summer road trip, kelowna edition!

Aug 26, 2014

Summer, why have you gone by so darn fast?! Why couldn't you have done this last year, when I was big and pregnant and uncomfortable?! Why can't you last forever?! Why, Summer... Why?!
Here we are approaching the end of August. The tail-end of summer. The last few weeks of warmth, and the final days of my daughter being a baby instead of a toddler. I'm a little distraught about the entire situation.
A few months back, my mom and I talked about a summer road trip.  As the weeks passed by we found ourselves running out of time, so we made the decision with short notice. We'd begin the journey to Kelowna the following Thursday.  We travel well together, but with a baby to bring along there was no telling how the trip would go.
Aaralee and I headed to Red Deer Wednesday afternoon so that we would be ready to go on Thursday morning.  Morning rolled around and we departed late, as I'd anticipated.  My mom is rarely if ever on time... though she'll deny it when she reads this.  Adding to our delay was the fact that half an hour into the trip we discovered that my brother had left his wallet in the car.  Fortunately my aunt works near where we were driving and once we finally got ahold of her we were able to drop off the wallet for her to bring back to Red Deer that afternoon. We were finally on our way again!

We drove south until we reached Nanton. There we happily wandered through a candy store, stocking up on treats for the road. Though there are shorter routes to Kelowna, this was a road trip and thus we'd opted for the scenic route.  Mother Nature apparently missed the memo, bringing us nothing but grey and hazy skies for the entire first day.  Our next stop was Frank Slide. Years ago the town of Frank was buried when the side of a mountain essentially crumbled down. To see how far massive boulder had travelled was pretty surreal.

After lunch it was onwards into British Columbia. We were met with more cloudy skies and a bit of rain.   The rest of the day dragged on, but we eventually reached our goal of Creston.  With a screaming baby in the backseat and a seemingly non-existent hotel, we drove aimlessly around the town in search of our destination. We eventually found it, no thanks to my GPS.  Aaralee happily crawled around the hotel room as we relaxed for awhile before heading out in search of fruit stands and supper.
We resumed our travels early the next day, after stopping for photos at the Kokanee beer factory.  Neither my mom nor myself drink beer, but it felt like a necessary stop when in Creston.  

We drove and drove, stopping a few times for lunch and to let Aaralee crawl free from the confinement of her carseat. As evening approached we arrived in gorgeous Kelowna and settled into our awesome home for the weekend.

We spent the next couple of days exploring the area, visiting friends, and playing in swimming pools. We visited a winery, strolled along the lakeside eating ice cream, and drove past ridiculously large homes with incredible views.  Our visit seemed to fly by, and before we knew it the time to return home had arrived.  

Monday was a long, long day. We drove from Kelowna to Red Deer... a relatively easy journey in the past, but an incredibly long day with a restless baby in the backseat.  She did quite well considering, but we were all ready to be done with the car by the time that we arrived at my mom's house.  We still had one more leg of the trip to complete, so after a bit of stretching and relaxing Aaralee and I got back into the car and proceeded home to Edmonton.  I hadn't anticipated that it would be pouring rain, so it was a slow and stressful journey back. Eventually we were home, sweet home. It had been a fun getaway, but there truly is no place like home... especially with a little person to worry about!  

You are my greatest adventure.

Aug 21, 2014

Before I became a mother, I felt like I'd lived a life full of adventure.  I've had some pretty incredible experiences in my life and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't proud of all that I've achieved.  
I've moved abroad, swam in many seas, endured a long distance relationship, jumped out of a plane, and persevered to achieve my dream career which took me around the world a time or two.  I felt like I'd done almost everything that I'd ever aspired to do before I'd even turned 25 years old.  Life was such an adventure, and the thought of "settling down" really didn't interest me much. 
Last year, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and my perspective changed entirely. Though I'd always wanted children, I was convinced that my exciting life was over from the moment that I discovered I was pregnant.  I was wrong... so very wrong.
The past year has taught me the true meaning of adventure.  Every milestone my daughter reaches is equivalent to the excitement of landing in a new country.  She has taught me to love more deeply than I ever thought possible and to cherish the little things.  Most importantly, she's taught me to be happy in the present. I enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle, but I always found myself longing for more... for more stamps in my passport, more stories to tell, more journeys to plan.  Life wasn't complete without something on the horizon to count down the days leading up to it.  
These days, my excitement lies in introducing my daughter to new foods, watching her learn and play, and holding her in my arms knowing that before I realize it she'll be grown up and exploring this world herself.  
I've had a lot of adventures in my life, but Aaralee is by far the greatest one of all.  
With all of this being said, it's bittersweet to announce that as my maternity leave comes to an end I've officially resigned from my career as a flight attendant. Maybe one day I'll return to the skies, but for now I'm focusing on an even more exciting role... that of being a wife and mother.  I don't know what opportunities may arise in the future, but what I do know is that the opportunity to watch my baby grow up will only come around once and I'm not about to miss it.   The rest of the world can wait. 

long weekend camping!

Aug 6, 2014

In the 5 years that we've been a couple, Ryan and I have spent a bit of every summer camping. We've stayed in many places with guests from all corners of world, but one thing has remained constant... every night has been spent in a small tent that accommodates a maximum of 3 people.  After our last camping trip with Aaralee it was evident that we could use a bit more space. She may be small, but that baby takes up a heck of a lot of space and her tossing and turning makes bed sharing impossible.. at least if we plan on sleeping at all during the night.  We briefly contemplated plunging into the world of trailers or tent trailers before coming to the conclusion that we are tenters at heart... at least for now.  With a long weekend looming on the horizon we splurged on a mansion of a tent.  A room divider allowed for a separate space for Aaralee in a playpen with plenty of room to spare for us on our queen sized air mattress.  There was even room for me to stand up to get dressed!  Oh the luxury!

The weekend approached and it was time to take our new home for its very first camping trip.   We headed west to meet Ryan's parents for another weekend in the beautiful mountains.
We arrived at the campground after a long day of driving. While I fed and entertained the baby, Ryan and his dad set out to assemble our tent.  The finished product was big, beautiful, and made me excited for bed time.  After dinner I tucked Aaralee into bed and she fell right asleep.  Apparently I wasn't the only one that loved the new tent.  After a few games it was time for the grownups to go to bed as well.  We were so cozy that it barely felt like camping... except for the lack of toilet for my 3 am urge to pee.  The curses of a small bladder.  
After a successful first night we woke to a beautiful day.  We had some breakfast cooked over the fire and then packed up the site for a day of hiking. We've been on many hikes in the past, but this would be our first time attempting it with a baby.  We chose the Parker Ridge trail... familiar, absolutely beautiful, and not too challenging.

 I wrapped Aaralee on my back and off we went. She enjoyed taking in the views as I did all of the hard work.  It was certainly a bit tiring carrying an extra person up the sometimes steep trail, but I managed.  Our fur baby Niko kept up the entire time, occasionally veering off the path to chase squirrels. 

 At the top we rested and enjoyed a picnic overlooking the Saskatchewan Glacier.  Have I ever mentioned how beautiful our mountains are?! It doesn't matter how often I visit, I'm always thankful to live so close to such incredible places.  

Aaralee slept most of the trek back down the mountain, and we returned to the campsite for a well deserved dinner.  I watched as my baby played on the ground, staining her clothes and tempting me to follow her every step with a washcloth. I resisted and let her get dirty. She was so darn happy to crawl across the dirt and play with rocks and sticks.  I bathed her before bed, and we all settled in for a much anticipated sleep following our long day.

Sunday arrived, making us extra thankful that it happened to be a long weekend! While we'd normally be packing up to head home, we were planning out the day's hike. We settled on the Bow Glacier Falls trail, and I was excited to walk alongside the almost impossibly blue lake. 

 The guidebooks made the trail out to sound suitable for a stroller. Ryan pushed Aaralee and his camera equipment along until it was evident that we needed to abandon our stroller in favour of the wrap. 

 Thank goodness we did, because we'd soon find ourselves stepping over huge tree roots, hopping over washed out areas and climbing what seemed like a million stairs.  It was a long journey, but we made it the viewpoint, took some photos, had some lunch, and turned around.  As we drove back towards the campground the skies opened up and rain poured down. Our timing couldn't have been much better.  It continued raining on and off throughout the night, but we were warm and dry in our now proven to be waterproof tent.
The next morning we ate breakfast and began the process of packing up the car.  It had been a great weekend but I yearned for a shower and unlimited access to flushing toilets.  We said goodbye to Ryan's parents and hit the road.  It was a long, long drive with a not-so-happy baby, but we made it home and I enjoyed a long, glorious hot shower.  Is there anything in life more refreshing than showering after camping?! I certainly don't think so.  And so, another successful camping trip down.  Summer, why must you go by so fast? We've only just begun having fun.