Sunday, 6 February 2011

Mountains, Mud, Chocolate and Family Values

Originally posted on Multiply January 26 2010
We broke the monotony of winter by spending a weekend with Chris' nephew Tim and family just West of Calgary. We are overdue for a visit to the coast to the offspring, but that will wait till after the Olympics.
The trip out was pure light therapy. We left home under the all-too-familiar 'flat cloud'. It started breaking up while we were on the ferry across the Arrow Lakes between Nakusp and Revelstoke.
Here are 2 more of mountains emerging from their morning veil. The ferry is at a wide open spot where the fog gets a chance to dissipate.

This one is looking West.
And this one is to the South-West
We hit cloud cover again between Revelstoke and Golden, but between Golden and Banff it was clear blue. Light Therapy! Boy, did I need that.

Here are just a few. I mean, how many times can you get excited over white peak against blue sky?
This one was still playing peekaboo.

Near the Kicking Horse Pass. (I think)

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Olympic Torch but it must have veered South towards Invermere before we got to Golden.

I almost feel sorry for the Olympic organizers. The next picture shows how high the frost line has been. We had a good start in early December, but now it is warmer and drier than usual.
One more, just because.
Enfin, we get the picture. White mountain tops, blue sky, all the calendar picture cliches. Even after 40 years of mountain dwelling I still get all excited. But then, I get excited about green grass in the spring too.

After Banff it clouded over. Usually it is the other way around. We took the slow road over Ghost lake and Cochrane. Grey skies do not flatter that dun-coloured landscape. It was kind of dreary.
 Near Bearspaw all was redeemed by sparkling hoarfrost.

Tim and Marjel's aspen grove, taken from the kitchen. They love it here and fully intend to stay, which makes me very happy! I really enjoy having family here, beyond the ones we have given birth to.

It was fun renewing my role as "Auntie Ien". Since it is part of an eccentric old aunt's job to introduce children to fragments of culture that might otherwise not come their way we spent some time studying 'Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud'. We now have the chorus down pat.

On Sunday we took a great side trip to the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller. What is it with kids and dinosaurs these days? I don't remember being fascinated with them or knowing anyone who was. Anyway, we were shown around or rather, dragged forcefully to favorite places by two experienced and enthousiastic tour guides. These little girls (almost 7 and 5 1/2) are truly delightful creatures. They are quite privileged but somehow they have not turned into spoiled brats.

Alas, I had forgotten my camera on the trip. We drove through rolling prairie, under pearly grey light that made the land blend into the sky. The fields were covered in snow but the golden stubble showed through. It was beautiful in a totally different, less obvious way from the dramatic mountains. I need my big sky fix now and then.

The hour and a half trip to Drumheller was considerably shortened by reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I am blessed with the ability to read in a moving car, and reading is one of my favorite things to do with little kids. We started on page 60-something before we even left the garage, and were just finishing the very last page when we got home. Talk about perfect timing!

For good measure we rented the Chocolate Factory movie with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka so we could all watch it together. Most of it was great, but somehow the American makers of the film saw fit to alter the ending. In the book Willy Wonka and Charlie just descend upon the pathetic family in the great glass elevator, and lift all off to live in the factory in a sort of chocolaty Rapture. The movie alters the character of Willy Wonka, and drags out the ending with irritating preachings about family values. Boo!
Anyway, we left Monday morning under snowy skies, so here is some pictures from the way back.
The approach to the mountains is one of my favorite routes, no matter how often we see it.
It was hard to see where sky ended and mountain began. I love that effect.
The ferry across Arrow Lake, almost home.

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