Friday, 30 August 2013

Gold Trip: Golden Triangle

It's all done but the write-up (unfortunately that might be the hardest part).

Steven has completed the requirements for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. He spent the year working on skills, athletics, and service and then wrapped it up with his Gold Journey. In the past Steven has done backpacking trips for the journey portions of Silver and Bronze, but neither he nor Ken wanted to backpack 80 km over 4 days, so Steven chose to do a biking trip instead. Carmen, Chloe, and I were the *support team*.

The Golden Triangle is a popular cycling challenge between the towns of Banff, Radium, and Golden. Our first night we drove up to Johnston Canyon Resort and stayed in one of their tiny cabins so that we would wake up near the starting point for The Golden Triangle. 

When we woke up in the morning, Carmen and Chloe stayed behind at the cabin and I drove the boys up to Castle Junction - the starting point for their ride.

Steven's jersey is from The Tour de France last summer, and is the jersey for the King of the Moutain (best climber) which was appropriate considering he would be riding through Vermilion Pass that day and crossing the continental divide. 

While the boys started their ride, we girls hiked Johnston Canyon.

The water there is seriously the colour of blue raspberry.

Midday we caught up with Ken and Steven, and we ate lunch together at yet another resort of small cabins - I had no idea this was so common! (There was also a small cabin resort at Castle Junction.)

And off the boys went again.

It was a tough ride, but gorgeous weather, and no wolves on the road (there was an electronic sign warning of the possibility). The guys took all kinds of great pictures over the 105 km they rode that day.

The girls and I checked in to our hotel in Radium, went swimming, and then waited for the bikers to arrive. Originally I thought we would all camp (Steven was required to camp on this trip), but Ken said no, stay in a hotel, and then we will have a shower we can use. It was a stroke of brilliance by Ken, and kept the trip far more posh than it could have been. 

The next morning was overcast and rainy, but Ken and Steven had no choice but to get on their bikes. Once again, Carmen, Chloe and I found something to entertain ourselves. This time we drove south to Invermere and did some shopping. Our favourite shop was the glass blowing shop.

We liked their merchandise,

But what we really liked was that we could stand behind the counter at the back of the shop and watch an artist work. Carmen and Chloe are now both considering a career in glass blowing, it was that cool.

For lunch on the second day we ate at The Spilli Bean, a wonderful restaurant operated by two sisters during summer months along Highway 95. The soups, sandwiches, and cookies were out of this world, and as a bonus there was some musical entertainment that day by an older local man singing as he had some coffee. Think back-woods blue-grass music with lyrics chronically local history. For real.
Chloe has always talked about opening her own restaurant, and I think she found an example of just what she would like to do herself one day.

Later in the afternoon Carmen, Chloe, and I checked in to our condo in Golden, BC, at the Kickinghorse Resort. I then drove back down the mountain and waited for Ken and Steven to arrive.

Which they did - wet and tired from about another 105 km on their bikes.

They didn't even have the energy to join us in the private hot tub at our condo before they left to go sleep in a tent - ha! The girls and boys had drastically different experiences on this holiday.

Day 3 turned out to be pure recreation and fun for the boys. They put in about 20 km of downhill at the resort and really got a chance to recharge compared to the distance days.

Carmen, Chloe, and I went to an interpretative centre for Roger's Pass. It was mildly interesting, but didn't capture our imaginations the way the glass blowing did.

On the last day of the Gold Trip we all jumped in the van and drove to Lake Louise. (The classic Golden Triangle trip involves biking on the Trans Canada Highway between Golden and Castle Junction, but it is really not safe: narrow to non-existent shoulders on the roads, and heavy industrial transport traffic.) The boys biked the Bow Valley Parkway from Lake Louise to Banff with the wind at their backs, taking no pictures whatsoever.

And we girls drove the same road ahead of them - I'm sure the big horned sheep on the road made us less nervous from the inside of the van.

We had just enough time to take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain (basically this is the Bear's Hump of Banff),

And down again, before the guys were texting us that they had made it and were ready for lunch. After lunch they biked the rest of the way to Canmore, and that was it!

Four days, 309 kilometres. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The reason women don't know how to change a flat tire

The day before we left for a little road trip last week, I was out running errands. I stopped at a red light on the way home - and then just after I pulled through the intersection, suddenly I heard a dramatic rubbing sound from the front passenger side of the van. I pulled over IMMEDIATELY and found this:

Of course, the first thing I did was call Ken. Who didn't answer. The second thing I did was text Ken. No response. So I called him again and left him a message and told him my plan: I'm carrying the perishable groceries 2 km home.

The thing was, besides the perishable groceries on a hot day, I was wearing a skirt and impractical shoes - I was not dressed to change a tire (never mind I'd never done it).

Anyhow, I went home, put away the groceries, changed my clothes, packed a little bag, watched a YouTube instructional video, and got on my bike to head back to the van. I was feeling confident I could do this. Naturally, as soon as I started pulling my spare out of the van, Maurice stopped and offered to help. He got it changed in about 5 minutes flat, I don't know, probably less. It was impressive, that's all I'm trying to say.

I drove home, called up the tire shop we usually use, and got an emergency appointment for that evening, all before Ken called me back. Good thing we have cell phones so that we can get ahold of each other in emergencies!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Reunion (aka a copy of my letter to Jaclyn this week)

Dear Jaclyn,
Well that was a fun surprise from Grandpa to have you teach our FHE lesson at our Family Reunion! 

(Grandpa sent Jaclyn a USB and asked her to make a video FHE lesson on missionary work.)

We had FHE on Saturday night because that was the best night for it this weekend. Grandpa hadn’t even watched it yet. (So he couldn’t answer SOME people’s questions of how long it was. Wink.) I really enjoyed watching you teach and seeing you as a missionary in action. As well as the lesson itself. So now I am thinking more about missionary work and really recognizing how much of the ‘non missionary’ stuff we discussed at church today is actually missionary stuff. We sang ‘Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd’ in RS today, and I found myself wondering why we don’t sing that hymn at missionary farewells.

Here’s our reunion synopsis:

Wednesday Carmen, Chloe, and I drove down to Montana in the morning, did a teensy bit of shopping, and then met up with Keith and Kelly’s family who were arriving Wednesday because that worked out better for flights for them from Arizona. 

(Carmen doesn't like to shop. At all. She was wearing black shorts with a black t-shirt because she literally had nothing else to wear. She called it her ninja costume, and was demonstrating her moves in heals.)

We did Costco together, went up to Ptarmigan, and then went out for dinner in Whitefish. We chose a restaurant called Coopers, which we’ve never tried before. It had European selections on the menu, and Carmen and Avery shared Avery’s first escargot - but the escargot were different than Carmen had tried in Paris. They were already out of shell and smothered in melted cheese, which I imagine made them more palatable, I don’t know. We then did MORE grocery shopping at Safeway and Super 1, but still had time for swimming back at Ptarmigan.
Thursday our smaller pre-reunion group went for a trail ride in the morning. 

(This monster is a descendant of one of the puppies from the movie Beethoven's Second.)

Chloe was a little nervous before we got started, which was probably the fault of the guides. In Waterton when we go on trail rides they throw you on a horse and away you go. These guides were really more professional and safety conscious and gave more instruction and practise before we went out, which made Chloe feel like it she needed to know more than she really did and that her horse might not obey her. 

But it turned out she loved her horse, Cupcake, and we all had a good time. 

We went back to Ptarmigan for lunch and then Mark and Ortensia arrived and a bunch of us went and did zip lines on Big Mountain. The summer development of the mountain has come a long ways since we last came to Whitefish in the summer, and zip lines are just one part of that. 

Mark, Camille, Keith, Avery, Emerson, Carmen, Chloe and I were the zip liners. We did 7 lines, but the first 2 were just for practise and training. The last 5 were long and high and fast and the most fun. 

I’ve sent you a picture of Carmen doing a face because it is the exact silly face Aunt Christy used to do for pictures, do you recognize it?

Later on Thursday Dad and Steven and Grandma and Grandpa arrived. We had planned to go to MacKenzie River Pizza originally, but Keith, Mark and I had changed the plan to take-out without telling Grandma and Grandpa or Dad. Turned out they both went straight to the restaurant when they got to town, which was right when we finished on the zip lines. Dad called to ask what exactly was going on from the restaurant and it worked out awesome that he was right there and ordered the pizza and brought it to us.

Friday was pouring rain. We were supposed to go to the lake that day, but obviously we didn’t. We went to Kalispell for lunch. Some people went to see Smurfs 2 (not me) and after the movie I took Carmen power shopping. She was in desperate need, and in 20 minutes we found 2 pairs of jeans and 4 shirts. It turns out she has to be desperate in order to accomplish anything when shopping. Dirk and Marie arrived in Kalispell in the afternoon, and then at 5pm Marie and her 3 oldest, the girls from our family, Kelly and her girls, Ortensia and Camille and Grandma went to Bigfork for dinner and Summerhouse Theatre. The timing on that all went like clockwork, surprisingly, and we enjoyed watching the Sound of Music. The lead was an actress from Calgary Storybook Theatre, and we recognized her immediately which was fun for us.

Saturday was overcast in the morning so we didn’t go to the water slides after all. Instead we went to that outdoor fun centre in Coram that has the maze and the bumper boats and the go carts. 


(Chloe and Camille)

(Steven, Monte, and Harrison)

(Grandpa and Grandma)

It was a perfect day for that and we certainly had plenty of picnic food. Oh, Dad, Steven, Carmen, Avery, Brynlee, and Keith went to an indoor shooting range first. (When in the USA . . . )

Other than that, Keith and Kelly made dinner on Saturday, and we had FHE, which was just your lesson and fudge and popcorn - that was as much structure as anyone could tolerate. 

("Favourite Uncle" - or so he campaigned to be all week.)

We went swimming at the pool again and I mostly swam with Monte. He just wanted to do laps from one end to the other, repeating, “That way!” and pointing his finger.

Today we will go feed the ducks and have homemade ice cream.

(On Sunday Avery entertained Gwennie with blowing bubbles. Gwen kept saying, "Wow!")

(Grandpa says the most important part of making ice cream is the spoon.)

Dad and Carmen are heading back home so that Carmen can check in at EFY tomorrow morning. I think we will head back to Big Mountain and do some alpine slides or something tomorrow before we go home. 

On Monday we headed back to Big Mountain Resort where Chloe, Camille, and I did the Alpine obstacle course.

And alpine slides. (Mark returned to the zip lines with Steven who missed it on Thursday.)

It was a fun reunion; I’m glad you got to be a part of it.