Day 7 – South then west, Glaciers then tunnels

What are those cleanup teams that come in after a natural or man-made disaster? What are the criteria for identifying and declaring a state of emergency? At what point do you call in the National Guard?

These were the questions I asked myself as I scanned the curling lounge this morning. The disaster was significant, the damage extensive! Quite honestly, I didn’t think that we would ever be able to get that room clean. I knew I had to call in the BIG GUNS! So, after a quick meeting and a short explanation (only repeated my directions 3 times instead of my normal 5!) I put Reg on food details (restock the water bottles and juice boxes, load up on snacks, re-organize the coolers) and I put Pierrer on to room cleanup! Reg had all of the food Organized in not time, and Pierrer cleaned that lounge like nobody’s business. Apparently, the students did a great job cleaning up. They rolled up their sleeping bags, packed their suitcases and piled the camp-mattresses. Upon completion, the only evidence that they were even there was the littered floor. It was covered in the discarded clothing labels from all of their shopping purchases!

Once we had the bus loaded, we set off for the most important excursion of the day (Chaperone Exclusive!). We stopped at the infamous Bear Paw Bakery. There, we picked up our coffees (delighted sigh) and breakfast – white chocolate raspberry scones (more delighted sigh). That was the perfect start to the day and quite frankly, I could just see the life go back into my overworked, unpaid slaves…..ahemm, I mean, see the life go back into the chaperones!

Our first stop was the gorgeous Athabasca Falls where the torrent of the Athabascan River has majestically been carved through the rock! With the spray of the current around them, the students posed as a whole group, and then as well, the parents posed with their children! It was a quick stop (free too!) but it is always so worth it because it’s nature’s work at its finest!

After the Falls, we drove for a fair bit and then stopped at another beautiful falls along the highway. Quick climb up the first 100ish feet of the mountain and then group photo.

Our stop at the Columbia Ice Fields was a great success, and significant, SIGNIFICANT improvement over last trip’s no-shows! As you may recall, the 2010 group spent about 30 seconds on the glacier, averaging about $6 per second in costs! This year, we definitely had nicer weather, students were dressed more warmly and we had prepped them by asking them to pack their water bottles for a glacier water filling.

Of course, a few hadn’t packed their water bottles and after all that hype, the only way to solve this was to purchase a water bottle at the gift shop. Hopefully, at $20 a bottle, they’ll have learned a lesson about listening to instructions. I think maybe a couple of them have, but I can’t speak for the one who left her new water bottle on the gravel by the bus and the other one who was later on his hands and knees looking for his bottle under the bus seats!

On the glacier, students took some group photos, filled their water bottles and huddled in small groups to maintain and build heat. They demonstrated excellent listening skills when (TWICE!) they were tricked into looking for their seat belts on the bus and snow coach. Too funny. They fell for it, then minutes later on another bus change – fell for it again! At least we knew they were listening (no small accomplishment, I assure you!).

The glacier excursion staff gave the students a lot of facts about the glacier history and terrain (none of which they listened to ). After 25 minutes atop the plateau, we were soon on our way back to the restaurant (or should I say the rob-me-blind-because-I-don’t-have-any-other-options-eating-establishment!

After lunch, we had ample time to relax on the bus courtesy of Mercedes leaving her camera in some unknown location. It took her a bit to retrace her steps and eventually locate it at lost and found. We were really appreciative of this bus time because we’re getting quite attached to it (sigh).

After the ice fields, we continued down the highway, heading toward Highway 1. We ended up at the Spiral Train Tunnels where approximately 4% of them were impressed (that’s 1 student!). It was a pretty comical to see them all walk in a coordinated track that effectively avoided putting them in the path of any written material that explained the tunnels history. (the avoidance-walk is quite similar to the thing they do with their eyes during independent reading time!).

From there, we had a quick jaunt to Lake Louise where we took a beautiful photo of the students. One of the photos that you’ll see eventually is of a large group of girls staring into the pristine beauty of one of Canada’s most famous lakes with their beautifully braided hair. This has definitely been the Braiding trip. Master braiders, Hannah, Bethany, and Teresa, have been braiding maniacs. We’ve had the waterfall braid, the Katniss braid, French braid, piggy-tail braid, twist braid, fishtail braid….we’ve even had ribbons and flowers added! It’s all been quite gorgeous! When they spill out of the bus, they all look gorgeous. Personally, my favorite part about all of this has been the comraderie between the girls. I just love seeing them all hanging out, and especially all the sharing. It’s great to see them being so kind…..nobody seems to mind that they have to wait for the ONE HAIRBRUSH that they are ALL using!

From Lake Louise to Cochrane, we watched the infamous and awesome Corner Gas tv show. As many of you know this is based on an infamous and awesome small town in Saskatchewan! Being so connected to this show, with my Saskatchewan heritage, I felt particularly pleased with Mr. Plett for making such a fine selection out of all the movie choices. That feeling, thought, must have been quite short-lived though, as the first scenes were barely started when my eyes rolled back and I was out like a light.

And by out like a light I mean a light that is being flicked on and off by a 4 year old who has just realized that he can reach the light switch! In the duration of my 20 minute nap, I was brought back to life several times – the ones I enjoyed the most were the garbage bag smacking me in the head when students went to the washroom, the slam of the washroom door, several girl-initiated squeals, two bus-going-around-a-curve-haven’t-figured-out-yet-how-to-hold-on body slams and 3 ask-Mrs-Parrish-a-ridiculously-random-question-that-anyone-on-this-bus-especially-someone-not-sleeping-could-answer! (sigh)

An evening at the hotel is just what the kids needed, some watched the hockey game, some went for a walk, some ordered pizza in, a fair number of them swam at the pool….everyone vegged out! You could tell that everyone was totally relaxed!

Ummmm, except for a small pause when Mrs. Amell got a text from her group which read, “we found a bed bug!”. (exit relaxation mode, enter massive stress!) only to be followed by a text a few minutes later which read, “never mind, its not!”. (seriously, these kids……)

As for me, I had two visitors to the hotel! My sisters came to visit and we had a great time. Melissa lives in Calgary and Punky (Monica) lives in Airdrie so it was a quick jaunt (under an hour) for them to come and visit. We quickly caught up and I worked on getting Melissa, who is 39 weeks pregnant, to try and have her baby before our 9am bus departure!!! (I hate when people won’t work with me……)

So, signing off for the night. Happy to be heading home, but absolutely loving these kids and all their antics!

Quotes overheard today.

“so, is it kind like a rectangle? We go a ways in one direction, drive down a little bit and then go back in the same direction?” (Beth, figuring out how we would get home)
“oh man, I hope’s there’s an avalanche!” (James as we drove between two mountain ranges)

Trip Bylaw Appendix F

1. Buy disaster insurance policy so we can bring a team in with us to clean up mess in Jasper.
2. Collect water bottles at garage sales so that students don’t spend $20 on souvenir water bottles.
3. Purchase Spiral Train tunnels information DVD so that students don’t have to work so hard to consciously avoid reading printed signs.

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One thought on “Day 7 – South then west, Glaciers then tunnels

  1. Well I see that it was another full day of activities– but hopefully everyone will sleep well tonight. Mrs .Parrish would u tell my son to send me a message– I have sent a few and have no reply. I know he is good hands but I Do worry and need to hear from him . Thanks so much from a mom that is missing her son.

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