ciroccoj: (family)
The last day of our vacation included only our own half of the family, as my dad, Trinh, Mark and Emma were driving back to Vancouver. One of the last things Emma said? "I think I believe you're my sister now." :):) :) :)

It was a neat experience. We all left thinking it might be really cool to get together for another vacation, and thinking of the logistics involved. It was just a lot of fun, for all involved. Emma was wonderful - bright, and fun, and interesting. And I just realized that following that with "She reminds me a lot of me at her age" sounds rather narcissistic :D :D Mark charmed the boys with his total Young Uncle Coolness :) Trinh was a lot of fun to get to know. And it was great catching up with my dad - though a bit disturbing to realize that I probably hadn't spoken more than a sentence at a time in Spanish since... damn, don't know how long ago. I only speak it to family members, and I haven't spoken to either of my mom's sisters in a few months. (Should probably rectify that.)

One of the last nights around the campfire )

Neato home-schooling/Sliders moment: When we were watching the Greatest Canadian videos a few months ago, Justin decided that Frederick Banting was his #1 choice, because he discovered a cure for diabetes. Without him, Jack Benny, Halle Berry, Wilford Brimley, Delta Burke, James Cagney, Nell Carter, Jackie Gleason, Mary Tyler Moore, and George C. Scott might never have acted at all, or might have had much shorter careers. lots and lots more names )Mario Puzo and Anne Rice might have been far less prolific, and George Lucas might not have lived long enough to create Star Wars.

That last really decided Justin, BTW. Great values I'm raising him with; the Greatest Canadian is the guy who made Star Wars possible. ::sigh::

I also pointed out that the three of us might not be here either. My dad's father was diabetic, and depending on when he developed the condition, without insulin he might not have lived long enough to father my dad, which meant I wouldn't be here, which would make Daniel and Justin immaterial as well.

And one night around the campfire I remembered to ask my dad, and found out we do indeed owe our very existence to Frederick Banting, as my grandfather became diabetic relatively young.

Which meant that in some alternate universe, where Banting never invented insulin, the only way the trail ride would've happened would've been if by some bizarre twist of fate Chris met Trinh and said, "Hey, you want to go on a trail ride with me? Because I get the feeling that in another universe, you're my... stepmother-in-law."

That's assuming Trinh didn't think Chris was giving her the most bizarre pick-up line ever, and quickly backed away from the crazy.

Anyway, the day after the trail ride ended, newly showered and shining with the pleasure of having used flush toilets for the first time in five days, we headed across the border, to Glacier National Park )

And then? We went home.
ciroccoj: (family)

Happy breakfast! Trinh, Mark, Emma, and me on one side, Daniel, Chris, Justin and my dad on the other.

Our two guides, Matty and John )
Matty's 17, John's in his early twenties. Cool guys.

At one point we were talking about boys who like doing girly stuff like ballet, etc, and somebody pointed out that although they may get teased by other males, sometimes guys who go into girls' fields/activities end up really doing rather well in ways that have very little to do with said fields/activities. Eg, as Chris used to say, guys who took Women's Studies, to "get in touch with their feminine sides, so they could get in touch with other peoples'... feminine sides."

John puts up his hand. "Oh yeah. English major here. You know, Shakespeare's not that interesting."

Belt buckles )
Justin was extremely impressed by the cowboys' belt buckles, prizes from various rodeo competitions they'd been in. Asked us to take pictures. So we did.

Last days on the trail: mountains, rivers, and the road back home )

Bye bye, horsies. Hello, freaky GM pets )

This image brought to you by Horse Poo! It's everywhere! Get used to it! )
ciroccoj: (family)
Days 5: Vancouver, Lethbridge
Said goodbye to Dennis and Vancouver. Justin, who loves babies and younger kids, had taken an interest in Dennis, and had come to tell us, very excited, every time he'd managed to have some kind of interaction with him.

"He looked at me!"

"He smiled at me!"

"He said Thank you!"

I don't have any pictures of Dennis, so I'll have to ask Trinh, because the two I took were unrecognizably blurred.

Took a plane to Lethbridge, which is a small town in Alberta that [ profile] batita expressed great fondness towards. ::cough::

Day 6: Kayaking
Sadly, kayaks and cameras are not generally likely to be best of be friends. So we didn't bring ours. But we had a great time, kayaking about 5 hours in a river near Lethbridge.

I don't know if any of us had kayaked before. I know I hadn't. And we'd expected all the kids to be with adults, but there were only two double kayaks, so Emma went with my father, Justin went with me, and Daniel said, "Yeah, I can handle a kayak on my own."

Not My Kid.

He didn't do so well at first - couldn't get the hang of the thing, kept getting involuntarily turned around, snagged on rocks, and lagged behind the rest. Same as me, only I had Justin in my kayak so I also had to keep my cool and not pitch the hissy fit I was aching to pitch.

Happens so, so often in parenting: you not only have a hell of a time coping with something nigh-uncopable, but you also have to do so With A Smile, because you've got a little person who will be totally crushed if their parent loses it, and it's not just All About You.

Daniel had no such obligation and so he pitched a few hissies, and nobody could really blame him. One of the guides finally connected their kayaks together for a while, and gave him a bit of time to collect himself.

And then the kid gathered himself up, decided to try again, and bloody well learned to kayak.

As my dad said, "Daniel is my hero today, you know?"

Again: Not My Kid.

Emma was also not doing terribly well for a while there - it was cold, it was tough paddling, they kept getting snagged. The weather wasn't the only thing clouding over; her expression was more than a little stormy for a while there. And yet she also gathered herself up and was able to enjoy herself, despite the cold. Neat kid.

At the barbecue at the end of the kayaking, she said once again, "I still don't quite believe you're my sister."

"Well, you may not believe it, but I'm starting to. I would've been just like you during the kayak thing, except I wouldn't have been able to cheer up like you did."

A thoughtful look greeted this revelation ;)

No kayaks, but the Wuthering Heights weather was about this cheery )

Day 7: Horsies!
Our first serious day on horseback. Here's a shot of our cowboy guide, Trinh on Tess, Justin on Skeeter, Daniel on Peanuts, and Emma on Ginger.

The ranch is in a beautiful location. Look to the West, and you see mountains that would make any Ontario skiier swoon, but which Albertans call the Foothills. Look to the East, and the land is so flat that on a clear day you can see all the way to the back of your own head.

OK, maybe that's exaggerating a tad. But I think if you squint, you can probably see Manitoba in the horizon.

East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet )

We had two cabins available, but decided to only use one, as they were rather huge. The four old married folks stayed upstairs, and the four under-thirties stayed downstairs. Mark has the patience of a saint, and plays the role of the Cool Young Uncle/Older Brother extremely well. This included listening to Daniel's extensive D&D/game narrations, and playing various games that involved chasing children through bushes. God bless him.

Cool Uncle )

Day 8
On the last day, we stopped at a lake for lunch, and did some canoeing. Also high on my God Bless Them list was one of our guides, Matty, a seventeen-year-old who completely enthralled Justin with his utter coolness and patience and sense of humour. And, you know, the whole cowboy thing. In fact, I don't think Justin remembers his name; he refused to call him anything but Cowboy.

Lake of the Cowboy )

Kind of cool home schooling tie-in: one of the days we were in Vancouver, we ended up visiting part of the city where there used to be a community of Japanese-Canadian fishermen, before they were interned and sent inland after Pearl Harbor. The boys had heard of the Japanese internment, both because I wrote a Civil Liberties paper that included it ([ profile] mynuet's suggestion, got a great mark, thank you [ profile] mynuet!) and because we'd watched The Greatest Canadian episode on David Suzuki (who was interned when he was six).

So one day we're eating around the campfire and Cowboy gets third helpings of rice. The other guide teases him about it and he says, "Hey, I'm part-Asian; I like rice."

"Really?" asks Trinh, who's Vietnamese.

"Yeah, my grandpa was Japanese. His family lived in BC till they were sent out here during WWII."

Small world.
ciroccoj: (family)
Day 4
Puttered about Vancouver. Saw a Japanese fishing village. No pictures. Boo.

Day 5
The next day, my dad, Trinh, Emma and Mark started driving to Alberta. Dennis stayed behind, with a caregiver who was going to stay with him while the trail ride was going on, since he would have been pretty miserable if he'd come along. We also stayed in Vancouver, as we were going to be flying in to Lethbridge. Went to the Capilano Bridge, a 136-metre long suspension bridge that hangs 70 above the Capilano river.

Yeah, province of superlatives. It's a little scary, walking over this thing. )
ciroccoj: (family)
Day 1: Vancouver
Spent the first day settling in and meeting Emma, Trinh and Dennis. Emma's initial reaction: "I don't quite believe you're my sister." You and me both, kid ;)

She and the boys got along incredibly well. Before long they were laughing in the car, playing together outside, and having what certainly sounded like a heck of a good time outside. Meanwhile, we got settled in, met Trinh and Dennis and said hi to Mark, my 20-year old brother from my dad's second marriage. Trinh is great - friendly, interesting, great sense of humour. Dennis is fairly severely autistic and has some developmental delay, but he did make some eye contact, and he has a wonderful smile. Mark... well, the last time I'd seen him was about four years ago. Sixteen year olds don't generally have much by way of stubble or muscles, did you know? He kinda laughed at me and Chris (a lot) for being totally stunned at how much he'd changed :D :D

Had lunch. Trinh's also a great cook. Passed around old photographs, including a few of my dad's family. Saw a picture of my grandfather that I hadn't seen in years.

Day 2: Squamish
Saw [ profile] batita! And her kids! We ended up at a beach at one point, and she said something like, "I feel like I'm giving you the lame tour of Squamish."

"Um, no," we said. "You weren't in our car as we were driving up here. There was a lot of open-mouth Holy **** being said in there."

Chris has always called BC the Promised Land, and claims it's the most gorgeous province in Canada. Um, yeah. Pretty much. It's a land in superlatives.

Sand castles & kids )

As for the grownups, we had a great time catching up on... well, about twenty years or so. That's a lot of history.

Day 3: Vancouver
Took Emma to the Aquarium. More running around and having fun with the Big Nephews. And were struck over and over again with how much Daniel and Emma look alike. She's tanned and he's freckled, but otherwise there's quite a kinship evident there. Although "I still don't quite believe you're my sister" was still said a number of times ;)

ibises, dolphins, electric blue froggies and kids! )

November 2012

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