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Our Trip Out West - August 2009

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S: Our Trip Out West - August 2009

FC: Our Trip Out West | August 2009

1: An incredible adventure that spanned two weeks and our amazing country...at least part of it. August 1st - 14th, 2009

2: Once we got home from work Friday night, we finished packing and left town around 9pm. We made good time and got to Grandpa Dale's at 12:45am. Aunt Chris and Uncle Doug were there so Harry and I shared Crystal's (single) bed and Lou slept on the couch (at which point we remembered that we had forgotten our pillows). After a big breakfast of pancakes, fresh fruit and sausage we got everything all packed up again and we headed for Sudbury!

3: Day 1 - Sudbury | We went to the Science North Center and saw a very humbling show of the universe in the Planetarium dome theater. Super cool!

4: As we came out of the universe show a new show was about to start so we got in line not knowing what we were in for. It was a 4D movie. We got glasses, the seats moved, we got sprayed with water and blown with air! Harry didn't like the bumpy parts where the plane was in rough weather but he was laughing again by the end.

5: We checked out the rest of the science center and found some really interesting animals and fascinating electronics. Harry was mesmerized by an electronic car on a track. We couldn't pull him away! It was a really neat place to visit.

6: We thought we were looking at a dinosaur but when we got to the top we found out it was a whale!

7: World's Biggest Nickel

8: We kept passing these crazy billboards for a website called frozenbeneath.ca. (Now that we're home and able to Google it, we found out that it was an advertisement for a book!) It was a rainy Saturday night so we decided to push past Sault Ste. Marie and stay in a hotel so that we could get a really good night sleep. The mist coming off the roads and in the trees was cool. Around 10pm we made it to Pancake Bay which is 46 miles North of Sault Ste. Marie and decided on a place called Smith's Motel and Chicken Shack. Chicken Shack??? Our room was painted Pepto Bismal pink. Even the tub was pink!

9: This is where I got pulled over for speeding...oops! 120 in a 90! Thankfully I only had an expired insurance slip with me and got a ticket for that instead of the speeding.

10: Day 2 Northern Ontario | We ended up doing quite a bit of sight seeing on our way to breakfast as there was no where to stop between Pancake Bay and Wawa. It was lunch time before we got to eat.

12: Wawa

13: More sight seeing...

14: The 9 foot high bronze statue commands a breath-taking view of Lake Superior. The statue was erected in memory of Terry Fox, The courageous one-legged runner who embarked on a cross country run for cancer research - the Marathon of Hope. The site is not far from the place where he ended his 5,342km run, stricken with the disease that ended his life on June 28, 1981. "Dreams are made if people only try. I believe in miracles...I have to...because somewhere the hurting must stop." | Terry Fox Monument Thunder Bay

16: I really wanted to see a moose on our trip! As we were driving to our campsite for the night, Lou saw one, slammed on the breaks and turned the van around so I could see her and take pictures! | I named her Maybell, the Moose. She was just standing around posing for her pictures. I think she was even smiling in this one!

17: Our first campsite at Aaron Provincial Park! The GPS said we wouldn't make it there until 11:45pm. We were there at 9:08! And no speeding...well not much. We raced the sun in its setting. We managed to get there with JUST enough daylight to get the tent set up. We got in our jammies and snuggled up tight. It was a COLD night. And when the trucks from the highway weren't screaming down the road, there were trains that had to blow their horns that were so loud, they sounded like they were coming right through the camp! A little squirrel decided to wake Lou up by pouncing on the tent and then sat there chattering. Lou made us a really yummy breakfast which we devoured! Harry rode his bike around the campground while we packed up the campsite. We were going to go for a bike ride but it got canceled due to rain.

18: Day 3 Leaving Ontario

20: Birds Hill Provincial Park was a wonderful park. No trains and the only sounds were fellow campers, birds and our radio. We set up our tent and cooked up some burgers and zucchini with sliced tomato for dinner. | This is our campsite.

21: After dinner we went for a bike ride. It was lots of fun and Harry found every puddle he could to ride through and a few geese to scare off as well.

22: Harry liked the roasting sticks for the marshmallows but not for roasting them. He just stuck them on and ate them off raw. | We tried sleeping on two air mattresses but it wasn't as comfortable as we thought it would be.

23: Day 4 Manitoba

24: Around lunch time we headed to Winnipeg. We went to the museum and found out after we paid for parking that we were at the "big people" museum. The guy at the counter told us we could probably walk to the Children's Museum but that the walkway might be under water and that that's where all the crazy people are. Me thinks he was a bit of a snob. hahaha After exploring the forks we headed to the Children's Museum. Harry LOVED it! It was a great place for him to explore, stretch his legs, just be a kid and have fun.

25: The Manitoba Children's Museum

26: Boat ride at the forks. We saw lots of the sights of Winnipeg on the boat ride. | We went for a boat ride at the Forks just like Jenn told us. On the ride, the guy pointed out white marks on the light posts that showed how high the water was on Canada Day - about 7 feet higher than normal water level.

27: We wrapped up our day in Manitoba around four. We should have stayed in the area a little longer to have some dinner because we ran into rush hour traffic on our way out of town. We found a WalMart on our way out of town where we stopped to invest in some pillows and then we went in search for a place to stay the night. Lou suggested Riding Mountain National Park. I found a campground on the GPS and we made it there with plenty of daylight to set up our tent and burn some supper. We were all pretty hungry because it was 8 by then. | Shortly after our camp was set up, one of the camp rangers drove by to tell us to join her for a camp fire and hot chocolate. Harry and I wandered over and it was neat. We watched a movie about weasels. Lou asked us if we saw any mating of ground hogs and squirrels in the movie hoping to shed some light on the crazy animal we saw at Birds Hill. Sadly it's still a mystery. | You got something against ground hogs?

28: Day 5 - Riding Mountain and Trip through Saskatchewan

29: We got up nice and early, grabbed some cereal and fruit, then went for a bike ride. I had told Lou that I wanted to lose weight and that he should take me up all the hills he could find. He took me at my word! My bike ride turned into a nice hike beside my bike.

30: Lou found some really great places to explore!! We even went down three flights of stairs to ride our bikes beside the water. It was soooo nice. I'm so glad he's so adventurous because I probably wouldn't have ventured very far. After our bike ride we cleaned up, tore down camp and started heading for Edmonton.

31: As we drove through Saskatchewan, I couldn't figure out where civilization could possibly be without driving a long long way in any direction off the one lane highway. Harry says we can't see the towers anymore because we drove over this way. Silly me! Oh wait! A house! Yep just one. And just ahead - wheat fields or is it water? It looked like rippling water but could have been fields. We stopped for dinner in Battleford for dinner and got some gas. We were less than an hour away from Doug and Christine's. We made pretty good time and made it to their place by 9:30 as planned. Their house was in reno mode while they got new hard wood floors installed so Lou helped them move furniture. Then we sat around chatting until 12:30 at which point we all fell into bed and fast asleep.

32: Day 6 Edmonton | We woke up early. Lou helped make some breakfast. I finished doing the laundry while Lou & Harry went for an oil change. We got to the Edmonton branch around 1pm. Rebecca was the only one I recognized at first. She recognized me too and was excited to see me. She pulled out the most recent newsletter to show Diana and Chris who I was. Rebecca called Dave back to the office and he gave us the nickel tour. I really got a warm welcome and collected my faxed insurance papers. | Ernie was out of town when we visited so Harrison took over for him by answering phones. Group photo: Diana, Dave Newman, Rebecca Schultz, me, Charlie Hocken and Chris

34: West Edmonton Mall | After our visit to the branch we headed to the West Edmonton Mall. Harry was super excited when he saw the water park sign on the side of the mall. He wanted to spend the rest of his money that Grandma gave him so we had to find "cool" stores that sell "cool stuff". The whole mall was cool!

35: In our search for the water park, we came across some trampolines. For $10 Harry got all harnessed up and got to jump really high. He wanted to try and do back flips like the boy before him did and he almost made it. I thought he would have got scared but he enjoyed it so much that it was listed as one of his favourite things he did that day.

36: Harry found the kids' section of the water park right away and had tons of fun on the slides. After that we went to play in the wave pool. Harry loved the waves. Lou didn't want to go swimming and instead indulged in his own water fun. As uncle Doug put it "A Rub and Tub"! He was fully clothed with a plastic cover placed over him to keep him dry while 15 mins of hot water pulsed over his back. He felt great afterwards.

37: Lou was ready for another aqua massage after a round of mini golf. Harry found a playmate named Ryan. It was nice that he found someone his own age to play with as the majority of this trip has been spent with adults. After our round of mini golf, Harry and Ryan ran around the mall center while Lou and I chatted with Ryan's dad. Because we spent so much time at the mall, we decided to spend one more night with Doug & Chris. Which was great 'cause it was kinda chilly that night. We had some pizza and headed off to bed.

38: Day 7 - Off to Jasper | One week down. One to go. After a very yummy breakfast at Doug & Christine's we were headed to Jasper! I was so tired that I slept a good portion of the way there. When I woke up Lou pointed out the mountains in the distance. That was super cool all on its own but as the mountains got closer and closer, the sight was more AWESOME! I remember saying "WOW!" out loud and thinking how that didn't begin to do the sight justice. It almost looks like there isn't enough room for the clouds but Harrison quickly assured me that there was plenty of room.

39: We saw big horned sheep and deer on and beside the road. It was so neat to be so close to the wildlife.

40: Lou stopped at all the pull off sections so we could take pictures. Where we saw the sheep, you could walk all the way to the other side. | We saw a huge elk on the side of the road having a bite to eat. He had a big set of antlers. I think he was just there for his photo-ops and then went back to his group to tell them how many pictures were taken of him. Kinda like the goats and the sheep that would just stand in the middle of the road.

41: We planned on staying at Whistler's campground only to get redirected to their overflow area. No water, no picnic tables, no showers, no campfires and an extra added bonus of train... | ...after train, after train that was only interrupted by the wondrous sound of highway traffic.

42: Punchbowl Falls The view was nice but Lou climbed through the fence and over rocks so that we would have a better picture than just looking down at the falls from the walkway.

43: After touring our campsite on our bikes we headed to the Miette Hot Springs. We weren't sure if Harry would like it but once he learned he could touch the bottom he thoroughly enjoyed himself. About 8:30 we got our wrinkled, relaxed bodies out of the water and headed back to camp.

44: We stopped along the way on our way back to camp to take more pictures. After we ate supper, we soon went to bed and the sounds of trains, trains and automobiles was soon tuned out and replaced by the sound of snoring.

45: We got up early, had some cereal with strawberries, packed up and headed to Whistlers to reserve a campsite and then headed to Jasper to hang out in the town for the day. We saw three female elk while we set up camp and by night there were twelve! | Day 8 - Whistlers Camp, Town of jasper and Gondola Ride

46: We found some souvenirs to take home to Andrew and Shelby and family. We enjoyed wandering around the town of Jasper. After a while our tummies said it was time for lunch. So we stopped at Jasper's Brewing Co. and Harry had kraft dinner, Lou had fish and chips and I had BBQ portabella with goat cheese. Holy moley it was yum yum yummy! Lou tried one of their beers, a blueberry and vanilla bean beer. It actually was alright as far as beer goes. After our lunch we went in search of ice cream. I noticed a fudge shop on the way that conveniently sold ice cream and I just had to try some of their yummy treats. In search for the tramway we found a Mustang in the industrial part of town. That made Lou's day.

47: We waited only half hour before heading up the mountain side in a cable car packed with people. Harry LOVED it! He told stories on the way up about how he could ride his four wheeler up the mountains. When we got to the top the sight was incredible! But it also made my stomach do flips a bit too and I made sure Harry was holding mine or Lou's hand. He preferred Lou's as I kept holding them back. It's tough walking up the mountain! Lou and Harry made it to the top (puffing all the way) and saw mountain goats and hoary marmots. I almost made it to the top but was quite a ways behind them. When I finally got up there they were headed back down in a mad dash to get Harry to the bathroom. A younger guy that we met along the way walked all the way from the bottom of the mountain in 2.5 hours! The ride down the mountain was slightly more nerve wracking than the ride up but still very cool.

48: After our trip up the mountain we went back to our camp site for some dinner. As we were cooking dinner we saw Elk - lots and lots of them! Lou told me that there were 20 all bedded down in the center while Harry and I were watching the show. They left once the wind started to pick up and started calling to one another with their trumpet like noises. Harry was really great at noticing new things. He pointed out the rainbow that we might have otherwise missed. | Whistlers Campgrounds

49: After dinner, Harry and i went just behind our campsite to where they were putting on a show - "Silence of the Rams". It was hilarious! Harry was a bit bummed not to be chosen as a volunteer but that didn't keep him from thoroughly enjoying the show. The elk migrated behind the stands by mid show because the wind had started to pick up. Rain was on the way for sure. Lou put the heavy duty fly over the tent on his own and got the inside of the tent looking like the Hilton (as usual). We got into the tent just in time before the rain really started coming down. We told stories and Harry helped by adding in lots of great and creative twists to each of the stories. The rain didn't last too long and we all got a good night's sleep. | Silence of the Rams

50: This is the mountain we went up on the gondola. That slightly higher part of the mountain doesn't look like much but it was tough to climb! I chalk it up to high altitudes. | Day 9 Athabasca Falls & Athabasca Glacier

51: Our first stop on our way to Athasbasca Falls was a little place called Horseshoe Lake. There was a little trail that lead back into the woods. The water was sooo blue! Looking down you could see the rocks for a long way down. Lou really wanted to jump off the rock but he knew the water was too cold for that. It was a really beautiful spot and Harry thoroughly loved climbing the rocks.

52: Next stop: Athabasca Falls. Before we got too far there was a girl displaying different horns from different animals. Harry thought this was neat and took turns checking each one out and discovering how heavy each one was.

53: The falls were beautiful! The spot called "Potholes" was especially cool. It's where the water swirling around and around grooved out these neat areas. Amazing what time and water can do. It was neat to see where the water had once traveled but is now a walkway. Again Harry thoroughly enjoyed climbing all the rocks!

54: Some of the fantastic views of the Athasbasca Falls.

55: We made a few stops on our way to the Athabasca Glaciers. One of those stops was a little blue lake. We stopped here to have lunch and the temptation was too much for Lou. After he gobbled up his burger he went in search of his water shoes and headed for the lake to dip his toes in. He went in up past his ankles and he might have gone further but realized the water was deeper than he thought. He didn't hang out too long in the water - it was too darn cold! It took a while for his feet to warm up after that.

56: When we got to the glaciers we got our tickets and boarded our bus with ample leg room - for a midget! I was feeling crammed which gives you an idea of how Lou was feeling and he had Harry on his lap. The bus only takes you up to the point where the snow buses take over. They are huge (and have a little more leg room). It was amazing and Harry loved the part when the snow bus had to go through some water before going on the ice to wash any dirt off the wheels that would cause damage to the ice. Our pictures could not do the icefield justice. It was truly amazing and seriously cold! The water trickling through was beautiful! Lou dipped his hand in to find out just how cold the water was - very cold. The ride down the hill was so steep we had to brace ourselves against the seat in front of us. This was Harry's favourite thing that day. He even acted out the trip with two rocks on top of the cooler.

59: After dinner we made our way to Banff National Park. We found a neat place called the Sunset Pass. Harry was fast asleep but the trail was only 500m so we thought we'd boogie down and back without him noticing. Unfortunately we weren't successful with that but he wasn't too upset thank goodness. It was a neat little place that we would like to go back to one day. Being alone on the trail prompted us to think of coming back in the spring - just the two of us.

60: The Mistaya Canyon was our next destination. Lou went off the path so he could get better pictures. My stomach would do flips every time he got close to the edges! EEK!

62: We gave Harry a chance to be mister cameraman. He's almost got the hang of it.

63: We made it to our final destination of Lake Louise around 6:30! The sign for the campground said 'Full' but we thought we would find out where there might be other openings. Lucky for us there was an opening 'but it wasn't the greatest site'...but wait! The girl behind the girl at the window told her there was another site that was a 'good site'. Once she decided that we were worthy, we paid and found out where the grocery store was. We dropped off the bikes and headed to town to make sure we got to the store before it closed. Cereal cost us $10! But we were out of a few things so we bought $50 worth of groceries. Ah well ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

64: We found out that there are trains that go through this campsite too. Not to mention the hard ground Lou had to try and hammer the stakes into! | There are no elk here to see and the interpretive show was only 'okay'. The show at Whistlers was much better. But Harry liked it just the same and that's all that counts. | Harry found a neat mushroom on his bike ride around the camp site. We freaked out initially and told him that he wasn't allowed to pick mushrooms, flowers or anything on this trip. But we figured the damage was already done and decided to check it out a little more. Then we washed his hands thoroughly in case it was poisonous.

65: Day 10 - Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon

66: Lake Louise was very beautiful and very cold! The chateau wasn't as impressive architecturally as I'd thought it would be. I was fascinated instead by a long tailed bird called a Clark's Nutcracker. | Clark's Nutcracker

67: We headed to BC just to say we made it all the way out there. On our way to the natural bridge we stopped to check out the Spiral Tunnels. It was pretty neat. We didn't get to see a train though.

68: The Natural Bridge

69: Johnston Canyon was very cool! We got to walk inside the mountain to get an even closer look at the falls.

70: On our way to Banff we encountered a traffic jam of sorts. We soon found out what was causing the hold up. Huge elk were walking along the side of the road. Most of these pictures were taken withOUT the zoom. | Sorry squirrel, no ground hogs here.

71: Mommy was a bit tired of setting up and tearing down camp so when we got to Banff we decided to get a room. It was a suite!! I felt a bit guilty for the indulgence but it was our vacation and we really did it up nicely even if for only one night. There were four shower heads in the one bathroom and a jacuzzi tub in the other! Harry enjoyed jumping on the beds and we let him have his fun.

72: After breakfast we went to check out the Bow Falls. The path was strange but fun to walk. Harry and I wore ponchos to try and keep dry. We couldn't find one for Lou - maybe that was on purpose. The 'falls' were less than impressive but nice to look at. After seeing all the falls we've seen, they were more like white water. | Bow Falls

73: We went a little further down the road to check out the hoodoos even though Lou's Aunt told us they weren't as good as the ones in Calgary. But we figured we needed to have something to compare the ones in Calgary to and appreciate them more. So with all the rain, we got back into the van and started the drive from Banff to Calgary. | Banff Hoodoos

74: When we got to Calgary we stopped to watch a movie. Lou went to see GI Joe and Harry and I saw G Force. It kept us out of the rain for a while.

75: Then we headed to Drumheller to find a place to stay for the night and grab a bite to eat. At first glance the town is a little on the red neck side. The GPS took us to a place called Dinosaur Hotel - very rough looking but when we went to the info center we found it was full - GEE DARN! Instead we found a place down the road called the New Castle Inn. It was a cute little place and breakfast was included. After getting settled we decided we had to climb the world's largest dinosaur! Huffing and puffing all the way - we made it to the top. There was a lot of sway to the structure. Mommy booked it back down the stairs in a hurry!

76: Day 12 - Dinosaur Museum, Hoodoos and Go Karts - Oh My!

77: We enjoyed the dino museum despite the fact that all the programs were booked for the day. The place was huge!

78: Harry wanted to go play in the splash pad. He got pretty cold but he still had lots of fun. Lou rolled up his jeans, took his shoes and socks off and went to test the water. Cold but not as cold as the glacier run off. Then Lou dared Harry to run out to the middle and back. He sweetened the deal by telling him he would take him Go-Karting. Harry made a few attempts before deciding to give it a real try. Poor kid! I gave him a high five and then we had to Go-Karting! haha

79: 20 laps of Go-Karting ! | My home boys

80: When we got to the suspension bridge in Rosedale we had some lunch and then crossed the bridge. It was a little wobbly but not too bad really.

81: When we got to the other side of the suspension bridge, Lou and Harry climbed to the top of one of the hills. Someone had to stay back at the bottom to take pictures. I called 'it'!

82: We had a couple religious experiences. We saw Jesus on the hillside on our way into Drumheller and the Little Church on our way out. It was a cute little 6 pew church.

84: We hit the highway around 4:30 and headed for Medicine Hat. Once we got to the "Gas City" the first station we hit was out of gas! Then the stupid GPS took us to a library in the center of town! Hardly an interprovincial camp ground. Although the grass looked nice and we figured it would be pretty quiet but decided to move on in search of the real thing. We found another largest thing in our lostness - World's Biggest Teepee! So we pulled around and snapped some pictures. We ended up at a campground called Eagle Valley Park just inside Saskatchewan on the Alberta side. | Medicine Hat

85: Before bed we all sat up watching shooting stars. We could even see the milky way. Very cool! | Harry found a buddy. His name was Ty and he is six. It was always great when Harry found little friends to play with. It was very anticlimactic to be going home. I think Harry was looking forward to going home so he could tell everyone all about our trip (now referred to as "the very long drive"). I have to admit that I was looking forward to being home too. Camping was getting old and we were hoping to be home in our own comfy beds in about three days. Home would be sweet indeed! I will miss Jasper the most.

86: Day 13 - heading home

87: Day 14 - the last stretch | We drove through the night and all of Friday as well. We decided to head straight for Grandpa Dale's and do some four-wheeling on Saturday. We waved at the big goose on our way past and then kept our eyes open for a spot along Hwy17 that indicates the half way point of the Trans Canada Hwy.

88: Day 15 - four-wheelin' fun at grandpa dale's | Northern Ontario Wildlife

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