Day 7 started with a 7:30am wake up call to get ready to leave Invermere and head to Golden. We arrived at Alexander Park Elementary School in Golden and started to prepare our last official concert of the trip. This was a neat concert because we were able to have some special guests join us; Tina's niece, nephew, brother, and sister in law were all able to make it to the concert. That was cool for all of us but a very special moment for the Horwood's.
After our concert, we started on our way towards Salmon Arm. Along the highway, after Revelstoke but before Sicamous, there is a really beautiful chateau on a lake. We stopped at the Three Valley Gap Chateau and Ghost Town to experience a bit of what BC's past was like. It was very cool to see all of the old buildings and artifacts at the ghost town. From a church, to saloon, to school house, Three Valley Gap had it all!
We then got back on the bus to head towards our trail rides in Salmon Arm. Along the way, Matthew explained about a small place called Craigellachie, the site of the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was a term of BC's joining of the Dominion of Canada and officially connected the land coast to coast.
We drove up a tight, narrow, dirt road towards High Country Trail Rides. Everybody got to experience horseback riding up and down a long trail that gave a spectacular view of Salmon Arm. When groups were out riding, the others played games of Bocce, roasted marshmallows and hotdogs, and enjoyed a nice fire. Many of us got our ukuleles out around the fire and sang and jammed away! We then got to our last hotel of the trip, the Salmon Arm Comfort Inn & Suites to rest up before our long drive towards the ferry.
After a night of sleeping on the gym floor, day 6 started with a concert at J. A. Laird Elementary School in Invermere. The students here were a fantastic audience and really enjoyed seeing what we can do with our ukuleles! We then went to Windermere Elementary School for another great performance on our day. Our concerts are getting better with each performance that we give!
We then got to go visit the Fairmont Hot Springs. It was a nice set of warm pools for us to lounge and play in. There was a dive tank with a 1 and 3 metre diving board that was the site of many dives and tricks for our group. It was fun watching what everyone could do off of the diving boards!
After the hot springs, we went back to J A Laird to get some time in on their awesome climbing wall. Everyone had such a great time climbing up the wall to ring the bells placed up there! Then we got to have an awesome practice and exchange with the Silver Strings ukulele group from the school. It was lots of fun!
After getting into Calgary late last evening, we were excited to be able to go experience the Calgary Zoo! It was neat to experience varying wildlife from around the world all in one space. One very special highlight is that Kioja, a gorilla at the zoo, has recently had a baby and both mother and baby were out and visible to the public (although they were sleeping).
After visiting the zoo, we headed of to Banff for some sight seeing and shopping! We first visited (went by on the bus) the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel; a beautiful hotel that caters to the rich and famous. Then, some students and chaperones stayed in town to shop while others went on a bike ride by the Vermillion Lakes. The bike riders had the thrill of seeing a black bear on the roadside as they were on their bikes!
After that, it was a visit to the gorgeous Lake Louise. It was an awesome place to get group photos, friends photos, and of course, selfies! After that brief visit we were on our way to Invermere to prepare for concerts the following day.
Today was an early start, up at 6:30am and driving by 7:30am. We drove a half hour to our first school performance of the day at York Elementary School. The 200 students were very excited to see us perform and it was visible in the way they reacted to the music. They were clapping and singing as we played with great enthusiasm; so fun!
We then drove a few minutes down the road to Mount Royal Elementary School. Here we were met by the Assistant Principal, Tim Petkau (he set up all three of our concerts for the day). Mount Royal is an Arts Core School, meaning all students have a large part of each day focussed on the arts rather than standard curriculum. The students at this school were an excellent audience, well behaved, and participated when asked. It was such an awesome show and all the songs sounded great!
Our third stop of the day was at Virginia Park Elementary School. This school is also an Arts Core School and the students here also a fantastic audience! The school principal and music teacher set up lunch for us before this performance and gave us ice cream and freezies afterwards! It was a great way to finish our concerts for the day.
We then headed back to the mall to take on the Galaxyland Amusement Park. Tons of rides for everyone to enjoy the last part of our time in Edmonton. Some of the students went to Dragon's Tale Blacklight Mini Golf and Crystal Labyrinth. All in all, everyone had fun at West Edmonton Mall.
We then got on the bus to make the drive to Calgary where we will visit the Zoo on Wednesday prior to heading towards Banff, Lake Louise, and Invermere.
It was the first of our two days in Edmonton and all of us were up and couldn't wait to meet with Scott Leithead of Kokopelli Choirs. We drove to a beautiful church in downtown Edmonton to have our workshop with Scott and his exchange student director, Nelson from Namibia. We learned two new songs from Africa that we absolutely love and couldn't wait to add to our performances! It was such a fabulous way to start our day!
After meeting with Scott, we headed back to our hotel in preparation for going to West Edmonton Mall and more specifically, the World Waterpark! There is a giant wave pool, massive waterslides and drop slides, tube slides, ziplines, a human-size hamster ball, hot tubs, food, and all we could drink coca-cola products! It was an incredible time of challenging ourselves and others to conquer fears (135 foot drop slides including one with a an upside down loop), building friendships, and enjoying all that the World Waterpark had to offer. During the day, some of us found time to go shopping and take in other attractions such as the sea lion show.
After our day at the mall, we hopped back on the bus to head downtown. Earlier in the day, Scott Leithead had invited us to stop by a rehearsal of 5 of the best youth choirs in Western Canada. It was so awesome to sit and listen to beautiful music created by youth from all around Western Canada. They were rehearsing for Podium Conference, a national conference of choral music educators to be held in Edmonton with their concert being Wednesday night. They were working on a beautiful arrangement of the song Alberta Bound, by Paul Brandt. It was an excellent way to end our day!
The second day of our trip began with a nice game of road hockey at our hotel and a hot breakfast provided by Don and his team at Don's Social House in Valemount. After a nice breakfast, we headed 15 minutes up the road to Tête Jaune Cache (Yellow Head) in preparation for our whitewater adventure. It truly was an amazing day filled with an exciting whitewater adventure down the Fraser River. Tyler, Jim, Ben, Dan, and Neil from Stellar Descents Whitewater Rafting were just amazing with Island Ukuleles. After a good introduction to rafting and all of the safety briefings we were ready to put in to the mighty Fraser River.
We started at a spot where we had the most stunning view of Mount Robson (the highest point of the Canadian Rockies) so it was a great opportunity for a group photo. After putting into the river, we had a nice calm section to practice our paddling techniques for the rapids ahead. About 10 minutes into our adventure we started in on our first rapids which got some of our group their first taste of the cold river water. On our adventure we would be challenged by Class II and Class III rapids and we even had a chance to see what a Class IV Plus rapid looks like in the form of a "step waterfall". It was an amazing opportunity for photos, some of which you will see below!
After our adventure down the river, we headed off on the 5 and a half hour trek to Edmonton. It was filled with incredibly beguiling views of the Canadian Rockies, wildlife such as the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, and a beautiful sunset. We were dropped off at our hotel, the West Edmonton Mall Inn. After being dropped off, Matthew, Caleb, and our driver Bob headed to the airport to pick up Jasmine who had flown in from her basketball tournament in Seattle.
Day 3 will have an amazing workshop with the director of Kokopelli Choirs, Scott Leithead and an adventure day at the West Edmonton Mall.
Well, we're off on our big adventure to Edmonton and Calgary with our longest driving day of the trip. After meeting in Victoria and loading the bus, we headed off for the 11:00am ferry to Vancouver. Then we all gathered back on the bus to make the 7-hour drive to Valemount, BC. We stopped along the way in just west of Hope, enjoyed Costco dinner in Kamloops, stopped briefly at Wire Cache Provincial Park (check this link for a bit of historical info on Wire Cache), and made it into Valemount at 9:30pm.
The hotel is very interesting with odd room configurations that allowed for some neat opportunities for rooming such as all the boys getting to hang out in one giant room! The hotel manager was nice enough to put on a campfire for the seniors and parents last night which made for a relaxing finish to the day.
Along the way, there were so many beautiful photo opportunities and chances to learn small bits about BC history. We discussed the 2003 fire in Barriere that destroyed many buildings and a sawmill and why many of the trees in the area have still yet to replenish and begin growing. We also passed by the "Elevator Mountain Fire" that swept up the mountains near Wire Cache in 2008.
Today, we are heading out to Stellar Decents White Water to experience some beautiful scenery and a paddling workout as we try some mild class 3 rapids. There will be lots of time for us to swim, take pictures, and really enjoy the morning before our 5-hour drive to Edmonton.
Check back here for more updates and photos as they become available!
Island Ukuleles is off on Saturday, May 14, 2016 for a one week concert tour.
We will visit:
Valemount, BC - White Water Rafting in Tête Jaune Cache
Edmonton, AB - West Edmonton Mall (Shopping, Water Park, Amusement Park), Workshop with Scott Leithead of Kokopelli Choirs, 3 local elementary school tours
Calgary, AB - Calgary Zoo
Banff, AB - Banff National Park, Lake Louise
Invermere, BC - Concerts at two local elementary schools, exchange with the Silver Strings at J. A. Laird elementary school, largest school climbing wall in BC, Fairmont Hotsprings
Golden, BC - Concert at local elementary school
3 Valley Gap, BC - Ghost town tour
Salmon Arm, BC - Horseback riding adventure
Tune into this page for a photo and brief trip update each day that we are away!