This year we decided to visit Canada during the Canada Day holiday. We were lucky enough to be able to get work off and enjoy a ten day holiday. It was fantastic!!
The first half of our trip was spent on Vancouver Island, visiting family and spending time in the town where Eric grew up. We spent quite a bit of time riding Sea-doos through the bays, which was a total dream come true. I kept wishing I could somehow capture the views, the feelings, the excitement - but it'll just have to be captured in my memories. It was amazing. Riding across cold salt water, against cliffs, forests, beach houses; bald eagles, raccoon, deer, seals, sea otters. Eric and I went on a date one day, one of the two sea doos wasn't working so we both went out on one. We went further than we probably ought to have, considering we only had one machine. It broke down a ways away from where we started, we had to paddle to shore, change out spark plugs, refill with gas; then we drove a bit further and the sea-doo stopped running again, right next to a rock covered in seals. They were curious as we paddled to shore, swimming up next to us the whole time. Eric walked to the road to find someone with a phone, phoned his brother and then we waited for him to "rescue" us ;) Long story short, we needed to get the sea-doo somewhere better for loading, Eric was able to get it started for a short while and got it to a better place, then a bit further trying to get to a dock, but while attempting broke down - had to paddle way back in - and then we attempted lifting the machine to the road. SO heavy! I think we all cut our feet a ton. We moved maybe 1 foot in 15 minutes. So frustrating. Finally a couple came and asked if we wanted help. Their help made all the difference and we were able to get it to the trailer.
We spent Canada Day in Victoria, just me, Eric, Jacob, & Rachel. We walked around and watched the fireworks. The kids enjoyed spending lots of time with their cousins. I love that it takes such a short amount of time to get reacquainted, and then the fun begins.
When taking the ferry back to the mainland I said, "I'd love if we saw killer whales", and guess what, soon after that, over the intercom, "On the starboard side of the ferry you can view a group of killer whales by the whale touring boats." Sure enough, we saw multiple whales surfacing and swimming around. SO neat! Oh and almost as exciting as the whales: the Asian business men taking pictures of my blonde haired babies....haha.... and POUTINE! My favorite snack!!! (Thick french fries covered in white cheese curds that are melted due to the hot brown gravy poured on top of it all - YUM!)
On our way back to Utah we spent a night in Vancouver, at Eric's parents' apartment, where they live while they serve in the Vancouver temple presidency. They were so hospitable and took us around their area of town. We visited a berry farm that you can pay to pick your own berries. We got homemade berry ice cream and enjoyed a last little bit of time with them. We then headed towards Banff in Alberta. The sites are BEAUTIFUL! I don't know that I've ever seen such a long stretch of purely majestic views. We camped in Golden the first night at the edge of a steep forest. The kids looked forward to camping every night (Reese would ask almost every 30 minutes if we were looking for a campsite yet). Not only did they love sleeping in their sleeping bags inside the tent, but they really anticipated having a campfire and roasting marshmallows. On our drive we saw multiple bears! I'd never seen one in the wild - so cool, and kind of scary.
The next day, the 4th of July, we spent hiking from Lake Louise to Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes. BEAUTIFUL! Then we drove through Banff, ate lunch there, viewed the sites, and then drove on to Radium Hot Springs, where we swam in the hot springs and camped.
From there we continued on to Big Sky, Montana. Again, just beautiful!! We found a fun campsite (luckily! Since everywhere in Bozeman nearby and every campsite we'd found between Bozeman and the campsite we found was full).
After that we drove the rest of the way home, site-seeing all the while, in true Ellis fashion.
It was a fantastic trip, and I'm already missing the views, the company, and the quality, uninterrupted, time with my family.