Hodge: Train brings annoying reality to holiday expedition

As is often the result, the journey became the destination…Life with a six-year-old is rarely dull.

I’m proud to say there is still a significant part of me which has not yet grown up.

Hope it remains that way.

I had a grand ‘adventure’ last week that rekindled some of that sparkle for life and imagination.

Tez and I had the pleasure of escorting granddaughter Taylor to Canyon Hot Springs, on the Trans Canada Highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke,  for a gathering of sorts.

As is often the result, the journey became the destination—not that Canyon Hot Springs wasn’t fun, but the trip was ‘funner.’

Life with a six-year-old is rarely dull.

All of us were pretty stoked about the trip before we even left Kelowna as we all stayed up way too late the night before.

Consequently the anticipated ‘slow, easy packing’ of the car the next morning turned into a major maze-managing mayhem, taking almost double the anticipated time and tabulating triple the irritation.

Regardless, bright-eyed and bushy tailed Grandpa and Grandma hit the road with our special six-year-old guest of honour as entertainment coordinator.

My first job as transportation manager for the road trip was to verify that both my companions were up for an adventure. Taylor confirmed she was and there was never any question about Grandma.

Though Canyon Hot Springs was the targeted destination for the three of us, we decided a visit to the legendary Enchanted Forest was a priority.

Besides, Enchanted was on route and as adventurers it was almost our duty to check it out.

“Adventures are what adventurers do,” Taylor concluded, affirmatively nodding her head.

However, we were quickly sidetracked by yet another adventure.

Grandma Tez saw it first. A mega tourist-trap, child-attention-grabber facility nicely located in the middle of nowhere—or at least a very large field.

Taylor was literally out of the car before I had the ignition off. Forget the Enchanted Forest, our granddaughter was captivated with The Log Barn.

A plethora of various themed characters and creatures, mostly dinosaurs, are spread about the attractively designed, flower-filled, indoor/outdoor family-oriented facility.

Taylor thought it was very funny when I suggested Grandma sometimes reminded me of a T-Rex, but Grandma did not find it so witty.

Thankfully Taylor’s enthusiasm for the impressive Taradactyl characters swinging high above our heads redirected the conversation.

After exploring the facility the road trip continued towards the highly anticipated destination.

Admittedly the “adventure to the Enchanted Forest” was not solely about Taylor’s enjoyment. There was a tad of influence involved from both Tez and moi.

For both of us the adventure marked a return trip to the attraction.

Tez had been there 30 years before with her first born and I had visited 20 years before with granddaughter Chelsea.

While Tez and I have both changed a lot, the Enchanted Forest had thankfully not.

Except for the size of the parking lot and throngs of visitors, not a lot is different.

Certainly by the state of many of the ornaments and displays a new layer of paint has not been added—so it gets full points for originality.

Watching Taylor’s eyes light up and her energy level escalate made the journey worthwhile.

I’m not sure which of us had the most fun, although I suggest it was pretty much a triple tie.

Certainly Taylor and Grandma enjoyed all of the interactive displays including, much to Grandma’s chagrin, climbing the giant tree house. (As official photographer, I had to remain behind to record the event for posterity.)

We spent a good hour at least wandering between displays of various nursery rhyme worlds such as the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, Three Little Pigs, and the Land of Oz. It was well worth the stop.

Though it was a fantasy world there was no city council section.

There has been some change at Enchanted which, although interesting, may not have been well planned.

The forest now has a neighbour. A high flying aerial adventure playground has sprung to life adjacent to the forest with climbing towers, zip lines, ropes and ladders, and exciting looking swings.

While it certainly draws a large crowd no clear creative consideration was given towards the new facility’s location.

A buffer of trees between the two facilities would greatly enhance both.

It is challenging for anyone, young or old, to remain fixated or enchanted while in the forest with all of the audio and visual activity going on behind the scenes.

Regardless, filled with visions of nursery rhyme heroes fresh in our heads we piled back into the car and continued our quest to reach Canyon Hot Springs.

For the better part of the next two days, Tez and I pretty much lived in a giant hot tub soaking in the healing waters of the hot springs.

Taylor, her mom and others joined us part of the time but with not the same dedication or skill at doing nothing that we have perfected.

The two of us would likely still be floating around at the hot springs if not for two factors: One’s skin can only prune up so much before becoming a permanent wrinkle—and sleep deprivation.

I am not sure how a tourist resort survives located right next to an active railway line that operates (loudly) around the clock.

Our first night I was awakened six times by the train passing some 30 feet from our cabin, on night two only four times (must have been exhaustion from the night before).

So, while I may have not completely grown up and my brain still loves being a part-time kid, I admit my body has a different view.

A return trek to the Enchanted Forest somewhere down the dusty road of life may be possible—but I think I will pass on the train.

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