West and back again

When I was 10, my geography-loving father bundled our family and my grandmother into our maxivan with house trailer and we trundled off to BC and back.  I have vivid memories of:

  • thinking that Kakabeka Falls was the colour of beer
  • camping next to a grain elevator in Saskatchewan and being awoken multiple times in the night by the freight trains
  • seeing a horrific chuckwagon accident at Calgary Stampede
  • getting lost in the BC Museum

…and, of course, having the van break down in the mountains, fighting and loving my sisters, and generally making once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Max enters grade 9 in the fall and with it comes his only mandatory geography course.  The 4 goals of grade 9 geography are:

  • developing an understanding of the characteristics and spatial diversity of natural and human environments and communities, on a local to a global scale;
  • analysing the connections within and between natural and human environments and communities;
  • developing spatial skills through the use of spatial technologies and the interpretation, analysis, and construction of various types of maps, globes, and graphs;
  • being responsible stewards of the Earth by developing an appreciation and respect for both natural and human environments and communities

Like his mother, I’m hoping that he’ll learn to love the study as much as I do, but regardless, I want him to get to know ecozones on an intimate level.  I want those capitals and provinces to have memories attached, not just be words on a worksheet.  I want my husband to see what it means to take 3 days to get out of Ontario, and to fall madly in love with prairie skies.  We are making 2 longer stops on the way out: Winnipeg for the new museum and Drumheller for the bones. We’re spending 4 days in Campbell River with family and 4 more days in Tofino with family. On the way back we’re spending 3 nights in Yellowstone because if you’re gonna go, watching a supervolcano explode would be a magnificent way to do it, or less bleakly, there will be more geothermal activity to study.

We’re doing it a little differently than when I was 10 though, taking my 2016 Buick Encore and glamping it up in hotels that serve breakfast.  I’m hoping to picnic as often as possible, and we’ve purchased our annual Canada Parks pass to take us to more sites than usual.  Of course the trick about doing any of this well is to plan obsessively, and you’ll see from my map that I am all over this.  I kept begging Tim to give us one or two or seven more days, but he keeps applying the brakes, saying that I wore him out in Iceland/England over 5 weeks last summer.  We’re looking at this as a reconnaissance mission…we’ll just drive through Banff this time, and come back for more on a different excursion.

On our map I’ve plotted our accommodations, collated recommended independent bookstores, breweries/cideries/wineries, good eats, espresso bars, and arts & crafts stores.  Items in green are either Parks Canada sites on our route, or must-see gardens according to various bloggers.  Unlike in Iceland last summer, I’m confident that this time that I will be able to use my personalized map and that I’ll have the data plan to use it! 10 days out, 9 days in BC and 10 days back. What we can’t predict are accidents (stuck between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg for 4 hours once), forest fires (make it rain in the Okanagan please!), and of course, Canada’s summer pastime of construction. Here’s to making memories!

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