Monday, 30 July 2012

Day 19 - The last of our bad luck?

Yesterday, the dealership had told us that the truck could be ready for lunchtime.  Turns out it won't be ready until 1600.  The campsite, Glowing Ambers, is generous enough to let us leave the trailer on our site at no extra cost.  It would have been really complicated to move the trailer and would have delayed my parents and aunt and uncle.  They are heading to Calgary and want to wait for us but we told them to go ahead and we will get in touch with them when we get on the road.  My mom was smart and booked a campsite for the stampede ages ago (and this is my mom we are talking about so I am not even exaggerating).  Smart on her part, because we can't get a site anywhere.  We have to hope that we will find a spot in the overflow.  So the rest of our gang head out.
BB Girl playing in Pépère's truck before they leave

Their plan is to stop at the Costco in Red Dear.  Our truck is ready to go at around 1530ish.  We don't get out of there until at least 1600.  Justin tried to negotiate some sort of discount on our gigantic bill but nothing!  That's what happens when you are not home.  We head on over to the campsite, hook up the trailer and get on our way.  We have about a 3.5 hour drive to get to Calgary.  We see my parent's and my uncle's rig from the road parked in Costco in Red Dear, so we have caught up with them.  We decide to keep going to try and get to the campsite early and pray that the overflow still had room.  BB Girl is not happy with that plan and with reason - it's time for us to stop and have some supper.  We pull over at a rest area and start supper.  Not soon after, someone knocks at our door.  A nice man asks us if we knew that we had a flat tire! He has got to be kidding!!!! Another flat tire!!!

Yet again!!
This is turning out to be a really bad day!  On the phone with Good Sam's road assistance again.  The girl has a really hard time locating us.  She ends up doing three way call with the tow company and the guy tells us he is over an hour and a half away!  Meanwhile, I am on the phone with my parents to let them know of the situation and that we are just a few exits passed the costco.  Turns out they are just leaving so they will meet us. Have to give some iphone love here again: my mom can't really understand where we are.  I fix that easily by bringing up the maps app and take a screen capture of where we are and message it to mom! Voila!!! Oh!! How I love thee! :)

When they get there, Justin is still on the phone trying to arrange a tow truck.  He decides to tell the lady that he will call back if he needs help.  Uncle Bernie pulls out his air hose (what does he not have in that Coach!), and that's when Justin realises that it's not just a hole, the tire is ripped apart in the back.   Dad, uncle Bernie and Justin try to figure out a way to change the tire.  They decide to jack up the trailer by pulling ahead and raising it with our orange blocks that we usually use to level the trailer. Mon oncle has a tire iron in his coach(mansion) so we are set.
Trying to put some air in!
Everyone looking on
Not good!
Of course we hear about how it's a good thing that we finally got our spare fixed.  Mon oncle was not impressed that we went through the Rockies without one.  We are on our way again and mom calls me soon after and for the first time today we have some good news.  She was able to get a hold of the campsite they are booked at and they are going to save us a spot in their overflow! Yahoo! That's one less stress. We pull in.  It's late, it's been a long day, it's been a stressful day and we just want to call it a night.  The playpen had stayed in mom's trailer so me and BB girl just ended up sleeping in mom and dad's trailer and Jusitn and bones settled in our trailer!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Day 18 - Guns & Steak

First thing on the agenda today was for Justin to call around to see if a dealership could have a look at our truck.  It's been doing a funny sound when we turn and it's been worst since our off roading adventure yesterday! We figure we better get it looked at before crossing the Rockies again.  So we drop off the truck and cross our fingers.

Mon oncle Bernie comes to the campsite to take his Coach out of storage (whatever you do - do not call ma tante's motor home a bus!! just a friendly warning!)  He takes us for the grand tour! Wow!! What a a beauty! BB girl really enjoyed it as well.

Justin, dad and mon oncle Bernie head on over to mon oncle's house to get the RV ready.  Then we get the bad phone call.  Turns out the truck needs a lot of work done, I should rephrase, expensive work done.  Justin wants to go to the garage so I go pick him up at uncle Bernie's and we head to the garage.  We give them the go ahead to fix the front end for a whopping 3000$!!!!!!  The hourly rate for these cowboys in Alberta is 130$! I try to console ourselves with the fact that there is no provincial tax. We all meet back up at the campsites and the boys head on over to West Edmonton Mall.  Yes, I did say the boys are going to the mall.  Of course not to shop, they are going to the shooting range!  

Mon oncle Bernie
Justin's weapon of choice
Justin in his element
Can you guess who not to mess with?
(BLang - this target is for you)
Us girls, we head on over to the grocery store to get things for supper and head on over to uncle Bernie's to get it ready.  Daniel and his little 'fam' are joining us for supper tonight.  Daniel cooked up some good steaks.  We came close to making the whole neighbourhood blow up (note to self for next time - ma tante can not be in charge of lighting the bbq!).  Here are some pictures of the family!
Daniel, Amanda & the girls

Paquette Men
Dad picking on his little brother

How hard can it be to take a picture of these two!!!

AH! Finally!
PS: Thanks ma tante for emptying mon oncle's garage and handing over a bunch of his princess auto treasures and his groupon surplus!  Love you mon oncle! :)

Monday, 23 July 2012

Day 17 - Lac La Biche and Family

We woke up early this morning to take the long drive up to Lac La Biche.  For reasons that I won't get into here, my other cousin Phil, was not able to come down to Stony Plane so we drove the three hour drive to his trailer.  After driving all this way, we weren't going to let another three hour drive stop us from seeing them.  The girls were in our truck with non other than 'moi' as their chauffeur, and the boys followed in dad's truck.  Matante Sindy and mom were all over my case because I was using my iphone to navigate so they confiscated it from me!  Great idea because then we missed a turn and our drive turned out to be a little longer!  We made it to their place at around noon.  Before getting to their place there is about a 10km dirt road, actually it is a clay road.  It was very slippery and I made the truck skid out! :)  Boy did I give them a scare!  Hey! We have a big truck, a little skiddin' won't hurt anyone! Matante laughed at me after because I wouldn't put the truck in 4wheel drive because it's too expensive on gas!  I am a Paquette after all and just like my dad and mon oncle.

We had a really nice visit with Phil, Tanya and little Grace.  They have a little baby girl just a few months younger than our BB Girl.  Phil always has a bunch of boy toys.  MonOncle Bernie took me, Tanya and Matante Syndi on a raptor ride.  He showed us Phil and Tanya's new property and matante made me and Tanya stop to take a picture for the 'blog'.  Everything that happens, matante says it's good for the blog!   Oh yeah! MonOncle Bernie met us here so to return we all went in our respective trucks! The ladies wanted nothing to do with my driving again!!!
Mel & Phil with their little girls
Paquette Men!
Dad with little Grace
Tanya and their Toy Hauler!
Mel and Tanya

Tanya pretending to push me in (matante wanted a more fun pic for the blog!)

Quick side story here! When we were here for Phil and Tanya's wedding 10 years ago, he took us quading  Mom was on the back of the quad I was driving.  Phil got his stuck in the river so he 'jimmy rigged' a rope to our quad and told me to 'give-er' to get his quad out! Turns out when the rope tightened, it was too much and the quad rolled over backwards and mom was pinned under the quad in water!  Let's just say mom is never getting on a quad again!
We left at around 1600 and I don't know where our heads were at but 10 minutes into the drive we remembered that we left the play pen at their camper!!! We headed back, picked it up and again after being 10 minutes away, we get a text from Tanya saying we also forgot Bonsey's food! Oh well, not going back! We'll pick some up if we run out!  We headed straight for mon oncle and ma tante's house in Stony Plane.  Can you believe that with about a good 45minute detour we beat them there and we were in their driveway for a good half hour before they caught up to us! Oh Old Age!!!

We shared some good eats! Yummy pizza!  I decided to get Nancy on skype so we could all chat with her.  Justin took BB girl downstairs to put her down when we heard a crazy noise.  Justin fell down the stairs!! Everyone rushed, worried about Baby Girl (and Justin).  He protected her but at the cost of his arm!! Nothing broken but it sure looked like it hurt.  He was all scratched up even though he was wearing a thick sweatshirt. Justin wanted a note to mention to his mom that no drinking was involved in this accident - simply pure Justin clumsiness!  Crisis averted, we chatted until pretty late and then my parents and us headed back to the campsite.

Day 16 - Family visit from Leduc

Today was a max relax day for us considering the last couple of days.  Baby girl went to spend the morning with mami and pépère and we got to get some stuff organized in the trailer.  I took advantage of mom and dad's palace and did a load of laundry!  Oh the luxury of not having to go to the laundry mat! Meanwhile, Justin went into town, got a hair cut (remember his hair before the military? - what military training can do to a man even after all these years!)  Justin's quote:
You can take the man out of the army but you can't take the army out of the man. 
He also got a new tire to replace the one that we blew a few days ago.  

My cousin Daniel, his wife Amanda and his two daughters Autumn and Ellanor came over for supper.  We had a really nice time catching up.  The girls were shy at first but warmed up and had a good time with Bones and Justin. We were so happy to see them we didn't even think of taking pictures but we will see them again and not forget!  A great relaxing day with family.  Doesn't get any better than that.

Day 15 - Happy Canada Day!

Today was a crazy busy day! We did a lot of driving (almost 8 hours) and had a lot of things to see on our way.  We left our campsite early enough.  You would think that with a baby we could be ready to go very early but BB Girl doesn't often wake up before 0730-0800 and she is our alarm clock so we follow her schedule.  The fresh air everyday makes us all sleep very well.

Our first stop today is the Columbia Icefields.  I had been there with my parents and uncle way back when I came down for my cousins wedding in 2002.  I thought it was worth while to do it again so that Justin could experience it.  We loaded up on a coach bus, then transferred to a Brewster Snowcoach for the 80minute tour.  These snow coaches are made especially for the icefield.  They have a max speed of 18km/h but they sure do have torque!  In order to get to the ice field we must descend the moraine of the glacier at an incline of 18degrees (we are told that is the steepest incline in the world travelled by a vehicle).

Brewster Snow coach
The driver of the snow coach gave a lot of interesting information on the way to the glacier.  Baby Girl was loving the ride! I think she takes from her dad and is an adrenaline junky! She sure made the other passengers laugh.

We were then permitted to walk freely around the glacier for about 20minutes (at our own risk!).  We walked around the glacier, took some pictures and drank some fresh glacier water.   It was a pricey tour, 50$ each, but well worth it!

Baby Girl in the bus

We continued our drive through Jasper National Park.  Driving through the Rockies is no ordinary drive - just beautiful.  Justin is happy to say that his truck did not lack power even when powering through the ups and downs of the Rockies.  Our final destination tonight is Stony Plane.  We are meeting up with mom and dad, and uncle Bernie and Aunt Syndi.  We could have taken a short cut and not have driven all the way to Jasper but Justin had never been to Jasper and I remembered it as so lovely from my previous trip!  Well, my bad!!  Jasper is nothing compared to Banff.  Ok, the scenery is beautiful.  I am also certain that if we didn't have BB Girl and we were able to do a lot of hiking we would appreciate it more but as for the village, it was a big let down.  The downtown is flanked by the rail yard and the village is not upscale like one, or we, would expect.  We stopped at a restaurant  and had some supper.  Funny thing is there were 4 occupied tables on the patio and three out of the 4 tables were francophones.   No big Canada Day festivities to be found so we continued earlier than anticipated to Stony Plane.  After a small slow down courtesy of the park's wildlife, hitting our 5000kms milestone, and 3.5hours later, we arrived in Stony Plane!

Just hanging out on the HWY

Where's Waldo?  I mean, where's the mountain goats?

Let me tell you!! There was a Mami and Pépère there that were really happy to see their BB Girl.  We hadn't even stopped and they took her away from us (no complaints!).   We were really happy to see Aunt Syndi!! She's a hoot!!  Last time Justin had seen Aunt Syndi and Uncle Bernie was at our wedding. Uncle Bernie is not joining us till tomorrow because he is working up in Fort McMurray! (just like dad, he just can't retire!)

A fun relaxing night chatting about our adventures!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Day 14 - Johnny C

Today's mission is to go hike up to Johnston's Canyon.  It's about a half hour drive from Banff to get there.  By the time we found some parking and got Baby Girl all ready in the backpack it was about 1000.

Papa et Cocotte

Beautiful views the whole way along the canyon

Baby Girl loves hiking!

The lower falls are a 1.1km hike and the upper falls are at 2.6kms.  The trail was quite busy given we are in the Rockies and on Canada Day long weekend but it was very enjoyable.  Along the way we saw some folks with their camera on the ready staring down the canyon.  Turns out three crazy guys on their kayaks were coming down.  That was quite a site to see.  Just happy it didn't give Justin any ideas - adrenaline junky!
We made it to the top and the view was worth it.  Unfortunately, the look out is very small and you don't get to admire the falls for very long as others are waiting to get a glimpse but regardless, the hike is what is enjoyable.

The upper Falls

We then started making on our way back.  At the lower falls there is a rock you can go through and stand very close to the falls.  We went through and baby girl enjoyed it.  The mist is cool and it felt nice after our hike.

 Here is a video of Baby Girl next to the falls!

Before leaving, we kitted ourselves out with some new shoes! Without even knowing at first, we ended up getting a matching pair of Keens.  They are completely different colours so it's not too corny! We both absolutely love our new shoes! 

We drove back to Banff and went back downtown to do a little bit of shopping.  We both really like Banff.  Lake Placid, close to home, always seems to us like it could be so much more.  Banff is exactly what you would expect of an alpine village.  There are some upscale shops yet there are still some affordable ones and everything is well up kept.    

After supper, Justin took the bike and the camera and went out to find the hoodoos that we weren't able to find on our bike ride yesterday.  He got some great pics.


Fairmont Banff Springs in the distance
Our setup at Tunnel Mountain Campground
A deer we saw on deer street.

Tomorrow we have a really big day! Lots to see and lots of driving!