Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vacation Part Three - Southern Alberta

So we're back for the first weekend of August, and we decide, hey, the dh is off for another week and so are the kids. Why not go again?

I booked us for 2 nights - a shorter trip - at The Great Canadian Barn Dance, about 40 km outside Pincher Creek.

We left late Wednesday morning and headed south. Our first stop, on a whim, was the Lancaster Air Museum in Nanton. We'd passed it before and thought it just a small site with perhaps a few planes, but seeing as I'm interested in WWII and the dh is always up to seeing anything to do with aviation, we stopped.

Admission is by donation, with a recommended donation of $10 a family. And SO worth it. They are expanding but even without the expansion, it is a wonderful facility chock-full of displays, artifacts and information! We had a wonderful time and came home with some trinkets. Including a mouse pad with a lovely picture of the Dambusters (we also have a huge Dambusters painting on our wall which I love).

Next stop - sugar fortification at the Candy Shop in Nanton.

We stopped outside Fort McLeod for a picnic lunch, then headed towards the campground - another hour's drive away.

Once we arrived and got set up, we vegged for a bit. I didn't have to make supper as my reservation included a roast beef dinner and barn dance tickets for that night. I'm not sure my husband was completely on board for it but it was too late. LOL. The dinner was delicious - roast beef, baked chicken, buns, baked beans, baked potatoes, coleslaw, and apple crisp and ice cream for dessert. Family run, the entertainment is also all in-family, and during dinner we got a taste of their talents. Loads of laughs and toe-tapping...and then came the audience participation number. (Note: I'd forgotten the camera, so I don't have pictures of the Barn Dance. Unfortunately.)

My husband got picked and ended up on stage in a huge foam cowboy hat playing the Gut Bucket (Which is really the washtub bass). I laughed so hard I was wiping tears.

After dinner we went on a wagon ride, and then came back for the dance. I never thought my husband would dance either, not to country music. But lo and behold, he learned how to two-step, we did a dance called The Butterfly (which tested my endurance, oh my word) and a Barn Dance - at the end, I had partnered with everyone in the circle. Very Cool. The girls had a brilliant time, dancing and laughing and we put them to bed far later than usual - 10:30!

But the dance was still going on, so the dh and I put out our chairs and watched the last bit of sunset and the stars over the prairie. And when the band played the last waltz, we danced beneath them. SIGH.

Of course after all the dancing and laughing, I couldn't sleep, so I got a whole 2-3 hours before getting up and getting ready for Waterton National Park.

Waterton is gorgeous and I like it better than Banff because it's less cluttered and touristy. First we did the drive through the Bison Paddock to see the herd. My daughter was excited to see Mountain Bluebirds...she's quite the birdwatcher these days. (Don't get me started on the Peregrine Falcon sighting). Then we drove to Red Rock Canyon. We were hoping to see some Bighorns but they weren't around. We did the walk around the canyon, then had a picnic lunch a bit down the road. On the drive back out, we saw a Black Bear peeking through the shrubs!

Then we went to Cameron Lake, where we did a 3k hike. It goes up the side of the lake and back. At the far side, another family was there with binoculars and saw a grizzly across the lake on the slope. At this point we were hungry (or at least we said we were) and we went to The Big Scoop in the townsite for some ice cream. Definitely less crowded than Banff - we found a parking spot on the block where the store was!

A quick trip to the Prince of Wales Hotel for pictures and postcards and then it was back to the campsite for dinner and an early night for ALL of us. :-)

The next morning we were up and packed and went to "The Barn" for the pancake breakfast that was also included in our trip. YUM. On the recommendation of one of the owners, we made a stop at Lundbreck Falls on our way to Frank Slide.

Over 100 years ago, a whole section of Turtle Mountain fell away, burying a portion of the mining town of Frank in 90 seconds. Over 70 people died, and you can only wonder how others survived when you see the sheer mass of rock that fell in the middle of the night. We went to the museum there which was very informative about the whole Crowsnest Pass area and the mining origins.

And then we were for was cold and damp but we'd had a marvelous time after jamming so much into three days!

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