Vancouver in the Fall

It’s not often (or really ever) that I get to take mid-school year trip but this fall I won our provincial indoor lawn bowling women’s singles competition and had the opportunity to travel to Vancouver to represent Alberta at the National Championships. E is still too little to be without me for 10 days so at the start of November the whole family headed west for our third west coast adventure of the year.

While I was definitely there to bowl, the schedule left me with quite a few opportunities to do some exploring too. So when I wasn’t on the green (where I performed with mixed results but was generally happy given that this was my first time playing on an indoor surface) we tried to get out and enjoy some mini-adventures.If you ever find yourself hanging out around the Pacific Indoor Bowling Club, here are a few easy things to do!

City Parks and Fall Foliage

Over the 8 days we had in the city, we took multiple trips to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Park to take in the fantastic fall weather and amazing colours. We had warm, sunny weather for the first couple of days we were there so took advantage with some long walks up the hill. We had a decent fall in Alberta but it was pretty nice to extend it for another week, especially with the leaves being brilliant shades of yellow and red. Everywhere I looked someone was taking a photo of the leaves.

We did a lot of walking on the paths, just looking at the gardens, the views of the city and checking out the ducks.

If you don’t want to tackle the park, the nearby neighbourhood streets or one of the many little parks were also great places to stretch out legs and get outside. Next time we’re there, E should be a bit older and I know we’re going to love playing at all the playgrounds.

Bloedel Conservatory

Located in Queen Elizabeth Park, this was the perfect hour long outting on the one day it poured with rain. We got soaked walking up from the club (except E, who was nice and dry inside his stroller) but warmed up inside the tropical dome. The conservatory isn’t huge but we all enjoyed looking at the plants and birds (perfect for the little guy as the birds are SO close).

Hillcrest Aquatic Centre

If only our pool facilities in Calgary were as awesome (and affordable) as this one was. E’s dipped his toes in the ocean and we’ve tried a few lake dips but this was his first time in a real swimming pool. We weren’t sure how he was going to handle it but both times we went he seemed to enjoy the experience (except a major meltdown waiting for the showers). This pool has a huge lap pool but also offers a shallow kiddie pool with a lazy river, spray features and a very shallow splashing area. I thought the water was a little too cool for infants but not too bad. They also have a gradual depth hot tub so when we got chilly E was able to sit there and splash. The best part was that admission was only $6 for the three of us, which made me feel a little bit better about only spending 15 minutes or so in the pool. They also have an amazing universal change room and shower facility.

The Public Library

There is a small branch near the club and E loved going to read a few books, play with their toys and watch the other kids, We went over every day – sometimes twice a day for a little break.

Capilano Salmon Hatchery

I’ve always wanted to see the salmon on their annual spawning and while this isn’t a huge run, it is an easy way to see some fish. The hatchery is about 30 minutes from the lawn bowling club but on the Monday I only had a morning game so we used the afternoon to cross this longer adventure off the list. Since we didn’t have a rental car for the week we took advantage of Car2Go’s new SUVs and just “stopped” over while at the park.

It was very quiet while we were there so we had most of the facility to ourself. We checked out the fish waiting in the river, watched a few use the fish ladder through the observation windows and took a short walk in the forest.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

About a 30 minute walk (or a very short drive, we drove) from the club, this was an easy place to meet some friends and catch up while we walked. I’m sure the gardens are more spectacular in the spring/summer but again they were pretty quiet on Friday afternoon.

I can’t remember how I felt about the city last time, but this time I definitely fell in love with it and we certainly spent part of our trip dreaming about permanently heading west. We were all a little sad to land back in Calgary (and only part of that was because it was -20oC) and are already looking forward to heading back that way again.

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One More Summer Vacation

We decided to squeeze in one more summer get-away – four days at the cabin to cap off our summer and soak up the sunshine before heading back to work/school/daycare. We didn’t do anything other than relax at the cabin – but why would you leave when it looks like this?

Baby E played in his portable pod, had his first swim in the lake and attempted to drink a slurpee.

I swam, went paddle boarding and read several books.

And while I haven’t been able to cross everything off my summer bucket list, we definitely got a lot of paddling in with a before bed trip out on the lake each night. Every night we were able to go a little longer so I’ve hopeful that next summer we’re going to make it out for a day long adventure!

While I know we’ve still got lots of adventures ahead of us (September can be such a lovely month) I’ve going to miss having our lazy summer days off as a family. I’m already looking forward to next summer.

 

Visiting Victoria – Bowling and Travel

I’ve been lucky enough to head to Vancouver Island the past two springs with school (I missed out this year since I was pregnant with the little guy) but Jon and I haven’t been out for a real visit in several years. In fact, we both had a hard time remembering exactly what we did last time we went out to Victoria just to visit (which was either 2003, or 2004 – we’re both a little fuzzy on the details).  So when we found out we would get a chance to travel to Victoria for the Canadian Lawn Bowling Championships we decided to tack on a few extra days and do some sight seeing as well as bowling (and of course Baby E came along for another family trip).

We were lucky to have some free accommodations in Oak Bay for a few days before competition started so we based ourselves out of there for our fun days. We had an early morning flight from Calgary that was delayed by over an hour and a baby who hadn’t slept since 4 am so we decided to spent what was left of our first day just exploring the beaches in Oak Bay.

Feeling slightly less tired on day 2 we started off with an early(ish) visit to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Victoria waterfront. We parked at the wharf ($3 for two hours) and then walked the seaside path as far as Munro’s Books. We have started a tradition of purchasing Baby E a book about each place we visit when we travel so we spent some time picking out the perfect West Coast book for his collection before walking back.

We had a picnic lunch near the wharf before heading out of the city to visit Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site. We’ve actually been avoiding visiting parks and historic sites this year (with free entry everything is really busy) but the site was really quiet and we spent an hour or so wandering around. The site is only a few minutes from the lawn bowling greens so we stopped in to check things out and roll a few bowls.

On our final day of just vacation we tidied up our condo (and did a quick load of laundry) before doing some practice at the lawn bowling greens. Then we headed north out of the city to sample ciders at Sea Cider. It was chilly so we sampled in the tasting room but they also have a patio that looks out over the orchard.

Since we had to pick up Gramps at the airport we decided to spend what was left of our afternoon walking in Sidney. There is a nice waterfront trail so we loaded baby E into his stroller and enjoyed just being by the ocean.

We grabbed Gramps from the airport and after a quick dinner in Sidney headed to our hotel to meet up with our team. We had practice and check in the next day and then it was on to six day of competition. Some people manage to do other things while competing but with the baby we found it busy enough to manage him and get ourselves ready to play.

This was our first trip to nationals as players (I umped last year when it was hosted in Edmonton) and it was quite the experience. Things wrapped up with finals on Saturday (my team won a bronze!) and then it was back home to Calgary.

We still have a bit more lawn bowling left this summer/fall (Jon is off to Winnipeg in week for more competition) but Victoria was likely our last longer trip for a while since I’m heading back to work soon. I’m glad we got to spend the time together and squeeze in another family trip in what has already been a busy summer!

Alberta Day Trip – The Badlands

Jon’s brother and sister were out visiting the past weekend and since this was their first time in Alberta since our wedding (2005) and their first time in Calgary, we spent some time showing them the sights. While we did take them to the mountains (you can’t really come all this way and not go) we also took them to the less traveled “badlands” to see another part of Alberta. While I’ll always love heading to the mountains, our mini-roadtrip east of Calgary was a nice change and a chance to cross some items off my Alberta bucket list. We only had a half day to take in as much as we could but I think we did a good job!

Stop 1 – Picnic Lunch at Horseshoe Canyon

We left Calgary around 11:30 and took Hwy 9 East for about an hour to the well signed Horseshoe Canyon Recreation Area for an overview of some “badlands” terrain. It hasn’t been that long since we were last at the canyon but  there have been several improvements to the site including a set of stairs to make it easier to access the canyon and lots of viewing platforms. We took some photos of the canyon and then headed down to the bottom to explore a little bit. We didn’t spend much time in the canyon but you could easily wander for quite a while.

Baby’s first trip to the Alberta Badlands

After we checked out the canyon we climbed back up the stairs (which isn’t a huge climb but the stairs are at a very awkward height) and ate the picnic lunch I’d packed while admiring the view. There are picnic tables, trash cans and out houses so it was a good place to stop for a bit.

Stop 2 – The World’s Largest Dinosaur

After lunch we loaded back into the Rover and got back on the highway for the 15 minute drive into Drumheller. While I’m sure there are other things to do in the town, we were there to see the World’s Largest Dinosaur (I’m a sucker for the largest statues of things). Just follow the signs to the Tourist Info Centre and it’s hard to miss!

We didn’t but you can pay $4 to climb up inside for views over the city

Stop 3 – The Hoodoo Trail

From the dinosaur we headed east out of Drumheller for about 15 minutes to the Hoodoo Trail. I’d never been before but the site has a very short developed trail around some hoodoos as well as the option to explore. We opted for a quick visit just to see the main hoodoos but a longer walk would be possible.

Lots of cheesy family shots happening!

Stop 4 – The Star Mine Suspension Bridge

Along with all the spectacular scenery, the Drumheller area has lots of historical sites. We didn’t have time to visit everything but it was easy to squeeze in a stop at the bridge since it is just off the highway as you return towards Drumheller from the Hoodoo Trail. You can cross the bridge to access the hills on the other side of the river but we just had time for a quick stop as the little guy was demanding to be fed.

Stop 5 – The Last Chance Saloon

By this point we’d been out in the sun all afternoon and were ready for a cold drink so just west of the suspension bridge we took the signed road to Wayne to visit the Last Chance Saloon. A drink at the saloon has been on my to-do list for a while and it was the perfect day for it since the bar was quiet and it was warm enough to enjoy the patio. The saloon is kid friendly so the little guy enjoyed a nap while the adults enjoyed a beverage.

Taking a break from the sun and enjoying a beverage on the patio
Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel – just in case you want to spend the night
Some of the seating options inside the saloon

Stop 6 – Back Home to Calgary

From Wayne we retraced our route back to Drumheller and then home to Calgary. We left Wayne just after 4:00pm and made it home just before 6:00 pm with everyone feeling just a little tired.

While we’ve got other adventures planned for the next while, I’m definitely going to be thinking about some other ways to explore east of Calgary this summer and visit a few of the sites we missed on this trip.

The Other Weekend – A Day in Canmore

We are having a spell of very nice weather here in Calgary. I would say its unusual, but I seem to remember riding my bike to the zoo many years ago on Remembrance Day so it isn’t that unusual. With all this nice weather, its been hard to stay inside and work when I want to be outside playing (and I have so much work these days…).

The other weekend it was just so nice that we couldn’t stay home any longer. We haven’t left the city since early September, Jon was off lawn bowling in Vancouver and I just really wanted a day away. Patches and I made plans to meet friends, packed a picnic lunch and headed to Canmore for the day.

Patches and I do lots of solo adventuring in Calgary, but very, very rarely do we head out past city limits without Jon. I grabbed myself a decafe cafe misto, Patches got buckled in and we hit what was a surprisingly quiet highway for 9:30 on a Satuday where the predicted temperature was over 15C!

Once in Canmore we headed out to Quarry Lake dog park so the dogs could have a run. I spent a little time waiting in the lot for my friends to show up but passed the time watching a live stream of Jon playing (which was too stressful without commentary). Then it was time to hit the trails.

There isn’t a huge area to walk but the loop is about 1 km and with senior dogs (and a two year old) it was a good length. The views are beautiful and there was a little pond for the dogs to take a swim in.

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After our walk at the park we headed into town to have a picnic lunch by the river. Its sort of crazy to still be out picnicking in November. After the walk my friends packed up and headed home, but Patches and I decided to spend some more time exploring. I had originally planned on heading to Grassi Lakes but given how busy it was, I decided just to stay in town and walk the trails along the river.

Patches and I walked from Riverside Park west and did a nice loop through Larch Island before heading back towards the bridge on the other side of the river. This was a nice mix of paved paths and quiet dirt paths and meant that Patches and I had lots of time to ourselves (even though there were lots of people out and about).

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We were both pretty worn out after this so we headed back to Calgary. Patches slept on the way home (and pretty much the next day) and I just enjoyed listening to my music and snacking on some mini-oranges. It wasn’t the most exciting adventure but it was really nice to be out of the city and take advantage of the weather.

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