Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reflections on a Roadtrip

Twelve days. Three cities. Two provinces.

And I came back happy. And rested.

Our plans was to drive the 1200 kilometres (800 miles) in 2 days each way.  On our very brief drive on the May long weekend Husband and I were pushed to the brink of insanity (some would say I went past).  This was followed by two subsequent 45 minutes trips during which a certain boy, whom I won't name but his initials are J-A-C-K-S-O-N, was combusting from boredom and twitchiness.

We contemplated cancelling our trip, going to an alternate closer location and flying.  Flying was tempting but we don't exactly have scads of money stuffing our mattresses.  Then we did the math on how much the driving would costs us (gas + hotels + meals) and realized flying would be a few hundred more. Then Husband recalled we do have scads of frequent flyer points and for the payment of a mere $600 in taxes and fees, we could fly and not lose our marbles on this holiday. 

So fly we did.  I will say that even though we have our challenging days (today) I forget that sometimes the kids can be awfully good.  Like in airport waiting lounges.  We saw babies fussing, or crawling all over the floor.  We saw toddlers running from parents. And our children amused themselves.

The children were perfect flying passengers. I realize the personal TVs for each seat helped in that regard. But apart from a tendancy to YELL due to wearing of ear buds  --"MOMMY, THIS SHOW IS SO FUNNY!!" -- we had no complaints until we were waiting to deplane and Jackson said about 11 times, what everyone else was thinking "Why does it take so long?"

At our destination in Edmonton we enjoyed superb food, unbeatable company and in my case, early morning walks with two of my Sisters.  Husband snuck in a couple golf games.  The children were almost perfect if you completely ignore the necessity of having a special meal prepared. For each of them.  They went to bed appropriately, were game for any adventure we proposed and were generally charming, only slightly too loud, which is to be understood with the giddiness of discovering a set of free weights to play with in the basement.  I wish I could feel that giddy at the gym.

We left Edmonton for Drumheller. It was then, on a three hour drive, that Husband and I saw the brilliance of not driving 13 hours with Jackson from Vancouver to Edmonton.  Despite have a DS, a new game,  a box of trivia question, paper and pen, a book and Archie comics, he made the two hours to our lunch destination with an excessive amount of moaning. 

Once in Drumheller, we checked out the worlds largest dinosaur (which we paid for the privilege of climbing).  We checked into our hotel with waterslide which was conveniently located near a pizza shop and cold beer store. 

Woolly Mamouth & my children
The next day we visited the gift shop at  Tyrell Museum, known the world over for it's collection of dinosaur bones.  Jackson was true to his museum personality that compel him to race through and give everything a cursory glance. 

I did manage to slow him down enough to get a movie of him at the T Rex exhibit:

Sydney gave her best impression of reporter on the scene as well:

Tiny speck of Jackson,
 arms up in celebration.
We stopped in at the Badlands, which are incredible rock formations.   When we arrived Jackson saw some hearty hikers had climbed to the top of the rock formation.  He was not to be outdone.  Despite the protestations of both parents, he insisted on climbing to the top.

We weren't the only ones visiting the Hoodoos. There was a mosquito infestation of biblical proportions.  Next stop was drug store for a collection of mosquito bite remedies.

Our final stop in the Drumheller area was an misapprehended trip to a coal mine.  We thought that the trip on the mantrip (mining car) touring the mine might be more than 200 feet, might tour some actual mines and might not be in full Alberta sun at noon.  However, the kids were pleased to be chosen for some audience participation.  Sydney got to push an old coal car. Jackson acted as "brakey" and opened and shut the gate for the man trip.

Next stop was Calgary where the nice weather continued and we visited lakes and were again treated royally to great meals, conversation.  We visited with several groups of people whom we love and wished we lived closer to.

We made a trip to the Calgary zoo and a few other kid friendly attractions which did not fail to entertain and appropriately exhaust the children.

We were hosted Cheyenne (in black) who found herself shadowed by Sydney.

Quite apart from the where-did-we-go-what-did-we-do, how did the trip go? This was a high risk trip. Taking the kids away from home, staying with  other people with no daily routine really could have gone either way.  Even without a 13 hour drive.

It was freakin' awesome. Our plan of having one great family/kid activity a day turned out to be the perfect plan (who knew we would ever get good at this?) The kids settled in well and played Nintendo DS  endlessly amused themselves so the grownups could visit, play Scrabble and relax over a glass of wine.  We wisely limited the number of people we visited. We had many more friends I would have liked to have visited (I lived in Edmonton for 20 years) but in the interest of family harmony, we severely restricted our visiting list (with apologies to those whom we did not get a chance to connect with) 

We barely heard an "I'm bored" for 12 days. It did not hurt that we were unknowingly doing a video game tour of Alberta. Wii, PlayStation 3, XBoxLive, Nintendo 64 were the highlights of this tour. This is the advantage of  having friends with teenagers and twenty-somethings.

The downside of such a fantastic, busy and fun family trip?  First morning home was a steady chorus of "I'm bored, I'm lonely".

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