Friday, July 20, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

Well, we've been on worcation now since arriving at the Barrier Lake Field Station on Sunday. It's been a slice so far, even as I write this post Edie and Dad are on a date to go and see the Justin Beaver Returns show at a local interpretive centre...or Kananaskis Idol, the songbirds show. Not sure which. Either way, they are gone, Tim's grad student and research assistant are out of the cottage (yes, we're all staying together...I'd put money down that both will seriously, seriously reconsider having children after this), and I'm listening to Celia drift off to sleep in a fit of rage as it's hot in here and this brings out much anger in our little princess.

Those tricky interpretive guides, using pop culture to help educate.

It was a bit of a gamble as to whether we should have undertaken such a big thing as 2+ weeks in the mountains with the girls and with Tim getting done what needs to get done, but we've done crazier, and it's turning out to be quite a trip. The scenery alone is making it all worth far. The girls and I have been walking, running and driving all over exploring while Tim's been working in more remote field locations. We've seen elk, big horn sheep and your standard Canadian forest fare, and thanks to lots of singing, tamborine-ing and jingling we have not yet seen any live bears. Hopefully we'll keep that record. All in all, I could get used to this annual trip.

No mountain walk is complete without tamborine here.  And you might wonder what it takes to get the little one to smile for a picture.
Bingo.  A bucket and water. No clothes also helps.

On the way from Saskatoon to Kananaskis we stopped in Drumheller for a night with a stay at the Badlands Motel along with many bikers who were perhaps drawn to the awesomeness of the motel name. Drumheller is really a pretty interesting place- I could just not get my head around dinosaurs living and dying right where we were standing- but more fascinating was just how different in geography and topography this one little town was from the rest of Canada. Seriously, it's prairie all the way from Saskatoon to Drumheller, then these subtropical-feeling and straight out of an old western film badlands, and then prairie again until you get to the Rockies- such a weird blip. I'm glad we went there. It's a good place to see with your own eyes. Big kids points with the dinosaurs of course and Whifs Pancake House conveniently located at the Badlands Motel is another great reason to go to Drumheller.

Drumheller's splash park complete with world's largest dinosaur- big hit.
Celia the brave.

Edie the less brave, but equally great.

World's most red-faced dinosaur.

World's most gentlemanly dinosaur.

On the home front, our bird house guests this summer turned out to be a family of house wrens. We discovered this one Saturday a few weeks back when our friend Christy Morrissey and her boys were over for dinner. Christy is a colleague at the U of S, appointed partly in biology and partly in the School of Environment and Sustainability, and she works mainly with birds. Our new birds happened to have fledged that same day and one little wren who couldn't quite fly yet, but had left the bird box, had apparently been left behind. It was quite a sad sight, the poor thing hopping about the yard and squawking for the entire day. Christy decided to check the little guy or girl out and show it to the kids. The kids loved it. They also helped to feed it mosquitos and other bugs so that they might help increase the chances of survival although Christy explained very clearly that survival to reproduction in the brightest and best fledglings was generally 2-5%, and this little fellow didn't stand much of a chance. Though sad, it was a pretty cool learning opportunity for the kids.

How cool is this, hey?

Such a very cute little bird. Best of luck!
We hadn't seen the bird or the family around before we left, but hopefully we've given them a good start and our little bird house attracts another family again next Spring. Nadia the neighbor is taking care of our flowers and vegetables while we're gone, and we also hope that they are all doing well. It's been a fun summer of gardening so far and we're looking forward to a good haul come fall. 

Little beauty in our lilly patch.
Our other little beauty spreading some weed seeds- one of her favorite activities.
Much love to all, and best of luck to brother Jay and sister Tamsin who are expecting a new human arrival any day now.  Go, go, go!