Kid Friendly Hikes Near Calgary: Grassi Lakes Trail

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Grassi Lakes Trail
Trail Length: 3.3km return / 90 minutes
Elevation Gain: 165m
Age: great for all ages, depending on which trail you choose.

When looking for a hike to do with young children in the Rockies, one name will always pop to the top of searches; Grassi Lakes Trail.

This is an absolute perfect hike for young families with children of all ages. There are two options for this 3km loop trail that can have you scrambling up steep rocky switchbacks, or sauntering up a gradual slope that’s more of a logging road.

As with all things in life, the more challenging path comes with the greater rewards. The views from the switchbacked trail are breathtaking, and before you hit the views, the trail meanders on a soft forest floor.

My 5 yr old loved the chance to be a mountaineer and was perfectly fine on the more difficult trail. While I don’t think my younger son would have like it, others have taken their 2 yr old on this path.

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If you have a stroller kid, or younger ones that aren’t into hiking, the easy route is just fine.

When you get to the top of the trail, you can linger on the shores of the Grassi Lakes, two beautiful and colourful lakes named for Lawrence Grassi.

20110528 grassi lakes trail - 20After retiring, Grassi, a former coal miner and railway worker, spent his days clearing paths, trails, and campgrounds to his favourite spots. The Grassi Lakes Trail was one of those such pathways. Sometimes he would work alone with just an axe, and spade.

The area is a popular family, and tourist trail, as well as with rock climbers. The cliffs on the side of the upper lake dance with ropes as climbers belay up and down the face.

I’d recommend the easy path for the return trip from Grassi Lakes. The more difficult trail can be steep and slippery in parts, and runs along a cliff – not the best combination for descending, especially with kids.

The 3.3km loop took us 90 minutes to complete including lots of lingering on the way up, and a long snack break at the top.

For a complete rundown of Kid Friendly Adventures in and around Calgary, check out

Calgary Kid Friendly Hikes: Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Park

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Waterfall Valley – Bowmont Park
Trail Length: 1 km / approx 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 50m
Age Appropriate: 2+

There are many places to utterly escape in Calgary. You don’t need to go all the way to the Rockies to forget you’re in a city of more than 1 million.

The Calgary system of pathways and trails go from urban commuting routes, to trails where you can totally get lost in wilderness. The Douglas Fir Trail in Edworthy Park is one of my favourites. It’s staircases among ancient fir trees will transport your mind to the mountains in an instant when, in reality, you’re about 5k from the heart of Calgary.

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Bowmont Park, is very similar. There are dozens of trails to wander and explore riding the high ridge below the community of Silver Springs and overlooking the communities of Bowness and Montgomery. One of the trails in the park is for Waterfall Valley.

Park in the centre of the park, just off Silver Springs Blvd near the Silver Springs Arena. Follow the wooden trail down the centre of the valley to find yourself on the banks of the Bow River with tufa waterfalls surrounding. Tufa are underground springs that make their way to the surface. The Big Hill Springs Provincial Park just west of the city is another great trail kids will love.

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We went geocaching along the path, had lunch at a lookout and threw rocks in the river while waving to kayakers cruising the current.

If you want to get lost in the wild with your kids, but can’t spare the 2hr return trip to the mountains, Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Park is a great place to play for the day.

Kids In Calgary: The Calgary Zoo

The Calgary Zoo
1300 Zoo Road NE Calgary, AB T2E 7V6
Admission: Kids under 3 free, 3-15: $13, Adults: $21

There’s big news at the Calgary Zoo .. the penguins are now outside! While The Penguin Plunge is still proving a popular destination (waits were 45min+ this past weekend), many people are getting their fill of the flightless birds just in front of their exhibit. A large pool and rock formation lets the penguins pose for the paparazzi.

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The Calgary Zoo is one of the great entertainment values for families in Calgary. An affordable family pass can have you visiting the lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) as often as you want.

There is lots of green space, and picnic tables around the grounds. Wagons are a popular mode of transportation for families – you can stuff the cooler in one end, kids in the other. If you don’t want to bring your own food, there are concession stands and a full cafeteria.

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And the most popular part of a day at the Calgary Zoo? The playground. Sure, our sons have favorites (the older likes the snow leopard, the younger is a fan of hippos and giraffes), but they both agree the playground is tops. With 3 separate sections for those under 3, 3-5, and 6-12, kids of all ages make a beeline for the playground the minute you get out of the gorilla exhibit.

Hail Caesar, Calgary’s Cocktail!

Caesar at Corks Restaurant

It was May 13, 1969 when bartender Walter Chell concocted the world’s first Caesar for the opening of a new restaurant. Marco’s Italian Restaurant was opening at the Calgary Inn and Chell was championed with creating something that would pair with the Italian fare.

The original Caesar recipe had mashed clams, tomato juice and vodka. The clams being the twist on the already popular Bloody Mary. The clam / tomato idea was drawn from the flavour of Spaghetti Vongole (tomato sauce with clams).

Later Chell would help market Clamato juice, a blend of clam nectar and tomato juice from Mott’s that’s a truly Canadian creation and a key ingredient of any Caesar.

Caesar garnishes, however, are open to interpretation. Celery stalks, asparagus, prawns, even bacon have been seen adorning celery salted rims of Caesars.

Happy Birthday, Caesar! You’re dinner in a glass.

Kids In Calgary: Disaster Alley

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Each year in early May, The Calgary Emergency Management Agency hosts Disaster Alley. It’s a collection of emergency vehicles from Police, Fire, Rescue, and the airport and kids LOVE it.

This free event is a huge hit with our boys as we made numerous laps of the Fire Training Academy (5727 – 23 Avenue SE). (Note the 2013 event has been moved to McMahon Stadium)

Firetrucks are open to climb in. Firehats are free to be tried on. Helicopters swoop in for landings. Police cars are ready for you can sit in. The bus driver will let you whonk the horn. Emergency response crews repel from towers.

Did I mention climbing in firetrucks?

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Disaster Alley comes at the end of Emergency Preparedness Week and is meant to give the public the opportunity to learn how first responders react to an emergency and how they can prepare for a crisis.

Other Cover Options For Time Magazine’s Breastfeeding Issue

jamie lynne grumet time magazine cover

The picture of Jamie-Lynne Grumet posing with her son breastfeeding from a chair on the cover of this week’s issue of Time Magazine was not the only one taken for the “Are You Mom Enough?” issue. It was, however, the one that would generate the most reaction.

There have been many thousands of words written on the topic over the past 36 hours, but Babble’s Rebecca Odes perfectly analyzes the image for how it was constructed by photographer Martin Schoeller and what it means, artistically.

But there were 3 other women, and families, shot for this cover. When you see them you’ll see exactly TIME’s motivation was to shock.

Obama Confirms The Earth Is Round

There are times when conventional wisdom of a society changes.

1500 years before Columbus and Magellan, the Greeks had done calculations proving the Earth was a sphere. In fact, they had correctly estimated the circumference of our planet within a few hundred miles.

Unfortunately, learning and intellect went out of fashion in Europe between 400 and 1200 AD. The storehouses of Greek knowledge were lost to Western society with the advent of the Dark Ages. Sea monsters and Vikings ruled the seas, and ships that ventured too far from shore were sure to fall off the edge of a flat Earth.

When Barack Obama said “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” he was the first American President to publicly say what generations of people already believed, and what nations around the world had already made legal.
What he did was open a window on the Dark Ages of politics in America. It was a headline grabbing statement because the leadership had been so backasswards for so long.

For many, it was a breath of fresh air, for others it was a declaration of war.

The problem is not in what Obama is saying, the problems will come from his opponents. The Flat Earth Society (Christian Conservatives) will be making this an election issue of extreme importance. Fox Nation already had “Obama Declares War On Marriage” headlines on their website minutes after the announcement.

But, just as Kings and Queens had no jurisdiction to legislate the world was flat (it either was or it wasn’t, a law couldn’t make it so), the President of the USA, cannot make laws pertaining to gay marriage. It’s a state issue.

The legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States are complicated by the nation’s federal system of government. … many aspects of marriage law affecting the day to day lives of inhabitants of the United States are determined by the states, not the federal government, and the Defense of Marriage Act does not prevent individual states from defining marriage as they see fit.

And therein lies the rub: gay marriage will be an election issue in America. People will go to the polls and vote Romney or Obama based on whether or not they believe Barack and Mitt should be able to get married if they want to – and that’s wrong.

Obama’s leadership on the issue is important to help reflect a public sentiment that has made Glee and Modern Family top tv shows. It’s an important point in history to mark the ending of the Dark Ages, but it should not be an election issue federally. Economics, foreign policy, health policy, education, jobs programs, tax reform – those are things Americans should be weighing their Presidential candidates on, not gay marriage.

if you have a problem with gay marriage, it’s going to become your problem. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve come to that view for simple homophobic reasons or more nuanced intellectual or religious ones. It doesn’t even matter whether you’re right or wrong. Either way, you are lashing yourself to a hopeless losing cause, and not the kind that people forget about. There will come a time — not this year or next, but sometime in the next decade or two — when your position today will be just as embarrassing to you as if you’d taken a firm stand against interracial marriage in 1980. When that happens, I can almost guarantee that you’ll change your tune in public, whether or not you actually change your mind. So why not save yourself a lot of stress and get it over with now?
[Mechanical Brain]

In other words, everyone else has already figured out the earth is round.

The marriage of Ellen and Portia DeGeneres has no more affect on the validity and strength of my relationship than the destructive foolishness of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. My marriage is my marriage, your marriage is your marriage, and may they both grow and last together in happiness and love.

The Earth is round. People should be allowed to love and marry. The sun rises in the East. 2 + 2 = 4. All facts.

Whether or not personal taxes should increase, corporate subsidies should decrease, and America should invest in across the board health care? Those are debates worth having.

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