Crossing the border for us was relatively easy. I think we were the second car in line or something. My poor parents, however, were stuck in line for quite some time when they reached the border hours later. There was a long line of cars and they were stopped both while exiting the United States and when entering Canada, so I'm glad we crossed the border when we did.
We simply handed the border patrol agent our documents and he asked us to unroll the window so he could count the children (and/or make sure it looked like they all belonged to us). He asked us where we were coming from and some details about our trip to Alberta. "Do you have any goods to sell or leave behind?" he asked. We told him we didn't. He told us he'd need a minute to "type in" the children's birth certificates and closed his booth window.
That's when Rachel tapped me on the shoulder to ask, "Is that even legal!?"
I definitely already told that story, but it's just so funny! She thought he'd asked if we had any kids to sell or leave behind!
Anyway, soon after crossing the border we stopped at the Travel Alberta centre in Milk River.
It's really quite a lot of fun!
There's a big ol' dinosaur out in front (an albertosaurus), along with some (fake) hoodoos (the dinosaur is fake as well but I assumed I wouldn't have to clarify that part).
My kids had a blast climbing on the hoodoos, which I thought they would. I'd suggested going to Writing-On-Stone for a family outing, after it became clear that nothing kid-friendly was open in Waterton (due to last year's fire), but my parents had gone with Rosie and Malachi a few years ago and were categorically unimpressed so my suggestion was shot down.
I'm sure they just missed out on the good stuff, however, because my first year of Young Women's camp was at Writing-On-Stone and I thought it was fabulous. We swam in the Milk River and played kick-the-can amongst the hoodoos and did a few hikes. We had a grand ol' time.
Two tangents here...
First, our grand ol' time at YW camp was briefly interrupted when some girls thought it would be funny to sneak into our tent and write mean things on our faces with felt pens. They wrote "nerd" on my face and hit a few other girls with some oh-so-hilarious tags. But the worst was what they did to Jasmine. They coloured Jasmine's face entirely blue (she must have been a sound sleeper, Jasmine) and she was absolutely mortified. She vowed she'd never come to another church activity ever again. And she didn't.
The moral of this story is: Kids can be jerks (don't be a jerk).
Second, the Milk River was named by Meriwether Lewis (what wasn't named by Lewis and Clark?!) because, and I kid you not, "the water of this river possesses a peculiar whiteness, being about the colour of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoonfull of milk." I don't know why I find that so funny, but I do. I suppose Captains Lewis and Clark were still every bit the gentlemen on their excursion (either that or perhaps they'd run out of tea by the time they came to the Milk River and were really hankering for a cuppa).
Personally, I'm more curious about what the Milk River was called before Lewis and Clark stumbled across it, but I can't find the name anywhere, so if you know...let me know.
Anyway, it ended up being just fine that we didn't go to Writing-On-Stone because the kids had a fine time playing on the manmade hoodoos.
It took some convincing to get the kids off the rocks and inside the center, which is also quite fun. Here are a few of my children-turned-hardened-criminal (dear children: don't ever turn hardened criminal (k thanks, bye))...
First Rachel, who is tough as nails:
Then Zoë, sweet but devious:
And finally Alexander, the criminal-iest criminal of them all!:
Miriam was far too busy digging for dinosaur bones to entertain a life of crime (and Benjamin was bouncing around from activity to activity to pause for a picture; he could hardly contain himself).
Soon the children all found an outlet in archeology:
We also got to try out a little coal mining cart:
My great-grandfather was a coal miner in Alberta. I don't actually know a lot about him, except what my mom has detailed on her blog (and which I'm putting on Family Search right now because there is nothing there for him)!
Here are the boys exploring a teepee:
And the kids pretending to do some chuck-wagon racing and bronco riding:
And then they saw this display of famous landmarks, pointed to the Vulcan spaceship and said, "Oh, let's go there! I want to go there! Can we, can we, can we? Pleeeeease?"
So I told them we might be able to make that happen (since it was already on my list of fun things to do). Then, having exhausted all the Travel Alberta Centre had to offer us, we headed to Raymond to spend the night with my mom's cousin.
I took the kids on a walk to see my grandparents' house (where I have many fond childhood memories) and was aghast to find out that they'd painted it brown and chopped down the trees in the front yard and took out the bushes by the walkway. It looked very different (and not in a flattering way (and that's saying something because I always thought my grandparents' house was a somewhat terrible shade of green but, believe me, that puke green is an improvement on the brown)).
And then we went down to Lion's Park to get our beans out before bed.
And I have a question about Lion's Park: was it always there? Because if so, why didn't we play at it more often when we'd visit Grandma and Grandpa? Because I'm pretty sure we drove Grandma crazy playing sardines in her backyard and she hated us climbing up in her trees. This park was so close to their house but I have few memories of going there (granted, it's a brand new play structure, but there's an old "Lion's Park" sign, yet I don't remember going to the park very often when we would visit Raymond).