At the barn…the best medicine

Where are my snacks? Where have you been?

It is the wonderful world of donkeys, horses and cats, in no particular order:) They come running, and trotting or as in donkey walk, amble over to you looking for love and some treats. It is a place of great peace and solace for me to interact with all these four footed creatures, and their servants, oops, I mean owners/humans;)

I’ve struggled this last month with the death of my Dad, sadness, anger, where does it all come from? These beautiful creatures have helped on some of the bad days, when I kick myself in the ass to get down to see them. We bought Phoenix some 23 years ago as an unbalanced Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred cross mare that astounded me with her temperament cantering around a 30′ small sand covered ring/barn. Bought her on the spot and never regretted a single day. So glad Joanne and her family has her now, she has bloomed with them in her later years…and Maya, our little baby Hanoverian, born in front of a barn full of lesson kids on a busy Saturday morning, a wonder to behold, a feisty foal that worried her mother to death with her pranks and antics of wandering off totally unconcerned to a young mare with lots of rights and then, a lovely creature to ride and handle and show. She is our beauty, looking much the same she did at 5 as she is now 19….and Dusty…

…he nearly ended up as dog food at a sales barn if it had not been for the pleading of several young girls who saw potential in him, and we grew to love him and his ways. So many winning rides for those hunter kids and such a great teacher. I loved riding him over fences, he was so solid, so trustworthy, sometimes needed a bit of encouragement at a new and crazy jump but he had a heart so big, he would do it!..and Quizzie, this little pony can bring a smile to anyone’s face. She is a doll, and sweet, not your typical pony by any means;) ha! So wonderful to be able to watch these beautiful horses born, or arrive and their voyage through our lives. They are family, and I’ve left a few out, Boots, the off the track Thoroughbred who is turning 31(!!!!) this year, who says “You never have to act your age”, and the lovely Celeste. We have Jennifer to thank for this wonderful barn and her amazing care. I think of my grown up kids in good hands here wherever we wander:)

If the horses and donkeys can’t melt you into puddles of ooh’s and ahhh’s…the cats will;) The old Toms command the barn and the habitants from the house come and go. They are a wonderful bunch of characters, guaranteed to make you smile! I’ll one day get a shot of everyone but here are some favourites:)

and those mini donkeys…sigh…Hope is locked in a stall on an extreme diet and she wins the prize for sad Eeyore face indeed. A starving donkey she’d like you to know, just don’t look at her belly, she is as wide as she is tall;)

“I’m starving! Really! You did bring snacks right?”

These amazing creatures bring a smile to my face when nothing else is really working. I feel privileged to be able to visit and share time with them and their owners. My friends. Here’s to a new month and more healing from natures best medicine!

Saludos amigos, stay tuned!


The best neighbours…

We are fortunate to have lovely wonderful human neighbours on either side of us, a true blessing, and many smaller neighbours in between:) I can’t imagine not sharing my space without these small creatures. I hear the words, vermin, pests etc. but I truly am astonished at people not wanting to share their space without some “wildlife”? What are we if not “animals” and who exactly is the most destructive animal on the planet?…yeah, go figure…:)

This family of red squirrels has been one of the most amusing neighbours this week. They are now out of their nest in front of the cottage and raiding the bird feeders, hanging from the wires, performing extraordinary acts of acrobatic expertise and yes taunting the cats…at every turn!

You don’t frighten us, Canadian pig-cats! —Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur-king, you and all your silly Canadian knnnniggets. Thppppt! No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time-a! I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper!…… I fart in your general direction! . Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Thanks to Monty Python for all this wonderful writing!

…while the red squirrels are the taunters, the poor chipmunks are not blessed with abundant brain cavities. More than one has not been rescued from a very nimble Groot, only to provide a bit of after breakfast snack…num, num…The ways of the wild, eat or be eaten it seems at times. The Robins squeal and try to fight off the raven looking for baby robin snacks, we’ve named him/her Asgard. It comes to the compost morning and night looking for a snack.

These birds are extraordinarily smart and one of the few birds with face recognition…be nice, or they may be back to haunt you! 🙂

With the rain has come the mushrooms, peeking through the heavy layer of fallen leaves and pushing their way towards the light. They can change daily. The wildflowers are right beside them. The trilliums and wild honeysuckle, and many blooms I have yet to identify!

One day it is cold and feels like late Spring, then it seems Summer is upon us! From jackets to shorts and back to jackets, today the AC is running. It’s a wild ride here! Groot enjoys afternoons on the dock fishing when the cottage isn’t rented. He’s ready for the canoe rides now with the new to him life jacket and handy handle to catch him if he goes overboard…ah Summertime, and the living is easy…well, at times. As with everything in life there is a price to be paid for all:)

The bird seed thief

This character has been stealing the bird seed so the feeders are put away each night. I do put them in late so have to occasionally engage in a conservation with this lovely fellow about foraging on his/her own as I move them in for the night:)

So far this year we’ve had no bear of fox visitors, but I’m sure they are out there. We are so lucky to be able to explore these wonderful woods and waters and marvel at what Mother Nature has created in the shade of the enormous maples and under the bright sun on a clear day at the lake. Living with nature, the only life I can imagine:)

Saludos amigos! Stay tuned as the heat has been turned up here and hay time is around the corner!

That familiar feeling….

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned” Maya Angelou

Home, it evokes a certain quality of life, a familiar set of surroundings, friends, running into acquaintances at the grocery store, or avoiding them;) ha! I’m not sure at times whether this is my home or not but it’s the closest I have come to understanding that feeling. I see it in Mike’s face as we get closer and closer…He was born and raised here, I understand how deep those roots run and how joyful the return to them can be.

It was wonderful to back into our new gravel pad we layed out last year, hooked up to the sewer (no dragging the portable tank around) plugged into the 30 amp outlet on the bunkie but the water, well, that was another matter. May 4th…that water was cold, so cold after diving down at one point over my head the only thought was to crawl out on the dock as quickly as I could to try to catch my breath…We secured the inlet and with help from Regan got the pump primed and up and running as well-all the luxuries of life complete!

Yes, the bird feeders went up as soon as the landing pads were down;) Groot and Gamora knew exactly where they were as well and their tails trilled as they poked about, stalking chipmunks and squirrels:)

Gamora encountered a bullfrog and had a wonderful time following it about, gently touching it with her paw until big brother Groot came over and deemed it inedible;) She then sat down next to it and chilled for awhile! The small furry rodentia were busy cleaning up after the birds and trying to help themselves as well. A blonde morph black squirrel put on quite a show!

All of what makes this feel like home, the familiar:) On the land and in the water. The Canada Goose family was about, only seven goslings this year (last year was 12!) as well as a pair of Loons, poor birds were covered in Loon specific blackflies! I sympathize deeply with them! My hope is one day to see some babies:) Time to get into the canoe and go exploring in the shallow bays:)

The nature here is what brings me back. The busy Summer weekends with boats and jet skis flying about the water hold no charm for me. I really don’t care if you have a new boat, a big boat or a canoe. I don’t judge people by what they have, but how they act. Perhaps it is the lack of humans here during so much of the week that makes this place so beautiful. The quiet passing of a kayak does not disturb the loon, the roar of boat engines does get them calling mid-day when you would not normally hear them, they are protesting. Humans see so little it seems. The troubling times with our planet. We are surrounded by entitlement and the never ending case of “convenience”. We try to do our part, appalled at over packaging, I don’t buy that product anymore and actually tell the company why, how else will they learn? We can drive change as consumers, don’t buy single serving water bottles, read the ingredients on the packages, bring your own cup to Tim Hortons my friends…break the mold of convenience…our world depends on it. There is no planet B….

These are the things that keep me up at night sometimes…There is so much good in our world, and so much evil…most of which is just ignorance at times. Be aware, be kind, don’t judge ( except for bad Airbnb guests hahahaha!) remember everyone else out there could be having a much worse day than you could even imagine. Make room in your life for nature and ask how can you protect and nourish the world around us vs using it as a resource…It is the only planet we have:)

Saludos amigos! Stay tuned, maybe for blog on good and bad Airbnb guests and a good laugh at ourselves…humour can be the best medicine!

It’s a long way across Canada….!

I have fallen so far behind but the journey goes on! We left Dinosaur Provincial Park and headed East. There was a forcast for 20 cm of snow for the area coming in a few days so we hot footed it out of there! The jacks were acting up and we’d called a RV repair place in Swift Current but no one seemed too keen on hydraulics. We figured our next call would be to a large truck or tractor repair given they have a great deal of hydraulics on them as well. In the meantime I got the word out on the DRV facebook page I hadn’t been kicked off of…ha!;)…(with “all the others” that had been kicked off a certain site by a shall we say posterior person who decides he is God…isn’t Facebook fun) asking if anyone had experience with the valves that control the jacks…in the meantime we sailed across the prairies….

We spent the night in Swift Current at the Kinetic Exhibition Park, a fairgrounds with RV hook-ups. The water wasn’t on but we had power and the chance to call around a bit more about the landing jacks and research online as well. Great spot, we were the only ones there save for several Prairie Dogs that Groot and Gamora found fascinating. It would be a busy place at Rodeo time!

It had been a day of long flat roads along the railroad and grain silo after grain silo marked with one town name after another. Medicine Hat, Piapot, Gull Lake and on and on…small lakes and bare trees, waiting for Spring to come! We settled after dieseling up for the next days trip, we contemplated not unhooking but decided to as there seemed to be a few truck/trailer repair places around in case the jacks decided to give up their ghosts;)

One of the wonderful Facebook groups” DRV problems and fixes” we are on had come back with some ideas to try. One fabulous comment with photos about the jacks and valves and an explanation on how to tighten them up as they often slowly worked loose did the trick! Thank you Robert Abbot for your great shot and hints! We tightened the screws with an allen wrench and in the morning the jacks shot up at lightning speed! No repair shop needed and off we headed to Estevan, Saskatchewan!

We passed through Chaplin, where a thriving salt industry happens, word was avoid the town run RV park as you’ll end up covered in salt dust… ( Wikipedia says: Chaplin consists of eight streets, two crescents, and four avenues (including the avenue on the ‘other side of the (train) tracks’) have to love that description(!) and in Moose Jaw we turned and headed SE towards the North Dakota border. Word was coming back that most places in Northern Ontario were still closed, others were flooded out so we decided to take a Southerly route back!

Just before the border is the town of Estevan, which had a lovely town RV park, just opening, we had our choice of spots overlooking the river and were happy the landing jacks once again seemed to be working well. The idea of a long stop to get them looked at was not appealing in any way;)

The next day we headed South to a small no name border crossing just South of the RV park, just fit under their signs and arches to a rather grumpy Customs agent. She was not the friendly type, mostly interested in what we did, before and now and where we were going…with a very stern face, the woman agent wants me to open the trailer. I comply. Looks in the fridge. Wants to know if we are hiding any people in the front…hmm….what you say “Of course not ma’am”…what you want to say “Only a few dead bodies ma’am”…Am I the only one who thinks like this? 😆It makes you wonder, is smuggling people into North Dakota from Saskatchewan in your 5th wheel a problem in this area😉 especially at a two lane border crossing? and who wants to be smuggled OUT of Canada?;) HA! We were happy to move on to a very straight road, the 40, across North Dakota heading for Graham Lake State Park on Devils Lake. I’d called ahead and there were 5 spots with water and power! WATER! YEAH! A long shower!!! Our first water since filling up at Dinosaur Provincial Park with a hose at the office;) On our way down to the park, it was off the beaten path a bit we came across a rather fierce looking fire, always makes me cringe seeing these!

A delightful woman checked us in, take any of the spots you want, 244 empty…just us! Our own private state park, now that is a bonus! We decided to stay a few days to catch our breath! It was a lovely spot. Groot and Gamora approved, complete with a fenced in dog, oops, I mean cat park for them to race around in leashless;)

The ice was just breaking up on Devils Lake in many places, what a haunting sound it makes! In open patches of water Hooded Mergansers were vying for the ladies. I have always wanted to see these striking birds! I’ve had an old wooden decoy of them for years so finally a chance to see them in the flesh! They did not disappoint! At one point a flock of Tundra Swans flew over me. Flocks of North America’s most numerous swans gather on lakes and estuaries or descend out of gray skies. A characteristic whistling in their wings led Meriwether Lewis to call them “whistling swans,” a name still in use. They nest on arctic tundra and visit the U.S. only on migration and in winter. Most have a smudge of yellow at the base of their black bill, but otherwise are pure white. Magical!

A Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel, the guy with a very long name;) put on quite a show picking up the sunflower seeds the birds tossed about! A cat favourite, always just out of their reach but so much fun to sit and stare down the holes;)

Robins were pulling earthworms from the ground and a half dozen White Throated Sparrows were busy at the feeders.

It looked dormant but everything seemed to be slowly springing to life. The trees were busy with bird song, for a second I thought I’d found an old Baja friend, a Red Naped Sapsucker but turned out to be a Yellow Bellied one hunting for grubs and bugs in the leafless poplar trees!

Groot said they all looked delicious but the squirrels he said looked the tastiest! There were several walking paths around the park, the variety of seed heads and old dried berries were beautiful along the path, I stepped off once, and came back with my legs covered with ticks so didn’t do that again!

We added an extra day we were so enjoying the quiet. A quick trip into Devils Lake the town secured us with provisions as we had started to call ahead to find out what was open for our next few jumps back to Canada.

A State Park all to ourselves:)

It was pretty slim pickings when it came to RV parks. Most we called didn’t open until Mid May and the rest just never answered our messages! We did get a call back from a park located in the Chippewa National Forrest in Minnesota , Stony Point Resort and Campground, she said they were not officially open but had a spot we could stay! We made our plans to leave early the following day. The sunrise woke me up as a bright red colour flooded into the trailer, it was chilly out, near freezing but I took off down towards the water hoping to capture the brilliant colour covering the Eastern sky! The frigid wind eventually chased me back to the trailer but what a sight it was with the sun illuminating the ice breaking up on the lake!

A nice send off as we left North Dakota for Minnesota, a bit more than 4 hours travel. I could see Mike was itching to get home:) We stayed two days at Stony Point, we drove through some snow flurries on the way so decided against driving into any more bad weather. The lake had a few bits of ice where the Canada Geese were coming to some skidding landings. There were mallards for the cats to watch as well as several pair of Common Mergansers in breeding colour! Spectacular!

The RV park was in the midst of Spring clean up so it was very nice of them to open early for us! The entire town seemed closed for the season still:) It was lovely watching the geese swim about with the beautiful reflections when the wind was quiet. Gamora decided they might be a bit large to tackle;)

The next spot we found when we called the phone was answered by a delightful older woman with German accent. She said they were open and had room and not to worry so we left for Bessemer, Minnesota:) It was another 250 mile hop towards Perth! We arrived later in the day and it didn’t quite turn out as planned. The campground was still soaking wet so we ended up spending the night on the paved road around the campsites and with a loan of a 30amp extension cord we managed to get some power as well for night. The lovely lady and her horde of small friendly dogs welcomed us with a slice of Cherry Cheesecake she’d just made and Mike got to brush the dust off his German vocabulary for a few moments as well. We left early the next morning headed towards Brimley State Park in Michigan, last stop before the Canadian border. Passed a church sign in Michigan…God B___S our troops…seems a few letters had fallen off, or maybe God works in mysterious ways;)

We drove along Lake Superior under gray skies, past the large lakers. It was a 290 mile jump and the cats were none too pleased having not gotten out much between bad weather and nowhere to walk. We were looking forward to Brimley and it’s beautiful views of the lake and quiet away from the road sites. No ranger to check in, in fact, there was no one else there! The ranger told me on the phone that there was a water hydrant by their office, it took a bit of walking around to find it, not in the campground but at their headquarters so we were finally able to fill the tanks for a a long needed shower and then pick out a campsite, only 237 to choose from;) We stopped in the middle after driving around, they were all on grass so we were a bit worried but the ground seemed firm so we pulled in with no problem at all.

Ice breaking up on Lake Superior

Then it proceeded to rain the entire next day…Still, a beautiful spot looking out at Lake Superior. I’d hoped for a trip to the Tahquamenon Falls but in the pouring rain that was out. It did let up later in the day, the laker freighters were waiting to pass through the locks at Sault Saint Marie, anchored quietly. I did a few long exposures, one way to find out how dirty your sensor and lens are;) Groot and Gamora got to walk out on the beach and stare at the ice:) all very fascinating.

It was nice to see the rain was holding off the morning we went to leave, we did our routine, packed up….we made it a few feet before bogging down through the grass into the muck…yikes, 10,000 lbs of truck and 20,000 of trailer, what a difference a rainy day can make:) Luckily the park crew was there with their 1 ton truck, after checking with their boss if it was OK to pull us out they all came over, beats cleaning bathrooms right, hooked a tow strap, I’m sure it was a 5000 lb one! ha! to the truck and we slowly inched our way out onto the paved roads that go between the sites. Lovely guys and a lovely gesture, sorry about the deep ruts we left;)…OFF to Canada, after being rattled a bit by the start to the day:)

We’re BACK!!!;)

That was easy, have to love coming into Canada, “Where are you going? How long? Have a wonderful stay!” Now for some sun PLEASE! It pretty much stayed gloomy. What we had as rain at Brimley, the rest of the region had snow!

The views from the Trans Canada were wonderful. Amish farms and all those things Canadian, Petro Canada and Canadian Tires…sigh:) There was nothing open either West or East of Sudbury so we headed South towards the French River to a small RV park that was open, just, Sportsmans Tent and trailer park. No water and we were a bit worried as it looked grassy but turned out to be gravel so no more getting stuck today! Once a day is enough:) Left in the morning, now Mike was a man on a mission to get to Perth but we stopped in Orilla for the night to go to a grocery store and LCBO. More rain was forcast so we stopped at Hammock Harbour RV park as you are leaving Orilla. It had a spot, high and dry they said…the ruts we left as we were leaving attested to the fact the park was made in a swamp and drained;) A “we will not be back unless desperate” spot. Second one in two days that has half of it’s facilities closed but charges full price…sigh…We were in need of a sunny day. The rain and gloom was weighing heavily upon us, both four and two footed!

After Peterborough it was all familiar. We did get to go through Neil Young’s hometown:) and past a few funny signs but none sweeter than the “town of Perth, population 6000”, for the last 30 years that is what it has been:) Through town, and yes, first person we see every year going through town, Chris, must be preordained, or maybe we are living in the matrix;) and out to the lake…our newly made gravel pad from last Fall was waiting, sewer ready to hook up, now all we needed to do was get into the lake and get the water going….but that my friends, is another story, a very very chilly story;)

Back to Otty Lake!

Stay tuned amigos, Spring is almost here!

Dinosaurs? Sort of! Dinosaur Provincial Park!

“I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free, and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures, and where everything drew a free breath.” the Great Comanche war chief, Ten Bears”

There are truly those places you stumble upon and know, you have to go back. We had thought of going North to the Royal Tyrrell Museum but in the end decided we really wanted to go back to Dinosaur Provincial Park. We had fallen in love with it last year, the hikes right from the trailer, scrambling through the hoodoos with the cats, fabulous wildlife and when we pulled in, well, very quiet! One of three trailers there. And the power worked, and there was park WiFi, usable park WiFi…Oh my God…there will be no whining here on my part since last blog I did go on about the electric;) We’d called ahead about water and a lovely young lady said to pull up by the registration area and the water was turned on by the store to fill, complete with a long hose to do so! I’m not sure an American Park would have left an unattended hose there;) Problem one solved, we had water, now, I don’t think we had any others! Spoke too soon. The front landing jacks stopped before we were level and after fiddling with them for 20 minutes we were somewhat level…what to do, what to do…go for a walk!

…and pose the question online, wait for answers, cross our fingers it would work better when we went to leave….start reading the manual:)

What I like is being able to put on my shoes and wander off down a spectacular path! The longest walk is about an hour, if you stop to photograph, well, double that;) The Badlands trail takes you past hoodoos and lunar type landscape. Small yellow flowers were starting to bloom and the trails were quiet.

The leaves were not yet out on the Cottonwoods that line the camping areas. The very handsome Black Billed Magpie followed us about as we walked the cats absolutely fascinated by them. He’d sit on the beams of the the shade buildings and hop from one to the other watching their every move, occasionally coming up with a croak or quack at them quietly…the excitement for the day:) 

Down by the river, the muddy waters of the Red Deer ambled by slowly. Full of dirt from melt water. Geese honked and landed and a Robin was searching for worms in the debris. We had a mix of sun and clouds, it would be overcast then clear, the whole weather gamut! The Red Deer River runs through Dinosaur Provincial Park Unesco World Heritage Site. It has slowly carved away the terrain, along with melting glaciers to expose the amazing collection of more than 500 fossils. Truly astounding plant, animal and fish life then, and now.

…and it was warm! Abnormally so, in the 20’s celsius. We skedaddled when we did as an incoming weather front was threatening to drop 25-30 cm of snow on the park and surrounding area. Hard to believe as we walked about in T-Shirts! Even Beezil came out it was so warm! The old hermit cat!

There were deer dropping everywhere, literally covering the campground…but no deer. So I decided to go looking for them. Behind the campground a steep hill leads up to a narrow path with steps. It overlooks the valley and a small creek that joins up with the Red Deer River.
Little Sandhill Creek from up high, what a view. 18,000 years ago the glaciers started to melt forming immense meltwater lakes. The lakes continued to grow blocked by kilometer high chunks of ice and sediment. When the dams burst, floodwaters raged across the land. Below is an example of what the floodwaters can do. This is the coulee of Little Sandhill River where it flows to meet The Red Deer River. Fascinating geology here:)

And there were deer down there by the creek, I could make them out from my perch on high so down I went and started to follow the creek from the end of the campground. They said there were both Mule and White Tailed deer so I was curious as to what they were. Along the path a Canada Goose perched high in a cave honked at me. I was hoping she wasn’t nesting up there, it would be a 50′ drop for the goslings if she did! Swallow nests lined the undersides of the rocks.

…and there were the Mule Deer. Those ears! With the black tipped tail I believe it is a mule deer. Beautiful creatures, not too shy, obviously used to living around some human company!

Behind the trailer when the sun came out some amazing purple flowers were blooming. It was the Prairie Crocus. I read that Pulsatilla is highly toxic, and produces cardiogenic toxins and oxytocin which slow the heart in humans. Excess use can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and convulsions, hypotension (LOW blood pressure) and coma. It has been used as a medicine by Native Americans for centuries. Blackfoot Indians used it to induce abortions and childbirth. Pulsatilla should not be taken during pregnancy nor during lactation. Additional applications of plant extracts include uses as a sedative and for treating coughs. It is also used as an initial ingredient in homeopathic remedies.

Not as friendly fuzzy as I had thought. Won’t be eating any of these;)

A wonderful variety of flowers and birds scattered about the park, shuddered to think what they might think of the incoming snowstorm!

Our last evening there we drove up to the viewpoint that overlooks the park. The clouds had been moving in so I thought we might be treated to a spectacular sunset. It is amazing as it is totally flat once you get up on the mesa, you would never think this area exists until you stumble upon it!

I was hoping for that late day light to brighten up the hoodoos and stripes in the rocks below but it faded into the clouds. But I did notice below me a pair of Mule Deer slowly walking towards me. I was upwind and in the shadow so they did not see me until the last minute!

A wonderful way to finish the day. By morning we were packed up and ready to go early started to hook up and pressed the up button on the auto level…nothing…heart sinking…oh no! Stop, breathe, think…what to do, what to do. With a bit of help pushing up on the trailer it seemed to be able to hold once it went up, but wouldn’t budge by itself. We lowered the tailgate and got out the truck jack, placing it in the bed of the truck next to the 5th wheel hitch. With a few blocks of wood we raised it up bit by bit, the jacks would hold it once we got it there but were unable to push it up themselves. First time using the jack, that worked well. When we had it high enough to hook up we took the jack away and slowly backed up and attached the 5th wheel, it was close but we got it hooked on! Yeah! We won’t be stuck in a snowstorm and we can head East to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, our next stop, but that my friends is..another story! Stay tuned for the hows and whys of all those small bits where things can go wrong, how we can learn to fix them and where the buffalo roam!

“Once, in another lifetime, there was an ocean here, and if you plant your feet in the soil you can almost feel the ancients rising and falling like the tides of old as the storm gathers strength.” 
― Heidi Barr, Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth

The glory that is mountains

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” ― John Muir

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” 
 John Muir

I can’t explain the rush of happiness as we drove past these towering spires that are the rockies here in Alberta. Peak after peak takes your breath away, makes you cringe your neck and head to see every detail as it goes whizzing by. The waterfalls, the avalanches, the heavy weight of snow hanging from the sides of rocks as tumbling waterfalls are carried down their faces by the melting snow. I’d read online, and called Lake Louise Provincial Park to make sure there were spaces available with electricity. The campground in Banff was closed for repairs so there were few options but I really wanted to see this spot in the early Spring. Lake Moraine was closed due to avalanche dangers and Lake Louise was still frozen over, dozens of happy tourists wandered about on it’s surface. A far cry from the glacial silt turquoise glimmer of June…but breathtaking. The air was crisp, OK, cold ha!

We were glad we had power, sort of, anyway. Hell hath no fury like an old Burmese cat that doesn’t have his electric blankie on! We’d pulled in to discover only the first row of campsites were open and plowed, the quieter ones to the back still had several feet of snow on them. These are shared sites, some folks had taken the entire site to themselves so we went to the end and turned around to come back to an empty one by the closed restrooms. Perhaps empty for a reason. Every time there was a spike in power from us, or our neighbour, microwave and toaster (?) we shared a 30 amp circuit we were finally told by the ranger, it would blow, not by the pedestal, but in the lock and key electrical compartment by the restrooms…sigh, and no, the rangers did not have a 24 hour number, you had to go out and look for them…or call and leave a message on their 9-4 office machine. It happened twice, the last day they never came to turn it back on, we left at noon. That sucked! Especially the sub zero temperatures…but the scenery…sigh….

Gamora and Groot were not keen on the trains, they run right past the loop that was open for camping, blowing their horns three times, thought poor Gamora was going to jump out of her skin once or twice…not a kitty approved campground, and walking in the snow has turned out NOT to be their favourite thing…fancy that;)

We diesled up and took a look through the small, and very pricey store and liquor store in Lake Louise. I’d read about Morant’s Curve, the spot was made famous by Nicholas Morant, a staff photographer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He took photographs for the company during the middle of the 20th century. You pass over the trans Canada and follow the Bow Valley Scenic parkway to the signs. We waited, but no trains, until after we left! Ha! It is a beautiful spot to stop and sit and watch the world go by!

I got up for sunrise the next morning and was not disappointed. The light pink glow on the mountain tops and clouds was stunning and only lasted a few minutes! Long enough to leap into the truck and drive down to the bridge that goes to the now closed tent camping area (bears are hungry now;) It was a chilly -6° celcius…yikes! Time to head out of the mountains!

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” John Muir

Enough snow and cold, pretty, but we’ll come back in the early Summer next time! When you don’t need snowshoes to hike and not too concerned on coming upon a hungry grumpy just awake from hibernation grizzly.

The drive out of the Rockies is as spectacular as the drive in, through Banff and Canmore as you descend to the plains leaving the towering white mountain tops behind. Mike was muttering good riddance and nice straight roads would be a lovely change;)

I’m thinking it might not be so bad either! Just turn up the temperatures a bit please! Next stop, one of my favourite parks ever! Dinosaur Provincial Park! Stay tuned-Goodbye Rockies-Helloooo Prairies!!!!

Goodbye Rockies!

Oh, Canada

Well, almost, we had one stop North of Seattle, in Bothel, at a little man-made lake for the night, fairly quiet but sardine like side by side. Groot didn’t like the hiking path behind the trailer, kept hissing, found out why the next morning when a very large coyote loped off in front of us…

This is the only RV Park we have encountered with an 8.5 mph speed limit…eight and a half…that is tough, not a wee bit under at 5, nor a speedy 10 mph but exactly 8.5 mph…..maybe just to make you smile? A Monty Python skit could be done here….;)

The speed being 8.5 miles an hour, with 10 MPH being too fast, and 5 MPH being too slow….who the hell makes these ludicrous things up?

So we only lasted a night here…couldn’t take the speed limit;) ha! and then, Oh Canada! Took the trucker route border crossing once again that follows the 15 up to the Trans Canada. Went into the RV lane, far left it said, which it seems was the Nexus lane, which perplexed the Customs and Immigration agent for a few moments, apparently she was not aware it also said RV lane;) long wait, took all of 5 minutes;) ha! Even with our non-nexus passports and paperwork. Have to love Canada:)

Did I mention the rain and clouds…and rain and clouds? yes, lot’s of rain and clouds. The cats were not amused by this predicament but I was so happy to see my father and the lovely Gloria it made no difference. We cooked a lovely Sunday dinner together (Ok, Mike and Gloria cooked, I chatted;) and went over some ancestry questions someone in New Zealand had about our family, that was their family as well. Turns out my Great grandmother was Swedish, who was married in the US where my Grandmother was born, Illinois then moved to New Zealand and her family owned a sheep station! No wonder I like lamb chops;) My Dad had a rough start to Spring with pneumonia and being hospitalized but fingers crossed he is feeling better every day! They are an inspiration for what a love and a great relationship looks like and about people who have worked closely together for over 45 years! We will be back to visit again soon!

We did have a bout or two of sun. It was wonderful to go out and mosey around. Several Northern Flickers families were squabbling about territories and azaleas were blooming. We walked over to Park Royal and Mike’s favourite German deli there, the Black Forest Delicatessen. We stocked up on German num nums, sweet and savory, before we headed East to the less than stellar selection of prairie grocery stores:) but not before another long awaitied stop at my great friend Joanne’s place near Fort Langley. Newly married we wanted to meet her wonderful husband Gene and to take a breath in the countryside. They’d just come back from an Australian honeymoon and we were delighted to spend a few nights on their farm. They run Glen Valley Stables, the best trail riding experience in BC’s lower mainland. After years of looking at her horses pictures I felt I knew them:) We tend to meet up about every 10 years or so, hopefully not so long until the next visit. We met as kids in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, but that is ANOTHER story;)

Good thing Mike can back up a trailer, their laneway was narrow and road to the farm not very wide, we had to drive in and then turn around in their ample yard while trying not to run Blue aka Levi the horse down as he strolled about and sniffed the trailer, we pruned a few tree branches but set up next to the mare corral. What a treat to have horses at home again! Groot even looked like he could be friends with Joanne’s lovely dog Pepper, but those huge four legged creatures, they were not quite sure about them! Wonderful to meet Gene and so happy to see Joanne again! It’s one of those wonderful friendships where you just take up where you left off and not much seems to change but it has! It was so nice to hear what she and Gene are doing!

But time to head East once again! Many of the Provincial Parks are not open but Monck was, no services, but free as well! Who says nothing is free? How can you turn down a beautiful spot on Nicola lake? We had forgotten just how bumpy the 20 kilometer road in was but nothing too serious bounced out of place! Sad to see the old Heritage Church had burned down on the road in from Merritt:(

When we arrived, we were the only ones there! Talk about getting your pick of spots. It was limited, only 25 sites in loop 1 were open but we squeezed into one and let out a sigh of relief…quiet…wind in the pines, cats ran around on their leashes like lunatics down to the beach and through the pines! A Groot and Gamora approved campground. I need to make up some kind of stamp! The posted speed limit: a speedy 20 km/h!!! That is a roaring 12.247 mph! What would the Lake Pleasant RV Park think?? Those speedy Canadians;) hahahahaha!

The Ospreys were still nesting in the same tree and the Pine Siskins were busy. Not many wildflowers but Spring is just starting here. The sun left us after we arrived and we returned to gray and blustery but this is such a beautiful area. The Yellow Bellied Marmots were even out down at the beach:)

I have to admit this place has a magic to it, spectacular when it is empty. A few campers arrived later in the day but everybody was so spread out and quiet it felt like you were all alone! I didn’t want to leave but with no power and the night time temperatures dropping below freezing, the old cat was complaining about not having his heated blanket, poor skinny old guy, off to somewhere with a plug in! The place we stayed last year in Salmon Arm was not yet open, more than likely under water, so our good friends Nick and Ruby checked out another place East of town. When we arrived, I groaned, outloud, gave Mike a look, it was RIGHT beside the highway..sigh…hate highway noise, but to my delight upon checking in we were given directions to a windy little road, and fancy gate, down to a creek, well behind the main permanents office, tucked well away from most of the noise…have to trust that husband sometimes;) That is why it is called “Hidden Valley” he said!

Here the Canoe Creek was running. Small bridges dotted the lower campground for tenters and we were, alone again! By now you probably get that I really really like to be alone at times;) Especially when nature is involved. The cats adored this place! Bridges to cross, chipmunks to try to catch, try being the word, many new things to sniff, snails and such! A forest wonderland.

It was wonderful again to visit with friends! It is something we miss about traveling full time, but then we do eventually get to meet up with our far spread tribe and we are adding to it as we go! Our next step-out of British Columbia and a whole different province:) The drive through BC is spectacular-waterfalls along the Trans Canada 1 and the rolling ranch hills past Monck up the trans Canada 5 and back to the 1 through Kamloops into the mountains towards Salmon Arm and the beautiful lake…but…the Rockies…well…a jaw dropping experience everytime we go…so stay tuned for…snow! Alberta here we come!

Now I know why it is so green-Pacific NorthWest Rain forest;)

Portland, Oregon

Green it is, for a reason, especially in Spring we have been told. Last June it was a miraculous blue sky, this May, well, gray skies prevailed! We’d opted out of staying in Portland, the RV park there was right in the flight path of the airport and beside a busy road. Our friends had taken us out to Sauvie Island and that is where we decided to go back to. Such a gorgeous place. The orchards were just starting to bloom and it was quiet, with the exception of the traffic on the Columbia River. Groot and Gamora nearly had heart failure as the first freighter chugged by as they played down on a small beach at Reeder Beach RV Park. That was something new. These ships really move, great to watch the bow waves and ship names as they chugged on by to be loaded with wheat and cars it seems.

I have always wanted to see the Columbia River Gorge and the famous 611′ of towering roaring Multnomah Falls. Absolutely out of this world with the Spring run off. We drove up the 84 and veered off on the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway when we could. Through the mists and rain it was a beautiful sight, not a photographers dream but very mystical at times. In 2017 a blaze spread to more than 48,000 acres. It would be known as the Eagle Creek fire, which burned for two months. The eire skyline of dead trees is a constant reminder of the stupidity of humans:( teens with firecrackers…heartbreaking.

As we went East we escaped the rain for a bit and stopped in Hood River for a bite of lunch with our great friend Ian and Dobby the dog, at the Solstice Wood Fired Pizza Bar. It was wonderful surprise right on the river. Excellent thin crust pizza. The “Siragusa Pear”, local pears, bleu cheese, caramelized onions, and mozzarella cheese and “Hot Mamma”, pepperoni, pepperoncini, peppadew peppers, marinara, and mozzarella were perfectly cooked, delicious crust, not too many toppings-perfection! The roasted brussel sprouts fabulous as well! We left for a walk around Hood River and a coffee to rouse our sleepy souls before heading back on the old highway to see the Falls, multiple falls I might add, all in the rain;)

By the time we reached Multnomah Falls it was raining hard. I hid my camera under my jacket and ventured off for the amazing view while the gentlemen stayed in the relative warmth of the truck. I was glad I did, and I’ll be back on a sunny day, one day! Absolutely stunning!

Thanks to Wikipedia: Sauvie Island, originally Wapato Island or Wappatoo Island, is the largest island along the Columbia River, at 26,000 acres and one of the largest river islands in the United States. It lies approximately ten miles northwest of downtown Portland, between the Columbia River to the east, Multnomah Channel to the west, and the Willamette River to the south. A large portion of the island is designated as the Sauvie Island Wildlife AreaSturgeon Lake, in the north central part of the island, is the most prominent water feature.

The island received the name “Sauvés Island” after Laurent Sauvé dit Laplante, a French-Canadian who managed a dairy for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1830s and 1840s. It is predominantly farmland and wildlife refuge and is a popular place for picking pumpkins, berries and apples. It even has a clothing optional beach;) There are 1,078 year-round residents, and two RV parks. We chose Reeder Beach after our visit last year and the charming older couple who owned it. They have free range chickens there and delicious eggs for sale at their little store. How can you beat that in a RV park! and those walnut trees, huge towering trees in the campground. They are spectacular!

The best thing for me about this lovely RV park, the nesting pair of Ospreys right in front of out trailer! They arrived the same day we did and went to work repairing their nest. Dragging sticks from the river as well as taking dead branches from nearby trees. What a delight to watch these beautiful birds! Yes, get ready for an onslaught of Osprey pictures;)

I did spend many hours by the bank between rain showers and gloom watching them rebuild and yes, start making new Ospreys;) I prayed for better light and sun and was rewarded with an occasional break in the clouds!

Groot was not so enthused about the rain. The river went up so much his beach disappeared and the horns on the freighters were most alarming, one day a large loose dog came bounding down his beach, friendly, NOT said Groot! Gamora was scared inside one day by a flock of very loud Sandhill Cranes circling overhead, cat bombers she must have thought, as well as a few low flying planes when the winds shifted so did the incoming plane paths.

I don’t like those freighters

It was a glorious spot for a week though! Even in the drizzle it was lovely! We had a few more outings with our wonderful friend Ian and his wife Sarah, a Brewery, a lovely Thai restaurant and the famous Freaky but true Pelculiarium!

“We are not quite sure how to explain the Peculiarium…it’s truly one-of-a-kind! “Museum” simply does not seem adequate to describe this freaky-but-fascinating collection of Sci-Fi art exhibits, historical oddities, and celebration of urban legends. We’re pretty sure that the city motto “Keep Portland Weird” was invented right after a visit to the Peculiarium! This is one attraction that is definitely not meant for children, but for those of us who love to stretch our imagination (and nightmares!) to the limits, this is as must-see place for truly unbelievable artwork, performances, and events celebrating the creepiest, most terrifying…things…in the world. The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium is not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us “weirdos,” it makes our skin crawl in the most excellent way.