Home Again, Home Again

On June 30, 2013, we crossed the Alberta border and headed for home.

Almost home!

Almost home!

After being away for a whole year, we had mixed emotions about returning to Crowsnest Pass: sadness mixed with anxiety because our year-long family adventure was officially over, and anticipation and excitement about seeing our house and the friends we had missed so much.

Right back where we started!

Right back where we started!

Awww, our little house on wheels, parked in front of our big house again.

Awww, our little house on wheels, parked in front of our “house” house again.

We were lucky enough to have great people looking after our house while we were gone, and the house was, without a doubt, in better shape than when we left it!  (Thank you Shannon and Albert!)  No cleaning necessary, but we did do some painting to switch things up a bit.

Bye bye brown!

Bye bye Brown!

Hello Pink!

Hello Pink!

Then we started the long, slow process of moving everything from the garage, back into the house.  (Well, not everything.  There may still be a few things in the garage, right Peter?)

And we jumped back into life as we knew it, almost as though the preceding year of wonderfulness had just been a dream…

Canada Day in Crowsnest Pass

Canada Day in Crowsnest Pass

Soccer Camp

Soccer Camp

Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons

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Fernie, BC

We arrived in Fernie, BC on June 13, 2013.  Fernie is only 45 minutes west of Crowsnest Pass, so we were really just a short drive away from home.  But we had over two weeks to kill before getting our house back, and Fernie is a wonderful place to kill some time!

We spent the first four nights with our friends, Cam and Kari and their sons, Owen and Nolan.  It was great to catch up after a year apart, but our livers were certainly put to the test.

Peter and the boys

Peter and the boys

Kari & Ella watching soccer

Kari & Ella watching soccer

Superheroes on the trampoline

Superheroes on the trampoline

The mountain biking in Fernie is truly some of the best we’ve seen.  Peter and Cam got out for several rides, Kari and I got out for a few, and I joined the boys for a couple of rides too.

Peter and Cam at the top of Swine Flu, overlooking the town of Fernie

Peter and Cam at the top of Swine Flu, overlooking the town of Fernie

Riding together?  A rare treat!

Riding together? A rare treat!

After Cam and Kari’s place, we moved to the nearby Mt. Fernie Provincial Park to camp.  We love this campground because the sites are so nice and you can bike right from your site.  However, there are no hook-ups, so we had to get back into old-school-camping mode.

Our site at Mt. Fernie Provincial Park

Our site at Mt. Fernie Provincial Park

Melissa, Leah and Sonya joined us again at the campground, but this time they brought their tent trailer and set up across the road from us.

 A friendly visitor at Melissa's site

A friendly visitor at Melissa’s site

Moose on the loose

Moose on the loose

Once again, the girls had all sorts of fun at the campground, even though it rained through most of the week.  We were quite happy in our little campground world, totally oblivious to the fact that southern Alberta was in the midst of severe flooding.

Campground yoga

Campground yoga

Rainy day walk in the woods

Rainy day walk in the woods

Live music

Live music

Ella & Leah

Ella & Leah

Our last night of camping in Fernie was bittersweet.  For me, it officially marked the end of our amazing family adventure, touring around North America in our 20-foot trailer.  But we were eager to get back home, get back into our house and see our friends in Crowsnest Pass…

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Kimberley, BC

We arrived at the Kimberley Riverside Campground, in Kimberley, BC, on June 7, 2013.  The campground was a real gem, with nicely treed sites and full hook-ups – a rarity in the RV world.  It also had a pool, Wi-Fi hotspots, and lots of flat, paved roads – great for kids to ride their bikes on.

Our first night in Kimberley

Our lovely site in Kimberley

Campground pool with a view

Campground pool with a view

The next day, our friend, Jody, came for a visit and our friends, Melissa, Leah and Sonya (who now live in India but were back in Canada for a visit) arrived to camp with us for a couple of nights.  Ella was beyond excited to see her friend, Leah, and Leah’s little sister, Sonya.  I was tickled pink to see my girlfriends, and Peter was seriously out-numbered!

Around the campfire with friends

Around the campfire with friends

We had a great time at the campground, and the girls amused themselves gluing together pieces of wood, picking the glue off of each other’s fingers, and chasing Peter on their bikes.

Ella & Leah - Rock Stars

Ella & Leah – Rock Stars

Hours of entertainment with a cardboard box

Hours of entertainment with a cardboard box

Sonya's favourite pastime: opening and closing the door

Sonya’s favourite pastime: opening and closing the door

Picking the glue off of each other's fingers

Picking the glue off of each other’s fingers

Lots of fun on the bikes!

Lots of fun on the bikes!

After Melissa and the girls left, we spent some time exploring Kimberley.  Downtown Kimberley features a town square called the Plazl, which is full of shops and closed to vehicle traffic.  The whole place has a Bavarian feel to it, which makes it quite unique in the Canadian Rockies.

Who knew?

Who knew?

Cuckoo clock in the Plazl

Cuckoo clock in the Plazl

Shops in the Plazl

Shops in the Plazl

We also did some shopping at the thrift store and the most amazing consignment store, Togs ‘n Toys.

Ella models her latest thrift store find, while eating ice cream

Ella models her latest thrift store find, while eating ice cream

Peter spent a few days exploring the bike trails around Kimberley and was suitably impressed.  I went out for the Wednesday night group ride (meet at the Plazl at 6:30pm) with 47 other people, and was utterly exhausted after two hours of barely hanging on to the intermediate group.

Good riding in Kimberley

Good riding in Kimberley

Some sweet trails

Some sweet trails

We packed up on the 13th, reluctant to leave our little paradise in Kimberley, but excited to connect with friends in the next lovely mountain town, Fernie…

Campground neighbour

Campground neighbour

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The Glass House

We left Nelson on June 7, 2013, and caught the free ferry over to Crawford Bay.  Crawford Bay is home to several artisans – broom maker, glass blower, and weaver, to name a few – and we stopped in to check out some of their beautiful work.

On the ferry

On the ferry

Ella has an in-depth conversation with a local artisan

Ella has an in-depth conversation with a local artisan

Then we headed further south along the Kootenay Lake to The Glass House.  I had heard of this glass house before, and Peter had been there several years ago.  I imagined that it was a little playhouse made of bottles, so I was quite impressed to see the real deal.

For $10 I did a little tour of the house and grounds.  The house, as it turns out, is full-sized and was built to live in by a Mr. Brown and his wife.  As an undertaker in Alberta, he had saved the empty bottles that were once full of embalming fluid, determined to make use of them instead of throwing them out. He asked others to save the bottles too, and in 1952, he began construction of his house on Kootenay Lake.

Pictures of the construction of the house

Pictures of the construction of the house

Lots and lots of bottles

Lots and lots of bottles

The inside of the house was finished in 1953 and Mr. Brown and his wife lived in it together until he died in the early ‘70’s.  Around 600,000 bottles were used to construct the house and other features on the property.  Because of the interest shown by people passing through, the house was opened to visitors in the summer and staff continues to live in the house during the summer season.

Jackie in front of the glass house

Jackie in front of the glass house

The Glass House is such a cool place and definitely worth a stop.  Mr. Brown was a man ahead of his time!

Awesome landscaping down to the lake

Awesome landscaping down to the lake

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Nelson, BC

“The good news is, all of the vampires will soon be dead.”  And so began an eye-opening, albeit brief, conversation that Peter had with someone on Baker Street in Nelson, BC.

Nelson is full of all sorts of interesting people, which makes it a pretty interesting place.  For a community of around 10,000 people, it has an amazing selection of shops and two of the most fabulous grocery stores I’ve ever seen: the Kootenay Co-op and Ellison’s Market (bulk quinoa flour, coconut ice cream, raw desserts at the deli – my mind is still reeling!).

Enjoying ice cream on Baker Street

Enjoying ice cream on Baker Street

We stayed at the Nelson City Campground for four nights and quite enjoyed it.  It’s not the place to go for privacy or seclusion, but it’s a great spot if you want to explore downtown Nelson – within walking distance of the shops on Baker Street and the waterfront.

Nelson City Campground with a decent view of Kootenay Lake in the background

Nelson City Campground with a decent view of Kootenay Lake in the background

Peter and I had been to Nelson several years ago to snowboard at Whitewater Ski Resort, home to the famous Whitewater cookbooks.  We were excited to learn that there was a Whitewater food truck in town for the summer, and had to check it out.  The giddy patron ahead of us at the food truck summed it up: “What an unexpected treat!”

"Serving world famous Pow Chow" - love it!

“Serving world famous Pow Chow” – love it!

We spent one afternoon walking down by Kootenay Lake and then hopped on Nelson’s one-and-only, volunteer-driven, electric streetcar.

Peter dresses appropriately for our streetcar ride

Peter dresses appropriately for our streetcar ride

How cool would it be to have a streetcar in your community!?

How cool would it be to have a streetcar in your community!?

The streetcar took us to a great playground and beach area, that we went back to visit again.  A beach in town?  Seemed like a pretty sweet deal to us (although we could’ve done without the goose poop).

Playing at the beach

Playing at the beach

We also did a day-trip out to Ainsworth Hot Springs, about 45 minutes north of Nelson.  It was great to soak in the hot mineral water and take in the beautiful scenery, but the neatest part was walking through the caves.  The caves are dark, hot and steamy, and water drips off the stalactites as you walk through the waist-deep hot springs.  It’s a neat experience, but without the lights on, it could be the type of place that nightmares are made of.  Just sayin’.

A pretty nice place to relax!

A pretty nice place to relax!

The Caves (cue scary music)

The Caves (cue scary music)

To sum up:

  • Nelson has beautiful mountains, a lake, a ski hill, a streetcar, great food, and great shopping
  • goose poop on the beach is gross
  • Ainsworth Hot Springs are lovely, as long as the lights stay on
  • vampires might want to settle elsewhere
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Rossland, BC

We left Osoyoos on May 28, 2013, and spent one night at the Kettle River RV Park.  It was a nice little campground in the middle of nowhere, with lots of green space to run around in.  The next day we landed at Skands Campground in Christina Lake, with a great view of the lake from our trailer.  Peter rented an inflatable paddle board from WildWays Adventure Sports down the road, and we each enjoyed a few different paddling sessions in between rain storms.

Our site by the beach at Skands Campground

Our site by the beach at Skands Campground

Paddling on Christina Lake

Paddling on Christina Lake

Then we moved on to the lovely little mountain town of Rossland, BC.  We had been to Rossland a couple of times before, so our arrival there seemed to mark the beginning of the end – with only a month to go, we were entering territory so close to home, that we’d been there before!

Rossland is a town that’s easy to fall in love with.  Snowboarding at Red Mountain, and amazing cross-country skiing in the winter, great mountain biking in the summer, and a wonderful little main street with an amazing grocery store – what’s not to love?

We camped at the Lions Campground, which was close to downtown and only $22/night with full hook-ups.  The campground was a great place for Ella to rip around on her bikes (yes, she has two) and for bears to roam around at night (one tenter left her food bin out and had a visitor).

Our site at the Lions Campground in Rossland

Our site at the Lions Campground in Rossland

Yeehaw!

Yeehaw!

We were able to meet up with our friends, Jackie and Dan, and their little cuties, Marshal and Danika.  Ella was quite excited to host another family at our trailer for an evening and she had a blast playing with the kids.

Danika, Ella & Marshal - good times in the trailer!

Danika, Ella & Marshal – good times in the trailer!

Jackie (the other Jackie, that is) takes the kids for a stroll down main street Rossland

Jackie (the other Jackie, that is) takes the kids for a stroll down main street Rossland

We also had a great visit with our friend Brian and his wife, Tara.  The boys got out for three days of riding and I was thrilled to get out for a ladies’ ride too.

Jackie, Tara & Shelley before riding Monticola

Jackie, Tara & Shelley before riding Monticola

We even had a nice evening out to celebrate Brian’s birthday.

Brian's birthday - let's just say there's now a 4 in his age

Brian’s birthday – let’s just say there’s now a ‘4’ in his age

There’s just something about Rossland, something that makes you want to come back, and we’re certainly looking forward to our next visit!

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A Sampling of Okanagan Wineries

The Okanagan area of BC is famous for its fruit (think Okanagan cherries – so delish!) and it’s also become famous in more recent years for its wine. In fact, there are so many wineries in the Okanagan, it’s completely overwhelming!

All of those black dots are wineries!

All of those black dots are wineries!

My mom informed me that one of her magazines contained a Family Fun Guide and inside, it suggested families “do a winery tour in the Okanagan.” I can tell you that Ella would recommend otherwise, but for all of her complaining, she made out okay with complimentary crackers and juice.

Here is a brief synopsis of our Okanagan winery tour:

Kelowna:

  • Mission Hill – seemed to be the mack-daddy of wineries, with beautifully groomed grounds (remember that amphitheatre that Ella was rolling down?), fabulous views, a high-end restaurant, and a fancy-schmancy tasting room/gift store.  Tastings were $8 (the most expensive we encountered), with $4 refunded if you purchased two bottles.  I liked their Pinot Blanc and we both liked the Reserve Shiraz.
    Tasting at Mission Hill

    Tasting at Mission Hill

     

  • St. Hubertus – The only winery we visited in Kelowna that didn’t charge for tastings!  (And, might I add, their gift store items were considerably cheaper than other wineries.)  I really liked all of the white wines we tried here, especially the Pinot Blanc.  We also enjoyed the Gamay Noir.
St. Hubertus Winery
St. Hubertus Winery

Summerland:

  • Sumac Ridge – We stopped here on our way into Summerland and enjoyed free tastings.  We liked their sparkling wines and their Black Sage Vineyard Pipe (port-style wine).  We also purchased a couple of bottles of their Ridge Red, which we were told is only available at the winery.  I think it was $13.99 (which made it one of the cheapest bottles of wine available in the Okanagan) and it was a really easy-drinking wine, made from a blend of zinfandel and pinot noir grapes.

    Sumac Ridge Winery

    Sumac Ridge Winery

  • Dirty Laundry – Overall, this was our very favourite winery.  It’s named after a laundry business in Summerland in the late 1800’s, that expanded into a brothel and gambling spot, hence “Dirty” Laundry.  They have a theme going, and it starts in the parking lot, and continues onto the outdoor patio and into the tasting room/gift shop.  Tastings were free and we loved all of their white wines (except the chardonnay).  The gewürztraminers were especially tasty!  I would highly recommend a stop at this winery on any Okanagan tour!
Dirty Laundry parking lot
Dirty Laundry parking lot
Inside the store
Inside the store
Dirty Laundry Vineyard in Summerland, BC
Dirty Laundry Vineyard in Summerland, BC

Naramata:

  • Ruby Blues Winery – Friends recommended this winery to us and we were not disappointed.   I love red wine, but generally speaking, I find that Canadian wineries produce much better white wine than red.  However, the Red Stiletto at Ruby Blues was really quite tasty!  The White Stiletto and their Viognier were also very nice.
    A funky little winery called Ruby Blues

    A funky little winery called Ruby Blues

  • Blasted Church – I love the labels on the Blasted Church bottles and we enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, as well as a blended white called Hatfield’s Fuse.  The tasting room is a bit small, but tastings were free.
Awesome label designs at Blasted Church
Awesome label designs at Blasted Church

Osoyoos:

  • Road 13 – We’ve tried wines from Road 13 before and really enjoyed Honest John’s Red.  Plus, their logo has a tractor on it.  Enough said.  (As a side note, we would not recommend driving up to this winery with an RV.  You may find yourself backing uphill into someone’s driveway to get turned around…)
    Good wine and tractors - Peter was in heaven!

    Good wine and tractors – Peter was in heaven!

    Road 13 Winery

    Road 13 Winery

     

  • Moon Curser – This winery was just outside of Osoyoos.  We loved the labels and enjoyed the wine, but they were lacking in the gift shop department.
We liked this red wine and the label is great!
We liked this red wine and the label is great!

We really only sampled a few wineries and there are so many more to explore.  But as I type this, I’m sipping on wine from a box, because the bottles we bought in the Okanagan are much too expensive to open in our trailer!

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South Okanagan, BC

We left Kelowna on May 22, 2013, and headed further south in the Okanagan to Summerland.  Marie had arranged for us to park our trailer at her sister’s place, and Carol and Tony were most welcoming.  Not only did they let us camp in their driveway, they also invited us in for some wine (actually, a lot of wine) and a delicious meal.  It was a great night and Ella walked away with yet another stuffed animal…

Tony at his beautiful spot in Summerland

Tony at his beautiful spot in Summerland

Yes, we now have a giant duck to go with our singing cow!

Yes, we now have a giant duck to go with our singing cow!

Our next stop was south of Penticton, in the small town of Okanagan Falls.  We set up at the Surf and Sand RV Park for three nights, but could’ve stayed much longer because it was such a nice spot.  We had a great view of Skaha Lake from our trailer, a sweet community playground to the east, a garden and walking trail to the west, and a grocery store just south of us.  And since we were there in May, we practically had the whole place to ourselves!

View of Skaha Lake from our trailer

View of Skaha Lake from our trailer

Looking at the campground from the lake

Looking at the campground from the lake

We spent an afternoon riding on the Kettle Valley Railway Trail (which is really great for the first 4km from Okanagan Falls, then disappears and re-appears randomly after that).

KVR Trail along Skaha Lake

KVR Trail along Skaha Lake

We also hit the Saturday market in Penticton, which was unexpectedly huge – it just kept going and going!

Saturday market in Penticton

Saturday market in Penticton

And we stopped for lunch in Naramata, and paid a visit to the paddle board shop in town.

Picnic lunch in Naramata

Picnic lunch in Naramata

Naramata

Naramata

We travelled further south to Osoyoos, which is right next to the U.S. border, and spent a couple of nights at the fancy Island View RV Park. The weather was great while we were there and Osoyoos seemed like a neat little town.  We rented paddle boards one afternoon, and had a great time paddling along the shore.  If you’re interested in Stand Up Paddling and you’re visiting Osoyoos, visit Coreena at Cottonwood Beach and she will set you up.

Island View RV Park

Island View RV Park

At the end of a lovely paddle on Osoyoos Lake

At the end of a lovely paddle on Osoyoos Lake

We really felt lucky to be able to travel through this whole area of BC in the spring.  The weather was great, but not too hot, and nothing was busy.  From what we’ve heard, the Okanagan can be a very busy place in the summer months.

We hit a few of the many wineries while we were there too, but more on that in the next post…

Sunset in Osoyoos

Sunset in Osoyoos

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Kelowna, BC

On May 18, 2013, I flew from Edmonton to Kamloops after my grandma’s memorial (Peter and Ella had stayed there while I was gone).  The next day we packed up the trailer and headed south to Kelowna.  We made a quick stop in Vernon at Kalamalka Lake to demo some paddle boards from Kalavida Surf Shop (which, by the way, is a fantastic shop to visit if you’re interested in Stand Up Paddling).

Peter tests out the paddle he made

Peter tries out a board and tests out the paddle he made

Then we traveled a little further south to drop off the trailer at my brother’s father-in-law’s place (sounds so complicated!) and continued on to Kelowna to stay with my godparents, Reg and Marie.  We hadn’t seen them since our wedding in 2006, so they were excited to meet Ella, and she certainly kept them entertained!  Their daughter, Marnie, also dropped by and Ella had her digging out all sorts of goodies from the toy box.

Ella & Marnie find the party hats on the first night

Ella & Marnie find the party hats on the first night

The next day, we went for a walk at the Myra Canyon Trestles, a restored section of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail.  We only walked a section of the trail, but in total, Myra Canyon includes 18 trestles and two tunnels – great for hiking or biking.

I think he sat up there just to scare Marie!

I think he sat up there just to scare Marie!

Reg & Ella at the entrance to one of the tunnels

Reg & Ella at the entrance to one of the tunnels

Myra Canyon Trestles

Myra Canyon Trestles

Then we stopped at a few wineries to taste some wine and take in the incredible views (more about the wine later).  This, by the way, was the beginning of Ella declaring that “wineries are boring.”  However, she did have some fun repeatedly rolling down the amphitheatre hill at Mission Hill Winery, much to the delight of onlookers.

The amphitheatre at Mission Hill Winery - great for rolling down

The amphitheatre at Mission Hill Winery – great for concerts and rolling down

"Wineries are boring, right Marie?"

“Wineries are boring, right Marie?”

On our last day in Kelowna, we met up with Marnie for some fun at the H2O Centre pool (an amazing facility) and then a tasty lunch downtown.

Lunch at the Twisted Tomato

Lunch at the Twisted Tomato

And then we were off to pick up our trailer and continue the trek south through the Okanagan.  Thanks for the hospitality Marie, Reg and Marnie.  And, ummm, thanks for giving Ella that stuffed singing cow.  We just love listening to it over and over and over, in the confined space of our trailer…

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My Grandma

My grandma was born on April 15, 1927 in Lamont, Alberta.  She was raised on the family farm near Bruderheim, along with her two brothers and twin sisters.  She was the second oldest.

Grandma, back in the day

Grandma, back in the day

She married my grandpa in 1948 and before he passed away, they celebrated 61 years of marriage together.  They had three children, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Grandma & Grandpa - I love this photo!

Grandma & Grandpa – I love this photo!

In the ‘70’s they started to travel and Europe was their first big trip.  Then they went to Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and Fiji. They also went to Hawaii several times; cruised to Mexico, the Panama Canal and Alaska, and even drove up to Dawson City and Inuvik.

In Hawaii

In Hawaii

Her kids remember that when they were young, if they didn’t like what was being served for a meal, Grandma would always remind them that she used to take mustard sandwiches for her school lunch.  And it was those mustard sandwiches that would keep her going through the long bike rides to school, and to another town to play softball – probably uphill both ways!

Everyone remembers Grandma’s homemade bread and her famous crushed potatoes.  If Grandma was making bread, every surface of the kitchen would be covered with loaves of fresh bread, buns, and cinnamon buns.  And when it was time to make crushed potatoes, she would make enough to fill a freezer!  A well-traveled relative vows that Grandma made the best biscuits, and her chocolate layer cake has been made for every family birthday for as long as I can remember.  Without a doubt, she could work magic in the kitchen.

Everyone also remembers Grandma’s handiwork.  Ceramics, needlepoint, crocheting and knitting – she was always busy with some sort of craft.  And she was willing to teach others, although most family members were poor students.  More importantly, she was willing to create these things for us, so that everyone in the family now has at least one of her crocheted blankets sitting on the back of their couch at home.

I remember my grandparents being around every summer at our family cabin at Amisk Lake, and I remember visiting them in Vegreville, on my own.  I remember picking berries with Grandma, and her nonchalant attitude when I told her that I’d just seen a bear.  I remember that she never cried, but that she had tears in her eyes when I said good-bye before moving to Japan for two years.  I remember that when we decided to get married in Nova Scotia over six years ago, she and Grandpa hopped on a plane to be there with us.

Grandma & Grandpa at our wedding in Nova Scotia

Grandma & Grandpa at our wedding in Nova Scotia

All of these memories are my grandma.  She traveled… before it was the thing to do.  She played ball… without using a glove.  She made delicious meals… without relying on recipes.  And she helped others… without asking for anything in return.  On May 4, 2013, Grandma passed away at the age of 86.  We will all miss her, but in our memories, she will live on.

Grandma & Grandpa - April 2004

Grandma & Grandpa – February 2005

Visiting Crowsnest Pass after the Calgary Stampede

Visiting Crowsnest Pass after the Calgary Stampede – July 2006

Grandma with Baby Ella, January 2009

Grandma with Baby Ella – January 2009

Jackie, Ella & Grandma

Jackie, Ella & Grandma – three generations

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