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)

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.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

As I mentioned last week in my mini blog post, I went on vacation, just me and my peeps. Yup. Me. All the attention. All the snacks. All the back seat. (But hey, Logan, buddy, pal, in case you’re reading this, we sure missed you!)

What I might not have told you before is that I can be a little, I hate to admit it, needy. I might come across as a cool dude in my posts but, on the inside, I have a lot of insecurities. Will there be enough food? Will there be enough attention? Will I have a comfy place to sleep? Canine concerns. And, when there are other animals around that draw attention and food and space, well, I can get a bit … well … whiny. Ack. Nobody likes a whiny dog.

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The three of us.

I heard them talking before the trip, wondering if travelling solo would push me even further along the “it’s all about me” scale. But, they needn’t have worried. Take away the cats, the horses, the work, and Logan, and I had more than enough food, attention, and comfort to keep me happy. For example, when T and N came back to the hotel after dinner the first night in Edmonton, the container of rib bits was mine all mine.

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Mine … all mine.

The first stop on our 10-day trip was Edmonton for N’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the party and give them my best (Congratulations Allan and Karen!), but I did have a visitor to the Dodge kennel. Thanks for coming to see me, Laurana!

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Visitor to the Dodge kennel.

After a very busy lead-up to our departure, the peeps decided that a day of rest and relaxation was in order so we stayed an additional day in Edmonton. Following breakfast at the hotel and a trip outside for me, they actually climbed back into bed and watched a movie, very unusual behaviour for them. Fortunately for me, they brought one of my bed cover-up sheets so I could join in. What was the movie? Hmm … I may have dozed off once or twice. Something about aliens and guys in black suits and, oh, there was a very cool talking dog.

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Movie time!

Fed and rested, we were off to a dog park along the North Saskatchewan River. On a Sunday morning it was a busy place and I have never met so many dogs in one spot. During the hour and a half at the park, I must have met forty dogs, and the guy in the photo below was my paws-down favourite. We met along the river and again on the way back to the parking lot. Man, did we play hard. He was bigger and younger than me so I was exhausted by the time we reached the truck.

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Me and my new bud.

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Pho Boy Vietnamese Restaurant

The dog park was followed by lunch at a place on Whyte Avenue, a restaurant that allows dogs on their patio. (Thanks, Pho Boy!) They brought me a dish of water and apparently the food was pretty awesome too. T and N ordered a spicy dish so I didn’t get much of a sample but they brought along some of my snacks for me.

I could have stayed in Edmonton all week going to dog parks, eating restaurant leftovers, and lounging in the hotel room but, on Monday morning, we were headed north to Charlie Lake where some of T’s family lives.

We’ve been to T’s mom’s place before, when T’s dad died and they held a memorial for him beside the lake. This trip was a happier occasion, T’s mom’s 90th birthday. 90. Wow. That’s almost as old as Logan (in dog years). And she’s a lot like him, slowing down but still going strong.

It was just us at first and, of course, Grandma Nora (can I call you that or maybe just G’ma?), and T’s oldest brother and wife who live just up the road. And then they started to arrive, the sister, the brothers, the nephews, the nieces, the great nieces and nephew. It was quite a crew by party time on Saturday. One of T’s four brothers hadn’t made it to a family gathering in about twenty years and it was a joyous reunion on Friday night and a big surprise for his mom.

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Hanging with my new friend, Kaden, T’s great nephew.

For the most part, T’s family isn’t what I’d call super dog-friendly, but there are some dog lovers, and I managed to seek them out, doing my best to stay out of the way of everyone else. My favourite part of each day was the morning walk, usually down to the Provincial Park boat launch. I only got in one swim, due to the blue-green algae that drifted in on day three, but the walking was great, and each day we were joined by one or more of T’s siblings.

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Smoky view from the boat launch.

At seven on Monday morning we were on our way home, with a stop in Dawson Creek for fuel and food. I’d been a good and easy travelling companion for the whole trip (proud me) and it was time for my reward … my very own Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a road trip?

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Yum.