Kananaskis Country….Good for the Soul

A good friend of mine and I just returned from a ‘Girls Weekend’ at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis. My husband had bought me a gift card for Christmas and I was redeeming it this past weekend! Now, if you’ve never stayed there, but like to get away once in a while, you should check it out. This is the third time I have stayed there and each visit the room has been different, but very spacious. This time we had a loft suite with lots of room, both upstairs and down, with a mountain view! Unfortunately it was raining on Saturday so that put our hiking plans to a halt, but the sun was shining on Sunday so we enjoyed the views and fresh air then! Other highlights of the weekend, in addition to the great company,  were a relaxation massage, indoor/outdoor hot-tub, and I bought a great scarf and necklace in one of the shops! This resort is close enough to where we live that we’re not driving too far, but yet once we are there, we really felt ‘away from it all.’ We also noticed that the Lodge hosts romance packages, family packages, and special seasonal packages which all looked enjoyable. It would be a great place to take my family, especially since they plan events for the kids on weekends which looked like lots of fun! Another big draw for me, and other outdoor enthusiasts, are the many paved biking trails and the opportunities for hiking and golfing nearby! Plus, the setting is superb….the Rocky Mountains are simply spectacular and good for the soul…in any season!

Wit and Wisdom From a Beach in Mexico

What a winter we are having this spring…at least that’s what it feels like here in Alberta…and Saskatchewan…and Manitoba!!! I think I can safely say that everyone I know is ready for the snow to be done and the warmth to arrive so we can put the winter boots away and bring out the flip flops…permanently. Well, until October, at least.

My family just came back from a wonderfully relaxing holiday in the Mayan Riviera where the sun, surf and sand were good for the soul! Sitting on a white sandy beach with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean before me, I realized a few things…here they are:

There is no age limit in which you can ‘rock’ a bikini…I saw many older women looking pretty great in a two-piece! You go girls!

It is possible to sit out and stare at the sea and simply “not think” at all…pure bliss! You really should try it!

You always seem to run into someone you know…no matter where you are in the world! We ran into three different families that we knew…a long way from home! Great minds think alike, I guess!

Saying one simple word makes me happy: “Gracias.”

It is best to apply ‘continuous spray’ sunscreen on indoors before you head out to a breezy beach on a 35 degree day…4 awkward and goofy looking sunburns taught us that from the places the spray did not reach…OUCH!

Hammocks are a great investment…we bought two and plan to use them lots this summer!

Being at the beach makes you want to dance…just ask my 6 year old who was continually shaking his booty at the beach simply because he was enjoying life!

We can learn a lot from the Mexican people…especially about patience….we should simply practice it more often!

Unplug from technology and your mind truly rests and quality time with family grows immensely.

Until next week, I will sign off with a quote by a man you might of heard of, Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”



Cypress Hills Bucket List for 2013

Snow is still on the ground…heck, our prairie provinces survived a doozy of a spring snowstorm just the other day, but summer camping is on my mind! I had to reserve our summer campsite at Cypress Hills Provincial Park in southwestern Saskatchewan a few weeks ago and I sure am glad I got it! We spent five sunny days there last July and we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to, so I booked in for seven full days this year and my family is so excited that we’ve created our own Bucket List specifically for our week there. Here it is:

1. Zip-lining and Mini Zips (we all loved it last year and hope to do it again this year )- Jori and Nick are from my husband’s stomping grounds in southwestern Saskatchewan -check out the website: www.zipcypresshills.ca and add this adventure to your list of summer plans!

2. Check out Fort Walsh National Historic Site (I think our boys will enjoy the blazing guns and arresting their parents) – we didn’t get time to visit here last year so we hope to this summer

3. Hike the trails and see some wildlife (from a safe distance of course…last year we saw a moose and a variety of birds)

4. Swim in the lake and kid friendly pool and take the boys on their first canoe ride on the lake

5. Enjoy the beach, soak up the sun and have fun at the playgrounds with the boys

6. Visit with friends and relatives that will be there (one of the best things about Saskatchewan is the great people, but who didn’t know that???)

7. Go horseback riding (Tyson runs this and he is from my husband’s hometown, too)

8. Visit the Great Sand Hills – although they are not at Cypress Hills, they are in southwestern SK, so an easy distance to drive. I can’t believe I’ve never seen the Great Sandhills and I am from Saskatchewan…this year is the year!

9. Visit Scotty at the T-Rex Discovery Centre in nearby Eastend. I tell you, southwestern SK is full of gems…another short drive from Cypress and my boys will love it!

10. Relax – I tend to plan a lot of activities when we are on holidays and my husband added this one to the list…a great reminder to enjoy those quiet summer mornings sitting outside the trailer reading as the boys play nearby, take the time out to go for an ice-cream cone…we could try a different flavor every day and still not try them all, and of course, enjoy the evening campfires with roasted marshmallows and our family favorite of marshmallows and chocolate bar inside a tortilla then cooked in a sandwich maker over the fire – yum!

What’s on your BUCKET LIST  this summer?


Jen’s Top Ten Canadian Lakes

Welcome to my first “Top Ten” list!

I  hope to post frequent top ten lists on various travel related topics. This one is on my favorite Canadian lakes to visit (that I have had the pleasure of traveling to so far).  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask….I would love to share more about why I love these beautiful lakes!

Enjoy….and go see them for yourself!

1. Greenwater Lake, SK – call me sentimental, but this is where I got married, so I love it…such a beautiful setting!

2. Lake Superior, ON – so many photo stops as you drive and drive and drive around this Great Lake!

3. Waterton Lake, AB – often windy, but breathtakingly beautiful, nonetheless. Plus you always see wildlife here!

4. Emerald Lake, BC – the water is the color of its name…and it is just as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer!

5. Barrier Lake, SK – where I spent my summers growing up and learning how to swim!

6. Lake Louise, Moraine Lake & Lake Minnewanka (all in Banff National Park), AB – great hikes in the mountains at all three!

7. Maligne Lake, Pyramid Lake & Lac Beauvert (all in Jasper National Park), AB – picturesque, serene, and stunning!

8. Kluane Lake, YK – a beautiful lake to drive around as you are touring the Yukon!

9. Bras d’Or Lake, NS – lots of history here and everything about Cape Breton Island is wonderful!

10. Waskesiu Lake, SK – many family traditions and memories have been enjoyed here…I love it!

(The lake featured in the photo is Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.)


Moose on the Loose and Loose Moose Theatre

Bet you can’t say the title to this week’s blog three times fast! Now that I have your attention simply by the title, I have to explain what it all means. Moose were on the loose at my dad’s farm last week and I want to share the story he told me on the phone just the other day. I grew up in beautiful northeast Saskatchewan right where all the lakes and trees start in the province and moose are abundant in the area, especially this time of year. Dad was sitting watching ‘Canada AM’ while having his morning coffee in the living room when what does he see right outside the big south facing window? A cow moose looking in the window! Dad got up and waved his arms and she put her nose right to the window trying to smell him. Then she heard the T.V. so then she was listening very intently before she sauntered off in front of the house where there are bird feeders. Dad went into the kitchen to watch her from the kitchen window and he noticed she kept looking behind her, so he walked back into the living room. Guess what he saw there? A moose calf looking in the window now! Well, Dad was just getting a real kick out of this, but of course he didn’t get any pictures! Next the cow and calf walk around the north side of the house and are contemplating walking up the patio so dad is busy watching them and now he spots a bull moose on this side of the house! The whole family is visiting and this bull moose has just one horn! They took their time looking around and then sauntered off just as quietly as they came! Now that is something you don’t see every day! A few days later, Dad’s neighbor, Barb, posted pictures of ‘one horn’ on facebook and I told her he was at Dad’s, but she thought it was a different one, because his buddy is missing the opposite horn! Pretty neat!

My boys and I have season tickets to Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary and enjoyed the Aesop’s Fables show last weekend. If you haven’t been and you have young children, you really should check it out. The actors are very versatile, the shows are done within one hour, the set and props are simple, yet creative ,and the price is right at $12 a ticket. We have enjoyed every show and they usually have music and humor that the adults appreciate!

Until next week, remember: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream Discover.” Mark Twain.

Counting the Days til Mexico…

As the ‘January blues’ set in for some people (not me…and I’ll tell you why later) people start daydreaming of warm, tropical locations to visit (now I am dreaming of that). First things first…if you don’t mind the cold and snow, then you are probably pretty content right about now. Just ask my sister, Marlene. She’d much prefer the hoar frost and frigid temperatures than humidity and heat! But, if you have been in Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Ontario this past week and have been trying to cope with the snow…and storms…and cold…and I mean bitter cold…then you might be dreaming of a tropical vacation with your butt in the sand right about now (hey, that reminds me of a certain Zac Brown Band song!) Secondly, I don’t have the ‘January blues’ because it is the 27th day of January as I type this, and every single day of 2013, my four year old son has told me I am beautiful. Now, how can someone possibly have the ‘January blues’ if you’ve been told 27 days in a row that you are beautiful? You can’t. It’s that simple. But…I am counting the days until we head to Mexico…oh yes, the beaches are calling my name and I will go…Until next week…stay warm! Signing off with a quote (author unknown). “It’s hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me. Almost like therapy – Beach Therapy.”

Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival 2013

The weather cooperated, the scenery was breathtaking, and the talent on display was nothing short of spectacular! Yes, I am talking about the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival. My family took in some of the events this past weekend and if you missed it, you can still go next weekend as this festival is on two weekends in a row! This is the second year my husband and I have gone to the One Carver – One Block – One Hour Competition and we really enjoy it! This year our six year old really got into it and I am including a photo of his vote of the People’s Choice Award. His pick for best scupture was the ‘Canada Flag with the Canada Goose.’ 12 ice carvers from around the world compete for the winning title and $1000 prize for first place by carving whatever they choose out of one block of ice in the span of one hour. The chain saws were humming, the irons were out, and the torches were fired up at the end to turn the cloudy ice crystal clear. It really is amazing to watch 12 talented people come up with such creative sculptures in such a short time frame. After that competition held at the Lake Louise Inn was over, we drove out to the Chateau and checked out the ice sculptures there…made out of 15 blocks of ice and the theme for this year’s competition was ‘Carve a Song.’ We went Saturday afternoon and the masterpieces weren’t completed yet, but we were able to see a tremendous amount of carving done and what the finished products were going to look like as each station had a picture on display along with the title. This is a pretty big deal…one couple has traveled from New York for 11 or 12 years in a row to attend this event…pretty neat. Until next week…stay warm and enjoy mugs of hot chocolate, sitting by the fireplace, and the great selection of infinity scarves in style right now!!!

Family Fun at Douglas Fir Resort in Banff

My family discovered the Douglas Fir Resort last January and have been repeat customers ever since! Friends recommended it to us and we went with our boys one year ago for the first time. Well, they loved it so much that we went again and took friends from Saskatchewan in April. My youngest son asked the entire month of September if we could go back to Banff and since it has become such an enjoyable little getaway, we went at the end of that month. He turns 4 this weekend so we are going to his favorite place to celebrate once again! Banff is a great place to visit in any season, but the Douglas Fir Resort is a great place for families to stay, especially if you have young kids. Why? Three great reasons: 1. It has an incredible indoor playground that is over two stories high that has slides, climbing tunnels, and more! 2. The two water slides are great for young children (and those of us who are older, but still young at heart!) 3. The suites and condos have kitchenettes, table & chairs, couch and chair, and beds and/or bedrooms…great for families to have meals there, as well as some down time. I have nothing but good things to say about this resort…staff have always been friendly, they have never messed up a reservation, and the rooms are always clean! Plus, when you make the kids happy, the parents are happy and you have them coming back over and over! I am including a photo of our boys at the top of the gondola last Easter in April…yes, lots of snow! I’m sure there will be lots again this trip, too! Stay tuned for next week’s post on the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival as we are taking that in this weekend! Now that is something you should go see. Check out www.banfflakelouise.com and click on “Ice Magic Festival” to find out all about it! I will sign off with a quote that I love (not sure who to credit, but it is true)”Traveling…it leaves you speechless – then turns you into a storyteller.”

Emerald Lake Lodge…Wonderful in Winter

Can’t get away this winter to a warm destination, but still want to ‘get away’ somewhere close? Consider Emerald Lake Lodge, just past Field, BC. The lake is definitely emerald in color and stunning in the summer, but you can’t rival this kind of beauty in the winter. As you can see by my photos, it is a winter wonderland. The rooms have fireplaces to keep you warm and comfy after you spend some time in the outdoor hot-tub. The lounge and restaurant offer a delicious meal…and it is something special because you are in one of the most beautiful places in the world. My husband and I spent a great weekend here and I would recommend it. We enjoyed a hike around part of the lake, but we didn’t get to go as far as we would have liked because I didn’t pack my high winter boots, only my short ones and the snow was just too deep…next time, though, as I would definitely go back. If you have any questions…just let me know.

“Dad, I thought it was a real moose!”

Enroute from one family Christmas in southwest Saskatchewan to another in northeastern Saskatchewan on Boxing Day, we were driving through Moose Jaw. My husband, Wade, said to our boys, “Look out your window up ahead and you’ll see a great big moose!” Well, the boys dropped their cars and their books that they were engrossed in to catch a glimpse of this big moose…well, it was a big moose, all right! It was the gigantic moose statue that greets the visitors at Moose Jaw, but my boys have spent enough time at their grandpa’s farm in northern SK to know what real moose are and what a majestic animal they really are, so they were hugely disappointed and both exclaimed, “Dad, I thought it was a real moose!”