My brother and his wife are blessed to live in Canmore, Alberta, in the Rocky Mountains. We found out they bought a bigger house while we were living on the boat and at the point we invited ourselves out for Christmas (and they graciously welcomed us). We descended on them for two weeks and also brought along my parents flying in from the Bahamas. It was a fantastic couple of weeks that we will always cherish – wonderful family time all together. Coming from an uncharacteristically warm fall in Ontario, we arrived directly into winter when we landed in Calgary. This trip was also a chance to really dive into all things winter in the mountains. We have spent so much time travelling outside of Canada, and it is great to visit so many of the iconic places that tourists to Canada hit up. We spent 4 days skiing at Lake Louise and realizing that everything seems to get harder as you get older. Oh the aches and the pains; the muscles burning that we didn’t know even existed! The kids were in ski camps during the day, which gave them a chance to hang out with instructors from all over the world and really improve their skiing. Even Miles who had never skied before took to it like a pro. Even on chilly -25 days, the kids loved the skiing. We also visited the Chateau Lake Louise and skated on the lake and enjoyed the ice castle.
When you ski with Steve, you don’t just use the lifts…you have to hike up to get to the best snow. But here we are!
A campfire in Steve & Audrey’s backyard
My brother is pretty hard core about everything he does and so he planned for a snowshoeing and hot springs outing for us all one day. It involved a 3+ hour drive into BC to a special spot he had been wanting to visit. We put on some movies for the kids on the computer and off we went. The last part of our drive involved us driving on a logging road perched on the side of a cliff (without guard rails) and of course covered in ice and packed snow. After tolerating this for 20 km and providing Paul with constant directions (slow down, slow down….), I was not going any further. I was thankful we had opted for the snow tires on our rental mini van, but it just wasn’t worth going over a cliff to a sure death. Luckily we were almost to that special lake and we walked the rest of the way in. It was beautiful snowshoeing on this lake and cute to see the kids huffing it in their snowshoes. Our kids personalities really showed through in this experience. Gavin was off leading the way, practically running in his snowshoes. Ella whined her way along until it was time to return home and she suddenly found her speed. Four year old Miles did surprisingly well with some prompting. After the snowshoeing we headed to the hot springs at Lussier. Again, we couldn’t go to the easy and touristy Radium hot springs, we went to the un developed, natural hot springs. Getting undressed was interesting. We had all our snow clothes and layers on from snowshoeing. At the top of the cliff was an outhouse where we quickly stripped down, put our suits on, then put some layers back on. We then walked down the path to the river and hot springs (where there were quite a few others by now) and quickly stripped off the layers again. It took me 15 minutes to get each of the kids undressed one at a time and into the hot springs. But it was well worth it – lovely hot water in a beautiful setting. It wasn’t even that bad getting out and trying to get dressed in the cold.
The road when I called it quits. Note that the road is only 1 lane wide; where we parked is the turn around space which is wider.
Beautiful Lusser Hot Springs
Other highlights of the trip were dogsledding around the Spray Lakes (an awesome gift from Steve & Audrey and my parents), a great New Years eve gathering and skating in Canmore, New Years brunch at the Banff Springs Hotel, seeing our good friends Stroh & Michaela and Rehan & Laura, sledding, our date hike through Johnson Canyon, and Paul trying his hand at fat biking. Santa even managed to find us out in Alberta:)
Ella and I driving the sled
Spray Lakes by dogsled – Snowy Own Dog Sled Tours, Canmore
We feel so lucky to have had this special Christmas all together and even more lucky to have had such a magical winter holiday full of adventure. Side note – while we love these winter activities, we think we are better suited to tropical climates! I was pretty jealous of my parents flying back to the Bahamas! Thank you Steve & Audrey for hosting us and being such good sports about the chaos we brought!