We almost always go camping on July Long Weekend with my cousin and his family. I look forward to it every year because it`s much more enjoyable when you do it with other people and it`s the only time that Greg is not insanely crazy about getting up and hiking early. He doesn`t like that part of it but has come to accept it over the years hahah. We have always been really lucky when it comes to the weather - nothing too cold, lots of warm weather and perhaps a little rain overnight or on pack up day but never a full out rainy day. This year, however, the forecast was not promising. But as we got closer to the weekend, it appeared to get better so we were optimistic that we would be ok.
Despite no rain on Friday when we arrived, it was really cold. Most of the weekend was spent wearing toques. Mittens not so much, but definitely toques. Also, note that she is wearing socks with her flip flops. She is definitely her father`s daughter haha.
Two years ago, Penelope got this awesome gift for her birthday. It has been a staple in our camping bin and a huge hit with kids and adults alike. I love playing this with the girls! They currently sell them at Chapters and at Mastermind and you should look into getting one because it`s a fun way to keep the kids occupied when they get bored camping.
When we arrived at our campsite at Two Jack the mosquitos were insane. They were probably the largest I have ever seen and the amount of them were even more insane. SO MANY MOSQUITOS. I had taken the bug spray out of the car and threw it in one of the soccer bags which was now inside our house in calgary and so we were left with no bug sprary when we truly needed it the most. We hopped in our vehicle and went into town to get some and on our way home, we took the lake minnewanka loop to look for animals and then stopped for a quick view of the lake. There are few things more prettier then a lake and a mountain in the same photo!
On our first night at our campsite, I was talking to my cousin`s wife when I looked into the green space that made our loop a loop and was like look there`s a dog and then I was like that`s not a dog, it is a bear!! Penelope was sitting by the fire so I made her get into the car and then Finley was getting ready for bed since she was exhausted and I made her get out of the tent and into the car. Once they were both safely in my vehicle did I stop to take photos. Because if there are no photos, did it actually happen?? Once I got enough photos, I shut my car door and it scared him off. The girls named him Smores The Bear. Greg followed it out of our loop so he could tell the park ranger where the bear was going. The bear did not look dangerous or scary and was just playing in the grass like a dog would at a park. It looked like it wanted to lay on their back and have their belly rubbed like pizza did. The bear already had a tag on its ear and it was known to the park rangers so most likely this bear will be relocated outside of the park. The bear never did come back and it was the only bear we ended up seeing all weekend.
On Saturday, we decided to do Goat Creek for a bike ride. But we couldn`t come to an agreement on how to do the parking and biking and such so we decided to park at the spray river entrance near the Banff Springs Hotel and bike to the bridge and picnic area and turn back. I think we did about 12 - 16k which was pretty nice. Some hills were tough though and we did end up walking our bike up some of them Going down the hills was fun though. Greg and the girls and I did it a few years ago from Canmore to Banff and it twas so much fun! It started to rain a little as we finished up but it felt kinda nice because we were so hot.
This was our turn around spot on our bike ride. Not a bad place to have lunch.
We went back into town and did some shopping and got some starbucks and ice cream. It had started to rain pretty hard which is never really that much fun but at least it happened while we were not shopping and not biking or back at our campsite.
But the best part about the rain and being on Banff Ave was that it make everybody disappear. This was taken as I crossed the street late Saturday afternoon on a long weekend and it looks deserted! This might be one of my most favorite photos ever of Banff Ave. The rain didn`t last into the evening so were able to sit around the fire and enjoy the evening.
Sunday morning was quite chilly so we were enjoying the morning fire and hot beverages. Another reason I like camping with my family is because we get morning fires. Greg has never had a morning fire when it is just us 4 camping. It was definitely appreciated on this chilly morning.
It was starting to rain a lot on Sunday so we got a tarp up over the fire. You would think this would be a fire hazard but other campers had been doing the same thing all weekend. Getting to keep dry while enjoying the fire on a rainy evening in the mountains is key. An inexepensive tarp is now going in our camping bin for things like this haha.
On Sunday, we were originally going to hike up Tunnel Mountain but my cousin lost the pin for his bike rack so he needed to go to the Canadian Tire in Canmore to find a replacemement so we decided to Grassi Lakes instead. This was a major parenting fail because somehow Greg and I were both prepared for the rainy cold weather but our kids left all of their stuff back at the tent. Greg is also a better parent then I am because he gave his rain coat to Finley and his umbrella and wind jacket to penelope so they would stay dry and warm. Eventually it stopped and Greg got a jacket back because he was really cold haha.
Me standing on the edge. Greg is afraid of heights and this stresses him out big time which is partially why I do it haha.
Grassi Lakes is one of my favorite hikes ever. Someone once told me it was one of the top ten geological wonders of the world and as much as I love it, I often wonder if that is true or just a Calgarian being egotistical?? Regardless I love it and the views are spectacular. If you ever get the chance to do it, take the hard way and not the easy way. The hard way has the best views and is actually easier unitl you get to the top and you have to go straight up. Take the easy way down. You can thank me later haha. Although, I do believe the road to Grassi Lakes is closed as of this past Monday for road upgrades so look before you go hike.
Family photo # 1 of the hike. Nice mountain views. Happy Birthday Canada!! What a fabulous place to celebrate the birth of our great country!
Seriously I LOVE ths hike. It is so easy, it is short and the payoff is insane.
Last photo, I promise.
Ok I lied, there was one more but it is one of us in the caves. Both family photos will be printed and displayed in our house if I ever get around to it haha.
Sunday night, we headed down to the park for the FIreworks. We got there about a half an hour before they started and listened to the live music. Soon after this photo was taken, it got full really fast and people were dancing like crazy in front of the stage on the other stage.
Penelope had fallen asleep from the campsite to the townsite and was really grouchy when we got there. She was wearing socks with flip flops again and refused to put on her hiking shoes or running shoes. She got out of the car and was walking down the path and walked right through a puddle. Her feet were now cold and wet and she was so mad so we improvised and I let her use my mitts to keep her feet warm.
This year, Banff had a pyro light show and quiet fireworks. Apparently the noise of the fireworks scares the wild life, which I totally understand but these were terrible. The fireworks shot into the sky but there were no bursts. I don`t think we would ever come back for these again if they continue this way.
We drove back to the campsite and crawled into bed only to be woken a few hours later with Finley full on puking all over our tent. It was literally one of the worst things that has ever happened while camping. I don`t know how anything could be worse than that. I really don`t. We got it all cleaned up there and then headed back to calgary early the next morning. And then we had to clean out the tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, the clothes and towels that were used to clean it all up. It was like reliving it all over again. So not a good way to end our weekend hahah. Hopefully that never happens again!