Foto Fur-iday – The Winter that Was

It was a different kind of winter for me, for all of us. Normally, I would have been sending updates and photos from our desert travels, this year it was prairie tales.

I know I’ve posted quite a few photos in my winter blog posts, but here are some highlights of a winter spent at home.

The winter started off balmy and snow free. Here we are hiking in Kananaskis in early January …
… but then February brought cold, snow, and more cold.
There were more prairie walks than I can count …
… some stubble field ski days …
… and some snowshoe treks.
There were play dates with pooch pals …
… and opportunities to make new friends.
I spent a bunch of the winter doing ride-alongs …
… that usually included at least one get-out-and-explore opportunity.
There was even an RV trip in Sid …
.. where I got to be a ski dog …
… and a slalom course designer. (Yes, that is what you think it is.)
And, one of the best things, whether it was cold outside …
… or warm and sunny …
… there was plenty of time with my peeps.

Thanks for reading my blog this winter and following my prairie adventures!

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Day Tripper

It’s been a weekly event lately, ever since our camping trip east to the Cypress Hills. T and Nollind load me into the truck or car with my travel bowl and my harness, pack a few snacks and we’re off … east. It seems the Trans Canada eastbound has caught their fancy and keeps pulling them back.

Early spring in Medicine Hat.

The first day trip was to Medicine Hat to look at a boat for the sailing club. The boat didn’t work out, but there was a morning stop at Tim Hortons (I know I probably shouldn’t eat them but I love Timbits!), a walk along the South Saskatchewan River at a great place called Police Point Park, and a bunch of hangin’ with the peeps on the way there and back. I do enjoy a road trip.

Taking a dip in the South Saskatchewan.

Only a week later, much to my surprise, we were on the highway heading east again. On that trip, there was a breakfast stop in Bassano (bacon and hash browns!) and then a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park. The park looked a lot different than when we visited a couple of Junes ago. Everything is still in early spring shades of beige and brown with only a hint of green here and there in south-facing, sheltered spots.

The Badlands Trail.

We walked the Cottonwood Flats Trail where T wanted to take some photos of the big trees for her new novel called Cottonwood Wind. Then there was lunch by the river (oysters, chicken, and carrots!), followed by a second hike, this time on the Badlands Trail. It would have been fun to have Sid there and stay overnight, and quite a few trailers were rolling into the campground, but we were on our way home instead with a pit stop at the Tim Hortons in Brooks (Timbits!)

Picnic lunch beside the Red Deer River.

Yesterday morning, I could hardly believe it when we were driving east on Highway 1 yet again after a stop at Tim’s in Strathmore (Timbit and breakfast wrap sharesies!). This trip we turned off just past Bassano and drove a rural highway we’d never been on before, headed toward a town called Duchess. I wasn’t aware of any parks or trails up that way but my people never fail me so I slept and waited for whatever I’d find at our destination.

Savouring my Timbit.

Turns out it was another sailing club errand, this time to pick up a whole trailer full of boats. I’ve not been in a boat, haven’t had the opportunity, but I did enjoy exploring John’s farm and shop and then lying on his couch while he and Nollind talked boats and sailing for about four hours. Just between you and me, I think T would have liked to join me on the couch. 😉

More snacks in Patricia.

When we travelled to Dinosaur the week before, T and Nollind took a drive through the hamlet of Patricia, and made plans to visit the Patricia Hotel next time we were in the area, to sample their Steak Pit restaurant. Well, there we were, back in the area … and hungry. I didn’t see the inside of the old hotel, but it looks pretty cool from the photos. And the food? Delicious. My share amounted to leftover bits of steak, baked potato, and garlic bread. Apparently, it’s a cook-your-own meat kind of place and Nollind did a pretty fine job on T’s steak. There are still some pork ribs in the fridge and I’m hoping I get to sample those later today.

The Steak Pit at the Patricia Hotel.

After the Patricia stop, the day was getting on, and I figured we’d be on our way home but, instead, it was a visit to Lake Stafford Park in Brooks for a walk around the lake. Since I’d been out and about during the farm/boat stop and had a belly full of steak and potato, I was pretty cool to just settle in for a two-hour nap, but they are always thinking of me and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to take me for a walk somewhere new. And they were very patient with my walk-sniff-walk-sniff pace even when other people were lapping us on the trail. What’s the hurry, right?

Around the lake trail in Brooks.

So, three weeks, three day trips to the east, three new trails explored, three days of road snacks, three hundred thousand smells. I’m a happy dog. I wonder where we’ll go next week? T? Nollind? Ideas?

Road trip pooch.

Ski Dog!

I’m sure many of you will agree that February was a cold, cold month. At least it sure was on the west side of the continent. Even the low elevation parts of Arizona, the places we normally spend the winter, had cold and snow. And February’s cold extended into March and is just now, finally, looking like it’s going to let us be.

Going for walk on one of the really cold days.

The cold weather did ground us a few times, when the wind-chill was just too nasty. We’d go out for a little while to tend to horses but then come right back to the house instead of heading out for a walk or a snowshoe.

The snowshoe tracks make the snow a little easier to stay on top of.

But, sprinkled very sparingly into the long cold stretch, were a few days that sneaked into the single digit temperatures (still below zero Celsius, of course.) On those days, we went skiing!

I’ve skied with T many times across the prairie. When there’s enough snow to cover the rocks and stubble, it’s her favourite way to get around in winter. Logan used to come too, back when he was better able to manage the deep snow, and T would sometimes attach one of us or other to a strap around her waist so that we’d stay close. Now that was entertaining! I may be a Heeler but I’m not much for heeling.

Our first interaction with oncoming skiers. I’m ready!

Anyway, the skiing this year hasn’t been on the flat of the prairie but out in the foothills of the Rockies. The biggest difference? Man, do they go fast as soon as there’s even a slight downhill section of the trail. I can’t remember the last time I did so much running. Lucky for me, the peeps aren’t in great skiing shape so we didn’t tackle any steep or lengthy trails, but I was still exhausted by the end.

Doing my best to keep up! (Stay until the end for when the cameraman almost falls.)

The first ski day, a couple of weeks ago, was my big test. They told me if I didn’t wander off the trail, bother other skiers, or cause any wipeouts, they’d bring me again. I almost blew it early on, trotted across the trail in front of T when I smelled something in the woods. If we’d been on a flat section it would have been fine but we were on a downhill and she was going pretty fast. It was more of a side-swipe than a dead hit so we both stayed on our feet, and I learned my lesson. Don’t cross in front of the skier. In the end, I passed with flying colours, got a bunch of praise and treats. It was a good day.

It was a good day.

We went out to the Bragg Creek Trails again this past Tuesday. The trail was a little tougher, more work going up for all of us, and I had to really hustle on the downhill section. What makes it possible for me to keep up is that the trails are all very well packed so it’s almost like running on bare earth. In the deep snow I’d be done for.

Ski Day #2 – Working on my gold star!

Again, I stayed on the trail, out of the way, and with the skiers. Another gold-star day! This is a good thing because I hear we’re headed out for a bigger ski trip next week, to the Cypress Hills, and I don’t want to be left behind in the trailer or the truck every day.

I’ll try to report in from the road!

Tuckered out at the end of the trail.