Friday, July 28, 2017

Gotta do THIS - August 2017 Edition

It's August, half way through summer vacation, and if you're like me, you're probably filled with a few conflicting emotions. Some days I feel a bit of relief that there's only a month left until the kids go back to school. Most days though, there's a disappointment and regret that summer is already half over, and that the kids will be going back to school so soon.

I've made my Gotta do THIS August list around the feeling of wanting to accomplish as many awesome things as possible in the remaining month of summer vacation.

Gotta do THIS - August 2017 Edition for the Canadian Rockies

There's One Month Left of Summer Vacation. Make August Count !

I'm a "seize the moment" kind of person with lists all over my kitchen. There's the biking list with all the trails I'd hoped to ride as a family this summer (with barely any check marks on it,) there's a playground list (which we're doing quite good at actually,) and there's the summer fun list (which is about 40% checked off now.) I also have a summit list where we're working our way towards 8 summits. (and only have one more to go!)

What's left on your summer fun list? What do you really want to do with the kids before they go back to school?  

What's left on your summer fun list?

One. Do Something that Challenges you as a Family

I have this crazy goal of doing at least one thing each month that scares me. In the last few months my son and I have tried a flying trapeze, we've visited an aerial park, and I climbed a mountain on a via ferrata route. We've climbed mountains that kicked our butts, I tried rock climbing (after taking an 8+ year break,) and my son just tackled two new mountain bike trails at Winsport's Canada Olympic Park.

What can I say other than that we like to challenge ourselves a lot. :)

Gorgeous backcountry huts await you and your family (photo: Jess Curren, Currently Wandering)

5 Challenges for your Family:

  1. Try the Rocky Mountain Flying Trapeze in Calgary (read about our adventure here)

  2. Climb a mountain! Ha Ling Peak in Canmore is a classic "first family scramble" Read about the Ha Ling Peak Hike here.

  3. Hike into a backcountry hut. This is easy backpacking because you don't have to bring a tent, cooking gear, or mattresses. Just bring a sleeping bag, clothes, food and basic overnight gear. Read about our hike into the Elk Lakes Cabin here.

  4. Try rock climbing as a family. And if you don't have anybody to take you climbing outdoors, try some fun indoor climbing at the Hanger in Calgary. Read about our adventures at the Calgary Climb Park here.

  5.  Visit a mountain bike park with the kids. The bike park in Fish Creek Provincial Park is super fun and is a great place to work on beginner mountain bike skills. Find a giant list of bike parks and pump tracks across Alberta and BC here. 

Ha Ling Peak is a classic first summit in Canmore

Need to make your first mountain ascent a little bit easier? Try the mighty Tunnel Mountain in Banff. This is a great first summit for kids as young as 3-4 years olds. You can also try a lift-accessed summit. The Banff  Gondola, Jasper Tramway, and the gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden all give access to easy summits you can tackle with young kids.

You can find a list of most of our family's "first summits" at the end of my recent story on hiking up Heart Mountain.

For a challenge with older kids or teens, you can read about our newest summits here: The Little Lougheed Summit or The Grizzly Peak Summit

And for a list of backcountry huts to hike into, visit the Alpine Club of Canada's website. Recent huts we've hiked into in summer include the Stanley Mitchell Hut (story coming,) the Asulkan Cabin, and the Conrad Kain Hut. (links go to my stories of our adventures.)

High country above Canmore on the ridge of Miner's Peak

Two. Do Something that Screams "Classic Summer Fun"

It's important to have classic "summer play days" amidst all the adventures. After all, these are "kids" we're talking about. They don't want to be out climbing mountains, backpacking, or mountain biking every day. And when it's 30 degrees out, you have to drop everything for a beach day.

Do something that screams "classic summer fun"

5 Classic Summer Fun Activities that We Love:

  1. Visit a beach! (Check out this story on the best beaches near Calgary.)

  2. Float a river! We loved river floating in Red Lodge Provincial Park and in Writing on Stone Provincial Park this summer. Read more about river floating in this recent story I wrote.

  3.  Go to an amusement park. My son loves Calaway Park in Calgary. It's a must-visit place at least once a summer. And we recently visited West Edmonton Mall so that his crazy mom could ride the BIG roller coaster. (Note to self: You are not 20 anymore!!)

  4. Visit a skateboard park. My son LOVES these things and likes to use his bike at them. Fortunately, we find them all over the province so they are good diversions when traveling.

  5. Play in a creek. Our favourite place for water play in Calgary is in Bowmont Park under the train bridge along the Bow River Pathway. The little pond is easy to reach from Bowness Park by bike or on foot, and the pond is deep enough to swim in on a hot day. There's also shallow rock areas for younger kids to play in. (Remember to always bring water shoes in case there is glass in the water, and bring a life jacket for novice swimmers. Also know that this is an off leash dog area so expect some friendly wet dogs.)

Playing in the Bowmont pond along the Bow River Pathway

Three. Go Camping - and Find a new Favourite Campground 

We've visited three new campgrounds this summer and have enjoyed each one.

You can read about our experiences here:

Campsite to River!  Camping and Floating across Southern Alberta - Red Lodge Provincial Park

Moms' Comfort Camping Adventure at Sundance Lodges

Whitney Lakes Provincial Park - One of Alberta's Best Kept Secrets 

My challenge to you: Pick a free weekend or a few free days, open up the Alberta Parks Reservation website, enter your dates, and pick a campground with availability. Go someplace new. Be willing to travel to a new part of our province. Go explore.... - and you might just discover a new favourite campground or that next hidden gem.

And because you might need this : 5 Tips for Getting a Campsite without a Reservation.

Comfort camping at Sundance Lodges, Kananaskis

Four. Do Something NEW in your City

We have a huge playground list on the fridge and we love checking them off as we travel around the city. What can you do this month in your city that's new to you??

Land of Lemurs at the Calgary Zoo

Some Ideas to get you started: 

  • Visit a new playground (Calgary's Top Playgrounds of 2017)

  • Visit a new splash park or wading pool

  • Go see the lemurs at the Calgary Zoo (they are super cute!)

  • Visit Winsport's Canada Olympic Park and try the "Plunge" or take a ride on the skyline luge

  • Bike a new pathway! Or join us in biking our way around the city on the Rotary Mattamy Greenway. (And join the summer challenge to win great prizes!) 

Some of the new playgrounds we've visited this month

Five. Plan a Fun Road Trip

Plan a day trip to the mountains, book a motel room and head north to Edmonton for a couple of days, or drive into BC to check out the activities and sights in one of the nearby mountain towns.

Below are some of the places that we added to our personal family list this summer:



Road Trip One: Red Deer 

The Discovery Canyon Water Park has been on our list to visit for years now, but it didn't help that it was closed last summer for renovations. We finally visited the park in June (the day it opened for the season) and think it would be a great place to visit on a hot summer day. Even as a day trip, pack the kids up early, drive the hour and a half, spend a few hours tubing down the creek there, and come home. It's a great way to spend a day with the kids over summer vacation!

The water park is free and has a lovely beach area. Bring your own tubes or rent on site for a small price. (Make sure you bring photo ID as a deposit)

Discovery Canyon Water Park, Red Deer

And if you're in the area, we also visited the Town of Blackfalds Aquatic Centre in May - and had a BLAST on the outdoor waterslides.

Finally, there's a new aqua park in nearby Sylvan Lake as well that is BIG on our family fun list if we get up to Red Deer again this summer.

Looking for a spot to camp nearby: I recommend Jarvis Bay Provincial Park which is located just outside of Red Deer, and very close to Sylvan Lake. 

The Town of Blackfalds Aquatic Centre

Road Trip Two: Edmonton

If you've seen my newest blog post, you'll know why we recently took a road trip to Edmonton. A NEW Aerial Park! The first of its kind in Canada, and one in three in all of North America.

Check out my newest story for all information: Family Review of Edmonton's Snow Valley Aerial Park.

And there is a campground right beside the aerial park if you want cheap accommodations nearby.

Edmonton's Snow Valley Aerial Park

Road Trip Three: Golden, BC

I recently took an overnight trip to Golden with a girlfriend to try out the via ferrata guided climbing route at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. You can read all about our adventure on the Via Ferrata here.

For families though, I still recommend taking a road trip to Golden for some lift-accessed hiking or biking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Visit Boo the bear in the Grizzly Bear Refuge as well while you're there. You can read all about summer at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort here.

For camping, I've heard great things about the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch (though we haven't stayed here yet.)

Climbing Terminator Peak on the Via Ferrata Ascension Route, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Road Trip Four: Revelstoke, BC

We are going to Revelstoke in the next couple of days for one big reason: We want to ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort again. We had so much fun last year, we added it back on to our "summer fun list" again.

While at the resort, we're also excited to enjoy some lift accessed sightseeing and hiking, new for the 2017 season.

I'll have a full review coming mid-August.

Visit the Revelstoke Mountain Resort's website for a full list of summer activities at the resort.

Riding the Pipe Mountain Coaster last summer in Revelstoke

 Have a great August everybody! Maybe I'll see you on the road somewhere. :) 

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