Time to Go!

We dogs thought our departure for the south was scheduled for December 15 so I’ve been pretty relaxed about getting ready. Plenty of time. But the past couple of days there have been signs around the house and the farm that our departure is imminent. Horse sitters and house sitters coming by for their instructions, final visits with friends, boxes and bins appearing in every room.

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Farewell dinner with G and S.

With this terrific weather we’ve been having, the snow has all melted, we’ve been out walking in the fields to the west, and I thought the peeps might want to stick around for awhile.  But, not so much. I think they’re seeing it as a good weather window to get south, before the snow and cold returns. I heard T say that the roads are clear all the way to Arizona!

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Winter is taking a break.

Yesterday afternoon was the biggest sign yet, Sid got hitched to the truck and pulled closer to the house. Yikes!

So, last night, I quickly packed everything crucial.

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Priorities packed.

It’s Friday now and we don’t seem to be going anywhere just yet so I think there’s time to pull out my take-along list from last year. I was so much more organized. I guess that’s what happens when the date gets moved up by a week.

Anyway, best get to it. When T and Nollind are on a roll, things happen quickly, especially when the weather is cooperating. Talk to you from the road!

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Full moon on the prairie.

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Point Me South

Since I’m not a big fan of travelling, until now I didn’t quite understand the masses of people that drive south to places like Florida, Arizona and California in the winter. I mean, winter’s not that bad. I’ve always liked the snow. And it feels a bit like cheating. Not to mention, for us, with Sid in tow and dogs needing semi-regular breaks, it’s about 33 hours of truck time to get to Quartzsite, Arizona. That’s like driving to downtown Calgary and back 22 times! In a row!

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Truck time.

 

It’s also at least two overnights in the cold country which means the trailer slides stay in and I don’t have access to my couch. (Yes, I have my own couch.) We used to put the slides out, until a few years ago in Great Falls when it was -20 and the mechanism broke on the big slide. And, in addition to making do with a temporary bed on the floor, it’s cold! Sid is nice down in the desert, but really not built for the gauntlet of well-below-freezing temperatures we travel through to get there. The cold seeps in through every little gap.

And, it means four days of getting in and out of the truck multiple times, which I can no longer do unassisted, and I hate needing help. It means four days of not enough sleep. It means four days of being in fifteen square feet with Chico. It means four days of not being comfortable.

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Me travelling with Chico is a bit like an insomniac watching somebody sleep. 

 

When the talk first turned to whether or not we’d travel south this year, I was kind of hoping we’d stay home. It takes a lot out of me getting down there. And it’s so comfy at home. When my health was taking a turn back in early October, it sounded like we wouldn’t be going. I felt bad about messing with Teresa & Nollind’s travel plans, but I was kind of relieved.

And then I started to feel better and they started talking about travelling again. “Crap!” I thought. At least, that was, until winter arrived about ten days ago.

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Winter arrives on the farm.

 

Six years and four trips later, I think I get it. I understand why so many retired people, some of them quite elderly, make the journey south, despite having to run the winter gauntlet and endure many miles of travel.

Winter really sucks when you’re old. Your bones ache. You get the shivers easily. Navigating snow and ice is more challenging than it used to be. Winter is just not a friendly place for an old person … or dog.

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It’s been cold for November!

 

My feet always were a little more sensitive to the cold than Chico’s but this year it’s ridiculous. They’re cold as soon as we get outside! And the foot attached to my bad leg? It’s a bit like an ice cube in the house and hurts like the devil outside. Shaking it and biting at it don’t seem to help at all.

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Following a horse trail makes the winter walking a bit easier.

 

Okay, so Teresa puts boots on me. Aaah … so much better. Except, this year, the damn things make me trip. I did a full face plant into a pile of snow along the road the other day when I got tripped up by my Muttluks. Sheesh.

I used to need a jacket on the really cold days, like -20 and colder, to avoid shivering. Now I wear one overnight (in the house!) to stay warm enough.

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Me after a walk in the snow.

 

And I don’t think I even need to talk about what it’s like to walk in deep snow or on ice with my increasingly wobbly legs. Just think about a dog wearing roller skates and you’ll be close.

Since winter arrived on the 1st of November, as I’ve been watching the V’s of Canada Geese and Snow Geese fly overhead, all I can think about is the desert. How 33 hours of truck time equals 100+ days of lying in the sun. How four days of getting in and out of the truck equals three and half months of walks on warm, dry ground. How four days of discomfort up front equals fewer aches, pains, and shivers for the rest of the winter.

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One of many desert walks last winter.

 

It’s still five weeks until our planned departure date and, as I’ve learned in the past few months, a lot can change in that amount of time. But, at this point, I’m in. Point me south and call me a snowbird!

 

 

Head for the Hills!

It was my first time in the Cypress Hills, Logan’s too, and I sure hope we go back again … and again. T and Nollind stayed in a cabin there when they were just married so they thought it would be a nice place to go to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. It didn’t hurt that it was snowing in the Rockies so heading east seemed like a good idea. We spent the first couple of days on our own and were joined by friends G & S and their tow behind “Piper” on Friday.

 

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On the road after a Tim’s stop for chili.

 

This is me on departure morning. I do love a road trip!

If you’ve never been to the Cypress Hills, or perhaps don’t know about them, they are remnants of the erosion of a Tertiary plateau of sediment formed during the initial uplift of the Rocky Mountains. (Surprised you with that one, didn’t I? Okay … I copied it from Wikipedia.) In other words, they’re these really cool hills in the southeast corner of Alberta and the southwest corner of Saskatchewan that rise up out of the big, flat prairie to a height of 1,466 metres or 4,810 feet.

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Camp from the Old Baldy trail.

Because the hills get more rain and snow than the surrounding prairie, they’re covered in forest and grassland, sharing vegetation with the mountains of Montana and Wyoming more so than with Canada. The altitude is similar to Banff so some of the animals you find in the mountains live here – cougars in particular. Cats are kinda scary when they’re ten pounds. Not sure I need to see the 30-100 kg variety. Yikes.

We camped at Old Baldy Campground, named so because it sits right at the base of a big, bare hill called Old Baldy. We hiked up to the top on Saturday morning and from up there we could see our campsite down below and Elkwater Lake on the other side. Although, my view was somewhat limited by the aforementioned grassland.

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A dog’s eye view.

From on top of Old Baldy (makes me want to sing) we took a path down to the lake and took the boardwalk through the marshes along the lakeshore. It was too chilly for swimming so I stayed on top rather than under the boardwalk (are you singing yet?)

 

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Along Elkwater Lake with G and S.

 

Logan wasn’t able to come with us on the Old Baldy hike. It was just too much of a climb for him, and too far, so he quite unhappily stayed back in the trailer. He came along on Sunday morning’s hike up at Horseshoe Canyon where the trail was flatter, but he still needed a rest part way. As you can see, I didn’t really mind.

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Rest stop along the Horseshoe Canyon trail.

We didn’t have the warmest camping weather but we had Little Red and I had my Mexican blanket. Suits me, don’t you think? The humans were in toques, gloves and quite likely long underwear, but they braved the elements on Saturday evening to dine outdoors and spend time around the fire.

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Campfire time.

Sunday dawned much sunnier and warmer but, after our trip up to Horseshoe Canyon, it was time to hit the road home. I would have been content to stay another day, or week, but the peeps had to get home and back to work. Speaking of, you won’t be hearing from us next Fur-iday. T and Nollind will be up at the Fall Classic Sale and we dogs will be hanging out in Calgary with G & S.

 

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Looking forward to a lot of this next weekend!

 

See you on Fur-iday the 13th!