Morning came quickly at the Pocahontas Cabins… the last one up out of the kids was Trinity, though I woke up with Echo first and then after a bit of a snuggle and letting Ken get in some more sleep went back to bed. This coincided with the boys waking up so we were able to shuffle them out of the bedroom and not wake up Trinity.
Trinity sleeping in
Well they did get up for a bit and then fell asleep watching tv
We had a route already mapped out the night before and a plan to put into action so after cobbling a breaky for the kids together out of the night before’s supper (Trinity’s) and the travel rations it was time to pack up and say good bye. Chris and Chris and Jocelyn were going on to the west coast and we had our drive through TWO national parks (well not the whole of Banff National Park, but some of it) to accomplish before getting home. Off we went with a van full of kids VERY unsure of how much fun was actually to be had in a vehicle for that long…
Don't the clouds look marvellous?
Our first stop was Maligne Canyon, 15 min from Jasper the information we had called it a “startlingly deep canyon”… well they were right!
All ready to walk the canyon path
A little info about the area... and the only animal we actually saw was the squirrel!
Out in the sunshine with Fat Sheep as well
We learned about lichen….
Reading the lichen info... the boys were quick to point out the example right in front of the sign on the mountain itself and its bright orange colouring
Crossed TWO bridges…
View from the bridge
And saw a squirrel eat a nut!
With a quick walk through the gift shop to get two educational postcards and two children tripping and scraping knees (Trinity and Zander, thank goodness I had bandaids in my purse) we were off again. Next stop – Jasper and gas and food.
Such a pretty sign
Gas was 1.22 a litre (OUCH) but you HAVE TO fill up there as the road we were taking to Banff National Park had no commercial traffic allowed on it so no gas stations. The best we could do for “cheap” fastfood was an A&W that was pricier than any other we had been too. Great quality food though and HUGE ketchup packets.
After Jasper it was on to Banff National Park. We were going to stop at some falls but were unsure of the access road and instead opted to drive through (with potty stops) to the Athabasca Glacier… of course we were super prepared… NOT… all of us in shorts or skirts (Trinity) and sweaters for me and the kids… and the only people crazy enough to drag 5 small children up the un-paved path to the toe of the glacier. BUT we did it! It was a slow progress and I was amazed that no one ended up wounded but it was well worth it! There were even signs showing the progression of the melting. Two stood out – one the year my brother was born and the other when a certain cousin was a year old!
From a distance so lovely
1992, the glacier actually shrunk rather quickly
There was a nice man who offered to take a family picture for us (they were just as crazy – two small children AND the wife was pregnant!).
Up at the glacier toe
Reading about the glacier
One of the signs talking about the dangers of going onto the glacier... the other sign mentioned 3 different rescue attempts on the glacier last year - all 3 were failures.
Yet so many ignore the warnings and climb on in
After trekking back down (VERY carefully) it was time to start the real drive home… with some stop offs to cool the breaks and see the sights of course…
Until in Banff National Park we hit a lovely potty stop and Trinity was SURE she had to go… and she DID! She was so proud we had to take a picture! And then Ken ran off to the vantage spot solo to see what was there…
At the scenic vantage point Ken checked out solo
From then on it was home home home. Except when we stopped at a gas station before Nordegg for snacks and a nap for Ken. Then it was time to let the kids wiggle in the van while they ate snacks. Poor Kenny was a bit worn out already. We had been on the road since about 10:30 am and done numerous stops WITH hiking and kids…
Kenny enjoying the mountain drive
Of course post nap we had a bit of a van scare (seriously is ANYONE who knows us surprised?? I think NOT)… what we later determined was water vapour came pouring into the van on my side of the dash so we had to pull over and pop the hood. After a very careful examination of the vehicle and a somewhat frantic texting on my part to Cousin Veronika and Karyn so SOMEONE knew we were having a van worry we figured driving on would be best… and while yours truly was tense (but then when am I not when it comes to vehicles?) and a little cautious and VERY unhappy in those patches of road where cell phone reception was NONE we had no further issues.
Echo on the big rest... pre van scare
A first for us we drove through Rocky Mountain House on our way – Tim Hortons potty break with coffee and hot chocolate for the worn out adults. And then the last hour home. And you know, the kids STILL got excited over seeing cows??? Go figure! Their moods and attitudes while unsurprisingly crabby were MUCH better than when we had to drive on through places without all the stops. We managed to learn a lot about our province and the mountains… see places NONE of us had seen before and go on a family adventure.
On the way UP to the cabins we drove past an interesting sign – Scenic Route to ALASKA!! OH how tempting! But no passports and too many children on board for that. Maybe a future adventure when either everyone is bigger and we have a trailer OR when we can go without all 5 in tow?
It was about 7:30 when we got home, our camera full of pictures, our kids less than enthused. There was a van to unpack, kids to feed (yay for the leftovers we sent home with our lovely ladies that were there waiting for us) and Ken’s folks to call. Of course Ken called them while *I* was unpacking things and chasing kids and then talked for an hour… do I love the man or what? As shown by the fact that when he DID finally get off the phone I DIDN’T kick his bum!
The kids did up pictures on our drive (thank goodness I did pick up crayons and colouring books especially for this weekend) and were very excited to explain what they saw.
Some of the "van art"
We are planning a special poster just for Maligne Canyon as well as our usual Adventure File pages… maybe do a mini book with the pictures made, there are some ideas rumbling around in my head! And once we get all of that out on paper we move onto our next year of schooling and our September focus – dinosaurs!!! But first – I promised ALL of the kids ONE DAY OFF… Minecraft, tv and NO school.
A few more mountain photos
Sunshine in the mountains by the canyon