Archive for June, 2010

Our Weekend in the Rockies

Posted on June 30, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

School is out for the summer and rugby is done for the season.  What were we do to with our time now? Head to the Rockies, of course!

We load up the car and head to Banff National Park.  Our destination is The Fox Hotel and Suites in Banff.  Friday evening we hung out in the hot pool at the hotel (that resembled the cave and basin at the hot spring) and took a walk downtown.  The weather was perfect and Banff was as charming as ever.  It was a little hard to get Zachary down, not only was he in a new place – he didn’t have a nap and was overtired. Once he was down the poor thing woke up several times throughout the night.

Saturday started early – really early… Zachary got a 4:30am wake-up call. We tried to get him to go back to sleep but it didn’t work.  I ended up taking him for a walk around the courtyard and lobby.  Once everyone was up and fed, we anxiously waited for our tour bus.  It was a long but thrilling day riding through the mountains and learning the history of the area.  Jeff, our guide and driver, did an amazing job.  We had a very diverse tour group. There were people from Spain, England, China, Japan, Australia, and several states in the US (Washington, Missouri, and Texas). The Big Blue Bus headed to Lake Louise for our first stop.

Lake Louise was gorgeous!  I had only been here once (last October) and it looked very different.  The emerald color of the water is from glacial flour – small rock particles that get dumped in the lake caused by glacial erosion.  We were able to see Victoria Glacier that feeds the lake.  The water was so calm and the reflections of the surrounding mountains were unbelievable.  Unfortunately we couldn’t stay very long – we still had many more stops to go.  Only half our group got back on the bus – the other half was on a tour that gave them five hours to explore the lake and surrounding terrain.

Our little tour group loaded back in the bus and we were off.  Kicking Horse Canyon and the Spiral Tunnels were next on our itinerary.  As we’re riding along we hear more about the history of the area. There was a rush to get the railroad built across Canada and they encountered some issues along the way.  The mountains at Kicking Horse Canyon were too steep for the trains so they tunneled a figure 8 in the mountains.  Jeff said that it was really neat to see a train go through them.  As we pulled to a stop in the look-out area, we noticed the black bear eating dandelions (more on the black bear, along with the rest of the wildlife in the “for biology nerds” edition).  Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a train come through, but the bear made up for it.

We kept moving and passed into British Columbia on our way to Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, B.C. We took the Gondola up to the top and had lunch at Eagle’s Eye Cafe.  This is the highest eatery in Canada at 7,777 ft.  The food was great but the views were fantastic!  After admiring the scenery and feeling completely at peace we took the gondola back down.  The gondola goes over the grizzly bear refuge and on the way down we were able to spot Boo (more about Boo and the refuge in the “for biology nerds” edition).  Our next mode of transportation was the ski lift so we could get to the refuge. I was pretty nervous about taking a squirming 17 month old on an open chair lift.  Visions of him wiggling out of our arms and falling kept going through my mind.  I didn’t have to worry though.  He was very content to sit in his dad’s lap, feel the breeze, and look at all there was around him. Brandon was excited to see the mountain bikers going down the mountain.  He is going to be biking down COP with some friends the day the boys and I leave for Texas.  At the refuge we were able to listen to a talk by one of the refuge workers.  We learned about how Boo came to the refuge and what the future holds (see “for biology nerds” edition for more details).

On the way back to Banff we stopped at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park.  This is the second highest falls in Canada at 380 meters.  The highest falls is up in the Yukon and much less accessible. Jeff told us that Yoho is a Cree indian word for awesome and takakkaw is an exclamation such as “wow!”.  The name said it all.  The best word to describe the falls was “Wow!”

We got back to our hotel exhausted.  Saturday evening was spent lounging at the hotel and relaxing. Sunday morning we were able to sleep in a little bit (Zachary slept until 7am which was much better than 4:30am).  After checking out of the hotel, we drove through Banff past the Banff Springs Hotel and enjoyed the quaintness of the town.  Brandon wanted to spend our Sunday morning at Lake Moraine. It was the best time of year to see the distinct color of this lake.

A lot of people think that there are dyes or chemicals in the waterways of Canada.  The colors range from emerald green to turquoise blue.  The cause of the gorgeous color is glacial flour.  Glacial flour is the clay sized bits of rock that results from glacial migration, where the glacier grinds the rock beneath it.  The particles are small enough to remain suspended in the river and is carried to the lakes.

Jackson loved Lake Moraine because there were several avalanche paths that he could go explore and rock climb.  The trail split – one direction took you to Lake Moraine and the other to Consolation Lake. As we were coming back from the Lake Moraine viewpoint I thought we could go ahead and see Consolation Lake while we were there before we ate at the cafe.  In my mind I had a 10 minute jaunt over an easy trail to yet another beautiful lake.  I’ve been wrong on occasion, and this was one of those times. The trail was easy going for the most part, but where it crossed an avalanche path it was a lesson in rock climbing.  The 10 minutes was spot on – give or take an hour.  Zachary was in the Zachpack and actually took a nap for part of the way.  Once he woke up he wanted to do some hiking, too.  We finally made it to Consolation Lake.  I didn’t get to look at it because of all the huge boulders that you had to climb over.  Zachary and I stayed where the lake flowed into the river while Brandon and Jackson went exploring.  Zachary enjoyed getting his feet wet in the glacial water.  By the time we hiked back to the cafe Brandon and I were exhausted.  We enjoyed a wonderful late lunch and headed back home.

We got back to Calgary a little stiff, a lot sore, and pretty tired.  We had a fantastic time exploring our new backyard and can’t wait to get back.  I learned so much about the history of the area.  The scenery was amazing and we saw lots of wildlife.  All while getting quality family time – it doesn’t get better than that.

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98 Days and counting…

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

The past weekend not only provided us a chance to celebrate our fathers but also to bid a fond farewell to the rugby season. We had perfect weather for the last day.  The skies were blue, the sun was shining, and it was 22 C.  Zachary had a blast running around and introducing himself to every dog he could find.  He even took the time to stop and smell the grass.  Jackson played a great couple of games.  His tackling skills are shaping up nicely… Sarah would be proud.  During the second game he got hurt. His leg got twisted the wrong way during a tackle, but he got back up and kept playing.  He did pretty well limping down the field (oh, sorry – it’s called a pitch) and almost ripped the ball from the other team.  After the games the kids got free lunch and played on the bounce houses.  Zachary was enthralled with the one that looked like a big red dog – he loves Clifford.  Once he finally got in to jump he didn’t want to leave.  Jackson was still recovering from his injury so I didn’t have to worry about trying to get him out of the inflatable obstacle course.  They were both so tired after it was over that they quickly crashed in the car.

It was bittersweet walking out to the parking lot knowing that we wouldn’t be back for another year.  I know that Brandon and I enjoyed watching the games as much as Jackson enjoyed playing them. His team did really well throughout the season – only losing a couple of games.  There’s a lot to be learned from watching a bunch of 11 year olds run around like psychotics who missed one too many doses of medicine.  I have a whole new vocabulary now including scrum, ruck, and prop – not to mention a new definition of the term, hooker.  Over the course of the season I’ve learned that the numerous similarities between American football and rugby existed in my mind.  Rugby is a “make it-take it” kind of game.  I was really confused when I realized that the other team had scored the two most recent tries and yet we continued to kick off to them. When I asked the coach he told me that in rugby, a team is rewarded for getting a try by getting the ball back.  I thought this to be potentially unfair if one team is far superior to the other. One other key difference is if you run out of bounds (or are pushed out), it’s a turnover and the clock does not stop.  This action is not the useful strategy it is in American football.  The divide between these two sports widens when watching the older teams play.  Imagine, if you would, watching a game where one player is running with the ball.  He gets tackled and then a giant shoving match occurs as members of both teams dog pile the fallen player.  The rucks and scrums inthis game are real and you fight for possession rather then just going through the motions (as in Jackson’s age group).  The game continues on and at one point one team has to throw the ball inbounds. Right as they toss the ball in, a player from each team is thrown up in the air and battle for possession once again ensues, only this time at a higher altitude. When I first witnessed this, my mind immediately jumped to cheerleaders (but don’t tell the players that).  Jackson’s hope is that he will be a jumper when he gets older.  I consulted my personal rugby encyclopedia – Volumes I (Sarah) and II (Steph) and learned that Jackson has the build to be a jumper (he tends to take after his dad).  I found that rugby and life in general had similarities.  As in life, there are a few people in rugby that don’t play fair and take every underhanded opportunity to get ahead. However in rugby, you have the right to take those people down to the ground (just not by the neck – that’s a penalty).

I would like to thank Jackson’s coaches, especially Coach Bob.  The Saracens were so large that they could split the team up and the boys were able to get more playing time.  Jackson somehow managed to always be with Coach Bob.  My respect for this man has grown every week.  Being a coach’s daughter I know how difficult it can be to work with kids.  A coach has to juggle the parents’ desire both to win and have their kid get excess playing time, the kids excitement for the win (along with other attributes that kids will display from time-to-time), and his own competitiveness.  For my dad, coaching Junior Varsity was the best fit because he could let every kid play and not have to focus on winning as much.  Coach Bob also saw to it that each player had equal amount of time on the field and took every opportunity to teach the kids.  He did an excellent job of not belittling them when a mistake was made, but pointing out what was done wrong and what needed to be done next time.  He also never showed his growing frustration to the kids when another coach acted unsportsmanlike (or didn’t want the kids to wear toques when it was 0 C).   After every game he would single out each player with something they did well that game – great runs, good tackling, good passes, etc…  I think too often people don’t acknowledge times when something is done right, but we are quick to point out when something is done wrong.

I’ve joked around that Jackson is choosing sports that I know nothing about so that he doesn’t have to worry about me being a sideline coach.  I’ll never forget that day at T-ball practice so many years ago where I was put in my place by my 6 year old.  He was playing first base and I was telling him how to do something better when he turned to look at me.  “Mom, we have three coaches and they are all out on the field!”  I’m glad that he’s participating in fencing and rugby… I can focus on being a mom and celebrating the triumphs and mourning the losses with my child and his team rather than trying to “help” him become a better player.

Jackson is planning to continue with rugby and who knows what his future will hold.  According to Coach Bob, Texas A&M has a great rugby team and he knows a couple of Aggies in Calgary that recruit for the program.  Jackson told the coach that his mom did her undergrad there at A&M.  We heard a little about the program and Jackson’s smile got wider and wider.  His eyes brightened at the thought of not only going back to Texas for college – but to also get to play rugby!  I guess MawMaw, ManMan, and Aunt Kimberly better look and see if that other school in Texas has a rugby program.

When first discussing the possibility of Jackson playing rugby with Sarah, she tried to explain not only the game to me, but also how rugby affects all aspects of a person’s life.  I had no idea what she was talking about (having never seen a rugby game) so I thought of it in terms that I could understand: The Spirit of Aggieland – “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it.  And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”  She was right when she said, “Rugby – you either love it or hate it… and if you love it, it gets in your blood.”  I’m already counting down the days until next season.

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