Monday, July 15, 2013

The Leavitts Do Canada

We recently finished one of the most enjoyable vacations that I have ever had. We had so much fun. Last Sunday (July 7) Kira and Justin blessed their little Cameron and the day before (July 6) they had him sealed to them in the Temple. Of course we wanted to share in this wonderful experience and we also encouraged the rest of the family to do the same. In the end everyone was able to go except for Brandon, Serene and their family and Alycia's husband Trevor. We were sad they couldn't make it but oh what a great time we had.

In our family we like to document big experiences like this on Instagram. That is an app for smart phones that allows you to upload a photo with a short description of the photo to share with all your friends.. You can also add a tag to the photo that will group all of the photo's in Instagram that share the tag. When we went to the Leavitt reunion at Christmas time we use the tag #leavittreunion2012 and the tag we used for this trip was #leavittsdocanada2013. Ben suggested a better tag later but we'd already started on the other one so it was what got used.

I have a ton of pictures but there are still some others that I would like to talk about but I think what I have is more than you want to see anyway. I tried to get them in the approximate correct order but forgive me if some are out of place. Rather than tell the whole story I will just talk about the pictures.

Anyway, here goes.

Thursday June 27, 2013
The week or two preceding the vacation consisted of many late nights trying to get Alex and Wendy's wedding invites out. By the time we left we were both exhausted but they got mailed. 

It was also on Thursday that Ben and Sharley flew out.  

Friday June 28, 2013
Friday morning we got up early, loaded up the van and hit the road. On our way out of town we stopped at the airport and mailed the last of the invitations. It was good to be on the road but we were both sleep deprived. Not a good combination.

Trevor has a summer internship in Las Vegas. We really tried to get him to come on the trip with us but he didn't feel he could go. We stopped in Vegas and had lunch with him. We totally forgot to take pictures so Lisa took a picture of the last half of her sandwich and made Trevor text her a picture of himself. This picture represents our lunch with Trevor. It was good to see him.

Ben and Sharley booked tickets to Canada before he got his promotion so they ended up flying from Denver to Los Angeles and then on to Canada. They arrived in Canada on Friday and started playing while we were still driving. It made me a bit jealous but we were having fun too.

Kira always goes to a lot of work to make sure we all feel welcome. Notice the two water bottles, the chocolate on the pillow, the towels and the typed out schedule for the week. There were beds all over her house and each one was decked out just like this one.

Saturday June 29, 2013
We spent Friday night at Alycia's apartment in Provo and got up early Saturday, picked  up Sam & Sarah and headed to Salt Lake to get Alex. Wendy had signed up for classes for the summer so she wasn't going to be coming with us but as we were driving on Friday she called and asked if she could still come. We of course said yes and so after much finagling with classes, work etc. she decided to come. We didn't tell Alex because Wendy wanted to surprise him. We loaded her bags in the car without him noticing and as we were saying our goodbyes Alycia told Wendy to just hop in the car and come.

Wendy hopped in and I drove off. Alex just assumed we were joking but after we had gone quite a ways he finally realized that she really was coming. It was hard for him to comprehend but once he did he just hugged her very tightly and was VERY happy. It was funny and sweet at the same time.

As we approached Blackfoot, ID we were all getting hungry so we called Jackie and asked if she wanted to have lunch with us. We agreed to meet at a Subway. It was really good to see my sister again.

We finally got to the border, passed through customs and then stopped for a bathroom break. We about got eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had forgotten how bad they can be in Canada. 

We drove on to Fort McCleod and spent the night at Vicky McCormacks parents farm. They are the Conrads. They have a huge house with plenty of room for all of us. They were the perfect hosts. 

Sunday June 30, 2013

Sunday morning we were up early and headed to Lisa's family reunion. All of her aunts and uncles on her mothers side (Keslers) get together every other year. Some of these people we haven't seen since our wedding thirty two years ago. Kira and Justin also drove down from Calgary with Ben and Sharley to meet us there. 

We had a golf tournament. It was the first time that Alex has ever golfed. I won the high score award, Alex won the closest to the pin and Wendy won an award too but I don't remember what.

Justin organized a football game. Evan was the coach for our team.

It was a hot day and I about died but Alex can just be glad that I was nimble enough to jump over him on this play. It would have been bad if I'd stepped on him. 

And we played cards.

And I played with my grandson.

Eventually the kids got board. Unfortunately Mom was having too much fun visiting with all of her cousins and didn't want to leave just yet.

Finally the grandkids had had it and Justin took them home while the rest of us hung out. There was enough room for him to take Sam, Sarah and Sharley with him.We kept the baby.

The party poopers who left early missed singing happy birthday to Mom. Her and her cousin Daryl have birthdays the same week and they traditionally would celebrate their birthdays together. Unfortunately Daryl wasn't there so he missed out on his own birthday party. 

Can you believe that my beautiful wife is 50?

As things were winding down we let the rest of the kids go home and just Lisa and I stayed to visit. They took the baby with them.
It was really good to see Lisa's relatives again. Left is Lisa's mother (#3), center is aunt Lenora (oldest daughter) and on the right is Uncle Walter (oldest child and only boy). Aunt Pat was the youngest child but she passed away several years ago.
We got home after midnight. 

Monday July 1, 2013

Even though we got home late we were up early in hopes of getting to Rosemary in time for the parade. July 1 is Canada's Independence day so we planned to catch all the celebrations in Rosemary. Rosemary is a small town and everyone would be out on the streets. It was a good way to see all of our old friends in one shot.

Of course the Mounties were there.

Rosemary puts on a nice parade for such a small town of about 300  people. 

They had a petting zoo with all kinds of farm animals.

Look at those eyes. They weren't good enough to let Justin bring home another cat though.

Fred's shed is legendary in Rosemary. This is the shed that I built about 25 years ago to replace my original shed. It was early in the spring and the snow had just melted leaving behind short dry grass. I burned our garbage in the burning barrel before going to work and apparently some burning embers fell in the grass. The grass must have smoldered slowly because four hours later my shed was in flames. With a 20 lb propane bottle, a half dozen or so one pound propane bottles, five gallons of gas and who knows what else, it was a flame you could see for miles around. I was on the volunteer fire department and I really didn't want to go to the next fire meeting.

My old house looks just like when we moved except that it hasn't had anything done to it in 25 years.

We left Rosemary heading for Waterton and went through Brooks so the kids could see where they were born. Ben immediately reverted back to his fetal self.

Brandon, Ben, Alycia and Alex were all born in this building. Kira was born in Edmonton and Sarah was born in Poway. 

We stopped in Lethbridge for lunch. Montana's steak house celebrated Moms 50th with us by giving her these cool set of horns. We all sang very loud and jovially.

Fara had to work and couldn't join us for lunch so we stopped by here work to say hi. It was really good to see her.

Going through Cardston we had to stop by the temple. I do have pictures on the camera which is in Utah but none on my phone.

While at the temple we met Hank Halls son and his wife. They are the parents of Richard Hall who is a good friend from Rosemary. Hank was our next door neighbor growing up. He mentioned that our house was empty.

We drove by the house to show the kids and low and behold the front door was open so we decided to let ourselves in. It is really run down. Here is the spiral staircase that I helped Dad put in. We always took pictures on these stairs.

A picture for old times sake. I pulled out a wedding picture taken on these stairs. 

Here is the kitchen I helped put in. It does look like it has been changed a bit but I'm not sure how. 

Dixie will love this room. At one point this room in the basement was my bedroom. Before me however Dixie and Jackie had the room. Dixie painted footprints up one wall, across the ceiling and down the other wall. The footprints are still there. That must have been forty years ago. The ceiling is a lot shorter than I remember it though. We also got a picture of my lab in the basement but it isn't on my camera. 

On our way out of town we stopped to see my parents grave. Just for the record, when I die I want to be cremated and a portion of my ashes buried in the ground over my parents grave. A brass plaque on the ground with my name on it would be nice too but not necessary.

Thomas Rowell Leavitt, the man who started it all for us Canadian Leavitts.

By the time we got settled into Waterton it was well after dark. The perfect time to hike Bears Hump don't you think? Mom stayed back to watch the babies. What a wonderful woman I married.

It was July 1st after all. What better place for fireworks than from the top of Bears Hump. We were really nervous about the cops coming up the trail as we were heading down.

Whew, that was a busy day.

Tuesday July 2, 2013

Tuesday morning we actually got to sleep in for the first time on this trip. Alex had the dumb idea that he was going to get lots of rest on this trip. He should have known better. We rented these surreys and chased each other all over the town-site.
When I say chased I meant it. We had a few minor collisions. 

I grew up in this town but I must admit that I've never gone swimming in Cameron falls. My boys now have. That water is really cold.
The fairer (and more intelligent) sex had their pictures taken on dry land. 

On our surrey it was Mom, Alycia and I. We drove by this tree stump with all these butterfly's on it. Pretty cool. 

After lunch we enjoyed some icecream before heading up Red Rock.

Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful canyon. We made a short hike to Blackiston Falls but I don't have any decent pictures of the falls. We played in the water there for a while before heading back to Red Rock. 

We then headed up Red Rock Canyon.

A very beautiful canyon. I am told that on a good year there are natural rock slides you can slide down. This year they are all filled in with gravel from the heavy rains. 

Wednesday July 3, 2013

Wednesday morning we slept in again, check out of our rooms and then hiked to Bertha Bay. My wife is so sweet that the butterflies kept landing on her. No matter how often we shooed this guy away he kept coming back. 

Landon actually took this picture. I'm not sure why mom isn't in it. This is Bertha bay. We are still in Canada but the mountains you see in the back ground are in the States. 

This is Vimy mountain, my favorite mountain in the whole world. It looks different from this angle than it does from the townsite. I've climbed this mountain to the very peak.

Ben just had to play survivalist and build him self a raft using only the the materials he could find at hand. Given more time he could have made a pretty good raft.

The time finally came that we had to leave. On our way out of the park we stopped at the buffalo paddock. It is a large preserve where they keep a heard of buffalo. You can drive through the field. The buffalo (or Bison if you will) were right beside our cars. 

Thursday  July 4, 2013
Thursday was just a lazy day for all of us (except Justin) and boy did we need it. Anyone who needed work on their teeth went with Justin to his office and had them taken care of. The rest of us went to a parade at the Children's Hospital. The town of Vulcan just had to enter a Star Ship Enterprise ship. Of course it was my favorite float.

And naturally I had to have a picture taken with the crew. I was rather disappointed to learn that the Klingon was a woman. To be authentic she should have been dressed as a Kingon woman but then that may not have been too appropriate at a Children's Hospital.

When no one was looking I just had to hop into the Captains chair.

This dude was on the Canadian winter Olympic bobsled team and that is his actual bronze medal he has. Of course mom was much more interested in his abnormally large biceps. Do you see her checking them out?

Meanwhile, back at the office Alycia has the first cavities of her young life and Justin has recruited Ben as his assistant. He was actually filling in the assistant role. I was quite impressed. 

We then spent the afternoon playing in the lake. It really was a blast. I might of thought the water was cold but after the glacial waters of Waterton it felt rather tropical. 

Fara also travelled up from Lethbridge to visit some more. It was great to sit and visit with her. We just had the A Q Leavitt reunion in January but I'm ready for another one. 

I actually have a picture of us entering the water but it is a rather unflattering picture of both mine and Alycia's rear ends so I chose not to share it. 

Friday  July 5, 2013

Today was Lisa's birthday. She turned 50 years old. The necklace that Kira is putting on her says 50 and she wore it all day. 

Some how we spontaneously surrounded mom and began jumping around. It was rather dumb but quite fun. 
We then donned our western garb and headed to the world famous Calgary Stampede. 

Some of us went to the Rodeo to watch the bull riding etc. 

And some of us checked out the exhibits.
Ben thought he'd help out this pregnant cow.

and then we all got very wet. It started pouring just as the chuck wagon races were starting. The Stampede is all about the chuck wagon races so we had no choice but to sit in the grandstands in pouring rain.

Unfortunately, since it was pouring rain no one thought to take any pictures of the chuck wagons. This picture was after the rain eased off and it was nearly dark. That is why it is all blurred. The chuck wagon races are pretty cool. 
The rain eased up and then the pulled in the huge stage. One of the first acts up was Kiss and my family disappeared. I looked around and it was only grandma and I sitting in the stands. The rest of my family was rushing the stage. The Kiss group was only some impersonators but they were very good. Pretty much the same as the real thing. 

They really did have a lot of very good acts. One of my favorites was this Chinese acrobats. You can't see it very well but this is a woman doing the splits standing on one leg with the other straight up and a second woman doing the splits with one foot on the first womans foot and the other leg straight up. I couldn't see it from where I was but I'm told they're doing all this while standing on a light bulb. Amazing. 

I was so cold when we finally got to the car but it was a great day.

Saturday  July 6, 2013

So this was the day we'd all been waiting for. The purpose of the entire trip. Cameron was sealed to his family on this day in the Calgary Temple. He is now ours for the rest of eternity. What a blessing that is for all of us. I have no pictures from the temple because it was cold, winding, and drizzly and I decided to let others who are braver than I take the pictures. 

After the ceremony and a few pictures we were off to Peters. Peters makes fabulous hamburgers and even better milk shakes.

There was a bunch of there and fortunately the sun came out and warmed us all up a bit so we didn't have to sit and eat in our cars.  No indoor seating at Peters. 

It was great to see Grandma Leavitt.

Sunday  July 7, 2013

Sunday was the day Cameron was blessed in church. Church was early and everyone was exhausted by this time and it was tough getting up and moving but even though there were some panicked moments everyone made it to church on time. Even these three.

I have absolutely no idea where this picture is taken but I love it so much I had to throw it in.

And it was all over. We went back to the house, visited with lots of people, played with each other and before we knew it, it was time to leave.

We had to have Wendy home before her 10:00 o'clock class on Monday morning so we left Calgary some time after 7:00. Lisa, Sam and myself took turns driving and we pulled in at Wendy's house before 9:00. We dropped her off and headed on to Provo where I dropped everyone else off. Mom and I ran some errands and then I was off pulling in to San Diego before midnight where I was warmly greeted by my late cat. Sheba helped my unpack the van I cuddled with her and then went to bed. I guess she was just waiting for someone to come home because she passed away in the night. Check my previous post.

What a week. I'm sure you can tell how much fun we had. I want to do it again.

The larger your family is the longer your life expectancy is.