Devon to Edmonton by kayak

On July 16, 2008 we climbed Mt Fuji, Japan’s most famous peak. Yesterday, exactly ten years later to the day, we kayaked the North Saskatchewan River from Devon, Alberta to Edmonton, which turned out to be a much easier challenge. Much easier, in fact, than we had expected it to be.

According to the Edmonton Canoe website which offers all day excursions, the 33.6 km paddle would take “five to six leisurely hours.” Maybe in canoe. Maybe if you just floated and didn’t paddle. Maybe, but not in our kayak!

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At exactly 10:00 AM, with the help of our daughter-in-law who dropped us off and delivered the vehicle to our end point, we launched the kayak at Devon’s Voyageur Park and headed down river. We usually paddle quite vigorously, but expecting this to be a longer trip than any we’d done before, we reminded ourselves to set a leisurely pace. After all, the river would do some of the work for us. In fact, even if we stopped paddling altogether, we’d eventually reach our destination!

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The day was perfect, hot and sunny with a gentle breeze to keep us comfortable. We aren’t white water kayakers. This stretch of the North Saskatchewan flows steadily, but there are no rapids to contend with. Though there was the occasional small eddy, for the most part the water was very calm. With few other boaters on the river, it was very peaceful and we spotted a couple of deer as well as a bald eagle, though not close enough to get pictures.

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An hour after setting off, we broke for a snack and drifted by the Blackhawk Golf Club on our left. Forty minutes later, we passed the Windermere Golf and Country Club on our right and one of the golfers hailed us with a hearty “Ahoy!” We’d been told that this course was located at approximately our half way point. Already? How could that be?

Sure enough, we’d been paddling less than two hours when the Anthony Henday bridge came into view and it was exactly noon when we passed under it! We hadn’t even stopped for lunch yet and we were already entering Edmonton!

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We found a spot along the riverbank of Terwillegar Park where we could pull ashore for lunch and a rest before finishing our journey.

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When we spotted two replica York boats at anchor we knew that we were passing Fort Edmonton. Imagine taking one of those all the way to Hudson Bay with a heavy load of furs!

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Around the next bend we saw the Whitemud bridge and knew that our destination, the Sir Wilfred Laurier Park boat launch, was just beyond it. We pulled the kayak out of the water at 2:00 PM. The anticipated 5 or 6 hour trip took us only 4. Considering the fact that we spent 45 minutes on shore over lunch, it wasn’t any longer and was actually an easier paddle than last week’s jaunt on the Battle River!

I’m sure that we’ll never climb Mt Fuji again, but I definitely want to do another trip on the North Saskatchewan! I’d like the next one to be longer though.

 

 

 

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#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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Strong arms at the ready?

I lift weights every winter to keep in shape, but this past winter I had a more specific goal to spur me on. I wanted to be able to paddle our kayak longer than I could last summer without feeling like my arms were going to fall off! In particular, I wanted to be able to do a five or six hour trip on the North Saskatchewan River this summer. I started lifting earlier in the fall than I usually do and I continued later into the spring. By the time I quit, just before my May 23 cancer treatment, I was lifting more than I had for several years!

No, we haven’t done that kayak trip yet, but over the past three days, I’ve tested out those arms and shoulders and I think I can do it! On Wednesday we played 18 holes of golf in our local seniors tournament. That’s not a big deal, but then on Thursday we paddled the kayak for more than three hours. Last year that would have been more than I could handle and I must admit that by the time we finished, my arms were sore. I went to bed that night wondering if I really could handle the long river trip, but when I woke up the soreness was gone and I golfed another 18 holes!

Thursday’s excursion took us back to the Battle River, a tributary of the North Saskatchewan  that meanders through central Alberta and western Saskatchewan. Starting at Big Knife Provincial Park, we paddled upstream for an hour an a half. The river moves slowly, so paddling against the flow isn’t as challenging as it might sound.

Battle River

Other than waterfowl, we didn’t see any wildlife, but we were both reminded of Psalm 50:10 when we saw the cows grazing on the grassy hills overlooking parts of the river. “Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”

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Can you see the curious bovine faces peeking at us in this one?

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Holding the camera still enough in a moving kayak to get crisp photos with the zoom lens is virtually impossible, but I did manage to get this one of a very protective Mama duck and her offspring.

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We really weren’t very close, but she squawked and flapped about in quite a frenzy trying to warn us away from her lone duckling. I’m sure her poor heart was beating faster than any duck’s is meant to and I wished I could reassure her that we were no threat. As if scaring her once wasn’t enough, we met her again in exactly the same spot on our trip back down the river. This time Junior was hidden somewhere in the reeds, but once again she did her best to scare us away.

In spite of the fact that the Battle moves slowly, the trip downstream should have been a bit quicker, but we were bucking a stiff wind much of the way and it took a little longer than we expected. We were glad when the bright yellow buoy marking the location of the Big Knife boat launch came into view!

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There will be more kayaking and more golf before we tackle the North Saskatchewan, but campgrounds with decent wifi are few and far between, so it might be a little while before I can post again. Even this one took hours to put together!

 

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.

Packing fail?

LogoWe’re home from Vancouver and I just unpacked a dress, two pairs of capris, a pair of cropped pants, and four tops that never came out of the suitcase during the sixteen days that we were away from home! Considering how much time we spend living out of a suitcase, that definitely felt like a packing failure, but was it?

Why did it happen? Spring and fall are easily the most difficult times of year to pack efficiently for in this part of the world. Weather can vary widely and one needs to be prepared for almost any eventuality. It was 30ºC (86ºF) when I was packing. but I knew it wouldn’t be that hot in Vancouver. I packed for a variety of weather conditions, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the month that Vancouverites are referring to as Junuary! I expected cool days, but also some warmer ones, but day after day it was cool and damp with temperatures in the mid teens. I only wore my sandals and the third pair of capris in the suitcase once. Thankfully, the day that we played tourist was the nicest one of our stay.

Two of the tops were definitely a packing fail. I actually considered wearing them, but in spite of careful folding, they came out of the suitcase looking creased and crumpled. When I shop for clothing, packability is one of the factors that I consider, but these two were hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. I hadn’t traveled with them before and I learned that I’ll be able take them with me in the trailer where I can hang them up, but not when I’m traveling with a suitcase.

So how did I manage when my choices of what to wear were severely limited? Three factors saved the day:

  1. The morning we left home was a cool one prompting me to add one more pair of jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt to the suitcase at the last moment. I was very thankful for those two extra pieces!
  2. The majority of what I packed was neutral in colour allowing me to mix and match, creating a variety of different looks with a limited number of pieces.
  3. I packed plenty of layering pieces including two camis for added warmth under lightweight tops, a jean jacket, a lightweight cardigan, and my cabi waterfront shirt from several seasons ago.

Regardless of season or destination, the latter two are always keys to successful packing. So, while this wasn’t the best packing job I’ve ever done, it wasn’t a total fail!

Taking time to play tourist

In recent years, whenever we’ve come to Vancouver, it’s been a balancing act trying to spend time with my aging father, my mentally handicapped brother, and our quickly growing grandsons (as well as their parents, of course!) We’ve spent very little time enjoying this beautiful city that was my home many decades ago during my teen years. This time I decided to carve out a little bit of time to play tourist.

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Deep Cove

Deep Cove, the easternmost part of the District of North Vancouver, is one of the most scenic spots on the lower mainland. Once a sleepy little village at the end of the road, it has become a major tourist destination. While there are many things to do and see in Deep Cove, the hike to Quarry Rock, which we did with our daughter-in-law and grandsons a little over a year ago, attracts so many people that the District has recently had to introduce more stringent parking regulations and put a cap on the number of hikers allowed on the trail at any one time. Not knowing this, we headed out to Deep Cove late yesterday morning and were lucky to find what might have been the only available parking space in the area! We wandered the two block stretch of Gallant Avenue that forms the community’s commercial core checking out some of the galleries and boutiques before stopping at a tiny bistro for a fish and chips lunch.

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This morning, we crossed the Lions Gate Bridge and drove through Stanley Park on our way to English Bay Beach, Vancouver’s most densely populated beach area.

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Not far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver, we walked the long stretch of sandy beach and I breathed deeply of the salty sea air. Continuing on under the Burrard Street Bridge to the foot of Hornby Street, we caught the colourful Aquabus and crossed the narrow inlet to Granville Island.

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While a person could easily spend all day on Granville Island, one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions, we only had time for a quick wander through the Public Market and a few of the shops and galleries. After enjoying an outdoor lunch overlooking the water, it was time to cross the inlet again and retrace our steps so that we could spend the afternoon visiting with Dad and get back to North Vancouver in time to watch the boys’ Little League baseball game.

Just before we got back to the car, I had to stop and take several pictures of this Pacific Great Blue Heron near the water’s edge.

Silver and gold!

LogoWhen I was young I wore only gold jewelry. I instinctively knew that it looked better on me than silver did. Sure enough, when I had my colours done in the 1980s, the analyst draped me in a gold metallic cloth and I glowed. Not so with silver. My skin had warm undertones and I was a Spring.

With the passage of time, however, I began to notice a change. As silver streaks began to appear in my hair, I realized that I could wear colours that I hadn’t been able to before, particularly black and white. I also began to add silver jewelry to my collection.

I particularly like pieces that combine both metals. I have several pairs of earrings and a favourite necklace that are part gold and part silver. I’ve always been especially thankful that the watch I received as a retirement gift from my employer is also both gold and silver as I wear it almost all the time.

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Until this Christmas, I wore three rings that I never take off (except when I’m undergoing medical scans that require me to remove all metal).  My engagement ring, my wedding ring, and my family ring are all gold. I’ve always thought that adding a silver ring would look odd, but my Christmas gift from my husband solved that problem! It’s both silver and gold!

 

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There’s a long story behind this beautiful and very unique ring. Last summer, we were wandering the shops in Jasper, Alberta with our oldest son and his family when I spotted a ring very similar to this one in Our Native Land, a gallery featuring authentic arts and crafts by Canada’s aboriginal artists. I fell in love with the concept; a wide band of sterling silver overlaid with a narrower band of 14kt yellow gold hand carved with a Northwest Coast motif. If you read my post about The Hazeltons last summer, you might remember how much I love the art and culture of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

When our summer vacation was over, I couldn’t get that ring out of my mind. I began to do some research which soon led me to the website for Vancouver’s Douglas Reynolds Gallery. There I found a wide selection of wonderful rings including a couple of the style I had in mind. The website also referred to a book entitled Understanding Northwest Coast Art by Cheryl Shearar which is a detailed guide to the crests, beings and symbols used in Northwest Coast art. I had my local library bring it in and read it from cover to cover to help me decide what motif I wanted on my ring.

A Hummingbird Ring by Haisla artist, Hollie Bear Bartlett, was one of the ones that had caught my eye on the gallery website. The Haisla Nation are a subgroup of the Kwaguilth people, the group that I had focused on during my first anthropology course many years ago at the University of Calgary. According to Shearar’s book, the hummingbird isn’t traditionally a major motif in their art, but “it’s popularity today indicates that it has become a very important symbol of love and beauty.” Perfect!

I told Richard that this was what I wanted for Christmas, but the ring that was advertised wasn’t my size. He contacted the gallery to find out if it was available in other sizes and was told that they could have the artist make one in my size in time for Christmas. Even better! A ring made especially for me by the artist! Richard arranged to pick it up at the gallery on Dec. 23, the day after we planned to arrive in Vancouver for Christmas. By the time we arrived at the gallery, I was as excited as a little child waiting for Santa! After I tried it on, however, it went back in the box to be wrapped and placed under the tree at our son’s house until Christmas morn.

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The ring wasn’t the only piece of jewelry that I received for Christmas. Santa left this silver bangle in my stocking. I think he probably had some help from my daughter-in-law though! After all, she’s the wise young mom who tied a “courage bracelet” around her timid young son’s wrist to remind him that he could be brave and face whatever challenges come his way. My bracelet says “She believed she could, so she did” and I love it!

Please note: The individual ring photos are from the Douglas Reynolds Gallery website. The other photos are my own.