Friday, 14 December 2012

How to Become a Ski Bum: Just put your Heart into it!

How to Become a Ski Bum: Just put your Heart into it!: Lake Superior, Pumphouse Beach Since we are not yet skiing the big snow, we are thinking of opening day at Panorama.  Friday 14 Decembe...

Just put your Heart into it!

Lake Superior, Pumphouse Beach
Since we are not yet skiing the big snow, we are thinking of opening day at Panorama.  Friday 14 December 2012. 
We will miss the sleepless night before the first official ski day of the season.  Except this year....
We are both very grateful and blessed to have a new lease on life.  A gift of sorts.
Bob is recovering very well.  We have joined the gym in Terrace Bay.  The Doc does not want Bob walking up hill, or walking in snow or ice.   Well, in Terrace Bay, it is uphill in both directions.  And yes, it has been snowing for the last three days.  I have been also shovelling the last three days.  This is not a complaint, just an excuse to play outside.

Northern Sundog 

Put you heart into it and you will have a blast!!!! (Ask me this question in a few weeks, with many more days of white fluffy snow in the forecast) 

Myself and Bob (skinny, but mighty strong!)
As for Bob, he is walking the treadmill daily. Today: 22 minutes as he increases his speed and distance each day.  Not bad for three weeks post op recovery!
A few days ago, we hiked in the bush, yes pure Canadian wild bush, hunting for that perfect Christmas tree.  We found the perfect one....skinny, just like Bob.

Skinny, but strong

  He is slowly gaining back his weight and strength.  That skinny tree is also strong as it is supporting all our Christmas decorations, some collected since I was a tiny ski bum in training.  All with meaning and memories of past, present and future.
Two new treasures were added to our skinny tree this year.  One from a very special little girl, Olivia who quietly placed the packaged treasure at Bob's bedside in ICU the day after his open heart surgery.  Thank you Olivia for such a special Christmas gift.  It hangs in a very special place on our skinny Bob Tree. The other, well, remember my addiction?  Knitting of course, and thanks to another very special friend, Jean (aka: Tigger) for the knitter's delight!

The perfect tree!

Life in Terrace Bay: 
Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking, plus all the indoor winter sports, hockey, curling, bowling etc. and 'Happy Hour"  We will be participating in most winter sports, especially the happy hour.  Put your heart into it and PLAY outside. "Stay Thirsty my friend!"
 Sun, snow and a crisp -10 to -15 Celsius....a perfect winter day.  Remember any temperature between -30 to +30 and you can play outside.  Bundle up and go.....It's an outdoor playground here. 
Life at the beach, no crowds, and yes I know it is winter, but the trees, rocks and water is enticing even at these temperatures.
Northern Sunset in Terrace Bay

We have yet begun to explore the hiking trails.  A life time of exploring is ahead of us.  Good timing to explore since the bears are now sleeping.  We will be following the snowshoe rabbits' trail in the woods behind us.  This time I will try to jump over the rabbit, not like last season in the Enchanted Forest.  Remember the "White Rabbit?"

Today, it will be Christmas baking.  A good way to spend an afternoon.  Cookies and Beer, or maybe a hot chocolate and amaretto.  Decisions...Decisions....

Life at the beach

Friday, 30 November 2012

A Bump in the Road

To our surprise, a bump in the road.  Not just your everyday bump, but a shocking almost heart stopping crash!
Here is how the story begins:
Trans Canada Highway, Wawa, Ontario
As our dream and reality of becoming a ski bum continues.  We moved in to our new home in North Western Ontario on October 27th.  One day late as the Trans Canada highway was washed out at Wawa.  In Southern Ontario, "washed out" meant; "wait a few hours until they pump the water off the road"  In the North West "washed out" meant at 30' x 50' deep hole in the highway. A detour was necessary. So, back to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, across to the U.S. border and drive for 14 hours through Michigan, Minnesota, and then Wisconsin.  Yes we drove around the perimeter of the largest freshwater lake in the world. 
All is good at this stage,  We arrive at our home on Friday 27 October, as our furniture is in transit and should arrive the following Tuesday.
After a good night's sleep in our sleeping bags in our new home, we awoke to a gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine.  A walk in our new surrounding was needed. 
This is when the bump and crash began....
Bob began to become very short of breath as his chest began to tighten. He felt ill and began to sweat as the colour drifted from his cheeks.  Fortunately, we were in front of the gas station/subway and Nicole (our new neighbour) phoned 911 for us.  Within minutes, Bob was taken to Terrace Bay Hospital, where the quick response the Doctors and staff stablized him and believed he had a heart attack. 
He was then transferred to Thunder Bay Regional Hospital via ambulance on Monday.  I waited in Terrace Bay frantically until Tuesday for Oneida Movers to arrive.  Thank you for all your work and caring for our possessions. I left on Wednesday to drive to T Bay to be with Bob.  So off I go early Wednesday, worried and distraught I drive. Amazingly there are no cars in sight in either direction, only the beauty surrounding me. Then, flashing lights....O.P.P. and I'm pulled over.  Ok, now I start crying... non stop crying.  "My husband had a heart attack, and we only spent one night in our house, the movers just left our furniture and I'm cold. I need a hug.... and on and on I went. The lovely officer said, after I explained the situation "M'am, just breathe, and keep driving"   "Was I driving too fast?" I asked in between sobbs?  "Yes, it will be ok" she replied.

I arrive in Thunder Bay safe. Again, we were very fortunate to have the chief cardiac surgeon from Hamilton General Hospital visiting that day.  Dr. Czopinski and Dr. Irene Cybulski ordered test upon test as they felt Bob did not have a heart attack after all.  The final conclusion to our shock was: Bob had 60% calcified aortic valve, and mitral valve.  Open heart surger;y was needed. Life is now changed................A bump, potholes and new roads ahead of us.

Bob is a picture of health with no history of heart disease what so ever. So, we wait for a date.  Two weeks we were told.  They were right on the ball.   A quick flight back to Hamilton, Ontario (basically where we began our trek)  Bob and I were both born and raised in this city, with all of our family and friends still in the area.
We arrived Sunday November 18 as our good friends picked us up at Toronto airport and delivered us to Bob's Sister and Brother in law's home where we will be staying during surgery and recovery.  That night; another bump and 911 was dispatched.  Angina attack.  We thought Bob would not even make his surgery scheduled for that Wednesday.  He was admitted a day earlier than expected, and surgery did go as scheduled.  
Wednesday:  0900:  Triple bypass and aortic valve replacement was completed in 7 hours. Now on a respirator for a couple days, ICU, then the Cardiac Step down where Bob amazingly and quickly was recovering. Since his picture perfect health is definitely an asset, we are told Bob will recover 120% and will be back better than before in a few short months. The cardiologist said 'Bob will be dancing in two weeks" Bob replied,   "That sounds great.  Since I can't dance now!"

We returned to his sister and brother in law's home 9 days after surgery. 

A gift of life was given back, as we both feel we are very blessed to be able to continue our lives together better than ever.  NEVER take life for granted! as it can be stripped away from you in a "heartbeat" (literally)
We thank our family, especially as we could not have managed with out you.  Our friends from all over the country and across the oceans for your support, prayers and concerns.
Our New Home, Terrace Bay, Ontario

Yes, we will miss the ski season (well maybe) As the doctors anticipate Bob will be back on the slopes in March for a few turns in the powder. 

As for now, we wait to fly back to our new home in Terrace Bay, Ontario, celebrate a very, very special Christmas, recover from surgery and rebuilt the body to a fine tuned machine.  Next season is not far away....

The journey continues, hopefully no more bumps in the road for a while.  Just moguls.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Forever Young

"Forever Young".... in a ski bum's world. 
Canadian Autumn Leaves
Yes, summer is now over, and it is time to look towards cooler weather and a cold winter ahead with hopeful heaps of snow blanketing the west. arrived and now gone.  So what does a ski bum do in off season?

Other than heal our bodies (especially Bob), and myself of course.  Thanks to Rudy and Matt from David Levy Memorial Physiotherapy Clinic, we can dream of our dreams come true.  What can we do next season?  What if?...

So, what if we sell our home in Southern Ontario?  Move closer to Paradise, but not too far from our family and friends. And, become full time Ski Bums?  What if.............
Once the dust settled and we unpacked, put back and restocked our kitchen with food as we tried to adjust back to Southern Ontario lifestyle. We realized we just don't want to be part of the "Rat Race" anymore!!!!
A big decision indeed.  Our emotions set in.  We had no idea living "outside the box" changed our lives forever, realizing there is so much more to life in this tiny universe we live in.
Our passion is Canada; the outdoors; the want to experience life to the fullest within our beautiful country. Living the Ski Bum life has now become reality for Bob and myself.

Yes, we sold our home! Friends asked if we will be living in an Igloo.  "Yes", I explained..."a three bedroom Igloo with a view of the lake and floating icebergs."
We are relocating to a small northern community on Lake Superior almost halfway to Panorama and only a short 15 hour drive back to Caledonia to visit our family.
 Terrace Bay, Ontario is our new home.  No; there are no igloos in Terrace Bay. Yes, there are people, roads, electricity, and no, we do not drive dog sleds to work. Yes; we will be wearing Sorel boots, toques and mitts in Terrace Bay.
Summers in Terrace Bay will be spent kayaking, cycling the mountains, and hiking the coastal trails.
When the frost bites our faces in November, we will begin our winter dream of heading west  to the magical world of snow and ice. 

Yes, we made it work...our dreams are real.  We have to pinch ourselves every so often to confirm reality.  And how fortunate we are to have our health, love of the outdoors and passion to experience life at its fullest.

Fort William
Pregnant Woman Island two weeks, the big truck arrives at our doorstep in the misty, early a.m. here in Caledonia...ready and willing to load 14 years of "stuff'" and memories.  All inclusive with 9 cacti, one being a seven foot monster.  When asked if they (Oneida Movers) if they would be able to transport these prickly beasts. With some hesitation, they replied: "we cannot guarantee what they will look like when they arrive in Terrace Bay"  I was not too worried about the cacti, but we are greatly concerned what the two gentlemen moving these beasts will look like when they unload the prickly beasts!  We appropriately named the oldest one (approx. 50 year old cactus) the "Old Pr*#k" for good reason.  Our family was visiting us one thanksgiving, when Christine (our daughter) had backed up into the old guy! (cactus of course)  Ouch....Christine and I were off to the bathroom with a pair of tweezers to remove the thorns from her....well, buttocks!  The old guy is ungratefully named from that day on.
Neys Campground, Lake Superior
Fifteen hours drive to the North Shores through and away from the big cities, noise as the "Rats" have won the race. With smiles on our faces and the beginning of true "Ski Bum" life, our new adventure begins again.

Only 14 more sleeps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Forever Young"
Lake Superio Sunset
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.
lyrics:  Bob Dylan

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Green Grass of Home

We're Back!!!!!!!
Caledonia Bridge, Caledonia, Ontario

We arrived home Thursday 27 April approx 2:00 pm in the afternoon.  As we opened the Jeep hatch, the vehicle exploded with tossed around gear, clothing and just stuff!  Now, time to return our commuter kitchen gear and clothing back to its original place.  But, where,  we seem to have been away so long that we forgot where everything goes.   No, it's not Altheimer's,  it's "Sometimer's" .....Sometimes we remember, and sometimes we don't. 
Being back home is confusing.  We are glad to be home, not in motels, hotels, etc., but we do miss our Western hippie/skibum life.  As we do miss our Western friends very much.
Bob is being ridiculed about his long curly locks of hair !   "Hey, Hippie, where did you come from?"  Our neighbours asked.  "Wow",  as I flash my hairy armpits.  "Lookin' Good" 

As for the house.  There's surprisingly not a speck of dust...anywhere.  Whoa Ho... no housework!!!!
As for the yard?  Does anyone own a goat for hire to chew down the grass and the dandelions that are quickly growing ferociously around our feet?

So out comes the shovel and gardening gloves to begin the yearly spring chore of manicuring the grass and gardens.   Grass is overrated,  (the green grass on the lawns, not the "Happy Hay")
Our Backyard
So the transition from Skibum to ageing Hippies, we dig our herb gardens.  Pull out the Muskoka chairs and watch the weed wars at out feet while enjoying a cold beer.  We watch the apple blossoms and leaves explode open in the trees as we play "The Mamas & Papas', "Pink Floyd" and 'Neil Young" albums.  Sipping our refreshment, we reminisce about our adventures over the past 5 months.
Budding Grape leaves in the morning dew

We thank our viewers...5100+ viewers worldwide who faithfully followed and commented our blog. 

You all shared our dream and thank you.

We travelled a total of 11,000 kms round trip

Bob and I skied 81 days and 120 days respectively.

To all of our Western friends from Invermere, Panorama and worldwide,  you will all be treasured  deep in our hearts for many years to come.
Kayaking on the Grand River
And yes, we will be back next season for another 120 ski days...possibly more. 
How can we not?  We have set the new standard for skiing.  It's in our blood.

And when we are done gardening, it will be time to clean the bikes, pump up the tires and get some serious "ass time" in the saddle.
 We will also be paddling the rivers and lakes of Ontario as we will be enjoying a different kind of paradise, with lazy rivers, mirrored lakes and winding roads.
Caledonia Cycling

As for now, back to gardening.  We need to conquer the weed war, and remember where we put the beer glasses. 
(Oh, and I will be shaving my armpits.  As for Bob, he will keep his curly locks)......

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Gitchee Goomee

Old Woman Bay, Lake Superior
The land of Gitchee Goomee:  Lake Superior. In Objibway Gitchee Goomee means: "Big Water"   
This lake is made famous by the shipwreck, The Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Gitchee Goomee
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ship's bell rang
Could it be the north wind they'd been feelin'?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too,
T'was the witch of November come stealin'.
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashin'.
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind.

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin'.
Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya.
At Seven P.M. a main hatchway caved in, he said
Fellas, it's been good t'know ya
The captain wired in he had water comin' in
And the good ship and crew was in peril.
And later that night when his lights went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searches all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
May have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.
And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her,
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the Gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral.
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call 'Gitche Gumee'.
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early!
Lyrics, By Gordon Lightfoot

We left Terrace Bay early to make some tracks and mileage toward home.  A few "pee" breaks along the road and here we are at Wawa.  The daytime this time.   A look at the "wild goose" or Wawa as it is named.  I call the Wild Goose: "Bomber"  You don't want one of these flying over your heads without an umbrella!
We stopped for lunch at  Chippewa River along the lake.  (Enough restaurant food) to empty our cooler of food.  It was full when we left Panorama.  We are a hungry pair of ski bums.  Our appetites haven't diminished with us sitting in the car for hours at a time.
With our cooler near empty, except for a couple of cold beers and scraps of ham and goat cheese brie; we are back on the road.
We fill up our gas tank as well as our bellies.  GAS,  the prices are ridiculous!!!! $1.48.9.  We ask why.  A not so swift gas attendant replied: " Gas is expensive around these parts"  I could have replies with the same intelligent answer all by myself! (we are not impressed) but have no choice in the matter but to curtail to the greedy gas companies as they strip our wallets with uneccisary prices.  
 Yes, I just did another rant!
Back to driving......
We bypassed Sault Ste. Marie. I have two aunts here, but could not contact them for a visit.  We will try next time. 
We came across "Old Woman Bay" on Lake Superior.  It is named by the formation of cliffs.  If you hike the Nokomia Trail across Highway #17, you will see the face of an "Old Woman" in the rock formation. 
As I knit during our drive, I keep an eye out for splendid views and small towns along the way.  We arrive at Blind River, where we will spent the night. Do you remember the song Neil Young wrote while driving through Sudbury and his hears named "Mort" a.k.a.Mortimer Hearseburg broke down in Blind River:

<><><><> <><><><> <><><><>
Blind River

Lyrics by Neil Young
Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes

Have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you run. Long may you run...In Blind River
We've been through
Some things together
With trunks of memories
Still to come
We found things to do
In stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
Have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you run.

Well, it was
Back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift
On the long decline
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
Have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you run.

Maybe The Beach Boys
Have got you now
With those waves
Singing "Caroline No"
Rollin' down
That empty ocean road
Gettin' to the surf on time.

We found a cute motel on the waters of Lake Huron, " Old Mill Motel"   Here we will enjoy a hot bowl of split pea soup and a glass of wine.  No restaurant food Please!!!
We are one day away from home.  Tomorrow we will be sleeping in our own bed!!!!

I wonder how much dust has found its way in and around literally...everything?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

What Room am I in?

The joys of travelling.....Each night we are in a different town and lodging.  They are all beginning to look the same.

What city\town am I in?

What is my room number and floor?

Where's the door and which way is the bathroom?
Yes, the important question, as I wake up a 2 a.m. to use the facilities.  Now, with sleepy eyes and twilight brain function," what is behind door # 1?  Hope I open the bathroom door and not the exit door into the hallway or lobby of the hotel.  Wouldn't that be a surprise to both myself and the night staff when I appear buck naked in the hall!

The morning brings imagination and determination.  I drink a sludge type nutritional mix of greens, etc.  The rooms are not equipped with many utensils or cups.  Paper and stir sticks is a good as it gets.  So, my toothbrush (the handle) serves both as a measuring spoon and mixer in the tasty paper cup filled with a slurry of chunky, sandy green slime.  I choke it down with all the lumps that my handy toothbrush handle could not destroy.

Now, the joys of eating out. The food!  We eat by default.  I grew up with a Greek Chef for a father and a soup supremist as a mother.  Either way; good wholesome food that felt soothing to the belly.  Restaurant food, on the other hand is not so soothing.  I hope the belly doesn't go to war with the want to be digested plate of process, chemical induced, grease additive and non nutritious plate of who knows what meat I am eating.  Will I be purculating through the night?  Probably. 

Enough ranting as it is time to repack the Jeep and look for our next destination.
Aguasabon river
We leave Thunder Bay approximately 10:00 am and began driving alongside Lake Superior.  Superior it is; with her majestic beauty, even this early in the season.  Navy blue waters still frozen from the winter months.  We stopped alongside the highway with a perfect picturesque view of the lake.
The Highway is quiet this time of year.  Only long distance haulers delivering loads from east to west.   How we miss Northern Ontario. 
It is remarkably different from Western Canada with its hundreds of lakes surrounding trees upon trees and rolling hills.  There are no straight roads in the east.  They all wind, curve and descend as quickly at they climb above the cold waters.
We arrive in one our favorite small towns, Terrace Bay.  We hiked the Aguasabon River Gorge just outside of town.  The temperature only rose to +13 c, but it feels like summer with the sun shining between the white clouds.  

Aguasabon River Gorge
We sat outside our motel room enjoying the pleasant warm weather as we sipped our beer and wine before dinner. 
Dinner will be a shopping trip to Costa's grocery store for fresh fruit, good cheese and wraps to make our own belly statisfying meal, including a bottle of EastDell Black Cab.  Chiao!!

Tomorrow will be a great drive along Lake Superior and we will be absorbing all the majestic beauty Lake Superior has to offer.  It's the home stretch... directly south (only 16 hours drive time) 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Miles from Home...

Steinbach Village Museum
Sunday was uneventful and a long drive.  We arrived in Regina for the night.  Woke up early and again, headed east.  Prairies and more Prairies under beautiful sunny skies.  As we head east we entered yet, another time change and lose another hours sleep.  We arrived at Steinbach, Manitoba, just outside Winnipeg, (Winnie the Pooh was named after this town).  Steinbach meaning (Stony Brook in German) was founded in 1874 by German speaking Mennonite settlers from Russia.  These Mennonite immigrants were led to Canada by the promise from the Canadian Government of military exemption.  Twenty homesteads were laid out alongside Steinbach Creek.  In 1912 a Ford auto dealership opened.  This was also the first Ford dealership in Western Canada, thus the reason Steinbach being labelled the "Automobile City".  The town grew to a population of 463 by 1915.  Steinbach continued to grow, was incorporated as a town by 1946 and a city by October 10, 1977.  There are approximately 25 Churches in Steinbach, a Heritage village museum as well as a Dutch windmill.  
After a sound sleep, we left bright and early to continue our trek eastward.

 We need some miles behind us as we are not yet halfway home. (approx. 2300 kms to go) Our goal:  Ontario.
Wall Mural on the barn of Egli's Sheep Farm
We travelled along the Trans Canada Highway, through Manitoba, Ontario and crossed the Eastern time zone,  as we came upon, yes!!! A sheep farm and wool shop!!!!  Egli's Sheep Farm and Animal Park in Mannitake, Ontario.  We just had to stop (we needed to give our legs a stretch...) a good excuse. 

So, after a quick meander through the shop we came out with three bags of roving wool.  Don't ask!!!
I will spin it into yarn and knit it into a sweater. (another knit project)
 We arrived in Thunder Bay, the emotional landmark of Terry Fox who gave up his run across Canada due to secondary Cancer.

Terry Fox Monument, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Percy Lake, Ontario

Tomorrow will be a shorter drive and we will do a bit more sightseeing looking for hidden lakes pieces of paradise off the beaten track. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sunny Saskatchewan

The skies of Saskatchewan are phenomenal to say the least. The cotton candy clouds you can almost reach out and touch. They are crisp, white and drastically detailed. They coin the phrase "The Land of the Living Skies" an understatement. Saskatchewan is known for it's glorious sunshine as well as the dramatic stormy skies. We were not fortunate to see a storm, but the sun is more than welcome.

St. John's School & Cemetary
St. John's School
Off the beaten path...Dirt roads, gravel, and who knows what. The Jeep will need some tender loving care and a good scrub when we return home. Amidst the Saskatchewan Prairies we came upon this deserted school house from another era.  St. John's School was built in 1924 and sadly closed its doors in 1965.  It was the last of the "one room" schools in the district.  St. John's was the only parochial in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church in Saskatchewan.  In 1942 St. John's became a separate school due to declining enrolment.

We drive down a total of26 kms on a plowed sand road.

The Great Sand Hills
The Great Sand hills.  That they are!  The temperature has warmed dramatically under the clear skies as we tied up our hiking boots for a Great Hike.  Up the first hill as our breath becomes heavy and the wind is blowing tiny grains of sand on our faces.  Dunes, upon dunes of rippled sand.  Grasses the the odd tree weaving through the landscape.  A different kind of beauty.
The Great Sand hills was cared for by John Booth (1926 - 2007)
""John was caretaker of the Sand hills Stockman's Association from 1950 - 2001.  He was a rancher and lived in this area all his live.
57 years of boots!

John was 81 years old and rode saddle horse at every round up for the last 57 years.  He believed in the preservation of this natural habitat.  He understood the fragility of these great hills.."No one should judge another person until you've walked in his boots...that's the start of a great day"
John lived his life to the fullest.  He build an archway of his boots, a cowboy's way to show his appreciation and love for life""  written by Gordon Booth.
After our hike we again, drive down plowed sand weaving through cattle, and rolling hills towards a paved highway. 
Salt hills of Chaplin

We arrive at Chaplin, a salt mining town.  Lakes are beginning to appear.  Lakes with a salt base and snow like mounds cresting the water.  This is salt.  Chaplin is home of "Salt of the Earth" 

We carry on through Moose Jaw, where we stopped for a refreshing cup of java and chocolate chai and finally arrive very tired in Regina, where we spent the night of restful sleep.

It's on the road again. We're not sure where we will end up or how far we will drive today.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Bad to the Bone

Horseshoe Canyon
Wheat Fields
Bad, very Bad!  "Badder" than expected. 

We never imagined that Canada would have such diverse landscapes from West to East.  Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Foot Hills in Western Alberta, Wheat fields, and now Bad Lands in Eastern Alberta where dinosaurs roamed.  If you are lucky, you can still find skeletal remains on the clay soils.

The movie "Unforgiven" with Clint Eastwood was filmed here as well as many others.
The Badlands of Drumheller is a playground for explorers. 
The Alberta Badlands also include Canyons and Hoodoos. 

Yes, you are still driving through the Prairies and would miss all these hidden gems unless you ask, look and follow maps.  We visited Horseshoe Canyon which is totally hidden from the highway.  A little drive off the beaten path and WOW.  Canyon it is.
 We carefully hiked down into the canyon and carefully traversed to the bottom.  We are surrounded by millions of years of mineral deposits, fossils and dessert conditions, all including wild cactus growing at our feet.  You could feel the essence of the past when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  We finished our hike sweaty, bruised and bloody from the mud, rough terrain, cactus and scrub brush as we climbed up the deer path on our hands and knees to work our way back to modern earth.

Next stop; Wayne, Alberta!  Why is it the name Wayne and Saloon have so much in common...  Beer!!!

Wayne is the almost abandoned mining town in the midst of the Alberta Badlands and Hoodoos.  We drove down the heart of the Badlands on a dirt road, crossed eleven bridges and found, yes, "A Ghost Town" of yesteryear.  Still standing:  "The Last Chance Saloon"  Ninety Nine years old and a hot spot from the past as it is today. 
Wayne, Alberta

Eclectic artifacts were abundant within the building's weathered structure from the good times when the then busy coal mining town was at its peak. 
Last Chance Saloon
The saloon is standing room only during the summer months.  We were very fortunate to grab a seat for lunch, and of course, a cold Alberta Beer served in a chilled mason jar.

After lunch it was back in the Jeep homeward bound as our next leg of our travels was to be Leader, Alberta, the gateway to the Great Sand Hills.  We arrived only to be disappointed our B & B was unattended. 

So, we backtracked to find the closest Eatonia, Alberta. 
Eatonia, Alberta
A tiny town almost forgotten by today's standards.  A farming community.  "It's name is derived the the T. Eaton Company who sold catalogue houses. 
Folklore has it according to oral history, this "Pattern Book House" was purchased from the T. Eaton mail order catalogue. 

A bumper crop in 1915 resulted in many catalogue houses. 
Eaton's final house advertisement was in the 1932-33 Fall and Winter catalogue.  This marked the end of an era of Eaton's in providing buildings for the farms and towns in Western Canada".

Here we slept to begin our next leg of our adventure.    The Great Sand Hills...

Bad to the Bone
Lyrics by George Thorogood & The Destroyers
On the day I was born, the nurses all gathered 'round
And they gazed in wide wonder, at the joy they had found
The head nurse spoke up, and she said leave this one alone
She could tell right away, that I was bad to the bone
Bad to the bone
Bad to the bone
B-B-B-B-Bad to the bone
Bad to the bone

I broke a thousand hearts, before I met you
I'll break a thousand more baby, before I am through
I wanna be yours pretty baby, yours and yours alone
I'm here to tell ya honey, that I'm bad to the bone
Bad to the bone
Bad to the bone

I make a rich woman beg, I'll make a good woman steal
I'll make an old woman blush, and make a young woman squeal
I wanna be yours pretty baby, yours and yours alone
I'm here to tell ya honey, that I'm bad to the bone
Bad to the bone