Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alberta trip

We went over to Alberta last month to see Jon and Katy and take a peek at the Rockies. First time for Siobhan and Brendan so it was very exciting.
We flew in to Edmonton and were picked up by Jon and Katy. It was a beautiful sunny day but the -37C temperature really hit the lungs when we stepped outside. It makes you open your mouth and gulp for air! Luckily that was the coldest day of the whole trip so we did lots of dog walking and got some sun on our faces.
Jon and Katy are well and have a new addition to the family. Angus is a gorgeous german shepherd puppy who they adopted (rescued) from their next door neighbours who didn't really look after him and complained that they couldn't handle him. Needless to say he is doing much better with Jon and Katy's love and attention. Tilly is as lovely as ever of course.

We borrowed the car and headed off to the mountains for a couple of nights. We spent the first night in a small hotel right on the main street. The next day, after going to the train station, the tourist info place and a few gift shops we headed south along the icefields parkway. The scenery was pretty spectactular and the road was traffic free. (Only we were silly enough to drive it in that weather!) We stopped for a couple of walks including to the mostly frozen Athabasca Falls.

At the highest point of the road we passed tha Columbia Icefield which had it's own little microclimate. Very dramatic with strong winds blowing the snow across the road. We couldn't see the road very well at some points. We will definitely get back there in the summer sometime. The visitor centre was closed and there was no way we were venturing out onto the ice in that weather!

That night we found a B&B in Banff and walked in to town. Brendan had an interesting fall while we were out for tea in a pub. Mummy (foolishly, perhaps) let him play on the pew style bench next to her and he fell forward with outstretched hands which missed the table and left his forehead to take the impact, narrowly missing his nose, so it could have been much worse. To top it all off I got the most evil of evil stares from the English woman sitting at the table next to us. I just smiled sweetly.

Anyway, went up on the gondola the next day. The view was spectacular. Unlike much of the Alps there are huge, forested valleys in the Rockies without roads or settlements and I was just trying to imagine all the bears and elk and other wildlife out there. Brendan had another good fall on the ice which we caught on video but I won't post it here because it will just make you cringe. He is getting around well on his feet though. Almost running!

Did some geocaching and then then drove back to Edmonton via Calgary. Spent a few more days together before Steve headed off to Arizona. He'll post about that soon I'm sure. I extended my stay a few days and enjoyed a few bargain hunting shopping trips with Katy, explored White Avenue, ate out a couple of times, played with the dogs, went to the base Family Day event. Oh, and watched numerous episodes of Prison Break. I refused to dance with a belly dancer in a packed restaurant. I should have done it just to entertain Brendan but I just hadn't had enough wine.

All in all a great trip. Now we're getting ready to head off to Cuba next week. Meeting Paddy and Jo there and planning to both relax and explore a bit. Looking forward to seeing how backpacking is different with a wee one in tow!

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