I recently had to stage a wintervention with my peeps. As a dog, I adapt quickly to changes in plans, so when we weren’t able to go south for the latter part of winter, I directed my energy elsewhere. No biggie. Humans, on the other hand, tend to dwell, and sometimes even pout. But maybe it’s just my people. Anyway, after the trip cancellation because of T’s eye problem, I settled in for the rest of the winter here at home on the Canadian prairie. And, as I mentioned in my “The Eyes Have It” post, I knew that staying home wouldn’t mean staying at home.
Two weeks into our new staying home plan, T and Nollind were driving me crazy. Complaining about how cold it was when it wasn’t even that cold, wanting to go camping but not in the cold, having to wear so much clothing to go outside in the cold, blah blah blah blah cold. Are you getting the idea? If I had to hear the word cold in that whiney tone one more time … sheesh!
Did you know that dogs are telepathic? Yup, even though we don’t talk, we can communicate with humans via mental images, feelings, and sometimes even words. It’s how we get humans to do what we want, but don’t tell your friends. It’s kind of a secret. Just to put your mind at ease, we only use our powers for good … or to get treats.
The peeps started planning a little winter camping adventure in Banff and I was so relieved they were going to get out and do something despite the cold weather. They delayed a day waiting for better temperatures and then, when they were half packed to leave on Wednesday morning last week, the arctic air that had been sitting on Alberta for a few days decided not to move off as forecast. It was going to be too, say it with me, cold. In their defence, with travel trailers, there really is a too-cold line. Once it drops into the mid-teens and lower, the propane regulator can freeze which means we’d have no furnace. It happened to us in Montana one year on our way south.
So, we hadn’t even gotten out of bed and T was in tears. I had to do something. I started sending mental images of places other than Banff, places that are farther east or south and might be warmer. I’m a telepath, not a meteorologist, so I just sent whatever I could think of and let them check the forecasts. Some places were spots I’d been before, like Dinosaur Provincial Park and the Cypress Hills, and others, like Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, were a complete unknown to me but worth a look.
They started reading weather reports on Nollind’s phone and, when nothing looked promising, decided to go to Strathmore for the Husky House breakfast special, one of my, I mean their, favourite local outings. By the time they’d eaten and brought me what I like to call second breakfast (because I eat at home before we leave), a decision had been made. We were on our way to the Crowsnest Pass! Yippee! I’d snuck that image in at the last minute, remembering T once expressed a desire to spend more time there when we were passing through.
By early afternoon, we were on our way south on the QEII Highway, Simon in tow stocked with snacks, games, wine, and other wintervention supplies. Wait … I’d best stop here and give credit where credit is due. I would love to be the guy who came up with the word wintervention but, alas, I was not. A little online browsing informed us that, on the very weekend we were to be in the Crowsnest Pass, they were holding their Wintervention Festival. Could it have been more perfect? So, credit given where due, it was some other ultra-clever creature that came up with the name.
It wasn’t exactly desert weather in the pass, but it wasn’t going to drop into the propane-freezing zone overnight, there wasn’t a lot of snow on the valley floor, and the Chinook wind brought melting temperatures and sunshine to the afternoons. We didn’t get in any campfire time, but there was plenty of other outdoor time—hiking at Star Creek Falls and the Miners’ Path, skiing the dog-friendly loops of the Allison Chinook cross-country trails, and exploring the length of Blairmore on foot.
The cross-country skiing and the two-hour long Blairmore excursion were on the same day, Friday, and by bedtime, all I could do was groan when Nollind held up the leash to take me outside for my evening constitutional. I was quite sure I could hold it if it meant not having to get off the bed. Skiing is a blast, but, oh man, those peeps can move when they have boards strapped to their feet. But, pretty proud, I kept up, even passed directly in front of T on more than one occasion, causing her to say words that I won’t write here. We never actually collided, but I did cause her to ski off into the brush once and fall over on her side. Although, she did just fall over all on her own at another point, so it may have happened without my involvement.
Thankfully, Saturday was a little lighter on the physical activity scale with just two walks close to camp and a short hike to a frozen waterfall via the Miners’ Path. The trail was very icy and on a side slope, which resulted in a four-legged backward slide down a bank. Luckily, I was able to dig in to keep from dropping over the edge onto the frozen creek bed. Sorry, no photo, T and Nollind were too busy coming to my rescue.
The photo/video they really wanted to grab was from the day before at Allison-Chinook. I was running down a hill to catch up and didn’t see the stretch of skating-rink-style ice at the bottom. By the repeated reliving of the moment and chuckling at my expense throughout the afternoon, I gather my ice-capades, as I attempted to stay on my feet, were quite entertaining.
Although lighter on the hiking/walking/skiing end of things, Saturday was filled with Wintervention Festival activities. Nollind participated in his first ever frying pan toss (yes, you read that right; I watched from the truck), which was followed immediately by the Chili Bowl Festival, where they bought handmade pottery bowls at the art gallery and got them filled with chili (I licked the bowls). Cool event, right? Then it was off to the Miners’ Path and our slip-sliding hike before T and Nollind drove to Hillcrest Mines for an afternoon music jam where Nollind made his big stage debut, playing the bass and singing. I so wish I’d been there for that, but I get to listen to him and T play in the living room a few times a week.
By Sunday morning, I knew my wintervention plan had been a success when the cooler temperature and a lot of big, fluffy snowflakes falling on Simon didn’t bring back the cold-weather blues. I hope it lasts. There’s still quite a lot of cold weather between us and green grass.