Monday, August 27, 2012

Road Trip - Grasslands National Park, Part 2

After our morning of visiting the sites along the Ecotour, we went back to our campsite for lunch.  Daddy was busy cooking for us while Kirsi helped set the table...

and Aidan kept an eye on the tent.  :)

After lunch, we did the Riverwalk, as suggested by the girls at the tourist office.  The government has set up an XPlorers program for kids who visit national parks, which is great!  They have booklets with activities for the kids to do while visiting the park and it keeps the kids super interested in seeing the sites.  At this site, they had nets and buckets for kids to catch different river animals (putting them back afterwards, of course!).  Aidan and Kirsi were so excited to see what critters they could catch.

At the beginning of the walk, we saw The Three Sisters.

We wove our way through the tall prairie grasses towards the river.  Here's a cliff that's the bank of the river - look at the alkali on the shore.

It was so much fun watching Derwin and the kids keeping their eyes open for frogs, turtles and any other river critters.  Der showed them how to find frogs in the grass along the shore, by swishing the grass which would make them jump.

Where are those critters?

Rock walking:

I just loved this scene.

It was a hot walk back but we made it!

It was such a peaceful walk.  We wound along the path through the tall grasses, some shrubs, along the river and then back again.  You just heard nature all around you - the birds, the frogs, the insects, the wind.  I loved being alone in this world.  It's not often that you can feel that way. 

Cooling off in the shade of the tipi after the playground:

Some long-horned cattle in a pasture:

The bull that Derwin was trying to rev up.  That made the kids and I pretty nervous!

One of my favourite shots - a typical prairie scene.  This is what I love about being from here and what I missed so very much when we lived overseas.  This is the Saskatchewan that I love.

On our way back to the campground, we kept our eyes open for some wildlife.  We couldn't resist taking this photo - tons of prairie dogs and the bison grazing in amongst them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Road Trip - Grasslands National Park, Part 1

After visiting the petroglyphs at St. Victor, we headed west and then south towards Val Marie and Grasslands National Park.  Why did we choose the grasslands rather than some of the more northern lakes?  Most of you know that Derwin and I tend to do things that most tourists don't do and go on paths that fewer follow.  It's just the way we roll.  :D   Plus, we didn't want to have to reserve certain days and be locked into those days.  At Grasslands, they're never full so we figured that was the perfect place.

We were able to stay at the brand new campground at the park, the Frenchman River campground.  There are a couple taps of drinking water that you can use but other than that, there's no running water. That took a little getting used to but we managed.  :)  There was even a cookhouse for when the weather isn't great.  Here's our campsite with our tent set up:

This poor little grasshopper met with a sad fate on our van antenna:

One of the things I missed the most while living overseas were prairie sunsets.  Really, nothing beats prairie sunsets (though desert sunsets run a very close second).  I love, love, love it.

Here Der and the kids were using the telescopes to see if they could spot any wildlife in the valley.

Aidan and Kirsi really liked these rubber horse swings.

Our first night there, the meteor shower was happening but unfortunately, it was a little bit overcast so we weren't able to see a whole lot.  It took the kiddos a while to settle down for sleep - it was their first time sleeping in a tent (at least that they remember) after all!

The next morning we headed out to visit the area.  We followed the Ecotour and made some stops along the trail.  Here's picture of the kiddos and me on one of the stops:

The park is located in ranch country and is surrounded by ranches.  Here is a an old corral from a ranch that used to be on park land.

At one of the stops, there were some tipi rings from the Plains First Nations that lived in this area.  Here are Kirsi and Aidan on a huge rock that they came across while looking for the tipi rings:

Another stop was at the prairie dog colony which was on a crest of the Frenchman River Valley.  It was also along here where bison sometimes roam.  Aidan was a little nervous about encountering a bison so Daddy helped him out.

The prairie dogs were so cute - they chattered with one another and ran from hole to hole!  The kids liked trying to get as close as they could to a prairie dog before it ducked down into its hole.  Then they liked running to the hole and looking down it.

And we had to get a picture of the Texas gates that were along the road leading to the park.  We stopped on them a couple times so the kids could see that the bison couldn't get out and that the ranchers' cattle couldn't come in.

We spent the morning touring around the park itself, following the Ecotour.  Then we headed to the other side of the park for the afternoon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Road Trip, Part 1 - Willow Bunch and St. Victor

On Sunday, August 12th, we left Avonlea and headed south.  We wanted to stop at the Big Muddy, near Coronach, but we found out that most of the things to see are on private property so the best way to see anything is to book a tour of the Big Muddy.  Good to know.

So, we headed off to Willow Bunch to visit their museum.  We'd heard it was a good little museum so we figured we'd have a look.

We started off in the most popular gallery about the renowned giant from Willow Bunch, Édouard Beaupré.  He was born in 1881, the eldest of 20 children.  At the age of four, he began to grow more than normal.  By age 9, he was 6 feet tall and by the time he was 21 years old, he was 8 feet 2.5 inches.  He was an excellent horseman and initially wanted to do that for his living.  However, he decided to go on the road and became a star of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  In 1902, he contracted tuberculosis and in 1904, he died in St. Louis where he was to perform at the St. Louis World's Fair.

Derwin and the Willow Bunch Giant:  8' 3" compared to 6' 4"

Bison Hair Coat

Kirsi and Aidan in front of a replication of a tipi

Here is what the poles in the tipi represent.

After visiting the museum, we headed to St. Victor to see the petroglyphs carved into the sandstone outcropping.  The carvings are of bear paw, human footprints, animal tracks and human faces.  First we stopped for a picnic lunch.

Coulee at St. Victor


Bird house on a fence post

On our way to see the Petroglyphs

It was quite difficult to see the petroglyphs since they are carved on a horizontal surface and because we were there in the middle of the day.  But we did see a couple:

A view of the surrounding area:

One of the few remaining grain elevators.  Such a symbol of southern Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Fair

Kristin and I took Kirsi, Aidan and Teagan to the Queen City Ex on Saturday, August 4th.  Bruce wanted to come but wasn't feeling well at all so we took all three kiddos.  They had a blast!

One of Kirsi's favourites was the swings:

All of them loved the car race, especially going around the corners:

Aidan's favourite was the bees.  Good thing because we had to wait in line for a long time for it.  :)

Who doesn't like the carousel?

And the gigantic slides are lots of fun too!

And we finished off the day with some games:

They wanted to keep going but the lines were soooo long this year.  I was getting hot and tired so we left before they were ready.  But that's OK - they had a blast!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kinder Grad

I can't believe that I forgot to post about Kirsi's Kinder Grad!  *blush*  Better late than never, right?

It was held on Monday, June 25th with all 40+ kids from the kindergarten classes.  It was a really sweet program - lots of singing and performing for us.  We decided to have her wear her flower girl's dress from Kristin and Dean's wedding and Gramma did her hair up very prettily so she was a fancy girl that day.

Proud brother:

Proud mommy and daddy:

Kirsi with Mrs. Bailey:

Phuket - Be Nice or Get Out

The second part of our December break was spent in a little AirBnB 3m from the beach in Phuket, Thailand. The majority of our time was spe...