Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Grotto Creek Trail Vol 2

[Jul 5 2014]

After the Bowness Parade we headed off to the mountains with cousins to hike the Grotto Creek Trail near Exshaw. We have done this hike one other time before, back in 2009. At that point, Scott was 2-1/2 and R was 5 months pregnant with Katie. I remember the uneven creek bed was a bit challenging for Scott at that age, but our kids were both much older than that this time around, so I thought they would do well.

At first Katie wanted me to hold her hand pretty much all the time, because she worried about falling down. Meanwhile, Scott was collecting massive quantities of rocks and we hadn't even gone anywhere yet. We ended up convincing him to put the rocks down and possibly pick some up later, so he wouldn't have to carry them the whole way.

Katie grew braver and more confident as we went along, and eventually she only needed a hand on the really steep or slippery bits. For the final segment of the return trip, she just walked with her cousin Lacey. It was a beautiful day in a wonderful spot.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

July Birthdays

[July 3 2014]

It is so fun to live close enough to family to celebrate everyone's birthdays together. One Sunday we had candles and presents for R and our niece A, in advance of their actual birthdays. Then a few days later we went out to dinner to celebrate R's birthday on the actual day. We have done fairly well at Chili's lately, because they have a lot of variety on the GF menu and our kids LOVE the quesadillas.

They also LOVE their mom. She is a sweetheart and we all love her dearly. Happy Birthday!

Stampede Parade in Bowness

[July 5 2014]

Given last year's fantastic experience with the Bowness parade, we decided to do it again this year. Instead of our spot across from Bow Cycle, we plunked down on corner where Mary's Corner Store used to be (the store was demolished because of flood damage in 2013). Just as expected, the candy came in ridiculous quantities. There was much more candy than I expected, in fact.

It was a great spot and a fabulous parade, although the children next to us were perhaps a bit more aggressive about collecting candy than we might have expected. Who can blame them, though? Candy is worth fighting for. Almost worth dying for. Certainly worth crying for. And our kids cried just a little.

However, they eventually figured out that they could still get their share of treats if they were quick and they didn't give up.

I just wondered why so many groups give out freezies. Sure, they are delicious and cold, but by the time you fling one across the dusty pavement, it is hardly watertight anymore, so you end up with a coating of sticky mud over everything as it melts. Our kids eventually started leaving the freezies for the frenzied neighbours.

One vintage pickup went by and the driver shouted to us "There are shirts in the back!" I don't have to be told twice to take something for free, so I hopped up out of my chair and helped myself to an "I HEART BOWNESS" shirt from a cardboard box in the truck bed. I certainly do HEART Bowness, so this is a great outcome.

I should note that the Calgary Round-Up Band was in the parade. My sister A was Flutist First Class in that same marching band back in her woodwind years. She had an official jacket with her name on one sleeve and "flute" on the other. My little brother T decided to wear her jacket to elementary school one day, when he was in about grade 3. He hiked up the sleeves and didn't worry about the length in the body. He wore it with confidence and made all the other grade 3 children jealous, I am sure.

It is good to see that the band marches on, leaving a legacy of jackets for another generation of grade 3 brothers.

Ponytail Expert

Katie is learning to do her own hair. She can do her own ponytail now. It is so cute to watch how she gathers and smooths all her hair together into a ponytail before wrapping her elastic around it 3 times. The first efforts were a bit scruffy and often asymmetrical, but she is getting quite good at it now. It makes her feel so grown up.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Waterskiing Antics: The Pyramid

Building a waterski pyramid at Hauser Lake near Helena, Montana
Left to Right: Derek, Luke & Ross

It took us at least 8 different configurations of ropes and skis until we finally got all 3 of us up on this attempt.
At first we tried 3 different handles coming off a single rope. Ross and I were on combo skis and Luke was in the middle with a slalom ski on. The pull of the rope slammed us all together and made it impossible to get up. Because Luke's rope was slightly longer, his ski was raking our legs the whole time as we ploughed our faces through the water at a very slow speed.

Luke hopped in the boat and we tested getting up with just two skiers. We were too close together and kept knocking each other down still. So after a few of those attempts, the boat scooted back to the dock to get two separate ropes so we could spread out a bit more. Ross and I were far enough from the dock that a boater who saw us in the water came over and asked if we needed help. We looked a little lost -- two guys just floating in the lake, each wearing a pair of skis. Once they came back with our two separate ropes, Ross and I got up fairly easily.

We added Luke's middle rope to the mix and tried it again, but despite the space, it was still too much drag. But we just didn't have any more combo skis. We were figuring out how to put one of the kids' skis on Luke when R suggested we mix in one more slalom ski to free up a ski for Luke. We shuffled the deck and Ross and I ended up wearing a slalom ski and a combo ski each, while Luke took one red combo ski and one blue combo ski. We lined up our skis so that he could try to slip his feet into the rear hacks of our inside skis.

By this point, we had been at it for at least an hour and enthusiasm was waning. We decided to give it one more try with this new configuration. If it didn't work, then we were done. Fortunately, the extra ski made all the difference and we were able to get up. Luke dropped one of his skis almost immediately. He said it mostly got knocked off as we all came together in the middle. He stepped onto the back of one ski and then when he dropped the other one we really started to drag. It's hard to give the thumbs-up signal to go faster when you are half-way into a pyramid. Fortunately, the driver could hear me screaming.

I have to hand it to Luke. I couldn't tell exactly what was going on because he was just behind us, but multiple times I thought the whole thing was over, but he hung on and kept it going. He climbed and climbed until he had one foot on Ross' shoulder and one on my thigh. When he made the final move to stand on my shoulder, something went wrong and I lost it -- veering away from the middle for a moment. Luke went into the splits an admirable distance before he toppled off the back of our pyramid.

Still, we were in the pyramid for a very brief moment. So Nikki had to follow through on her deal and attempt to ski the next day. My hands were absolutely raw from all the dragging that we did.

Here's what my Dad had to say about building pyramids, based on his experience as a teenager back in Idaho:

I was very impressed that you came up with this as a thing to do.

You think it might be hard, but it is more complicated than you expect.
In the old days, getting a boat that would get everyone up was a challenge, too.
We nearly drowned before we got it right.

Remember, after we got up and did a show off loop or two, Chris (our Luke) would do a back flip off our shoulders to punctuate the fun.

A back flip is a good idea. It's nice to have something new to work towards at the next reunion.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


My dad used to regale us with tales about zany waterskiing antics on the reservoir (and even along the canals) near his home in Idaho. When I was about 10, my dad arranged to borrow an old boat from a friend for the summer and we all learned to waterski at Chestermere Lake. Eventually, we took that boat off-roading near Baab, Montana and we got our own boat. By then we 3 boys were old enough to take the boat out on our own. Cam would drive the van and back it down the ramp while I would drive the boat off the trailer and Tay would help tie us up at the dock (and supply a steady supply of sarcasm and other abuse). When my parents moved away to Denver, they sold the boat and we have been landlubbbers ever since.

R's family went out every summer to a family cabin on Windermere, skiing and tubing and canoeing from the time they were tiny. Her dad was an epic slalom skier and was also famous for his ability to barefoot well into his 40s. Unfortunately, the cabins were eventually sold and her family hung onto their aging boat as a last vestige of their seafaring life.

In recent years we have spent at least one week every summer at a rented cabin with family on either side, sometimes renting a boat, sometimes relying on the generosity of my brother and his family to tow us around the lake. This summer we had another cabin trip lined up, but the cost of a boat rental for such an extended period seemed astronomical.

So we did what anyone would do in this circumstance: We bought a boat.

We gave my brother-in-law Luke the green light to acquire a boat and within what seemed like just a few hours he had a boat, had compiled an array of gear and had ordered me a hitch to tow it to Montana.

A few days later we found ourselves at Ghost Lake for some Canada Day water sports aboard our new vessel. The kids loved tubing and probably could have stayed all night if the gas had held out. Right at the end of the outing I decided to put on one of the combo skis for a quick turn. I recently acquired a wetsuit, but it was left hanging in the closet at home. I steeled myself and took the plunge into the icy depths with nothing but my shorts and a simple yellow life jacket. As soon as I got my breath back I told Luke to go, go, go. Once I was up it was okay and I had such a fabulous time skiing behind the boat -- OUR BOAT. Yes!

And then I finally lost grip on the rope and sank ... slowly ... back ... into ... the ... void.

Still, it was amazing and I am glad to be a mariner again.

R in the Boat


Kids up front

Older 3 Tubing


Grandma & E

Jenny & the little girls

Grandpa Driving

Getting Ready for the Plunge

I Love Skiing

Friday, July 04, 2014

Last Day With Playschool Buddies

For their final day of their weekly playschool, Katie and her little band of buddies went to the park. She absolutely loves these people, and she particularly thinks Johnny is fabulous.

Family History Kids

Scott was asked to give a short talk for the junior primary class at church on Sunday. The topic was connecting with ancestors, so we decided to print out pictures so he could make a 4-generation pedigree chart. This is something that I had wanted to make with him for a long time, so I'm glad we had the chance. He loves crafty stuff, so he was happy as a lark while cutting, pasting and labeling. At one point he said, "I'm doing family history work. That's pretty good for a child, right?"

Later that day our home teachers came over and shared a message about doing family history work. Scott had another opportunity to show off his new family tree chart.

We also told them about some of the family songs that we sang at family reunions over the years. Gary recorded them and the kids listen to them on their music players in their rooms. Scott's favourite song is Ghost Riders in the Sky. Katie is a big fan of Kage's version of "Going Home", which she sang at Grandma STA's funeral in 2004. Recently, Katie has been singing "O That Anderson Clan" around the house a bit. Since we had been just talking about it, I tried to capture her singing it on video just before bed. This was poor timing on my part, as she had just started to snack on pretzel sticks.

Kids always want to see the video right away, and Katie is no different. We watched it a few times and she laughed so hard that he peed her pants a little bit and we had to rush off to the bathroom. So funny.

Not to be left out, Scott also wanted a video. But instead of singing a family history song, he wanted to sing "Everything Is Awesome" from the Lego Movie. This one was also hilarious to watch, but fortunately everyone had already visited the facilities and there were no incidents.

They're smart and they're quick,
And they meet every test.
O That Anderson Clan!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Golf Tips From a Seasoned Pro

[Jun 12 2014]

This year R and her siblings took her dad out to the driving range one evening leading up to Father's Day. Greg has always been an avid golfer, but few of the kids are really into golf, so they thought it would be fun to go do something that he really loves. They had a fabulous time scaring the locals. Even though she rarely golfs, R said she did fairly well. I recall she beat me on the McCall Lake Par 3 course back when we were teenagers, so I believe it.