July was all about reconnecting with family in Vancouver and Calgary. We traded Artie for our car, checked in again with our moms in the Vancouver area, and then drove the 900km from Vancouver to Calgary.
Since we were a little ahead of schedule, we stayed the night in Sicamous and had enough time to look around a bit. A drive up to a parasailing launch platform provided stunning views of Shuswap Lake and valley below.
We can also recommend a visit to D Dutchmen Dairy for ice cream, or to buy their cheese or chocolate milk. This is a great place for kids to visit calves and to observe a milking operation. Across the street is Fruit World, a produce stand.
Returning from breakfast the next morning, we discovered that our explorations the day before had left us with a flat front tire. Really close to our hotel was an OK Tire. Ken quickly threw the temporary tire on and we drove to the tire shop just as they opened. Busy as they were, we were taken care of right away with a repair, and they even swapped out the temporary with the fixed tire, saving us the trouble. We were so pleased that a nasty surprise turned out to be relatively painless and held us up for less than an hour.
We made it to Calgary in time to see our grandson’s end-of-year after-school program talent show, where he surprised us with a wee tune that he had been practicing on the ukulele we had given him. The next day we joined him at the program’s end-of-year activities. He was a little wild and terrifying, but once he’d had a bath he settled down into his usually tame and lovable self.
While Alex and his parents (son Kyle and daughter-in-law Candice) headed off for a Canada Day weekend camping trip with Candice’s family, we settled in and joined the festivities in Calgary at Princes Island Park. One of the coolest events we came across was Turban, Eh?, a cross-country program where members of the Sikh community wrapped hundreds (or possibly thousands) of heads with red or white turbans, explaining the significance of this traditional garb. As we wandered the park and rode along the pathways, it was fantastic to see the variety of folks who engaged with the program and wore their Canadian red and white a little differently this year.
With Canada Day over, Calgary dives into stampede season, which also means pancake season. We took Alex to the giant Chinook Centre shopping mall event where they feed and entertain many tens of thousands of visitors.
Ken and I also checked out some unusual and tasty treats at the much smaller and rainier (but very busy) 4th Street Pancake Showdown where several restaurants along 4th Street SW vied for the glory of a people’s choice win. Our favourites included Vin Room’s Chinese chive cake with hoisin syrup and five-spice creme fraiche, and Añejo’s Key Lime Flapjacks (buttermilk pancakes with lime cream cheese, shredded coconut, fresh mint, and maple syrup). Plain old pancakes will never taste the same!
Of course, we fit in a trip to the Calgary Stampede with Alex. First time we picked a family day, which offered a free pancake breakfast, free entry, and entertainment on the big stage. It wasn’t the same as watching the night-time spectacle (which we need to take Alex to one of these years), but it was a fun and very cost-effective way to visit the stampede with a 6-year-old.
Alex was thrilled about attending some awesome summer camps and we were able to help with a few of the drop-offs and pick-ups while we were there (more time to spend with our awesome grandson and first crack at the end-of-day stories!).
When we visit Calgary, as much as we love to be near our family we try to book house sits so we are living nearby but are not completely underfoot. We enjoyed three great sits for great homeowners with six lovely animals.
At the end of the month, Kyle, Candice and Alex headed off on a three-night backpacking trip in Waterton Park, and we headed back to Vancouver and then onto the Sunshine coast to pick up Artie for this year’s road trip number two.