So far, so good.
We made it to Calgary with a minimum of difficulty. We did have some trouble at check-in but that was because the attendant's computer crashed and we had to wait almost half an hour until it rebooted properly. This meant we ended up running through security and directly onto the airplane. On the plus side, the boys didn't have to wait at the gate. On the downside, I had planned to buy snacks and drinks before boarding. I managed to snag some bottles of pop out of a vending machine but that was it.
Luckily for us, the in-flight entertainment system had a variety of programs from the boys' favourite channel, Treehouse. Alex watched the same episode of Roll-Play for almost ninety minutes. He was hungrier than I expected and went through all the food I had packed for him. I had planned to have some stuff left over for when we landed but I didn't want to deprive him if he was hungry. We could always get more food in Calgary after we landed.
Nathan had a good time with Shelby and Dave got to have some quiet time to himself on the flight.
(For the record, our trip was not endorsed by Coke.) I forgot to mention it in the preparations post, but I made each boy a t-shirt which said "Child with Autism: Handle with Loving Care" for the trip. Those shirts saved us a lot of time and discussion with people. Nathan was kicking the seat in front of him and when he complained to the stewardess, she just glanced over and then told him it was a five year old with autism and offered him the chance to move. He told us he had a seven year old who had just been diagnosed and understood perfectly.
After we landed, we got the adults some drive-through dinner and found a park where the boys could run and play before starting our ninety minute drive to Drumheller. It took us a little while to find a family community. The first suburb we drove through had parks, but they were just green space with some benches. It was really nice being up in the foothills of the Rockies with lots of wide open sky and crisp air.
The drive to Drumheller was good. The boys listened to music and Nathan, predictably, fell asleep. I always love the descent into the Badlands. The prairie seems to be infinitely flat with low, rolling hills, going on forever. But suddenly you crest a hill and you're diving down through terra-cotta layered hills into the river valley. The town is tiny, depending on the fossil beds and tourism for its livelihood. To put it in perspective, there's one grocery store but seven hotels. However, it's doing well. Many of the other mining towns out there have vanished.
We stayed at the Super 8 and our suite was everything we'd been promised. It had a full kitchen, including a full size fridge. There was a living area and then two separate bedrooms. And each room had its own TV, preventing many of the squabbles which could have erupted. There was also a pool with a waterslide.
Nighttime was a little rough. Both boys wanted to sleep with Mommy, which I had anticipated. I claimed the king-sized bed for us, which gave us plenty of room for everyone. However, Nathan was not happy about staying in the hotel. He'd been getting nervous about the trip as it came closer and having to sleep in a bed which wasn't his was the last straw. He began to cry and when I asked what was wrong, he said he wanted to go home. I told him we couldn't go home yet and he began to throw a full-on tantrum. I think he thought we would give in and take him home (since we generally remove tantruming children from situations). It was really hard to hear him scream himself to sleep but I tried to just hold him and tell him that I understood he was scared and upset. And that we would stay with him, that he wasn't alone. Eventually, he fell asleep.