Friday, July 25, 2008

A Story by Simon

Simon and Danielle are eaching keeping a journal during our trip. Sometimes they are keen to write, other times it can be a battle. We are now in Calgary, and yesterday I took the kids (Simon, Danielle and our friend Owen) swimming at an indoor pool. While we were paying to get in, Owen said that we were visiting him. The women asked where we were from and Simon told her that we were from Ontario but on our way around the world. She asked some questions about where we would be going and then said, "And you are keeping a journal, right?" She then went on at length about why it is so important to keep a journal. I should have paid her! It was definitely the kind of encouragement they needed to hear from someone other than John or I. Thank you Killarney Pool Lady!

Sometimes their journal entries are a straight description of what we have done. Sometimes it is an acrostic of a place we've visited. Sometimes it is a description of a picture or diagram they've cut out of a brochure from a place we've visited. And sometimes it is a story about someone else but that has a lot of similarity to what we've been doing.

Here is a story Simon wrote recently:

This is the story of Max the Cat. One day he went to some of his Mom and Dad’s friends’ house. They have two kittens, Joe and Lulu. They have a pool for their dog-friends. Max wanted to go swimming because he is the only cat that likes to go swimming. Later that day they had chicken, a cat’s favourite food. They also had SpritzUp. I think I forgot to tell you that Max has a snorting pig sister. After dinner they went on a trampoline. Max’s pig sister learned how to do a snort drop. Max was already good at doing a tail drop. Everyday before the trip to his parents’ friends, he had been practicing at his friend Bill’s house. Bill has a trampoline.

The next day, which was Thursday, Max woke up and had breakfast. He had liver on a bun (cats eat very odd things). After that, Joe went to camp. He got to do bungee jumping while his sister Lulu stayed at home with Max and his sister.

When Joe came back from camp they had lunch then Joe and Lulu had a quiet time. When Joe woke up they all went running together along the Bow River. It was a nice view when they stopped on a bridge to look around. Max wanted to go swimming but he was not allow.

That night Max went to a folk festival with his sister, parents, parents’ friends, and friends of the parents’ friends. The music was very, very loud. They had meow and roll music, some nice quiet music and lots more meow and roll. Max danced up and down the rows making a storm.

When he got back home from the concert he brushed his teeth and went right to bed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Badlands are Awesome!

We had heard from several people that Dinosaur Provincial Park in southern Alberta was a fantastic place to visit. They were right!

The camping is nothing spectacular but the interpretive programs are phenomenal. The staff are friendly, enthusiastic, creative, knowledgable and helpful. We went to two evening programs, plus a day-time program at the visitors' centre; and did two morning tours (the Fossil Safari and the Centrosaurus Bone Bed Hike). All the programs and tours are interactive, and often include dramas that Simon and Danielle were eager to participate in. The scenery was spectacular too. The badlands just appear in the middle nowhere as if the ground just opened up and your traveling underground to see what was happening 75 million years ago.

Simon as a small mammal that lived alongside the dinosaurs 75 million years ago. Danielle as a mammal molar, who did a wonderful dance with the Tooth Fairy.

Out in the Nature Preserve on our Fossil Safari.

A re-enactment of a glacier making its way south through Alberta. This was part of the Centrosaurus Bone Bed Hike.

The view from within the Nature Preserve which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the quantity and quality of dinosaur bone beds.

Land of the Living Sky - Saskatchewan

We really enjoyed Saskatoon! We drove from Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba to Saskatoon on Tuesday. It was one of our longest driving days until we gain an hour back with the time change (or lack there of) in Saskatchewan. We stayed with our friends Dianne and Ford for two nights. What a treat to stay in someone's home - hot showers, comfortable beds, laundry, people to share our stories with. We are very grateful for their hospitality. We had a "Taste of Saskatoon", played around in a wonderful park, and cooled off at a huge outdoor pool with a waterslide. Dianne and Ford took us to the Berry Barn outside of the city. It is a saskatoon berry farm just outside of the city. There is a restaurant there that serves lots of dishes made with, you guessed it, saskatoon berries - iced tea, bbq chicken wings, pie. And they serve a number of traditional Ukranian dishes - sausage, perogies, and borscht. The Berry Barn is located on the South Saskatchewan River. As the storm clouds started to roll in a spectacular rainbow appeared. We could see both ends of the rainbow, and also a reflection in the river. It was truly breathtaking.

Check out this great swing in the park!

Enjoying saskatoon berries and Ukranian food at the Berry Barn.

A spectacular rainbow reflecting in the South Saskatchewan River.

Simon demonstrating his new diving skills. John started teaching the kids how to dive when we were at Grundy Lake. Now they are diving like dolphins!


The other day (as we were driving ....) we talked about some of the things that have been different than we expected on this trip. Here's some of what we talked about:
- It takes longer to set up and take down your tent and bug shelter than we originally thought it would take.
- There's less "down time" at the end of the day than we expected. Most nights John and I are going to bed when the kids do. Who knew driving could be so tiring? And instead of reading a stack of books when it's not your turn to drive it's kind of nice to just watch the scenery.
- We are eating well. We're still working our way through some of the food that we cleared out of our kitchen cupboards when we left home. The candy is gone though - that was to be expected!
- The weather has been colder than expected. We wrote that one down before we got to Saskatoon. It's been clear skies most of the time since then.
- The distances have been long but the day goes by fairly quickly.
- Oh, and then there is all the things we brought along thinking we would need. Some will be shipped home from Calgary already. Others will be sent from Vancouver.

What to do while driving miles and miles across Canada

If you are Danielle you write a puppet play; colour and cut out all the characters; make and sell tickets to other passengers in the van; and wait for an opportunity to perform!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cold and Wet Lake Superior

Our camping trip across Canada began on Sunday July 5. It has been wet and cold but we are warm today having spent Sat night in a hotel at Dryden.

After saying goodbye to Oma and Opa in Midland, the first night was spent at Grundy Lake where it was warm and we swam. Then to Sudbury and Science North and later to Fairbanks Provincial Park. The rain started on Monday and has been on and off since then. On Tue we went to Agawa Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park. This was a beautiful park on the shore of Lake Superior but the wind was unrelenting and it was cold. We had a great hike to the pictographs and along the shore. On Wed night there was a presentation about snakes. We spent about an hour handling a number of snakes. Simon and Danielle’s favourite snake was the rubber boa (in Simon's hand here). I (John) hate snakes but even Pam and I got into the act. Thursday we were off to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park outside of Thunder Bay and stopped at Ouimet Canyon. We spent an afternoon mining for Amethysts and playing cards. Fortunately Sat morning was clear and we could see the giant and spend some time at the Terry Fox Monument and Kakabeka Falls before the rain began again.

I`ve added a list of interesting animals we have seen and we'll see how many we can find – check it out. Overall - there has been lots of fun in the midst of all the shivering.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Geneva Park

posted from the Blind River marina

Last week we said goodbye to your house and neighbours and drove all of 1 hour before resting in the Muskoka chairs at Geneva Park. This park is located in Orillia on Lake Couchiching, It is a YMCA conference centre but also has about 40 cottages that are occupied during the summer. Along with the cottages there is a full program of activities; mostly for the kids but also the parents. The kids had windsurfing lessons followed by swimming lessons (Danielle) and canoe lessons (Simon). After lunch they have a group activity organized by age and then archery or something else in the afternoons. There is also some game or activity following dinner. The frantic pace is also available for the adults (tennis, kayaking, exercise classes, art classes) but we took it easy this year – recovering from the lists and packing. The cottages are very rustic and do not have bathrooms but this is more than made up for by the programs and the family atmosphere.
Pam has been going to Geneva Park since she was 4 years old and it is a large part of her family tradition. We have been going as a family for the past 6 years. I did not go to summer camp as a kid and coming here was a like a new world was opened up to me. There was so much to see and do and learn. The history and environment was so welcoming. I have become a big advocate for Geneva Park ever since and have encouraged a few friends and their families to come along as well. This place has been a place of recovery from packing this year and has been a place of reprieve from the busyness of life in other years. It has always been a great family time.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More friends and more meals!

Our final "DEGAKERSPEET" dinner for awhile.
We'll have some new international recipes to try with you guys when we get back.

It was wonderful to see the Boston family one more time before we left. And sharing GP with them again was a treat.

My friend Arlene has heard me talk about Geneva Park ever since we met in Grade 7. Now she and her family know what I've been talking about all these years.

Learning new ways of communicating

It was a strange experience last week when we were still at home without internet access or a telephone. Our internet was cut off earlier than we expected, and so was our phone service. The experience certainly hasn’t changed my opinion of telecommunication companies. John’s cell phone is staying at his work, and when we arrived at Geneva Park I discovered that I was out of money on the card for my cellphone. Our “instantaneous” lives suddenly requires some pre-planning! Today I discovered that there is free wireless access at the Court. Tonight I’m going to type up some posts and see if I can get them online tomorrow. I guess this is what we’ll be learning to do more and more as we continue our journey. The Sea to Sea bike tour across the United States (and part of Canada) started yesterday. We’ve been reading the daily devotions and inspirational quotes. It’s been interesting to see ourselves and our journey in the midst of their adventure. The title of the book is “Shifting Gears” and the opening day it says, “We are leaving the routine of our daily lives and engaging on an incredible journey. Many of us had to shift gears to come along and we will shift gears many times along the way” (pg13). Those words certainly resonate with us. As does a phrase from today’s entry: “Make it a promise to yourself from now on: take time to be slow” (pg15).
The following pictures are some of the friends we’ve had to say good-bye to in the past couple of weeks. Thank you to each of you for the special gatherings and filling our hearts with special memories that we will carry with us throughout the coming year.

DeWilde Zoo Keepers