I’ll start with a warning…this is a long post!
This family day weekend, Husbie and I were busy celebrating a very important woman, my mother-in-law Linda! She turned 65 this year and we wanted to do something special to honor it. A few months ago we decided to plan a weekend trip and told her that she needed to take a few days off of work because we were whisking her away to a surprise destination. We only told her a week in advance that we were driving to Canmore for the weekend, to stay in a beautiful spacious 2 bedroom condo with a gorgeous view of the Three Sisters mountains from the living room window! It was a happy coincidence that Husbie and I celebrated 6 months of marriage on Linda’s birthday also.
Even though I’ve been to the mountains countless times, this trip was a completely new experience for me. Road trips from my childhood were simply a means of getting to the final destination, with lots of car games, sing-a-longs, laughter, quick meals and pee breaks, with Dad at the steering wheel whizzing through traffic with a steely determination to get where we were going as fast as possible (must be where I get my lead foot from!). I don’t blame him, having to share the vehicle with three rambunctious children in the backseat that could hardly sit still or keep quiet at times and a daughter with constant road sickness! I remember these trips with a nostalgic fondness and a sense of amazement that my parents did it so often with us. I thank them for being brave enough to do so!
This road trip with Husbie and Linda was quite different. We left around 10am on Saturday and took back roads through quiet towns rather than leaving at the crack of dawn and taking only main highways. We stopped to take pictures of anything we felt was beautiful. We indulged in treats from the Donut Mill in Red Deer, delicious homemade split pea and ham soup and MacKay’s ice cream in Cochrane and leisurely strolled down main street in Cochrane to stretch our legs. When we finally arrived in Canmore my first reaction was disbelief that what is normally a 3.5 hour trip took over 5 hours. I felt a very brief sense of lost time to explore Canmore and “do” things because our trip had taken so long, but came to realize that the trip itself was part of our vacation, part of our adventure.
We spent Saturday evening exploring main street in Canmore, ducking in and out of little shops and spending almost as much money at the candy store as we did on groceries for the weekend. Husbie cooked a delicious dinner of perogies and sausages and then we sipped wine with our feet up by the fire.
On Sunday we woke up to gently falling snow and our view of the mountains hidden by a wall of soft grey skies. We lounged around the condo until early afternoon when we visited the information center and, armed with a map of the trails nearby, explored near the river with cameras in hand.
We had a late lunch at our favorite Canmore diner Craig’s. We picked up some groceries for a delicious dinner of ribs, brussel sprouts and salad. We had a moment where all three of us were flossing our teeth at the dinner table together to save our smiles from the ribs and just started giggling!
Monday morning I woke early, delighted to see clear blue skies and beautiful sunrise peeking in from behind the mountains. I crept into the living room to find Linda already at the window, camera in hand to capture the sunrise she had wished for on her birthday morning. Linda and I bundled up with coffee and hot chocolate in hand for another walk down by the river to drink in the sunrise and just be surrounded by it. Husbie stayed behind at the condo prepping and cooking a special birthday breakfast, which was ready when we got back from our walk!
There was something so magical and serene about our early morning walk by the river. We only saw a few dedicated runners out on the paths, otherwise we had them all to ourselves. While standing at the foot of all those mountains feeling the morning sun warm my face and looking into the pure blue skies above, a feeling of pure contentment fell over me like I haven’t felt in a while. I always feel so much wonder when I’m in the mountains. I’m grateful that we live so close to them and can enjoy them from time to time.
On our way back to the condo, we came across 10 elk! We calmly observed each other…how still and amazing. I’m no stranger to wildlife having grown up on an acreage where it was normal for a moose to walk across the deck or a family of deer to trot up the driveway, but being on that walk with Linda and coming so close to those elk, well it was nothing short of the best birthday / six months of marriage morning ever! It’s not something I’m likely to forget.
After a special breakfast we packed up, said goodbye to our cute home away from home, and took the scenic route home to get our fill of mountain beauty. We tried to have a birthday dinner in Rocky Mountain House at a non-chain restaurant, but after some laughably poor service at Grillers and a quick stop at a pizza and burger place that had plywood walls, one table, no menu board anywhere and no one behind the counter (seriously, they looked like they had just been robbed), we headed back to A&W for burgers with the promise that we’ll do a special dinner another time!
It was a wonderful trip. I hope Linda enjoyed it as much as Husbie and I did. We’ve decided we want to go back next year and try dog sledding!
Happy 65th birthday Linda, we love you!