A long overdue update on summer 2014!


Well, now that it’s definitely and decidedly winter, maybe it’s finally time for an update! 🙂 Here’s 5 things I learned over what was a wonderful summer and autumn here in Edmonton:

1. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.

My goal for camping this year was 5, maybe 6 times if the weather held out until October. We went a grand total of… 2 times. Once you already heard about, and once was because my Mom invited us out to the site where she and my step-dad had their trailer for September long weekend. That’s it. We DID have a busy summer, all things told. I photographed more weddings than I ever had before. We took a 10-day vacation to the Okanogan that basically ate up three weekends all on its own. But still, there was time to fit some camping in, but it was never scheduled, and therefore it never happened. Continue reading “A long overdue update on summer 2014!”

Camping Adventure #1 – Elk Island Resort


Finally, it’s camping season!

For May Long, Finn & I packed up the car, and got the heck out of town! Just a little ways though, at least for this first trip. 🙂 After a mild snafu with our original campsite (note to self and others: the Lions Campground in Stony Plain, while nice and clean, is almost strictly parked RV’s and doesn’t permit campfires! OMGWTF!) we made a quick last-minute call to Elk Island Retreat, and they were lucky enough to have a tenting site available that we could have! It’s a great little private campground I discovered by accident on Google Maps a month or so ago. It’s about 20 minutes east of the city, just outside the west gate of Elk Island National Park, so it was close to the city while still offering a nice wilderness environment. They have an RV section, a gorgeous tenting area with nice big, private sites and lots of trees, and a couple of kilometers of trains through the wilderness to explore. There are also tipi sites, with a tipi set up on a platform so those without tents can still get out & camp, and some trappers cabins as well. It was just about perfect for us. Continue reading “Camping Adventure #1 – Elk Island Resort”

Geocaching Failure!



In my never-ending search for cool things to do with my two little princes, I decided to give geocaching a shot. What is geocaching, you might ask? Basically, it is a huge, worldwide treasurer hunt using a GPS and a set of coordinates. You plug in the coordinates, go to that spot, search around a bit, and you should find a cache that someone else has left there. (You can read more about geocaching, the movement, and how to get started over here.) Sounds pretty simple, right? If Jake and his Neverland Crew can find treasure on a weekly basis, I’m sure i can manage to get my two munchkins to find a treasure box. As luck would have it, one of our favourite places, the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary, has three cache’s hidden in its boundaries that are rated relatively easy and close to the main trails, so that should be right up our novice alley!

Little did I know, I would soon be quite over my head. Continue reading “Geocaching Failure!”

Feeding our neighbourhood goose


One of the side benefits of spring arriving at our house is that we are lucky enough to have a little park with a lake right across the street from our house. That means we have lots of opportunity for unstructured play in a (somewhat) natural environment. And in Alberta, a lake in the spring time means ducks… and lots and lots of Canada Geese. We happened to run into our neighbours outside that afternoon, and their son, who was born only a few days after Declan, wanted to come down to see the goose with us.

Feeding-our-canadian-goose-Hinterland-Princes Feeding-our-canadian-goose-Hinterland-Princes Continue reading “Feeding our neighbourhood goose”

Spring Breakerz at the Muttart Conservatory!


We just wrapped up spring break here in Edmonton, and due to a slight mix-up with the prices of flights (namely, that the airlines think it’s thoroughly acceptable to more than double the prices of flights during spring break), we treated ourselves to a bit of a stay cation, right here in our very own winter-locked city. One of our many adventures (most of which went undocumented) was to the Muttart Conservatory. If you’re unfamiliar, the Muttart is four separate glass pyramids, each housing plants representing a different biome: desert, temperate forests, and tropical forests. The fourth pyramid is a showcase one, displaying different displays of cultivated flowers, as opposed to the others that are more natural.

The pyramids are very geared towards children to explore, with little activity charts of things to search and find. For example, there will be specific landmarks you need to find, different colours of flowers, and different types of leaves or characteristics of plants to find. Finn had a GREAT time exploring, trying to complete his checklists. Declan was happy to be able to roam around and explore and see some plants and flowers without being fully dressed up for the outdoors. 🙂 Continue reading “Spring Breakerz at the Muttart Conservatory!”

Puddle splashin’


As this week continued to get warmer and warmer, and more and more of our snow was melting, I decided it was time to fully introduce the boys to the joys of getting out and splashing in puddles. We spend so much time making sure that they are safe and clean and “staying out of trouble”. Sometimes, getting out into nature is one of those places where being clean, taking risks, and staying out of trouble isn’t nearly as important (though staying safe definitely is). So, into our rubber boots we went (Mom included! This was her first time out splashing in puddles too!) and out the door we headed, searching for puddles! And boy, did we find them!

Hinterland-Princes-Fun-Splashing-in-Spring-Puddles Hinterland-Princes-Fun-Splashing-in-Spring-Puddles Continue reading “Puddle splashin’”

Walking on a fine winter’s day…


Finally, finally, FINALLY, we’ve had a stretch of nice weather. Really, truly nice. Like, the snow is melting and spring has sprung in Edmonton! (Here’s hoping old man Winter doesn’t make a sudden reappearance any time soon!) As luck would have it, the first really warm day was a Saturday, so my little Princes & I bundled up and went for a walk, to enjoy the snow one last time this year. Our destination: the Fort Edmonton Footbridge!

Hinterland-Princes-Fort-Edmonton-Footbridge-Walking-With-Dad Continue reading “Walking on a fine winter’s day…”

Escaping Winter at the John Janzen Nature Center


I’m not normally one to complain about the weather, particularly in the winter. If anything, I try to be hardier than the average bear when the mercury dips and the snow falls. Still…. this has been a hard winter, especially lately with the bitter cold we’ve had. Luckily, Edmonton has some great alternative options to keep children active during the winter, and one in particular is a favorite of ours, the John Janzen Nature Center. Last weekend we went there to burn off some excess energy and still have a little interaction with nature.

Inside there is a big playland that is fashioned after several natural elements: a beaver dam, a bee hive, a squirrel’s warren, plus some other nature-related things to play with. It’s really super interesting, and I love taking the boys each time, explaining to them when the questions inevitably come up about what things are and how they live in nature, and then we run off and have some more fun building or climbing or sliding or exploring. I basically cut the boys loose when we get there and see what kind of fun and exploration we can get up to. Continue reading “Escaping Winter at the John Janzen Nature Center”

Family Day Weekend Adventures!


In Alberta (and several other provinces as well) this past weekend was the Family Day long weekend, which is a welcome respite the winter doldrums and a nice break from work between New Years and Easter. As a family we did our best to make a good, adventurous weekend out of things, and I’d say we mostly succeeded.

We spent Saturday mostly hiding form the somewhat cooler weather, but the weather reports were positive enough for Sunday that we took it upon ourselves to brave the weather for a morning spent at the Silver Skate Festival, held down at Edmonton’s William Hawrelak Park. It is one of our cities better winter festivals, all focused around family-friendly fun with a focus on discovering the different sports and activities that can be enjoyed outdoors in the winter. That includes cross country skiing, skating (of all varieties including speed skating), snowshoeing, orienteering, plus there is just a lot of other fun things to get up to for the kids. We have always enjoyed our time at the Festival. Continue reading “Family Day Weekend Adventures!”

Snowshoeing at the Clifford E. Lee Nature Reserve


Winter in Edmonton can be tough to really get out and explore a lot, especially with little ones in tow. There are lots of places to go and things to do, but you’re at the mercy of the weather, and how warm you can keep their little hands and feet. This particular winter in Alberta has been odd for the constant thaw and freeze cycle that’s been going on during what should be the coldest months of the year.

Trying to be brave and intrepid, I decided to take Finn out for a little bit of snowshoeing. It’s a great winter sport that I want to do more of as the years go by, exploring the parks and natural areas around Edmonton on foot, reminding myself what life looks at in the backcountry when all the leaves are fallen and snow lies everywhere. For starters though, I thought that the Clifford E. Lee Natural Area would be a great place to start: it’s close to our house, has a nice raised boardwalk for parts of the trail, and very gentle hills for the rest. It’s also not a very far hike at all, perfect for Finn’s first time out exploring in the snow like that. Continue reading “Snowshoeing at the Clifford E. Lee Nature Reserve”