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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Back On the Road

I've spent some time recently thinking about this blog and how I've been sharing our adventures. As I begin documenting our adventures from this most recent road trip, I've decided to try to do so as less of a "diary" and more of a reflection on what we've seen and done and got out of our experiences. I hope I can accurately share some of these awesome places we've seen.

This road trip felt very different from our first. I think we learned quite a bit during our first leg about the things we liked and things we didn't. For sure we spent more time in National Parks and in a "camping" environment, rather than always staying in RV parks. We started off on a really high note, visiting a place that has been on my bucket list for a long time - Banff National Park!

If you've never gone I urge you to make an effort to see this natural wonder. The trees, the mountains, the clear blue water - all of it is so stunning! We made a solid drive from the afternoon we left BC to arrive at Lake Louise in less than 24 hours. We decided to camp at the Lake Louise campground and I'm so glad that we did. The views at the lake were stunning in both cloud and sunshine. There's something about the mountains and water that just make me feel alive and happy. 


Alberta 2016Alberta 2016
Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Halle took every opportunity she had to stick her hand into the water, and she was beyond impressed by how blue it was. Even Nolan would squeal with excitement every time he saw the water. 

It was nice to see the mountains surrounded in clouds, the moodiness of it. The clouds and cool temperatures during that afternoon kept the crowds away as well. The following day we visited both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in the sun and it was even more breathtaking being able to see those impressive peaks beyond the lakes edge. There is just something about snowy peaks that make me feel at home. As much as we are headed to the east coast, my heart will always remain in the mountains!

While Lake Louise is far easier to travel around with walking paths and boardwalks, Moraine Lake had a much more lovely view, residing in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. I was so glad that Brett insisted we see both lakes in the sun before we packed up camp.


Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Our second visit to Lake Louise was much shorter - just to get a sunny view of it and a family photo. I was so thankful that we asked the kind stranger we did to take a photo of us. He knew his way around my camera and captured my favourite family photo from all of our travels. Even Halle wanted to pose all on her own, and I loved the photos I captured of my little beauty in front of this natural Canadian wonder. 


Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Exploring the remainder of Banff took my breath away. The scenic highway through the park to the town of Banff was beautiful. Lucky for us we had a napping baby and enjoyed the towering trees and clear blue rivers and lakes. Again, it was the mountains that most won me over. I'll never tire of snow covered peaks set against a brilliant blue sky.


Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

I wish we'd had more time to spend in the area - especially to head further north to see the Ice Fields and Jasper. We didn't get to hike as much as we'd like either, but that is something that we are often limited to with such small kids. Halle's little legs can't always handle the distance or inclines that Brett and I would like to do. We've agreed that we will need to revisit these iconic Canadian parks in the Rockies when the kids are a little older, so we can see and experience more than we did during our short visit at the end of May.


Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016
Nolan most definitely is our little bottomless pit!

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016
The view out our trailer door at Chain Lakes Provincial Park in Alberta

We made a few more stops north of the border in Alberta. Stopping in Canmore for some beer and small bites and then camping at Chain Lakes Provincial Park south of Calgary. We had a beautiful campsite with grassy vistas, and a quiet place to camp during the rain storm that rolled in. I love that on rainy nights we'll gather around our dinette to play a game with Halle. We definitely make the most of rainy evenings, turning them into quality family time instead of time around the TV. I love those silly bonding moments where we all laugh and enjoy ourselves. 

After a restful night we had the most incredible experience at Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta. The Park is actually an extension of Glacier National Park in Montana, and not only are the views incredible, but the wildlife is very cool as well. We took a drive into the Bison enclosure and had our first experience with these huge animals. We had no clue what the rest of our trip had in store for us, so we were excited to see these animals up close and personal in Alberta. (We remained in our car and always kept a safe distance from them... don't worry).

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Alberta 2016

Oh Alberta! Those majestic Rockies, blue water and wildlife won us over! There's so much we haven't seen in the province, but we know that won't be our only visit there. I'm just glad we made it before we left behind the West Coast...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Final Florida Days & Las Vegas

Our final few days in Florida did feel like a bit of a whirlwind. Friday was our last full day of the Grandparents being with us... so we took full advantage of that. Nolan had an afternoon with his Grandparents while Brett and I took Halle back to the Magic Kingdom for an afternoon of just the three of us. She totally loved being an only child again for the afternoon and it was much needed for all us. She hadn't had a true day of just the three of us together since Nolan was born last May.


Florida 2016Florida 2016
Trying to pull the sword from the stone and a picture in front of Price Eric's castle

We rode a bunch of her favourite rides over again, like the Carousel, Ariel's Adventure, Dumbo and The People Mover in Tomorrowland, but we also found some new favourites like Peter Pan's Flight and Splash Mountain. We enjoyed ice cream and just loved being silly together in the most Magical Place on earth.


Florida 2016

Florida 2016

Florida 2016
On the People Mover in Tomorrowland

Florida 2016Florida 2016

In the evening, we went to a Giordano's for dinner and enjoyed some Pizza and Pasta. There was a fantastic balloon artist who came over to entertain us and make balloons for the kids. He made Halle a Snow White Balloon, and a Mickey Mouse for Nolan. He totally blew us away and we had a wonderful time chatting with him while he worked.


Florida 2016

The next morning we woke up to it just being the four of us again. We had no rental car or form of transportation, making it the perfect day to lounge at the resort. We spent the morning relaxing in our condo, before lounging by the pool for a while. 


Florida 2016Florida 2016

Florida 2016

Florida 2016

The Sunday we headed back to Walt Disney World for our final theme park day. We made use of the complimentary shuttle at the resort to visit Animal Kingdom, figuring the kids would have fun. What we weren't prepared for was how much Brett and I both enjoyed it. There aren't as many rides, but there were some great experiences and a greater variety of food options available.


Florida 2016Florida 2016


Florida 2016

Halle really enjoyed the Kali River Rapids ride and getting soaked (especially when she rode with Brett) and we all loved Nemo the Musical in the late afternoon when we were hot and tired. Nolan was captivated the whole show and went nuts when they released thousands of bubbles into the audience at the end! It was adorable.


Florida 2016

Florida 2016Florida 2016

Florida 2016Florida 2016

On our final day Brett picked up a rental car that allowed us to visit Disney Springs one last time. It worked out perfectly as the car service from the resort to the airport would have cost us $60. By getting a rental car we were able to visit Disney Springs, and drive ourselves to the airport in the morning for less than $60. It worked out perfectly.

From Orlando we flew to Las Vegas to spend a few days there. We visited with Brett's Aunt, Uncle and cousins who live there and also took in some sights on the strip. It was a fun time seeing more family, and it was also my first time in Vegas.


Las Vegas May 2016Las Vegas May 2016

Las Vegas May 2016

Las Vegas May 2016
Lunch was at Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen as Bar. The Burgers were awesome and the drinks were strong - just what we needed.

Las Vegas May 2016Las Vegas May 2016

Las Vegas May 2016Las Vegas May 2016

Las Vegas May 2016

This trip was so different from the rest of our time on the road. We lived in our one bedroom condo for two weeks giving us a bit more space, big beds and a warm shower or bath whenever we needed it. It was nice to have this time with lots of different family members, but we were all looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing some new places. 

I'm really excited to put together some posts this coming week of our most recent adventures. We saw a ton of fabulous places - National Parks, States and of course just some "for fun" sights along the way!