Monday, August 30, 2010

The Aliens have landed

I have absolutely no idea what this is, but it landed on our windscreen the other day and made me laugh. Hello Mr Bug. Now that is some big insect.

It looks like a photoshopped alien, but nope, it's real alright!

And he managed to actually stay on the glass for quite some time, despite our increasing speed - good wind resistance obviously!

And I presume this is a garter snake, minding his own business and sunning himself along our dog-walking route. Luckily, the dogs were off chasing a tennis ball and did not see him.

But look how small he is - tiny wee thing. Good job we saw him in time or that shoe could have done some damage!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Moraine Lake - Alberta

It's surely time for one more lake/boat/mountain post - then I promise not to bore you with such beauty again for a while. Maybe.

This was MyWorld Tuesday two weeks ago.

Most visitors to this part of the world have heard of, and therefore visit, Lake Louise. I find it a complete disappointment during the summer months, mostly because there is no glistening snow, and also it is smothered in tourists. Seriously smothered, you cannot move up there. And the famous hotel is dead ugly too, in my humble opinion.

So if you are ever in this part of the world, ignore Lake Louise and take the time to drive 15 minutes further up the road to Moraine Lake. It can also be a bit of a tourist trap, and parking in July and August can be challenging - but the colour of the lake alone makes it worth the trip.

Then join lots of other tourists and hire a canoe. It's only a small lake but it's a pleasant way to kill a sunny hour or two. (You can also choose one of several walking trails if you wish).

Take the dogs into the canoe with you. They'll love it - kind of - after getting over their suspicion that the floor keeps rolling around.

Honey agrees the water is beautiful.

So much so, in fact, that she had to launch herself into the water to check it out. Yep, it's cold.

And lifting a soggy, heavy, wriggling dog back into a canoe, while trying not to tip yourself or your fellow travellers into the lake is actually not easy, let me tell you (and then she refused to sit down in the massive puddle that she had created, thereby walking up and down the boat causing hilarity and consternation in equal measures).

This was me trying to be all arty-farty and get a "reflections" shot - I like this one.

There is still a little snow at the summit - this is part of the The Valley of the Ten Peaks. The water seems to be the colour of your average local swimming pool. It's to do with the refraction of the light on the silt brought into the lake by the glacial erosion, and the particles are so small they are suspended in the water making it seem cloudy.

You see quite a few lakes and sections of rivers throughout the Rockies in this seemingly unnatural turquoise colour. Fabulous!

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Proud !

My first veggie bounty from the garden !

There comes a time in everyone's life where they must embrace their inner-ancestor/farmer/gardener and just plant some seeds!

And I have grown something - and it's edible! Yay me!

I am so proud, I can't tell you - hee hee.

In the meantime, my cucumbers are a mass of leaves, which have had a few flowers, and there is no way they will have time to do cucumbery things in the last couple of weeks of this season. It's likely to get cold and/or frosty within a month.
Oh well - wait and see - and learn to try and get in earlier next year.

We have such a short growing season, I'm delighted with any bounty at all.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who's bright idea was it ....

.... to go rafting? Bare with me, this is a long entry.

With visitors staying, we decided it would be a fine idea to borrow an inflatable raft and head off out of our hometown of Cochrane, showing off the beautiful and peaceful scenery of the Alberta foothills, and float down the Bow River.

My dear husband suggested we should enter the water at Ghost Lake (further upriver from Cochrane) and then float down to Cochrane. It should take about four hours.

I had the bright idea of putting the raft in at Cochrane and floating down to Calgary (following me so far?), and it's all their faults really because they agreed with me. So I am publicly absolving myself of any blame for what was to follow.

Now many intrepid and arguably better-informed people before us had achieved this journey - it's a popular pastime in the summer months to see all manner of boats along the water, some perhaps a little more river-worthy than others. Some not boats at all - just large rubber rings/tubes (warning! warning! stupidity alert!). Many are weighed down with (drinking) students, families with dogs, daring grandparents and/or toddlers and other water-loving mortals.

So it was our turn to join the Bow River hoi-polloi.

We packed picnics and enough fruit, chocolate and snacks to sink a battleship, with plenty of water, juice and cans of fizzy, sugar-laden chemicals. Life-jackets and layers, towels and band-aids, paddles and pumps and we were off.

We set off with a gentle breeze, light cloud cover and a good current. Perfect conditions for a leisurely afternoon messing about on the water. It was 1pm.

We marvelled at the birds of prey, the jumping fish and these clay nests clinging to the underside of the rocks - presumably belonging to all the swooping swifts we spied along the way.

Life was good, kids were excited, and suddenly my brother-in-law's bum was dangerously close to the water!

Ah ha - seems we had a slow puncture. OK - well, simply paddle to a shore to pump up the boat. It appeared one section out of the four that made up the raft had a wee hole - I mean, we tried to tell David to stop farting on it but no, he had to go and break the boat.

All done, re-inflated and we set off again. It seemed to take at least an hour to get out of view of our housing development because the river was meandering back and forth so much.

This messy photo, believe it or not, is a deer watching us suspiciously on the bank. Come on, look closer. See - obvious, isn't it?

After a while more, the river widened out. Considerably widened out. I had no idea the Bow River could get so wide. And what accompanies a wide river? Bugger all current, that's what. Time to start paddling a bit.

And a bit more.

Wave to the fisherman, who I now realise were watching us open-mouthed as the raft full of British nutters was creeping past them slower than a snail on crutches.

The lovely white grain store building in the distance took nearly 45 minutes to paddle past. Arms getting a bit tired, bum getting a bit sore, and one section of the boat still deflating.

And then the dreaded words uttered from a child's lips "Are we nearly there yet?"

My two girls by this time were getting a bit bored so jumped in the river for a swim. It was calm and clean if only barely above glacial temperatures. They enjoyed it but didn't last too long, and re-boarded our vessel as soggy, shivering heaps in need of towels and sunshine and more food.

Time to jolly up a bored and cranky 4-year old by pretending to throw him in. Luckily, infectious giggling ensued.

Once again we had to tend to the deflating section under David's backside, and paddled to a tiny bit of gravel about 4 inches wide so we could blow up the boat again. Everyone swapped places in the boat in order to balance up the muscles in both arms, even-up the numb bums and then just keep on paddling.

And paddling. Just a bit more, just round this next bend.

It's now nearly 4.30pm and the wind is in our faces and it feels like one paddle forwards, three paddles back.

The next bend is finally cleared and - oh shit - what the heck is that up ahead?

It's only a bloomin' dam. Blocking the whole river, with about a 20 foot drop in levels on the other side. Well, who put that there? No-one ever mentioned a dam!! Damn!! (And OK, OK - this is not THE dam, it's the Coulee Dam across the Columbia River in Washington, but I wanted you to pause for dramatic effect, alright? It sure felt just like this dam.)

To cut a looong 40 minutes short, we had to empty out the boat by draping backpacks, lunch bags and towels all over three tired and unamused children, and then the adults hauled the boat out of the water and carry it up a long gravel pathway.

By this time, of course, the sun was shining down brilliantly, turning the heat up on a gorgeous summer's evening, and those rafts are bloody heavy - I couldn't tell where the water stopped and the sweat started!

So by walking around the dam, back down the other side of the gravel hill, we were able to put the raft back into the water and keep on heading south to the area where we had parked up our second vehicle earlier in the day.

But at least the river had a current again 'cos I was too knackered to paddle anymore.

What started out as a potential 4-hour leisurely trip down the river turned into a six and a half hour marathon paddling session. Every morsel of food had been devoured, every drop of drink gulped down and every muscle I didn't know I had was aching.

BUT despite feeling about 87 years old the next day, it was a really great afternoon and a good adventure.

And next time ('cos there will be a next time) we'll put the boat in further up river at Ghost Lake and float down to Cochrane - just like someone had previously suggested, and has since reminded me several times, what a good idea that would have been, eh?

SkyWatch Friday

And what is this?

It's lots of these!

Seen a couple of weeks ago in a northwest Calgary neighbourhood.

They were released by a large group of women who were gathered one Sunday afternoon, and I can only guess were celebrating or remembering something or someone special.

It was a beautiful hot and sunny day - almost too hot - (but shhhh, I shouldn't say that around here - we've had precious few hot days this summer)

And we had stopped off to look at a little water park.

Take careful note of the "look" in the above sentence.

Because my fully-dressed children conveniently forgot the word "look" at the water park, and proceeded to "play" in the water park. Rather completely!

They had a blast, of course.

Right up to the bit where they had to get back in the car.

"And you're not getting into my car like that young miss!"

These tufty clouds accompanied us on the way home - sadly, no longer a balloon in sight.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peter Lougheed Park, Kananaskis, Alberta

Another recent day-trip showing off some more bits of Alberta to the visiting relatives.

This time we headed to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park - take a drive from Calgary eastwards towards the Rockies and about half an hour later hang a left up Highway 40. Wave at Nakiska Ski Resort which is taking it's well-earned summer break, and keep going - all the while keeping an eye open for grizzly bears.

Absolutely delighted to see my first ever moose - I have lived here for three and a half years and begun to think these were elusive mythical creatures!

What a large and handsome young fellow - snuffling and snorting loudly as he bent down on his front forelegs to slurp a delicious Muddy Puddle
(not my favourite cocktail, it must be said).

I was so happy to see him, I could have just turned around and gone home after that!

But we carried on driving through the rocky valley - the grey clouds coming and going and the rain threatening.
Stunning formations through the mountains...and it is so lovely to see so much greenery - Alberta in August can often start drying out with the colour brown - but we have not had a great summer really, so the frequent rain keeps it all gorgeous.

The sun trying its best to illuminate Upper Lake.


OMG - another Moose!
All my Christmas' have come at once!

Another very young one ...

Also with a penchant for the Muddy Puddle Cocktail.

Another Peek-a-Boo !

...and then time to head home.

This is a bear behind. Honest.

Yes - we actually found the grizzly bear too - casually munching his way through some undergrowth until the noise of a motorbike exhaust frightened him - and then he took off at a fearsome pace.

What a great day to see some wildlife.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Elbow Falls, near Calgary, Alberta

Scenic Sunday - have a lovely weekend.
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