Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Wandering around Saskatchewan


After visiting both the East and West Block of Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan, we dug out the old backroads atlas and jogged out way across the southern part of the province, enduring a lot of bad roads.  Some were worse Winking smile.IMG_0471

Sometimes, the paved roads are worse than the gravel ones, with patches on the patches!

I don’t mind a good gravel road (and there are lots), but if there is washboard, or the traffic heavy enough that dust and rocks launched towards your windshield becomes a problem, then they are not so much fun.

IMG_0473IMG_0474We headed down to the Big Muddy valley where I had done some wildlife work a few decades ago.  The scenery still looks the same, but the cell service is better now!


From there, it was off to Estevan, and north past Moose Mountain Provincial Park, stopping in to visit a college classmate along the way.  He is working on the restoration of a beautiful, historic stone house with ties to his family.


Morning visitors showed up to check us out at a random waterfront overnight camp spot

IMG_0480IMG_0481Photos out the window.


Speaking of the Saskatchewan back road atlas …

I must have been paying attention when I spotted the cover photo of the atlas as I was driving along!IMG_0494

After that there was some more aimless wandering back to the west, then south west through Ft. Quapelle, and the corner of Regina.  This put us in range of the town of ‘Dog River’, the fictional location where many seasons of ‘Corner Gas’ were filmed.  I knew that most or all of the set was gone, but most of the downtown locations are still there.  Billboards at the original location have photos of the gas station and the ‘Foo Mart’.  The elevator still bears the Dog River name.

IMG_0505IMG_E0502IMG_0504IMG_0506The hotel and bar;  the ‘Howler’ office …

IMG_0497IMG_0498And of course, the home of Dog River PD.  It’s for sale, if you are interested.

IMG_0500Next, we joined up with Ernie & Deb and their dog Moki in the town of Elbow, on Diefenbaker Lake.  While they camped with some friends at an RV park in town, Hailey and I preferred our own private spot on a hill overlooking the lake.


This update has been sitting on the back burner for a coon’s age now, waiting for some updates before publishing, but the time has come to send it out whether it is ready or not!  Here goes!

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!