On the Tuesday after Michael and Jenie returned from Ireland he was called to be the Branch President up in Whitecourt. So our sister Dawn and her family, our mom, dad and his wife Sandy all trouped up to be witness to his setting apart and ordination (did I say that right?) While everyone was there, we finally had a nice day and took all 11 grandkids to Whitecourt's Rotary River Slide. A ton of fun for free. What more can a girl ask?
On the 17th we all headed over to Alberta Beach where the Jones Cousin Reunion was scheduled to take place. It was a nice private campground with little traffic and even less dirt, which was nice. After throwing up both tents we attempted to light a fire with wet wood. Seriously, it was so wet it sizzled. I was mighty unimpressed. We ended up tossing the kids "campfire pita pizza's" onto the camp stove Jenie's dad had lent us. I waited till the fire had died down some and tried my luck with the coals. Actually turned out rather tasty.
A storm rolled in shortly after we put the kids to bed so Jenie and I just crawled into our tents to read hoping to wait out the storm. The kids and I fell asleep rather quickly, as big storms in Texas are common place ... so it was practically a lullaby. I was rudely awakened by water splattering my face ... and soaked from the chest on down. Much to my dismay and disgust, the tent I had bought only the day before was "leaking" like there was no fly on it. I raced out of the tent, ripped the tarp I'd draped over the remaining firewood/toys/coolers off of those items and strapped it down over my tent. Miserable night.
I woke the next morning to find out Michael and Jenie's tent had also leaked ... and Michael had come late bearing very sad tidings. Our Grandma Winnie Jones had passed away the night before. Though she was 83 years old and had been sick off and on for the past few years it was still a hard reality. I love that she still had vanity. When this picture was taken last summer, she quickly removed her oxygen tube that she wore 24/7 ... because heaven knows she didn't want to be remembered wearing that infernal thing. Or at least let anyone have proof that she did.
With the reunion canceled, I look my time getting down to southern Alberta. I headed over to Jasper National Park to introduce my little Texans to the Canadian Rockies. As we slowed our approach into the park B-Man poked his head out the window and was swiveling all around until he paused, let out an audible gasp and exclaimed, "Oh mommy; look at the mountains!" From there on in, it was all gravy.rickety basket would be fun ... (?) Alright, it was fun. Ms. R had SO MANY questions about how things were formed and where they came from and WHY and WHEN and ... oy! I should have been a geologist. Or at least had one with me. As we were discussing where we were going to be camping that night she became rather concerned when I told her we'd be on the mountain. Ms. R "Ahhh ... mom?" looooooong pause.
Me "Yes, Ms. R?" another looooong pause.
Ms. R "Won't the mountains hurt our head?"
Whhhhhhaaaaat? Okay, I should have expected it after explaining to her what mountains were made of and how they were formed (or so I theorize). But no. I was blind sided. After a lengthy conversation about the camping gear we had with us, blow up mattresses included, she was convinced I wasn't putting her head in jeopardy. Phew!
However, when we go to our campsite on the side of Whistlers Mountain these signs were posted EVERY WHERE. Rhiannon's anxiety level jumped 83 degrees. She was SURE that these signs meant that there was a bear just waiting to pounce on her. I am still not sure how she came to that conclusion. But there it is. However, after I read her the sign, reassured her of where our food was stored, she felt much reassured. Thank heaven for responsible parents. Or something.
The next day we kept on driving down the Ice fields Parkway or highway or something of that significant sort. The views were breathtaking. I had quite forgotten how magnificent the Rockies are when you are in them. After living in Banff, you'd think I would have acclimated to the splendor and beauty ... but no. We stopped by a particularly beautiful part of the river that Mt. Christie over looks so I could let the kids experience how frickin' freezing the water from the mountains and glaciers is. They were of course (haha) duly impressed. Or just cold. Either way, a copious amounts of pictures were taken in that area.
We eventually stopped at Lake Louise so we could ride to the top of another mountain. The ride up was great. The view at the top way out standing. The kids loved the snow patches we found there. The wild life interpretive center was very informative and hands on. Watching B-Man break out into a run as he came down a VERY steep mountain with terror bursting through his eyes, tearing up the mountain as fast as I could and catching him as he launched himself into orbit ... that was not so much fun. I also had an impression, before I rode on a ski lift chair with my children, that I hadn't a fear of heights. Turns out kids turn you into a blabbering, fearful idiot. I am proud to say nothing left my body out of either exit ... but good lordy my stomach was in my mouth the entire ride to the bottom. Out of fear for my children. Motherhood makes you such a sissy.
To end off the Rocky Mountain experience, we of course had to stop in Banff. I have to tell you, I have avoided going to Banff since I moved from there. I loved living in Banff. I loved my job, I loved where I lived, I loved the people I hung out with, I loved the experiences ... I knew if I looked back, I'd yearn for things that are best left where they are. In the past. As I walked around Banff with my kids, seeing the town as an "adult" (bah humbug on that term anyway!) I realized, yeah, I miss parts of who I was then. I miss parts of what was taken or left or forgotten. But that person doesn't entirely have to be left there. I can resurrect parts of me that I loved being, things I loved doing. There is nothing saying I cannot. The only person stopping me, is ME. I love Banff because of what I learned about me there. I made peace with Banff and had a HUGE salad at Tony Roma's ... where the service was CRAP.
B-Man had been begging to go to the zoo since we crossed the line into Canada so we headed over to Calgary. The Canadian exhibit there is fabulous. I'd have to say they even out did Fort Worth's Texas exhibit. As you know, that's saying a lot. The kids loved seeing all the babies and loved a full day of just wandering around seeing new animals.
As we were driving through Nanton I noticed a train store that I remembered my mom mentioning once. Since it'd already been a long day and I wanted a break I decided to stop in there. For adults, admission may seem a little steep unless you're like me and just looking for a break. The kids loved the Thomas the Train stuff and I haven't seen a miniature track put together like that since I was in Europe. So ... it was worth the $10 it cost me to just sit for a hour.