Winter Wimp

This isn’t the first time we’ve posted about the weather here at the Fur-iday files, and it won’t be the last. Living in the country, especially in a winter country like Canada, makes the weather a big factor in how we go about day-to-day life.

The photo below was taken in the first few days of February. The temperature was right around freezing, the sun was shining, there was fresh snow in the pasture, and we went for a lovely walk. Within a few days, the daytime “highs” weren’t getting beyond -20⁰C (-4⁰F) and the wind made it feel like the -30s and even the -40s overnight.

A beautiful winter day in Alberta.

Despite my five winters spent in warmer places, I consider myself pretty sturdy, or at least I did until this winter. You might remember the day-camping experiences I wrote about, one in December at Dinosaur Provincial Park and the other in January in Kananaskis. Both were on what we Albertans consider warm winter days and yet both times I ended up with my teeth chattering.

So, in light of those experiences, even though I’m generally okay when I keep moving, my peeps were taking no chances and had my winter jacket on me as soon as the temperature reached -20.

Jacketed up for our daily walk.

If the jacket wasn’t bad enough, one day when we went out to feed horses, I ran off into the field to smell something enticing, and it was like there were piranha in the six inches of snow, nipping at my feet. I pulled up a paw and shook it but each time I set one down to pick up another the biting started again. I hobbled to the barn where T warmed each of my paws in her hands.

Warming up after our daily horse-feeding chores.

It happened again the next day while I was waiting to get in the car. By the time T had the Soggy Dog straightened and a few items removed from the back seat, I was doing the paw-shake dance again. It was official … I’d become a winter wimp.

Next day, the boots were on. I guess I should have seen that coming. At least I can walk in them now, not like the old days when they just felt too weird too move. (Check out this video.) Logan loved his boots, skipping and hopping when they went on. Now I’m beginning to see why.

G’d up from the feet up.

Wednesday, hallelujah, I was coat and boot free when we walked our road to the south, and T and Nollind were able to lose the balaclavas, goggles, and insulated overalls. So freeing!

At least I don’t need all the face gear.

After a mostly mild January, ten days wasn’t really so long, but it sure felt that way. I hate to say it, but this previously snow-loving dog just might be a snowbird. No slipping on icy roads and pathways, no piranha snow, no teeth-chattering picnics, and no need for dog clothing. Although, Logan did wear boots in the desert as his paws aged and got tender on the rocky ground.

Logan in his shiny new hiking boots.

So far I haven’t had to wear boots down south but then I didn’t need them in cold weather until this year. No matter how tough we intend to be when we get older, it just doesn’t seem to work that way. I guess that’s why there are so many human seniors in the desert walking on bare ground and soaking up the sunshine, because it makes life more comfortable … not to mention less hazardous.

Happy, healthy snowbirds out exploring.

For now, I’ll take the 0⁰C (32⁰F) we’re supposed to have today, about 20 degrees above coat and boots, and if it gets cold again, go back to doing a lot of this …

Hot Dogs, Cold Dog

It’s the 22nd of January which means that many winters since 2011 you’d have found us somewhere south of the Canada/US border by now, enjoying the sun and warmth of Arizona or California. We’ve departed Canada in November, in December, and in January, but never this late. Pretty sure that means we’re not going.

It’s the border closure, of course, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s keeping us home this year. I’m mostly okay with the situation. I love home—my favourite beds, trips to the barn, exploring our prairie landscape, and I’m normally included in all outings to town or to the city.

City outings sometimes involve one of these magical places — the drive thru!

A few years ago, I wrote a post about loving snow, and I do. What I’m loving less as I get older is the cold. Logan used to talk about getting cold more easily as he aged and I thought I’d be different, but recent events have changed my mind.

If I’m moving, I am comfortable in almost any weather, even my paws don’t get cold. I stepped into a mountain stream to get a drink on Monday and continued along the trail as before, toes quite comfortable.

Cooling my tongue and my toes in Ribbon Creek.

But, when I stop moving, the chill creeps in quickly, I feel the cold seeping through my camp mat, and the frost crawling into my bones. That’s when I start to shiver, just a little at first, and then it takes over and is like someone hit my vibrate button and turned it to the highest setting.

On Monday, we went on our second “day camping” outing of this stay-at-home winter. I think these day trips are designed to keep us all from getting cabin fever and missing our desert time too much, but I’m not sure it’s working for me. I love the hiking part—there’s nothing quite like a new trail and Ribbon Creek was fantastic—but the picnic in the snow and cold, other than the food, not a huge fan.

Love the exploring part of our day-camping trips.

Evenings can get chilly in the desert at this time of year, and I sometimes need some blanket support, but out in Kananaskis on Monday, I had a woolly coat, was wrapped in a blanket, sitting next to a roaring fire, and still shaking like a leaf. Built for comfort not for cold.

A January late afternoon in Arizona.
A January late afternoon in Alberta.

T’s planning to bring a thicker bed for me on the next day camping adventure, to put more between me and the snow. I’m happy to hear it and hoping it will help, and yet I hate being such a wuss when it comes to cold. I like to think it’s the winters south, not age, that have softened me, but since this is our third winter in a row at home, I’m not sure this theory continues to hold water.

A thicker bed would be nice. And staying on it probably wouldn’t hurt either.

Despite the increasing chill as the sun dropped below the mountains, I did eventually fall asleep, once I’d had a beef chew, two turkey weiners, a few potato chips, and my dinner.

Day Camping

You’ve probably heard of day tripping, and everybody knows about camping, but did you know, that if you put these two things together into “day camping” you have what amounts to a really great time?

Winter isn’t the best season for camping in Canada. It’s not impossible, we’ve done it, but it’s definitely not the carefree, outdoor-living experience of spring/summer/fall camping. Our trailer keeps us nice and warm, but Nollind worries about condensation damaging the trailer, and T isn’t crazy about the winterized and unusable water system.

Me? Well, as much as I like an adventure and I have a decent bed in the trailer, it can be a bit cool on the floor next to the wall, and my trailer bed just doesn’t compare to a futon couch by the fireplace on a cold, winter night. I know. I’m spoiled.

My bed in Simon under the table. Not bad, right?

Last Fur-iday I reported from the Trans Canada highway eastbound with friends G, S, and R riding drag. Well, turns out we were off on our first day camping adventure of the winter. Day camping has many of the elements of regular camping—hiking, cooking over an open flame, eating great food, and camp chairs around the fire as the sun goes down—you just don’t stay overnight.

Dinosaur Provincial Park was Fur-iday’s destination, a place you might remember from past blog posts of a camping trip and a day trip. We arrived at the park around noon and the weather was perfect when we stopped at the viewpoint—calm, warm, sunny. It just doesn’t get better in December around these parts.

Badlands viewpoint.

The only problem with the warm day, and the warm days that preceded it, was the melting and freezing along the Badlands Trail. Yowza, just about needed skates! There was some slipping, some sliding, one backside landing, a little luging, and a fair amount of scrambling, but we all completed the loop without injury and had a fun time along the way.

Rocking a non-icy part of the trail.

After the hike that took a little longer than expected due to the conditions, we were off to set up “camp”. Fire roaring, chairs circled, it was time for one of my very favourite parts of camping, whether the day or overnight variety, FOOD. Tea and snacks around the fire, followed by sausage and marshmallow roasting, and some dog food thrown in for good measure.

Sharesies?

From the time we arrived in camp until about four o’clock it was so warm we hardly needed a fire … but then the sun went behind the hills, and then down altogether. Brrr… I don’t really like wood fires, too much popping, but I ooched as close as I dared, which wasn’t close enough to stay warm. Fortunately, when T noticed I was shivering she put on my jacket and burrito’d me between my two quilted pads. Aaaahhh…camping is the life, isn’t it?

Just call me Chico Burrito.

After supper, T, S, and we two dogs went for a short walk around the campground, followed by a little more campfire, and then it was time to pack up and go home. The downside of day camping is the long drive home instead of tucking into bed in the trailer. Ha! I say long drive like I experienced it. After a full day in the great outdoors, I don’t remember much after Nollind put the truck in gear.

As the sun goes down…

We were hoping to go day camping again with our friends in the near future, had even started talking about destinations, but it looks like that’s on hold until the new year. The latest pandemic restrictions for the humans don’t allow them to visit with each other, even outdoors, for the next four weeks.

I’ll be taking a week off next Fur-iday while Storm reports in. He’s got some good news from the field. :o)