Bergen Rocks and soooo Much More!

Yesterday saw us traveling north on Highway 2 to do a bit of an exploration of Olds, Alberta.  Both Pat and I had heard a CBC radio interview about the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway and both wanted to see it.  Cayley just came along for the ride.  What a beautiful day!!

It seemed that we sailed there…when sister-friends are together, conversation seems to carry them and quickly!  A short jaunt on a sunny summer day, Calgarians can be in Olds in an hour tops.

There was a lovely walkway, edged with beautiful landscaping.  All three of us agreed that at some point the city will have to relax the parking restrictions on at least one side of the blvd that edges the park.   Pat parked her car, with permission, in front of a very welcoming real estate office on the 27. We enjoyed our casual engagement with the sculpture, as well as sharing a personal critique of the sculptures.  Read about the beginnings of this vision here.

From the sculpture garden, we began our exploration of Olds, first looking at the residential areas and then locating the amenities, including churches, sporting facilities and other venues of interest.  We started off at Centennial Park.

Noteworthy, I thought, was the Horseshoe Pitch.

The Centennial Park offered a splash park (presently closed), a series of historical plaques informing us of the relevance of various buildings, early settlers and businesses.

I was very enthusiastic about the building facades…

A particularly interesting venue was Pandora’s Boox, providing for opportunities to game, read and drink nice teas and coffee.  Housed in a 1910 Bank building, this space had great charm and seemed to be a bit of a hub.

 

I also absolutely loved this little shop…a real community self care spot.  I was grateful for the tour offered up by the proprietor.  Awesome, Olds Town Square.

By the time we located and explored the large number of churches and saw the various parts of the town, it was time to eat and we decided to try out the Mad Greeks.

Nummers!  Good choice!  Cayley and I enjoyed a regular meat Donair, combined with a Greek Salad at 11.00.  Pat enjoyed a massive Caesar Salad with a side of Garlic Toast, followed by a very light cheese cake.  Fresh food produced by a lovely couple.

From lunch, well, we met up with City TV, of course!  Ranked last by Macleans???  Mountain View County???  Are you kidding???

Small town Albertans react to list saying they live in Canada’s worst community

This little interview was followed by a bit more of a shop wander and then off we were to discover Olds College and their Botonical gardens.  Amazing stuff, people!

This is a destination that every Albertan would enjoy!  I felt like yesterday was a really relaxing day and that I had the opportunity to see new things.  We followed our walk at Olds College with an icy cold lemonade from Tim Horton’s and east and south we headed.  Thank you, Pat!  Another great adventure!

 

Lost Creek

I haven’t been writing my daily post, because the story of Lost Creek just wouldn’t be the same without Ramona’s contribution and this morning, I received it in the form of an electronic mail.

Read this, will you?  Delightful!  Ramona is just one of those women who has created an amazing life.  I love her so much! (your stick is in the mail, Ramona!)

In 1975 a fellow named Tom G. came to The University of Montana, looking for candidates to apply for summer jobs with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. I was interested in working on a maintenance crew north of Missoula, near Kalispell. It looked promising…until he called me in to chat. He told me the 5-man crew had threatened to quit if a woman was hired to be part of the team. He said they wanted to be able to spit, fart and tell crude jokes and I wouldn’t fit in. Well…I said to Tom ” if that’s what is required I can do all those things too, and probably could share stories that would make them blush.”

He offered me another position, working mostly by myself. I would take care of Lost Creek State Park, near Anaconda and several fishing access sites on The Big Hole River-east of Wisdom.

I was issued a State pickup and found an old 1-room miner’s shack to rent near Lost Creek. A retired fellow named Sid C., from Anaconda, came with me to clean Fish Trap and Sportsman’s Bridge on the river twice a week. The summer went by quickly. Sid showed me where he picked puffball mushrooms near The Big Hole and I ate some-without getting ill.

One day, when I drove to Fish Trap alone, I saw a weird-looking 4-legged beastie in the road near a creek. It had a large head, some spots and long, long legs. Just then Mama came out of the Alder bushes. It was a new-born moose, probably with afterbirth sac pieces still on its back.

Another time I’d gone for a walk behind my shack-sweet-shack, checking out the old kilns and a mine opening. I continued up the crest of a rocky hill and about pooped my pants. A sentry male Mountain sheep and I locked eyes as he jumped up and quickly sprung away, alerting the other 3 with a huffing vocalization. I’d been downwind and coming around a rocky outcrop. After I caught my breath and slowed my racing heart I laughed.

There were both Mountain goats and sheep back then. The ewes stayed on the south canyon and bucks on the north; meeting of course during mating season. The Mountain goats were easier to find after a rain; when the rocks were shiny with water and they weren’t. I’m sorry to share that neither is found in Lost Creek Canyon now, as they all died of a lung disease. There are hopes some may be reintroduced from The Bitterroot Mountain herds.

I remember climbing all over the canyon rocks and up the talus slopes, somewhat fearlessly. I even crossed the creek near the falls by scooting my heinie along a log. On the other side I found a trapper’s or miner’s little shack- about 8 x 6 feet, made of log and hand-hewn split window and door openings. There was an old table and bed-both mounted to the wall. The roof was disintegrating and the whole shebang is no-doubt melted back into the earth by now.

This summer, when I visited with Kath, I could see evidence of a wildfire. My favorite campsite was more open. But the large car-sized boulders still held their ground, birds still sang and wildflowers flourished-maybe more so with fewer tall trees.

An afterlog…I worked with Fish Wildlife and Parks for 2 school years with the work-study program for 15 hours a week and for one more summer-doing visitor surveys along The Blackfoot River and for Salmon and Placid Lakes proposed campground improvements. In 1978 I took a job with The USDA Forest Service on The Clearwater National Forest in Orofino, Idaho; and that began a 33 year career. In May of 1979 I joined The Peace Corps and went to Chile; another story all-together. Mona 7-2018.

Isn’t that remarkable?  And, to think I was able to revisit this amazing and beautiful place and picnic with my buddy at the Lost Creek site.  Again, photos hardly do it justice.  I am profoundly grateful for the chance to do this journey with my dear friend.

We saw these two lovelies as we pulled out of the area…time to head for Butte!  Another awesome adventure!

 

 

Scenic Driving Again and Again

Morning saw us eating a hearty breakfast, chatting it up with some of the folk at the Elkhorn Hot Springs and sitting for buddy photos on the porch swing before heading it out for Wise River and the return of our sifting screen (is that what they call it?), so that it could be sent on up to Wisdom and returned to Big Hole.

Scenic Drives Montana

Ramona and Kath Elkhorn

Sunshine’s Photo. Included here, a local resident’s beagle.

We drove separately, into Anaconda…stopping at the beautiful places along the way. The first stop was overlooking the Grasshopper Valley and enjoying the wild growth of purple Lupins.

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Yes! Of course we did this! Two ladies who get tremendously excited by natural beauty! We had to celebrate it! We snapped photographs of one another. For those of you who don’t know…Ramona and I shared life at CMRussell High School in Great Falls, Montana 1971-1973. THEN!

Ramona

NOW!!

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Stopped, hoping to get better colour shots of the Camas in morning light.

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Real evidence of glacial work on the landscape. Very cool. Mt. Haggin Scenic Drive.

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At least 300 head of cattle were being wrangled up the highway…Ramona is in the car ahead of me, snapping away. A bull tried, unsuccessfully, to mount a cow directly in front of my car…I rolled up the window, at her refusal and then he slid his horns along the drivers side window and my car, in some sort of snorting frustration. This was an experience! Wonderful to see the worn and muddied border collie in the rear, with the cowboys. They tipped their hats and I felt that I had enjoyed a truly western experience. lol

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Just as we started back on our way…these two entered the frame.

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Mount Haggin area.

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Anaconda…the stack…we pulled into a grocery store parking lot and jumped into one vehicle. Off we headed for Lost Creek.

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The Boy and Me: Nature-ing

*ALERT:  This post ended up much longer than I anticipated…but, beautiful places, so make sure that you scroll down to the photographs!

This summer, I stayed around town.  There are still so many places I haven’t been…and, there are also beautiful places that I want to return to again and again.  I know that there are a lot of people who put up their noses about Calgary.  But, for me, Calgary is home and the access we have to genuinely wonderful experiences is right at our fingertips, should we wish to partake.  Because of the circumstances of early summer, I had opportunity to do a little bit of exploring with my son.  Before they disappear into the dark hole that is my desktop photo archive, I’m going to bring these snippets up to the surface.  And then, I’m heading out to the pond with Max.

McKinnon Flats.

“Archaeologists of Lifeways of Canada Limited have been contracted by Alberta Culture and Tourism to find out about early settlement at McKinnon Flats.  They’re part of Culture and Tourism’s three-year Post-Flood Investigation Program, which was initiated to record the effects of the June 2013 southern Alberta flood on archaeological and palaeontological sites along rivers such as the Bow, Highwood, Sheep and Kananaskis.  As a result of the program, 100 new archaeological sites were identified and additional information was gathered at 87 sites that had been recorded prior to the flood.  Many of these sites were found eroding from the riverbanks, with some in need of investigation before they disappeared entirely.

The McKinnon Flats site is one of these locations. Although it had been previously recorded in 1971, no-one realized that it contained deeply buried cultural deposits.  As a result of the 2013 flood, however, a ten metre strip from the front of the site’s river terrace was removed, leaving a 400 metre exposure in the river bank that contained cultural evidence. This evidence included broken bison bone, large stone choppers and rock that had been heated and cracked in a fire. Among the eroding finds were the remains of a boiling pit that had probably been used to cook meat and process bone marrow in a skin-lined pit dug in the ground.  Evidence of the pit was found in the form of almost 100 heated “fire-broken” rocks that were eroding from one of the riverbank exposures. Between the time the pit was observed in 2014 and the site was excavated in 2016, however, all evidence has been completely eroded.”

It was at this location that my son and I did a beautiful-weather-day hike and shared in a Spoloumbo’s picnic sandwich on the river bank.  A spectacular day!

Frank Lake

Frank Lake is located in the foothills fescue prairie ecoregion. The lake is a hemi-marsh, which means it roughly has the same area of open water as there is emergent vegetation. Vegetation includes mostly hardstem bulrushsago pondweedRichardson’s pondweed, and northern waterfmilfoil. The lake and its surrounding upland areas attracts many species of birds. Waterfowl and shorebirds and other birds use the lake for staging during migration, and nesting. Some birds that can be seen here include: tundra swantrumpeter swanCanada goosenorthern pintailFranklin’s gullring-billed gullCalifornia gullcommon ternshort-eared owleared grebemarbled godwitlong-billed dowitcherblack-crowned night-heron, and black-necked stiltBirdwatching is a popular activity.

The drive to Frank Lake was very relaxing, as was the walk on well-worn pathways.  Along the way, we only met two other people, so it really did give me the sense of getting away from the city and relaxing into nature.  Highly recommend!  Not to be confused with my daily pond walking at Frank’s Flats.

Nose Hill Park

I really want to get out to hike all of the pathways from all directions to the top of Nose Hill Park.  It is such a spiritually charged place!  It’s always been on my bucket list, but, living in the deep south of the city, I had to drive there, with intention and finally it happened!

The Leighton Center...I always take friends and family here.  Most of all, because of the huge dramatic view.  I feel the best of everything that is foothills living, when I visit the Leighton Center.  On this visit, I enjoyed the appearance of several Mountain Blue Birds.  I felt really excited about that.  The smoke from the growing forest fires to the west began to cloak the mountains in the distance.

Ptarmigan Cirque

Pretty much an annual hike…breathtaking for its pretty immediate views…a place to take visitors to Calgary because of the expedient pleasure in the mountains, with very little exertion.

Custom Woolen Mills

On this particular day, I had convinced my young adult children to drive out to the Dancing Goats farm, just a short distance from the Woolen Mills.  I thought that we would be able to visit the goat farm, but, was mistaken.  In fact, the owners were in the city dropping off product to a number of retail locations.  I spoke with one of them on the telephone, from the small town of Acme.

Instead, we ended up taking country roads to go to the Custom Woolen Mills.  I was happy that Ruthie was in the gift shop, so I got a wee visit with her and had a chance to take my daughter and son into the mill.  I feel so connected to the place.  I love it more and more every time I make the drive.

I also met the Artist in Residency…an amazing artist and knitter…I’ll just have to go back into my writing and figure out her name.

 

It appears that I had some amazing experiences this past summer, most of them shared with Cayley and James.  I realize that in this process of “Falling Out of Order”, there was an awful lot going on.  But, for this lovely Thanksgiving afternoon, and with a pond walk and a large plate of turkey leftovers under my belt, I realize that it is time that I settle down to mark some narrative writings by grade four and five students.

Whenever I go through the process of archiving the experiences I enjoy in surrounding areas of Calgary, I realize how blessed I am. Yes.  It’s possible to travel the world over.  But, sometime it’s a blessing to realize what treasures lie very close to you, treasures to be uncovered.  Today, I feel grateful.

Day 4 Thunder Bay to Iron Bridge

This is the drive on the northern Superior that I love the very most and brings up the most memories.  I recommend it for every one who wants to discover some of the ‘possibilities’ that Canada holds.  It was a brilliant blue day and a perfect one for enjoying the views.

At some point, in the middle of nowhere, one of the less-concerning warning lights came up on my dash as related to my key battery…this on a long weekend when absolutely nothing was going to be open and where for miles on end, I would be in secluded and wild country.  As a result (not, at this point, thinking about my option of the manual key stuck in the fob and hoping that the battery had no connection to the ignition at all…my Dodge manual was zero help in any of this), I didn’t stop at Rainbow Falls or Rossport…two of my favourite places, but I said, “To hell with it” and hung out at Neys after paying my entrance and Old Woman Bay.

Magic…this stretch of road is simply magic!  Drive it! The image below is posted from Google Maps…  Keep in mind that because there was not a single accommodation available in Sault Ste. Marie, I forged onward just past Elliott Lake and ended my day at Iron Bridge, a heavenly spot for sure!

T Bay to SooAfter picking up our continental breakfast…a banana…a boiled egg…a muffin and a travel mug full of coffee, Max and I were on our way.  I decided not to stop at the Terry Fox memorial this time (it was going to be a long day for driving), as has always been my tradition, but I found myself crying when I arrived at the marker on the highway that pointed out the spot where Terry’s run actually came to a halt.  Very powerful to think about that and so I drove for a while, just thinking about people in my life who have suffered cancer…are presently suffering cancer…and who have both lost and fought courageously, their battles with cancer.  Prayers were made.

This is the type of morning it was, looking out onto Lake Superior.

IMG_20160730_094619 IMG_0169 IMG_0167Speaking with bikers in Marathon on a former drive, I was told that this day’s bike ride was a more physical ride than going through the Rockies…lots of up and down and certainly the most amazing views, although I didn’t stop at a number of these scenic stops this time.  I like this blog post published by a motorcycle group.

I pulled in at Schreiber to see if there was a garage open for someone to check out the Journey, but it turns out that Terrace Bay was hosting a huge DragFest competition this long weekend and there was nothing but a pump available in town.  On I moved to Terrace Bay where the local mechanic was shifting around, getting things ready to go to the DragFest site.  What a lovely guy!  Chat with him sometime at Wayne’s Esso!  He gave me some time and some confidence that the warning light that was coming up was benign, not related to anything else and that I was safe to go.

This was a relief and so Max and I, on holiday Sunday, got out and wandered for a bit at Neys Provincial Park.  When my son was just a wee boy, I took him on a hike to a spot where I wanted to paint at Prisoner’s Cove.  While I painted a little board, he played around in the brush, on the rock, in the old wrecked boats and in the shallow pools of water.  Right in front of me, however, he dropped into Superior, holding onto a solid branch as he went.  The panel and palette got tossed to the side and I dragged him up out of the cold water.  We immediately headed back to the camp site.  Lake Superior is cold!!  I have saved the small panel painted at this location.

On the beaches of pink sand, one can regularly see the trains journeying the edges of the steep banks to the west…the Barclay Islands in plain view on clear days, out on the water.  This was a favourite location for Canada’s Group of Seven painters to work…in fact, this entire region of Algoma provided subjects for many landscape paintings, both well known and lesser known.  It was a great stop.

IMG_20160730_115850 IMG_20160730_115949 IMG_20160730_122615IMG_0172 IMG_0173 IMG_0182 IMG_0185Memories of the kids spending hours building driftwood huts and designs on this beach, come to the surface.  Happy memories of painting and exploring!

Good passing lanes through this highway, huge granite walls in earthy reds jutting up hundreds of feet as the driver crests each large hill to have a wall of blue water and sky open up to them.  A beautiful drive.

Another place I always stop on this route is Old Woman’s Bay…while Max and I have never seen this well populated, the heat had brought out a slew of swimmers, much to Max’s dismay.  He didn’t get to play stick in the water and wow, was it ever obvious that he remembered!  On leash, I let him, at the very least, get into the water enough to enjoy a big cool down and to drag some sand into the car.

IMG_0194 IMG_0195 IMG_0196 IMG_0193 I was a bit worried upon my arrival in Sault Ste. Marie that I didn’t have the energy to keep on to Sudbury, but after a search and many attempts to find a spot to sleep for the night, we had no choice but to try to make it another three hours on the road.  I cranked up the tunes and headed out onto the highway.  The land had flattened out now, contoured with rolling hills and treed areas.  I was happy to see a juvenile heron standing, alert, in a well-lit ditch and this made me feel as though everything was going to turn out and I cranked up the tunes.  Neil Young, Tracey Chapman, the Stones…I was pumped.

A short distance beyond the Elliott Lake turn off, I saw a few billboards that advertised lodging in smaller towns on the way to Sudbury.  Some miles on and I saw the Red Top from the highway.  The car ahead of me pulled in, and I followed, not far behind.  When I stepped into the registration office, the gentleman who spoke to me was also taking food out to customers in the restaurant adjoining.  OH!  The food looked so good.  When I asked about lodging for the night, he told me that he was down to his last two rooms and neither of them had television.  I explained that I was hungry and tired and I certainly didn’t need a television!  He gave me paper work and off he went to the diners.  A woman was busy slicing through a thick, beautifully frosted home made cake.

I looked at the art on the walls in the greeting area…looked carefully…really couldn’t believe it, but thought I was looking at six original pieces by Norval Morriseau.  When the gentleman returned to the counter I asked him if those were originals and he smiled, saying that he was a collector.  I was aghast.

He asked if I wanted dinner as the dining room was closed, but he could prepare me a meal for take out.  The room was 60.00, so I believed it would be a great evening for stuffed pork chop, potato pancakes, hot pickles and veg.  The tray was prepared with cloth napkin, real silverware and the works.  Once, I returned to the lovely room, I got Max out for a real run in their huge yard and then picked up my meal.  The wine was poured and the celebration began!

I thanked God for the Red Top and highly recommend it to anyone who has driven from 7 in the morning until 8…such a comfort.

IMG_20160730_203204 IMG_20160730_220700 IMG_20160730_220835The next day…home…so excited and so happy!

Take Out!

Getting out of the house is heaven…even if it is during a wind/rain storm!

Sensory overload occurs when you enter into the world, having spent many weeks in the same space in a state of frustration some days and in a state of acceptance during others.  The experience makes me think about our Calgarians who have no family members in town and who are hospitalized or unable to get out of their apartments.  It makes me think about the isolation that illness, addiction, poverty and age can cause.  It’s important that we learn who these people are and ‘take them out’.

This is one of the compelling reasons I continue to be upset about the closure of the Golden Age Club in the East Village.  While the folks in the core are resilient and will find their way through all of this, thanks to the leadership and guidance and connection of such people as Wendy Lees, the decision DID create an obstacle and I’m thinking that we can choose to be open doors through which others can pass or we can be walls that have to be climbed.

Yesterday, Val opened a door for me.  We headed out to Chestermere to visit friend, Wendy and to deliver Take-Out.  The weather created a bit of an adventure, as did our search for Thai food on International Ave.  In the end, we chose a random Vietnamese restaurant, made a selection of food and then headed east to Chestermere.

Conversation with two of my sister-friends, while the wind howled outside, was very comforting and after all, I fell into a state of sleepiness.  Sensory overload. When i got home, I curled up into a deep sleep.

Kath's Canon Tea Parties and Books 006

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Thank you, Val, Wendy and Darren for a beautiful lunch.