Friday, October 28, 2011

The Banff Trip pt 1

This was Pete's trip.  He has long dreamed of spending time in the Canadian Rockies and it was about time we got him there.  Plus, if you want to hike on a glacier, you'd better get to it!

I'm not so much for mountains (see post on the holes in the ground trip--that's me).  Don't get me wrong, they're beautiful but then I've seen them and lose interest.  Pete is much better about going on trips that I want to take that he's not as interested in.  I am kind of a pain in the butt.  I did do better as we went along and I think it was because I just didn't care for the town of Banff and it didn't help me to enjoy the trip.  Once we got out of Banff I had a better time and was surely better to be around.  Definitely some work for me to do on myself about letting others enjoy what they enjoy while being pleasant while they do it.  :-/

Day 1 (Sept 1)
Up for an extremely early flight to Calgary.  I don't like early flights but I do enjoy having a whole day at my destination.  I forget though, that the rest of the family is then exhausted the next day and I have to deal with being someplace with snoozers.  Have to re-think this plan for future trips.

Driving through Calgary to  get to the hotel reminded me so much of Fort Worth.  It really is a cow town.  I don't know why I was surprised by this, since the stampede is a major event there.  So I was very glad that I had changed our original plan from staying the next day in Calgary and instead heading to Banff right away.

It happened to be some kind of open gallery day in Calgary, so after window shopping, especially at the Fluvog store, we tooled around the galleries munching on chocolates and chatting with the owners.  Somewhere in there we stopped at a book store.  I had forgotten all of my guide books and most of my notes (duh) and wanted to get a little book to help out my memory.  I got Frommer's Banff & the Rockies Day by Day and it was just what I needed.

The Marriott was great.  Got the room on my points and the gold level concierge lounge was terrific.  Free dinner with shrimp, pasta, plenty of veggies for Pete and dessert.  We were pretty beat and not having to go out for dinner was perfect for us.  Not all the Marriotts have a lounge, so this was my first time being spoiled and it was great!

Pete was really fascinated with this building.

The Calgary Tower, right next to our hotel.

Day 2
Breakfast in the lounge and a fairly leisurely morning before heading off to Banff.  None of us were especially interested in sight seeing in Calgary so figured we'd head out into the mountains.

Got to Banff in the afternoon and bought a 6 day pass, as advised by the staffer at the gate to the park.  Canadian National Parks are very different from the US parks (at least the ones I've seen so far).  There is a town site inside the park with shops and homes.  Hotels are outrageously expensive, the park service doesn't oversee pricing at all.  So it was strange to pay to enter the park but then feel like I was driving into a resort town.

I think we checked into the hotel first.  The Banff Rocky Mountain Resort.  Just what we wanted.  Out of the bustle of town and a surprisingly large room with a fridge and free wifi.  We basically dropped our stuff and headed into town to stop in at the visitors center and grab lunch.

The visitors center was nice and we got some good advice on how to handle bears, which freaked Zack out a bit, but not as much info or advice on moderate trails to try.  Good thing we had researched in our guide books before getting there and I picked up my little Frommer's book.

To the Coyotes Grill for lunch. Great food but over the moon prices--we THOUGHT, that was before all the other mediocre meals we had during the rest of the trip, all at exorbitant prices.  We decided it would be a good idea to stop in at a grocery store and pick up breakfast, lunch and snack supplies.  We did this at some point, but have waited too long after the trip to write this and I've forgotten a lot of the details.

We headed back to the room after lunch where everyone (but me) fell asleep and slugged around for the rest of the day.  See, this is where the early morning flight of the day before backfired on me. I was antsy and eager to go see stuff, but I begrudgingly yielded to the will of the rest of the family.

 Up and back to Banff townsite for dinner.  Pete found a really reasonable place that served sushi and large bowls of soup.  The waitress brought my late-in-coming soup with a wonderful sing song of thank you for waiting won ton sou-oup!  Which made us all smile.

I think it was as we stepped out of the room to go to dinner, we noticed a few people standing outside our door and realized they had spotted some deer across the street.  We all ran over to grab some photos of our first wildlife encounter!

OK, it's possible this happened the next day, but I don't think so...

Next Up--Day 3

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Catching Up-a 4 month update this time

So when last I wrote, we were somewhere into June at Zack's birthday party.

1/2 June
Katie and Zack were invited to a friend's Bar Mitzva and I was glad they had a chance to see what they are like and to celebrate that accomplishment with a friend they've known since kindergarten. Zack needed to wear a tie to the ceremony and he wore one that we saved from Grandpa E's collection.

Zack gets some tie tips from dad

All Dressed Up

No pictures but we went to see Wicked at the Kennedy Center.  Had to buy the tkts in February and very glad that I did.  It was wonderful.  Zack didn't love the height of our seats (2nd mezz) but still managed to enjoy the show.

Katie and I braved the opening day of the American Girl store in Tyson's.  Mad House.  But, I happened to make reservations for lunch at their cafe and that jumped us ahead of the line so we could make our seating.  Lucky!

Went to NC to see Grandma E.  Discovered a new rainy day option right next to the movie theatre.  A game center with laser tag and vid games.  Nice, but could have used more kids to do the tag with.  Will try 1/2 price night next time.

Was also able to see my dear friend Heatherann and her daughter Noel.  So fun!

Great time at the beach and lunch at mom's. (Thanks mom!)

Home for a couple of days before G&G N came to our place for a visit.  Careful planning had professional house cleaners come as soon as we got home. Nice!

We took them to the Nat'l Mall for the Folk Life Festival which was great this year!

Katie, Grandma and Pete enjoyed dancing.  I did a bit too.  Grandpa took pictures and Zack sat and watched while being mortally embarrassed--bonus!

Zack tried his hand at spinning a top under Grandpa's careful watch.  He did pretty well.

Well, July was rolling out in a mellow fashion UNTIL....

Zack stepped on a needle in the basement.  It went all the way into his foot.  First a trip to the ER where a completely bone-headed Dr tried to remove it very far from where it went in.  Next to the podiatrist who tried to remove it in the right place but couldn't reach it.  Next-Fairfax Hospital for out-patient surgery.

THEN-the doctor thought he saw an infection, so we admitted him to the hospital and he stayed for 3 nights (or was it 4?)!  It was a pain for us, but ultimately pretty fun for Zack--lots of dvds to watch (we had a LOTR marathon), smoothies, snacks and meals delivered to the room.  Not bad, and gave me a lot of gratitude that we had nothing serious going on.  It was not the same experience for many other families on the pediatrics floor.
Loved these little cans of Coke at the hospital!

In the meantime, Katie had her very belated birthday party at the American Girl store.  She had a lot of fun and the girls came back tot he house for a sleep over and movie night.

The rest of July was taken up with Zack getting to follow up appointments, staying off his feet and getting up on crutches.  Boring, but Katie was very good about the fact that we couldn't do much--and also made sure to get all her sewing stuff up off the basement floor!

Early in August the kids and Liz headed to LI for a family reunion.  We stayed at my cousin's in NJ the first night, but unfortunately didn't get to see her there.   Great that she was heading for the reunion too so we had plenty of time to catch up (esp since neither of us really know all the cousins very well).  On our way to LI the kids and I stopped off at Coney Island, which the kids had never been to and I hadn't been in about 20 years.

We were short on time, so it seemed the best choice was to get Zack a wheelchair to whip around the aquarium.

 Katie enjoyed being chauffeur for the day.

 Wish we'd had more time on the boardwalk but we did find time for some dogs from Nathan's.

Originally rain forecast for the reunion, but it turned out to be a fine day.  Nice to see Aunt Louise and everyone else.  Extra time with the fam at Phil and Carrie's was especially nice too.

Our last day on the Island, I was able to coordinate getting together with my cousin Linda and her kids and dear childhood friend (like how I didn't use the word old) Allison and her son at Oyster Bay.  We sat on the beach and chatted while the kids ran around.  Allison and Linda hit it off and all the kids got along too.  Later we tried kayacking and stand up paddling (SUPing) until a rainstorm cut the day short.  So fun though and gave me enough time to get back to NJ for one more night before getting too tired.

Should also mention that Pete's band, The Jet Age, was recording their new album and the songs are great!

Took it easy for the rest of August giving Zack's foot a break in preparation for our hiking trip to Banff and Jasper NP in Alberta Canada.  More on that trip in the next post. So, on to....

We got back from Banff on Sept 10 and then launched into school.  By the end of the month, we were set up with our fall schedule:
Monday--Art class for Katie or Science for K&Z
Tuesday--Park Day, which we tend to skip if the weather isn't just right
Wednesday--Skating or Girl Scouts for K
Thursday--Coop for unit studies (currently Eco subjects)
Friday--Teen group--park days, field trips, etc.
Then there's daily Algebra, Italian, writing and whatever else we think of.

Our Thurs group went to the Solar Decathlon where Katie and Zack helped power a house with their foil hats:

And here we are in....

Halloween planning is underway and we have hit a corn maze and, tomorrow, Cox Farm with the teens.  I thought we were done with Cox but now that a group will be going it should be fun for the kids again. (We stopped going on our own when we went and it was all preschoolers and my two 9 year olds.)  The Ren Faire will be this weekend.

Katie and Zack also started their OWL class at UUCA and are bonding with that group again.  Zack had a short stint in a Japanese Swordsmanship class but it wasn't for him and I was glad to give up a Sunday night class.

The weather is turning chilly and the leaves are beginning to change and fall.  I am hiding my eyes to avoid the Christmas displays already appearing.  What's the rush?  And I think that is going to be the theme of this school year.  Slow down, balance and take it easy.