Ferry Point

In the very early 1900s small settlements sprang up across the Canadian prairie, but with the coming of the railroad many that weren’t located close to the new railway lines disappeared or were moved. One of these was Ferry Point, so named because of the ferry service that shuttled settlers back and forth across the Battle River at that location from 1902 until 1907 when a bridge was built. 

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Though it was once home to several businesses including a store, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a pool hall, and a feed mill, the last major building in the community, the Ferry Point Hall, was moved to the nearby town of Rosalind in 1921. Now, there’s nothing there to mark the spot except a small unserviced campground operated by the Ferry Point Historical Society. 

Though it’s less than an hour from here, I had never heard of Ferry Point until last night when I decided to search for a new place to go kayaking. Upon arriving this morning, we discovered that the campground has an excellent spot for launching a canoe or kayak. 

There are many stretches on the Battle River where a person could do an all day or even overnight paddle, but that requires a lot of planning and a second vehicle, something that we don’t have. Instead, our trips on the river are always in and out, back to our starting point. We usually begin by paddling upstream, saving the easier downstream stretch for the return trip when our arms are getting tired. As we made our way upriver, however, we discovered that it was shallow and very weedy as far as we could see. It was a haven for ducks but just about impossible to paddle! 

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After about 15 minutes of tangling the paddles in the weeds and making very little progress, we decided to turn back and try going downstream instead. Though there were still weedy patches, it was much better and we enjoyed a good outing, stopping along the way for a picnic lunch in the boat, and paddling a total of about 7 km.  

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If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that I’m fascinated by the old decaying buildings that dot the prairie landscape. Though there are none left at Ferry Point, we passed an old house very close to the road a few kilometres to the north on our way to the campground. On the way home, I asked hubby to stop so that I could take a few photos. One end is leaning precariously and it looks like it could come tumbling down at any moment! 

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If walls could talk, I always wonder what stories these old houses would tell. Who climbed those corner stairs? What joys and challenges did their lives hold? 

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Today the old house is home only to the flock of pigeon who, surprised by my sudden appearance, flew from the windows when I came close. I was as startled as they were! 

New Missions: The Next Generation

In 1983, the late George DeTellis, his wife, Jeanne, and their children left the United States for Haiti with nothing more than what they could carry on the plane. They lived in tents pitched under a grove of coconut trees and started a church the first Sunday they were there. Now, 38 years later, New Missions, which also branched into the Dominican Republic in 2000, has over 30 churches as well as elementary schools, high schools, medical clinics, a Bible college, and a professional trade school.

For just $35 a month, child sponsorship through New Missions provides a child with quality education, a daily hot lunch which for some is their primary meal of the day, and medical care. New Missions also provides a number of community development initiatives including clean water, vocational training and local employment, all vital in this poorest part of the western hemisphere.

Khetsia

We started sponsoring Marie Kethsia in 2004 when she was a 10-year-old student in third grade. In a country where only 2% of the children finish high school, she went on to graduate! Knowing that she didn’t want her education to end there, we were able to arrange to provide a scholarship that enabled her to pursue training as a laboratory technician. It was a proud moment for us when she graduated last December. Now a beautiful young woman in her 20s, she has completed her practicums and is actively seeking employment in her chosen field. Though our financial commitment to her has come to an end, we have been Facebook friends for the past few years and will continue to keep in touch.

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Four and a half years ago, when Khetsia was nearing the end of high school, we decided thatRodolson 2019 it was time to begin sponsoring another child. Rodolson, who lives with his family in a different Haitian village, was 7 years old when he joined our New Missions family. Now 11, he has just completed grade 6. We look forward to receiving his letters just as we did Khetsia’s.

Since we are no longer supporting Khetsia, a new era began today when we chose yet another child to sponsor. At 7 years old, Dayanah is just a few weeks older than our youngest grandchild. Isn’t she adorable? She just finished first grade. We’re anxiously waiting for her introductory packet to arrive to learn more about her and her family.

Our relationship with New Missions truly entered a new generation a few months ago, however, when our daughter and her family decided to sponsor a little boy named Wendy!

Wendy

If you are not already sponsoring a child or children through another organization, I strongly urge you to consider New Missions. For little more than $1 a day you can make a huge difference in the life of a child, a family, and a community.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Halfway there!

On May 2nd, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th anniversary on October 2. Some days I really look forward to walking. Others, knowing that I’m going to be reporting my progress here on the blog is the only thing that gets me up and out the door!

This month, I’m a couple of days late posting an update because we’ve been camping without internet for the past few days, but I’m happy to report that by July 1, I’d logged another 63.59 km. That’s over 20 km less than I walked in the first month, but I’ve walked a total of 150.66 km. Two months into my five month challenge I’m already halfway there! At this pace, I should be able to complete my 300 km well ahead of schedule.

Again, most of my walking has been on the streets of town, but we hiked just over 9 km while camping at Big Knife Provincial Park in mid June.

In last month’s update, I mentioned that I needed to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. I tried on several different pairs, but as soon as I put these ones on, I knew I’d found what I was looking for!

It was obvious immediately that these were shoes I’d be able to walk many miles in! They’re very supportive, but incredibly lightweight, and as the name implies, they’re like walking on a cloud! That’s thanks to the flytefoam cushioning in the sole and the soft gel unit in the heel. I also love the fact that at least 20% of the primary material of the shoe’s upper is made with recycled material!

So, even on those days when I don’t really feel like it, I’ll keep on walking and report my progress again next month.

On the river again…

There isn’t going to be a Fashion Friday post today. We spent the last few days camping at Big Knife Provincial Park and when I’m camping, fashion is the furthest thing from my mind! Instead, I’m going to share a couple of kayaking experiences with you.

The weather forecast for Monday called for extreme heat, so after a leisurely breakfast we decided to head for the river before the day got too hot. The sun was shining, the air was almost still, and everything was so fresh and green!

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At this time of year the water is high, so we were able to leave the Battle River for a bit and paddle up the much shallower Big Knife Creek. It was like entering another world; a world of untouched and incredibly peaceful wilderness. Unlike last year, we spotted just one beaver and heard only one mighty tail slap. The rest of the time, the water was like a mirror and the reflections were amazing. 

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Returning to the main river, we continued upstream. On the way, we chose a spot where we’d pull ashore for a picnic lunch on our way back. 

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It was there that we had the most amazing experience. We were just returning to the boat when we heard a loud splash just upstream from us. A moose was swimming across the river and I had the camera in my hand!

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She even stopped on the hillside and posed for me before heading into the bush!

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When we started kayaking four years ago, I could only paddle for about an hour and a half before feeling like my arms were going to fall off. On Monday we paddled for almost four and the GPS told us that we’d travelled 10.5 miles (16.9 km). We were pretty impressed with ourselves, but also glad to be back in camp by the time the temperature rose to 35ºC (95ºF) later in the afternoon! 

Our second kayaking adventure was quite different and I didn’t even think to take any photos. We’d done some hiking on Tuesday and left camp for much of the day on Wednesday to go to Camrose for medical appointments, so we decided that we’d go for a short paddle yesterday morning before packing up and heading for home. There’s a bridge not too far downstream from the campground where Secondary Highway 855 crosses the river, so we decided to kayak there and back. The river widens in that area and when we got out on the water, we realized that the wind was MUCH stronger than it had appeared back in the campground which is quite sheltered. It was at our back, so we had no problem getting to the bridge, but when we turned around we quickly realized that there was no way that we were going to be able to battle our way back to the boat launch. Paddling as hard as we could, we were barely able to move forward. Water was splashing over the bow and I was immediately soaked from the waist down. Thankfully, we knew that there was a small road down to the riverside by the bridge that people use to go fishing, so we found a spot to land the kayak nearby and only had to carry it a short distance to that road. Of course, the vehicle was still at the boat launch and now one of us had to walk back to get it! Since I’m trying to walk lots anyway, I volunteered. Richard waited with the kayak while I walked almost 3.5 km (2.16 miles) back to the vehicle. That’s not a lot farther than I walk most days, but much of it was uphill and that horrendous wind was trying to blow me off my feet; the feet that were wearing only water shoes! That definitely wasn’t a fashion statement, but I can say that I’m very thankful that I don’t kayak barefoot! 

 

Walking challenge update #1

This is just a quick post to update you on the walking challenge that I wrote about in this post on May 2nd. My plan was to walk (or hike) 300 kilometres in the five months leading up to our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2nd. The anniversary actually has nothing to do with the challenge other than giving me a good end date to aim for! I wrote about my plan because knowing that I’ll be reporting my progress on the blog makes me accountable. It gets me off the couch and out the door on days when I really don’t feel like walking! 

So, how have I done so far? In order to meet my goal, I need to walk at least 60 km a month. For my American readers, that’s approximately 37.3 miles. In the past month, walking 6 days a week, I’ve actually covered 87.07 km! 

Walking challenge

Most of my walking so far has been on the streets of our small town, but I also explored some of the Hardisty Nature Trails and this week we’ve been camping at Dillberry Lake Provincial Park where we did a short 2.3 km hike on Monday evening and then hiked 8.93 km on Tuesday. With a small group of friends I also took part in a 5 km fundraising walk for multiple sclerosis on Sunday. Together we raised over $2500! 

One thing that I’ve discovered in the past month is that I need to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. So far, I’ve been wearing old ones that don’t have much life left in them. I do have my trusty Merrell hiking shoes, but I don’t want to wear them out walking the streets of town. I could also use the ASICS running shoes that I bought last year specifically for the treadmill, but I want to save them for indoor use. Hopefully by the time I update again a month from now, I’ll be able to show you some new shoes as well as reporting another 60 km or more. 

 

Hardisty Nature Trails

In the part of east-central Alberta where we live the land is flat, but 30 kilometres to the east, the town of Hardisty is nestled into the rolling hills of the Battle River valley. Hubby and I love to hike, so we were delighted to learn recently that a system of trails is under development in the area surrounding Hardisty. Of course, exploring them became a priority!

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In 2019, when the Hardisty and District Development Group was formed, they polled area residents asking what they wanted to see in their town. Brittany MacMillan, of BAM Fitness, was quick to respond. “More walking trails!” was her proposal. “We can get you the equipment and the manpower if you show us what your vision is,” she was told and from there the project took off. By October 2019, a map had been finalized, permission granted, and the cutting of trails began. By the following August, the final loop of the river trails was finished. Trail cutting, clearing deadfall, installing gates, building benches, and much more has all been done by volunteers from the community. Plans for this year include adding signage and extending the trails into more treed areas. Another loop is also in the plans which will join the river trails to two other loops including one that circles Hardisty’s nine hole golf course.

This morning, on what promised to be the hottest day so far this year, we set off to explore the river trails. If only a train had come by at just the right moment, this would have been a perfect photo!

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Though we were barely out of town, it seemed as if we were much further away. We were surrounded by nature and couldn’t hear anything but the occasional bird. 

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In those areas where the leaves are coming out on the trees, their brilliant green was striking against the bright blue sky. 

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In many of the open areas, leaves are just coming out on the silver willow bushes. In another couple of weeks, their strong spicy scent will fill the air. 

Trail maps are available at businesses around town, but I printed one from the Hardisty Nature Trails Facebook page. We got a bit confused at the far end of the trail and may have walked right off the map, but we were ready to turn around at that point anyway. According to our GPS, we walked exactly 5.0 kilometres (3.11 miles) in total. On our way back, we stopped and enjoyed our lunch sitting on this grassy patch beside the river. 

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We look forward to returning to explore the other trail loops at a future date. It’s wonderful to have something like this so close to home! 

A new challenge

I’ve been feeling very sluggish lately. I still do my morning exercise routine most days, but I quit weight lifting earlier than usual this spring when I foolishly tried lifting something I shouldn’t have and hurt my back. It’s okay now, so I really have no excuse except laziness and lack of incentive. Today I decided to do something about that!

Remembering back to last year when I walked 179.5 km as part of the Hoofing It Across Canada fundraiser for NET cancer research, I recalled how good all that walking felt and how much it helped to have a specific goal. That’s what I needed; a new challenge!

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October 2, our 45th wedding anniversary, is 5 months or exactly 154 days from now. I have decided to walk (or hike) 300 km between now and then. That’s an average of 1.95 km a day. (For my American readers, that’s a total of approximately 186 miles or 1.2 miles a day.) I know that I’m capable of walking further, but I also know that I won’t walk every single day and I want to set a goal that’s realistic and achievable. I’m telling you about it so that you’ll help keep me accountable. In fact, I’m wondering if anyone wants to join me? If my goal isn’t right for you, set one of your own and tell us about it in the comment section below.

Why walk?

Walking has many benefits including:

  • It’s accessible, easy, and free.
  • It reduces stress and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety which, for many, have been escalated by the current pandemic.
  • It improves heart health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • It increases blood flow and therefore improves energy levels.
  • It improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • It reduces the risk of some cancers.
  • It boosts the immune system.
  • It helps prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
  • It reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
  • It burns calories.
  • It promotes more restful sleep.
  • It improves flexibility and helps ease chronic pain and stiffness.
  • It improves brain function.
  • It’s even been linked to longer life expectancy!

My current walking challenge is not a fundraiser, but I will be participating in a 5 km walk for Multiple Sclerosis research on May 30 in support of a close friend who battles this disease. If you would like to add your support, you can find my fundraising page here.

Bored games

I may be languishing, but sometimes I think hubby is just plain bored. Almost every day, as soon as we’ve cleaned up from lunch, he announces that the table is clear. That’s his way of saying, “Let’s get out a board game!” Yes, we’ve played a lot of games over the past few months. Our sons are avid game players and have gifted us some great two person games over the past couple of years. Today I’m going to review four of them that have helped stave off boredom for us during the past year of sheltering at home.

7 Wonders Duel

7-Wonders-Duel-300x300Like the parent game, 7 Wonders, this is a civilization building game where players collect cards that represent economic, cultural, scientific, and military achievements. While easy to learn, it presents plenty of interesting challenges and with three possible ways to win, it definitely keeps you on your toes. The game typically takes no more than half an hour to play, so we usually play twice in one sitting. While there are expansions available, we’ve probably played the original 100 times or more without getting tired of it, so we’ve never felt the need to purchase them. For us, another advantage to this game is it’s compact size. It’s easy to pack into the trailer or even a suitcase.

Splendor

pic1904079In this Renaissance inspired game for 2 to 4 players, each player increases their wealth by collecting chips (gems) and using them to purchase cards. The cards, some of which are worth points, give you permanent gems and can be used to make future purchases. In addition, they help you acquire nobles which are also worth points. The game is easy to learn and takes about half an hour to play. The Cities of Splendor Expansion includes four different expansions in one package each offering a unique playing experience. While we don’t have it yet, I can see where we might want to add it at some point in the future.

Alhambra

pic4893652Alhambra was the palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, Spain. The object of the game bearing its name is to purchase building tiles of different kinds and place them strategically to build your own Alhambra. In 3 scoring rounds, points are awarded based on who has the most buildings of each kind. Each player also receives additional points for the longest portion of wall that they’ve managed to build around their Alhambra. The game is designed for 2 to 6 players. In a 2 player game there’s an imaginary third player. At first, we thought that that might be a bit weird, but the third player doesn’t actually enter into the action and his tiles are placed in full view of both players. The game is easy to learn and takes about 45 minutes to play. While there are expansions available, my understanding is that they are better suited to playing with 3 or more players.

Rivals for Catan

Screen Shot 2021-04-24 at 10.52.31 PMRivals for Catan, an adaptation of the original Settlers of Catan, is an updated version of the Catan Card Game. Rivals is a 2 player strategy game that is actually 5 games in one. Each player starts with a small principality and by harvesting and spending resources, builds roads, settlements, buildings, trade ships, and cities and hires heroes. The Introductory Game is a good starting point as there’s lots to learn in this game. It takes about 30 minutes to play. Once you’ve mastered the Introductory Game, new challenges await in The Era of Gold, The Era of Turmoil, and The Era of Progress. Each of these takes about an hour to play. Once you’ve played all three a few times and become familiar with each one, you’re ready for the Duel of the Princes which combines elements of all three and is by far the ultimate Rivals experience. It, too, takes about an hour to play. We have the Deluxe version which includes trays to keep the piles of cards organized as well as a few extra cards which you may or may not choose to incorporate into your playing experience.

Though we’ve been weeding through our collection of games and passing several of them on to our children and grandchildren, we still have a shelf full of older games. These four, however, are the ones that have been keeping our minds active and helping prevent boredom during these months of mostly staying at home.

Languishing

Last September, six months into the current pandemic, I wrote about hitting the Covid-19 wall. I got over that wall, as I knew I probably would, but every once in awhile the feeling returns. Today I learned a new word for what I, and probably many of you, have been experiencing. Apparently, we’re languishing

The dictionary describes languishing as losing or lacking vitality, growing weak or feeble, or suffering from being forced to remain in an unpleasant place or situation. Sound familiar? I thought so!

A recent article in The New York Times calls this “the neglected middle child of mental health”. We’re not depressed, but neither are we flourishing. “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

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As a lover of words, I’m glad to have found one that accurately describes how I’ve been feeling. I’m an introvert. I don’t mind solitude, but sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much. There are days when I get up in the morning and the hours seem to stretch out endlessly in front of me; days when I wonder how I’m going to fill those hours. My life hasn’t ground to a complete standstill, of course, but like everyone else’s, it looks a lot different than it did at the beginning of 2020. I’m missing many of the things that once filled my calendar. 

According to the New York Times article, “Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference.” Perhaps identifying the feeling and giving it a name is an important step toward doing something about it. 

Back in January, when my online friend, Sue Burpee, who writes the blog High Heels in the Wilderness, was languishing (I don’t know if she knew that that was what she was doing) she wrote a post entitled Just One Thing… Every Day. In it, she wrote about asking herself, “What productive thing should I achieve today?” One thing a day became her plan; one that I’ve tried to adopt.

I already had a daily routine and I knew that I was accomplishing something useful every day even if it was just making sure that there were meals on the table, but I felt like I was in a rut with no end in sight. I was definitely languishing! Trying to add one different thing to my usual routine every day has helped. Yesterday it was baking four dozen muffins, today it’s writing this unplanned blog post. Thirteen months into the pandemic, it’s easy to focus on all the things we’re missing. Trying to do something outside my usual routine, especially something that feels productive, is at least a partial antidote. 

Still, if you happen to see me and ask how I’m doing, instead of saying “Great” or “Fine”, I might just say “I’m languishing!”

The last ten

When I sat down to write this evening, my initial plan had been to start working on this Friday’s fashion post, but something else has been weighing on my mind and I decided to go in that direction instead. I’ve written about the Christian and social media before, but tonight that’s where I found myself going again.

I’ve been using Facebook since December 2007. We were about to leave for a year-long teaching assignment in Japan and our daughter insisted that I had to have Facebook as a way of staying in touch. In fact, she actually created my account and chose my first password and profile picture! She was right. In those days, Facebook was a great way to connect with friends and family. We enjoyed exchanging news and posting photos of our families and our daily lives. I even reconnected with a few people that I had completely lost touch with over the years.

Over time, however, Facebook has morphed into something very different than it was in those early days. I don’t mind the proliferation of ads on my Newsfeed because I realize that very little in life is free and someone has to pay for this platform. No, it’s not the ads that bother me, it’s the negativity, the anger, and the misinformation. Gone are the days when people annoyed one another or flirted with one another by “poking” each other on Facebook. Now, many use social media to lash out at one another or to hurl insults at those who disagree with them. Instead of sharing our lives, we try to prove each other wrong.

So, what does the Christian do? Can we be salt and light on social media or would we be better to avoid it altogether? These were the questions that I was wrestling with in late January when I learned of a free 10-day challenge called Instagram for Jesus. Offered by an online women’s ministry called Well-Watered Women, the challenge is simply a series of 10 short emails designed to help users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok examine their motives for using social media and the potential that it holds, as well as set life-giving boundaries. If this sounds like something that might be of interest to you, check it out and sign up here.

If I had to choose the one thing that impacted me most from the 10 short messages, it was this recommendation from Day 8, “Scroll through your last ten posts, and ask yourself what a follower would know about you through those images and words. Consider opportunities to shift that understanding to a clearer image of what it means to walk as a sinner saved by grace.” Even if you’re not a Christ-follower, that first sentence is worth considering. What do your last ten posts tell the world about you? Is that the image you want to portray? If you are a believer, is this how you’re called to represent Christ to the world? If not, what are you going to do about it? For me, the simple practice of looking at my last ten posts, which I’ve been doing from time to time since completing the challenge in February, has been an excellent way to ensure that I’m being the kind of online presence that I want to be. 

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