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July 13, 2009

Only One Gopher Died in the Production of this Roadtrip

IMG_3921 We are back.

Truth be told (and I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone), we didn't want to go home at the end of our trip. Save for the fact that we missed our husbands, dads, and some of the cats, we could have kept going all summer long. I think we all -- kids included -- have a touch of gypsy in our blood.

I'm so proud of we survived (seriously) and the fact that did so much in such a short period of time. And we would have loved to do more. But we did make our way from Atlantic to Pacific with three young children in tow, taking a total of six flights, two massive cars, a whole lot of extra luggage, one hitchhiker, while only killing one gopher in Alberta - it was not pretty, and putting the fear of death in one duck family in New Brunswick -- I can still hear the screams -- but rest assured no ducks were harmed in the making of this road trip.

Of course doing this wasn't without the help of many players, two of those key folks being GM Canada and the Fairmont. Because let's face it, the trip wouldn't have happened without wheels or shelter.

First up Wheels:

I drove two GM Canada vehicles - the Traverse on the eastern leg and the Yukon Hybrid out west. From a parent view point, both are SUV size that easily accommodated three car seats -- which was our only vehicle requirement. Installation was easy-peasy in both and each vehicle offered enough room for all our luggage which also included two umbrella-style MacLaren strollers - one being a double stroller. And oh my holy heck, strollers are a pain in the a*s but total lifesavers in airports.

Personally I liked the layout of the Traverse interior for driving, the dashboard was logical, the bucket seats made it easier for tying down rabid badgers, and that baby had power under the hood (plus this model included a DVD player - no explanation necessary why that was a bonus). But I also loved driving the Yukon Hybrid because that had an extra special bonus besides space and power - fuel efficiency (just made my Dad proud with that statement). There was next to no fuel burn when in the city. Under 60km/hr she was super quiet and what we saved in city traffic was noticeable to the official monitor of the gas gauge (and that would have been me.)

Also, I won't beat around the bush: I'm short and small and these cars are B-I-G. But I never felt like I was driving a behemoth. I was totally comfortable behind the wheel for two primary reasons: adjustable in every way seating & steering and the miracle of the rearview camera system. Can I just say that the rearview camera system in both cars totally rocked for parking such huge vehicles? Seriously, I wanted to lick the camera and monitor (in the Traverse it was in the rear view mirror -- so Star Trek), that's how much I loved them.

Now moving on to shelter:

The Fairmont chain is wonderful. If you ever wondered if those beautiful historical landmark hotels that dot the Canadian landscape are only reserved for honeymooners and moneyed people, you would be flat out wrong. I never associated them with family-friendly but I was so wrong - they are totally prepared to embrace the smallest and fussiest of guests.


Setting the bar high was our first stop at the dreamy Chateau Frontenac, a hotel I've wanted to stay in since I was eight years old. My. Dream. Came. True. Oh yes, it did (except not with husband but sharing it with daughter was awesome too). The staff were super kid-friendly with touches like colouring books and the best in-room kids menu; I recommend the Frontenac Club for kids - perfect price and size with a side of fresh cut veggies, Gemma devoured it like candy. Also another small but important touch was the pool toys, an unexpected bonus considering the pool looks like something out of the Great Gatsby.


But the Chateau Laurier also proved to be super kid friendly (who knew something so close to Parliment Hill could be that way?) Staff really knew how to talk to kids and milk & cookies on arrival was a beautiful touch. Wide hallways provided an excellent place to run out sugar-highs and the downtown location, close to the Rideau Canal, Bank Street, and the Byward Market, is convenient. Gemma didn't want to leave her comfortable bed in the morning -- and trust me, that never happens.


Next was Jasper Park Lodge which is hard to beat on (a) location and (b) natural beauty. Sure there was some small hiccups with our reservation but they fixed it fast and we quickly forgot when we kicked back in our cabin rooms in the fresh air, beautiful views and late night sunset. Also the girls loved the noodles and life jackets in the most awesome indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool. I could have stayed in there all day.

Plus like all the hotels we had already stayed with in the Fairmont chain, Jasper also had the all important kid-friendly staff -- because if the hotel doesn't know how to speak to kids who travel with adults, it just doesn't work as family friendly service. Every member of the staff took the time to greet our kids, take their food orders with patience, and answer any questions they had - and when the customer is a "but why" three year old, that can be a difficult task to accomplish. But all the hotels did it with finesse. Another bonus for the Jasper Park Lodge, the man who served us dinner made us all smile with his jokes, and the girls thought it was great when he rode up on a bicycle to deliver an extra spoon. Staff on earth-friendly bicycles to get around is the awesome.


Then we went to the unbelievably beautiful Chateau Lake Louise. The view cannot be captured on film. Or maybe I'm just a bad photographer (don't answer that.) The rooms are beautiful, I wanted to live in my bathroom, and it was tranquil. The kid cups that came with the kids meal was a nice touch (anything that helps prevent spills is a thumbs up from this sticky mom) and again, lots of space to run around (as long as we played goalie near the lake). Sonny who is pictured below works at the concierge desk but he was AWOL when we met him in the restaurant (he apparently likes to shadow kids with snacks. Don't blame him one bit, it's a guaranteed score.)


Our last haven was the The Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver and they mean it when they say waterfront. We had a view of the harbour, BC Place, the city, heliports, and the ferry. The distractions for a three year old that those views provided were priceless. Again, consistent kid-friendly staff and accommodations and this is the only place where we took advantage of in-house babysitting (pricey but worth it for sanity sake). Our sitter Lorraine used her magic on our three kids to get them to eat their dinner and go to sleep all by 8:30 pm -- which is something I don't think we achieved as parents on the entire trip. Mind you, I'm no Mary Poppins but apparently their sitting staff have the touch.


We couldn't have done this trip without the GM Canada and Fairmont Hotels who were the most awesome of sponsors on the Canada Moms Blog road trip. Thank you so very much for helping us make our way across Canada to meet some of the most wonderful bloggers from Coast to Coast - you ROCK!


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Very well put ladies makes me want to take a trip...


I have a definite vagabond spirit, and so does my teenage son. The fun part? Or perhaps the disadvantage? He's blind. He enjoys road trips, though. Something about the variety of local radio stations as we get farther from home....

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