"We travel not to escape our life, but to stop life from escaping us"
As we drive up to the interpretive center the first thing that strikes us all is the building. Almost like a modern bunker set into the marsh. Lucy looks at it and tells me how cool it looks but really once we get inside then you see the real magic.
From a long glass wall of window looking out over the marsh to the display showing the animals of the marsh this center is packed with great activities for the family. We roll up to reception and book onto a voyager canoe paddle while the girls excitedly try to name all the animals in the display.
We set off into the center and the girls dart around each area. They explore sensory activities, look through microscopes and make nests. As we walk around trying out each new activity and learning about the ecosystem in the marsh it ready to see that this place is getting it right. Our girls are engaged and excited and almost sad when we say we have to head outside to meet our canoe guide. However that doesn’t last long once they get out and the paddle shed doors open.
After a short safety talk we are handed our paddling gear. Lucy and Tilley almost lose their mind when they find out that they too get mini paddles and can help push the canoe along. They spend the next 5 minutes practicing paddling while walking back and forward waiting for the other in the group to don their gear.
We make our way down to the dock with our canoe guide Abby and all hop into the big voyager style canoe. Paddle in the water we move off and Abby tells us about the marsh and its history while she steers the boat through the reeds, around the banks and past a few muskrat nests. Lucy and Tilley paddle eagerly and surprisingly we only have one dropped paddle (which is quickly scooped up by our guide and handed back).
As we turn in to the dock there is a muskrat sitting over between the reeds which is a perfect finish to an enjoyable and fun paddle. We head up the dock and hand back our gear then after snack it’s time to head back home. So looking for somewhere to go that’s close to Winnipeg. Try Oak hammock marsh it’s educational, active and most of all so much fun.
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We pull on our jackets and hats and lace up our shoes. Stepping out of the hotel the air is cool but comfortable. We take a left and head down the round the the start of the tunnel mountain trail. Tilley is in the front carrier and Lucy is scooting along beside me. We had talked about hiking the tunnel mountain trail the night before and Lucy was adamant that she didn't need any help to get to the top. So as mum sat down to enjoy on of the programs at the film festival we took the first steps up the tunnel mountain trail hear.
The trail loops back and forward with flat, steeper, stoney and muddy sections. For the first hour Lucy runs ahead and waits for me to catch up. Then zooms ahead again. Slowly though and inevitably she starts to tire. two thirds up the trial and we stop for a rest. Lucy sits on her log snacking on a cliff bar she had stashed in her jacket pocket and we all have a sip of water. I can tell she wants to go walk down but after a little coaxing she decides that she can make it the rest of the way. We steadily make our way up the last third of the trail. Lucy now determined to get there without being carrier. She scurries over the last section of rocky trail and I find her sitting in a big red muskoka chair looking very pleased with herself.
We head up the last few meters of trail and Lucy finds another log to sit on and produces a second cliff bar. This kid has got it figured out. We eat our snack and enjoy the view and I give her a huge hug. This is the first hike she has done completely under her own steam and i can tell she is tired and it wasn't easy. she hug me back and I tell her how amaing she has done and prund I am of her. As we start to make our way down Lucy pipes up 'I think we should go down and get have ice cream tonight, is that a good plan'. 'Yes', I reply 'I think that's a great plan'.
As we slowly pull up to the curb, both girls napping in the back, Sheena and I breath a sign of relief, we're here. I head inside to check in with Kelly, the happy bartender/receptionist. We then headed through the lodge style lobby/cafe out under the rows of hanging light to our room.
After working most of the day, the 3 hour drive from our house to Clear Lake, in Riding Mountain National Park seemed long but was a good chance to decompress a little. We had decided to take an overnight adventure for some fat tire biking and possibly cross country skiing! But for this evening we wandered into the lake house ready for a glass wine and a relaxing dip in the hot tub.
As we opened the door to the room we are greeted with a happy mix of modern and rustic. Ikea furniture mixed in with barn wood bed surrounds and accent wall. A simple kitchen, perfect to give us a place to make some soup and s'mores later and store a few snacks and beverages. Two comfy queen beds sit on the left with a large TV mounted on the wall across. Lucy instantly darts in to explore the bathroom and is thrilled to find some lipstick (actually lip chap but its all the same to her) sitting next to the handmade lavender soap beside the sink. She obviously tries it out immediately and after which we all, jump into our swim costumes and headed down to the hot tub. What a great way to start our little overnighter.
Next morning we're up at the crack of 9 and down for breakfast at 9:30. Lucy and Tilley chomped their way through fresh raspberries and strawberries, toast and muffins. Then wash it down with some orange juice. After a morning walk along the lake front to kick a ball around the skating rink on the lake, we are off to rent fat tire bikes from the Friends of Riding Mountain Learning Center. Forms filled out and waivers signed we get fitted for our bikes and with Tilly and Lucy riding high in their carry back packs we set off for the south lake trail.
As a side note. Although using a child carrier while biking its not the most efficient way to ride, it is, for us, the easiest way to know that we can for sure bike if we are renting. Usually its 50/50 if the rental shop has kids seats and the carriers have been our savior more than once. Just make sure you have a little practice at home before you go off-roading, it does change up your balance a little.
We peddle beside the cross country ski trail, up and down, through the trees. Lucy lets out excited laughs at the speedy down hills and Tilley is singing away in mumble and shouts like only a one and half year old can. The fresh winter air sweeps past all our faces giving us rosey pink cheeks but no-one is complaining. The riding is fairly easy, meandering left and right, up and down in a relaxed fashion. We stop every so often to snap a picture or to change up the leader until we pop out of the trail. Sheena and I warm from the ride, and both girls asleep from the morning walk and the fresh air.
Late check outs are a god send every time we get them. Today was no different. We had asked to check out at 1 instead of 11 and after riding on a cool winter day, the chance to change cloths and make a warm bowl of soup was amazing. With 1 o'clock around the corner we grab our gear, load into the car and head home. But not before stopping in at the Lake house ice cream shop for a sweet treat and delicious coffee for the drive home. What a great little adventure!