We love adventures, my husband loves driving, and I love sleeping in the car. So we combined all three of those and took our family on an Alberta bound Vacation. Here in British Columbia and Alberta the first weekend in August is a long weekend. So for the past two years we have taken advantage of the extra day and spent it with our family in Olds, Alberta.
My husband and I have amazing family members spread out all over the world but two of our most favorite people live in the quiet and beautiful little community of Olds. They have a little hobby farm and a beautiful home that they so graciously open up to us and our crazy crew. We obviously didn’t overwhelm them too much as they once again took on the fun responsibility of being our hosts for one of our awesome adventures.
My husband’s Aunt has created the most wonderful set up for her garden. Their property is located in the middle of another farmers fields. Their long driveway leads to their yard where as a mother you feel safe to let your children run free without constant supervision. No one is running away. Her vegetable gardens are huge and supply food for more than just her own family. She shares her crop with others. Her berry patches were where I would often find my son when things were too quiet. I would spot his little hands covered in berry juice, reaching for more.
The crops surrounding their property are different every year. This year it is a barely Crop. As a west coast girl I had no idea what barely looked like and was actually shocked at how short the crops are. At the height of my children, the stalks stand straight and strong as they blow in the wind. There is a lot of wind. Not having any natural land masses to stop the force of the wind blowing across the prairies, all the trees and crops and buildings stand tall and well adapted.
Having a small farm almost always means you need to share it with some pets. Our children loved feeding their sheep that they basically just use as lawn mowers to help keep the grass low until the first frost. They then sell their sheep and wait until spring to get their new flock. My children got to help them pick some gold fish for their little pond. We are all glad that they freely said good bye to them before we went home. I would not have enjoyed a 10 hour car ride with a mason jar full of gold fish.
This was my favorite part of their cute little farm. Even though I am allergic, I was so excited to partake in this crop from their farm. Fresh Honey on our toast in the morning and fresh honey in my tea at night.
They both loved being able to roam and explore and eat wherever and whenever they wanted. I have to say, so did I! You would often find my boys riding a quad and my daughter petting their dog. But with so much property and so much freedom everyone was happy and everyone slept really well.
These pictures pretty much speak for themselves. They have built trails through their forest for the quads to explore. We would play hide and seek on the quads and would play cops and robbers. My son always needing to the be the cop and my daughter willingly taking on the role of the robber. It was so fun to be free to actually play with my kids and not feel the responsibility of house work or dinner prep to get in my way:)
Living on farm means there is always some sort of project to be worked on. This year the kiddos helped their great uncle build a bench for the back of the quads trailer. They did everything from measuring to cutting to drilling. My son was in heaven. He loves hands on projects.
The town of Olds is located 2 hours south of edmonton. On a cloudy day we took the kids to the great and wonderful West Edmonton Mall. The sole purpose was to go to the water park. It was nostalgic for me and my husband as we remembered being the same age as our kiddos splashing in the same waves. My kids normally last max an hour in any pool but we were there for more than 5 hours exploring all it has to offer. There was never a dull moment.
Prairies are flat (obviously). So my husband (mr dorky) brought his telescope to check out how far he could see. The great reward was waiting until all the stars came out. With no city lights or streetlights to obstruct our view we could see millions of stars and even the milky way. It was breathtaking.
Side note: My 3 year old daughter learned to ride a bike!!!
So how did we get to Alberta? How did we travel 10 hours with a 3 and a 4 year old and still smile about it?
Well you basically have two options. We tried both.
- Drive over night- We left at 830 pm (already an hour past their bedtime) You can almost always assure that the excitement of going on a trip will cause anyone to have a hard time falling asleep. Our children finally fell asleep at around 930. My husband is better at driving when tired so I did the first shift and drove until 12:30am. Then I tag teamed my husband and he took over. I instantly fell asleep and was woken up by a tap on my leg at 5 am by my hubby who desperately needed me to take over. I drove the rest of the way. Pros: – only one bathroom break/gas break . No food except sunflower seeds and coffee for the driver. Less traffic. don’t waste a day traveling. No construction. quiet family. Cons: driving in the dark is harder to see with headlights always in your eyes. Do not get to see the scenery. kind of boring. Driving tired is not always the best idea. when you arrive you need a nap.
- Driving during the day- With kids we like to leave at around 10 or 11am. Getting in a big breakfast and lots of running around is key. Once the kids are in the car we give them a snack and make a short little drive to somewhere to have lunch. So we put in about 1-2 hours before we stop for lunch. This trip we stopped at costco and had lunch for 7 dollars 🙂 That is not always an option. So after lunch our kids were ready for a nap so this is when we got our longest stretch of driving in without stopping. We make it about 4 hours before we stopped for gas and a game of freeze tag on an empty field across the street. We all piled in and drove a few more hours and then stopped for dinner. This time we went to a restaurant and took about 1.5 hours to eat. Then we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way home. We got home after bedtime with two sleeping children. We carried them to bed. It was great. So what are the Pros? : getting to see the view. no lonely as everyone is awake. not tired. no headlights in your face. lots of stores on the side of the road are open and selling fresh fruit or local goods. playing road trip games. Cons :All the bathroom breaks. if someone gets carsick, they probably will. Stops for food slows you down. a whole day is spent traveling. construction and holiday traffic.