This past weekend, we undertook our first family vacation (trips to Little Rock or Toronto to visit family do not count as "vacations" in my book). And I'm happy to report that despite the rain, there was a superfluity of beautiful vistas, a minimum of tears and even a little relaxation to be found.
We chose to go to Jasper National Park because it's only a four-hour drive from Edmonton and as such was the only vacation destination that didn't require taking a toddler on a plane. Also, we'd lived in Alberta for two-and-half years and had yet to see the Rockies, which, I understand, is the main benefit of living in Alberta. And true to its reputation, Jasper was the most pristine, awe-inspiring landscape I have ever seen. It also turned out to be a great place to take a toddler.
Colin had a blast hiking the nature trails all by himself--although he did keep trying to jump off the cliffs (oops). He loved soaking in the Miette Hot Springs and throwing rocks into the crystal-clear waters of Patricia Lake. He was even on his best behaviour when we visited the tony Jasper Park Lodge to catch the final minutes of the World Cup.
I think what made the trip such a success--rather than the tantrum-soaked disaster it might have been--was the fact that we rented a well-equipped bungalow at the centrally located Patricia Lake. Jasper is a big park--I mean big--but we were never more than 45 minutes from any destination, so we spent a minimum amount of time in the car. The resort itself offered a quiet lake and lots of beautiful trails, so we were able to do most of our hiking right outside our backdoor. And because our bungalow had a fully-equipped kitchen, we were able to eat all our meals "at home." Colin's not so great at restaurants right now.
Needless to say, the trip was not the rugged wilderness experience that draws most vacationers to Jasper, but it was perfect for our family right now. I'm sure that we will be heading back next year, if not before. However, Kevin and I already have our sights on a date sometime in the future when we can explore the more rugged outback of Jasper on our own, without kids in tow. But first, I may need to brush up on my wilderness skills so that I will stop mistaking every loon call for a wolf's howl and every tree stump for a grizzly bear.
For more pictures and their descriptions, check out my Flickr set.