We started summer almost a week early in our house, having Jude skip the last few days of school (mostly "party time" anyway) so we could spend eight days in central Alberta, visiting family for the most part. The holiday was a nice mix of "busy" and "relaxed", with plenty of visiting throughout.
My brother even came up from Seattle area for the second weekend, so although most of the visiting was with Jason's side of the family this time around, I got to see my immediate family lots (since we were bunking at my dad's.)
The reason we chose that week, instead of the following one, is because my boys all had swimming lessons back here in P.R., starting at 10 a.m. on July 2. (Weird, considering it was a holiday here.) We made it in time, although Jude missed his first day, as he and my niece Kayla (who had come home with us for the week to visit) both woke up on Monday with a horrible cold. That cold has since made the rounds through everyone in our family except Jason, with me being the most recent victim. I have been feeling the effects all this week, and have now got it reduced to the slightly-sore-throat-and-lots-of-nose-blowing stage.
Thursday (the 5th), the last day of swim lessons for the week, we split from Peace River as soon as they were done to head back down to Red Deer, dropping Kayla off on the way out to my dad's again. Jason didn't come along this time, as he really didn't want to go on a 20-hour-in-4-day drive, no matter how beautiful the scenery. Our destination was Emerald Lake, B.C., by Friday afternoon, where my cousin Stephanie was getting married at 3:30.
|Emerald Lake, B.C.|
|Walking down the "aisle" at Emerald Lake Lodge.|
We made it with time to spare, and I got to visit with members of my mother's side of the family that I haven't seen in ages, including my cousin Michael and his family. Despite the fact that he has lived far away from me for most of our lives, I have always maintained a pretty good friendship with him (probably helps that he is my only cousin that is my age). His wife is a complete sweetheart whom I befriended as soon as I met her at their wedding reception years ago, and whom I hadn't seen since. (I always wish we lived closer together anytime I get to spend any time at all with those two.) And meeting their daughter Juanita for the first time was a joy.
The next day, my boys went kayaking for the first time EVER in some boats brought up by friends of the family and generously shared with all the guests present. The three of them went out together in a larger boat at first, coached along by Mr. Dalk in the basics of rowing, etc. They went a long ways across the lake before coming back.
|Our three big boys on their maiden voyage!|
Then Jude and Noah each took solo voyages, a watchful adult in a kayak close by. Unfortunately, when Noah went out, all the smaller lifejackets were in use, so he was figuratively "swimming" in his. Fortunately, the boats were surprisingly stable, and he managed it like a pro! I was so proud of my boys. (And a little proud of myself for not going all maternal and not letting them go.)
|Jude on his solo trip.|
|Noah going solo!|
|Three crazy, amazing boys!|
We had intended to take the short hike from Lake Louise up to Moraine Lake on our way up toward Jasper to camp for the night, but while the boating was going on, the aforementioned nasty cold bug hit Noah--he was suddenly in no condition for hiking. (This one comes on hard and fast.) So, my mom (who was coming up to Peace River from the wedding with us, having just flown up from Arkansas and driving out with her parents), the boys, and I packed up and hit Hwy 93 north. We did make a quick stop for the 10-minute hike to Peyto Lake. Since this was my boys' first time in the B.C. Rockies, I wanted them to experience it as much as was still possible with an "invalid" in the group. Unfortunately, Mom and I had to take turns carrying Noah the whole way up and back. It was a sacrifice we were willing to make to ensure the other two would get to enjoy a close-up with some of the amazing beauty we were driving through instead of just barely acknowledging it through the window.
The first night in the mountains (by Emerald Lake), I set up the tent with just the boys. It's an eight-man "mansion", as far as tents go, and although fairly easy to set up, I was quite glad that Mom was there the second night to help. Since this was my first camping trip of any kind for four years, I was also glad the the only thing I really seemed to forget was a flipper for the French Toast. In fact, being "out of practice" actually meant that I bought enough food to feed an army, so there was no lack of anything except ice to keep it cold.
On Sunday morning, we debated on our day's activities as we broke camp. We had to be back in P.R. by that night, as the boys still had swimming lessons the next morning. Noah was not doing a lot better (having experienced the bug myself now, I know why), so we thought that we would try to make one short stop at a place called "Jasper House" on our map, and that was it, disappointed to put off the planned stop at Miette Hot Springs for another time. Unfortunately, we somehow missed the sign that would have taken us off the highway to whatever that attraction may have been, so decided to take our own "pit stop" at Fiddle River, just before leaving the National Park. We pulled over beside the highway and hiked across the scrub and rocks to dabble our toes in the glacier-fed stream (COLD!!). Jude was brave enough to stand in it up to his ankles. It sure felt good on the sunburn I had collected the day before, and on that 30 degree day it was a wonderful refresher.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful, which is good... Well, except for the yearling bear that ran across the highway right in front of us south of Fox Creek. We grazed his backside--but Mom said he still trotted off using all fours, so I'm hoping that that fact, and the lack of damage to my bumper, means that he would be fine--and much more wary of roads and vehicles! (Okay, I guess hitting a bear is kind of a big event!)
|This fellow was having a snack beside main street in Jasper as we were leaving. This is right through our van's side window!|
The boys finished their swimming lessons yesterday, with Jude and Noah both passing to Levels 5 and 4 respectively. Jabin gets to repeat Level 1 for the third time, but not for lack of effort. Considering he actually had a fear of putting his head underwater at the beginning of this school year, he's doing alright. Once he lets himself relax a little more, he'll just take off with the swimming. For now, he's enjoying the journey.
Which is exactly what I've been doing for the last three weeks. I have to admit, though, I am really looking forward to next week--no schedule, and hopefully the heat wave we've been experiencing this week will have slackened. (I'd only wish for a little slackening--'tis hard to keep the tin can I live in below 30 degrees when it is 35C+ outside. However, summer is usually so short here, I don't want to complain about the heat too much!)
What a great start to summer.
|Fiddle River, AB|