Thursday, 21 June 2018

Panda Passage at the Calgary Zoo

To say I have been waiting forever for the pandas to arrive in Calgary is an understatement.  Outside of big cats like the snow leopard or other similar big cats, Pandas are my favorite zoo animal.  I remember spending summers in Calgary and the pandas coming here in 1988 and getting to go with my Aunty and Uncle.  I remember the gas station that my uncle went to having souveniers that I got to have. It was the best.  I have been also lucky enough to see them twice at the San Diego Zoo. 


Thanks to a very busy soccer schedule and no days off, the pandas were here for almost a month before I got to see them and had I not been a volunteer for Penelope`s field trip to the zoo, I probably wouldn`t have gone until July when school was out.  We have had annual passes here since Finley was a baby but they expired earlier this year and we are no longer renewing them because we just don`t have the time to get here as often as we need to to make the pass work.  


Panda Passage is where the elephants and the rhino used to live.  The komodo dragons still live in the building and are back after being relocated during the renovations to the building.  The camels are also back much to Finley`s delight and that is who you get to hang out with while you are waiting to get into the Panda building.  Papa camel was in a good mood and happily entertaining those of us who waited to get in.  From 9-10am, the building is only open to zoo members.  I have no idea what the different levels are or if all are included in it, so you will need to look into it.  Once it turns to 10am, there are 2 line ups: one for those with timed tickets and those who don`t.  When I looked online to see how to get the timed ticket, you have to pick a time slot when you buy your ticket.  Both lines were equally long and we didn`t wait very long at all to get in. 


Only 5 days before the camels welcomed a baby camel into the fold and man is it cute.  We watched it eat, walk around and nap.  It was seriously one of the best parts of the zoo that day.  Nothing beats baby animals. 


Finally we got in to see the Pandas and despite how orderly and organized the zoo staff seem to be with the line ups outside, the same cannot be said for what was going on inside.  To say that it was a chaotic disaster was a understatement.  And while the zoo was packed with a ton of students and little kids, it was the adults who were the worst behaved. Having been to the panda display in San Diego, I had assumed that it would be a similar set up where you followed a line into the area and it was roped off so it was orderly and single file and everybody got to see all the pandas and there was no pushing and shoving.  It was actually so crazy that the kids in my group weren`t even interested in the animals which was sad because I know Penelope was looking forward to it a lot.  They did such a good job with the lemurs that i am surprised that the pandas were not as organzied. 


The kids were also quite sad that the papa panda was all alone on one side while the mama and two cubs were on the other side.  I am assuming it was because they don`t want the pandas to be procreating anymore but I can`t say for sure becasue there was nobody to ask about it. 


Naptime for one of the pandas,  I have no idea if this is a mom or baby haha.  I wasn`t able to get a good photos of the third panda we saw.


The last panda we saw was by far the best.  She was rolling around, playing and eating. It was fun to watch her play even briefly.  If I remember correctly, we only get the baby cubs in Calgary for 18months before they are returned to china while the other 2 stay for the whole time we get them. 


Outside of the panda passage is where the majority of the renovations were done.  Inside, you can still see where the elephants and rhino lived but the outside is brand new and much larger.  


Another part of the outside display.  It was not busy at all because everybody was inside with the pandas.  When you leave, you have to exit through the panda store which is full of every souvenier with pandas on that you can think of.  

It was cool to see all of the pandas but honestly, it was so chaotic that the pandas won`t make me come back again too soon.  I will probably take Finley to see them when my sister comes to visit and then probably not again unitl it calms down and becomes enjoyable.  I do recommend going to see the pandas but just be prepared for the chaos that comes along with it. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Fish Creek Mountain Bike Skills Park

I think the bike park opened last summer in Fish Creek but I guess it could have been around for much longer but I hadn`t heard about it until last summer anyways.  Greg and Finley went a few weeks ago and Finley loved it and Penelope was pretty upset that she had to go to soccer instead.  Mondays are our only days that we don`t have soccer so we took advantage of a nice evening and headed over.  


The bike park is located in the Burnsmead section of Fish Creek. If you are familiar with the area, it is down near the Bow Valley Ranch entrance.  Depending on where you live, you can park here or like us, it made sense to park at the Sikome Lake entrance and then ride over to the bike park.  It was only about 2k of flat road from the parking lot to the park which was way faster and easier then driving all the way around to the actual entrance. 


In what felt like forever, we made it to the skills park.  This is the back entrance to it.  To be honest, I thought it was pretty lame when I saw this at first.


Another photo of the bike park from closer to the front of it.



Greg and the girls doing the green and blue loops.  I didn`t attempt these haha. 


The girls did this loop several times and loved it so much!


Penelope at the top of the hill - another part of the skills park that I didn`t attempt haha. 


Greg said that when he and Finley went just the two of them, she was going good at her own pace but when Penelope came with, she fell off her bike 3x trying to keep up with Penelope who has absolutely zero fear when it comes to stuff like this. Also, I really love this photo of Finley. 


They have clean bathrooms near the parking lot but they are stifling hot.  


Racing around the hills again.


There were a far amount of people there but nothing too crazy and everybody was pretty courteous of everyone around them. I did get bored of riding around in circles because I am lame and decided to go for a bigger bike ride inside the park before coming back and doing more laps around the circle.  The paths were too narrow for me to want to anything remotely fun in the words of my kids. 


Greg and the girls had the best time at the skills park and are looking forward to when we get to do it again.  As much as I didn`t love it, I know we will be back again soon and I am happy that we have such a fun space for the kids that is relatively close by.  If you live in the south, or you don`t mind driving across the city, regardless of age, you should really check it out for yourselves!!  It is open daily until 9pm although I am not sure if they close the gates at that time or not. 


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

May Long Weekend Camping Trip In The Elbow Valley

In I guess what I would call better late then never, here is the post on our camping trip on May Long Weekend - which was almost a month ago.  Actually I think it was a month ago on Saturday or Sunday hahaha.  I have been struggling with continuing this blog or not and most of my posts have not been written or are sitting in my draft section unfinished.  Anyways......on to May Long Weekend.


We were driving home from Penelope`s soccer game in Nolan HIll (which if you are not familiar with, is like basically almost in Red Deer from our house and I am not even exaggerating and sadly, Penelope is there again tomorrow night) and it had been hot all week long and Greg was like we should go see if we can get a campsite along highway 22/66 and for reasons that I don`t quite understand myself, I agreed.  We dropped the kids off at home with my mom and grabbed our tent and headed out on the highway.  We are blessed to live about 30 minutes from campgrounds in the elbow valley but unfortunately that means so many others are too haha.  We hit up them all before finding the last site that wasn`t a walk up in the last campground on highway 66.  We (and by we, i mean greg haha) set up the tent in the rain and then drove back home.


This was the view zoomed in from our campsite.  I think it is called Beaver Flats or something like that.  It is just down from Elbow Falls and Beaver Lodge.  It had rained all day in Calgary and soccer was cancelled so we were able to get away earlier then we had planned. 


However, it was also raining at our campground so we were basically limited to what we could do haha.  We ate some chips and played some skip bo before heading to bed.  


It was very cold out on Friday morning and I was so desperately wanting to go home.  Thankfully I remembered some earl grey tea and my yeti and was warmed up by the goodness of my tea that stayed warm for a long time.  Greg made us bacon and thats it because we forgot to buy gluten free pancake mix at superstore before we headed out.


We had planned on hiking Forgetmenot Pond which is one of my favorite places to go to but unfortunately it was closed due to renovations of some kind.  I assume they are making the parking lot bigger but I have no idea really.  A lot of the hikes in the area are way harder then I was willing to do since I was running the Calgary Marathon the following weekend and so I was only on board for short, flat and easy.  That doesn`t leave us with a lot of options.  We did find a short flat hike to do although it was more like a walk then a hike to be honest. 


Greg again taught the girls how to skip rocks since they always forget.  They were able to skip them pretty far.


The girls climbed some rocks while I walked behind and beside haha.  Greg had climbed them ahead of them.  This might have been their favorite part. 


We kept going along the path and there was a lot of water flooding the paths that made for some fun adventures trying to navigate them.


Eventually we had to turn around since the water was too high and there was no safe way for all of us to get across to the other side of the path.  On our way back, we saw a few beaver dens being built.  I was so over camping and being cold and Greg asked me if I wanted to go home and they would camp the second night just the three of them.  I was totally on board with this but Penelope wanted me to stay so I did.  We went back to the campsite for lunch and Greg and the girls played skip bo and then I was still cold so I went to have a nap inside the tent. 



While I napped, Greg and the girls went for a bike ride over some hills and through some mud.  I like hills but not mad so not too sad that I missed out haha.   The girls had a lot of fun but were worried I would be mad because their clothes were dirty and muddy but I was like there is a reason they are camping clothes hahaha. 


By late afternoon, it finally warmed up and I wasn`t freezing anymore.  I think had we driven out Friday morning instead of Thursday during the rain I probably would have enjoyed the day more but I had gotten so cold Thursday night that I found it really hard to get rid of the chill.   Greg started a fire and we roasted some hot dogs for supper.  I had bought à bag of gluten free hotdog buns from Safeway that were soft and as good as regular gluten hot dog buns.  Greg pulled them out of the bag and was like they are still frozen and I was surprsed because they were never frozen in the first place but that was hard they were!!!  $7 for 6 hot dog buns that were inedible.  Thankfully Penelope doesn`t really like the buns because they made her sick a few years ago so she wasn`t too upset about it.


Soon it was time for smores.  We found gluten free graham crackers at Superstore and marsmallows are gluten free and aero bars are gluten free so she used that for her smore. It took her a few tries to get her marshmallow perfect...


But she soon had her perfected gluten free smore.  She said it was delicious and that is good news for us!


Finley was most proud of the marshmallow she got in her hair.  I was hoping it would attract bears to our tent and we would be evacuated but no such luck. 


We were up early on Saturday morning since we had to drive back to Calgary and holy cow it was cold.  It was so cold that we didn`t even eat breakfast there and just waited unitl we got home.  I wanted to get home so badly, that I even packed my own sleeping bag and if you know me, you know that is a BIG deal haha. 


We had frost all over tent, our car windows were covered in frost and I was charging my apple watch in the vehicle and it actually turned off because it was so cold.  That has never happened before.  It was far colder Saturday morning then it was on Friday but that was because all the clouds cleared making it colder.  I am so grateful that we had to be in Red Deer on Saturday for Madi`s graduation bbq and that we didn`t have to camp for another night or two hahah.  

It was by far the coldest camping of my life and I have declared that I will no longer go camping before Canada Day weekend.  Also, winter camping will never be on the table for me haha. 

Monday, 18 June 2018

Happy Father`s Day

So I had absolutely no plans for Father`s Day this year since Greg had planned a bike trip to Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Saskatchewan months ago. I had bought some frozen klondike reeses peanut butter sandwiches for when he got home Sunday night but that was it.  I even agreed to watch one of Penelope`s soccer teammates for a couple of hours after their game since he wasn`t going to be home.  So you can imagine the panic that set in on Saturday night when he texted me that they were coming home now instead of the following day.  Apparently Greg`s pedal broke and they decided to turn around early.  This was frustrating not because I had no plans for Sunday but because his bike was just replaced after being stolen last Thanksgiving.  


I told the kids that Greg would be home Saturday night and they wanted to make him breakfast in bed.  Penelope made this sign so that he would remember to sleep in which made me laugh because if there is one thing he is good at.......hahah. 


They wanted him to have broccoli and peppercorn ranch dip and some strawberries but weren`t sure about anything else.  So I made the egg and turkey cups in my pampered chef brownie pan and put some cheese on a few of them for Greg.  Then Penelope made him some coffee in the keurig.  We were upstairs with his breakfast before 8am so he didn`t really get to sleep in haha. 


Greg opened Penelope`s present first that she made at school.  She had been telling me about this all week and was very excited for it.  They made a gluten free (yay!) bbq rub and since Penelope knew that Greg loved using rubs when he bbq`s, it truly was a perfect gift for him. 


Just like she did for Mother`s Day, Finley went all out for Father`s Day.  Her first gift to Greg was the coupon shirt and she was quite excited for it.  He opened it and read the coupons and I started laughing because everything she said she would do for him are things I actually do.  I will use those coupons wisely haha. 


Next was this book she made for him and a door hanger that says Dad`s Day Off that I am sure will be out bedroom door forever haha. 


Finley was upset by this because the green she chose to paint it ended up going way too light after they do whatever it is they do to it.  The word is escaping me at the moment.  This is a pinch pod, not an ashtray like Greg said it was haha.  Apparently, a pinch pod is something where you store your change.  I had no idea!  Anyways, I love this very much and I think it will look great in our newly painted bedroom. 


Penelope had a soccer game at 11 yesterday and I made Greg be our linesperson much to his dismay haha. I am the team manager and have that kind of power haha.   The Premiers lost 3 - 1 which was our closest game of our season and Penelope scored the only goal.  She is the leading scorer on this team with 3 goals this season.  

We headed home after the game with Penelope`s teammate and I made grilled cheese for everybody.  Surprisingly, Penelope loves gluten free bread (yay!!).  Greg then changed the oil in my car and the kids played for a few hours until S was picked up.


After Greg finished with my car, he enjoyed some downtime on the deck with a beer watching the ribs he was bbq`ing smoke. 


We sat down to play a few rounds of Boggle which I completely dominated everybody haha. 


Greg cutting up the ribs that he made using the new rub Penelope made him.  For the record, I had no intention of making him cook on his day.  None.  I went to Sobeys this morning and looked to see what I could find that I knew I could make a good meal out of.  I saw the ribs so I bought them withe the plan of most likely making greek ribs and then I bought some corn on the cob to go with it.  When i told him what i had bought, he asked if I was bbq`ing them and since I have no idea how to use ours and it it is starting to die, that was a hard no from me.  He wanted bbq ribs so he took over the process and decided to smoke them.  Finley did make the corn on the cob though.  It was a very delicious meal. 


Our peanut butter klondike bars.  I actually had one bite and didn`t love them so Greg got a bonus one since it was his day.  The girls were not happy with this.  The three of them went on a bike ride to the pond and I had a nap.  When they got back, i went for my run and Greg got the girls ready for bed and he was watching TV when I got home. 

While it wasn`t a Sunday unlike most of our Sundays, it was nice to show Greg how much we appreciate all that he does for us since some days we all kinda forget.