Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Feast

Brenda misses her turkey and all the trimmings, or maybe she just misses cooking for hours and hours. So this year she decided that she was doing it all. We got a fresh turkey, bread crumbs and all the rest and she spent a glorious Christmas Day making all her favourite side dishes. We had a roast turkey that was about 5 times bigger than we could eat, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, mashed carrots and turnips, homemade cranberries, and of course real stuffing right from the bird, all dressed up with her great homemade gravy. And to finish it off we had shortbread cookies, both Pecan and Butter tarts, along with chocolate mints, homemade turtles, and peanut butter balls. And to top it all off we managed to coax Ivan and Hailey in from their usual desert haunts to help us with the feast.

Ivan slipped in on Christmas Eve and we had a great session catching up on all the details of his travels this winter and his firefighting endeavours last summer. Although we both winter in the south and only live a few miles apart on the Northern Ranges we don't actually bump into each other all that frequently. Ivan's blog keeps us reasonably up to date on his activities but with my somewhat infrequent blogging we had lots to share.

While Brenda was working her magic in the kitchen Christmas Day Ivan and I took a whirl in the side by side out to the Petroglyphs along Vekol Wash.

It was a nice day for a ATV ride, not to hot and not to cold, and we wandered up through the Petroglyphs contemplating who and when they were put there. It turned into a sunny warm day and we sat on the side of the hill enjoying the sunshine and having a good chin wag. If anyone has any questions about the state of affairs in the world today or concerns about how they are turning out, you can let your minds rest at ease, I hazard a guess Ivan and I solved most of those issues over the past couple of days. Now if someone only comes to find out the answers.

We did have a couple of locals wandering about while we were there also.

All in all a pleasant day, topped off by a wonderful meal.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Almost Christmas

Just in case anyone was worried I did make it home from the rodeo on schedule. I had a great time with cousin Mike and enjoyed the opportunity to spend some one on one time with him, as well as watching some great rodeo.

Although Mike is a lot younger than me we spent a lot of time together as kids on our Grandpa and his Dad's farms so it just seems easy to fall back on old times together. A lot of history to review and some of it only he and I know so it is good to renew those old ties, at least until the statute of limitations run out.

Once I got back, I had a day or two to settle in then Brenda had an appointment over in Gold Canyon to test drive a new treatment for CRPS. Our first visit was on Friday the 9th. The Doc there was pretty sure that this CALMARE treatment would have a positive effect on her neuropathy pain. He was right, it was amazing watching the pain wash out of her eyes within moments of starting the treatment. Not surprisingly we booked some follow-up treatments and that is what we have been doing since that time.

Now there is a lot more to CRPS than just neuropathy pain, but relieving that makes dealing with the bone crushing feeling and the muscles cramping that she also experiences just a little bit easier to deal with.

As I mentioned in my last post she has joined me at the pool 3 days a week. Swimming eases some of the muscle pain as well.

We have finished up a 10 day course of Calmare treatments and so far so good, now to see what kind of longevity she gets. I tried on numerous days to just wheel that machine out of the clinic, but by the time we were finished they were keeping a pretty close eye on me. I won't try to explain the treatment as there are a lot better explanations on the internet. Try this one from the folks we were dealing with if you are interested. And if you are in the East Valley area, Gold Canyon, or thereabouts the folks at Superstition Chiropractic are a great bunch and great at their jobs as well. Thanks Dr. Wade, and Dr. Cassie and of course the hearts of the outfit, Rachel and Aleisha. Our time there was great, but we are hoping to not see you for this stuff again for a long while.

Now for Christmas, we are expecting a secret visitor here tomorrow, so all that baking and cooking Brenda has been doing will be disappearing even quicker than I can gobble it down.

Merry Christmas to all

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Out to the Desert

Since I last wrote I have gotten Brenda out to the desert in the ATV a couple of times. It is much more relaxed riding with her as she is not sure about this machine and we are trying to keep it smooth so that we don't get to shook up. But it is pretty smooth out there so that doesn't slow us down much. We tried to follow the Vekol Wash out one day but it petered out a few hundreds yards from the other trail so we did a little brush popping but didn't make it through. Rather than get to western we headed back to the barn after about 15 miles of ride.

The next time we took another trail that I had been on before by myself with a lot more success. The petroglyphs are up on a hill along the trail and we scrambled up there close enough to get a look at them.

While out on this trip we stumble across some kind of Law Enforcement convention, we passed probably 20 LEO's and about a dozen quads looking like they had just loaded up after a desert run. Rumour has it they were looking for some drug running folks but we saw no sign of any untoward activity while we were roaming around, not even any tracks so who knows where they were.

Today we had a session with the ATV, and Brenda was driving, by the look on her face I might need to get one of my own.

Tomorrow I head for Vegas for a few days at the rodeo while Brenda holds down the fort here at Dogpound South. She will be ably assisted by her two vicious guard dogs so all should be well here.

DPS Sunset

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Different Kind of Trail Ride

As Al from the Bayfield Bunch would say Yahooie Louie, Brenda has made it to Arizona. I ran into Sky Harbor to pick her up on Monday afternoon. Enroute I had some things to gather at Costco to start her re-provisioning of the place down here at Dogpound South. I guess the bag of spuds, package of steaks and jar of peanut butter that I had wasn't satisfactory.

I spent a large portion of the weekend dusting and vacuuming around the place here but as I expected she was soon redoing everything. Tuesday morning she was off to Fry's for a big grocery re-supply, so I headed off swimming so I was limbered up for the hauling the big load into the house when she got home. I am trying to get a swim in on most weekdays, nice to have the great Copper Sky facility so close, and usually for most of my swim I have the pool to myself.

On my last solo journey out into the desert with my ATV I met some hikers coming out of a wash, I stopped to chat with them and turns out they are from Canal Flats in British Columbia, having recently retired and moved there from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Turns out they know our daughter Lacey. They also have an ATV and told me that they would give me a shout next time they were heading out.

Friday evening I heard from Paul and Linda, telling me that they and another couple, Brad and Carol were going to run down to Vekol Ranch late Saturday morning with the ATV's. I met them at their place a few miles from Dogpound South (DPS) and off we went. Now in the past when I am out there by myself I just poke along, but these guys cover ground in a hurry. Amazing how fast you can actually move with these machines and the suspension just eats the bumps. And seeing how I had no idea where we were going I had no choice but to keep up. That sometimes is a challenge as you want to stay far enough back to avoid most of the dust but close enough so when they take a fork in the road you don't miss the turn. I am a decent tracker and given time I could probably figure which way they went, but at the pace they set, pondering the turns would just put me further and further behind, so driver her McGyver was the order of the day. They did stop along the way for a cool beverage though.

As this was my first trip out with a group I had brought along my extra gas can, just never know how far this guys we're going and I don't yet have a good handle on how far my outfit will travel on a tank, so better safe than sorry. After asking that question they assured me they never really travel more than a tank of fuel on a trip as they would have to leave some coolers full of beverages home to make room for gas. I'll know for next time. Bigger coolers and smaller gas jugs, Got it!!

After a short break we headed south up Vekol Wash, under I-8, and soon arrived at a spot they call Vekol Ranch, an abandoned set of buildings. Rumour has it that it was inhabited as recently as the 1970's, but I am betting water levels dropping caused it to stop flourishing. The old well sounded pretty deep but a rock dropped down it just hit a dry bottom after a long fall so that probably confirms my theory.

Stone and Concrete
 The house was made out of cement blocks and all the walls and outbuildings were fashioned from stone. The fireplace below as well as a big fireplace inside the house were also built with stone. Probably hauled in from the mountains you see in the background and obviously, from the green tint, a copper rich environment.
Outside Fireplace and possibly Cooking Oven
We ate our lunch at this stop as well.
Lunch spot
After lunch we continued on south to another spot where some enterprising folks had built a kind of stone boundary complete with lizards, stone, and other figures outlined with local stones. A lot of work went into this and it appears that most folks are respecting the work and leaving it be.

Stone Art
It would be interesting to talk to the artist and hear just what it is meant to signify, I think it is pretty recent stuff, unlike the Medicine Wheel we came upon while riding up near Wickenburg. This was the southern terminus of our trip and we basically followed the wash back up to the Petroglyphs I was at a couple of weeks ago and then on to DPS. Overall we traveled about 50 miles through the desert and it appears that I had lots of fuel left, I think I am down to 3/4 of a tank now, so I might be able to leave that jug at home.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Picket Post and ATVing

This week I spent some time at the pool everyday getting my routine back up to snuff. Yesterday Thursday was the first time I make the 4000 yards I try to achieve each day. Took ten days to get there after having a sloth like summer where swimming wasn't on the agenda. But it is hard to ignore Maricopa's great facility just down the road and that morning swim is usually just me, 8 lanes of pool, and a life guard or two.

After the swim I headed out to Picket Post as I heard a rumour friends of our Dave and Linda Modahl were going to be there for a Lone Rangers ride this weekend. The Modahl's live up by Seligman now so this might be as close as they will get this winter so I wanted to take the opportunity to pop by for a visit. I had a nice chat with them and over the time I spent there some others folks I know, Judy, Suzi, Becky, and Gary pulled into camp so I got to say hi to a bunch of riders.

PIcket Post Mountain
 It is always great to see old friends and it is especially nice to do it in as beautiful a spot as this.

This morning I was intending to head to the pool but Matt called from Dogpound North late last night and said there appeared to be a lake forming in the barnyard back home so I stuck around here to give him what help I could on the phone as he troubleshot that issue. Turns out the waterer had burst a hose, so he was able to shut it down and will replace the hose in the next day or two. Meanwhile the horses have the other waterer to use so all is under control on the northern ranges.

Once the water issue was resolved at DPN I thought it was a good time to take Blue II for a spin down at the end of Warren. There are a bunch of trails down there that I have ridden in the past with Blue and I thought some of them might be OK with an ATV. Some of it is State Trust Land but I have always had my permit up to date so that wasn't an issue. I ran into some hikers down there from Rocky Mountain House and had a chat with them about some of the places they ride their quads when they aren't hiking.

Blue II ready to unload

 Although many of the trails are good enough to use the Commander on, it is still a little bit more restricted than a horse, when you are on horseback it is kind of go where you like, but with these machines you need to stay on the commonly used trails so you don't cause unwanted impacts to a delicate environment.
Along the trail.

I am still getting a feel for where this new outfit will go. And travelling alone out there it is always good to use an abundance of caution. Although the likelihood of getting bucked off is somewhat less than on horseback the consequences would be just as serious I expect. For the first 20 years of my working life I was in the back country with either four wheel drives or tracked vehicles and learned along time ago not to get myself into spots that might be challenging to get out of so I am always looking around the next corner to make sure I can get back. It is amazing the places that this unit will crawl over and up though. I am sure as I get more familiar with it my horizons will expand a little.

Top of the Mountain.
And here is the view from just behind the machine. The red circle is where our truck and trailer are and the X marks DPS. Wonder how many drug lookouts saw me go by and wondered what I was up to.

Back in Canada Brenda has returned to Alberta from her Rare Disease Conference and after a couple of days of rest will jump on a plane to the Valley of the Sun. We are looking forward to seeing her on Monday.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Yesterday I decided to take a run out into the desert and see what I could see. I have heard for years about these petroglyphs but they are a little far for a ride from DPS, about 10 miles one way with the CanAm although you might be able to knock a mile or so off of that on horseback. But that is just a short run with my new ride, so I made a loop of about 25 miles out of it.

 The whole hillside is covered with this prehistoric art, obviously someone or probably many someones had a lot of time on their hands. I need to go back and take some better shots but I think I will wait till it cools off a little more, it looks like a snake rich environment, and although I didn't see any I wished I had some tall boots on while I was clambering about.
I did find this Millipede, who had not survived the summer heat or something. Usually they are a kind of reddish colour and this fellow looked pretty bleached out so he might have been there a while.

I am guessing that the artists who did these petroglyphs were actually just killing time while they watched this vast plain waiting for dinner to come walking by. It must have been a much wetter time as I can't imagine a lot of game wandering around there now, although I have seen deer in the mountains to the south before.

Today was the first of the winter series barrel races so I headed up there for a while and took a few pictures.
Sue Coleman

Connie Volk

Jasmine Naffarate

C.C. Cochran
Always good to see fast horses at work. I think they had about 40 riders and the weather was beautiful, mid 70's.

Brenda headed down to Toronto for her Rare Disease conference, she will be there all week, returning to Alberta on Friday. After a day or two of resting up from the long flight home she will be joining me down here at DPS.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Desert Rain

Yesterday I headed into town to Fletchers Tire for a 12:00 appointment to get my summer tires balanced and installed. I headed next door to Dave's BBQ for lunch. Great rack of ribs, and big enough to bring some home for todays lunch. It was pretty slow getting the tires done, took three hours. Once that was done I headed home. Donally's invited me to dinner with them Connie and Les Volk and Rene' from the Pinal Country Cowboy Church. The dinner was excellent and the company great.

Today Century Link was coming to work on our internet, it has been a little slow so they figured it needed a tune-up so I was home for the morning till they got done.

After lunch I thought Blue II and I should head for the desert for a look see at what was happening out there.
There's a roadrunner with a rider in that tree somewhere.

There was a storm rolling in from the south but it looked like I had time to make a loop out the wash then back in on the road. I dawdled along checking out some side trails and I guess I should have saved them for another trip because once I got around to the road that storm was moving fast in our direction. We jumped up into High range for the road ride back and Blue II is a lot faster for a lot longer than the original, but we still got caught in a downpour the last few miles home. Needless to say with rain and thunder the dogs were glad to see me home. It is still raining lightly an hour later but it is clear and sunny off to the south so I expect we will start drying out soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Last Friday morning, early, I hit the trail south. We had spent the couple of days before that making sure we had everything loaded so Max, Maya, and I just had to jump in the truck and we were off. It was a quick leisurely drive south. Without the ponies we saved a couple of hours at the border so the first day we made it to Lehi, Utah where we pulled off at the Cabela's to spend the night. A walk with the dogs, a bite to eat and it was an early night.

That made for an early morning so we were up and gone long before the sun, in fact we were coming down the hill into St. George, Utah when that lazy old sun made an appearance. We have done this trip a few times so have figured out where to fuel and where the dogs can get out for run. We were pulling into Dogpound South (DPS) about mid-afternoon. Everything looked good here, so we got a bunch of stuff unloaded and then kicked back and enjoyed the sunset.

Sunset at DPS
Sunday morning early, I was up and enjoying Ol Sol's return to DPS.

And then it was time to get the deck and house pressure washed to get rid of the dust, and spider webs that accumulate over the summer. Shorty does a great job of the yard so there is not much to do there, it is just a matter of getting the deck spiffed up so I can haul all the patio furniture out of the house. It was good to get an early start because it was heating up pretty good by noon. Getting the outside stuff done early meant once it got hot I could move inside to start doing a clean-up inside. Long time readers will remember we had some work done to repair some storm and robbery damage last year. That meant we got a new door, complete with new frame. The old door had a gap underneath it that the bugs and dust availed themselves of to find a nice summer home, this new door appears to have been a better barrier so there were a lot less bugs and dust to vacuum up. 

Monday it was time to put some provisions in the fridge as well as head into Costco to get some steaks and a few other things like dog food. Then a stop at Home Depot to pick up a new post for our mailbox and some hardware for that job. I got the post for the mailbox set in the ground so we'll let it set up overnight.

Today I got the mailbox mounted and let the Post Office know we were ready for mail again, as well as making an appointment to get the snow tires off the Buick. When I brought it down here a couple of years back it had a pretty decent set of winter tires on it and as I figured it might never see snow again I decided to just run them off. It also has a set of good summer tires so we will get those out of our shed and on the car tomorrow.

After our break-in last year where the perps shut off the power I locked up our power box but I guess the power company doesn't like us to use our own locks so I stopped by and picked up one of their locks on my way home.

I also hit the pool for a quick swim. It has been a few months since I was in the tank and my body sure felt it. I wasn't sure I was going to make it to ten lengths, sad since in the spring I was doing 160 with a break. But I did get forty in and tomorrow is another day. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Time is Passing Quickly

Not a lot of exciting stuff happening here at Dogpound North. We have had a taste of winter and some Indian summer but history tells me that there will be more of the former than the later in the future. I see from the blogs that there are a lot of folks packing and checking their lists making sure they are ready to run for the sun. We are no different here at DPN. Our trip south is a little different as a lot of the stuff is already waiting down at DPS so it is just a matter of packing up the fridge, Brenda's baking things and some clothes and we are ready to run. Over the next week or so we both have a visit with our docs, a date with the boys at Fountain Tire to make sure the truck we are leaving behind is well shod just in case this winter and then it will be time for me and the pups to head south. As has become our habit of late, I will drive down, and Brenda will fly at a later date. That date will be a little later than usual as she has a trip to Toronto planned to attend a conference on rare diseases like her Complex Regional Pain Syndrome that will keep her busy till mid November.

Last week I had our LQ into my local fabrication shop in Sundre to get a few things changed around a little. While they were doing that work I took a spin out past Bearberry and then up to Burnstick Lake for a look see. It was a kind of gray day, but even those days have their moments.

Burnstick Lake (Boat Launch)
I stopped by a friends place on the way home, but Ivan and Hailey were off wandering around British Columbia on their pre-migration expedition. They have since been back home and it wouldn't surprise me if they have already unloaded the camper and hooked up to the 5th wheel to follow the sun. Hope we get a chance to catch up down south.

Last week I mentioned we are not taking our horses south, but Arizona is a beautiful spot and to really appreciate it you have to get off the blacktop. Towards that end we have acquired a new mount, I have annoyed everyone I know with one of these asking all the dumb questions I could, bothered a bunch of sales folks, climbing in and out making sure a guy of my generous proportions fit, negotiated equipment and prices, changed my mind about a dozen times but finally made a decision.
Blue II

Our new toy is a Can-Am Commander XT and our LQ has been converted from a living quarters horse trailer to a low profile toy hauler. That meant removing a couple of stall dividers and installing some tie downs to hold the side by side securely. Hopefully it all works as advertised.

Didn't do much more than get it unloaded as Clayton, Lacey, and the girls were coming for a short visit and to drop off their trailer for the winter. Clayton and I took it for a short spin around the hay field, maybe tomorrow I will take it out to the hills and see how it works

Friday, October 14, 2016


Olympic Trials at DPN

It has only been a week since my last blog post, but I am trying to keep things a little more up to date here. It is hard to use this as a journal to look back on when I only say a few words every two or three months. Last week I wrote we had finally finished the haying here at Dogpound North (DPN), and the last bale had hardly hit the ground when the snow started. A lot of our neighbours and fellow Albertans and even folks over in Saskatchewan are caught with their crops still in the fields. The news reports say the harvest is about 80% finished so that means most of the profit is still laying out under the snow. In the past the oil patch has served as a fall back position for many in the agriculture industry, you could always pick up a few months work over the winter to pump up the cash reserves. Well this year that might not be easy, although the price of oil is playing with $50 it is still pretty slow out there in the patch. Canada desperately needs pipelines that reach tidewater, Canadian tidewater. For the most part our oil has been sold to our neighbours to the south, but that necessitates taking a discounted price and they are less inclined to buy our product as they have a lot of their own now, since the fracking has taken off in the Bakken and Texas. So it really doesn't make much sense for us to sell our oil to them at a discount so that they can in turn export their own production around the world at world prices. Well enough of that topic.

Up here north of the Medicine Line we don't just use Scarecrows in the Garden
Another piece of news that I thought I would share, this year for the first time since we bought our place down in Arizona, five years ago we are not taking a horse south with us. Brenda, because of her CRPS can't ride, and I am not much on riding by myself so I thought it would be a good time to leave the horses home. We are still taking our LQ with us and if the mood strikes us we may get out and visit some of those old spots we liked to boondock in before we sunk roots into the Maricopa soil. We have no plans to give up Dogpound South (DPS) but might not be tied so tightly to it. Just blueskying but that is one idea anyway.

We are doing what all snowbirds do at this time of year, visiting with our medical teams, planning our departure, and readying the rig for travel. Who knows when we are going to head out but Max is looking at me like, what's the holdup old timer, there is snow on the ground and we should be heading for that warmer place with no grass.

And with those thoughts in mind we have been bringing our security detail up to speed here at DPN, surprisingly the dogs don't seem to mind the company.

On Patrol

Just checking

Friday, October 7, 2016

All the way up to October

Remember back in June when I was saying we needed a little rain. Well we got it, in fact it started raining at the beginning of July and other than the odd day of sunshine it has continued right through to end of September. The hay here on Dogpound North started getting knocked down on the 17th of July and even taking advantage of every bit of sunshine, it was yesterday, October 6th when the last bale was rolled out. Best I can remember that is about as late as it ever been. We had a big reunion here at DPN for Rebecca and Lacey's cousins in mid-July and actually that was one of the sunny weekends here.

Once we wound up the reunion we followed Clayton and Lacey out to the Bighorn Dam for a few days of chilling by the riverside.

Alle and Sam just chillin'


Anderson Girls

Next stop was Shelly Roste's 60th birthday. Back in almost prehistoric days Shelly and I worked together on Shell's Party 4 wandering around Western Canada looking for oil and gas. Those were back in the good old days before the environmentalist's took over when oil and gas was actually a good thing to find.

Then a week or so later we headed up to Alliance for a reunion of another sort. Brenda, Derek, John, and Gina have been friends for a long time, I am thinking something like 34 years. They were all just kids when they met in Cochrane and have kept in touch every since. Derek had Brenda as a groomsman at his wedding and he gave Brenda away at ours. Long time readers will remember us heading to Vancouver Island and hiding out on John and Gina's place on the Nanaimo River.

L to R Derek, Maya, John, Gina, and Brenda
Late in August I was up to the Buffalo Coulee Ranch near Wainwright. My mother grew up near there and my cousins still call it home. The occasion was cousin Blair's wedding and he asked me to come on up and take a few pics. It was a great time and I took a few more than a more, hopefully some of them good and a few real good.

Blair and his bride Jacki

That about covered our gallivanting around for the summer, we had a trip planned out to the Yaha Tinda but the week we were going it was raining, and snowing in the west country so we decided the wiser choice was sticking close to home. I got out a few times to do a little picturing as those who follow me on Facebook are probably more than aware of.

The Horses of Dogpound North
Our horses are fat and happy here at home and I haven't heard one complaint from them about not getting out to the mountains all summer.

What with Brenda's CRPS and my sore leg it has been a lazy summer of eating grass and standing around relaxing for the remuda here at Dogpound North. And probably be a pretty easy winter as I am thinking about not taking any ponies south this winter.

Well that about catches things up to the end of September, and October started off with a big event, my niece, Caron, and her guy Chris tied the knot, so the whole fam damily was down to Canmore for that event. It was a rainy dreary day until an hour or so before the ceremony when the clouds cleared and the sun came out. I have no doubt that brother Brent was responsible for getting the weather in line for his oldest daughters wedding day.

Oh remember back in July when I said we got done with our hay on October 6th, well today is October 7th and we have had snow all day so it was good timing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


 It has been a while since one of our local luminaries made an appearance on our blog. They are still out and about and although since we came home they have been leaving the yard patrols to Max and Maya I am sure they are watching closely how we maintain their winter home for them. While we are gone in the winter they roam pretty much all over the yard, and though we have never seen one up on the deck that might just be an oversight on our part.

April and May were pretty spectacular months here at DPN, fine weather and not much moisture. Nice for hanging out but not so nice for our hay crop. We can use some rain.

I of course have managed to pry myself away from the farm and do a little picturing around the neighbourhood as well. The shot below was along the side of Highway 1A between Exshaw and Canmore.

Although the moose are not hanging out right in the yard we do have some new residents in the barn. Each year we get a new crop of kittens but these aren't your cuddly little fur balls, they are highly bred rodent control specialists and brook no interference in their duties. They are wild as March hares and would probably scratch your eyes out if you caught one of them. That said they are pretty used to me being in and out of the barn and don't bug out everytime I open the door.

We have seen some of the kids this month and did sneak into Chestermere in mid-June for a visit with Bec and her kids, Kashton and Everly. I am trying to do a few more people type shots and this pair make pretty good models for my endeavours.

Bec and Everly
Towards the end of June our long hot, dry spell came to an end and we are still under a daily thunderstorm regime here at DPN,

That makes for some pretty cool storm clouds rolling over the hills here.

And of course every day we have a sunset and that gives me all the excuses I need to break out the camera.