A Travellerspoint blog

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Mountains to Prairie (and Meadowlarks)!

sunny 17 °C
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Elk for Breakfast!

Elk for Breakfast!

Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake

BIG SKY Alberta Prairie

BIG SKY Alberta Prairie

After some elk happened by our campsite for breakfast in a meadow overlooking Rundle Mtn., we drove east out of Banff National Park, around Calgary to visit with Sue and Rod who live on the Prairie near Milo, AB. Quite the topographical contrast; huge mountains in the morning, flat prairie later in the day. Prairie Giant!

Prairie Giant!

Love the Prairie; Alive, Awesome and so BIG! From where the Yellow Trailer is parked, the prairie stretches virtually treeless and unobstructed for almost 40 km to the horizon. Heard a Meadowlark sing for the first time today. Spotted him perched on a fence post serenading the meadows. W. O. Mitchell would have been thrilled.

A full moon is rising over the eastern horizon. Hope the Great Horned Owl makes his appearance tonight and the coyotes wear their mufflers. If there's a chorus of yips and howls, Cooper and Willow, the Pyrenees and Akbash (Big Whites), will be barking throughout their nighttime rounds.
Don't expect Foster, the indoor kitty will sleep much if they do!

A wonderful visit with friends!

Posted by YellowTrailer 07:33 Archived in Canada Comments (6)

Wild Waterton

sunny 12 °C
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After spending a few days in Cochrane (west of Calgary), with our grandson Will, Amy and Bryan, and our daughter Emily, we drove south about 2.5 hours to spend a few days in Waterton, probably our favourite National Park. We stayed one night at Lee Creek Campground in Cardston just east of Waterton. It's got to be the nicest municipal campground in Western Canada. It's a beauty. BUT . . . it rained, a lot! No drips in the Yellow Trailer though! The BBQ burgers were just a bit soggy.

The next day we awoke to more rain which quickly turned to sleet then snow. By the time we slid and slipped into Waterton, winter had returned for its Spring visit.

Waterton boasts stunning, Swiss-like mountain views, Big Weather, glacial lakes (the Upper Lake is the deepest one in the Rockies), and abundant flora and fauna (especially bears). The Park is Canada's 4th oldest and is the northern (and smaller) sibling of Glacier National Park in Montana. The views of the prairie butting up to the front ranges are magical. In years past, we have hiked and backpacked throughout this Park. Some of the best trails anywhere. Bring your Bear Spray.P1000255

P1000255

Needless to say, with all the snow, Larry couldn't resist making a Snowman, actually a Snowmoose. Warmer temps and the incessant Waterton winds quickly melted Bullwinkle and he puddled.Snow Moose

Snow Moose

The sun eventually shone and we were able to poke about the few stores in the Village open this early in the season for business, chow down a famous Waterton Pizza (it's the BEST), spot herds of Bighorn sheep, a black bear, striped chipmunks, Columbian ground squirrels, Sandhill cranes and a wily coyote. Kath bought jammies too! P1000227

P1000227

Tomorrow we head out of the Park, north through Lethbridge to Taber then to Tillebrook PP just east of Brooks, AB. Hope the meadowlarks are singing and the May Longweekenders not too rowdy!

Posted by YellowTrailer 15:15 Archived in Canada Tagged wild waterton Comments (7)

Tillebrook to Bison to Bird's Hill

semi-overcast 17 °C
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Ever use a calm, low voice to settle a yearling black bear? We happened upon a 'twice as big as a German Shepherd' bear about 5m beside a Waterton trail. He was busily munching on spring salad so didn't pay us much attention but was quite aware of our presence. Larry unholstered his bear spray just in case. We reported our experience to Park's staff who mustered some rubber bullets to aversion train him. Always a thrilling experience to bump into Yogi.

We left Waterton on a brilliant day and drove to Lethbridge, the first place we lived in as a married couple. Drove by our 'old love nest' then scooted about town to see the changes, and boy, there have been lots of changes in 40 years. Still very pretty though. Lots of elm canopied streets and blooming fruit trees. Like many smaller towns and cities, the expansion into Superstores, etc, affects businesses in the core.

Passing through Taber we headed north to Tillebrook PP, one of the BEST of Alberta's prairie parks. It's an oasis of trees hosting a chorus of songbirds. The May long weekend was a busy one but it was still nice. We could hear and see the CPR grain trains in the distance which was so appropriate given our location. Captured a couple of terrific sunset pics; like the sky was on fire. Watching clouds as they are reformed by the wind is a soothing pastime. We drove a short distance outside of the Park to visit the Brooks Aqueduct, a CPR irrigation engineering marvel from the last century.

On Monday we drove toMedicine Hat to visit the historic clay district and Medalta Pottery Works. This is where the bulk of Canada's pottery was mass produced from the turn of the last century to the mid 1960s. Of course, Medalta is most famous for its crocks but other ware was mass produced there too. A perfect storm of abundant water (South Saskatchewan River), the CPR, local sources of white clay and industrial technology allowed mass production of stoneware. Medalta is a must visit. Lovely gift store too. (Larry loves gift shops but Kathy makes the purchases).

After The HAT, we scooted east to Maple Creek then south to the Centre Block of the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan. At an altitude rivalling Banff, these expansive, unglaciated hills are interprovincial in breadth (about 130km x 50 km). Lodgepole pine and trembling aspen dominate along with moose (we walked into a cow on an evening stroll), pronghorn antelope (saw small groupings of 2 or 3), beaver, white-tailed deer and coyotes. Did we mention the big views; see literally FOREVER, like 100km. We drove to Bald Butte to watch the sun set. (Larry said he did feel at home). An brilliant memory for sure.

The Meadows campground in CH is one of many. They are all fabulously well groomed: either prairie or forest. All have electricity and the outhouses are nicer then most persons' bathrooms. Larry was going to take a pic of one but Kathy closed the door. Something about 'Privacy Regulations,' she exclaimed!

Took a couple of pics of the Yellow Trailer parked in a field of yellow dandelions. Remember Donovan's 1962 hit, 'Mellow Yellow?' How about The Beatles, 'Yellow Trailering' or Sting's 1980's tune, 'Fields of Yellow?' Obviously, 'Weed' has always been 'very inspirational.' Cypress Hills (the Sask side) is more than worth a stop!

The next day, we drove the backroads through Ravenscrag to Eastend, Sask, the childhood home of the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Wallace Stegner. Stegner's 'Wolf Willow' and 'The Big Rock Candy Mountain' are classic prairie novels. We met the current 'writer-in-residence' there; he's from Copenhagen and finds the peace of the prairie to be very inspirational. After a picnic at the Lion's baseball diamond and playing catch, we drove to
Val Marie, Sask, the home of one of New York Islanders most celebrated players, #19 Bryan Trottier. More gravel roads beckoned south and east to Grasslands National Park and bison, black tailed prairie dogs and native prairie (never been cultivated or cattle grazed). STUNNING: a powerfulexperience leading one to see, feel and hear what it was like pre-conquest. We headed out on a hike to find ancient teepee rings and maybe a prairie rattler or two. No such luck! But we did find lots of pink granite bison rubbing stones, meadow muffins and prickly pear cactus.

Because the winds were ferocious (upwards of 90km/hr) and rain was forecast, we decided to pull up stakes and drive the Red Coat Trail Hwy13 to Weyburn, Sask's River Park Campground. Another 10/10. Barb (from Newfoundland) is the campground contractor and full of stories.

The next day we drove The Mounties' Trail thru Souris to Spruce Woods' PP in Manitoba. Lots of pump jacks nodding all along the way. The Park was flooded most recently in 2014 by the Assiniboine R., something the locals deal with in some way every spring. We were virtually the only campers there so it was quiet! We'd rate it a 9/10 and a great deal; only $23.00 including Power, showers, etc.

Today we're on our way to Bird's Hill PP north and east of 'Winterpeg.' We'll be staying for the weekend visiting some friends, exploring Lower Fort Garry and the Museum of Human Rights.

We're struggling a bit posting pics on the blog page so check out our 'public gallery' for all the places mentioned above.

Posted by YellowTrailer 09:39 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

Winnipeg to White River, Ont.

semi-overcast 15 °C
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We camped in Birds' Hill PP just north of Winnipeg for the weekend. After doing laundry and hanging our undies from the line, we went to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Market at the Forks. The Museum is spectacular, both in and out. Too much to see in one visit but we managed to glimpse most of the gallery exhibits on the 7 floors. Canada's record on human rights is hardly stellar and the gallery focussing on our own past and present issues is very moving. The Market at The Forks (situated on old CPR property) is a great place to grab a bite to eat or just browse about. It was Asian Heritage Day so there were lots of people in costume, dancing, singing, etc. The Forks is very much like Granville Island in Vancouver and what Eau Claire Market in Calgary should be like.

We really liked downtown Winnipeg: cool, old buildings. Kath bought a Jets cap. She likes gritty teams!

The next day we escaped some rain in Polo Park shops then spent a delicious evening at the home of our friends, Don and Lorraine, who we first met while camping at Waterfowl Lakes a few years ago. After our bbq we drove a short distance to St. Boniface Cathedral to see Riel's grave.

After packing up at Bird's Hill we drove the River Road north to Lower Fort Garry, an HBC transhipment fort with many of its original buildings on their original sites. The Fort dates from the 1820s. The Smithy made Kathy a nail which she threatens to stab Larry with if he's nasty.

Kenora was our next pit stop for groceries then on to Blue Lake PP. The granite of the Canadian Shield is pink so the TC Hwy is pinkish too. Spring has just sprung in NW Ontario and the birch leaves are just popping. Hard for us Victorians to get our minds around such a late season. It snowed big time here just a week ago and temps are still cool. IMG_1915.jpg

Today we're in Winnie the Pooh country, White River, Ont headed to Pancake Bay PP north of The Sault! Hope the birch syrup is ready!

Posted by YellowTrailer 10:07 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

The SOO to Sudbury to Shania!

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Couldn't find Tigger in White River, Ont. but spotted Winnie in the playground snacking on his honey pot. Also saw the exact place where Winnie boarded the troop train at the White River Station to Halifax with WW1 Canadian veterinarian Harry Colborne, eventually reaching the London Zoo just in time to meet A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin who, as every child should know, made 'Pooh' famous. Actually, Christopher named the bear Pooh after his pet swan. P1010227.jpg

Skirting down #17, we dropped into Wawa to get GOOSED by the BIG ONE perched on the outskirts of town beckoning tourists to scoot off the highway and spend $ in Tom's Bait and Tackle store. No really! P1010244.jpg

The TC south from Wawa to The Soo, is one of the best, most scenic drives in the country. Awesome views of Superior, the highlands, birch, pre-cambrian shield, white pine and groves of sugar maple. In fact, this is as far north as these syrupy trees grow. Can't wait to see these forests 'ablaze' in the fall! P1010296.jpg

Camped at Pancake Bay PP and again, we're finding Ontario's PP too expensive and not well kept! Think the Ont. Parks' folks need to travel west to any of the 4 western Provinces to see how affordable parks can be and well-managed! Larry says he's writing a letter to Premier Katy Wynne. Probably asking for a refund!

Visited the historic Sault locks on the St. Mary River just beside the Long Sault (rapids). Discovered that the technology used here was replicated by early engineers of the Panama Canal. (and the Sault locks still work) lifting or lowering ships 20 plus ft. into Lakes Superior or Huron.
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After disposing of black fly, dragonfly and mosquito juice from the car and trailer (fortunately, there are lots of wand washes in The Soo), we drove east to explore ''old turf' in Sudbury. Saw INCO's superstack which used to blow acid to points east and denude forests as far as Cape Breton. Think it's got a scrubber now but in the early 70s, we 'fondly' remember being warned about pollution levels 'off the scales.' Larry still blames his hair loss on that superstack and/or on his old Sudbury Wolves SPABS helmet. Sudbury seems to be chugging along, nickel still being the King! Larry practised some of his 'Nordern Un-dare-ee-oh' French at a gas station in Val Caron; but not very successfully.INCO's Superstack

INCO's Superstack

The 299km drive up Hwy144 to visit Barb and Tim in Shania Twain's (aka Eilleen Regina Edwards) hometown of Timmins (pop 45,000; 48% French), was stunning. Great pavement, sweeping curves, few frost heaves and no traffic; a biker scoot for sure! We arrived at the Ankerite to be welcomed by our family, cold beer and DEET! Their former mine manger's house is situated on an old, gold mining property. Tim says the old house is haunted but we think it's Charlotte-the-Cat that 'upsets the apple cart' most of the time. Barb and Tim have beautifully renovated their home (in and out), and Tim has built a rustic, one room, 'man-cave' cabin on his back 40. Cozy at -40C too; must be the wood stove full of birch. The property is full of white and red pine, black spruce, poplar and birch.

P1010325.jpgWe visited the MacIntyre Arena in Schumacher to search out pics of some former NHL favs. Saw the BIG M's banner hanging from the rafters and pics of other greats from the past. Mr. Mahovolich, Frank and Pete's Dad, used to sharpen Larry's skates (in the really old days). Timmins is a hockey factory; sub-zero temps and a thousand lakes might have something to do with it. Imagine the cries from kids thawing frozen toes by the heater vents in their tar papered, Hollinger houses. If you've ever experienced frozen toes (or ears) after a spin on natural ice that is so cold it cracks when skate blades cross it, you'll know how painful that is. Shared a clubhouse, chips and gravy at the rink's cafeteria then scooted out back to see the McIntyre head frame. P1010328.jpgThese once dominated the Timmins landscape. Nowadays, $2000/ounce pays for massive open pit mines so big (and profitable) that even Shania's Museum was crushed by the slag berm. Maybe Ms Twain should have recorded, "Any Mine of Mine" or "Whose Bed Have Your Workboots Been Under"; sure hits in THE PORCUPINE mining communities!

Posted by YellowTrailer 10:45 Archived in Canada Comments (4)

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