Friday, 4 July 2014

5 Reasons to LOVE Calgary Stampede 2014

I know there are lots of Calgary Stampede haters out there. I have friends who leave town because they think it is so awful or just can stand it or what have you. I on the other hand am a big Stampede fan. I agree there are lots of things to hate about it but there are far more good things than bad. Here are some of mine for this year:

1) The new Kids Midway The Great FUNtier:
Although the Stampede is family friendly I haven't always felt that they cater to the family crowd, in the past is has felt more about party-party-party. In any case this year the kids midway has moved. It is in a more open area and closer to all the other kids activities like the tanks and stuff, agriculture area and BMO Kidszone. The other change I noticed was signage all around that asks people not to smoke in the kids area, the bigger better bathrooms with water fountains and lots space so it doesn't feel as packed. The other nice thing is that is set back a  bit so if you want to skip it without your little realising you totally can!

2) Community Spirit: Since the flood last year I have found the people at Stampede to be much more fun loving and friendly. A great example is the guy in line who gave me his extra ticket to sneak-a-peek so Grady and I didn't have to wait in line and I didn't have to pay. Lots of karma going his way! I find there is less rushing and pushing and more smiling and enjoying. Like no one complained when the sweet old man working the line let a young woman cut. I think pre-flood would have made for some angry people

3) I love how everyone gets into the spirit. I know Calgary is not all about cowboys, in fact we probably are very little about ranching and horse riding the past 50 years and more oil and gas ;) So even if you hate identifying as a cowpoke community, think of it as a 10 day dress up party and a great excuse to wear denim to work. Plus hipster love plaid and I love me a nice wrangler butt. But it is so nice to see even corporate Calgary encourages the spirit, you don't hear of companies in other cities having a PNE or CNE or K-days party.

4) Its a whole lots of entertainment for a relatively reasonable price. You could conceivably spend only admission and still have a great time. It is less than the Calgary Zoo or Spark or even Heritage Park (oh that was a bit rhyme-y) And there are ways to get deals to save a bit too. Macs for example sells 2 for $25 passes plus you get two pops with it. Although it is over I would highly recommend Sneak-a-peek for short lines as long as you don't go in the main gates, but once you are in it is smooth sailing.
Found this beauty in the Buckaroos area, so you can recharge yourself and your phone.
5) If you do hate the hullabaloo you will find everywhere else to be a little less busy ;P

So tell me are you a Stampede hater or lover?

p.s. This post wasn't sponsored. I genuinely like Stampede and think it has much more to offer than that other Alberta city's thing

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Little Bow Provincial Campground

We recently tried out a new campground near Champion Alberta just south of Vulcan Alberta. Since we were only going for the weekend it was nice to find somewhere that was around a 2 hour drive or less. After a month of kitchen renovations it was nice to take break.

Little Bow Provincial Park is located on the Travers Reservoir and apparently can be a good place for spotting Peregrine Falcon in the wild. We were a little early in the season so the water was still quite cold and murky from lack of use but the kids enjoyed playing in the sand and splashing a bit.
We camped with 3 other families for a total of 3 trailers and one tent. If you are camping as a group I would suggest booking sites backing on to each other rather than in a row. There is not a lot of foliage separating the campsites and so kids would have more room to play unhindered by the trailers or tents. As well it would increase the privacy for your group.

Camping rates are very reasonable and it is a nice easy drive from Calgary. The lane ways are paved so it is great for biking and very easy to walk or bike down to the water. There is a little shop that sells snacks and some basic items as well as hot food and ice cream. There are several large parking lots at the beach so if you are staying a while it is easy to drive. Unfortunately there is no where along the beach that dogs are allowed but it is easy enough to walk and find a place for them to play.

We really enjoyed hiking up to the top of the hills surrounding the campground and seeing the views and hunting for cacti.

If you are a technology junkie and really need to be forced to put down you electronic devices, this is your campground as it is deep in the valley and has no cell service. There are plenty of payphones and staff on site should an emergency arise.

Mardi has decided that she is an old lady and hates camping. It is really challenging as she is pretty unhappy most of the time and either hides in her kennel or pulls to the end of her rope and looks generally miserable. I think part of it is that she doesn’t like having to stay on leash but if she would just be a good girl and not wander off like Rebar we maybe wouldn’t keep her tied up. Yes we are those people who don’t always have their pups tied up at the campground, except for Mardi the wanderer.! As a result of her new found hate for camping we are not taking them when we travel to Idaho in July. It will be much easier on us and on them.

This was our first trip out this year so needless to say Grady was very excited. He came down with a nasty cold the week we were heading out but we decided to go regardless as he would have been more miserable if we had stayed home. He did not play late into the day like usual and took more “trailer” breaks than he might otherwise but he still had a good time.

You can check out what my friends that camped with us also had to say:

It is such a lovely piece of land in Alberta. It honestly looked like something out a movie set it was just so picturesque! I didn’t really sit down to read my book a lot as it was so nice to just chat and gaze at the beautiful prairie surroundings.

I think if we are looking for a quick trip we will definitely be going back. We have a few others on our bucket list that are close by to check out first!

What is your favourite Alberta campground?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Tips for attending LEGO Kidsfest

We were lucky enough to attend the opening day of LEGO Kidsfest yesterday. The event is sold out so unless you have tickets you are out of luck, they are not selling any at the door.
Art Gallery
Art Gallery
 All I can say is WOW! It is by far the best organized event I have ever seen. So much for the kids to do and lots of wide open space for crowds to move around.

Here are my tips if you are attending:

1) You can't bring in outside food and drinks, although they did allow water bottles. Be prepared to wait in lines for the food stations. Basically if you see a short line and are nearing break time, get in line! If you don't it will inevitably be 10x longer when you return. But unlike other events you may have attended at the BMO there are lots of tables and places to sit and eat. You likely could settle your kids at a table while you waited in line to get food.
Creation Nation
Grady made a Calgary tower to add to Creation Nation, it was getting pretty crazy in there by the time we left. People were building HUGE structures
2) Be prepared for lots of waiting, the lines are long but the move fast. There are several stops that have line ups: Challenge Zone, LEGO Mindstorms, LEGO Ninjago, LEGO Master Builder Academy, LEGO Relay Race and LEGO Friends. Basically these lines just help people move through the activity without having to push for a space at the table. I thought the lines were well organized and moved quite quickly.
Grady made his own Mixel to add to the display case. His is the one at the top of the frame.
3) Know your must-stop places and make sure you get to them first. I really thought there was no way we would spend hours there but we arrived at 3 pm and didn't leave until 7:30! So plan to spend a day, and you still may not see it all depending on how long you stay at each station.
Grady's addition to LEGO City, he made a park.
4) Skip the store, if you are looking for deals there are none to be had. But you can find hard-find sets and ones that are only available online. It is a very busy place and a lot of the floor space is taken up by the line up for the tills. I didn't see anything at the store that was not available online.

5) Keep track of your kids. It is a busy place with lots and lots of kids. I like to take a picture of Grady before we attend a busy place so should he go missing I have something to show exactly what he looks like and is wearing. They have a "Lost Parents" booth and I would say there was an announcement at least every 10 minutes looking for kids so it can be easy to get separated. Make sure to point out the booth to your kids.
Grady and Wildstyle
6) Have fun! Remember that it is supposed to be a fun time so try not to stress about how much time is spent at a table of "stuff you could play with at home"