Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

What? too late in the season to go camping!?

on September 17, 2012

I really meant to start “The Big Ball of String” tour today, but we decided (semi-spontaneously) to try one more camping weekend before it got too cold…someplace local – within an hour’s drive or so.

Our first pick was Wyndham-Carseland Provincial Park.

It’s a pretty little park, right on the Bow River, and beside Carseland Dam and pelican nesting grounds.   It’s packed every long weekend and you have to get there Wednesday or Thursday to get a site. But, since this isn’t a long weekend, we thought it’d probably be easier.


All packed and ready to go, at the very last minute, we checked for campfire bans.  Not only was there a campfire ban for Wyndham-Carseland, but they also had a ban on portable propane firepits (even though these portable campfires are called “Ban Busters”.

Well, it’s the middle of September in Alberta, and, despite the fact that the forecast called for clear and sunny skies, that means that nights will be cold and we wanted a campfire, so at the last second, we were scrambling for a new location.

According to the website www.albertafirebans.com, the entire eastern side of Alberta was under fire ban, so the only option (for places to go within a 1 hour drive) was West, into the mountains…which means higher altitude, colder evenings.

On a random Google search (I love Google), I found six in the general area we wanted to go (now that there was a change of plans) – in the Bragg Creek area, and so contacted the Provincial Park service to confirm 1) if the campground was still open and 2) if there were fire bans.We found 3 that were open still, no fire bans (extreme high alert, but no ban) and narrowed it down by which had playgrounds. (Once again, our travel plans included children – we love it when this happens because it gives us a chance to do things like…bug collecting… and fort designing…)

We chose one by the river so Peter could go fishing and we were set to go!

Well – I have to tell you – I’ve lived in this area now for…well, a LONG time! and have never once been to Elbow Falls (which was just maybe 4 kms from our campsite). It’s ridiculous that I’ve never been there – I’ve even been to the parking lot before, and the little park nearby, for a picnic, and never “hiked” to the Falls.

“Hiked”.  It’s a paved walk (a very picturesque walk, but not at all complicated) with a series of stairs. Daisy & Coco (our mini dachshunds) have 3″ legs, and they managed it. (Well, we had to carry them and lift them from time to time, but rarely.)If you are in the area – GO!

In our campground, we put the trailers end to end on one site (so we would have the kids nearby when it was bedtime – the kids miraculously made their own bedtime around 8:30pm) and used the other site for parking and bocce ball.

Yummy food (Peter’s extra delicious baby back ribs), especially wonderful friends, brilliant late night visits (just like when we were teenagers)… almost no injuries or accidents… and, hopefully, another brand new tradition!!

One funny story I debated whether or not I should include, and I hope I can tell it well…One night, late (the other girls had recently gone to sleep and the boys were all sitting around the campfire), I decided to do a last minute check around the campsite – making sure there was nothing yummy laying around (bear country, high alert).

The site was pretty clear, but there were a few glasses on the table, and one had some liquid in it. I thought it was maybe juice and had a split second moment of wondering if I could just throw the juice on the fire (didn’t want to put the fire out or cause excess smoke) and then decided it’d be ok, since there was only a little bit in the cup….(When I was telling this story to a friend, she already knew how this story went, by this point).

One of the guys was standing over the fire, looking down at it. Fortunately, he’s about 6 feet tall, because when I tossed in the “juice”, a pillar of white yellow flame (the exact diameter of the fire pit) shot straight out of the pit, about 5 feet into the air, with a “HHHWHOOOOOSH”!

It narrowly missed singing his eyebrows! He was a good sport (fortunately, because I don’t know if my apology through my doubled-over-hysterical-laughter-causing-tears sounded sincere – I mean, I really was sincere! I was! but I was so shocked!!) (Also, it helped that there were no injuries… injury would’ve take out the humor aspect, for sure).

He said that 1) it was really interesting to see a fire ball from that angle, and 2) it smelled really good! (and that, it turns out, was because the “juice”, was cherry bourbon…)

(DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME)…(or anywhere, for that matter…)

OK. Wednesday. The actual Big Ball of String Tour. Probably.
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3 responses to “What? too late in the season to go camping!?

  1. Amanda says:

    we had a blast…. Campfire margarita’s and Peter’s ribs we are still talking about them…. I agree we should make it a annual event… Can’t wait for next year….

  2. Maryann says:

    Isn’t Elbow Falls an Oasis so close to home? Glad you discovered it.

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