Thursday, September 30, 2010

Now where to?

Well I had my visit with my cardiologist today, and she figures as long as I going to be hanging around for a few more years, I might as well spend this winter somewhere warm. That was good news, so now I can start planning for real. Departure day is tentatively set for October 27th. Anyone who knows me has probably figured out that I have already got a pretty detailed plan formulated, right down to where we are giving Brenda her smoke breaks as we travel. But most RVer`s also know that those plans are cast in jello, so the fun part is actually seeing where you end up going, as opposed to where you started out heading for.

We missed out on all the goings on in Indiana this last couple of months so we thought we would point ourselves a little farther east than originally planned and go down the Eastern Slope of the Rockies towards South Texas. That will give us an opportunity to catch up with a lot of our friends and acquaintances that are not planning on heading towards Arizona this winter. For now we will say we are pointing ourselves down through the Texas Panhandle in the general direction of Austin and as time passes and we figure out where folks are hiding we will firm up things.

We’ve never been down to the Rio Grande Valley so that will certainly be on the table for this eastern swing and we have heard good things about Betty’s in Abbeville and just love that Cajun country so maybe before we head back to the desert we will spend some time exploring that part of the world.

Then sometime around the time we spot that Jolly Old Elf tearing around in his sleigh and giving us a few flashbacks of winter we will be heading back out west to the desert of Arizona where we plan on holing up till we get reports of warm weather and spring growth up here down the road from Dogpound.

It’s Fall on the Northern Ranges

We are enjoying one of those great Indian Summers that happen in this part of the country. Good thing seeing as how we missed the regular summer. Not to much sun tanning going on here down the road from Dogpound this year. But what a great year for the trees, lot’s of rain and just enough heat to keep them growing.

Fall Colours

And this kind of weather does make for great fall colours. In this part of the world we are not big on the reds that are seen to the east of us but we do get some glorious golds shining through.

This stretch of weather is supposed to last through the weekend so maybe, just maybe, we will get the last of our barley combined and in the bin. Once that happens the farming will be done for the year here and things will start slowing down for the long winter ahead.

Yesterday Brenda and I had an exciting day. Our excitement started with dinner at Gnocchi’s Ristorante in the Beltline area near downtown Calgary. This is an old favourite of ours and to make it even more special our daughter Rebecca joined us. Her husband is out of town at a conference in San Diego so it was a great time for her and her mother to get a little visiting done while I watched from the sidelines and enjoyed the great food.

After that great dinner we finished up our visit to the big city lights with an evening at the circus. Cirque du Soleil’s touring show Kooza is in Calgary for a month or two and we managed to acquire some tickets. It was a pretty high energy show and even though there were some parts that Brenda just couldn’t watch, there were others that mesmerized her so we really enjoyed the evening.


All in all the best part was dinner with Bec though.

It takes us an hour to get back here “down the road from Dogpound” from the city so it was long after our bedtime when we got home.

Today we are back to the city to attend to some medical issues and figure out whether we will be enjoying the farm for the winter or moving to different environs. For now it is a great place to be.

Fall Colours-1

But we are getting a little hitch itch here and would like to see a little different scenery and enjoy some different weather for a while.

 MH-1 MH-2

That time of year is coming again so I know where my heart is heading, now to see if our bodies can follow.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Something was Hidden

Over this summer we have been blessed with visitors from the south and thought we should share our neighbourhood and some of it’s vista’s with them. We have a confession to make, we kept a lot of it hidden. Now that was not all our fault but maybe more the fault of the timing. We went to a lot of places and saw a lot of beautiful country but the weather was not always cooperating. Brenda and I thought we should take a run out and see a few of the places we were with Deb and Rod and Gina and Rollie and see if they looked any different. And because as many of you know we are still waiting on a couple of doctors reports before we are able to head out of here, we were able to wait till the weather was better.

Front Ranges-4

Now anyone who has been reading along with us for a while knows that when it comes to pictures I am never really sure when to stop so even though I like the one above taken from Highway 1A there are a lot of close seconds in my mind so I will share them in an album type format.

Now this wasn’t an original idea, heading to Banff National Park on a beautiful fall day, when we got to Moraine Lake, the cars were parking a mile up the road from the parking lot so we got a little hike down the road before we actually got to the lake. Not all for nought though we saw this little cascade coming down the hill towards the trail.

Small Cascade near Moraine Lake

And this mountain towering over us as we strolled along.

Mountain View-1

Now the walk in was well worth it and a little exercise could never hurt me although with Brenda’s knee probably didn’t need the walk.

Moraine Lake

The picture above is of Moraine Lake and about half of the peaks in the “Valley of the Ten Peaks”. All the folks who were parked along the road must have headed on into the Larch Valley as there were only a few folks here at the lake. The larches will be in their full fall colours right now and it is probably the most popular hike in the Canadian Rockies this time of year. We will have to take the hike some year but this is not the one. It was a little breezy up here today so the water is pretty agitated and the reflections were not great :). We took the shots below on our way back out of the valley.

Road to Moraine Lake

You can see the larches high on the shoulders of the mountains.

Golden Shoulders 

After we left Moraine Lake we headed around the hill to Lake Louise to see if there was anything different about it on a day like today.

Lake Louise

Well certainly no reflections in the water but those mountains do look a little different. After doing all this driving and walking we worked up an appetite for lunch and seeing as how it was nearly 3:00PM we decided to call it supper as well. We got this picture of Rundle Mountain especially for Rollie as he took a shine to this particular mountain when they were out this way.

Rundle Mountain

We took off for Banff and our favourite Irish Pub “St James Gate” and chowed down before heading out of town past the Banff Springs Hotel. This old hotel shows Canada’s Scottish Roots and was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage folks to visit the area.

Banff Springs Hotel

Oh yah, I started this story talking about hiding things from our guests, and although I think both visits were beautiful I will let you compare. Here are a couple from the two trips to Lake Louise.

Lake Louise-2 The Lakes in the Clouds-1

And a couple from Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake-1 The Lakes in the Clouds-2

Now we are not offering refunds but come on back while the weather is better and we will gladly do it all again.

I was reading earlier today that my friend Al from the Bayfield Bunch is no longer accepting comments on his blog and that is certainly his prerogative, but, I just thought I should mention we will take any and all comments here if some of you are feeling withdrawals after losing the ability to comment on Al’s blog.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Last Day of Summer/First Day of Winter?

Well dang it, what happened to fall. I would like to be able to tell you that we went to bed last night on a late summer evening and woke up to winter. But alas, as Rollie put it, “this is just like a Louisiana winter”, a week ago. We appeared to miss out on summer this year here on the Northern Ranges. Now don’t get me wrong we had a couple of days that it got into the mid 20’s Celcius (mid to high 70’sF) but nothing much warmer than that. Now that might be alright for Scotland, Iceland or even Alaska but for heaven’s sake this is Alberta and we used to get some hot days at least once in a while. Well on the bright side we didn’t use much electricity to run our air conditioners so the world is a greener place, and we are certainly doing our part to stave off Global Warming. I’d like to get my hands on that Al Gore fellow, but it is hard to hold on when you are wearing mittens all the time.

At least one member of our family is prepared for the weather.

Ready for the Weather-1

Maybe because she is youngest she doesn’t believe all us oldtimers when we talk about that mythical season we remember as summer.

We did manage to get a lot of the family out for supper last weekend and even got a photo of them all. Although we were missing a couple of the adult kids and one grandchild we were pretty happy to see that they all managed to make it out. Hmmmm, maybe with the cold weather they were thinking it was Christmas and there would be gifts :), but no such luck, just one of Brenda’s great meals. We enjoyed a good visit with everybody and are looking forward to the next time we can gather as a family.


I am not going to name them all, but even at my advanced age I do recognize everyone and can put a name to them all. Come up and visit us and we’ll introduce you to any we can catch as they fly by with their everyday busy lives. Thanks kids for making your parents pretty happy.

Other than our family gathering it has been a lot of the same old, same old. A trip or two to Calgary, Cochrane or Rocky Mountain House and just watching the rain come down, wondering if it was NOW that we were supposed to build an Ark. I caught this little fellow wandering along the road the other day.

Wily Coyote-1

I was happy to get this photo as even though there is no shortage of coyotes in our neighbourhood they are usually a lot more camera shy. As well the other morning a big bull moose ran right through the yard as I was out feeding the horses. That picture however is burned into my mind as my camera was back in the motorhome.

I’ll leave you with a shot of the road into our place, down the road from Dogpound, this morning when I returned from my dentist appointment.

Winter- Now what happened to Fall-1

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Time to Head South!

I am a little slow getting this blog written. Tuesday morning it was time to say goodbye to Rollie and Gina. We really enjoyed their visit and being able to share a little bit of our neighbourhood with them. I think you really see the things around you in a different light when you see it through other eyes. Thanks for letting us borrow your eyes folks, and travel safe. Hurry Back!

Rollie and Gina leaving-1

Sorry for the lack of focus but they left pretty early.

Once Gina and Rollie left we settled back into our normal routine, the odd trip to town and a little tinkering around the farm.

A touch of Fall-1

It is looking a lot more like fall every day around here and the temperatures are dropping below 0C (32F) at night now on a pretty regular basis. Although there are not many yellow leaves in the trees above they are showing their faces more and more each day. I saw these fellows below this morning while out doing my morning walk and it will not be too long until they are looking for the does’ and working on next years crop of fawns.

The Buck Stops Here - well not really!-1

And these guys they call Canada Geese but I think you can’t be called Canadian unless you spend a winter or two here and don’t fly the coop as soon as a little frost gets in the air.

We're outa Here-1

As for us we are planning on staying here and enjoying a little Indian summer but if God is willing and the creeks don’t rise we are hoping to get out of here towards the end of October. So we are hoping those geese save us a little space somewhere in the Arizona desert.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Day, a few more mountains, and a lot of ice

Saturday morning we woke to low clouds, flatlanders call it fog, but at these elevations it is just the fact that you are in the clouds rather below them. We had suspected that today was not going to be a stellar weather day so chose to do the southern half of the Icefields Parkway yesterday and head up towards Jasper today. That way if the weather didn’t cooperate Gina and Brenda could at least spend some time perusing the goods in the shops in Jasper. Our first 50 miles or so was low cloud and rain and the mountains were obscured. When we arrived at our first destination the Columbia Icefields we could have missed the glacier but soon it cleared up a little.

Icefield Parkway - Columbia Icefields-1

Once we got to the Icefields Centre Rollie and Gina decided they were going to treat us to a glacier tour. Now I had been out on the glacier as a kid but not for a veeeeerrrrrry long time. In fact I think this museum piece was the transportation then.

Icefields Parkway - Bombardier-1

Now this fine blue piece of equipment was the interim transportation but I think I missed that era entirely or at least never took a spin in them but from all reports they were a victim of their lack of suspension and in the summer all those windows could raise the heat to somewhat uncomfortable levels, in fact their informal name is “shake and bake” amongst the tour guides.

Icefields Parkway - Shake and Bake R1-1 

Nowadays things are a little more modern and certainly a whole lot more comfortable than the old yellow “crummies”. They even have a fancy new name “Ice Explorer” and there are only 22 in the world, 21 here on the Icefields, and 1 in Antarctica at the American base there.

Icefields Parkway - Athabasca Glacier-1

That is the Icefields Centre you can see in the distance behind the Ice Explorer. And the picture below of the four of us was taken out on the Athabasca Glacier.

Icefields Parkway - Athabasca Glacier-2

Hopefully these photos will help those of you who are suffering through the high temperature elsewhere to weather the storm. Winter is coming in fact here on the glacier it never really leaves.

And speaking of leaves above are some shots of the colourful vegetation that grows near the glaciers. We were hoping to see a little wildlife on our trip today and this nanny and kid Mountain Goats were pretty accommodating when it came to getting photos.

Icefield Parkway - Goat-1

Gina had never seen a moose either so we were hoping to see one of them but this guy below is as close as we could come to helping her realize that dream, but not everyday do you get to see a Canadian Moose and a Mountie in his red serge all in the same photo.

Icefields Parkway - Moose-1

Now once our Glacier experience was over, by the way thanks for that Rollie and Gina, we were off to continue our journey northward towards Jasper. The weather started cooperating with us and we actually got to see some of the pretty country we were traveling through.

And never fear the girls did get in a little souvenir shopping once we got to Jasper.

Icefields Parkway - Shopping-1

We certainly enjoyed our Mountain Getaway and all the more so because of the company we had to share it with. Rollie and Gina thanks for giving us the right excuse to wander and visit all these sights that in our usual travels are just bypassed and if not forgotten at least put off for another trip. To see the great photo’s that Gina and Rollie took pop by their blog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sharing some of our Neighbourhood

Brenda and I love sharing our neighbourhood with our friends and it seems like we are seeing it for the first time all over again when we watch others enjoy the sights. We had found a spot out near Banff National Park west of Nordegg that looked like a good spot to set up our base camp. Rollie and Gina are experienced boondockers and we knew they would have no problems with a spot without all the usual amenities.

IP - Abraham Lake-1

Well there are tradeoffs in life and I will definitely give up my internet and shore power for the right to wake up to a view like this every morning. We got out here on Thursday afternoon and set up camp that day.

We saw a lot of country over the next two days and took a pile of photo’s, probably 1500 between Rollie, Gina, Brenda, and I so it will probably take more than one day to share some of the highlights with our readers. Whoa, hold it, we will cut it down to a bunch less than 1500 but, we sure will try to pick the best. If you want to see it all, you need to come for a visit.

First thing Friday morning we headed into the park at Saskatchewan River Crossing and then ventured southwards along the Icefields Parkway towards Lake Louise. Brenda and I have had the good fortune of being able to travel a lot of pretty roads but we think this highway is one of the world’s best. Rollie and I saw a comment in the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge that sums it all up pretty well. Some wit with a piece of chalk had made a comment on their welcome board that went like this “When God made this place he was showing off.” Well he hit the nail right square on the head there and we are sure glad we live here and can share it with our friends. The photo below is a small taste of the country and you can rest assured I haven’t done a thing to it except load it into the blog.

Peyto Lake

IP - Peyto Lake-1

When the Lord goes to painting it don’t need any Photoshop, or Picasa to fix it up.

IP - All 4 at Waterfowl Lake-1

The photo above is Gina, Rollie, Brenda and I at Waterfowl lake just to the north of Peyto Lake. Now I didn’t think about the rock flour that is ground up in these waters when I put that teal coloured shirt on but it did echo a lot of the lake and creeks we saw today.

Once we hit the Highway #1 down near Lake Louise we decided that rather than head back to camp right away we would head west into British Columbia and see some other spots like the Spiral Tunnels that make it possible for the Canadian Pacific Railway to operate its transcontinental service through the Kicking Horse Pass.

Spiral tunnels-1

We weren’t lucky enough, or maybe patient enough, to see a train but usually you can see the end going in one of those tunnels while the front is crossing either above or below it. There are two set of these spirals in this valley that manage to reduce the grade enough to allow rail traffic to travel here a little safer. But the real reason for our visit to Yoho National Park was Takakkaw Falls. They are magnificent and a photo cannot do them justice as they are Canada’s second highest falls and at 1250 feet it is hard to capture the sheer magnitude in a photograph. Hard for me to believe but it is probably 45 years since I have been in here to see this falls. Brought back a lot of memories standing here listening to the thunderous falls and thinking of those I shared them with last time and those I was sharing them with today.

IP - takakkaw falls-1 

Now the photo below is pretty common in this country two folks eating lunch at a picnic table but this one has a multi-cultural aspect to it. You’ll notice that although I am wearing a light vest and drinking cold water, Gina, a true Louisiana girl at heart, is enjoying her lunch while wearing her mitts. It was a little cool but really, mittens, in September…!

IP - JB & Gina-1

But maybe Gina had the right idea after all this little fellow had his best fur coat on while scurrying around us.

IP - Chipmunk-1

Well we will finish the Northern part of the Icefields Parkway in a day or so.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Banff National Park

Today we took the day to see some of the sights in Banff park. It is only an hour or so from our gate but we seem to only get there when we have guests to show it off to. The weather wasn’t the greatest but the company sure was. There was not a lot of wildlife out and about but we did see this guy wandering along beside the Parkway.


We took a few shots and then pressed along our way towards Lake Louise. Where we enlisted another tourist to take a shot of the four of us standing in front of the lake.

Lake Louise-1

Now for a picture without us cluttering up the view.

Lake Louise-1-1

And here is the view from the coffee shop, no wonder so many folks come from around the world to visit this spot.

Restaurant View-1

Now we figured we might have to sell our motorhome to pay the restaurant bill here so we headed on down the road a little before we ate. On the way into Banff we stopped first at Moraine Lake to take some photos and see the “Valley of the Ten Peaks”, but they were hidden behind the clouds although the lake was beautiful by itself.

Moraine Lake-1

After that last glimpse at the lake we headed into St. James Gate, one of our favourite Irish Pubs in Banff where we chowed down. Although I can’t speak for the others my “Steak and Blue Cheese Boxtie” was excellent and well worth the price.

We were planning on the girls having a little time to do some shopping along Banff Avenue but a higher power was looking after Rollie and my financial affairs and we had to eat and run so that we could pop into the Cowboy Trail Church in Cochrane on the way home.

After spending the day wandering the park which must be one of the Lord’s greatest cathedrals it was nice to end it all with a plain from the heart sermon and be able to share it with good friends.