Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Sask, Alberta, B.C., and back to Saskatchewan

When we last made an appearance here, we were in the Cypress Hills area, Saskatchewan side.  A couple of photos missed the last post.  Though I never had the chance to ask anyone definitively what the nasty sign post spikes are for, I assume that they are meant to deter porcupines from climbing the sign posts and devouring the plywood signs – which for some reason they seem to find tasty?  Photos from the Alberta side.


The weather there had not been overly cooperative, so it was time to move on in search of better.  After a thorough examination of all available maps, Google Earth and Facebook posts, we headed back to the west.  Eventually, we landed on the street in Pincher Creek in front of Anders & Diannes.  Like the good hosts they are, they fed and watered me, and took me on a great hike the next day in the mountains to the west.


- Click on the photo below to see the video.


After that we headed further west to Kimberley BC, where we helped out a few friends fix up a house for a couple days, and took some photos of St Mary’s River B&B for friends who own it.

DJI_0057They also have a couple nesting poles set up on the property for geese or osprey to use.


After that, as we slowly moved a bit closer to home, we had to do a stop at Lussier Hot Springs, in Whiteswan Provincial Park.

vlcsnap-2018-06-21-09h19m35s274A couple of flights were required to get the lay of the land, and water.vlcsnap-2018-06-21-09h18m52s662IMG_0385IMG_9978

On the way home, my brand new Rogers iPhone X died, leading to a big-time run-around. I stopped first at Roger’s in Canmore where they more or less assured me (yup, it’s broke all right, we’ll sell you a new one!).  After an overnight at home, I headed to the Roger’s store in Red Deer where I bought the dang thing, one billing cycle ago.  I thought they would be happy to hand me a new one, but they just passed the buck, and told me I had to take it to an Apple repair place.  The first Apple repair place was busy and said that I could leave the phone with them and they could have a look at it in a few days! Not!  So I went off to the Apple store in Calgary.  While I was waiting for my appointment time, I wandered in to another Rogers location.  This one handily re-set the phone and got it working again without losing any data or info!  No idea why the other two stores were so useless.  On the bright side, as a result of all my vociferous protestations and temper tantrums, I ended up with almost $200 of credits on my bill!  My cell bill this month is –$76.00!

After that I was home for a record 9 days, and actually cut my grass – twice!  I did get an offer to occupy another fire tower in the far north-west corner of the province, but the duration was too long, so I had to turn it down. 

Then it was back on the road again, first to Rocky Mountain House to attend the funeral of a fellow I used to work with in Jasper.  At least it was a good reunion with a lot of old guys and gals that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  It was sad to see that everyone had aged except me!

I was tempted to stay at a Provincial rec area north of town right on the lakeshore, but the entire place was reservation only – save a couple of overflow sites, and they wanted $31. (plus reservation fee, no doubt) for no services.  Found a great random camping spot across the road, but when it quieted down, I could hear some sort of construction equipment running.  Much to my chagrin, it was still operating at midnight!  That’s when I realized it was actually a drill rig off in the bush nearby, that would be going 24/7!  Out came the earplugs for the rest of the night!

We ended up going through the Drumheller area again for the second time in a month, but it is a rather scenic spot to spend a night or two. While there, we did a quick fly-past of a Bald Eagle condo, with two healthy looking youngsters.


Lets see, from there we headed across into Saskatchewan’s Great Sandhills, but didn’t find many good camping opportunities.  We found ourselves near Cabri, so headed out to the Regional Park of the same name where Kevin & Ruth have spent many of their recent summers.  Ironically, at about the same time last year they were in the park and I was in the Yukon and Alaska.  This year they are in the north, and I was visiting their previous summer home.

Right now, I see they are on the Arctic ocean at Tuktoyaktuk!


We found some rare bits of brand new Saskatchewan pavement near Sask Landing Provincial Park.


On the way south for my first visit to Grasslands National Park, I spotted what I first thought was a raven or crow perched weirdly on a power pole.  But on closer examination, I found out that it was actually a cat stuck up on the pole.  I have no idea how long it had already been there, but I hope my persistent calls to Sask Power, as well as posts on Facebook, Instagram, the local SPCA was enough to secure it’s rescue?  The nearest farm was over a mile away, but even they didn’t recognize the feline.


In Grasslands park, I seem to have missed any photos of the bison, but got some shots of a Common Nighthawk resting on a fence, and a snake near some old buildings.IMG_4695IMG_4699IMG_4700IMG_4702I’m not sure what kind of snake it was, but I didn’t see or hear any rattles!


Black-tailed Prairie Dogs had various colonies scattered about the park.


Grasslands Park is in at least two distinct sections, so once I ‘finished’ the West block, it was time to drive a couple hours further east to the – East block!

Almost immediately, I caught a glimpse of the elusive prairie panther on a hunt!


Next, I wanted to check out how Trump’s northern wall compared to the one on the south.  I quickly determined that the 5 strands of barbed wire was too great an obstacle, as no one was even attempting to cross Winking smile.


Trump says Canadians are smuggling shoes back from the US to avoid high tariffs.  He must be right as it appears people are leaving their boots on the fence for a decade or two so that they don’t appear new!


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rivers. Badlands, old Mines.

I was home a total of 4 days before the urge to travel hit us again.  It was just enough time to do laundry, cut the grass, and stock up on supplies.  This time, we had a general goal in mind – the Cypress Hills on the Saskatchewan/Alberta boundary, not far north of the US border.  But there were some sights to be seen along the way.  First, we headed almost due east to the badlands area near Drumheller.  Conveniently, one of the roads running alongside the Red Deer river was closed to through traffic because of a mud slide.  The lack of traffic meant that our first camp right beside the river and the road was a lot quieter than it normally would have been.


As with most places I go, I like to test the data speeds of the local cell service.  I was pleased and surprised to get a download speed of 149 Mbps, roughly double my previous record speed.  And that was down in the valley bottom by the river too!DJI_0009

In the morning, a large group of Cadets showed up to start on a guided paddle down the river in canoes and kayaks.  Before long, they were off down the river and calm returned to the river bank.


After picking up a few things in the town of Drumheller, we set out upstream on the other side of the river, checking out some of the old coal mining interpretive trails in the provincial park.

At Horsethief Canyon viewpoint, conditions were good to get some scenic aerial video and photos.


After that, we took the extremely short ferry ride across the Red Deer river, and headed back downstream.


IMG_0299IMG_0300IMG_0304At the Orkney viewpoint, I could see where some trash had been thrown over the edge, laying hundreds of feet below.  The UAV was sent down for a look, and found a computer monitor and a scooter that I could offer you a good deal on!


IMG_0325After a quick visit in town for a dump, fill, and re-provision, we headed off further downstream to the Hoodoos.


Further on, near East Coulee, was the old Atlas Coal Mining complex, and a historic wood trestle railroad bridge.  The bridge is long closed and condemned, but it is still an impressive structure and feat of engineering from around the turn of the century.

While there I saw an interesting bit of natural life and death.  Some sort of very small Kestrel or Sparrow Hawk was hunting swallows around the bridge.  It would fly up about 30-40 feet, then dive down at the swallow, who would change course at the last instant.  This went on 10 or 15 times after the same swallow, who did not seem to be concerned.  I guess he thought the little hawk was just a lousy driver! Eventually, a second hawk joined the hunt by flying close by.  After a few more tries, perhaps distracted by the second hunter, the little hawk was successful and there was one less swallow.


Some of the mine buildings are fairly well preserved and there are daily tours available in the summer.


While driving down the country roads of Alberta, windows down, tires crunching on the gravel road, it always amazes me that the sound of a Meadowlark cuts through all that and you would swear it was in the vehicle with you.


We eventually found ourselves down in the Cypress Hills area.


Trying to determine if this store is open, or closed?


I guess we’ll put this on the sign twice, in case someone misses it the first time?  IMG_0341Sneaking into Saskatchewan the back way!


A very scenic camp spot, till the fog rolled in!IMG_0346

Quite a few antelope in that area of the country …


It’s been a long time getting this blog post finally online.  Could have had it done a couple weeks ago, but all the photos I had taken from video had disappeared!  So I had to do that all over again, and well, there’s fun to be had that doesn’t necessarily involve sitting at a computer!  That’s it for this time.