way to Calgary. Once again, there wasn’t a lot to see along the way. I had done my research and found what I thought was a really cool beach to have lunch in Minot. Unfortunately it was in a provincenal park without an address. So far I had done a good job of finding things with the help of my van’s GPS (our data didn’t work in Canada.) This one I had no clue, and the kids were pretty restless. 

We stopped at the welcome center in Minot to ask for directions. We quickly learned, very few things in Canada are labeled very well. After multiple turnarounds, and lots of second-guessing ourselves, we finally found Echodale beach. It is a very gorgeous park, and they have a swimming lake with sand lifeguards and a snack shack. Unfortunately it was only like 70°, and we are on a timeline, so we decided not to swim that day.

After another picnic lunch and playing in the water for a little bit, we decided to take off for Calgary. We had quite a rain storm and then just terrible traffic as the interstate was routed right through the center of the city. There are multiple stop lights and the kids had about had it. So I pulled over at a little Italian restaurant. The food was great. Everything was homemade from pizza dough to noodles, and it was a great stop to avoid the rush hour traffic we had encountered.

Ideally I would have booked a hotel or Air B&B in Calgary. But a few months prior, the place I had booked canceled on me. I definitely had to scramble and ended up finding a reasonably priced Airbnb in Cochrane. At the time it didn’t seem like it was that far from Calgary, but those extra 20 miles were really hard at the end of that day. The kids were tired, the rain was a little stressful to drive-through, and we were all ready for bed that night. The accommodations that night we’re actually probably the best ones we had outside of Lake Louise. The home was just in peccable, and we realize later it’s because that Homewood probably run about half $1 million if we were going to buy it. We quickly realized the prices in Calgary and the suburbs were just out of this world high.

We just love the little town of Cochrane. It was so quaint and cute. One of many mountain towns we fell in love with on this trip. Nothing open before 8 AM, except one gas station that I was very happy to find before we took off the next day to get Josh. Mom and I did some research that morning because we decided we’re all moving to Canada. Not really, but it was fun to dream. We learned that Calgary only had about 125,000 people in 1967. Now it had close to 1.3 million.

Kenna and Grayson we’re spoiled and got the master suite that night. Zach and I shared a room with Gramma getting her own space. The living room had a giant TV and Kenna took tons of pictures of the inside of the house because she thought it was so nicely decorated. It was nice to be able to sleep in the next day and just do nothing especially in such a nice house in a nice neighborhood.

Banff Roadtrip Day #2

Day two was the second travel day on our way to Calgary. We stopped in Oak Park in Minot ND. It was absolutely perfect weather. We were far eno go north to escape the humidity. The boys were fascinated by this little squirrel who had no fear, just came right up and ate our chips! Kids played for an hour or so and we got back on the road. This day seemed to drag on and on. We had easy time crossing the border. There was a fear that we’d have to dispose of our fruit and lunch meat but it was very casual and no talk of how Trumps recent tariffs in Canada would close their border (kidding but sad state in our country right now!) 

When we crossed over I snapped the picture below just as memerable moment. Funny story is that we passed this same car the following day on Canadian transcontinental Highway! I asked mom to look back at my camera to double check...what are the odds? They were quite menerabke as they always seemed lost and distracted as we followed them into the country.

Saskatchewan is very different than I expected. There’s hardly anything for miles and miles! Occasional farmhouse or oil pump, connected by the one highway or railroad track. Zach looooved all the beauty of the open spaces. He kept talking about how he lived the lack of human interference...was quite cute!

The highlight of the day was the AMAZING pool and water slide! What hotel has a two story waterslide? The kids played for HOURS! I ran across the street and got pizza so they could just keep playing, just awesome!

Memorable moments:
- another great park
- Stan the squirrel
- Zach’s awe of wide open spaces and beauty of the plains
- I wrote my observations on Facebook: Some observations after being in Canada 🇨🇦 for 24 hours
- everyone is -throw your body into closing elevator so your kid doesn’t have to wait, smile at you for no reason, refund part of unused travel reservation even though fine print says no - nice 
- they have tea EVERYWHERE ❤️❤️❤️
- recycling bins, all disposable items compostable no exception
- pace of life more relaxed, slower speed limits, businessesopen longer to accommodate casual late night dinners
- we aren’t even to the mountains yet and the landscape is wonderful...

May not come home!!

So far we love Canada so much!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Banff Roadtrip Day #1

So we left today for two week road trip from Ankeny to Canadian Rockies.

I’ve been planning this trip for josh’s 40th for 6 months! Been packing for possibly chilly weather and a dairy free/gluten free kiddo! Pinning things on Pinterest, internet searches for things to do along the way and we’re off!!!

We are driving to Calgary and josh is flying there to meet us. We hit the road and we’re al excited because Netflix allows you to download movies now! Unfortunately many didn’t work 😩 but we packed plenty to do. We stopped at chutes and ladders park near Minneapolis first. A friend told me about this park and it’s fantastic!!!  The kids played with grandma and I took kenna to go get oil changed...oops!!! Id meant to do that before I left and forgot...3500 miles required clean oil!

Zach mentioned he was hungry and a sign literally appeared satungrest stop 1 mike so we pulled over for lunch. This place had a way smaller park, gorgeous trees and was 50 feet from a lake ! Love Minnesota restrooms!!

After some lunch and play (with some scolding of Grayson as he’s been extra whiney today!) we took off again. 

We made decent time to Jamestown and enjoyed meeting the biggest buffalo in the world and touring frontier village. Ran by Burger King where we had the most confused cashier ever...obviously in training, and headed to the hotel. Trying to check in they only found 1 room and in the midst of mom and I freaking out Grayson looses it. I drag him outside as he’s throwing a fit for no reason and we figure out that we did have two rooms. Hopefully good night sleep corrects this crying that’s been going on.

Finished the evening in this shallow pool. Kenna was in absolute tears because the hot tub is broken and this pool is so shallow. We had a conversation about lemons to lemonade and a chat with the front desk person. Once the fountain was on she parked up and they all had fun!

Memorable moments
- trying to fit two weeks worth of food in a cooler
- Zach admiring dragonflies and telling me that they had such an interesting design, he was mesmerized by following them
- kenna packing everything by herself including adding suitcase divider to for us each our own partition. 
- Grayson insisting he sleep absolutely right next to me and holding my hand as he fell asleep 
- almost 8 hours of uninterrupted conversation with my mom, so fun to travel together 
- not figuring out why the van door wouldn’t open (gas door was open 🤦‍♀️)
- discovering new park in MN

Monday, June 04, 2018


Been a tricky few months with lunches with new dietary restrictions...I’m happy to be retiring this drawer for a few months!!

Home improvement

And just like that the last of the oak is gone. Happy for small upgrade 😀