August Long Weekend: Adventure Biking, More Waterfalls, and Playing in the River

August Long Weekend is usually spent camping out west of Sundre and riding in the Sundre Fire Department ATV Poker Rally. This year we went “out west” again, except we decided against attempting the poker rally. Our bikes are dual sport, so they are capable of doing off-road trails, but the poker rally can be quite intense, so we opted out. Instead, we asked my sister if she would watch Gunnar so that we could go on a longer ride. She graciously agreed, but only if we went on Saturday so she wouldn’t miss the poker rally. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. We always get a bit sad knowing Gunnar may get upset that we are going on the bikes without him, but this time was different. The rest of camp went on a trail ride, so we put Gunnar’s car seat in my sister’s side by side and he went along with them! 

We waited until they were off on their ride to leave just in case Gunnar saw us. We headed North up the Forestry Trunk Road toward Nordegg. There was some beautiful scenery, steep climbs, and a couple of rain showers. There was also a bit of loose gravel where I kind of took a Mr. Toad’s wild ride into the ditch, but luckily I was able to ride it out and get back onto the road. After we laughed at my near miss, we continued on.

Our next stop was Ram Falls Provincial Park. We used this stop to put our rain gear on just in case we hit anymore storms. There is a small campground, day use area, and boardwalk path down to view the Falls. We look for easier “hikes” to do while out adventure biking as we have our bike gear and boots on, which can make for hot and difficult walking.

Continuing on to Nordegg, we hit another rain storm. It was quite the deluge and the rain drops hitting your face could be quite painful. We stopped at a friend’s cafe for lunch. Unfortunately she wasn’t there, but The Miners’ Cafe and Coliseum Gift Shop was worthy the stop. We were cold and a bit tired, but the coffee was hot and the sandwiches delicious. Dessert was a monster cookie (for Derek) and a slice of blueberry mango pie for me. Unfortunately due to parental responsibilities, we had to leave before the town’s annual pie eating contest. With our bellies full, we headed back to camp.

The ride back was just as nice, and there was no rain at all. We even saw a group of wild horses wallowing in the mud. I wish I had stopped to take a picture. While we were away, Gunnar had a bit too much fun playing in the mud puddles. Maybe he had a bit of encouragement, but my sister cleaned him up before we got back. He must have had a great time because he had no trouble at all getting to sleep that evening. 

The next day Derek headed out for a ride with a group of guys, so Gunnar and I went to see my parents. When we got back, everyone was still out for the poker rally so we just chilled out until everyone got back. It was a nice and hot afternoon so we headed down to the river to cool off. Gunnar had a blast throwing rocks in the river and even waded into the water a bit. My niece and some of the other kids also built a very nice inuksuk. 

It is always so hard to pack up and leave at the end of the weekend. We have been so lucky to be able to do these outings as a family, and I am very grateful for it. As we were leaving, we came across some more wild horses, and this time I was able to get a photo, not the greatest as we were moving, but I will take it!

We have one more long weekend left this summer, and hopefully we can get out and enjoy one last camping trip. Gunnar loves camping so much, he plays so hard, and is always tuckered out by the end. I wouldn’t change my life for anything!

Impromptu Banff Trip

Wanting to do something as a family, but not sure what to do, my husband suggested going to the Banff hot springs. I had never been to those particular hot springs before so we packed up and headed out. Banff is only a short drive and all the parks are free for Canada’s 150th.

It was busy, but we expected that being a gorgeous weekend. The smoke from the forest fires was nowhere to be seen either. We headed to the upper Banff hot springs first. Gunnar called it bath time, and he wasn’t far off as the water was the temperature of bath time, or maybe just a bit warmer 😉. Both of us waded Gunnar through the deeper water, and let him splash about in the kiddie pool. He was having so much fun, he didn’t want to leave, but we convinced him to go quietly by telling him we were going up the mountain. “Want to go up the mountain, mommy?”, was all he would say after that, it was too cute!

The gondola starts just below the hot springs so we had talked about checking out the price to go up on it. The price shocked us a bit, $62 per adult, but Gunnar was so excited that we decided to do it anyway. The line up was long and Gunnar was impatient, but everyone around us were understanding and said it was so cute that he was that excited to ride the gondola.

He said “weeee” pretty much all the way to the top of the gondola. It was a bit unnerving for me because of the height, but I didn’t want my bit of fear to affect Gunnar. It was a pretty steep ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

Once we made it to the top, Gunnar was so upset that he didn’t want to get off. He just wanted to keep riding the gondola until he decided to get off! So we went to the cafe as it was supper time and he settled down after a quick bite. Afterward, we went on the easy hike to the top of the summit, with a small side trip to a look out. Gunnar was happy as long as we were moving, and didn’t like if we stopped for photos for too long. The look out spot had a great view of the valley.

Back up to the summit trail, Derek’s legs were starting to get tired, but he kept going regardless. At the summit, there was an old cosmic ray station. Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station House National Historic Site of Canada plaque states:

Located at the top of Sulphur Mountain, the cosmic ray station was completed by the National Research Council in 1956, in preparation for the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) an undertaking involving 66 countries and a dozen scientific disciplines. The study of cosmic rays held a prominent place, with 99 cosmic ray stations (nine in Canada) in operation world-wide during IGY. Due to its high elevation Sulphur Mountain was the most important Canadian station. In 1960 the University of Alberta at Calgary took over the station, which was closed in 1978. The building itself was dismantled in 1981.

There is a re-creation of the station at the top. There is plexiglass to allow you to look in, but causes reflections to appear in photos.

The view of the Bow Valley was stunning. We got to the top just in time as a storm was rolling in as well.

We got about half way back to the gondola before it started to lightly rain. Once we got inside the terminal, it started pouring, so we had good timing! Again, Gunnar didn’t like waiting in line, but was happy once we got back in the gondola. The trip down was even more unnerving because of the wind blowing us side to side, but we got a great view of the rainbow in the valley. Gunnar must have picked up on us talking about the gondola because on the way down he kept saying “ride in the gondowa”. Needless to say, he had a lot of fun!

We had a lot of fun in Banff, and we will be heading back to do another hike sometime in the near future. There is so much to do there that we could probably go there every weekend for the next year!

Banff National Park
Banff and Lake Louise Tourism
Travel Alberta – Banff National Park
Banff Gondola

Camping Vacation

This is the first time in a few years that we took extended time off together, so we decided to go camping in Koocanusa. The long arduous task of loading the trailer and bikes wasn’t so bad as we took one of our days off to get organized. That helped a lot let me tell you. We had to take two vehicles this time as we were hauling out three bikes. That was ok with me as I was able to drive out by myself and enjoy the scenery!

Since we drive through the Crowsnest Pass, I decided to stop at the Burmis Tree. I was born in Pincher Creek, lived in Lundbreck and my mom worked in Bellevue (Crowsnest Pass). When I was a kid, I would always wait to pass the “leaning tree” when driving to the Pass. It is something that has stuck with me all of my life and I do cherish my childhood memories from living in the area. What I was really surprised when I stopped to take the picture was how it turned out. I wasn’t trying to frame Frank Slide in between the two trees, but when I looked at the photo afterward, I was impressed by how it turned out. I am no photographer by any means so having it turn out this way made me happy. I can’t wait to share all of they neat places in the Pass with Gunnar when he is older. If you are curious as to what the area has to offer, check out the Crowsnest Pass website. The town is so rich with history that you could spend a few days exploring everything!

Reluctantly, I left my exploring of the Pass and continued to Koocanusa, but my disappointment didn’t last long. The weather out in Koocanusa was gorgeous except for one night where it rained. The bugs also seemed a bit worse than previous trips but still very manageable. We pretty much had an area to ourselves and only had one other trailer camp with us. It was five days of relaxation. We weren’t in a rush to do anything, even biking. Derek took Gunnar on pretty much as many bike rides as he wanted, and went on a few by himself. I even got to go on a a couple. One where Derek doubled Gunnar and we went as a family, and one where Derek and I got to go by ourselves. Our fellow campers were nice enough to watch Gunnar for the afternoon. Gunnar loved them, so he didn’t complain too much. The rest of the time I crocheted and read, Derek fixed some bikes and drank beer ;), and Gunnar rode his strider bike and collected rocks and twigs.

On our solo ride, Derek took me on some trails to Highway 93, then at Elko, we turned off on some forestry roads that he went on a couple of days before. He took me to a waterfall that he found on the side of the road where we stopped and cooled off a bit. The water was cold, but very refreshing.

We saw a few vehicles parked down the road from us so we decided to check it out. Turns out there was An even bigger waterfall that you could hike down to. We didn’t go down too far as biking boots are really not ideal for hiking, but the view from the top was pretty amazing anyway. I wonder if these waterfalls have names, but couldn’t find them on a map.

We then took some roads that neither of us had been on and ended up at a dead end. An unmaintained bridge forced us to turn around and head back to camp and relieve our fellow campers. 

Gunnar had a great adventure with our friends. They took him for a bike ride and to a lake nearby. They just got back before we did and Gunnar didn’t miss us at all.

None of us wanted to leave we were enjoying ourselves so much. It was a great way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. But duty calls and we both had to head back to work. Looking forward to next summer where we are going to take some time off to travel to the east coast of Canada. Then we can both say we have been to every province in Canada, and we will only have the territories to cross off the list!

On the way home, I wasn’t solo, but still did some exploring anyway. So I decided to stop at another favourite childhood haunt, Lundbreck Falls. I remember spending many summer days there swimming, catching minnows and daring each other to walk out on the rocks near the falls. None of us ever made it that far, and now they have fences and viewing areas, which is probably better. Daring each other to walk out on the rocks was not a very smart idea and now there are safety measures. Gunnar liked the falls but didn’t want to get too close. It was nice to get out of the car and stretch our legs for a bit. Lundbreck Falls has a nice day use area and campground. It would be a great base camp if you ever wanted to explore the Crowsnest Pass ;).

How to Make Your Dragon

In continuing with my unicorn blog post, I made a dragon for my classmate’s little boy. I had wanted to try and make the Amigurumi To Go Dragon, but I was running out of time and needed something smaller and quicker to make up. I still plan on making the Amigurumi To Go dragon as my son is really into them as well, but it is a future project.

I decided to go back to the first ever dragon pattern I ever came across, the Fierce Little Dragon by Lucy Collin. It is a free pattern available through the Ravelry website, downloadable as a PDF. This is beneficial if you don’t have a tablet to work off of, you can print it off if needed.

I followed the pattern as outlined, with one small error. I forgot to leave a tail for sewing on one of the hind legs. This was easily rememdied by taking a single length of yarn to sew it on to the body.

The part that I dislike the most about amigurumi is the sewing. Things usually look crooked and nothing like the pattern pictures! But this little dragon turned out better than I expected. This is a pattern that I will go back to in the future for sure!

I gave the dragon and the unicorn to my classmate on our graduation day. He gave them to his children that day when we had a break between our class presentations and the ceremony. His wife mentioned that they had to go into a store and to keep thier little boy occupied, they brought it in with them and he played with it the entire time. Their little girl wouldn’t let go of her unicorn and even brought it to the ceremony that afternoon. She came over and gave me a big thank-you. This is why I crochet, it not only makes me happy, but it also gives joy to others!

What’s your unicorn?

I am still trying to get through two Rubbermaid bins of yarn that were gifted to me by my mom. So I decided to take on the task of making stuffies for all my classmates kids. This was an enormous task that I didn’t quite get done, but I am keeping in contact with all of them so I still hope to eventually get them all finished.

In my first year, a classmate’s wife had a little boy. He also has a little girl, so I wanted to make something for her as well so that she didn’t feel left out. It took me a long time to find the perfect idea. The idea for the unicorn didn’t come easy, but thanks to the Applecheeks Facebook group, Peace, Love, Applecheeks, I decided on the unicorn for his little girl. This group is dedicated to applecheeks cloth diapers, and the members are always looking for their “unicorn” diapers that it has become a funny and recurring theme. I cloth diaper (hopefully potty training soon though!) my son, and while I don’t exclusively use applecheeks diapers, they were one of the first brands I used on my son, and their 3-ply bamboo inserts are the most absorbent I have come across!

After searching for a pattern, I decided to go with the Rainbow Cuddles Unicorn from One Dog Woof. The pattern itself was very easy to follow. I made one small change, which was adding a curly-cue mane instead of following what was written in the pattern. Either way, the finished product is absolutely adorable!

Here is the finished product! I hope you like it, and I highly recommend this pattern to crochet enthusiasts everywhere!

Victoria Day Long Weekend…or commonly known as May Long

Over the last few years, my husband and I have avoided camping on the May long weekend. When we were teenagers and in our early 20s, it wasn’t so bad as we enjoyed that kind of atmosphere. But, it seems as though May Long is now known as the camping weekend where everyone, even those that don’t normally camp, go out into the wilderness. Not that I am opposed to people camping, but this particular weekend has steadily been gaining a bad reputation. I whole heartedly encourage anyone and everyone to enjoy what Alberta, and Canada have to offer in terms of camping, but be respectful. Put out your campfires, don’t trash the environment, leave your furniture at home, and please don’t burn abandoned vehicles. Many areas around Alberta and elsewhere are being shut down because of disrespectful people, and that is a shame as the younger generations are going to miss out on these beautiful areas. I apologize for the rant, but I enjoy camping and spending time with my family outdoors so I hope that eventually the message will get across.

Despite our misgivings about this weekend, we decided to go camping with my sister and her husband. I am sure glad we did because this was not your typical May Long weekend. First off, it was beautiful! No rain or snow the entire weekend. Secondly, no one camped even remotely near us so we had the peace and quiet we love when camping. We camp out in the forestry, so there are no designated spots and people can set up pretty much wherever they like. There was lots of room for other campers, but no one wanted to join us. 

So we had this clearing all to ourselves with minimal traffic along the road beside it. The sun was shining and it was hot. So hot that I  set up my massage table and gave both of my sisters a massage outdoors. It was a very cool experience, and one that I will definitely do again!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing. Gunnar spent almost all of his time on is “mobike”, and got quite upset when he had to get of to eat, be changed, or sleep. The first day he had no issues falling asleep, but did wake up multiple times in the night, so I opted out of the day ride to make sure he had a nap the following day. He almost made it to his regular nap time. He was so tired that he slept for three hours that day, but he needed it. 

My husband and I went on an evening ride while my sister watched Gunnar. After a short cruise we ended up at the Clearwater River on the Forestry Trunk Road. It was a pretty spot to stop for a rest and a photo op.

The last day came and no one wanted to go home. Gunnar lived for riding his bike; so much so that he didn’t even want to get dressed before getting on. 

He also had plenty of rides on the big bikes. He is so crazy about motorbikes that it was a bit upsetting for him to get in the car when we were leaving. But the weekend eventually had to come to an end, he was so tired that he fell asleep almost right away and slept the entire way home. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. Beautiful weather, great company, and relaxation!

Easter Weekend Camping, Koocanusa, BC

This is the first time that we have camped on the Easter long weekend, and it didn’t disappoint! The weather in the Calgary area has been chilly and rainy, so we headed to Koocanusa, BC, where the weather is always just a bit warmer than here, which was true for this weekend as well.

Lake Koocanusa is located in southern BC, southwest of Fernie and just north of the Roosville border crossing to the USA. It is a man made reservoir with many camping areas, ATV trails, housboating, boating, and other lake activities. Lake levels vary throughout the year, so if you are into water activities, it is best to check the levels!

Packing up our trailer is always a challenge. Because we live in a townhouse, we have to store it elsewhere, so trying to remember everything you need can be a struggle, we always end up forgetting something, but can usually make it work for the weekend. We also have to try and jam all our gear, our motorbikes, and ourselves in the truck until we pick up the trailer and are able to transfer everything inside it. Also, our trailer isn’t particularly large, only 18 feet, so we have to be careful not to overpack.

The trip to Koocanusa from Calgary takes about 4 hours depending on traffic and the amount of stops you have to make. Gunnar has been camping before, but is now at the age where he is able to have a bit more “freedom” as he can now understand where camp is and when we tell him not to  wander off, he listens (mostly). Because the Easter weekend isn’t as busy as other long weekends, our trip down was uneventful. We found our friends, set up everything, and relaxed for the afternoon. The view from the campsite was pretty amazing.

We brought our bikes, but I didn’t expect to ride that much as we didn’t have anyone to watch Gunnar. I was ok with that as I was enjoying watching him explore and play all day. He was so good and stayed within eyesight at all times. Just seeing the excitement and joy he had while riding his bike and exploring was worth it.

Since my motorbike was being unused, and we had the proper helmet for Gunnar, Derek even took him for a slow, short ride. He loves it so much that he didn’t want to get off, and asked to go back on it again and again!

But the weekend was just too much excitement for the little guy, it tuckered him out so much that he fell asleep before we even left the campsite. It has been less than a day since we got back, and all he has asked is to go back camping in the trailer.

Now it is the clean up stage of laundry and dishes that we didn’t get to before we left camp. We are planning our next camping trip already, but that won’t be until May.

Bow Valley Ranch, Fish Creek Park (Calgary, AB)

The weather is kind of cooperating here in Alberta, so I decided to go on an outing with Gunnar. He has been addicted to riding his strider bike lately, so I wanted a place where he could “run free” without fear of vehicles and such. So I decided to go to Fish Creek Park in Calgary. It is a short drive from our current residence and there are so many pathways and fields where Gunnar could ride his bike. 

One of my favourite areas of Fish Creek is where Bow Valley Ranch is located. I had the opportunity to hold an archaeological permit by Bow Valley Ranch after the 2013 Flood in Southern Alberta. It was only a monitoring permit as the work being done was already in the existing utilities corridor. But since it was so close to a historical resource, the regulators wanted to ensure that nothing would be impacted. 

Bow Valley Ranch was first settled by Europeans in the 1870s by John Glenn, who farmed the area. He built barns, set up an irrigation system (the first in Alberta), and cleared 9 acres for farmland. The Ranch was purchased by the Alberta government to become an instructional farm, but after a few years, the program was phase out, and the property sold to William Roper Hull and his brother John in 1884. Numerous improvements were made to the property, including the brick farmhouse. In 1902, Patrick Burns, purchased Bow Valley Ranch, and saw the importance of conservation. He built fences around groves of trees, protecting them from cattle and clearing. The Ranch stayed in the Burns family until 1970, when it was leased to a Calgary stockbroker. Through the work of the provincial government, 1400 acres of the ranch was bought. In 1975, Peter Lougheed declared that the area was now part of Fish Creek Park.

The brick farmhouse has now been converted into the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant. While I have not had the pleasure to dine there, it is on my list! 

Another house that was for the farmhands, was moved next to the restaurant, and is now Annie’s Cafe. Again, I have not been into the cafe, I will make a point to get there next time as it was not open for the season yet.

Numerous outbuildings are still on the property, and Gunnar had a great time riding his bike around them.

There is also an Information Centre run by Alberta Parks, so that visitors can get information on the trails, day use areas, and the Ranch. This area is worth visiting as there are plenty of family friendly activities!

Art the Moose – Crochet Review

I enjoy crocheting, I decided to make some stuffies for my son when I was on medical leave during pregnancy. Most of them were patterns from the same person, Sharon Ojala of Amigurumi To Go. What is amigurumi, you ask? You can find the answer here.

The Amigurumi To Go website is user friendly, and the patterns are easy to access. Videos of every pattern are readily available, just in case you get stuck, or find it easier to follow. I haven’t had to use the videos yet, the written patterns were just as easy to follow, even for someone who was new to making amigurumi.

Now that I am practiced in the ways of crochet amigurumi, I decided that I would share these creations with friends and family that were having babies, or for birthdays. This particular pattern was for a close friend who now lives quite far away. She loves all things outdoors, so a moose was only fitting.

I am currently a stay at home mom, and in school for massage therapy, so finding time for this gift was a bit difficult. I did try and start it while I was still employed before Christmas, but my time was even more limited then. But I persevered because this pattern was just too cute not to finish. Fast forward to March, and I finally finished a pink “Art the Moose”, two months after my friends baby was born. Better late than never, I guess.

I made a few changes to the original pattern as I didn’t have the supplies, and I thought that my changes were better suited for an infant. I stuffed the antlers instead of using the pipe cleaners, and crocheted eyes instead of using safety eyes. I now have eyes, so in the future I will be using them, but I really do like the look of the stuffed antlers. And despite my best efforts, sewing all the parts together, things always looked a bit skewed (maybe this is where I should take a look at the videos). But, maybe that is the magic of making homemade gifts for people, it will always be unique to them. Overall, I am so happy with how my version of Art turned out. You can find the original pattern here. Oh, and another great thing, all of the patterns can be printed if that is easier for you.

Will I be making more from Amigurumi To Go? Absolutely! I also highly recommend the patterns from this site to anyone wanting to make that special gift for a loved one. My little boy is really getting into dragons lately, so I may have to give that one a try!

My foray into the blogosphere!

Well, I have been saying for almost two years that I should start a blog, but it never happened. I had great aspirations when my son was first born, but since it is now two years later, we all know how that turned out! I also went back to work when Gunnar was 5 months old, got laid off 4 months later, decided to go back to school, started another full time job, got laid off again, and the list could go on and on! I am almost finished school now, and currently at home with my son, so now is the time! 

Here is a little bit about me and what will be in my blog:

My name is Tammi, I am married to a wonderful husband, and I am a mother of a very active toddler, Gunnar. This blog is dedicated to him and the things we do in our daily adventures. Gunnar loves to play, make forts, be outside, and chase around his best friend, Freya. We also have another elderly cat, Zeus, who may make appearances every so often, but tends to keep to himself.

I am a recently “retired” archaeologist, so that I can spend more time with my family. I hope to one day get back in the field, but since it can take me away for long periods of time, I chose to stay closer to my family. So, in the meantime, I am going to school for massage therapy and will be graduating in May 2017.

I love to crochet, dirtbike, camp, hike, ski, pretty much anything to keep me somewhat active and outside. Thank you for checking out my little piece of cyberspace. I am not one to stick to one topic, so there may be posts from motherhood, crocheting, archaeology,and beyond. I hope you enjoy it!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter as well!