Posts Tagged With: wildflowers

All’s Well in Quesnel –August 7, 2006

Hello from the Cariboo!

Well – we aren’t in Alaska. Last night the Man spotted a White Spot Restaurant in Dawson Creek and got all drooly over the thought of a cheeseburger with Triple ‘O’ sauce (my apologies to all fellow vegetarians). He decided there are better chances of finding White Spots by going south than heading north so, phew, here we are.

We did drive a few hundred metres on the Alaska Highway heading out of town before hitting a turnoff to the south-west. Dawson Creek is the ‘Mile 0’ milepost for the 1500 mile (2,400 kilometre) Alaska Highway that was built through a joint effort with the US in 1942 to ship supplies to the US military stationed in Alaska. The Man says we’ll have to make that trip another time because it is starting to get a little crowded and noisy with another baaaing sheep.

Misinchinka Range

Misinchinka Range

Leaving Dawson Creek we drove westish towards Chetwynd through rolling ranch land with the forests getting progressively thicker and taller. From Chetwynd the highway has very few services all the way to Prince George, about 250 miles (400 kilometres). It’s a beautiful highway following the Pine River to the Pine Pass of the Misinchinka/Hart Range which is all part of the Rockies.

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Misinchinka Range

We had all forgotten (especially me since it was more than two days ago) how beautiful BC is! The highway followed the base of the mountain range which were tall enough to be above the tree line. The lower slopes show much evidence of winter avalanches and it must be quite scary during winter snows and winds. Quite breathtaking at this time of year though with lots of beautiful lakes, poplar and spruce forests and lovely vistas.

Azu Lake

Azouetta Lake

Azu Lake

Azouetta Lake

We didn’t make great time because the Lady was having Garage Sale Withdrawal again so we had to stop at two very pathetic sales. Even so, the Lady managed to find more stuff to buy. It was quite a shock to Jake as he isn’t used to such blatant consumerism and such dubious merchandise. Wait until he sees what’s in the trunk when we get home! The Man was able to divert the Lady’s attention two or three other times so she missed a few sales.

Once on the other side of Pine Pass, the land sloped gently towards Prince George. We saw more farms mixed in with the forest. In Prince George the Nechako River joins the Fraser River and heads south to Vancouver pointing our way. We went a bit further and ended up in Quesnel for the night.

Quesnel is another of the wonderfully historic towns in this area. Just bush in 1862, the town became the supply depot for the boomtown of Barkerville and the Cariboo Gold Rush when Billy Barker discovered gold on Williams Creek 56 miles (90 kilometres) east of Quesnel. In its heyday Barkerville was the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Quesnel played an important part in supplying the needs of Barkerville. Supplies came up the Cariboo Wagon Trail or up the Fraser River by steamboat when it was still navigable. The town managed to sustain itself through agriculture and forestry even after the gold rush diminished and it continues to flourish.

One thing that is kind of sad to see is the spruce budworm/pine beetle epidemic that is killing acres and acres of forest every year. Because of warmer winters, the larva of these bugs aren’t being killed and it has become a very serious problem. We could see whole hillsides of forest turned red from dead trees.

Tomorrow I’m not sure what that Man has in store for us. We’re getting closer to home but we may do a bit of exploring. I’ll let you know our plans!

Til later,

Miss Ewe (and Jake)

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Categories: British Columbia, Cross Canada Road Trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newfoundland Farewell – July 19, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Cape Ray

Cape Ray

Well, we’re on the boat heading back to Nova Scotia after a sad farewell to Newfoundland. We had a great final two days seeing the sights we missed on our arrival.

Long Range Mountains

Long Range Mountains

Newfoundland is a place for all the senses. The beautiful green 1,968 to 2,600 foot (600-800 metre) high Long Range Mountains, the northern extension of the Appalachian Mountains, that run up the right side of the highway when you first disembark from the ferry to L’Anse aux Meadows. You can sit and watch the clouds flow over the peaks like water. Not far from Port aux Basques is Wreckhouse where, because of the wall of mountains, the wind can get up to 125 mph (200 km/hour). When the train used to run, boxcars were, at times, blown right off the tracks. And of course the wildflowers – lupines, wild roses, harebell, cow parsnip, yellow buttercups by the acre rolling down through the colourful saltbox houses to the azure sea.

Long Range Mountains

Long Range Mountains

The profusion of flowers creates a bouquet for the nose. Clover flowers so thick you can smell the blossoms (my mouth’s watering again). The smell of peat and warm juniper, spruce trees and poplar, the ocean shoreline and the not so pleasant smell of thousands of seabirds nesting on small islands just off shore.

Red Rock

Red Rock

Newfoundland is most remarkable for what you don’t hear. No industrial noises, few airplanes, little traffic. In the small shoreline towns at night you might hear the waves running up on shore or the wind in the trees. In the morning you are awakened by seagulls and terns instead of an alarm clock. You may hear the fish boats leaving the harbour or the bells on the buoys or occasionally a foghorn in the distance, the baaing of a blessèd sheep or mooing cow. With a population of less than 500,000 and an area of 43,008 square miles (111,390 kilometres squared), the ratio of cars to roadways is very small so traffic problems aren’t an issue.

Red Rock

Red Rock

It is also a land of contrasts from the high tabletop mountains and 800 metre Gros Morne to the flat limestone shelves of Phillip’s Garden. You have the rugged Oregon coast-like shoreline in Bonavista to the sandy beaches at Cape Ray. The dense (though short) spruce/birch/poplar forests of the interior to the windswept barren plains of the west coast. The heritage of cold blooded Vikings and hot blooded Basques. The sand dunes being re-sculpted every day and The Arches made up of some of the oldest rock in the world, rock that should be buried deep within the earth but due to cataclysmic forces have been forced to the surface giving geologists the first concrete evidence of continental drift.

Wreckhouse

Wreckhouse

And of course Newfoundland wouldn’t be Newfoundland without it’s special people. A quality of people not too dissimilar to British Columbia inhabitants. Perhaps it is the isolationism of Newfoundland being an island and British Columbia hiding behind the barrier of the Rockies. Friendly people who will stop to talk and within four sentences be willing to tell you their life story and often do. Waitresses who call you ‘my darling’ when they serve you and will often give you a reassuring pat on the arm. The men who like to discuss the fishing situation and, of course, tell of their moose encounters. These are people who have to make do and have struggled hard to subsist but instead of making them inward and selfish they are always willing to give you advise or help you out. As the sign in the small town of Bonavista says, “We have been welcoming visitors for over 500 years.” But, there is also a sadness to the people as we talked to many of the adults. Time and time again, when discussing children, we found the common thread was that their son was in Edmonton or their daughter was in Ontario. There is little or no work for the young people and they have to move away. There is concern now that many of the small outpost communities will not last much longer as fishing becomes harder and the young people don’t return.

When you talk about the people you can’t ignore their figures of speech and accents. Quite amazing to listen to little kids who often have a stronger accent than their parents. It was really strange the other day to be in a restaurant listening to an Oriental woman with a strong Newfie accent.

So . . . I am so glad that the Man and Lady persevered and made the last push to this wonderful island. The Man says that if there are any future trips it would be to fly directly to Newfoundland, rent a RV and stay for a couple of months. Even then there would be so much more to see.

Leaving Newfoundland

Leaving Newfoundland

By the way, the miles/kilometres we have driven from our doorstep to Cape Spear are 8,894 miles (14,824 kilometres). The Lady and I were looking at the Man the other day and realized that either he’s been in the car too long or he needs better quality shirts. Both of his favourite shirts have a dark diagonal line down the front where the seatbelt strap lies. The rest of his shirt has faded from the sunlight.

Today we’ll be in Nova Scotia. We will drive up towards the Confederation Bridge which we’ll take to Prince Edward Island instead of the ferry. Probably a quick tour of PEI and then the return home. Most likely faster than the trip out!

Leaving Newfoundland

Leaving Newfoundland

One last ‘funny’ before signing off. The other day as we were checking out we were talking to a female acquaintance we met where we were staying. She remarked to us giggling, “Isn’t it funny, all our rooms have started with the number 2.” The Man didn’t have the heart to tell her it was because they always stayed on the second floor.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Yakking Ewfie – July 11, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

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Hi there,

Well, we did a first today – we had our first stay over since visiting with the Man and Lady’s friends in Bragg Creek. We entered Gros Morne Park yesterday afternoon and had a wonderful time exploring. Met a Newfoundland man with his family at a viewpoint and he HAD to tell the Man his moose story. He drives about 37,000 miles (60,000 kilometres) a year with his business and felt he was very moose aware. Two weeks ago he and his wife hit a moose that leaped onto the road. Their SUV was totalled, the engine pushed right into the passenger compartment and the front part of the roof ripped right off. They were bruised, shaken and suffered facial injuries. The Man was impressed and is being a little more cautious in his moose hunt.

About 10 minutes later the Man and Lady saw a wonderful moose specimen on the side of the road. Unfortunately, the moose chose a spot where the Man couldn’t stop which they seem to do on purpose unless they’re flashing their butts. Not long after we pulled into the trailhead for the Western Brook Pond boat tour and met two hikers who told us there were TWO moose just around the curve of the trail.

The Man went tearing down the path and, lo and behold, there WERE two moose about 40 feet (10 metres) away chomping on reeds. The Man managed to get three pretty good photos of apparently girl mooses. He says as soon as he gets a good photo of a boy moose he will take moose off his ‘hunt’ list. He thinks porcupines will be the next goal. We saw lots of dead porcupines in Nova Scotia as they seem to be the bête du jour for road kill there.

We were too late to do the boat trip up Western Brook Pond which is an incredible land-locked fjord but we will do it on our return trip. The Man and Lady have decided to take the ‘Viking Trail’ up the western coast of Newfoundland to see a site the Man has always wanted to see. On the northern tip of Newfoundland is L’Anse aux Meadows. This is where the Vikings landed in the new world 1000 years ago. The settlement has been restored and we hear there is a lot to see and learn. It will mean a 500 mile (800 kilometre) diversion but from what we have seen of Newfoundland so far, it will be well worth it. As our friend Lauri said, Newfoundland is like one great big national park. It is beautiful!

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We found a great motel in Cow Head which looks like they just kept adding buildings onto one end as they expanded. You walk down one long corridor through about four doors. We were right near the end on a room about 50 feet (15 metres) from the high tide line. Last night we watched an amazing sunset that lasted more than an hour. The room is very quiet, all we can hear are seagulls and terns on the nearby islands.

We had such a good sleep and because we wanted to do some kayaking, we booked another night. This morning we headed up the coast 13 miles (20 kilometres) to explore the possibility of kayaking in an area called The Arches. The Arches are huge limestone arches sitting on the shoreline that are slowly being eroded by the ocean.

It wasn’t really a good area for kayaking so we headed back to Cow Head where there was a park area called Shallow Bay. It is large with 3 miles (5 kilometres) of sand beaches and sand dunes. Very pretty with a chain of small islands extending across the mouth of the bay creating a huge sheltered lagoon. While tempting, it was too far to portage the kayak so we headed to the actual Cow Head. Cow Head is a high, once upon a time island at the south end of Shallow Bay. It is now connected by a thin corridor and the town harbour and fisheries is located on it.

It was a good spot to put the kayak in and with a 10 minute paddle we were able to reach the small islands. We had a great time with beautiful clear, glassy calm but shallow water to putter in. The islands, which we thought from a distance to be sand turned out to be limestone covered with wildflowers and a coarse green vegetation. There were hundreds of gulls and terns who, by their reaction to us, were protecting their nests and chicks. We were probably a 1/2 mile (kilometre) offshore and had a great view of the mountains running up and down the coastline. Very dramatic and beautiful.

Cow Head

Cow Head

Cow Head used to be the summer camp of Inuit and early settlers where they would hunt seal and fish. As winter moved in they would move onto the ‘mainland’ to winter over there. The two sites are known as Summerside and Winterside. Lots of old, old history here.

So . . . that’s it for tonight – tired legs so I’m going to hit the hay – baaa, baaa, baaa. Heading north tomorrow.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goofie Ewefie – July 9, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

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Hi there,

Well, we’ve landed in Newfoundland in one piece. The ferry ride convinced me of one thing . . . we’re not taking the long ferry ride home on the way back. When we got to the ferry this morning we found out they had a ‘NO SHEEP’ policy for the passenger deck so they stuck me in the kennels for 6 hours with a bunch of yapping, stinking dogs. It will take me a week to get the smell out – I might even need a shearing!

Meanwhile, the Man and Lady are above decks listening to live music, watching a movie, having a great breakfast and lunch, using the free wireless Internet and lounging in the bar/lounge. When the Man came to rescue me I told him it was the last time that was going to happen. I managed to convince him that if he drove one way across Newfoundland he would probably get his usual butt picture of a moose BUT if he drove back the other way he would get the head and then he could Photoshop the two together. Now he’s all excited to do that instead of sitting 14 long hours on the ferry. Whewww!

So . . . the Lady’s first impression of Newfoundland. . ., “Where are the trees”? The Man had to explain that there are no trees because they are blown off in the winter gales. That didn’t go over too well. We were all quite amazed though at how the landscape had changed after travelling not that far east and north. The coastal area is very rocky and there are only small trees in the wind protected nooks and crannies. The rock is covered with stubby salal, juniper and grasses. Lots of wild flowers still blooming here everywhere – wild rose and iris, clover, evening primrose, fireweed, buttercup and daisies.

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The Man decided that Port aux Basque, where we arrived, would be too busy after the ferry disgorged us and that we would find accommodation in the next major town, Stephenville. We knew we were in trouble when we saw road signs saying, “Stephensville Exit 115 km” – not many towns in between. Road signs seem to be a major industry for Newfoundland. We first saw a “Bump 1 km” sign, then “Bump 500 m,” “Bump 100 m – Slow to 50″, “Bump 50 m – Slow to 20” and then the slight ripple in the road. Three minutes later we’re jostling through unannounced potholes.

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The Trans Canada here is actually great with lots of double lanes and hardly any traffic.

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Our limited view of the countryside has been amazing. Driving out of Port aux Basque you have the ocean on the left with green bog like fields running down to the shore. For miles on the right are high 1500+ foot Long Range Mountains in amazing geometric shapes – cones, flat topped parallelograms (sp? – I’m only a sheep) and triangles. Deep glacier hewn valleys running through them and all free of trees but completely covered with short shrubbery in beautiful shades of green. Later as we moved inland there were small blue lakes surrounded by yellow peat bogs. There is more soil therefore more trees and taller – a soaring 10 feet (3 metres) high BUT they are trees – spruce and deciduous.

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Nearing Stephensville we again approached the shoreline and saw beautiful sand dunes and long, white sandy beaches. The short, stubby spruce and juniper trees on the shore are all at a permanent 45º angle due to the wind. The rock is black and igneous and the water so clear it has that aqua blue quality we saw in Lake Superior. It all looked very tropical and beautiful.

However . . . when we arrived in Stephenville, the town the Man chose as our final destination for the night, things did not look as good. First, driving into town the Man of course got lost then found his way again. We drove by a huge, now closed pulp mill and then some shut down warehouses, then some large blacktopped areas surrounded by barbed wire filled with piles of old tires, then an actual US fighter jet (?) on a pedestal, barrack like apartments and then we started driving down streets call ‘Ohio Avenue’, ‘Minnesota Street,’ ‘Florida Avenue,’ etc. Very strange! We finally found a little better section of town and found a nice place to stay.

It turns out that in 1941, as part of the Lend-Lease Agreement between the US and Britain, the US was given the OK to build an air force base in Stephenville. It was to become the biggest US air force base outside of the continental US. It lasted until 1966 when the US pulled out leaving a hundred million dollars worth of buildings and a world-class airport.

The other claim to fame for Stephenville, as reported by Walter Winchell in 1949, was that the US Air Force had photographed three UFO’s over Stephenville and had tried to pursue them but the UFO’s outran the US jets.

AFTER we got settled the Man read his guidebook to see what it had to say about Stephenville – “Stephenville is possibly the least appealing town in Newfoundland and, festival time aside, there is no compelling reason to stop.”

Well, it looks like it’s all uphill from here – I’ll let you know!

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Story from Tobermory – June 16, 2006

Well, it’s been a while –

A lot of oats have been eaten (an Olde Sheepe adage) since I was last in touch. The Man has been up to par, leading us to the only places in the country where there isn’t Internet or cell phone coverage.

 

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Manitoulin Farm

Despite that, we have been having a great time. We arrived on Manitoulin Island on Tuesday the 13th and ended up spending 2½ days there. The island is beautiful and if it was in BC we would move to it immediately. Manitoulin is the largest fresh water island in the world – 140 kilometres long and 42 kilometres wide. We managed to drive over 600 kilometres on it – exploring parks and old 1800’s lighthouses. The island was once connected to Bruce Peninsula to the south and is the end of the Niagara Escarpment. 800 kilometres southeast at the other end is Niagara Falls.

The island is very rugged, made up of limestone, white quartzite and granite. Around the coastline the limestone lies in sheets like an old parking lot. Wherever there are cracks, junipers and wildflowers are in profusion – wild iris, lady slipper orchids (and 19 other varieties of orchids), columbine, daisies, lupines, tiger lilies, wild grapes, Black-eyed Susan, wild rose, lilac, wild onion, trillium, Solomon’s Seal and on and on. It makes my mouth water just writing about it.

Because of the limestone and large field rock the farming on the coast is marginal, mainly cattle and blessèd sheep (obviously a civilized bunch of humans living here). In the interior of the island there is better and deeper soil and the farms are much larger producing mainly hay. By looking at the buildings and fencing you can easily tell that this is a much older settlement than BC.

 

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Meldrum Bay Inn

The first day we drove to the end of the island to a town called Meldrum Bay (one inn, one closed store, one closed museum but the laundromat was open – whew). We stayed at the 103 year old inn there and were the only guests. Actually, the Man and the Lady stayed in the inn, I had to sleep in the car because they had a ‘No Sheep’ policy. It wasn’t too bad though because I looked right out into the North Channel of Lake Huron. During the night I managed to see a beaver, some river otters and some rabbits so there was lots of company. The hosts at the inn were an interesting couple and very friendly as are all the people we have met. It turns out the hostess has a young grandson in Sechelt and she used to live in Vancouver (though originally she was from South Africa).

The next morning we drove to an old lighthouse and had a tour of it. I got a bit of a scare as there is a large limestone quarry near the lighthouse and while we were staring at the view there was a HUGE explosion. Nearly scared me out of my woollies and my hair stood on end. The Lady had to give me a perm the next day to get me curly again.

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After that we went on a LOOONG, hot hike into Misery Bay. As with most of the shoreline, the limestone goes right into the lake. Some is very rugged and carved by the waves, some flat and smooth. It causes the very clear, clean water to turn incredible shades of blues, greens, and browns – something the Man takes endless photos of. That night we stayed in Mindemoya.

 

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Yesterday we did a bit more exploring – my perm almost failed me when another large, black bear ran across the road, too fast for the Man’s shutter finger. We drove to South Baymouth and caught the 3:30 ferry to Tobermory on the north end of Bruce Peninsula.

 

South Baymouth

South Baymouth

Tobermory

Tobermory

The ferry is a little smaller than our BC ferries but quite a bit nicer. The trip takes one hour and 45 minutes through the beautiful blue waters of Lake Huron. Bruce Peninsula is an 80 kilometre long limestone outcrop that juts out into Lake Huron. On one side is Lake Huron and on the other is Georgian Bay. On the lake side are large, white sandy beaches with warm water and on the bay side are the high, rugged limestone cliffs with cold water.

This morning we went for another long hike in the Bruce Peninsula National Park which is an UNESCO world biosphere area. Lots of rare plants and protected animals like YIKES rattlesnakes – that and the poison ivy stopped me from romping through the bushes! The hike we went on was quite rugged in places, crawling over broken limestone on the top of high cliffs but the view and landscape was incredible! And the colours!

 


We have been jinxed as far as kayaking on the Great Lakes due to wind but we think we have scoped out a good place for tomorrow. We are staying another night in Tobermory and then we’ll head south tomorrow. Not too sure how far we’ll get cause the Man and the Lady keep finding great places they want to explore.

So . . . we’ll be it touch IF we can find an Internet connection.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Ontario | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marathon Sleeping – June 10, 2006

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Hi all…

We’re in Marathon, Ontario tonight after a beautiful day of travelling. Actually we’re on the outskirts of Marathon as Marathon is a pulp mill town and downtown has a bit to be desired. We’re staying in a very nice motel just off Highway 17 (southern route of the Trans Canada).

The Man’s sister asked in an email how it is travelling on the Trans Canada. It has all been great except yesterday when the Man’s driving was very embarrassing to me – in fact I had to pull the wool over my eyes. Around Thunder Bay the traffic increased a lot. Many semis and fast driving cars. The Man has decided that he is definitely a tourist so drives like one. His theory is that he will drive the speed limit and he will pull over when either the cars behind him start honking OR he accumulates more than fifty cars–whichever comes first! I spend a lot of the time on the floor.

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Trans Canada Highway

Today was more typical of most days. I think we had perhaps fifteen cars come up behind us the whole day. The road is very quiet and a pleasure to drive. There are lots of areas to pull over and enjoy the view or just let other cars pass. The views have been incredible with Lake Superior glowing in all sorts of shades of blues looking almost tropical against the bright green of the deciduous forest and the dark green spruce.

We popped into the small town of Rossport which used to be a huge fishing port until the fish were all fished away. Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes, in fact all the other Great Lakes could fit into it. It’s about 530 kilometres wide and 260 kilometres long. Waves over 9 metres (30 feet) high have been recorded on it. It looks like the ocean and there are places that you can look across to the horizon and see no land. Despite it’s size, there are winters when the entire lake will freeze. Towns along this route are about one hour apart with just forest and lakes and great rock (much of it very red).

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Rossport, Ontario

In Rossport, the Lady found a store she wanted to visit. Fortunately there was a sign on the door saying that there was a husband ‘waiting bench’ and a viewpoint behind the store so both the Man and Lady were happy.

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Rainbow Falls

We were also able to go on a beautiful hike up to Rainbow Falls just past Rossport. The rainbow wasn’t found in the actual waterfall but in the rocks and vegetation along the river. Lots of pink and gray granite, wildflowers and different colours of lichens.

We saw one squirrel, lots of mosquitoes, one live moose from a viewpoint about a mile away and one moose road kill.  It looked like that moose did a job on whatever hit him – lots of car parts on the road.

Tomorrow we continue south towards Sault Ste. Marie. We’re hoping to get a kayak in but today was apparently unusually windy so perhaps tomorrow.

 

Til the next time,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Ontario | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Easter Than Yesterday – June 6, 2006

Hi again,

Well . . . today started out badly with the Man moping about, feeling lower than a snake’s hip because there was no thunderstorm.  He grumbled through breakfast and then came up with the bright idea that we need an adventure to cheer us up.  Without any research he decided that we needed to ascend to the very top of Turtle Mountain to the south of us.

After telling us to unpack all our winter clothes and find some safety blankets, he ran off to the hardware store to find some mini oxygen canisters in case the going got rough.  The Lady and I were getting a little nervous about the whole project.  Finally everything was packed and we headed to the base of the mountain.  Twenty minutes later we had ascended 807 feet (245 meters) to the very summit and we were feeling really warm in the 23º C weather wearing our winter clothes.  Fortunately there was a lake on top but unfortunately it was a little too windy to go kayaking.  We decided to carry on east.  I found the 807 foot (245 meter) descent thrilling, sticking my head out the car window and allowing the wind to rush through my curls.

 

 

We thought we were well on our way until we approached Killarney, Manitoba.  Wouldn’t you know the Man would somehow spot a sewage reclamation project – now wetlands sanctuary.  You should know that during the Man’s early teen years he used to have an unusual attraction to the West Vancouver sewer plant.  Many weekends were spent touring the fetid pools of scum.  To say the least, the Lady and I were not very excited about walking around the Killarney ponds.  The problem with hooves is you can’t hold onto car seats very well and all three of us started on our walk.  It turned out to be very impressive with three ponds interconnected with streams.  The water is clean and the shoreline is covered with terns, wading birds, swifts and red winged blackbirds.

There was evidence of beaver, deer and turtles.  We spent almost an hour walking around and the Lady and I were pleasantly surprised.  Perhaps the Man does know something we don’t know.

 

We continued east and stopped for lunch in La Riviere, situated in a lovely elm-filled valley beside the Pembina River.  The countryside did a gradual transition from rolling hills to what can only be described as FLAT.  The powers that be try to trick you into thinking it isn’t FLAT by giving the towns names like Pleasant Valley or Red Bluff.  I looked very hard but it still looked FLAT.  It is still beautiful though with the very blue sky and everything very green.

This area is wheat country and planting had been done sometime in May so the seedlings are at various stages of growth.  Those fields not planted have been plowed and harrowed so the whole effect is a patchwork of colour.

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Cartwright Health Centre & Liquor Vendor

 

We’re feeling thankful that we came through at this time of year and that we came on this particular route.  Every mile seems to come up with a new surprise.  We are in Steinbach, Manitoba tonight and tomorrow we’ll be in Ontario!

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Manitoba | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Musing in Manitoba – June 5, 2006

Hi there – a new province and a new time zone – two hours ahead of BC!

Last night after I sent my email from Assiniboia the Lady got a phone call from their friend Glen who lives in Ladner, BC with his wife Shirlee.  Glen had just received my email and had to phone and tell the Lady that Shirlee had just arrived in Assiniboia to visit with her mother.  This morning the Lady and Man went to the care facility where Shirlee’s mom is living and there was Shirlee standing at the main desk.  Quite a surprise for her!

After a bit of a visit we headed southeast to the Big Muddy Badlands. The weather was a bit cloudy today but warm, 23º C.  The radio was giving out severe thunderstorm warnings for the afternoon and evening which made the Lady and I nervous but guess who was chomping at the bit to be in the middle of it all.  He is definitely wired differently!

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44-Towards Big Muddy

The Badlands turned out to be a little smaller than the Man thought but still, while they lasted, worth the drive.  The surrounding landscape is a series of high, eroded sandstone mesas and buttes with lush, green rangeland (yum, yum) running between them.  The area has a strong history being the onetime hideout for the Butch Cassidy Gang and the refuge that Sitting Bull and his followers fled to after defeating Custer.  The Man did MISS ONE TURN-OFF which may be the reason the tour was less than expected.

 

 

 

45-Towards Big Muddy

 

49-Antelope

Antelope

We continued travelling east through a real mix of countryside, all of it beautiful.  After the Badlands there were rolling hills and again large ranches of grazing land.  Lots of green grasses, wild sage and wildflowers.  Later in the day the rolling hills continued but now covered with groves of elm and cottonwood trees.  We crossed the border into Manitoba and noticed quite a change in the appearance of the towns and ranches (and roads!) that we saw.  Seems like there is more concern for outward appearances here.  

 

51-Last Stand

Last Stand

 

We are now staying in the small town of Boissevain.  Tomorrow we may go explore Turtle Mountain to the south of us and perhaps go kayaking again!  I’ll let you know how it goes – guess I’ll need to find a large patch of grass to munch before jumping in the kayak.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

p.s.

Safety First

A Miss Ewe Safety Tip for the Kids:

I recently received an email from some of the Man and Lady’s grandkids expressing concern that though the Lady was wearing a life jacket in the kayaking photo, I wasn’t.  There is a reason for this.  As you may have noticed, I am kind of small and finding clothes and lifejackets can be a real problem for me (other than my socks and woollies).  So . . . we herbivores (eaters of grass and shrubs) have a little trick we use when boating.  If we eat lots and lots of grass quickly we fill up with gas and get what is called Bloat.  As I mentioned in my note, just before we went kayaking I had been sampling all the new grasses up in the Cypress Hills and I had worked up a good bloat.  The Man said I looked more inflated than the kayak and if I fell in the water I’d look like a fuzzy iceberg. I  knew I was unsinkable and in perfect condition for my kayak ride.  But remember, this trick only works for herbivores (and some vegetarians) so you humans ALWAYS need to wear a life jacket!

 

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Manitoba, Saskatchewan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grasslands – June 4, 2006

11-Socks

Yeeeaaaah, the Lady and I got new socks!

Hi everyone, finally found Internet access tonight – the Man’s travel plan has taken us to some pretty barren places but here we are tonight.

We had a good time with the Man and Lady’s friends, Ruth and Herman.  Ruth is the Lady’s oldest friend – she’s 106 (baaa, baaa – just kidding).  They have known each other since they were both two years old – many, many, many years ago.  We spent most of the morning in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and then parted ways.

We headed south again hoping to go through Grasslands National Park.  We stopped at Neville where the Lady’s father lived from age 0 to 7 years old.  Main Street had a closed store and gas station, Post Office and museum.  There were about eight streets and we drove around town about six times looking for the cemetery.  We only saw two children the entire time who ran between two houses when they saw us – it was like a ghost town.  We never did find the cemetery and continued our trip south.  We ended up in the small town of Val Marie, another town with one street and many stores closed up and for sale.

We stayed at the Convent B&B, a restored convent/school that was built in 1939.  It was a lovely brick building with lots of oak flooring and woodwork. White duvet covers on the bed and a very quiet room.  We slept well but I woke up early to the sound of a thousand birds chirping – warblers, cowbirds, meadow larks, starlings, and red winged blackbirds.  Then a cow started mooing so I started baaing out the window at them until I woke up the Man and he stuffed my new socks in my mouth.  We had a good breakfast then headed southeast to Grasslands National Park.

Grasslands is a hot, dry area of buttes, mesa and rolling hills.  It can get up to 104º F (40º C) with less than thirteen inches of rain a year.  There are cactus, black widow spiders and rattlesnakes!  The Lady and I REALLY didn’t want to see a rattlesnake but the Man, like a fly to garbage, was dying to see one. Whewww, no snakes in sight.  The area has the only colony of black tailed prairie dogs in Canada and they were great to watch.  In the past couple of months the Canadian government released a herd of buffalo that are deemed to be genetically pure to the original herds that once roamed this same area.  The original herd had been reduced to about twenty-seven buffalo by the late 1800’s but it’s hoped they will now flourish in the park. Unfortunately we didn’t see any but we did see antelope, a burrowing owl and lots of dreaded coyotes.  An unusual, beautiful area though not quite as appealing as Cypress Hills.

We drove a 100 mile (160 km) loop and ended back at Val Marie.  From there we headed east.  The Man has to concentrate when driving because the Richardson Ground Squirrels (a small gopher) gather by the side of the road to test their courage.  When they see the car coming they dash out and stand in the middle of the lane and let the car wheels drive on either side of them.  We were told today that the cowboys here try to hit them – glad I’m not flocking around here.

One problem we found in the Man’s route was that, even though very beautiful and interesting, it is sooo quiet (we passed five cars, two tractors and two herds of cows – with cowboys – in all our travels today) that there are no motels and it seems all the gas outlets (not always stations) close on Sundays. We finally had to change our planned route at the last minute today to find a town big enough to have some gas.

We’re now staying in Assiniboia, which actually has one hotel/motel that was even too sleazy for the Man and three other motels.  The one we’re in now looks like a big tin garden shed but it’s new and clean inside.  Not too sure of our route tomorrow, we’re wanting to see the Big Muddy Badlands in the southeast so that may be where we end up.  If so, we may be out of Internet contact for a day or two (the Internet seems to be a bit of a novelty in southern Saskatchewan).

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Saskatchewan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buffalo and Birds – May 31, 2006

Well, we had a great day.  First thing this morning we headed to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a historical site where the Blackfoot Indians used to herd buffalo over a cliff to get their winter food.  It is one of North America’s largest archaeological sites.

We spent hours walking long trails lined with luscious grasses, flowering lupines, wild laurel and a profusion of wildflowers (since it was a park I wasn’t allowed to eat any).  The interpretive centre is a massive four story building built right into the cliff walls.  In 1981, the site was declared a World Heritage Site putting it among other sites such as Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids and the Galapagos Islands.  The experts believe that the site had been used for over 6000 years as a hunting site.

By the way, the site got it’s name, not from the buffalo with heads smashed but from a 170 year old legend of an Indian brave who decided to stand at the bottom of the cliff to watch the buffalo come over the cliff like a waterfall.  It was a particularly good hunt with lots of buffalo and unfortunately the brave got crushed.

Someone wrote me about the waste from hunting this way but it appears just about every part of the buffalo was used.  The hunts were mainly in the Fall so the meat was mixed with berries to make pemmican or dried into jerky.  The bones were cracked open and the marrow was used for food, the bone fragments for tools.  The hides were used for clothing and tipis.

The one sour note is when we went to the cafeteria.  Now wouldn’t you think after seeing and hearing and reading about all the poor buffalo going over that cliff that the Man could have ordered something vegetarian rather than a Buffalo Burger.  Ice water runs in his veins!

Anyway, we had a great time there and I had great excitement in the parking lot when I found a car with my name on it.

30-Ewe Plate

License plate “Ewe-332”

From there we drove south back through Fort McLeod then east through Lethbridge to Coaldale where the Alberta Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Centre is located.  The site is a beautiful 28 hectare facility which has up to150 birds at any given time.  As you (not me) walk down paths you find owls, hawks, vultures and eagles sitting on perches so close that they could be touched.  The birds that have been habituated (too used to humans) or are permanently injured will never be released.  Those who have the potential for release are kept a healthy distance from human contact.  All the birds are well fed with day old chicks donated by a local chicken farm.  They seemed to find them pretty tasty but it looked pretty gross to me when I could look.  It was definitely NOT the place for a small sheep.  The Man got to hold a Great Horned Owl named Mr. Bogle – I was afraid he was going to bring him with us.

From there we drove to Taber where we found a motel.  Taber is the Corn Capital of Canada and that’s about as exciting as it gets here.

Tomorrow we continue to head east and hope to spend some time in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.  We might even pull out the Man and Lady’s kayak!

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Alberta, Cross Canada Road Trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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