Monday 31 January 2022

Last Saturday

My friend that I had known since high school died of COVID September 22, 2022. I had heard that his wife was packing up and moving from their rural property on Saturday into Spruce Grove, Alberta. I did not hear it from her, I heard it from a guy named Terry that has the farm across the road. Terry and my friend Cliff knew each other well. Over the last few years Terry and I have become friends.

I had a set of four tires on rims that were stored in a locked shed on the property that I needed to retrieve. I could have moved them across the road and stored them at Terry's place. A few days before I ran across someone who mentioned that he just bought a car and was looking for the same rims that I happen to have, so I might have them sold.

I got there in the midst of a lot of activity. Her father and his wife, her brother, her sister, and Cliff's mother were there and a lot of stuff was already packed into a U-Haul truck. I got my tires and stuffed them in my car. Cliff's wife was in the yard, she saw me and I her. She made no attempt to come over and talk to me. I know she is going through a lot. Cliff's mother came over to talk to me. I know it is damn tough for her, she had three children, Cliff was the oldest. I asked her to tell Cliff's wife that I wished her well.

I have reason to suspect his wife does not like me. I am indifferent to her. I loved the guy like a brother. He married her because when they were dating they were not careful one time and she got pregnant. They got married, he asked his dad for some help applying for a job, got a job in a mine where he worked close to thirty years and worked hard at his marriage and providing a home.

Some years after high school I lost contact with him and reconnected. When I did meet again he had a wife and a kid that was about three or four so I had to catch up on a lot of stuff I had missed. 

I had heard years ago that she did not like me because I was a bad influence on him. This was really funny as the reverse was true. I had come from a strict household. He was the one that introduced me to some questionable activities. All I will say is that I had fun. If I got him into anything it was getting his motorcycle license. I had mine since I was sixteen. He got his about ten years ago, got a Yamaha Bolt, and loved every minute he was on it.

Terry came over from across the road and he and I spoke for a few minutes. He wanted to say a few words to the family. I stood and waited, looked over the place. Cliff loved the spot. He had one hundred sixty acres that he had grand plans for the future. I doubt his wife liked the place as much as he did. His family is moving off and it will be put up for sale once the legal matters for the estate are settled. Kind of hard to see the remainder of someone's life being dismantled before your eyes.

I met Terry at his place. Terry is a hard working redneck. His property is always neat and the lawn always looks manicured which is in contrast to how Terry looks. He owns a farm property just down the road that has an old truck on it. I asked if he minded if I stopped in and took a photo. I left, drove into the yard, got the photo, and discovered I was stuck in four inches of snow. I drove just far enough onto snow that I thought was hard packed. If I had not driven that four extra feet I would have been fine. I called Terry and he sent his son to rescue me. Off to see mom.

One of my better visits with mom. Mom handed me the Drayton Valley paper when I was there. I have many cousins, some I have not seen in years. One cousin has a kid that has made the local paper several times through the years and not for anything you want to brag about. He got busted by the RCMP for 147 grams of meth, 38 grams of cocaine, 26 grams of fenanyl, stolen property, robbery, driving while prohibited, and whatever else they decide to throw at him at a later date. He is in his thirties and is on pace to spend more of his life in jail than out of jail. I suspect he enjoys being locked up. The vast majority of my relatives are law abiding productive members of society.

Reviewed mom's bills to see what needs to be paid and what has been paid. One the way home I grabbed a pizza because it seemed like a good way to cap off the day.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

One July years and years ago . . .

As previously mentioned on this blog I spent some of my grade school years in a place called Cassiar up in northern British Columbia below the Yukon border. I liked the place. I was a company mining town and the mine was Cassiar Asbestos Corporation. There were about one thousand people in the town and we were surrounded by wilderness and mountains. In the winter we got about twenty feet of snow and you could build epic snow forts. The one television channel, which was our national broadcaster, was a drawback. The programming was horrifically boring. I read a lot of books when it was too cold to go out.

I was fourteen and developed a hot appendix one July. Cassiar had two doctors and a building referred to as a hospital. If your injury required much more than first aid you were in trouble. I am not sure how rewarding it was if you were a doctor and somehow ended up in Cassiar.

I was at the hospital once that day and was sent home saying I had a stomach ache. Later I was back at the hospital and then was told I had an a serious case of appendicitis. I needed to go to a real hospital. The doctor made a phone call and my parents were told to take me to the airstrip and wait for the air ambulance. There were a few people that had planes. One was my shop teacher that had some kind of contraption with a metal frame covered in canvas. Some years after we moved away one resident that had a plane died after he flew his plane into a mountain. I digress, the airstrip there was gravel. A straight strip of gravel and nothing else. There might have been a windsock. In the winter people raced snowmobiles on the airstrip. The RCMP officer would use his radar gun to clock snowmobiles for the snowmobile club.

The plane that came to get me was a Seneca. Besides the pilot there was a nurse. The destination was Whitehorse and my mother went with me on the flight. My father and sister joined us a couple of days later. It was a very nice sunny July day spent in agony. The twin engine plane had a smooth, quick, and uneventful ride. The plane landed in Whitehorse and an ambulance pulled right up to the plane on the runway and took me straight to the hospital. No siren but I got the flashing red lights. One of the few times in my life I got priority treatment.

At the hospital the surgeon met me and after a quick exam decided I could wait a few hours. The poor guy just recently finished patching up five people who were injured in a car accident. The flight nurse dropped by to check up on me. I did not see her or many nurses after that, I happened to arrive in the midst of a nurses strike. I got operated on that night.

The doctor did a wonderful job. You can barely see the scar. I was in the hospital for the better part of a week. Due to the strike I ended up in the adult ward with a roommate who was recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was accidental, he was out in the woods with a handgun and was jumping over a stream, slipped, and shot himself in the arm. It was not serious. Hopefully he learned something from that incident.

The family was together in Whitehorse and I was being discharged. During my time in the hospital they got to have fun. My father at the time worked for Finning Tractor. Finning flew us back to Cassiar in the company plane. The company plane happened to be a older de Havilland Beaver that was painted Caterpillar yellow.

Interesting experience in a Beaver. They are a single engine plane and probably the best bush plane ever built. Dad sat beside the pilot, my sister and I were behind them, and my mother sat behind us in kind of a rumble seat. Dad had been a heavy duty mechanic for Finning in Terrace, BC and had been flown into remote places to work on equipment. The engine kind of drones as you meander through the sky. Great views from Whitehorse to Cassiar as you climb over mountains and down valleys. You would be flying level, sometimes drop a few feet, then climb back up again.

The flight was uneventful except for the part where the pilot opened his door, was half in and half out of the plane (if I recall correctly I think he unscrewed a cap) and violently pounded his fist on the wing several times. I think there might have been an air pocket in the fuel tank. I was unconcerned as I was not feeling well. Dad had experienced weirder things in small planes. My sister was unfazed for whatever reason. Mom was turning white in the back of the plane convinced the pilot would fall to his death with our soon to be crashing fiery death quickly following. Eventually he accomplished what he wanted to do, pulled himself back in, and closed the door. The landing was uneventful. So went my summer vacation.

If you ever get an opportunity to ride in a de Havilland Beaver take it. Much more fun than appendicitis.

Monday 24 January 2022

Up yours, winter!

Raining this morning on the way to work. On the way home the temperature dropped a bit and it started snowing heavily and accumulating on the highway. Managed to do the speed limit on the way to work. On the way home it was about twenty to thirty kilometres an hour under the speed limit due to ice and snow.

The gravel country roads are icy with some drifting snow. The schizophrenic weather is not fun.

Late at night the mind wanders . . .

For some reason one insomnia-riddled night I was thinking about Captain Blaine George Brown otherwise known as Boogie Brown. Actually this was a fragment of many thoughts related to one place where I used to live. It probably had something to do with the recent nasty winter weather.

I spent about four years of my childhood, grade school, in a place called Cassiar in British Columbia which does not really exist anymore. Cassiar was a small place, a company town, with one grocery store, one dry goods store, one gas station, one school that went from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The nearest airport was in Watson Lake in the Yukon and it sticks in my mind it was one hundred fourteen miles away. There was not much in Watson Lake.

To get to any real civilization you had to drive a very long distance or take a flight. CP Air, one of many Canadian airlines to fall by the wayside, had a route that would include Vancouver, Whitehorse, Watson Lake, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, Grande Prairie (where, if I remember correctly you switched planes), where we would end up in Edmonton. Once in Edmonton relatives would pick us up and drive over an hour out to the farm. The plane on that route was a Boeing 737. One summer I had flown from Watson Lake to Whitehorse to Vancouver then Edmonton.

One winter the family left Cassiar to catch a flight in Watson Lake. Near Good Hope Lake we ran into the aftermath of freezing rain which was extremely rare for northern British Columbia. It was absolutely treacherous. My father had two sets of tire chains. He found a configuration that worked, one on the driver’s side front tire and one on the driver’s side rear tire. Our vehicle at the time was a 4WD Blazer. After crawling along for some miles we got past the area where freezing rain affected the roads. Off came the chains. Not long after that it started snowing. It got incrementally worse to the point it was quite nasty when we finally made it to the airport. The trip was slow due to the horrible road conditions. We were two hours late and it looked like we were going to rebook at the airport and stay overnight in Watson Lake. The weather was not worth driving all the way home and driving back the next day. When dad asked about our flight it turned out our flight was over two hours late. We had not missed it.

It was a small airport with one counter and one gate. Things were different in those days. If it was iffy weather people waiting for their flight would ask the guy at the counter if he know who the pilot was on the day's flight. If you were told it was a certain pilot you knew you were getting on the plane and you had nothing to worry about, that plane would arrive. That day it was snowing damn hard and the plane appeared in front of the terminal. I remember getting on the plane and the stewardess got on the mic in a cheerful voice and said “Welcome to CP Air flight (whatever number it was) Captain Boogie Brown is your pilot”. A few minutes later that same voice said in a more serious manner that "Captain Brown is your pilot". There were other pilots on that route but for some reason after all these years his is the only name that sticks out. I have no idea why he was called Boogie Brown.

Memory is not always perfect. These days with the internet at your fingertips you can search and maybe find some piece of information related to some late night memories of escaping winter for a week from a small northern town. I did a search for Captain Brown and found out he died in 2018. He seemed like a decent guy. Yes, he was known as Boogie Brown. It is odd the things one remembers.

Sunday 23 January 2022

Friday 21 January 2022

Abandoned Alberta

What remains of Raley, Alberta. People once lived here and at one time there was a rail line and three elevators. Bored, and feeling the need to get out, I drove here and back last Sunday because I had never seen this elevator. It says Alberta Pacific on the side and was built in 1905. It might be the oldest elevator that is still standing in this Province. It is not far from Cardston, Alberta.


Wednesday 19 January 2022

County of Wetaskiwin, Alberta 1:00pm January 19, 2022

Cold snap is breaking. A high of -13C today, possibly warming up to 8C above on Saturday. Tomorrow morning might bring freezing rain again. Just another regular Alberta winter.

Landrose School

Just across the border in Saskatchewan a little east of Lloydminster, Alberta. I would have got a closer shot except for the cold weather and knee deep snow. It is always better to go exploring in warmer weather.

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Plunging temperatures, freezing rain, snow, this sounds like a job for . . .


Yesterday was the third round of freezing rain in the morning to start off the day. The drive home was a snowstorm with icy roads. Time for a bit of summer.

One of those photos from last summer that I never posted and saved for times like this. 

Taken August 22, 2021 in Saskatchewan by the Cypress Hills.

Monday 17 January 2022

Friday 14 January 2022

Snowman Family

Recently saw this in Orion, Alberta.

One of the kid's was having so much fun he lost his head!

- Michael Truman

Thursday 13 January 2022

The lone tree post revisited

I recently drove by one of my favourite lone trees and stopped for a quick photo. I prefer it in black and white.

Located here: 52.930809, -113.800173

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Not an auspicious 2022 for this blog so far

Posts are admittedly practically non-existent. I will have to work on that and get out and enjoy this nice weather.

I came down with something last Friday night. I was only sick for a day. I appear to be fine, just damn tired and have not put up any posts. It helps that the days are slowly getting a little longer. Hopefully they do not get any wider.

Slow time of year at work, which is fine, since I really do not feel all that motivated to work. Not to mention that there is not a lot to do at the moment. Some days I am just fighting the clock. Trips are being planned.

Sunday 9 January 2022

Burke School 1917

A well preserved one room school. Located just across the Alberta/Saskatchewan border in Saskatchewan east of Lloydminster. A sign nearby says 1917. I did not see any date where it ceased being a school.

Saturday 8 January 2022

The view driving home from work yesterday

Okay, it was not a total whiteout. It was steadily snowing and -36C. Traffic going the other way would throw up snow temporarily blinding you in a sea of white. Today is a sunny, and -27C so it is getting warmer. Tomorrow the cold snap breaks and we have some decent temperatures around the 0C mark starting Monday. I am looking forward to it.

Friday 7 January 2022

Sea of yellow

Too damn cold lately. Time for a summer photo.

Near Davidson, Saskatchewan July 4, 2021.

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Winter post

Spotted this in a farmyard outside Lloydminster, Alberta and it was too good to pass up.

Saturday 1 January 2022

Happy New Year

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,

and never thought upon;

The flames of Love extinguished,

and fully past and gone:

Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,

that loving Breast of thine;

That thou canst never once reflect

On old long syne.