“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Lao Tzu
The day has come that we’ve all been waiting for…the start of our journey! We’ve been in Vermilion, Alberta for the first two weeks of September, spending time with Clinton’s family. We had a wonderful time playing at the park and with cousins, exploring the beautiful trail system, visiting a petting zoo and even riding on farming equipment! Photos can be viewed here.
So we set off on our journey on Monday, September 15. Our first stop along the way was Drumheller, Alberta. Taio and Xavier were so excited to see the dinosaurs! The worlds largest Dinosaur did not disappoint!
We climbed the stairs to the top and caught the amazing view of the Hoodoos from inside his mouth! Across the street was a dinosaur spray park and with the temps in the high 20’s, it made for a perfect afternoon. Drumheller was also our first camping experience; which was an interesting one! We were the only ones sleeping in a tent at the campsite, with only a few other trailers on site. It was a beautiful evening and when we all crawled into our 3 man tent is was cozy and warm. I was feeling very optimistic about deciding to camp! That quickly changed once the sun went down and the temps approached near freezing! I also heard coyotes howling all night which freaked me out a little. They sounded really close! I had visions of my feet- which were pressed up against the edge of the tent due to our shortage of space- being gnawed on by these fierce animals. On the bright side, we didn’t have to pay for the camp site. When we arrived to check in, the office was closed. A sign informed us to choose a site and pay the following day. But when we left in the morning, still the office was closed. SO at least I didn’t have to pay for the frigid, frightening experience! My city girl roots have a ways to go before I’m completely comfortable in nature.
After a morning of swimming at the Drumheller aquatic centre, we set off on our journey once again. We arrived in Lethbridge mid afternoon and decided to get a hotel room until we could sort out the sleeping situation (i.e larger tent, warmer temps!). We took advantage of the hot Southern Alberta temps and played outside at the playgrounds and walked around Henderson Park. And we had a warm and quiet sleep in the hotel that evening! Clinton purchased a larger tent and stocked up on groceries and so we were all set to head for the US border.
As a side note, despite attempting to be minimalistic on this adventure, the 3 man tent was just not going to work. It’s nice to have the extra space and less cramped sleeping quarters. It is going to be our home for the next few months after all (see tip #1). And the way my children sleep- sprawlers, kickers, sideways sleepers, it was well worth the investment and slight divergence from being minimal!
Wednesday morning, the kids and I visited the Cancer Centre in Lethbridge to say hi to my former coworkers from years ago. We had our minivan tires checked at a local shop and by noon we were heading for the border. I was a little nervous about the border crossing given our long trek, uncertain dates and unknown return date; but there were no issues. As long as we weren’t going to be in the US for longer than 6 months, we were good to go! We spent our 3rd night in Kalispell, Montana. At the southwestern edge of Glacier National Park, it had some lovely views. We found a relatively quiet campsite, again the only tent, and tried out our deluxe, upgraded tenting arrangement. The weather was cooperative and the three boys had a decent sleep. I slept fine until about midnight when I was awoken by a truck idling seemingly right outside our tent. I sat bolt upright, grabbed our large flashlight which could also double as a weapon and with my heart pounding, I sat and listened intently for footsteps. While my mind was racing with unpleasant thoughts, I tried to focus on the nearby babbling brook, but it didn’t help very much. The truck idled for what seemed an eternity but was probably likely 20 minutes. It finally pulled away, and while I was relieved, I did not sleep overly well after that!
On Thursday we carried on towards the state of Washington. The drive was absolutely stunning. The magnificent mountains and lakes reminded me of Alberta and BC. The drive was a bit harrowing with it’s winding roads that hugged the mountains, rising and descending altitudes and famous fast Montana speed limits. I wouldn’t want to do that drive in the winter! We made it unscathed to Spokane, Washington and found an awesome campground at the edge of the city. Not that you would know we were even near a city, the campground is so peaceful and serene with it’s large, towering trees, lava covered rock faces and flowing river, all just steps away from our site. We are about 200 feet from a 100 year old swinging bridge which Taio affectionately calls the shake shake bridge (Thanks Thomas the Train). We did a hike after breakfast yesterday morning and played at the “beach” down by the river for hours. We are having such a great time here, we’re going to stay an extra night; because we can! So far the trip has been incredible. The kids are taking it all in stride. They have been very adaptable and are doing surprisingly well with the driving. They seem happy and enjoying all the new experiences and people we are meeting along the way. I am actually enjoying camping more than I thought I would, and we haven’t even got to the West Coast yet! I’ve always been more of a day-tripper, but I could get used to this. After sleeping with white noise machines for the last few years, it’s a wonderful experience to fall asleep to real life sounds of water flowing, cricket noises and then birds chirping in the morning. I’m excited to wake up to the sounds of the ocean waves crashing on the shores. Soon enough. We should arrive on the west coast by mid-week. Stay tuned for more posts and pics.
I will post more regularly when internet access is more reliable. Access was spotty through Montana and Idaho and isn’t the greatest here either in wilderness Washington. I’m taking lots of pics so I’ll post those as well when I have a bit of free time to organize!