Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adventures in Snowshoeing....

The temperatures here in Canmore have gradually warmed up since our cold Christmas day. Boxing day was warm enough for us to head out for a bit of tobogganing at the Nordic Centre and by the following day we decided it was warm enough to head a bit further afield. Neil had bought me a set of snowshoes for my birthday back in November but until now we hadn't been able to get out on them. We rented a couple of set's for Neil and for the kids and drove south to Spray Lakes. It was beautiful. Spray Lakes road climbs high up above Canmore on a pretty scary winding mountain road with a near vertical drop on one side and phenomenal views across the Bow Valley. At the top there's a dam and then the road winds down into Kananaskis Country away from the town and the noisy highway into a beautiful quiet valley.  The road was lined with trees heavy with snow, the kids were unusually quiet and we drove along peacefully admiring the serene scene around us. 

We stopped about 22km south of Canmore on the shore of Spray Lakes, got ourselves suited and booted and stepped off the road into the fresh snow. We followed a trodden trail down to the lake at first as we got used to the new shape of our feet :) I was surprised at how quickly the kids seemed to get comfortable with the snowshoes, even Bel who I'd imagined tripping and falling and having a total meltdown. It was all good so we ventured into some deeper snow. In the really deep stuff the snowshoes disappear below the surface a few inches but once you get used to the sensation it's not hard at all. We walked down onto the lake which is apparently a well known Snow Kiting spot. Neil had bought along his little trainer kite and took off his snow shoes to give that a go while the kids and I had some running races and played with a cute dog that was running around while his owner was kiting further down the lake. 

Neil's practise kiting was a success and he got pretty excited at the thought of bringing along his snow board another day to try some Snow kiting. Once the kite was packed away and Neil was strapped back into his snowshoes we headed off the lake, into the trees and some very deep snow.

It was so much fun! We'd have been up to our waists without the snowshoes but with them on we could wander through the quiet forest at a nice pace. The kids seemed to love it, Bel got a bit tired towards the end and we had to take turns carrying her but she was still happy and smiling. I think she did pretty good for a three year old! Next time I think I'll take the sled along so we can pull her once she's bored of walking.

We were all having such a nice time out in the fresh air enjoying the forest that as we emerged from the trees it took me a few moments to realize that we were literally right next to a moose! Errrr make that two moose! It was a mamma and baby and I didn't know whether to panic or stop and take pictures so I did both :) I snapped a couple of pictures then swiftly decided to get some distance between me and the moose just incase Mamma got angry!

Once we were back at the safety of the truck we cracked open our thermos of hot sweet chai and munched some snacks on a snowbank while we watched the moose and her baby disappear back into the trees. I swear a cup of tea has never tasted as good as that one! We left Spray Lakes rosy-cheeked and happy and can't wait until our next snowshoe adventure.

Our Christmas 2012...

Christmas in Canmore was cosy. Outside it was a cold one. In fact it was the coldest day of the season so far. The temperature topped out at -30 on Christmas morning, about 14 degrees colder than the coldest it's been here this year, brrrrrr! Needless to say our plans of skating on frozen lakes were abandoned and we stayed cozy and warm in the house all day long. The kids didn't change out of their pj's and Bel's hair was left in it's natural wild and bed-heady state till boxing day.
Our day began at 3.46am, you heard me 3.46AM!! Despite a late night for all of us on Christmas eve celebrating with the neighbours the kids came charging into our room in the wee hours to announce that Santa had been and gone. In our confusion (mostly down to the lack of a bedroom clock) we all arose and tiredly staggered downstairs to begin the present opening chaos. We'd worked our way through two or three presents and half a cup of tea before we realized that it was STILL THE MDDLE OF THE FLIPPIN NIGHT! We had no idea how to proceed considering the kids were totally buzzed with Christmas euphoria. We decided to finish opening presents then told them to pick one toy each to take back to bed with strict instructions not to make another peep of noise until the sun shone through their windows. To my astonishment it worked! We all went back to sleep for three more hours and then woke up for round two of Christmas morning! 

It turns out Santa shops at Ikea too! He bought Bel this lovely play kitchen which means that after two years of collecting play food and kitchen gadgets she finally has a place to keep them all.

We've been debating about buying a play kitchen for so long and had really considered trying to make one but with everything else going on at the moment that never quite happened. I'm actually quite glad we waited until now because Both Bel and Seb are at an age where they will really play make believe games together and they've both been cooking us meals and serving us drinks ever since Christmas morning. On Christmas eve I did manage to whip up a couple of play tea bags from fabric scraps as a little hand made addition to her kitchen. I think they're pretty cute and now I'm planning to sew a couple of aprons and tea towels whenever I get a chance. 

Along the food theme we also received a really cool playdoh candy making machine from my bro and sister in law that seems to be a massive hit with the kids (thank you Uncle Dan and Auntie Monkey!)

Anyway, moving on from the pressies.....
Neil and I put our Sodastream to good use by fizzing up some ok wine to create our own delicious Champagne alternative! We stole the idea from Jamie Oliver who did the same thing on The Jonathan Ross Christmas Special we'd watched the day before. If you're cheap and not at all classy like us ( heck, we don't even own a pair of Champagne flutes!) why not give it a whirl....I promise it really works! :)

Dinner was fantabulous! Definitely not super complicated, just a nice roast chicken with fresh veg, roasted sweet and blue potatoes, yorkshire pud and Neils homemade cranberry sauce. I think it's simplicity was what made it so good :)

We spent the rest of our day skyping family and snuggling under blankies by the fire, oh and scoffing the Christmas Puds sent over from England. Yum!

I hope all your Christmases were just as merry and bright!