Friday, September 13, 2019

A Circle Route Home

We pulled out of the Lewis Ranch on Tuesday morning, Shaunna had already left for work, and Mike was out to wave goodbye as we rolled down their driveway about 8:00AM. The other Mike and Janice were nowhere to be seen so we will have to go back and say goodbye to them next year. We had a great visit, told lots of stories and maybe even a fish story or two.

We stopped in Burns Lake at the free community dump station, emptied what needed emptying filled the fresh water tank, and then picked up fuel and a few groceries to tide us over. When we got back to Prince George we turned right and headed down through the Cariboo to a nice little provincial park, Ten Mile Lake, just north of Quesnel. We actually found a double site and settled in for a couple of nights before heading on south.

Thursday morning we pulled up stakes and continued on south until we hit the Trans-Canada highway at Cache Creek, after fueling up we headed for Ashcroft and the long climb out of the Thompson River valley up towards Logan Lake. The Lions in Logan Lake have a free dump along the highway just west of town with potable water available as well. We turned north there and headed to Tunkwa Lake Provincial Park where rumour had it that the legendary Wandering Willy was known to be a frequent visitor.

Wandering Willy battening down the hatches

We knew he was in residence when the park operator met us at the gate with a personal greeting, I think Willy had spilled the beans that we were coming this way.

It is a nice little spot, quiet and out of the way with two nice lakes there, Tunkwa and Leighton Lakes. There must be fish in both of them as the fishing boats and floats were out there thick as bugs on a bumper.

Tunkwa Lake

We spent four nights there, debating politics with Bill and enjoying three beautiful days, the last one was a little wet but still warm.

Eventually we needed to head home as Brenda had a doctors appointment to attend.

The ride home was certainly eventful as a lady near Blind Bay got herself out of control and ended up slamming into our truck and then into our fifth wheel before flipping herself on her side. Both the truck and the trailer sustained major damage, and will be spending some time in their respective body shops before they are back on the trail. Most importantly though, we, and the other lady survived the incident with just a few stories to tell. Hers might not be nearly as good as mine though as she didn't even recall hitting me. Not that we are hard to miss, we are only about 60 feet long, 14 feet high and weigh about 26,000 lbs when we are loaded. We can fix the tin, although it might affect our southerly migration this year.

Tunkwa Lake Sunset

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Lewis Ranch - Road Trip

It was time to get the dust blown off our rig and see a little country and we have some friends who have flown the coop here in Alberta and moved over to the middle of B.C., so we thought we had better check out their new digs.

Lewis Ranch
Not to shabby, Mike and Shaunna, they have a beautiful ranch property along Francois Lake south of Burns Lake, BC.

It is a little long for a drive by visit so we headed out last Wednesday morning, overnighted just east of McBride, BC and arrived at their place, at Colleymount, mid-afternoon on Thursday, and proceeded to chat away the afternoon and evening catching up on things since they left Alberta last spring.

Friday Mike and I wandered the place and that only confirmed for me what a beautiful spot they have found.

Saturday we took a ride across the Lake on the ferry and slipped down to Takysie Lake and then onto Ootsa Lake, on the Nechako Reservoir and Wisteria for a look around.

Someone's Unfinished Dream near Wisteria
Sunday Brenda wanted to get out on the water and Shaunna needed her fishing fix so we headed out onto the lake for a little piscatorial action. We only took one rod along and that was more than enough with Shaunna landing 5 Rainbows in about 40 minutes, then it was back to fire up the smoker.

Our hosts, Mike and Shaunna Lewis
Later Sunday afternoon, Mike's sister Janice and her husband another Mike arrived for a visit. Great folks and we sure had a lot of common experiences, acquaintances and it seems like Mike Searle and I had traveled a lot of the same trails over the past half century or so, so there was lots of tall tale telling and who know we might have even improved a few of those old stories.

Story telling, "it's the God's honest truth"

Monday was another day of story telling, eating and drinking, and laughing. Mike Squared, the two Mikes, spent a while tuning up Mike Searle's new crossbow so he was ready for the season when it opens.

Only one of three "marksmen" in that group
All in all it was a great visit with great old friends and great new friends, we can hardly wait to get back there again. This morning we pulled up stakes with our fridge stuffed with smoked fish and our hearts fuller and wandered our way down to Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park just out of Quesnel, BC. We are hoping to stumble across another old friend on our way back to Dogpound North over the next week or so.

Sunrise on the Lewis Ranch, Colleymount, BC

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Little Lakeside Lingering

Bovine Beach and our encampment

This past weekend we headed out with Kashton and Everly, and of course their parents for a little lakeside lingering along Koocanusa Lake in South Eastern British Columbia. BC has been off our radar for while, hard to get motivated for a trip over there when they do so much to get in the way of Alberta's economy but we figured we wouldn't need to blow the budget there, we could gas up in Alberta and make it back with that tankful. We did spend a few bucks on breakfast at Mickey D's in Cranbrook but they support Canadian farmers so that was money well spent.

The kids had found a little boondocking spot I am now calling Bovine Beach as every morning the local grazers invaded our site to enjoy a little BBQ and muck around with the recycling, so that kept me busy every day convincing them to vacate the campsite.

The beach was beautiful though, great sand for the kids and a slow drop off with very little current so a great place for the grandkids and their buddies to build sand castles and muck about in the water, I even got in a couple of swims, though not very long, while we were there.

Brenda, Candace and Lana on a cruise around the lake.

A great place to set and ponder the beauty

Brenda on the SUP transporter, well done

Beach Volleyball for the big kids

Taking the plunge

We had a great time this weekend and can't thank all those who attended enough for letting us crash the party, I for one had a great time.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

They're Alive

Yesterday afternoon, as ominous as it looks it rolled on by here silently and then trashed High River I guess.
It has been a long time since I fired up Blogger and updated folks on what we are up to. Last time I had just arrived back from the land of the sun in early February. That was a mistake as it was a long time until the furnace quit running up here in the Land just North of Summer. But Brenda was needing a little nursing and the best she could come up with was me. I ain't much good at it, but I do work cheap.

After hiding out from OLD Man Winter for the month of February I started back at the pool doing a little swimming most week days and that seemed to make winter pass a little quicker. Sometime in late March I took the trailer into Woody's in Red Deer to get a few minor things looked at and to get their opinion on what I thought were some pretty flat springs under her. They agreed and Grand Design agreed to replace them with similar 3500# springs, Well it seemed to me that putting the same springs on would just mean the same result so I gave the folks at Grand Design a call and with a little cajoling they agreed to upgrade them to the 4000# models. That may solve the issue, sure can't hurt anyway.

April and May were spent getting all caught up on my Doctor and Dentist appointments, appears that I am good for a while more, at least until I'm not I guess.

Towards the end of May, Brenda and I headed into the city to watch our grandson Luke walk across the stage and graduate from High School. I have no idea how that happened, seems like yesterday he was just starting pre-school. There is a story behind those Red Boots, they are made right in Calgary by an outfit called Alberta Boots and you can almost guarantee that if you have a pair you are a member of the World Champion Calgary Stampede Showband. Luke is all of that and comes by it pretty honestly as both his father and his mother were members of that same group when they were his age.

Grandson Luke in his fancy Red Boots

I have no idea who the girl in the Red Boots is, but if she is wearing those boots odds are she is good people.
Sometime this spring we got an overnight visit from the Anderson clan, always good to get to spend a little time with them.

Of course July wouldn't be complete without a visit or two to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede, and if your grandchildren are performing there it is even better. Annika is a part, the most important part in my opinion, of the band front for the Calgary Stetsons Show Band a High School aged band.

I think having Grandpa poking his camera in her face was a little disconcerting but I did get a smile or two, but I missed the money shot, when she stuck her tongue out at me.

I already mentioned that Luke was a part of the Stampede Showband and I don't actually think my paparazzi like stalking bothered him as much, he seemed to be having a blast. He plays the contra, a low, low brass instrument, but if you are part of the band you are part of the show so it is not all about music. This year Calgary was the host city for the World Association of Marching Showbands World Championships and our own Showband stole the show and won it all, their sixth time as Champions, and the Stetson's, Annika's Band, came in a very respectable third.

Having fun you think?

A salute for Grandpa, probably not, but I am taking it anyway.

We were going to try to escape Dogpound North and head to the Buffalo Creek Ranch up Wainwright way and gather some Saskatoons for jam and pies but we had a little truck problem so had to write that trip off, cousin Mike did come down from there and spend a night with us while he visited an old friend in the city though. 

Now we are getting a little bit caught up, last weekend we were into Chestermere to visit with our Tomasir grandkids, and oh yah, their parents as well. Always great to spend time with them and get a chance to visit on a beautiful summer day in their beautiful yard.

Grandma, Everly, and Kash

The Tomasirs

No shortage of sass in this one.

I have not really burnt up the digits on my camera's this year but we have had a few nice skyscapes over the past few months, well more than a few but here are two I captured, three, if I include the first shot in this epistle.

Just a dramatic skyscape that rolled on past DPN


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Decision Made

I left you while I was lounging about in the sunshine waiting on Brenda's next X-Ray results down near Quartzsite, Arizona. I had pulled back into our spot near where the legendary Wandering Willy was hanging his hat so Bill and I had a few fires, told some lies, and debated politics for at least a few minutes every day. For the most part our political leanings are pretty similar but that would be boring, so I had to take a contrarian view on a few occasions just to spice it up a little, but we never did let it decay into watching FOX & Friends or becoming Justin Trudeau fanboys. Somehow all those things are less important when you are enjoying desert sunrises, campfires, good friends and some hummers buzzing the sunsets.

We took a spin into Quartzsite for a look around, the day after the big show, so the crowds were pretty manageable. I really just wanted to see what was up and if K&B had any new stuff, but lo and behold the last time I was actually in the "Q" for the big show was about 10 years back and it looked like time had stood still, everything was right where I left it, the only thing different was a couple of tents selling Trump T-shirts and Hats but the rest of it was just like I left it. Other than the run into Quartzsite, I think I made one quick trip to Parker for a propane hose that needed replacing on the BBQ but for the most part I just chilled in the desert.

View from the top step of the Solitude
A 3 frame Pano with a Hummer crashing the party

Brenda's appointment was on Friday the 1st of February and although the breaks have not displaced there was no way her Doc was letting her fly for the next 6 weeks or so, which had me packing for a little journey back into the land north of summer. I pulled out early in the morning on Saturday and headed north, making about 834 miles and five states that first day, pulling into Idaho Falls just as the sunset. I had slipped by in front of a storm in Southern Utah and the roads were decent so I just kept rolling. Thanks to Brent Ross for his great weather and route watching the entire journey.

There was a major storm expected in Montana so I held up for a day in Idaho Falls, and then when the weather wasn't looking like there was much improvement in the forecast for the next week I headed north. From Idaho Falls to the Montana line it was slick, snow, and fog and right at the freezing point so the climb up the Monida Pass was interesting to say the least.

Once I headed down the other side the temperature started dropping, but cold weather makes the snow covered roads a little nicer to drive so that was an improvement. I left I-15 at Dillon and skipped all the hills and high country north of Butte and rejoined the Interstate at Boulder. There is a long hill down from Boulder to Helena that was an interesting slide, and the piece between Helena and Cascade is always interesting when it is snowy, it is a little windy and the big transports who travel at higher speeds than I do in those conditions leave you driving in a sack of flour with the flying snow everytime they pass. But basically from Cascade on it was good going and not many were passing the big Ford.

From Great Falls to Sweetgrass one lane was bare and dry and we made good time. Once I got to the border I tried to roll down the window but it was frozen shut. I had to jump out to talk to the Canadian Border folks and they asked me two questions, did I have any firearms, and any booze, and then told me to get back in the truck before I froze to death and go home.

The roads from the border to Dogpound North (DPN) were great, bare and dry so with the Ford running like a hound we made good time and were home by 8 after another 750 odd miles.

I spent a couple of days unloading all the freezables out of the rig and now she is waiting for spring. I will use other transportation to head in for supplies while I am here helping Brenda follow her non-weight bearing regimen.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Up to Date

My last entry mentioned that Brenda has headed home to get her ankle looked at. The X-rays back north of the Medicine Line identified a couple more breaks than the ones here in Arizona had, so after consulting with a couple of orthopedic doctors back home she is wearing an air cast and on a no weight bearing regimen. It appears that nothing is dislocated, but they are concerned that things stay in place, and they don't want to cut it open and pin or glue it together so she is grounded in Canada for at least the next couple of weeks until they can do a couple more X-rays to confirm stability.

So that means at least for the next couple of weeks the mutts and I are on our own. As might be expected our culinary selection has been affected negatively, but we have discovered that tortilla's make great hot dog buns, and we have lots of room in our big fridge for ice cream. We ran into town today to do the laundry, re-provision, and gather up some other things like propane. And then our neighbour Wandering Willy and I made a dump run and filled our gasoline jug in downtown Bouse.

It has been an interesting week, at one point Max, Maya, and I were heading north but weather and common sense overcame that so we are still here in SE Arizona, waiting on the next set of X-Rays and the possibility that Brenda will be on her way back below the snow line. We are hopeful for that outcome but then what do I know, I am not a frequenter of Web MD or Dr. Google so I will leave that decision up to the pro's.

Observant folks will notice that there are no tracks on the road, I-15 was shut down,  transport trucks and cars in the ditch everywhere, folks actually don't know when to take it easy so the rest of us got to stop and think about it for awhile.

Once the doctors make their decision we will make ours, as to how long we hang south of the snow line. In any case I have a wedding to attend early in March over in Palm Springs.

Other than that little bit of excitement things are pretty low key here. Not a lot going on except feeding the honey bees and the hummers, and keeping an eye on Max clearing the coyotes out of our wash.

Our Neighbourhood

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ten Years

Ten years is a long time but sometimes it seems like just a blink of an eye, I still remember watching Kelly scale that windmill like it was yesterday, his infectious grin and his irreverent outlook on life. Here is the journal entry I wrote way back then.

Kelly Brown 1958-2009

It has been a few days since my last blog post. Many of our regular readers have certainly wondered what happen to us.
Thursday the 22nd early in the morning I got a call from my brother, Brent, to let me know that he was on the way to the hospital in Calgary, but that our little brother had passed away.
Shocking doesn't describe it, at first my mind thought "Kelly, who, I only know one Kelly and he is the most unlikely person to have a heart attack I know." Kelly was a fit healthy guy, 50 years old but not any extra weight and always a pretty active guy with a regular workout schedule that is supposed to waylay these kinds of issues. Brent and I both have histories of heart issues, but not Kelly, he seemed to have escaped that part of our genetic make-up. But sadly it was true; he had passed away in same house he came home from the hospital to as a new baby. Dad always said it didn't look like Kelly was going to move away so he finally sold him the house.

Like I said he was our baby brother so almost every step of his way through life I was watching to see what he would do next (and that was never boring). I remember the day he came home from the hospital and the way Brent and I roared into the house with all our grubby little friends in tow to show off our brand new baby brother. Didn't take Mom long to give us the bums rush as she didn't want her shiny new baby mauled by a lot of grubby kids. I think pretty soon she got used to us as I don't remember not being allowed to paw him for very long.

When Brent and I used to go to school down the road Kelly could always be counted on to accompany us on his tricycle and mom talks about him always asking every kid coming down that street if they had seen "JohnnyBrent".

When we were kids my Mom was quite a seamstress so there are a lot of pictures of the three of us all wearing matching shirts. I was always taller and skinnier (not anymore, the skinny part anyway) and Brent and Kelly were much more alike so they actually look like big and small versions of the same guy. I don't think any of those pictures show Kelly without a big grin on his face.

Kelly Brown was a fearless skier who spent a large part of his time on any mountain going straight down the fall line, long traverses being for lesser mortals. In the tribute at the funeral Brent painted a word picture that will forever stick in my mind of Kelly floating effortlessly down the mountain through chest deep untracked powder and although I was never a good enough skier to accomplish that myself I well remember riding up the chair lift at Sunshine, Goats Eye, for those who know it, one day 25 or so years ago and seeing him doing exactly that directly under the lift. Nobody else had dared to take that run and the guy I was riding with couldn't believe what he was seeing nor when we came close enough that the fearless fellow below us was actually my baby brother.

My father is a pretty good gardener so when Kelly took over the house it already had a great deal of landscaping finished and mature, but I think over the years he owned it the garden got even better. You could always find him working there in his yard any time he had a few spare moments. For the great majority of his life he was a bachelor and I'm not sure whether they are connected or not but he spent a lot of time doing the things that gave him pleasure. He skied most of the great mountains in Western North America in the winter and drove his little Triumph TR-6 all through the west in the summer.

All that said he was always around when you needed someone to help with odd jobs. I don't like heights so when we needed to re-roof the old barn Kelly was pressed into service to do the high work. The same thing when the windmill needed some maintenance, Kelly was the man for the job. I don't know what I am going to do without my high angle go-to guy. Ten years later that windmill is likely to need oiling soon, anyone?

A few years ago though, he was struck by a young lady who caught his fancy, and whom he eventually convinced, that he was the guy for her. He and Christine had a great relationship and were good friends first and lovers second. That certainly made his last two years amongst the happiest of his life. Thanks for that Christine.

His memorial service was a great testament to the number of lives he had impacted in his short time here, there must have been at least 400 hundred, maybe 500 folks in attendance and I am betting almost everyone could have told a story about Kelly Brown and how he had added to their collection of lifetime stories. I know I could go on for days or weeks telling absolutely true tales that most people wouldn't believe had actually happened but that was the kind of guy he was.

All these words describe the Kelly Brown that I knew, Irreverent, Politically Un-correct, Outspoken, Opinionated, Kind, Caring, Loving, Funny, Hard-working, Fun Loving, Courageous, Adventurer, Loyal, and most of all a friend you could depend on.

One of Kelly Brown's lifelong friends, who now lives in Melbourne, Australia, sent us a Tribute to Kelly Brown that characterized him as what the Australians call a Larrikin. I stole the definitions here from Wikipedia and if they don't describe the man I called my baby brother I must have missed the point

Larrikin - "a mischievous or frolicsome youth"

"A person may be classified as a larrikin if he or she meets some of these criteria. A larrikin is not concerned with the opinion of other people and so is not socially intimidated into modifying behaviour and structuring it around social norms. Larrikins are also not at all fazed by authorities of all kinds, including whatever power or authority they may possess themselves, and must not take themselves too seriously." I am assuming that when you meet all the criteria you are a Super Larrikin, well Kelly you make the grade.

That pretty much sums up Kelly Brown and although he is gone, he will never be forgotten, he lives on in the hearts of hundreds of people, those who joined at his wake, his memorial, and those who were unable to. Although I confess at times he infuriated me I can honestly say I was always proud to call him my little brother.

As always in the middle of things with his infectious grin
"Catch you later Bro"

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Life goes On

We pulled out of Ogilby Road and headed north to Blythe, California on Wednesday the 8th, and pointed our rig towards a gathering of Grand Design Coaches south of Quartzsite, Arizona. This was the fourth annual Grand Design Quartzsite Rally, our first, but probably not our last. It was a good time, great food and well organised. There were some great presentations from Bluestar and Battle Born Batteries as well as a Q&A session conducted by a couple of Grand Design roving techs.

Chris and Mike were really informative and Grand Design had sent them along with a couple of other guys, complete with their service trucks and trailers to make sure folks were looked after here. They caught up any recalls that were outstanding and then jumped in and fixed a lot of little things that folks had pointed out. In our case they replaced a couple of problematic wall plugs, and I know they changed furnaces, adjusted slides, etc for the folks around us. Customer service is a core value at Grand Design and this was the proof of the pudding. Thanks a lot guys.

Eventually there were 170 rigs in attendance. The red line is us.
 Those who know our habits know that crowded places are not our natural habitat, but this was a special occasion and well worth the crowd. Still had more space than most campgrounds we have visited.

And off to the East we had this view of the Kofa Mountains


As I said we arrived Wednesday and I left on Monday morning but before I left, Sunday night was a little bonfire. It must have been a hundred feet long and probably 3 feet tall. Almost brought a tear to my eye watching all that carbon being released to the atmosphere and not a carbon tax assessor in sight.

Now that's a bonfire!

Monday morning I went about packing up the rig and headed north to a little spot up near Bouse that we have been to many times in the past.

Attentive readers will notice that "we" arrived in Quartzsite and "I" left on Monday, well I didn't leave Brenda behind to tend that fire, early on Sunday morning I ran her over to Palm Springs and she flew home to get a broken ankle tended to. Although we carry all kinds of insurance to deal with those kind of emergencies here in the USA it seemed as if she would receive better and more timely care back north of the Medicine Line and that is proving to be true. She is hanging out with her sister, Cheryl, and things are progressing swimmingly on that front. Canadian Health Care Rocks.

I found our regular spot here unoccupied and got Dogpound Anywhere set up here to await the results of Brenda's treatment. If she is able to come back we will resume our adventures in the desert, if not the mutts and I might just have to make our way back to the Northern Ranges by ourselves, only time will tell.

Good thing we got here Monday and set up, Tuesday it rained cats and dogs and the washes here were running. We don't have to many neighbours in these parts but one of them is that legendary Wandering Willy and I do believe Tuesday morning I saw him out dipping a line in the crick flowing by our rigs looking for a Sonoran Salmon for dinner.

Today the weather has smartened up and I am enjoying the sound of the local hummingbird population buzzing my feeders and the fresh smell of a desert rainfall.

Sunrise this morning

Monday, January 7, 2019

What's Up

Since my last entry we have just been chilling here along Ogilby Road. The weather has not been the greatest, a little windy, a little cool, but the last couple of days it seems to have turned around and maybe winter along the Mexican border is almost over.

New Years Day we joined our friends from Dease Lake, Bill and Margaret at the Texas Roadhouse to celebrate Bill's birthday, he was a New Years baby way back in the middle of the great depression, so you do the math. That said he looks like he hasn't aged a day since we first met back 10 or 15 years ago.

The next day we had visitors out to rig, Skip and Jean are staying over in the Pilot Knob LTVA and ran over to chew the fat with us and see our new outfit. Hopefully we cross trails with them later in the winter again.

Then it was off to Mexico with Bill and Margaret, while Bill visited his dentist the rest of us wandered the town. Brenda got some puffers for Rebecca, and I got my Sunday go to meeting boots all polished up for Ryan and Lisa's wedding later in March this year. We stopped and grabbed some lunch at a pretty good little restaurant down there and then while the rest of them headed off to grab a spot in the line to cross back over the border I ran back and bought a bushel of shrimp from the Sea of Cortez. Despite Donny's threats the border was still open and we got back on the north side without issue.

Since then we have just hung out here and done the regular stuff like hitting the laundromat and Wally World to restock our larder. We needed to reprovision as we are heading towards Quartzsite tomorrow, we think, to join a group of folks who have rigs similar to ours for a little rally.

I have been hanging out shooting Hummingbirds and the odd sunrise.

A dogfight at the feeder

Tough little guys to catch sitting still

Sunrise over the Cargo Muchacho Mountains