After that spectacular eclipse, we set out for the Canadian Rockies. A long drive, that we split in two, with an overnight stay in “Moyie Springs”. For the Dutchies: Moyie was Mooi!
Finally, the Rockies emerged in the distance. Majestic. Grand. Towering. Immense valleys. Sparkling crystal waters. A massive elk standing in the river, ruling his land.
We are camping at Johnston Canyon, one of the beautiful hotspots in the area, off the scenic Bow Valley Parkway. That first night and day, we froze our *peeps* off. The kids lay in bed with multiple layers of clothing, and rain came pouring down. I guess the rain was good for the forest, with the recent fires in the area, but not so much for us. We spent that first day ‘hanging’ in the town of Banff, just like a trillion other people. Ticking things of our to-do list: pick up maps at the visitor center, buy warm pants and sweaters, shop groceries, drink coffee, eat popcorn and otherwise feel grumpy. The rain and the chagrin did not last very long. The next day we hiked Johnston Canyon, admiring the lower and upper falls. Beautiful scenery, but so very crowded. It is hard to imagine that not even 150 years ago the area was almost uninhabited and unexploited. Now, over a million tourists (us included) come through the area every year.
Next, we hit Sulphur Mountain. Up and down with the Gondola (those little legs were tired). We spent a good 4 hours up there. Over the walkway to the 1900’s weather station. We chatted with Norman, the weather guy. 160 years old but a happy chap. The kids loved holding his ice axe. (A real pickaxe, mom! Just like in Minecraft!!!). We’re “the slow kind”. Whenever Tripadvisor says “people spend on average x time here”, we make it 2x. Or better, 3x. The exhibition was very diverse and kept us occupied: from historic figures like Norman and Peyton, to a movie on northern lights, a game on how to use a compass, and identifying mammal droppings (Dad! Look at that poop!!). I guess the day qualified as a good “worldschooling” day. That is, assuming they learned something in between whining for souvenirs. Who invented those damned souvenir shops?!
As the official Planner of the family, I quickly realize that I plan this trip as any other of our “normal” trips: do everything, see everything, hurry up, let’s go, onto the next! Jam-packed days and weeks. Remember that trip to New Zealand I wrote about? The amazing, crazy, super-over-scheduled trip that was a trigger for this adventure? I constantly have to tell myself that we have a year. A whole year. That we were going to take it slow. That we don’t have to exhaust ourselves already. We’re not even 3 weeks into this roadtrip! I have to force myself to slow down. I am so used to (and motivated by) goals, deliverables, tight schedules, that it feels incredibly unnatural not to have them.
And so yesterday, we spent an easy day at the campground – exercising, biking, starting ‘school’ (yieha!), strolling to the river store for an ice-cream, collecting rocks (oops!), and attending a theatre show in which the kids got to participate. A perfect, slow, day. The show “big and small, we protect them all” made quite the impression. A little later we saw a chipmunk literally stealing a full size twix bar from a store. Our kids insisted on doing the right thing, and shoo-ed him away, throwing the little critter’s pack of gold in the trash.
(About school; I had to google long divisions to remember how they are done. What?!)
In the meantime, the kids are adjusting amazingly. This morning we talked about how great it is notto have our electronics and video games (out of battery … no wifi … any reason is good to keep those ipads buried in the depths of the camper). The kids themselves acknowledge the difference in how we interact and in how we behave. Don’t get me wrong, I am an advocate for having kids use electronics – it’s their future, and a tool to communicate, to be creative, to connect and to relax. But those games! They truly trigger those little brains, and not in a good way. The kids proposed that once we are “back with wifi”, we’ll use them on the weekends only, for 30 minutes. Right on! (Let’s see for how long we can honor that …).
I follow a couple facebook groups of globe-trotting families, and find it a hugely supportive and inspiring community. Any question, there’s someone with relevant and helpful advice. It’s easy to be impressed by posts and blogs, reporting on the happy-happy side of travel, with that one-second-of-family-smiles-in-the-picture. It’s not like that at all, or all the the time; we frequently go bananas! The most precious advice most travelling families give, is to create some “me”-time, and to break up the family for separate activities. Today was such a day … mom did laundry (!), while dad went swimming with the kiddos. Keeps us all sane.
Next … onto Lake Louise, and the Icefields Parkway. Check out the gallery.