Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In the beginning...

Before spending time in Alberta we first had to get there! We checked the girls out from school halfway through the day on Thursday (May 3) so we could get a decent number of driving hours under our belt without feeling too exhausted. We drove from Spanish Fork to Raymond without any significant hiccups. Our gas station stops aligned perfectly with Alexander's eating schedule and he was content to play and sleep in his carseat while we were driving. 

Here he is feeling happy:

And here he is feeling sleepy (and blowing bubbles!):

And here he is sleeping and drooling (he was doing some hardcore teething on this trip so he was incredibly drooly):

Honestly, he was such a happy baby the whole trip. I think that Zoë and Benjamin stress him out a little bit (and though I love them both dearly I can commiserate with him). 

When he was awake I would hand him toy after toy to play with. He'd turn it over for a few minutes, shake it in the air, chew on it, and then toss it overboard. It would come to rest on the floor between his seat and his door, where nobody could reach it. Every time we stopped I'd collect all the toys from this little toy graveyard so I could hand them to him again:

We spent the night at Dwaine and Janet's house in Raymond. I haven't been in that house since it was just the barebones skeleton of their dream home (and they were living in a tiny cordoned off section while the rest was slowly pieced together). It's really quite beautiful and the guest rooms in the basement are amazing. There are two of them and they each sleep seven people. There's a queen bed, a queen bunkbed, and a crib in each one.

We had a lovely visit in the morning before hitting the road again.

Janet, me, Miriam, and Rachel are on the couch; Josie and Shawn in back
We didn't want to arrive in High River too early (though we should have headed straight there because Piper and Malachi didn't have school on Friday, which we didn't know beforehand, so we missed spending the day with them) so we stopped in Fort Macleod to visit the fort. 

Fort Macleod was named for the North-West Mounted Police barracks, which was "the second headquarters of the NWMP after Fort Livingstone was abandoned in 1876." It's now a historic landmark, though few original buildings remain (I think just the lawyer's office, actually). But it's a fun little museum.

(A note on this picture: The United Kingdom Union Flag has been a common sight in Canada since the early 1800s (Canada claimed independence in 1867). Though it isn't as commonly seen today, it's still the official Canadian Royal Union Flag. The Canadian Flag (with the maple leaf), however, wasn't adopted until 1965 (and wasn't even proposed until 1964). Benjamin has a book about the Statue of Liberty and at its unveiling and dedication, flags of the world were apparently displayed and the illustrator for the book included the maple leaf flag! In 1886? I don't think so! Anyway, that's why there's a Union Flag flying in the square.)

Here are Miriam, Alexander, and Rachel on a lovely Canada-themed bench:

And here's Rachel on a WWI bench:

There are several little museums on site. One is a history of the RCMP and the establishment of the fort, another houses First Nations artifacts, then there's a chapel, a lawyer's office, a clinic, and a blacksmith (among other exhibits).

Here are the kids in the holding cell:

They got pretty dramatic:

And here's Auntie Josie pondering her fate (we forgot to lock her in so escaping should have been fairly simple):

Here's Miriam in front of a building with a sod roof:

You can climb into the lookout towers and walk across the catwalk, which was fun:

Josie, Naanii, Rachel, and Miriam on the catwalk
Here's everyone trying out the sidecar:


 Miriam came face to face with a grizzly bear:

 And Alexander pretended he was a moose:

We also found a picture of a blacksmith named Alex Alexander (which is a great, though slightly redundant, name):

I thought the chapel was beautiful! They had some beautiful stained glass windows:

I felt like an effort had been made to fairly represent the view of the First Nations on the fort. For example, there was an entire exhibit that you could listen to in Blackfoot (which we tried to do, but you had to pay a quarter for it to play and Josie only had an American quarter, which the machine happily took (though it did not play anything for us)) and another exhibit discussing the "signing of treaty 7" stated that "members of the Blackfoot Confederacy were conflicted on whether or not to accept the treaty negotiations but Crowfoot knew that the First Nations nomadic existence was coming to an end with the near extinction of the buffalo. He also knew that there was no stopping the influx of white immigration and if he wanted his people to coexist peacefully with the new settlers the treaty would need to be signed." In other words: they were forced (by contrived circumstances) to sign the treaty (but they weren't entirely thrilled about their lands being taken over). At least, that's what I got out of it.


We had fun exploring the fort, but everyone was eager to get to our final destination, which was just a couple hours north of where we were already so it seemed like a pretty short drive. I tried to get my girls to enjoy the rolling prairie but they were mostly doing this the whole time:

This picture was taken in Montana somewhere, not in Alberta, but you get the idea
For some reason they kept complaining about having kinks in their necks...I don't know why.

I told them that they had to look out their windows and enjoy the view of the rolling prairies on the drive up to High River. "That's all there is to see," they moaned, but they looked out their windows anyway and gave me sarcastic oohs and aahs as I pointed out grain elevators, quansets, hay bails, and, "Oh! The Happy Face Barn!" I squealed. "You have no idea how much joy this barn has brought to me throughout my life."

"It means we're almost there," my mom explained.

"The next exit is ours!" I said.

It's a sign that you have, once again, survived the drive from wherever to home (more often only the drive from Raymond, where my maternal grandparents lived, to High River, but often enough from Utah, where my paternal grandparents lived, to High River).

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