Twas the Season!

Initially, I was disappointed we wouldn’t be spending Christmas in the desert—lying in the sun, walks on bare earth, decorations hung in a Palo Verde tree—but, you know, being home was a darn fine way to spend the season. The warmth we didn’t have in the weather was made up for by the people we shared time with through the holidays. So, thanks to all of you for making it special.

The non-white, very warm Christmas I was dreaming of.

Things kicked off a few days before Christmas with a trip across the road to visit our very good neighbours, Kerry and Debbie and their two dogs, Coco (an old girlfriend of Logan’s who you might remember from some of his blog posts) and Suki. Oddly, it was pouring rain outside, but inside was cozy and festive. A good time was had by all, human and animal, which begs the question, why don’t we get together more often? (I’ll leave that with the humans to sort out.)

Christmas Day we travelled to Calgary for brunch at my friend Ria’s place (formerly known as the home of G and S). There were pancakes, sausages, and frittata for the humans (which they shared with us) and juicy raw bones for the canines (which we didn’t share with them). I know, not really in keeping with the spirit of giving, but they were very full from their brunch, complaining about overeating, so we didn’t want to add to their discomfort. Thoughtful, right?

Ria and I awaiting the feast.

After brunch, there was a grand long walk up on Nose Hill in north Calgary. It’s a crazy-big park and we wandered for two and half hours in the warm, Christmas Day sunshine. For a winter day in Alberta, it really couldn’t have been any better. I was tired when we reached the car, but even four-year-old Ria was dragging her fluffy butt by the end of that excursion.

Nose Hill walk under Alberta-blue skies.

Boxing Day we were off to Judy’s house. You remember Judy? She’s the one who owns Gidget, the little blonde horse who lives with T and Nollind’s herd of three and, more importantly, always brings me treats. In fact, she gave me this great biscuit for Christmas and, coincidentally, it arrived on the day of my Christmas bath!

Spaw day … funny, right?

This was my first time at Judy’s house but it will hopefully not be my last. This woman knows how to put out a spread. There was so much food with not nearly enough people to eat it all so, guess what, I got turkey, a whole plateful (and a bowl of cat food but I don’t think that was intended). I’m normally a very relaxed house guest but with all of the food sitting out, the bags of Christmas goodies at nose height, and the smell of the resident cat that I never could find, I was a bit of a restless wreck and exhausted (but happy) by the time we got home.

A walk near Judy’s house before our visit.

A few days after Christmas, we were back to Calgary for a dog walk in Bowmont Park with our friend Darren and his dog, Roxie. Roxie hasn’t been real healthy these past few months, in fact they weren’t sure she’d make it to Christmas, but you wouldn’t have known it on that outing. She kept up no problem, only needing one rest stop in the snow. Keep on keeping on, Roxie!

A walk with Roxie and her peep at Bowmont Park.

After the walk, we were off to Nollind’s mom’s house for dinner … and a surprise. A Christmas gift from my grandpa. I don’t know how he managed it, but there it was, a bag just for me, filled with some of my favourite treats. I miss Grandpa Dave, and will think about him every time I eat one of those bacon-flavoured heart biscuits or demolish a plaque buster. Grandma L was quite surprised at how quickly I was able to make a dental chew disappear. She wondered how it could possibly clean my teeth when it barely touches them. A fair question.

Our social life took a breather while T and Nollind finished the renovations on a rental property. Apparently, it was the house they used to live in, back before my time, before Logan’s time. It’s a nice place with a big back yard, but I feel pretty lucky to have come along after they moved to the farm. There’s nothing quite like being a country dog.

All tuckered out after the final day of renovations.

The first week in January, we were off to see more friends, this time on a pretty acreage in the foothills southwest of Calgary. These were friends from the sailing club who invited other friends from the sailing club and, much to my surprise, one of them is a fan of my blog. It is always so exciting to meet someone who reads our stories. Hi Linda! Thanks so much for reading!

And here it is January 10th and the holiday season is behind us. It’s been a blast but, now that it’s over, I am ready to hit the road to Arizona. Problem is, I don’t see any signs of packing. I wonder if it would help if I started dropping hints, like dragging my bed to the porch, putting a few of my toys in a bag, sitting out by the trailer, that sort of thing. I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes. And, if you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I thought the impending deep freeze here in Alberta would press them into action but, so far, nothing.

Seriously? Have you seen the forecast? Stop goofing around and hitch up the rig!

If you’re here on the prairies too, bundle up and stay warm! If you’re somewhere south of this Arctic air mass, maybe send my people a photo of you wearing flip-flops, anything to push them in the direction of hitching up and heading out!

A Season of Lakes

I realized the other day that my season of lakes actually started in the Cypress Hills at Elkwater Lake. Does it count if the water is frozen? It’s still a lake, right?

Elkwater Lake in March

So here’s the complete 2019 list … take a deep breath and … Elkwater, Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, Twin, Chinook, Alces, Whiteswan, Premier, Cat’s Eye, Turtle, Canuck, Yankee, Columbia, Windermere, Two-Jack, Okanagan, Osoyoos, Christina, Nancy Greene, Erie, and Moyie. Whew! I’ve visited twenty-six different lakes since Elkwater in mid-April. I should probably check my feet for webs!

Christina Lake beach time

Crazy thing is, we even missed a few on this latest trip. One because the park was closed, another because we wanted to get a site in a campground we knew would be busy and didn’t want to make a detour, and a couple more because, well, because we were hanging out in camp and didn’t feel like making even a short trek.

A sunny morning in camp at Ellison Park

T’s always busy in the fall so we haven’t had an autumn holiday like that in a long time. She still had to work, but while she was tapping away on her computer, I was camping. And I do love camping, even when the weather is a little cool and damp like it was on this trip.

Taking a break from work for a little beach time

After we launched Nollind at Vernon on a very blustery Saturday morning, T and I set out on Highway 97 southbound for Kelowna. For a newbie driver, T did pretty good, getting us safely down the road and backed into our new spot at Bear Creek Provincial Park.

Setting sail at Vernon

It was raining but, after lunch, things cleared out enough for us to wander the beach (shhh…even the “no dogs” part of the beach). When we got to the water, I was pretty excited to be adding a new lake to my count but, even though we’d driven an hour to get there, T said it was the same lake as at Ellison. No way!

Okanagan Lake 2 at Bear Creek Provincial Park (sailboats in background)

Even crazier, the next day we drove another hour south, to Summerland, and the beach there was also on Okanagan Lake. I thought they were pulling my leg, or two or three of them, but nope, checked the map and it was indeed the same big-ass lake. I was thinking of listing them as Okanagan 1, Okanagan 2, and Okanagan 3, in my lake count, bringing the total to twenty-eight, but T said that was cheating. Fine. Twenty-six it is. Still pretty impressive, right?

On the pier at Summerland

Once we collected Nollind in Summerland at the end of his two-day race, we continued farther south, to Haynes Point Provincial Park on Osoyoos Lake. Wow, what a spot. Definitely one of the highlights of our camping season. We got a site right on the water with the lights of Osoyoos across the way and the waves lapping on the little beach below us. The weather was still a bit changeable, but we got in a bunch of walking and campfire and lake-gazing time.

Camp time at Haynes Point

Thursday it was time to head east and we wandered our way through the west Kootenays, stopping at lakes as we went. There wasn’t really a destination that night but we wound up in a little place called Salmo, where T’s Dad lived, camped in their municipal campground, and had hamburgers for dinner. T and Nollind had theirs at the pub in the hotel, her dad’s old hang out, mine came to the trailer in a go-box.

Striking a pose at Nancy Greene Lake

Friday we were on our way again, had a great lunch stop and beach walk at Moyie Lake Provincial Park, and arrived at Redstreak Campground in Kootenay National Park in the middle of the afternoon. Redstreak was our first camping destination of the summer season back in May and our first trip with the Nash trailer (aka Simon). The campground was a lot busier than it had been in May, with a big car show happening in Radium Hot Springs, but we found a nice spot in a quiet loop and settled in for a day and a half of Rocky Mountain time.

The beach at Moyie Lake

Redstreak sits on the side of a mountain up above Radium Hot Springs and on Saturday we set out on foot down the mountain to check out the afternoon market and visit the dog park by Sinclair Creek. It was a great walk but, seriously, I’m a prairie dweller and all that climbing nearly killed me. A chunk of the trail from town to the campground is stairs and I’m kind of a short-legged hound. I tried zig-zagging back and forth but it doesn’t work on stairs like it does on a slope.

Rest time on the climb up from Radium

I could have stayed at Redstreak another day or two (or seven) but Sunday we had to go home. The horse dentist was coming on Monday (I’ll let Storm share that story another week) and T had a pile of work to do for the upcoming Fall Classic Sale. Speaking of T’s work, we’ll be in Red Deer at the horse sale next Fur-iday so you won’t hear from me. Her laptop is a bit like an appendage during the event so it’s tough for me to get on and write my blog. Besides, I have a very important role at the sale … office mascot!

Shhh…It’s a Secret

We went camping this week, but I can’t tell you where. I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Usually I like to tell you where we’ve been, even provide links so that you can read about the places and maybe visit them yourselves. But, this time, if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you, and I’m a snuggler, not a killer.

Snuggling with the Earth.

The location of this latest camping adventure was discovered by G & S on a day outing back in July and they thought it was the perfect destination for our August rendezvous. And perfect it was. In fact, I think I saw tears pooling in Nollind’s eyes when we drove in, and I don’t think they were just tears of relief that we’d arrived safely with T driving. (She’s pretty new to this trailer hauling thing and I see his jaw tighten every now and then. He tries to hide it but we dogs have highly developed senses.)

Just two dogs hangin’ out in camp.

Anyway…this place. O. M. G. It’s in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, filled with spruce and aspen forest, has a beautiful river running through it, and quiet, oh so quiet. Heaven. And, since this describes many places on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, I think our secret is safe.

Did I mention yet that there were bones?

G & S and my buddy Ria arrived before us and picked, I kid you not, the best spot in the whole campground, right on the river, with a little dog beach for swimming and lots of trees for shade. Heaven. Wait, I think I said that already … but it bears repeating.

A walk in the woods.

There were twice daily walks on the quiet country road and along the south side of the river, turns around the campground in the morning and before bed, and as much swimming/wading as a dog wanted to do. Me, I’m more of a wade in when it’s hot kind of guy, Ria on the other hand is a very enthusiastic water gymnast. We were there two days and I’m not sure she was ever entirely dry.

Ria had far too much fun.

And therein lies the only down side of the outing … two days. It was only two days. (Sad dog-face emoji.)

And, after all that water fun.

You might be wondering why all the secrecy? Well, the camp attendant came around and chatted awhile, told us how you used to be able to get a spot in the campground any day, but now weekends were mostly full all season long. Turns out there was just too much of that telling two friends who tell two friends stuff going on. So, the six of us made a pact, then and there, that it would be our secret, special campground.

Apparently Nollind had fun too.

If any of you reading this blog has been to our secret campground and recognize it from the photos, maybe we’ll see you there sometime but, in the meanwhile … shhh….

Shhh…