Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Home Sweet Home

The last day at Calgary was uneventful. We slept in, packed, visited the city centre and prepared for our long journey home. Both flights from Calgary to Vancouver and then Vancouver to Sydney were absolutely full. We farewelled Malcolm's parents, who were flying on to Shang Hai, at Vancouver. We skipped all of Sunday and arrived to a very cold and wet Sydney. The only downside to having concrete flooring and underfloor heating is that heating up a chunk of concrete which has been left untouched for over 3 weeks takes a bloody long time!

We are so blessed and privileged as a family to be able to travel and tick off bucket list items together. To experience the rugged beauty of both Alaska and the Canadian Rockies as an extended family was special indeed. We look forward to our next trip in December with great anticipition! Japan is the destination and our travel companions will include family and friends as usual. The item on the bucket list to tick off...the children's and Malcolm's last Disney Castle to visit! (Before ShangHai Disneyland opens...)

For now, we will enjoy darkness...Strange as that may sound, we haven't seen "night time" for nearly 4 weeks! With the days so long, we went to sleep when it was bright, and the sun is usually already high up when we awoke.

Time to let go of the heat wave and embrace the cold wave!

PS. The rafting photos are up!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Calgary Stampede Day 2

We returned to the Stampede ground for more Calgary Stampede action. Blessed with a cooler day, we headed to the rides which were simply too hot to attempt yesterday. With three children, the tickets didn't last long!

The highlight for the day was no doubt the rodeo. We were fortunate enough to have the foresight (or perhaps dumb luck!) to have purchased seats under the shade in the grandstand. Even then, it was starting to heat up. I learnt a lot about rodeo and the various events today! Admittedly the starting point was virtually non-existent...the rodeo was fun, fast-paced and addictive to watch! I won't bore you with too many photos, but I've place some events which I thought were fascinating. There were also the more "standard" events which many are familiar with like bronc and bull riding.

We trudged back to the hotel absolutely exhausted. A little bit of sadness had also crept in, we had to face our flight back home tomorrow.

Let's go!

You can just see the top of Jonah's hair!

Crazy children trying out crazy rides


Colossal onion! Or at least half of it

Deep fried cheesecake

Opening act for the Rodeo

All the competing cowboys and cowgirls for the national anthem

Tie-down roping

Chase the animal, rope it, and tie its legs...all done in seconds!

Steer wrestling

Chase the steer, jump on it, and wrestle it to the ground....

The winner for today did it in 3.9 seconds!

Indian Village

Lara scored herself some new cowgirl boots

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Calgary Stampede

We farewelled the Rockies and moved on to Calgary for the Stampede, the greatest outdoor show on earth! By the time we got ourselves to the Stampede grounds, it was way past lunch time. Perusing calorie central was somewhat amusing. Fortunately, it was so hot that it was hard to muster up a big appetite for deep friend goodies!

Yahoo! We're at the Stampede! Where if you're not wearing boots or a cowboy hat you're the odd one out!

Fries any which way you can think of!

When they say colossal, they mean colossal

You don't want to know what this is...

Taco in a bag

Deep fried dessert anyone?!?

How much fat can one put on a stick...

Here's what they look like cooking

GIANT chicken kebabs

GIANT turkey legs (normal ones are big enough...)

We succumbed to dessert fries...amongst other things!

How can one resist ribs?!?!

...from a joint that has won so many trophies?

Time to work off lunch
It took us a while to get going as we seemingly got "stuck" in the Midway section where the rides and fastfood were. It was hot, it was crowded, and we started to wilt. Attempts to cool down with frozen goods failed to work. Such was the desperation that we stopped to play bingo because it was in the shade. Things took a turn for the better when we found the Stampede Market, a huge undercover marketplace selling everything you can think of! Did I mention that it was air-conditioned?! Bliss...

From there, we moved on to the next air-conditioned venue, the corral show. Cirque Eloize was performing. They were awesome, almost like a mini Cirque du Soleil. We couldn't believe that it was a free event!

We braved the heat again heading into the agriculture pavilions. There was a wonderful section for the children, with hands on experiences and educational stops. The adults had fun too! Then it was onto perusing the show animals. It appeared that we were completely heat intolerant as a family...don't ask me how we manage to survive in Australia! We made a beeline for anything air-conditioned to have our evening meal. In the end, it was at a wine bar in the midst of the artwork on display. No one was complaining!

The Grandstand was our last destination where the evening show was held. We were introduced to chuck wagon racing, where thoroughbred horses pull a chuck wagon...We were amazed at how tight they were able to turn and how quickly they did it! By 930pm, the whole family was exhausted and called it quits for the day. But what a wonderful day it was!

Yes it was so hot that we resorted to playing Bingo because it was in the shade

Outdoor entertainment

Unhealthy goodies round 2!

Mojito popsicle for Daddy

Into the Stampede Market to cool down. Didn't matter what it was that we were looking at!

More free entertainment in airconditioning! The famed cirque eloize.

Onto the Agriculture pavilions

There was a section just for children which was wonderful

Miniature horse

A very large Holstein

Miniature donkey. Such beautiful eyes!

Jonah LOVED the armed forces display

More street performers but we were too hot to stay and watch

At the evening show!

To watch chuck wagon racing!!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Banff Springs and Bow River

Today we continued our Banff Summer activity extravaganza. After mountain hiking/rafting yesterday we added golf and trail riding today. The crazy ones woke up early to watch the state of origin and first session of the cricket. The sane ones slept in until 630am before we all drove off to Banff. Expectations were high as Banff takes number one position on Malcolm's bucket list. It didn't let us down.
Banff Springs Golf Course...tick!

We formed a convoy of three golf carts and played the Tunnel Mountain 9 hole course which was just as pretty and well manicured as the championship 18 holes that it criss-crosses. We saw lots of Elk poo before finally finding the responsible Elk.

The quality of the golf didn't let us down. We played family Ambrose and went round with nine straight pars. The rental clubs were fantastic and we all had them working well by the end of the round. We saved our best tee shots for the final hole on the return to the clubhouse. We only had 140 yards left for our second on a 404 yard hole, but the adults managed to stuff up the final approaches. Fortunately, Elliot came up with a grandstand finish and knocked it on the green so we could end up even with the card.

And our convoy is off!

Jonah was content to "pretend" to drive

The children loved playing the beautiful course

Malcolm in action

Malcolm is also a hoon on the golf cart!


Saviour of the last hole

Bow Falls

A quick barbecue meal of buffalo wings, burger patties, salad and sweet potato back in our hotel room was followed by a power nap for all. 1 hour and 10 minutes later Malcolm woke everyone up to hit the trail again. Our horse ride was along another pretty river, the Bow River. The only annoying thing was that they were running late hence we had to wait 45 minutes past our allocated time before we got started. There was some discussion as to what Malcolm's horse was actually named. Somehow, we didn't think "Tarago" was correct...Another highlight was that being on the golf cart and on a horse obviously was not detrimental to my step count which clocked in at nearly 13,000! Yeah!

My feet hurt from walking, my arms ache from rafting and my butt is sore from riding. It's a pity we couldn't do the road trip first and the cruise at the end! 2 more days and we have to return to reality.

Where we checked in for our trail ride

One of the gorgeous horses pulling the wagon 

Elliot and his horse, freckles

Jonah managed his horse, Caspar, really well!

Started off through the woods

Then walked by the water

Bow River

Heading back towards the stable