Bluegrass and the Beach

Twice when we travelled south in the winter, we attended a festival called “Bluegrass on the Beach” in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It’s a great event and, just like the name says, right on the beach of Lake Havasu. We dogs never attended the actual show (too much sun for Logan), but there were swimming opportunities multiple times a day and we could hear the music from the camping area.

Sunset time at Bluegrass on the Beach.

This past weekend, we attended the Blueberry Bluegrass Festival in Stony Plain, Alberta. We were there once before, in 2013, but I didn’t remember it that well. I’d forgotten that they’re pretty strict about dogs in the concert area (Havasu has a dog-friendly seating area off to one side) and … :o( … there’s nowhere to swim. The exhibition park has a storm pond but the signage says to not let dogs go swimming.

So, on the downside, I spent quite a lot of trailer time while T and Nollind were off listening to music, but, on the upside, I had the bed to myself all day!

I was happy to share my space when they dropped in for a visit.

Another downside was the ferocious thunderstorm that rolled through on Friday afternoon and scared the absolute bejeezus out of me. Logan would have turned completely inside out with terror if he’d been with us in the trailer—thunder, lightning, gale-force wind, and huge hailstones that made quite a racket hitting the roof of the trailer. It was pretty scary. But, we came out of it unscathed other than a dozen or so little dents on the truck.

Despite the lack of concert-going and swimming, I did get out and about quite a lot including a walk to Tim Horton’s for Saturday morning breakfast. I love Timbits! And I was happy to assist T and Nollind with whatever portion of their breakfast wraps they were willing to part with. The bonus on this particular excursion? Across the street from Tim Horton’s was a Pet Valu store. I do enjoy a good shop and sniff … with the occasional lick thrown in when nobody is looking.

I did get to go along to this jam tent that was outside the main concert area.

The festival wrapped up on Sunday night and the next morning we were on our way south. Home I assumed, but then we turned west before we reached Red Deer and set up camp at Gull Lake. It was hot as heck on Monday, so I questioned the sanity of my peeps as we set out for an afternoon walk. But hey, we were at a lake, how far could it be to the beach?

Gull Lake campsite.

Right. Turned out, the many trails leading from the main trail to the refreshing waters of Gull Lake had one of these heartbreaking signs posted in the middle of it.

We kept walking. I was melting. My tongue was nearly on the ground. And then, at long last, we reached … the boat launch. Oh, heavenly water! I’m usually an in-and-out kind of swimmer so T and Nollind laughed at me for just standing in the water but it felt s-o-o-o-o good. (By the way, Gull brings my 2019 lake count to twenty—Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, Twin, Chinook, Alces, Whiteswan, Premier, Cat’s Eye, Turtle, Canuck, Yankee, Columbia, Windermere, Two-Jack, and Gull!)

Cooling my heels, etc.

I spent the rest of Monday afternoon lounging under the trailer while T and Nollind sipped on iced tea and chatted about the bluegrass festival. A little storm chased us indoors early in the evening but we were back out for some campfire time before bed.

Best spot in camp.

Tuesday’s plan was more walking and another swim before we headed home but it was raining at Gull Lake, a lot, all morning and into the early afternoon, so we took a couple of short jaunts around the campground, watched some downloaded Netflix, and packed things up.

It wasn’t quite the experience of Bluegrass on the Beach with its daily swims and general dog friendliness, but there was bluegrass, we did find a beach, and time spent camping with my peeps is time well spent.

Lake Havasu swim with my buddy Logan.

On a side note, you may have noticed that I haven’t been a very dedicated blogger this summer, and I expect I’ll miss a few more Fur-idays before this busy season is over, but I will do my best to keep you up to date on my many adventures and I’ll get Storm back at the keyboard. Until then, some wise words for all you bipeds from C.J. Frick

“Be the person your dog thinks you are.”

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Lakes and … More Lakes

Can you believe it? We managed to squeeze in not just one, or two, but three more lake stops on our way home from northern British Columbia. I was a happy hound.

We left Charlie Lake last Sunday after a teary farewell with T’s mom. She and I had a great visit. She even gave me a whole sandwich one afternoon, left it right there on a low table for me to help myself. For someone not accustomed to having dogs around she’s very considerate.

Picnic lunch in Hudson’s Hope (and yes, they shared).

We’d already said goodbye to T’s sister on Wednesday, so I was down to just one woman to spoil me as we set off for the same dog-friendly hotel we stayed at on our journey north. It was comfy and clean with no additional fees for me, right on the river for our evening and morning walk-abouts, and included a full breakfast big enough for T to share. Tough to beat.

The hotel’s backyard.

It was a cold, rainy day as we set out, but had cleared enough by the halfway point that we took a short detour to a place called Saskatoon Island Provincial Park near Grande Prairie for our midway walk break. T likes to stretch her legs every few hours and I am happy to oblige. Lake stop #1.

The path to Little Lake through aspen forest.

Saskatoon Island is just as the name might suggest, a piece of land between two lakes that is loaded with Saskatoon bushes. There weren’t any berries yet, but then I’m not a huge berry fan anyway.

We walked the trail to Little Lake, which is the smaller of the two lakes as you might have guessed, to a windy cove. I so wanted to go swimming but T was worried about the heavy algae that had blown into the bay, concerned it might mess with my digestive system. I suppose I get it. Diarrhea when staying in a hotel room would be a nasty thing to manage.

Can you see the tension on the leash? I really wanted to go in.

Legs stretched, bright green aspen trees enjoyed, we took a short tour of the busy campground (it was a holiday weekend in Canada) and the Saskatoon Lake boat launch area and were on our way.

I get comfortable with new places pretty quickly so returning to the Quality Inn was a bit like coming home. I trotted through the front door and went straight to the front desk to mooch a biscuit. Leaving the lobby to the right down a hallway instead of up the stairs was a bit confusing at first, but I guess that’s how hotels work…you don’t always get the same bedroom.

Movie time at the hotel. I do love a good movie.

Monday morning, after my bacon, hash browns, and toast second breakfast, we were driving on Highway 43 under sunny skies. T turned south on Highway 22, also known as the scenic Cowboy Trail. I’d seen her scouting the route south, looking for halfway hike locations, so I put my vote in for another lake stop. And she didn’t disappoint me.

Well worth the drive.

It was the longest off-highway detour we’d taken on our journey, fifteen minutes each way, but well worth the additional car time. Crimson Lake Provincial Park near Rocky Mountain House was the best lake stop yet. Wooded trails, a blue-green mountain lake, and a great beach for taking a dip. According to Wiki, the lake was named for the striking colours of the setting sun reflecting on the surface of its waters as seen by an early trapper. We didn’t get to see the sunset this time but, based on how T lit up during our short visit, I’d say we’ll be back.

A dip in Crimson Lake.

Again we toured the campground, more thoroughly this time, and I’m pretty sure T was picturing Simon in a bunch of the spots.

I’d barely settled in for the rest of the journey when we were pulling off the highway again. What? Another Lake? Yup, indeed. I’m not sure the name of the little lakes in this provincial recreation area, but it’s called Twin Lakes because there are, you guessed it, two of them! I’d had a good swim at Crimson Lake only a half hour before so we just walked a short trail to the larger lake and back. Lots of fish in this lake. I would have liked to sample a few.

The larger of Twin Lakes.

We break from our story for a quick lake tally. Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, and Twin. If I’m not mistaken, that makes eight lakes on our tour, nine if you count Twin as two! Do you think T likes lakes?

After a short tour of downtown Rocky Mountain House, we continued south on the Cowboy Trail, stopping in Sundre along the Red Deer River for our dinner stop and—can you believe it?—yet another walk.

Riverfront in Sundre at the Greenwood Campground.

As T oohed and aahed at the beautiful foothills landscape to the west of Highway 22, I settled in for the journey home, barely noticing when we turned east toward the prairie.

Somewhere along Highway 22, The Cowboy Trail.

Best. Road trip. Ever.

It Was a Humdinger!

Spring storms are a pretty standard event in Alberta and this one did not disappoint. At least there was plenty of warning. All of the weather forecasters were in agreement that something was coming and then Environment Canada made it official, issuing winter storm warnings and, in our area, a blizzard warning.

It started snowing early in the day, lightly with a steady breeze from the north. As the day progressed, the wind picked up, the snow got heavier, and by early evening it was a full-on, raging, no-holds-barred, batten-down-the-hatches, run-for-cover spring storm. And when T and Nollind opened up the barn and whistled, that’s exactly what we did … run for cover.

Nevada was first in when the call came, turning his head away from the wind and running for the gate. He used to be the last one to look for those creature comforts, now he’s first in line. I guess that’s age doing the talking.

First in the barn, last in his stall. I think he wanted the aisle.

I’m not really a big fan of being indoors. It helps when the whole herd is in there with me, but I’m just an outdoorsy kind of guy. I like to be able to move around as I please and roll if I feel the need and a ten-by-ten box stall just doesn’t provide that kind of freedom. It beats the tie stall I endure when we spend time camping in Kananaskis Country, but it’s still a box.

Being indoors is far more tolerable with a good neighbour.

However, when I can hear the wind howling past the walls and the snow billows in whenever the door gets opened, and I’m down to only a small percentage of my previously heavy winter coat, I suck it up and appreciate the shelter.

I’m not sure just when the snow stopped, but the wind eased through the night. The storm had passed. Now we just had to wait patiently for the humans to come and let us out. It wasn’t easy to be patient. I wanted to roll so badly I could hardly stand it. Nevada kept telling me to relax and enjoy the warm barn, but the dust from the shavings and hay felt like it was crawling around on my skin.

Good ponies were we.

Finally, the door slid open and the cold morning air blew in bringing T and Nollind with it. After a few good-horsies-for-not-getting-yourselves-into-trouble-overnight, hand-fed snacks, we were out the door and frolicking in the fresh snow.

Post-storm frolic.
More frolicking.

I have the stall #1 so was first out and didn’t get very far before I dropped into the fresh snow … for the first time. I lost count of how many times I lay down and rolled after a half dozen. It. Felt. So. Good.

Aaaaaahhhhhh…..
The post-roll shake is almost as good as the roll.

Our world that was turning to delicious green has been transformed to bright white, but it won’t last long. The spring snow never does. Patches of earth are already starting to show through. Until then, the hay nets are filled, the sun is shining, and I’m in the great and glorious outdoors!