Our second trip to Calgary occurred this week. We headed out Thursday afternoon and drove the majority of the way, holing up in an empty, inexpensive, and completely adequate motel in Canmore (an hour from Calgary) around 9 pm. The weather was great, and until the sun set the views of the Rockies were fantastic -- clear, blue skies with puffy white clouds, tons of fresh snow on the mountains, but a blaze of birch and cottonwood yellow amongst the pine, spruce and cedar of the lower elevations. The kids talked and read until they got bored, then put a LOTR movie on the laptop and watched that. Before it was over, we were at the motel.
We did the usual deal of a bit of Discovery Channel, some packed-along leftovers for a very late dinner, and then some bedtime story reading aloud.
The next morning we had breakfast and drove the last hour to Calgary. We went directly to the zoo. The weather was beautiful again and we spent a great half-day exploring about two thirds of the zoo. We had a long up-close encounter with the new baby Asian elephant Malti and everyone especially enjoyed the spider monkeys. This was our first time at this zoo. We liked it a lot, especially the fact that the walking distances were small and the animals easy to see -- in comparison to our "gold standard" in zoos, the Toronto Zoo. Unfortunately, but of these are due to the fact that in Calgary the animals have much less acreage at their disposal in their exhibits, which is a little sad. They're not overtly cramped, but I kept thinking back to Toronto and remembering all the space those animals have to live in. Ah well, we had a great time.
Then we headed to T. & J.'s for Erin's lesson. Erin & T. worked together for about an hour and a half before supper, then another hour after supper. T was amazed by all the work Erin had done and really raved about the progress she had seen in the space of a month. In the last month since her last lesson, Erin has polished the Kreisler Praeludium & Allegro, renewed the Beethoven F major Romance, worked up two Kreutzer studies (one easy, one hard), learned the Gavotte en Rondeau from the Bach E Major Partita and learned the first movement and cadenza of the Haydn C Major. The Kreisler is mostly set aside for now, and the new addition is the Preludio from the same Bach Partita. Erin loved her lesson(s) and is looking forward to making something out of the new teaching she's got.
We ate take-out together, and finished up with the Nanaimo bars Sophie had made at home and brought along for the occasion. All the kids are feeling very comfortable at J & T's now. When J. helped himself to one of the scoops of ice cream that Fiona had deemed "too many" on her plate, she grinned and said "tonight you're my daddy!" and wasn't the slightest bit self-conscious about it. We had just been explaining how Chuck is always good to finish whatever Fiona can't.
We played some family games ("Smart Mouth" was a new one the kids especially liked), Fiona performed her "Handel Bourrée" for J & T, and after a little bit of hanging out (but not much, because it was getting late!) we headed to the motel we'd checked into that afternoon. There was time for a short swim, then story, bedtime reading, a bit of internet and a late bedtime.
Today we drove home in more glorious weather. Easy, quick driving ... 7 and a half hours almost to the minute.
With the late-ish start on Thursday, I realized that we could do this same trip after I get off work on the in-between weeks, when Chuck is off call, and Noah and Sophie could stay home with him. They'd only need to be "home alone" during the 4-5 hours he's at work on Friday (and he's only 5 minutes away even then). Well within their capabilities. I mentioned this possibility to them. Surprisingly neither jumped at it. Sophie decided she'd rather come to Calgary. Noah's not sure what he'll decide. So all in all it seems like they're not suffering too badly from the trips.