Saturday, 31 January 2015

More trial and error

Experimenting with a new gadget. Two days ago I bought an HP Stream 7 tablet with Windows 8. I am used to (and like) Windows 7 that I use at work. I am trying to figure this thing out but I like it so far. Windows 8 is a slight challenge. The reason that I bought it was because of the price, $119.99 plus tax. If it does what I want it to do it will be going with me on the motorcycle. iPads are too expensive to bring along and possibly get lost or damaged, or God forbid; stolen.  I supposedly get MS Office with a one year subscription as well. This may just be perfect for blogging on the road. At this price it is almost disposable.

This morning

Woke up this morning to two inches of snow. 

Simply because it is January 31, 2015

For the above reason I am posting a couple of beach photos. I have travelled over a large part of British Columbia and Alberta, parts of the Yukon, a little bit of Montana, and I have been to Phoenix several times. I know people much younger than me who seem to have travelled everywhere. Personally I don’t know how they can afford it. To be honest, I really have no desire to visit exotic or strange locales. I am comfortable hanging out in Canada and the USA. There is usually an exception to every rule and I managed to take one trip off the continent. During the week of September 9-14, 2012 I took my only trip outside of North America to St. Lucia and stayed at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian. Except for the nasty sunburn I loved every minute. I grew rather fond of having drinks served to me on the beach.

I will admit to this weird desire to visit Iceland . . .

Right above my beach chair.
From my beach chair looking out at the Caribbean Sea.

Friday, 30 January 2015


On the beach at Tofino, British Columbia July 24, 2013. The tide brought them in and with luck the tide will return them. The water at the top left is the Pacific Ocean. I had taken a flight from Edmonton, Alberta to Victoria, British Columbia. The flight is less than two hours. The only thing I had when I landed was a small suitcase and a rental car. Other than that I had zero plans and no particular destination. A lot of times when I have free time and I go somewhere I really do not like planning stuff, I just like to see what happens and where I end up. I ended up in Tofino.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Nash Metropolitan

For some reason my bank is open seven days a week which is handy. I was walking to my car after completing some Sunday banking and stopped dead when I saw the Nash. I have seen it parked in different spots around Airdrie on occasion and I believe the owner drives it daily. It shows no signs of being restored and I kind of wonder what the owner has planned. My father loved old cars and this is the sort of thing that would have caught his eye. The photo was taken September 14, 2014.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Rocking Horse Café, Balzac, Alberta

I like to go out for breakfast, something I picked up from my father. Not long ago I stopped at the Rocking Horse Café because I was curious and hungry as well. There is a one page breakfast menu and on the other side is a one page lunch menu. You order at the till. The lady behind the counter was running the till, clearing tables, and happened to be cooking as well. I asked about coffee and was told to help myself, it was on the opposite wall. I just barely sat down, cracked my paper, and my food arrived. Bacon, eggs, and hash browns straightforward and done right. I would like to know where they get their bacon because it was absolutely perfect. There needs to be more places like this and I will definitely be going back.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Westerose, Alberta

June 14, 2014 I was with my buddy on a motorcycle day trip. My good friend had just got his motorcycle license and wanted to get some riding time in on his new Yamaha Bolt. I was more than willing to make that kind of sacrifice.

We had made a quick stop for a break and I noticed a guy and his wife ready to climb into and drive off in a restored 1942 Willys Jeep. I quickly asked if I could take a photo and he and his wife actually got out of the Jeep so I could get a picture. I certainly did not expect him to do that and I made sure to thank him for the chance to quickly look it over. My uncle Ben had one of these on a farm near Tomahawk, Alberta and I first learned to drive on it. I would love to own one of these. I also would have liked to ask the owner about the Jeep however he had just enough time to allow me to get the one photo. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Burmis Tree

Not my photo
The photo shown is not mine. This is what a better photographer can accomplish. The reason that I posted this is that this is a really great photo of a famous tree just east of the Crowsnest Pass. Do a Google image search of “Burmis tree” and you will find all kinds of photos of this tree and the Wikipedia entry makes for an interesting read. At one time I used to live just on the other side of the Crowsnest Pass in British Columbia and this is one of the well-known sights in the area.

I was in the Crowsnest Pass January 23, 2015 and my photo attempts are below.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Star Mine Suspension Bridge

The Star Mine Suspension Bridge is an approximately 385 foot long pedestrian suspension bridge across the Red Deer River near Drumheller, Alberta. Constructed in 1931, it was built for the coal workers of Star Mine and it has been restored. For some reason that only made sense at the time the miners would cross this suspension bridge to go to work at the coal mine on the other side of the river. You would have thought that if they went to all of the trouble to put a coal mine in they could have put a proper bridge in or a road on the other side from a crossing elsewhere. I have mentioned in another post that Alberta is littered with coal mines and I doubt anyone knows where most of them are. The Drumheller area has no shortage of places they could turn into attractions.

I have a thing for interesting bridges which makes me a bit of a contradiction as I also have an issue with heights. I was fine walking across this bridge. The issue with heights comes and goes, and is rarely consistent. The pictures were taken on September 21, 2014. The bridge gets a lot of heavy tourist use and is free to cross. There is nothing to see on the other side, you basically cross and then come back. The other side is private property. I would have had to do a bit of walking to find a good vantage point to fit it all in. These photos were the best ones. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

By any other name

I bought the 2003 Suzuki Burgman 650 in April, 2014. I purchased it from a guy in Edmonton who originally bought it for his wife. She found it a little too big for her liking so they bought a 150cc Piaggio for her to ride. The Burgman went up for sale. 

When I completed the purchase he asked me if I was going to keep the name. Apparently his wife named it. So, I asked what the bike's name was and I really should have known the answer before being told. The name was Ingrid (it will come to you). I thought it was amusing enough so I told him I would keep the name and henceforth referred to the bike as Ingrid. I had stored the bike at a cousin's place near Drayton Valley for a time and she picked up on the habit of calling it Ingrid anytime we discussed it. In fact it became second nature to refer to the bike that way. I just had to watch myself out in public whenever we were talking and I referred to "riding Ingrid". At least once we were overheard and I had to explain myself. 

Ingrid taking a break

Friday, 23 January 2015

Crowsnest Mountain, Crowsnest Pass, Alberta on New Years Day

I was amazed I was able to get a picture that was in focus. It was very windy, which is nothing new for the Crowsnest Pass since it is known for high winds. The wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to keep the camera still.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sometimes you hit the jackpot

Found these at a candy store last summer. These places are my krytonite. I have not seen Pop Rocks since before I was a teenager. A & W Licorice I have never seen before. I bought it and gave it to my nephew without raiding it.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Courtesy of my cousin Chris (Christine)

My cousin and her then husband (who for reasons shall remain nameless) used to live on an acreage north of Drayton Valley, Alberta. It was more like a small farm, with a shop, greenhouse, barn, a few horses, dogs and cats.

This happened one summer afternoon. At the time one of the vehicles they owned was a blue crewcab four wheel drive Dodge pickup. Her husband was driving home from some place and stopped in Rocky Rapids at the general store. Rocky Rapids is slightly north of Drayton Valley but south of where they lived. He got gas then headed off for home which was about fifteen minutes away. He pulled into the yard where Chris was outside watering her plants. He turned off the truck and after he got out they heard a noise. They traced it to the truck. With a bit of a search they discovered a kitten. It had likely hitched a ride from Rocky Rapids and it hung on at highway speed. Chris told him he should take it back to Rocky Rapids. He refused. His reasoning was that there was no way he was going to find where it belonged. Also, being in the country, there is no shortage of cats. So the cat stayed. For some reason the only person it liked was her husband and he really never liked cats. Except this one.

The cat was named Wyatt Earp.


Because it survived Dodge.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

2003 Chev Impala

I recently picked up a used car, a 2003 Impala. I needed a vehicle and I wasn't about to buy new. I had ran across a 2005 VW Golf with a five speed manual transmission on a local car lot. I asked to take it for a test drive and a salesman brought it around and left it running. I assumed that a salesman would be tagging along. When I asked if anyone was joining me I as told I was fine to take it and come back. 

Never let an opportunity go to waste. I drove out of sight, turned up a road, pulled over and popped the hood. Everything looked fine. Now for some fun. I came close to redlining it through the gears on a secondary highway, looped around, caught the main highway back, then just before returning it, checked reverse and the turning circle. Fun car and ran like a top. 

I came in to make an offer. I listened to the spiel that said I had to pay a document fee and buy their protection package on top of their list price. I politely told him that document fees and protection packages are nonsense and in return I was informed that this is standard at all dealerships and it is non-negotiable. Regardless, I was willing to offer a certain amount in cash factoring the fees I was not willing to pay. Cash here and now, I would go to my bank and come back with a stack of legal tender. For some reason that was not acceptable, I had to give them a deposit via credit card, then the sales guy would take a formal written offer to the sales manager. So I voted with my feet. 

I ran across the 2003 Impala on another lot on a referral from my employer, great guy by the way. Less money and more car. I offered cash, they accepted. I dropped by my bank, withdrew the money, came back and traded it for a car, bill of sale, and a mechanical inspection. No rust either. The prior sales guy contacted me a day later via email. I replied that I found someone willing to do business on my terms and thanked him for his time.  

So far the Impala is a rock solid car. I have a sunroof, air, a huge trunk, power everything, leather interior, and heated seats. The VW had none of those. The prior owner took good care of it except whoever it was was a bit of a slob and smoked. A good cleaning will solve that. Weird thing is that I have a cassette player and a cd player that was original from the factory.

I have a kind of utilitarian view of vehicles. I really do not care too much about image when it comes to a vehicle, all I want is that it is reliable and dependable. My father always used to tell me is that all a vehicle does is give your ass a ride. I would have liked a truck but everything in due course. I also refuse to wash a vehicle I own. I have helped lots of other people wash theirs, I just can't be bothered to wash my own. It rains eventually, problem solved.  

Monday, 19 January 2015

On the road to Tofino, British Columbia

This was taken on July 23, 2013 on Vancouver Island. From Port Alberni to Tofino the road is two lane paved narrow twisting and winding road that runs through the mountains to meet the ocean. There were lots of great spots for photos but nowhere to stop and take them. This spot was right off the highway and a tour bus had stopped. There was an old large tree right beside a small waterfall.

When I got closer to Tofino I saw the Tsunami sign. The funny thing is from where I took a photo of the sign you cannot see the ocean because the trees and vegetation is so thick. You know the ocean is there, you can hear it, you just can't see it.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Victoria, British Columbia

Harbour photo taken July 25, 2013. Houseboats are off to the right. You can buy freshly caught and cooked halibut right on the dock.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Long stretches of nothing

August 3, 2014 I decided to take the motorcycle out for a good run. I ran Highway 2 from Airdrie, Alberta to the Carway border crossing into Montana. I made it as far as St. Mary, Montana. My original plan was to take the Going-To-The-Sun Highway, loop around the other side and come back into Canada via the Roosville border crossing. Somehow I missed taking my American money with me and I doubled back to Canada. I love travelling to the US though. In my experience Americans have always been friendly and helpful.

From Fort MacLeod to St. Mary, Montana the highway is excruciatingly boring. There is lots of nothing to see and little traffic. I have traveled a little through Montana before and my experience has been a lot of empty spaces and driving for what seems forever before you see another person. The photo was taken near Babb, Montana. The highway just started to be an interesting ride near St. Mary which made it more irritating to head back. After more than eight hours on the Suzuki Burgman it was still a comfortable ride. The closer to Calgary I got the filthier the clouds looked. I got to Calgary and from there to Airdrie the skies opened up and pounded me with wind, rain, and hail. As an aside, don’t believe that something is going to keep you dry if it says it is waterproof. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Emerald Lake

Near Lake Louise, Alberta. Taken September 14, 2014.

Just a quick update. I added a map for reference. Emerald Lake is right by Lake Louise which is in the upper left hand corner of this map and is in Canada’s National Parks. This is the great thing about living in the Calgary area, you have access to so many great outdoor spots.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Crowfoot Ferry

This trip was a bit of a disappointment. This makes four of seven Alberta ferries I have been to.

Courtesy Google Maps. The shaded area is Siksika Nation land.
The Crowfoot Ferry crosses the Bow River and is accessed by a narrow gravel road about three miles south of the junction of Highways 1 and 56, on Range Road 201. The ferry was also closed when I got there. Some time in the past few years it was beached as a precaution against the rising flood waters of the Bow River. I read somewhere that it is supposed to be back in service in 2015 but I can't confirm that. I tried calling the government office responsible out of curiosity however no one answered my call. 

I stopped here on September 20, 2014. The road is one lane wide with one almost hairpin curve where it crosses railroad tracks. The ferry is on Siksika Nation land and I am a little surprised that it is not in service simply because it provides convenient access from the highway and I think it would be a good tourist attraction. If you walk along the riverbank you can see evidence of flood damage. It is eerily quiet here. I would have liked to get some photos from the other side of the river with some up close photos of the ferry however it is a long way around to get there, as in about forty miles and a lot of gravel road on a motorcycle. I don’t mind riding on short distances on gravel on a motorcycle but this was more than what I was willing to do at the time. I will revisit at a later date if it reopens.

Seriously closed.

Visible flood damage.

Of course the ferry would have to be on the opposite shore.
This leaves me with the Klondyke, La Crete, and Shaftebury Ferries to cross off my list in 2015 in Alberta.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Private rodeo

On September 6, 2014 I was invited to tag along to a private rodeo east of Airdrie, Alberta. Personally I had never heard of a private rodeo. Growing up a lot of my relatives farmed and an uncle of mine at one time farmed over two thousand acres. This operation dwarfed anything that I had experienced. This farm could handle twenty thousand head of cattle and sometimes did. The few photos I did take in no way show how big this operation is. Other ranches in the area were invited to compete. Due to privacy I won't say exactly where this was. Suffice to say there is lots of genuine ranching and authentic cowboys in Alberta. 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Google Maps view for the previous post

You can see the where the modern bridge crosses the river and the abandoned one is just south. The image is from Google Maps. In the top right corner you can make out the irrigation canal that was started and never completed. It shows as a straight line that is almost running north/south. It goes straight and then just stops. The gravel road that runs off the modern highway just on the other side of the river that heads north  apparently leads to an ghost town Cecil, Alberta. Apparently nothing exists there but there is an abandoned railway bridge that is still standing. I did not know about either of those at the time so another visit to this area is on the agenda. 

The lower photo shows the abandoned rail bridge which is just north of where I was. This is less than ten miles by road. I am still kind of miffed I found out about this after the fact. 

Maybe I should start adding some Google Maps images to some of the posts.

Highway 524 abandoned bridge near Hays, Alberta

I got the idea to visit this place from simply doing a Google search for various abandoned places in Alberta, such as towns and bridges. I read a few websites and discovered quite a few places I did not know about. Some stuff I stumbled over by accident reading various maps and books during last winter provided the fodder for a few motorcycle trips during the summer.

I found out some information from a few internet sites and from a nice couple who were fishing off the bridge when I got there. The bridge crosses the Bow River and it seems to have been built in the 1910’s by someone who had originally built it as a private venture it for irrigating farmland. According to the story I heard he apparently started to run out of money and he thought the provincial government would help him out. Instead they let him sink. The bridge was turned into a road bridge.

It was an absolutely perfect weekend for motorcycle travel. I took a unhurried trip to here from Airdrie. It was very warm and sunny and no clouds in the sky. I had never been to this part of Alberta before. The Bow River does not flow very fast here and I was curious how deep it was. It is easy to get here, just be prepared for long stretches of emptiness and it is a bit far between gas stations. Especially if your motorcycle only has a three gallon gas tank. If you see a gas station and even if you have lots of gas stop and fill up anyway.

The bridge is steel and concrete and there are barricades at either side keeping you from driving across it. I walked over the bridge and it is absolutely rock solid. This structure was built to last. The road leading to the bridge off the highway has become just a dirt track over time. You can easily see the modern bridge off in the distance. Up on the top of the valley you can see a long abandoned irrigation canal that was never completed that was supposed to be part of the irrigation system with this bridge. The interesting thing is when you are travelling by highway before you get to this bridge you can see modern irrigation canals full of flowing water used to irrigate farmland. Whatever dream the original builder had regarding irrigation it did eventually happen. One of the canals comes down alongside this bridge to empty into the Bow River. You can see it in one of the pictures. I kind of wondered if the wooden approaches on either side were intentional or simply because he was running low on funds and needed less expensive construction materials.

Abandoned Highway 524 bridge taken September 20, 2014. At the top of the hills are long abandoned unfinished irrigation canals. Someone had grand plans at one point.

Concrete deck. At the end is a truck behind a barricade that belonged to a couple that were fishing off the bridge.

This was built to last

Irrigation spillway coming down from the hills

View from the old bridge to the modern highway bridge off in the distance