Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Tripping Part II.

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to visit my new niece and how successful the trip was. I think we've decided it's worthwhile to live by the mantra "simplify simplify simplify"'s much less complicated that way.

Sure, it means we do less...but we enjoy it far more.

I don't know if I'm alone on this, but for some reason when we first had kids it was like we felt this need to prove to ourselves and the rest of the world that we could still be fun and adventurous people. All we proved was that we were stressed out and a little bit nuts...

We'd strap our baby into every carrier, car seat and stroller we had to and pack half our house before embarking on excursions that required us to pray desperately that our little one(s) would sleep during the 20 minute drive from point A to point B. We would push our arrival and departures at different gathering and events (who knows why) and often ended up with sobbing... and the baby cried lots too.

We've spent wasteful amounts of money on forgotten diapers, lost soothers, emergency snacks and cartons of milk. We have spent nights with very little sleep and I'm pretty sure I have a permanent eye twitch. We would always look at those parents who could drag their kids to rock concerts, shopping malls and days at the lake without any fuss, they never forgot anything, left anything behind, made any mess or had any mental breakdowns...Our jaws would drop at this phenomenon and we were determined to join the ranks of cool baby wearing adventurers...

But there are only so many times you can clean vomit out of a car seat, poop out of pants, go for so many hours without sleep and listen to so much high pitched wailing on long stretches of flat highway before you finally give up....

Give up, throw in the towel, wave your white flag, begin to think smaller and start actually enjoying outings with your kids....

Such was our Sunday .

We packed up and headed out from my brother and sister in law's place early and had two refreshed children happily occupied in the back seat while we sailed out of the city listening to Josh Groban... 
ya, it was sweet like that.

We only had 3 hours to drive to get home and all day to get there.

So we first stopped off at the giant outdoor store in the Cross Iron Mills Mall; Bass Pro Shops.

Now, there is probably nothing there that I would ever be tempted to buy... okay maybe the giant sized "Uncle Buck Bin of Cheese Snacks"... but really I don't think I will ever need a cross bow, barbeque, carcass trailer, camouflage outfit, fishing tackle, speedboat, mallard caller, hiking boots, or wolf decoy....but that's not why we go there. why we go there.

I've never seen another store like it. The amount of detailing and the breathtaking displays of animals and terrain are incredible. The instant you walk in you crane your neck up to take in the swooping eagles the elk run and dioramas all around. It's like a natural history museum of our native wildlife. Really, it's that cool. There's a real waterfall and giant tank of fish native to our neck of the woods and ever display is made of such lifelike animals that it's kind of unnerving... like this life size polar bear... ya, that freaked me out a little. It's paws are twice the size of Jackson's head.

Kevin didn't seem to mind him at all.

Speaking of Jackson... he was trembling when we walked in; not for fear but from the overwhelming delight of it all. He couldn't stop pointing and shrieking at everything he saw and caused a lot of fellow customers to stop and chuckle at how excited he was.

Now, I've seen almost all the wildlife represented at Bass Pro Shops in real life. I am proud to say that on other road trips in my lifetime I have seen mountain goats, bears, elk, wolves, geese, foxes, grouse, deer (oh heaven, so many deer), moose and buffalo...and they are all that much more amazing in person, but I have to tip my hat off to Bass Pro Shops for creating such a memorable experience...even though we didn't drop a cent. If you are ever in the area, you must check it'll give you a nice little taste of our Canadiana, the nature and aesthetic we love here in the west....yes, I'll admit it did make me feel a little patriotic and proud looking at all that natural wonder on display...even if it was the manufactured version in a giant shopping mall... maybe you just have to go check it out to see just what I mean. I don't think you'll be can even stick around longer than we did and partake in a free workshop on bird watching, hiking, mountaineering, duck calling, deer hunting and snow shoeing.... for real.

We however, did not stay for the free workshops or games or crafts that are offered there daily for families like us to educate us on the habitat in which we co exist with these wild animals...we went to the food court. Because we have learned that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to feeding our we all had a snack and I had some coffee....because the children ate almost all of my snack.

Just as the doors to the rest of the shops were opening, we were there to swoop in on some major outlet store savings and purchased most of the clothes Ava Grace will need for the fall... all for only $50.00.

We were able to skip the food court at noon when the lineups had really stretched out and were pulling out of the parking lot at 12:00 p.m. exactly.
I had been diligent in packing tons of snacks so we munched for the next half an hour on apples, muffins and cheese and then both kids clonked out for a sleep before we hit the city of Red Deer and the Family Rec Center and Water Park that has become our favorite for it's low prices, small crowds and wicked waterworks. It's kind of the best kept secret in the prairies in our opinion because it's not too big and not too small and EVERYTHING is kid friendly.

We swam and splashed and soaked for 2 hours and then stopped one last time to grab sandwiches for the final drive homeward... oh did I mention it was only 4 o clock in the afternoon? Ya, that's right. So even though we hit bad traffic coming in the final stretch we still made it home at about 6, had time to unpack, bathe, tidy up and have my kids in bed on time for their 7:30 bedtime.

I couldn't stop shaking my head at how awesome it all was to have a plan, stick to it and enjoy it all so much. No more flying by the seat of our pants.

We plan little and so we do much more of the important stuff... and by that I mean so much more of the laughing, joking, tickling, hugging each other cause this is the best day ever kind of stuff....In the end, it doesn't matter how many activities we pack in, sights we see or nights we get away... the only real vacation is the one that's stress free.

Okay, so maybe the eye twitch isn't permanent after all... I'm feeling very hopeful right now.


  1. I loved this. We were one of those families who packed up the child and did whatever when Kilmo was a lot smaller, like last year but we're fast morphing into a different sort. As in, 'let's think about this a little before actually doing it'. And the stress is so much less. Ahhh...=)

  2. Ashley, it sounds wonderful! And just so you know, Kevin bought that huge bucket of cheesies- and they were stale before we could finish them :(

  3. We were those people, too! 6+ years into this parenting gig, I still need reminders that an adventure isn't what it used to be. It needs to be kid friendly and if the only adult friendly part is that we stretch our children's world view just a little bit, then we have succeeded. Silly, but that is where I am at. Your days sounds amazing.



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