20th May, 2030 - 18:03.
Hello there! We're in Alberta! Tonight is our last night in the hotel in Banff and tomorrow afternoon we will be heading out to Calgary for five days.
"Daddy? Can you untie my shorts for me please?" comes my six-year old's voice from the bathroom. The poor guy's been in there for almost two minutes, probably fumbling with his laces so he can use the bathroom.
"Come here, buddy." I say, as my son Timothy emerges in defeat and turns around so I can reach around his waist to untie his shorts. Once the elastic waistband loosens its' grip around Timothy's waist he rushes into the bathroom again.
While Timothy's in there, let me tell you more about what we did earlier today...
The weather was mostly overcast and a little breezy earlier this afternoon, but still warm enough for Timothy
to wear only his blue t-shirt and orange flame shorts. Timothy and I hopped on one of the local transit buses
and rode around the village. Timothy insisted on bringing his bike, and I couldn't blame him.
It was such a nice day; not too hot, not too cold. My little guy loves riding his bike, and I honestly like
seeing him happily trundling along and listening to the sound of his training wheels clattering along behind
him. For almost an hour Timothy and I explored the village, and we grabbed some lunch before Timothy and I
hopped on another bus to the historic station for him to ride around on his bike there for a while.
As Timothy rode his bike around the gravel lot by the station I remembered a similar scene from my first
visit to Banff almost fifteen years ago of another boy, around Timothy's age, riding a black and green bike,
also with training wheels. Back at that time I could only dream of bringing my own little guy here. As I was
reminiscing, Timothy rode his bike over a pothole, his training wheels high-centred his bike's back wheel
which just spun helplessly as he pumped his pedals.
"Daddy, help!" cried Timothy. I chuckled and gave him a push to free his bike.
As Timothy continued riding around, I heard a train horn in the distance. I glanced at the signal which showed
a green aspect to the west.
"There's a train coming." I called to Timothy, and he rode his bike over to me as fast as his legs (and his
training wheels) would let him. Timothy looked behind me and then up the line in front, I guess he thought
the train was already there.
"Where is it Daddy, I can't see it!"
"I heard it, it should be coming around the corner up there in a few minutes."
Timothy stood next to me holding his bike's handlebars with one hand and looked up the line.
I took out the camera and quickly snapped a photo of Timothy standing on the platform.
Just then the train came into view in the distance.
"There it is, Daddy!" Timothy squeaked excitedly, letting go of his bike and pointing with his right hand
at the train and looking back at me over his shoulder with an exhilarated expression on his face.
Once the freight train had disappeared from view, Timothy and I went over to the woodland trails on the
other side of the tracks - Timothy astride his bike and happily trundling alongside the road as cars,
buses and trucks drove by alongside him. I kept an eye on him to make sure he kept a safe distance from
the roadway, before we reached one of the gravel trails and went up it together. Of course it wasn't
long before the gravel path proved troublesome for my little guy - he kept turning his pedals but
predictably his bike stalled with the back wheel spinning uselessly - his training wheels taking enough
load off the back tire it couldn't get any traction. Timothy's bike was high-centred on the uneven ground,
he pumped his pedals but his bike just sat, and the back wheel spun, and spun, and spun.
"Daddy, I'm stuck!" Timothy cried, starting to sob as he began to tire of his efforts to ride his bike.
I chuckled and knelt down besides my struggling son, resting my hand on his back and speaking gently
to him as he sobbed.
"I guess this path's too difficult. Let's go back to the train tracks - there might be another train coming."
"O... okay." Timothy agreed, wiping his eyes with his arm and giving me a little smile. I put my hand on the
seat of his bike below his butt and pushed him, letting Timothy turn himself around with his handlebars.
Timothy pumped his pedals, but the back wheel of his bike still couldn't get sufficient traction to let
him move on his own, it just kept slipping in the gravel with the tire moaning softly.
Just then we heard another train horn - there was indeed another train coming! Timothy gasped and
pedaled with renewed vigour, but he just sprayed gravel stones everywhere behind him with his efforts.
"Timothy!" I laughed, "Let Daddy push you to the road before you pedal, okay?"
"S... sorry Daddy." Timothy answered in his squeaky voice.
After Timothy and I had made it back to the railroad crossing and watched the whole train pass by,
I took Timothy for a dip at the nearby recreation centre swimming pool, just up the road from the crossing.
I helped Timothy prepare for going swimming - taking his diaper off and putting it in the bag with his towel
for when we were done swimming. I then took out Timothy's red Cars floaties and inflated them for him,
sliding them up his arms to just beneath his shoulders. Timothy can't swim so he needed to wear them.
Despite this Timothy and I had a great time playing with each other in the pool. Timothy even wanted to jump
off the diving board - which is a first as he usually doesn't want to jump into deep water.
I made sure I was within range of him should he get into difficulty, unfortunately he did once as the
air valves on his floaties came loose and they couldn't keep him afloat, but luckily I was close-enough
I could support him and hug him tightly as he began to cry from his fright. Poor little guy - but thankfully
he was otherwise okay.
"Daddy, I'm ready." Timothy calls to me, as he emerges from the bathroom.
Timothy and I are going out to watch trains again. The Calgary-bound Rocky Mountaineer is due in half-an-hour, and there will likely be another freight train a few minutes behind it.
"Come on Daddy!" Timothy calls to me.
I look over at my impatient little guy and chuckle as I close the laptop. Timothy's reaching for the door handle.
"Hang on a minute, little buddy." I call out to him, noticing the red bumper of Lightning McQueen fully visible above the waistband of his shorts and kneeling down behind my son to better-conceal his pull-up diaper; and then reaching around his waist to tie the laces so his shorts won't-so-easily slip down again.
With that, we leave the hotel room together to spend our last few hours walking around in beautiful Banff, Alberta.