Family Vacation 2019 – Canadian Rockies

Day 1 – Arrival

Our 2 week trip to the rockies started out with a pretty ‘rocky’ plane ride. We had a short prop plane from Boston to Toronto, followed by a connecting flight to Calgary. We got on a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Toronto, which is probably one of the nicest planes I’ve ever been on. It was huge, with a high ceiling, auto dimming windows, and a pretty awesome multimedia station with tons of games and movies. We were all remarking at how awesome the plane was as we started to push back and then stopped. The pilot proceeded to tell us that the AC unit was broken and needed to be repaired. They kept us on the plane for 3 hours in excruciating heat, while the AC was being fixed. It was absolute torture. The plane was so hot that it had a hard time cooling down even after the AC was repaired. It wasn’t until about 30-60 mins into the flight that we were back to a normal temp. Thankfully the kids did great with all the electronics and it didn’t seem to bother them. Once we landed we got our bags, the rental car, and then drove the 2 hours to Banff.

Day 2 – Settling in

The next morning we went out to breakfast and stocked up on supplies at the grocery (and liquor) stores. Downtown Banff has awesome mountain views all around it.

Downtown Banff

We got to see a lot of wildlife on the short drive between our hotel and the downtown area.

We had a pretty good view from our hotel balcony as well. The hotel had 2 indoor waterslides and indoor/outdoor hot tubs which were a big hit with the kids.

In the afternoon we went to Johnson Lake, which is nearby downtown Banff. The lake had beautiful mountain views and wasn’t that busy. We walked around the lake and soaked in the views. After that we went out to dinner and had some ice cream. Also, I got some bear spray, which was highly recommended everywhere.

Day 3 – Lake Louise and Lake Morraine

We had some good weather in the forecast so planned on doing the areas top tourist attractions, Lake Louise and Lake Morraine. These two lakes have some of the most stunning views in all the Canadian Rockies (world?) with jagged peaks and torqoise glacier fed waters.

Unfortunately these beautiful sites come with crowds, lots of them.

We got an early start and made it to the Lake Louise parking lot around 8am (it’s like an hour drive from Banff). The place was already full and so we had to drive back a ways to the overflow parking. Then we had to wait in this insanely long line to purchase tickets for a shuttle bus to take us to where we just were. Kids don’t like waiting in lines. Once we finally got to Lake Louise we had to immediately get in another line to buy a ticket for a shuttle to Lake Morraine, because they sell out for the day quickly. Overall this experience was extremely frustrated with the kids, and felt more like Disney than the outdoors.

Besides dealing with all of the massive crowds and lines, the views were simply stunning! We spent the day just walking around and had lunch at the Chateau (the big hotel at the base of Lake Louise). Afterwards we drove back to the hotel and went into town for dinner, and of course more ice cream.

Day 4 – Bow River and Canmore


Oregon Family Vacation 2018

We just got back from spending 10 days in Oregon and California.  Overall it was a great trip.  We got to spend a lot of time together before the kids start school for the year.  Below are some pics from the trip.

Part 0 – Arrival

The first day of the trip, Friday, was spent traveling from Boston to our Airbnb in Central Point, Oregon.  On the descent into Portland, we got to see Mt. St. Helens, Mr. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.  Eli was so excited to see these huge peaks.

After the cross country flight, we stopped at a brewery in Portland, before the long drive (5 hours) across the state.   Oregon is filled with tons of breweries, and they all seem to cater to families.  After filling up, we drove down to Central Point, where we stayed for 3 nights.

Part 1 – Crater Lake, OR

The kids loved the Airbnb.  It had a nice in ground pool, game room with darts and ping pong, and a movie room with a big screen tv.  Tommy got his own bedroom, and the other two boys slept in another room.  The house was in a suburb of Medford, which is not too far from Ashland.  We were about a 2 hour drive from Crater Lake.  Unfortunately I (Michele won’t let me forget it) waited too long to book the lodge at the lake, and there are no other options within an hour of the park.  I thought it would be good to be in civilization and have to put in the extra drive.

On Saturday, we did a short hike to see some waterfalls and the Rogue River up close.  The trail was called the Mill Creek Falls trail in Prospect, OR.  We were struck by the huge Cedar trees everywhere.  After the hike we went back to the house and hung out in the pool for the afternoon.  We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant right down the road.  

On Sunday, we spent the day at Crater Lake, OR.  We got there early because we wanted to reserve a spot on the boat that takes you to Wizard Island.  We took a steep 1.1 mile hike down to the base of the lake.  Tommy was freaked out by some overly friendly chipmunks who were crawling all over us.  We took the boat ride out to the island.  Then we hiked up to the top of Wizard Island, which is a volcano instead of another volcano.  The trail, 2.1 miles each way, was filled with switchbacks.  There were more friendly chipmunks at the top, which I’m guessing somehow hitched a ride on the boat at some point.  After hiking down we took the boat back and then made the steep trek back to the top.  After hiking we completed the drive around the rim and headed back to the house.  

On Monday, Michele took Eli and Aaron up to hike Mt. Scott, which is 8934′.  We figured this was a little too tough for Tommy (who’s 5), so I stayed back with him.  Tommy and went to the local arcade and did Go Kart’s, bumper boats, and played games.  

After they got back from the hike, we hung out in the pool and went to a local pizza place.  

Part 2 – Redwoods, CA

On Tuesday, we headed to Crescent City, CA, which is right next to the Redwood national forest.  Along the way, we stopped at the Oregon Caves national monument.  This place had a 1.5 hr guided tour through some natural caves.  I totally wussed out at the entrance (I don’t like closed spaces) and waited while everyone else went on the tour.  

On Wednesday, we played by the ocean in the morning and then headed to the Redwoods to hike the Boy Scout Tree Trail.  This trail was 5.3 miles round trip, and was supposed to offer the most stunning views of the redwoods.  Boy this trail did not disappoint.  The trees were just massive.  It’s really hard to describe their size and pictures do it no justice.  After the hike we went out to the SeaQuake brewery, which everyone liked.  

Part 3 – Newport, OR

On Thursday, we drove on the coast to Newport.  Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy, so we didn’t get to see many sites.  We did make a couple stops though and the kids got to play in the ocean.  

On Friday AM, we went to the Newport Acquarium.  In the afternoon we hung out at the pool and beach.  At night we went to the Wedding rehearsal dinner and got to see some family.  

On Saturday, we did more beach and pool in the morning.  In the afternoon we went to Michele’s cousins wedding, which was right on the coast.  The wedding was a great way to wrap up this trip.  

On Sunday, we headed back to Portland and caught a flight back to Boston.