#13 Haunted Lakes

Sometimes we travel long distances to see new sights when there are hidden gems right on our own doorsteps. Though they’re only about an hour and a half from home, I’d never heard of Haunted Lakes until I started looking for new places to golf and kayak.

According to legend, the natives of the plains had been in the habit of pitching their teepees on the eastern shore of the larger of the two small lakes. Once, in midwinter, seven braves camped there overnight and when they woke the next morning, they spotted the head and antlers of a magnificent buck that was caught in the ice on the other side of the lake. They hastened across the ice to claim their prize, but as soon as they started to chop the ice around the antlers, the mighty beast, still very much alive, broke free and smashing a passageway before him, swam straight to shore and disappeared into the woods. All seven braves were drowned and it is claimed that their spirits still haunt the lake. Supposedly, every winter when the lake is frozen over, a huge fissure appears along the exact path that the deer traveled to shore.

Not being even slightly superstitious, I thought it was pretty funny when I phoned ahead to reserve a camp spot and was told that we would be in site #13! It was actually the perfect spot for us as we were able to launch the kayak directly from our campsite.

I absolutely loved the picturesque Haunted Lakes golf course!

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Never before have I had to tee off with a freight train thundering overhead!

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After playing 18 holes our first day there, we kayaked the perimeter of the lake in the evening. Though it was bigger than it appeared from the campsite, it took just a little over an hour. Later, as we sat outside the trailer doing our devotions and enjoying the evening air, Richard glanced up and noticed what looked to him like the hand of God hovering over the water!

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Our first day at Haunted Lakes was so perfect that we  hoped to repeat it the next day, but after 16 holes of golf, we were driven off the course by thunder rumbling overhead and rain beginning to fall. We spent the remainder of the day hunkered down in the trailer listening to the rain on the roof and watching the wind churn up the lake. Considering how dry it’s been here in central Alberta, we weren’t terribly disappointed, but I look forward to returning again some day and hopefully enjoying more sunshine!

IMG_20180712_133842499_HDRSince this is supposed to be Fashion Friday, here’s a picture of me golfing on another course on our little trip. This is a typical golfing outfit for me. As long as the weather allows, I’ll be found on the course wearing shorts or a skort, a sleeveless golf shirt, a ball cap, and golf sandals. And yes, that’s a knee brace. According to one of my doctors, my knees are older than the rest of me! That’s a nice way of saying that they’re arthritic. I bought the brace mainly for hiking, but since 18 holes of golf (even with a cart) was beginning to cause discomfort, I decided to try it for golfing too and found it very comfortable.

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Trailer packing

LogoIn a previous packing post, I mentioned that there are some items that I can take with me in the trailer that don’t pack well in a suitcase. Since we’re out and about with the trailer this week, I thought I’d share my trailer packing techniques today.

As RVs go, our travel trailer is small; just 24 feet from hitch to bumper with no slide-outs. Though we’ve managed to squeeze in an extra adult and two kids on a couple of occasions, it’s really perfect for just the two of us.

One of the things that attracted me to this particular unit when we bought it was the amount of storage space. Last summer, we spent a full six weeks on the road and if I remember correctly, other than washing my bras by hand, we did laundry three times. This year, we’re planning shorter jaunts, but even on a long trip like that one, I had no problem fitting in enough clothes.

On our current trip, we plan to play several rounds of golf and do quite a bit of kayaking, but we’ll also be spending time in urban settings and we plan to attend church on Sunday. When I was packing the weather forecast looked very favourable, but we all know how quickly that can change, so I packed for a variety of activities and conditions. In fact, I probably packed way more than I’ll actually need!

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The trailer bathroom has a roomy closet where we hang most of our clothes. I’m showing you only my half. As you can see, I packed mostly neutral colours, so that it’s easy to mix things up and create many looks with just a few garments. I do like brightly coloured golf shirts though, so you can see some of those in there and I added my bright red jeans for an additional pop of colour. Although the closet isn’t full length, I did manage to take a dress all the way to Dawson City, Yukon for our nephew’s wedding last summer. I hung it at the end of the closet against the wall and laid the bottom portion of the skirt flat being careful not to pile anything on it.

A second smaller closet near the entrance to the trailer is used for jackets and there’s room beneath them for hats.

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The trailer does have a couple of drawers that we could use for clothing, but we have chosen other uses for them. The one in the bathroom holds toiletries, medications, a travel blow dryer and a handy little travel iron as well as a a few other odds and ends. The reason that we don’t need to use the drawers for clothing is that as soon as I spotted the storage space under the foot of our queen bed, I had a brainwave. I bought each of us a plastic bin to fit into that space. Mine holds socks, underwear, camisoles, pyjamas, shorts and skorts… everything that would usually be folded in drawers. They make packing very simple as we can carry our bins into the house, load them up, and return them to the trailer. Easy peasy!

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Just inside the trailer door there’s a cubby where we pack our shoes. There are usually more shoes crammed in there than you can see here, but Richard hadn’t packed his in yet. What you see is my trusty Merrells used mostly for hiking; some old shoes, sandals and flip flops that I use only around the campground, and the slippers that we keep in the trailer for chilly evenings and mornings. The cupboard is much bigger than it looks from the outside, so there are other things hidden in behind including shoe boxes that hold my dressier shoes and sandals.

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I don’t anticipate having access to wifi very often on this trip, but I look forward to sharing our travels with you as I’m able. If there isn’t a Fashion Friday post next week, be sure to look for one again the week after.

Hidden gems

In addition to world renowned sites like some of the ones in Jasper and Banff National Parks, Canada is home to many hidden gems usually known only to local people. We also found some of those on our recent travels.

After saying good-bye to our son and his family and leaving the mountain parks behind, we spent another week in the nearby foothills where we camped at Bottrel, Alberta with our daughter’s family. There’s actually nothing at Bottrel except a general store and a small unserviced campground, but we heard about it because our son-in-law’s mother lives nearby.

The campground is only 40 minutes from our daughter’s home in northeast Calgary. As soon as we’d set up camp on the bank of the lovely little creek that runs through the campground, we drove into the city to pick up Drew, our oldest grandson, who enjoyed two days of camping with Gram and Grandpa before the rest of the family was able to join us.

One of the things that we wanted to do during that time was introduce Drew to kayaking, but the creek was too small for that and we didn’t know of any lakes in the area. Richard spoke to the storekeeper, who also runs the campground, and learned of a small fishing lake nearby that’s known only to the locals. The highlight of our outing to Winchell Lake was the rare opportunity to watch a loon and her chick close up!

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About 20 minutes from the campground, on our way into Calgary, we had also passed signs for Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. A quick online search revealed that its 2.3 km (1.4 miles) hiking trail with an elevation gain of only 20 metres (66 feet) was popular with young families. Not intending to do the hike until the rest of the family joined us, we decided to take a drive over to the park just to check it out. Drew was so enthusiastic, however, that we ended up hiking the entire trail that day! Of course, as little boys are inclined to do, he put in a few more steps than we did!

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Later in the week, we packed a picnic lunch and returned with the rest of the family. With Drew as our guide, we did the hike again.

An interesting geological feature in this small park, which is located in a beautiful coulee, are the mounds of unusual rock called tufa (too-fah). Apparently tufa forms when water, rich in calcium and carbonate, emerges from the ground. As it comes to the surface, it releases carbon dioxide into the air and forms outcroppings of calcium carbonate rock.

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The first part of the hike was particularly pretty following a stream with lots of little waterfalls.

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I believe this was 3-year-old Simon’s first hike, but he was very keen to go!

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Later in the afternoon, back at the campground, the creek was a great place to cool off!

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Kayaking northern Canada’s lakes

I’m so glad we bought our kayak before embarking on this trip! Northern Canada has thousands of gorgeous lakes, many of them easily accessible by road.

Twin Lakes, Yukon

As we drove the Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Dawson City, we followed the shoreline of Fox Lake for several kilometres. Noting that there was a government campground near the northern end of the lake, we determined to stop there on our way back. When we mentioned that plan to our brother-in-law, Grant, who has spent most of his life living in the Yukon, he suggested that we try the smaller Twin Lakes instead. It was excellent advice!

Smaller than Fox Lake, the western Twin, where we camped and paddled until I thought my arms were going to fall off, was so much fun to explore. As you can see in the view from the campground, there were many little islands to paddle around and hidden bays to discover.

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As we approached one of the little bays, I heard an enormous splash. We stopped and listened. A second splash followed, much too big to be a fish jumping. It had to be a beaver. Paddling ever so slowly and quietly toward the rippled water, we soon spotted a furry brown head just above the surface. Following at a distance, we watched the beaver until he used his flat tail to signal yet another warning and then slipped out of sight. Just around the next bend, we spotted his home.

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Boya Lake, BC

A few days later as we made our way down the Cassiar Highway in northern BC, we stopped to camp at Boya Lake Provincial Park. We lucked out, snagging the most beautiful site in the campground right on the lake front.

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Again, paddling this lake was every bit as interesting as Twin Lakes had been. Though we didn’t hear any loud splashes this time, we did spot another beaver. The colours of the crystal clear water, quite shallow in places, was absolutely beautiful!

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It was the ever changing view from our campsite that was most mesmerizing though. As evening settled in, the water became dead calm and the reflections amazing! I was constantly jumping up to take another photo! Here are just a couple of my favourites.

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If you decide to travel to the Yukon or northern BC and don’t mind camping without any services, I highly recommend government campgrounds. Located in beautiful spots like Twin Lakes and Boya Lake, they offer spacious treed sites and are meticulously maintained. At just $12/night, the Yukon campgrounds are a steal of a deal. BC parks aren’t far behind at only $20/night.

Packing time again!

LogoIt’s packing time again! I seem to spend a lot of my life packing and unpacking, but I’m definitely not complaining. The gypsy in me can hardly wait to be on the road again!

This time I’m preparing for six weeks in our 24 foot trailer. Much of our time will be spent exploring remote and wilderness areas, but we also have a wedding to attend. We’ll be travelling in Alberta, BC and the Yukon, so weather will likely be quite variable. Closet space is limited and opportunities to do laundry may be few and far between. So, what do I pack? 

First of all, I need to think about what we’re going to be doing. In addition to the wedding, there will probably be a couple of social evenings out when we’re in urban areas. For those, I’ll need outfits that are dressy casual. Much of our time will be spent hiking, kayaking, and sitting around campfires though. Those are times when comfort is of utmost importance and I’m less concerned about what I look like. We might not have many opportunities to use them, but our golf clubs are going with us, so I also need to pack appropriate golfing attire. Our final week will be spent at our church’s district wide family camp, a time of fun and fellowship where I’ll be doing lots of socializing, attending worship services and listening to speakers. The camp is located in a rustic, forested setting on the banks of Alberta’s Little Red Deer River. I don’t want to be overdressed, but I do want to look well put together.

Fellow fashion blogger, Jennifer Connolly, of A Well Styled Life is also spending an extended period of time in her RV right now and she recently wrote this post which contains some great tips. As she points out, layering is always an important key to coping with varying temperatures. I’ll definitely want to be able to add or subtract layers as the days warm up or cool off. I’ll also be following Jennifer’s advice and packing a variety of accessories. They take up very little space and easily add polish to an outfit when that’s what’s needed.

A change of shoes can also give an outfit a lift. That’s one area where I can indulge myself on a trip like this one. When we fly, the number of pairs of shoes I can take is limited by suitcase space, but when we travel with our SUV and trailer, I can fit in many more! I’ll need dressy shoes for the wedding, of course. I was thinking of wearing heels, but after looking at the venue online, I’m guessing that the ceremony will be held on the lawn. If that’s the case, I’ll want to wear flats. There’s nothing worse than sinking in and feeling like you’re aerating the grass with every step! In either case, I’ll be taking a pair of dressy flats as well as a couple of casual pairs. I’ll also pack my rubber boots, my hiking shoes, my golf shoes, one or two pairs of sandals, and some flip flops.

Hats are another important item. I even bought a couple of new ones for this trip, but perhaps I’ll tell you about those in another post.

For much of the time that we’re away, we’ll be without internet access. In the past, I’ve discovered that even when a campground or RV park advertises that it has wifi, service can be extremely unpredictable. As a result, I don’t expect to be able to post very regularly and Fashion Friday may not appear every week. I’ll do my best to share some travel posts, however, and hopefully I can also do as Jennifer did and share a little of what I wear along the way.

Bringing the Beatrice home

In 1984, shortly after my father retired, my parents ordered a Volkswagen Westfalia camper van from the factory in Germany. They traveled from their home in Vancouver, BC to Germany via Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, through China, across the USSR on the Trans Siberian railway, and into Europe! After picking up their brand new van in Germany and outfitting it with dishes, bedding and other basic necessities, they lived in it for a year and a half as they traveled around Europe and the Middle East.

Clearly, I came by my wanderlust honestly!

When Mom and Dad finally decided that it was time to return to Canada, they had the van shipped home to Vancouver. Because they’d owned it for over a year, they were able to bring it into the country duty free.

For almost two decades, the blue camper van traveled through the mountains almost every year bringing Grandma and Grandpa to Alberta to visit their grandchildren. It continued to be their only vehicle until Dad, now 93, finally gave up driving a few years ago. At that point, he passed it on to our niece who was a college student at the time. She drove it until she graduated from college, but once she got a job she bought a little car and the van sat under a tarp in my sister’s backyard in Vegreville for the past two years.

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This summer, our son, who also lives in Vancouver, acquired the van from his cousin. Matt plans to use it as a camping vehicle for his young family. Prior to their visit to Alberta last month, we rented a U-Haul auto hauler and moved it to Sedgewick.

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Matt knew that after sitting unused for so long, the vehicle would need some work to make it roadworthy and he came prepared.

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When he knew that the van was going to be his, he joined TheSamba.com, an online site for Volkswagen owners and checked out other informational sites. In addition to learning important information including the common quirks of the vehicle and where to access parts, he discovered that owners of these vintage vans often give them names in the same manner that boat owners name their crafts. I was touched when he chose to name his Beatrice after my late mother!

Sadly, though he had hoped to drive her home to Vancouver, the Beatrice needed more work than Matt was able to accomplish in the few short days that he was at our place. That’s when Plan B came into being and here we are in Vancouver! We loaded the van onto another auto hauler and pulled her through the mountains. Now she’s tucked into a corner of Matt’s backyard where he can work on her as he has time. This has also afforded us another opportunity to visit Dad before winter sets in as well as a few unexpected days with our grandsons!

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In addition to bringing the Beatrice home to the coast, we brought our 17 foot Coleman canoe for Matt, Robin and the boys to enjoy. It’s an extremely durable, very stable family canoe, but bigger and heavier than Richard and I want to haul around anymore. As I paddled it through some fairly rough ocean waves at Porteau Cove on the Sea to Sky highway yesterday afternoon, I knew my paddling days weren’t over though. A couple of waves crashed over the bow and left me soaking wet, but it was a blast and a lightweight kayak is definitely on my wish list!

Robin’s ride

After our day of dinosaur fun at Drumheller, we moved on to Banff where we camped at the beautiful Two Jack Lakeside campground. The main reason for choosing that destination was our daughter-in-law’s participation in the Banff Gran Fondo, a 150 km bike race/ride on Saturday morning.

Our grandson’s, Sam and Nate, slept in the trailer with us on Friday night so that Mom could get a good night’s sleep before her big ride. Before any of us were out of bed in the morning, she was already on her bike! At 7:15 am, we headed over to the campground entrance to watch and cheer her on. As the first wave of riders rounded the curve and came into view, excitement built and it was an emotional moment for all of us when Robin rode by. We are so proud of her!

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It takes a lot of determination for any young mom to prepare for something like this and even more so when she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis! She is definitely one of my heroes!

In addition to offering us a front row view of Robin’s ride, Two Jack Lakeside campground, just minutes away from Banff itself, was a perfect spot for us to explore the area from and just down the path from our campsite were the most stunning views imaginable.

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