“This Is The Best Vacation, Ever!”

This summer, we decided to stay around Calgary and do little staycations during Josh’s summer vacation. Isabella said, “This is the best vacation, ever!”

Our decision to stay around Calgary was largely because of funds (damn house taxes-that expense is new to us) but also because of the B.C. forest fires. The original plan was to visit friends who had just moved there a couple of years ago, but we heard a lot of the highways were down and (at that time) the fires weren’t controlled. We couldn’t chance Josh not being able to get back for work. So we stayed-

Best decision ever.

We ended up packing a lot into the week!

We took breaks on rainy days to play board games and video games. We’re all insanely addicted to this simple game called Stardew Valley. Have you heard of it? It’s so silly! Your character (I named mine Panda, obviously) inherits a neglected farm. Then you farm it, get to know the townspeople, go into the mines, fight these little magical blobs but befriend a different type of blob, and do little missions for the townsfolk. A story evolves as you get closer to people and build up your land. I know, it sounds strange or boring. But once you get going, it’s kind of addictive. Since it’s one-player, we would sit, give suggestions, and watch (I would colour or crochet) until it was our turn. Maybe that’s weird family time for some but we loved it. The kids would even look up the Stardew Wiki for us and give us pointers. (They now read the wiki in their spare time, which I find hilarious).

…Other than that- Adventures!

I think our adventures are better explained in pictures. I still feel “new” to Alberta, even though I’ve been here for almost a decade. Every time I travel within my own province, it takes my breath away. If you hop over to my Instagram, you’ll see what I mean. 

First up was a walk through Fish Creek Park, in South Calgary. It’s huge and a lot of the pathways feel like mini hikes. It was a great day with a hot breeze and we had A&W afterward- free root beer day! And that garbage on the path? We picked it up and recycled it. You’re welcome, litter bug, wherever you are.

There may also have been a few selfies taken under magical skies of majestic clouds. I was so in love with the scraggy fallen tree behind me. I wanted it to be more of a backdrop than it turned out to be- I couldn’t see enough of it in the photos. 

There was also a visit to Josh’s 92-year-old Grammy (love her!), some cooking help from our kidlets, and a quick visit from B.C. friends and their ultra-adorable boys. They had just visited the zoo on one of the hottest days, but their boys still had so much energy! If only we could bottle it. We went to Dairy Queen with them, which we joked has become a bit of a tradition! 

The Hoodoos look like they are from another world.

My family on a mountain. It looks like Josh and Hunter are Isabella’s body guards, which makes me laugh. 

Josh enjoying the complex scenery. 

The Hoodoos, in the Badlands, were my favourite part of the vacation time. So many textures and colours. It was so hot outside, but the layers and beauty of my surroundings distracted me. I hear there are scorpions and other desert-loving creepy-crawlies out there, but I never saw any! I did see cacti (love cacti!) and a lot of beautiful flowers. It made me wish I had a better camera. I’ve shared a few of the photos of the Hoodoos, because it was hard to choose only one. Just breathtaking landscape and gorgeous paths. These photos don’t even began to touch the hundreds of landscape photos I took, or how beautiful the land is in real life. You really have to go. There is some kind of centering energy there, I think, because I felt completely calm and happy, even when stuck between groups of tourists. Tip- leave the road less traveled to see a different kind of beauty and be less mobbed by (lovely and friendly) tourists.

At Drumheller, we visited Royal Tyrell Museum and looked at the different stages of prehistoric life. The kids favourite part was decoding a fictional dig on a computer board with moving photos. It’s hard to explain but very cool. Another day, the kidlets went to a park with their dad while I worked- a park designed by children! The weird striped apparatus Isabella is climbing in the photo is one of their designs. And zoo day! Best zoo trip ever! The pandas moved around and I caught one yawning with his tongue sticking out. The pandas even ate some bamboo later in the visit. You can see in the photo how excited seeing the pandas made me. Every animal was in perfect form that day: from the butterflies, to the red pandas, to the lemurs. Lots of cuteness and activity! We all said, “Best zoo trip EVER!” at least once. Best VACATION ever!

Our last big hurrah, at the end of Josh’s vacation week, was hiking the 14 km trail around Barrier Lake. Its big claim to fame is that it’s used as a backdrop in one of the X-Men films. The hike gets quite steep and it was very hot out. Hunter wore his new shoes, which inevitably hurt his feet, and Isabella wasn’t in a hiking mood. I started to joke that it was our mini Amazing Race Canada challenge- which got a laugh from the kids (win!). My IBS was acting up, we ran out of water and Hunter cried when the drop-offs looked steep. But- in between the hiccups, we picked fresh raspberries, Hunter found cool looking mushrooms and there was a ton of gorgeous landscape. I loved when other hikers stopped to ask us how far to the next viewpoint. We would hear them whisper as we walked by, “We can do it! Those kids are doing it like champs!” Those hikers didn’t see the tears or Hunter lying in the path refusing to go on. Ha! But…I will admit that our kids can hike with the best of them. Josh took them on a 20 km hike once and they were fine!

Plus, the beauty wins every time and the lake was cold enough to soothe our blistered feet at the end of it all. This day goes down as a huge win for me. I loved this day, warts and all. (Or should I say, “blisters and all”? hahasnort)

Here are a couple more from the hike (so hard to choose!):

Barrier Lake

I think the climb is worth the view. 
Our feet were so hot and sore by the end that the cold water felt amazing. 

After going through all of my photos, it’s hard to believe Josh was only off for one week. We packed so much into it. It was one of the greatest times of our lives and we made so many amazing memories. It’s rare for it to be just the four of us, so we reveled in it. A vacation where you always get to sleep in your own bed is the best, in my opinion! Haha. ( I sound like such a hermit. But I kind of am- maybe the hermit is my spirit animal). 

So, if you live in Alberta, I encourage you to go out and play in your own backyard! If you don’t live here, I feel sorry for you. Ha! Just kidding. But I do encourage you to come and visit. We are very nice and the scenery is breathtaking.

Read this next:

Raising Highly Sensitive Children: http://babblingpanda.com/2016/12/16/what-does-highly-sensitive-children-mean/

Banff and Radium Vacation in 2015!: http://babblingpanda.com/2015/05/13/banff-radium/

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