Blogging about life as an Oil Sands Shift Family. I'm living in the Edmonton Capital Region while my husband is up in Ft.Mac. This is about the successes, the trials, and the funny stuff that happens. And food, because who doesn't love food?
When the most recent "What's Cooking" magazine hit our mail box I immediately pulled the recipe from the back of the magazine for their Rainbow Layer Cake and pinned it to my bulletin board (actual real bulletin board with pins and paper, not the pinterest one) just waiting for a time to make the cake.
Last weekend we were invited to dinner at a long time friends house. He's a chef, she bakes amazing cakes, they suggested we bring desert. Perfect time to put together the cake!
I love that the Kraft recipes are simple and use things that the average family will have at their house. This one used cake mix, jello, cool whip, icing sugar and sour cream - we did have to buy a couple extra colours of Jello as well as the cool whip but we had everything else.
The full recipe is found on the Kraft website and was super easy to follow (check the link above). Here are some things I learned though:
Four layers is really tall, ours ended up as three layers. Next time I need to sort our how to cut the cakes in half after baking, or bake up smaller cakes (maybe using 1 cake mix and diving it four ways instead of two mixes divided in half)
Lemon Jello really just makes regular coloured cake. Choose bring colours of jello - blue, green, red, purple would be my recommendations
Sour cream added an extra tangy-ness to the cake, not sure I loved it. I think next time I will use plain greek yogurt instead.
Flat cake plate is important! We didn't have one and needed to transfer the cake to my friends cake plate in order to get the full layers out.
Baking on a sunny Sunday morning.
Two of the four layers - next two are in the oven and ready to bake.
First slice is out and the surprise reaction was great!
In my last post I talked about the Camp-In Program at the Royal Tyrrell. The Drumheller area has quite a lot of really cool places to visit before the program starts though, and here my suggested itinerary if you are considering taking a group. We're located just outside of Edmonton, so if you are coming from anywhere else, just adjust the drive time portion!
I've marked areas where the girls wanted to spend money with ***
We asked girls to bring bagged lunch and snacks for the ride there
Red Deer bathroom break **
3:00 (ish arrival in the area)
Stop at the visitor centre for a walk up the Largest dinosaur (ask for a group discount) **
A walk up many, many steps puts you in the dinosaur's mouth for a neat view point and photo op - those are his teeth behind me!
This was also a great spot for a group photo as there is a second smaller dino statue a short walk away from the centre.
3:30 Drive out to Horseshoe canyon for a look around, short hike (seasonal)
4:00 Drive to Hoodoos and let the kids explore.
Time permitting/seasonal -stop at the suspension bridge (stop there between HooDoos and dinner)
5:30 Dinner in Drumheller - we ate at Gus's Corner. The kids enjoyed the pizza and the owner was great to work with. The place isn't really set up for groups though, so it was a bit of a challenge for the server.
Drumheller has quite a few places to choose from though, here's the Urban Spoon listing for the city.
7pm Check-in for the Camp In!
Program cycles the groups through some learning activities (Science Badge for Guides) from 7:45 to 9:45. Snack and then lights out.
Gear has to be out of the building by 9am. Suggestion is that a parent or leader with pick up truck, van, or vehicle with trailer accompanies the group so that all the gear gets put directly in that vehicle.
Group has breakfast provided by the Tyrell, 30 minutes of private access to the gift shop from 9:30 - 10 ***
10:00-12:00 - Group views the museum.
Order packed lunch from the museum for the girls to eat on the bus on the drive home. The cafeteria will provide packed lunches (ours had a sandwhich, cut veggies, fruit, and a cookie) cost was $6.70 per person. Bring juice boxes for the girls and you are set!
rest stop in Red Deer ** (small Tim Hortons or Macdonalds)
4:30 Arrive home in St. Albert
All together the cost came to $130 per person. We used some unit funds to bring the cost down for the participants.
Here is a run down of our costs:
Bus (plus hotel for the driver). We used Rental Bus Lines and were very happy with their service
Snacks for the bus home, plus juice and water (picked up from Costco ahead of time)
Access to giant dinosaur
dinner on Saturday
Badges for all participants from the Gift Shop
Things to note:
Tyrell is really not set up (as of our visit) to accommodate special diets. They do have a fridge to store food if required. We travel with a Gluten free member, several Vegans and a couple of vegetarians. Over all the vegetarians were alright, but I recommend bringing snacks for the Vegans and non-dairy milk for breakfast.
This sleepover program is open to mixed groups, they take up to 100 people so there will be other groups there with you.
There is no access to the galleries (other than the one you sleep in) during the evening program
It is very hot and dry in the sleeping area. Water is important! Light sleeping bags (or even just blankets) are all that is required.
It’s also quite light and loud! Ear plugs and sleep masks (maybe a fun craft the meeting before?) are recommended
Like everywhere in Canada a number of these sites and the length of time you will spend there are weather dependant. We were there in late March. There was still a surprising amount of snow on the ground. The stop at the canyon was extremely short as the girls were cold and the wind there was insane. On the other hand though we spend about an hour at the hoodoos, they are fairly sheltered. Only thing with the hoodoos is the sand-mud. We had one girl fall and I think the sand-mud was still clinging to her jacket the next day!
If you wanted to extend your stay in the area on Sunday, contact the visitor centre and ask about group discounts at some of the other attractions - like Reptile World.
When my co-leader suggested that we resurrect the biannual trip the 12th Guides used to take (over a decade ago) I thought, sure - that sounds like a great idea. And don’t get me wrong bus tripping with the Guides is a great idea, but make no mistake, it is a lot of work. I'll leave the details of the paper work, bus booking, organizing and worrying about how to feed them all to another post and just focus on the fun stuff!
The trip we took was from St. Albert to Drumheller for a sleep over (they call it a Camp-In) at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Originally the plan was for The Kid to stay at home with her dad, but we had a Guider and her daughter drop out at the last minute so I brought her along along in the Guide’s place, and we roped a parent helper in to fill the other Guider spot (and I am happy to report she survived and had a good time and is still speaking to us!).
The group at the Drumheller visitor centre.
I’m going to post a sample itinerary in case anyone is looking at running this same trip with their group in the near future. The Camp-In is well suited to Guide and Cub aged kids (8-12yrs old). An interesting thing about this program that I have not seen before is that they allow a mix of groups. The Royal Tyrrell Museum Camp-in will take up to 100 people. There can be a mix of groups, clubs, and families in your Camp-In. In all my other sleepover experience there has only been the one group.
This mix added an interesting element. We had two different Scout groups as well as a small group of pre-teen girls and their parents. The Scout groups were a Beaver Colony from Edmonton, and what I think were also Beavers from Calgary. Having these other groups did allow me to pick up some great ideas (like bring a trailer for all the stuff!) but it also posed some challenges - like when, what I assume were, Beavers woke up screaming in the middle of the night.
Each group got to participate in four different programs. While I was off getting a the Chaperone/Emergency tour my group headed to one of the galleries to learn about dinosaurs, in the dark. They loved it, and the program staff realizing, the kids were slightly older than the other groups, really went into some cool extra details. I loved that she adapted the program to meet their needs. At the end of the session she passed around some real fossils and let the girls ask questions.
Our second stop was a mini dino dig. We got the low down on tools that a palaeontologist would use, and the the girls got a chance to unearth some fossils using the tools and process that the programmer taught them. As they dug she would come around and give them pointers. Afterwards she explained some of the fossils they had helped uncover, and also showed the group how scientists would safely transport fossils.
Digging for Dinos station
Third station was a craft, where we learned about colours of dinosaurs. Or more to the point learned that we don’t know what colours dinosaurs were because skin doesn’t fossilize. The entire trip was worth this one moment, this one flashback to me in elementary school questing why I had to colour the dino brown or green. Questing why couldn’t it be purple or blue? And being told because they weren’t. And being extremely unhappy with that answer. Well HAHAHAH jokes on you teacher. I was just as right as you. (ok I’m done now, but reallly….I was right!!).
Craft station, finger puppet Pterodactyls
Fourth station and the one I think they all liked the most. A staff member from reptile world was there to talk about snakes. With his two year old boa constrictor. He had a lot of good information, the girls asked a lot of questions and in the end were able to hold or touch the snake if they wished. I did not wish to so I stayed seated.
After our sessions, we had snack and everyone trundled off to the Dinosaur hall to sleep. I got to sleep (only there really wasn’t much sleep) next to the bones of Albertasaurs. Kind of fitting for my last year in Alberta.
Point to note if you go. The museum is hot, light, and has quite a bit of noise - both from the fans and from the (up to 99) other people. The information they send out says as much and they truly do mean it.
Sadly as we were working from an old itinerary and I didn’t ask the right questions, we only had a small amount of time in the rest of the museum the next day. The girls did get some time in the museum, just enough to whet their appetite and hopefully to drum up enough enthusiasm that they can convince their families to return with them. I know my kid is already planning a trip for us to go back as a family!
Think you want to take your group to the Royal Tyrrell - click here for my tips and tricks!