Last year about this time, we booked our stays for Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. This is a trip that my husband has wanted to do since we were first married over 13 years ago. Over the years, we had considered different options: renting an RV or hotels / airbnb or cabins but we just couldn’t figure out how to travel affordably while keeping it an authentic camping experience.
I sort of stumbled across the oTENTik option and it was a no brainer. We choose to vacation for 10 days total, knowing that 2 full days would be travel days. We booked oTENTiks in Banff National Park and in Jasper National Park and stayed one night in between at the Glacier View Inn, the only hotel on the Icefield parkway.
Day 1: Travelling to Banff from Abbotsford.
Yes, we fit 4 kids, 2 adults, all our food and clothing and camping gear in our Toyota Sienna and in the Thule. We travel fairly light as far as camping goes. Mattias helped with the light travel by packing only 1 pair of shorts and no pants. He would later regret this decision.
As most families with young children, we wanted to get there as quickly as possible so we minimized stops. In Field, BC (on the border of BC / Alberta), there was a large traffic accident and we were stopped for about 45 minutes. We quite enjoyed the location and scenery.
Everyone was able to stretch their legs for a bit.
Finally, we arrived in Banff. We had booked the oTENTiks at Tunnel Mountain II. The oTENTik came with power outlets for charging phones, a Weber bbq and a large propane cylinder with free refills. The picnic table had 220V outlet for a coffee maker or toaster. I had not read about these extras on the website and was pleasantly surprised.
First wildlife sighting right by our campsite.
Due to the wildfires, there was a fire ban in the National Parks but we were allowed to use our propane firepit.
Day 2: Banff Town & Bow River Trail & Bow Falls
Kate was always climbing hills and running off into the bush to explore.
The Bow Falls.
Pretty cool view of the Fairmont Hotel behind us.
Vegetation on the opposite side of the Bow River.
Day 3: Moraine Lake & Lake Louise
Everyone we talked to recommended an early start if we wanted to see the big tourist attractions. We heard that we needed to be in the parking lots before 9 am, or even as early at 7 am. 9 am was tough enough because Moraine Lake was about a 1 hour drive from our campground.
Views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks as we approached Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake was incredibly busy. The parking lot was packed with vehicles and tour busses. We saw a trail head and decided to explore something off the beaten track.
We founds snow!
Finally arrived at the Consolation Lakes.
Some pretty spectacular scenery.
Didn’t realise until I downloaded it that the photo was entirely out of focus.
Little girl in a big big world.
Our Christmas card photo! Self timer on a rock.
Then a nice Dutchmen came around and offered to take this shot.
My view of Art most of the trip: packing 2 kids.
After our hike, we walked up some stairs and were able to see the iconic view of Moraine Lake.
Another self timer photo or 2.
Truly spectacular to see this in real life.
The water was really cold.
We had worked up quite an appetite and went for a late late lunch at the Mountain Restaurant.
We arrived at Lake Louise at around 3:30/4:00 ish. It turns out that you can easily check out the tourist attractions later in the afternoon and I found that this was a really nice time of day for our family. The sun is lower in the sky allowing for nicer photos and it wasn’t nearly as hot. The crowds had dissipated. This was probably my favorite hike and sightseeing from the whole trip. The kids were happy, the scenery so pretty, we walked until it was no longer stroller friendly — the other side of the lake had mud / clay which the kids enjoyed digging in, and a surprise boardwalk and falls. We would have loved to go all the way to the teahouse — but we didn’t have the backpack with us.
Getting close to the water at Lake Louise.
The trail around Lake Louise was stroller friendly.
The Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise.
Inventing challenges for themselves. Who can keep their finger in the ice cold water the longest.
Indian Paintbrush wildflower
Opposite side of Lake Louise.
She gets really giddy when she is tired.
James’ ‘I’m so bored’ face.
Day 4: Johnston Canyon. An easy walk along the canyon.
Day 5: Leaving Banff & oTENTik tour.
When the oTENTik was clean, I thought I’d snap some photos of the inside.
Table, chairs, bench and lantern included. The vinyl flaps clip on and off for privacy in the mattress area. There’s a double mattress on top and 4 twins on the bottom. There’s a vinyl flap that separates 2 mattresses from the other 2.
It was a morning full of mini sessions all for a great cause: A Home for Every Child Adoption Agency. The money fund-raised for this worthy cause goes towards: adoption and fostering consultations, offering assistance to families as they pursue adoption and foster care, the post-adoption assistance fund for families to support their children with special needs once they bring them home, awareness campaigns that communicate about the many children waiting for families, and to the counselling services available for families once they bring their children home.
Thanks to all the families that participated! I will likely do this again, if asked. 🙂
A beach wedding in the fall sounds about perfect. The location was Beecher Place in Crescent Beach in Surrey. Trevor and Katrina wanted a small intimate gathering with their closest family and friends to celebrate their wedding vows. I was amazed how much we managed to do in just 2 hours of photography coverage due to excellent organisation by the bride and the wedding coordinator. Thanks so much Trevor & Katrina!
Tim & Petra won a session through an auction for the school a couple years ago. If you’ve won a session and you haven’t collected, these things don’t expire. Give me a call and we can make it happen! There must be one or two auction sessions floating around still.
We met at the fort in Fort Langley. We considered sneaking into the fort to get a couple of cool shots on the inside but that log wall round the fort is a little tall. Instead we stayed on the grounds outside and then ventured to the water for a couple of photos. At the end of the session, Abby requested an updated photo of the family on a bench with her peering over and looking at the camera.
This first photo is my one of my favorites! And I love the mix of candid and posed shots we were able to get throughout the session. Thanks so much Tim & Petra!
Thanks for looking!
A day filled with love and joy and laughter and a horse, of course!
The Geertsema home is one where you want to wander and look around at all the treasures and collectables. As a photographer, one gets the opportunity to wander and look at all the treasures and no one gives you the side eye. After all the ladies were ready, we headed towards the stable where Josie keeps her horse, Mustang. Brent and Josie shared a private moment of seeing each other at a first look and then we went to take portraits with wedding party and mom and dad and the dog and the horse. Josie fulfilled her dream of galloping on her horse in her wedding dress on her wedding day. Josie is a legitimate horse girl / cowgirl, so it was only fitting! We spent some time at a farm property and then headed to the ceremony. The reception was a hoot as well, and I attended as a guest which was such a generous and lovely touch.
List of Vendors
Hair: Lauren Vanderhorst
Makeup: Katelyn Schouten
Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal
Bridesmaid dresses: David’s Bridal
Ceremony: Aldergrove Canadian Reformed Church
Reception: Abbotsford Legacy Sports Centre
Flowers: Jenise Hollar
Invitation design: Connie Bysterveld