Day 1: After coffee with friends, we started our adventure. Our first stop was Rotary park in Whitecourt, where the kids got out to run and climb for awhile. the weather was beautiful, and everyone was in high spirits.
Our next stop was the legislature building in Edmonton. The kids had a blast. There were rabbits running through the park, and a big fountain to play around. the kids explored the gardens and interesting sculptures and art work in the park.
We then headed to our campsite in Elk Island National park. It was much more than I expected – lush and green. We saw some bison hanging out at the side of the road. We pitched the tent, had a fire, some beans and boiled eggs for dinner, and then laid down under the stars for a wonderful sleep. They were not calling for rain so we left the fly off, and it was fantastic.We fell asleep listening to two owls above us, and coyotes in the near distance.
Day 2: We packed up and hit the road around 6am. Our first stop was Vagraville, which is a Ukranian settlement about a half hour from Elk Island. Everything was still closed, so we toured around and hit the park to get some excercise. Next was Lloydminster, the border city half of which is in Alberta and half in Saskatchewan. We visted the Saskatchewan visitors centre and stocked up on brochures.
Then to Saskatoon, where we were going to visit the Weneskiwin heritage park, but it was pouring. On the way out of the city we got stuck in the mud and a flurry of Saskatooners came to our rescue!
We arrived at Lake Manitou in pouring rain. It is a very interesting little town, with funky little shops and kitch that features a salt water lake. It has a mineral content higher than the dead sea, and you simply can’t sink in it. We set up the tent under a giant tarp, and headed out to “forage” for food,(at the Burger Buoy).
After we had dinner, we played on the beach for awhile. It was cold and windy, so we headed in to the mineral spa where they heat the lake water in mineral pools. We soaked in there for awhile and then we headed to Danceland which was fantastic. It boasts the only dance floor made of horse hair. We watched square dancers from the balcony, and then did a little dancing ourselves.
After that, we headed back to the tent (which was in a puddle), packed it up and hit the road. Ahead of schedule and budget.
Day 3:Drove through a prairie lightening storm which was beautiful and scary at the same time. Eventually we pulled over and slept in the van. It was amazingly comfortable. We hit the road at 4am – the kids slept peacefully through everything. We arrived at Riding Mountain National Park early in the morning and rented a Otentik. We walked the bordwalk, swam in the lake and ate Beavertails on the beach. It was Solstice/Aboriginal day, so we attended a Pow-Wow. We had the whole day to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It started to rain around campfire time, so we had to bring dinner into the van to finish, and then Eric and the kids went fishing. When they returned, we all cuddled up and fell asleep to the sound of the thunder and pouring rain.