Quite a Day

Since we got home a few weeks ago it has been warm, calm and sunny here in the Okanagan. That changed last night as a very strong low pressure system came through. After living on the West Coast for many years, we are used to severe winds, and cleaning up afterwards, but we haven’t seen much of that since we moved here. That changed last night.

Just after dark the winds picked up, and before long we were hearing crashing and banging as our patio furniture was being tossed around like kids toys. One of our chairs ended up on top of our pot of basil and oregano, so it’s not looking too healthy. 

This morning we woke up to find a couple of dozen apples had fallen off our trees, and a trellis holding up a large Clematis vine had been broken off and fell on a couple of plants which won’t survive. Here I am trying to figure out how to get it upright again without ruining the vines.

After a couple of hours and (surprisingly) only one trip to Home Depot it was upright and secure again.

Now I have some stakes and rope behind it to try and keep it upright. I did that with the Honeysuckle next to the Clematis last year, and it survived the winds just fine. 

There were a few trees damaged in our neighborhood by the wind and a few more we saw in Kelowna itself. The boat moorings at the Kelowna Yacht Club were heavily damaged though and a few boats are on the bottom of the lake. Rather unusual for this area.

On my way to Home Depot I got a great look at the fire burning only a few km away from our home. The Bear Creek fire has caused the evacuation of hundreds of people, including all of a local Provincial RV park. Everyone got rousted out of bed and evicted about 1:00 this morning. They have been allowed back for a few hours this afternoon to pick up personal items, and trailers but have to find other accommodation.

The cooler wetter weather is helping, but as of this afternoon, the fire is not contained. We’ll let you know if it gets closer to us. 

For the third time in 3 years we are able to watch the water bombers do their work from our yard. Not that I want to see them all that often, but it is good to know they are out there protecting us.

One bright spot in all this is that I get to eat Apple Crisp that Sylvia made from the best of the Apples I picked off the lawn. That’s a real good thing.

Another Project Finished

Just before we took off on our Colorado Holiday we began a project to replace the facing on the fireplace in our living room. It was a rather strange looking gyproc and black tile affair that we got rather tired of looking at.

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Our inspiration for changing the look (okay, Sylvia’s inspiration, I’m just the labourer in these projects after all) was the feature wall of rock tile that our son put up in his house renovation project in Calgary. We figured that he was now a pro at this type of work, and volunteered him to come to town and help me build this. (I’m not fooling you at this am I. Jason did the work, I was the labourer)

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I’ve posted a couple of pictures of the work in progress, but we were waiting until we got home to purchase and install the new Hearthstone, and today was the day it was finished and ready for pickup. It took me an hour or so to dry fit a 5 foot by 18 inch piece of solid granite a few times and figure out where I needed to put some shims.

Here is the finished project. Quite a different look to the fireplace don’t you think?

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We’ve been having a busy time since we got home from our holiday, but for the most part we’ve been doing fun things like hiking, pickleball and music events. Last Saturday we attended the ‘Soul of Motown’ Revue in Kelowna. It was a great night of music put on by Rann Berry who we’ve seen a few times before doing a ‘Chicago’ Tribute act and a show dedicated to ‘One Hit Wonders’. He has an annual show in Kelowna every August, and promises to put together something new and entertaining next year. We’re looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

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If It’s Thursday, We Must Be Hiking

In the 4 years we’ve lived in the Okanagan we have done very little hiking here. And most of the hikes we’ve been on can only be charitably described as extended walks in the park. Today we decided to do something different and drove to the Big White ski hill, just over an hour away from our home. There are several trails on the mountain, and from what we learned from a resident there, more to come in the future. The one thing about it being a ski hill, is that most of the trails are straight up and down, and our elevation recording showed it.

Over a 6.3 mile hike we climbed and dropped just over 1800 feet each way, most of it in the first hour and last half hour of the hike. Big White is the highest mountain in the Okanagan, and tops out at 7600 feet. That is much higher than we see in Arizona where the highest we’ve been is 5057’ but much lower than Colorado, or other parts of BC for that matter.

The ski hill has 15 lifts, and we passed under or around most of them during our time on the mountain. We were quite surprised at the amount of development there. According to their website there are 3 hotels, 25 Condo and Townhouse Complexes, and 250 individual homes. Over the course of a season they welcome 600,000 skiers to the slopes.

Sylvia was trying out her new backpack today. She has always wondered how she would handle the weight on her shoulders, but she and the pack performed great. Now I won’t have to be her Sherpa, and she can carry her own lunch and jackets.

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The trail was well marked, and for most of it there was either a Fluorescent cairn, a flag or a ribbon every 30 feet or so. IMG_3313 

While the flowers on the hillside were certainly no comparison to what we found in Colorado, there were some thick patches of Lupins, Paintbrush and several other flowers to catch our attention.

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One thing we also found were some massive mushrooms. IMG_3372

Just before we reached the summit we ran into some snow patches. Sylvia wasn’t inclined to show off her Snow Angel routine here, as she likely would have slid all the way down the hill.

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At the very top of the mountain there was a pile of rocks likely placed there by hikers. I added one to the pile for us.

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The view from the top was spectacular.

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We didn’t see all the trails on the mountain, but covered almost 75% of them. The one we decided to skip was supposedly just a walk down a service road. It turned out that the trail we eventually chose to come down the hill was just a rough service road itself. We finished the hike in a little over 4 hours, and have vowed to find other decent hikes close to home. Hopefully they won’t all be straight up and down.

The Hills Are Alive

On our second day in Crested Butte we were taken to another of Deb and Dana’s favourite spots. Scarp Ridge is just over a 6 mile hike with ‘Only’ 1300 feet of elevation gain, topping out at ‘only’ 11872 feet. The road that took us there was challenging to say the least, and Sylvia wasn’t sure that Dana’s truck could handle the rough trip. I think she was more concerned that she couldn’t handle it, as bouncing around in a truck is not her idea of a good time. It must be a guy thing, as I enjoyed myself. It reminded me of driving to various radio sites on the Island. Of course I was driving a company truck then, and didn’t have to worry about resale value and dents very much.

The road took us through a small community surrounding Lake Irwin. The locals are rather concerned with the lack of privacy they have with all the hikers and ATV riders driving past their door, and so there were No Trespassing signs posted often along the road. In winter the roads are not maintained, and the only access is via Snowmobile. In summer the sleds are left at the side of the road awaiting the snow to return. As before, some of these pictures are by Debbie, with our thanks.IMG_3032

Lake Irwin is a pretty camping and swimming spot, although the picnic area could use some maintenance.IMG_3033

Not far past the lake we started to climb towards the ridge. Dana figured that with the length of the previous day’s hike, the further we could drive up the road, the more our legs would appreciate it. Actually most of the lower portion of the hike was on this same road, but the views were still special.

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Looking back at Lake Irwin.

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Before too long we ran out of road and moved onto the trail. At least I think there was a trail somewhere under the snow.

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Scarp Ridge was above us the whole time. You can’t tell from here, but it’s a sheer drop on the other side, and almost as steep on this side.

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There were lots of flowers on this hike as well, but after messing up some of them yesterday I will just tell you there were pretty yellow, red, white and purple ones.

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However, these were Avalanche Lilies. Debbie was surprised that we never saw any of these on the Frigid Air hike.

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We never lost sight of Lake Irwin, although it seems like a long way away.

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Once we reached the ridge, we could see how steep it was on the far side. That was as close as Debbie would venture to the edge. She figured ‘why tempt fate’.

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I had to get a ‘bit’ closer to the edge to take these pics.

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I think Sylvia is saying ‘Lets NOT go there’.

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This is where she was pointing. If we were more daring we could have walked along the rocks and made it to the next ridge. That just wasn’t going to happen. It was narrow, steep and loose. Not good conditions for those afraid of being sucked over the edge.

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Before long we were on our way back down, but first Sylvia tried to sing ‘The Hills are Alive’ from the Sound of Music. She found that at almost 12000 feet she didn’t have the breath to try singing with any volume. So, no concert for us.17-IMG_7627

She did find a spot to do a Snow Angel though.

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And then we were done. Just over 3.5 hours today, which was about enough for our legs.

I have some more pics of our various adventures, and will summarize and post them in the next few days. I am finding it hard to narrow down the several hundred pictures, so please  indulge us with our long posts. Colorado is definitely worth a visit.

Frigid Air Pass

Our first hike in Colorado was also our biggest. The hike to Frigid Air was almost 11 miles and took us up 2000 feet of elevation gain, topping out at 12005 feet above sea level. We thought the thin air in Colorado would be a challenge, but we were pleasantly surprised how we handled the trek.

One of the slogans that is prevalent in Colorado is ‘The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go’. No matter where we looked there were giant mountains to be seen (and possibly climbed some day). There are 43 mountains in Colorado in excess of 14000 feet, and one of Deb and Dana’s hiking buddies has climbed all of them. I don’t know how long it took the fella, but he finished his last peak last month, and he’s in his mid 70’s. Just one more guy who puts me to shame.

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The drive to Crested Butte took us to a viewpoint where we looked over the plateau of South Park. This is an area in Colorado where all the ‘colourful’ characters live (okay, they’re just wacky) and is the inspiration for the animated series of the same name. Other than driving through (quickly) we tried to have little to do with the locals who live in structures that can best be described as Makeshift.

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We also drove over the Continental Divide at Cottonwood. After stopping for a few pictures we did a bit of a climb to see how our lungs would react and we did OK.

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Deb and Dana brought us to  Crested Butte to see the Flower Festival, which is a yearly celebration of the mountain wildflowers in the area. The place was quite busy, as we weren’t the only ones looking for flower pictures. Our first night there was spent exploring the quaint ski village and staying out of the rain. We managed to duck into a restaurant just as a deluge began, and stayed there long enough for the rains to stop. The next morning we were up bright and far too early to head to Schofield Pass. The starting point of the hike was about an hour from the Condo we rented at Crested Butte, and Dana wanted to get an early start as it was a long hike, and we’d likely need lots of rest time to deal with the elevation.

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It seems to be a thing to put stickers all over the signs in the area. Had we known, we’d have brought some with us.

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There were a couple of derelict cabins at the start of the hike, and at least one cabin that was habitable. Not this one though.

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We soon broke out of the trees and started to see huge stands of flowers. In the lower elevations the flowers were very tall, some as high as 4 feet tall and they got smaller as we climbed. Many of the following pictures were taken by Deb, and we thank her for letting us use them. There were 3 different flowers that we saw quite often, the I Don’t Know, the I Don’t Remember and the Beats Me.

Here goes my attempt at naming the rest of them correctly. I reserve the right to be wrong about any and all of them.

Alpine Sunflower and White Paintbrush.

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Lupins, Old Man of the Mountain, and Alpine Yarrow.

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Orange Paintbrush.

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Penstemon and Columbine of many colours.

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Some Beats Me’s mixed in with the Columbine and Asters.

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And even more Paintbrush.

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One stinky Flower and one Sweet Smelling one (at 12005 feet of elevation) sitting next to some Chickweed.

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Different versions of the same flowers.

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The view from Frigid Air pass. From here you can take a trail all the way to Aspen.

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Rocky Mountain Beeplant.

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Green Mertensia.

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I originally thought this was a Columbine, but I’ve changed my mind to a I Don’t Know.

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The red ones are Mexican Dock flowers.

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Alpine Yarrow, complete with ants. (or maybe Buckwheat or Lovage)

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King’s Crown.

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Elephant Flowers. Each one looks like the head of a Pachyderm.

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Lacy Tansyaster and some White I Don’t Knows.IMG_2905

Buttercup.

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Alpine Phlox.

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I had to give up on this one. It doesn’t match anything on the websites I found, but is some sort of a snapdragon.

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And I have dozens more that I can’t begin to categorize. If you want to look at  some Really good pictures, check out Debbie’s here.

So, 10 miles and about 7 hours later we were done. We had a really good day on the trail, but the rains showed up for the last hour of our trek. Even as we were finishing our day others were just arriving to see some flowers. They were either going to get very wet, or else be happy with taking pictures of lupins in the ditch. at the edge of the parking area.

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It’s Been a Week!

We’ve been busy since we left the USA and I haven’t had any time to document our various adventures with friends and family until now. We arrived home in Kelowna on Thursday and in 24 hours we’ve cleared out the RV, washed it inside and out, picked about a bushel of beans from our garden, thrown out our remaining lettuce which was now 4 feet high, feasted on our remaining blackberries, marvelled at the size of our peaches which, surprisingly, haven’t been eaten by the birds while we’ve been gone, slept in for a change, and found time to sit on the deck and enjoy happy hour. Not a bad day’s work.

I still have several hundred pictures to sort and categorize from our time in Colorado, and will be doing some detailed posts about our hikes and adventures there in the next week or so. In the meantime I’ll get you up to date on the last week of our vacation.

Our last night in the US was spent in Medora North Dakota, and I was hoping to get some pictures of the terrain around Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Unfortunately we woke up in the morning to fog of all things and couldn’t find anything to see, much less take pictures of. On our way north to Saskatchewan we did cross a couple of valleys and skirted the Badlands which gave us a break from the endless flat land and oil pumps of the northern prairies.

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By late afternoon, after a mere 60 second delay at the border crossing, we arrived in Regina to have a short visit with Bruce and Sonja who we know from Arizona. The were kind enough to feed us, and I was dense enough to not take any pictures.

We arrived at my Aunt’s home in Moose Jaw that evening, and spent the next couple of nights parked on the street in front of their house. As it was a long weekend in Canada, and a multi year reunion was being put on by the local High School, there were absolutely no RV spaces available anywhere close to Moose Jaw.

My aunt Elaine is a fun-loving happy lady, and we’re always pleased to spend time with her. When we were setting up for a dinner with another Aunt she pulled out these serviettes. She figured if she didn’t use them, she could send them home with us for Sylvia to use. They stayed in Moose Jaw Smile.

Our dinner was with my two remaining aunts who are healthy, Elaine in front, and Marilyn behind her. Their oldest sister has dementia, my Mom has passed away, their only brother passed away last month and only these two youngsters are left to pass on the family stories. And that they did, as we spent the evening laughing our heads off and learning how much trouble these two caused when they were young. IMG_3252

I also learned a lot of hilarious anecdotes about my Great Grandparents, who I had never known anything about before. We had quite the time, and my uncles learned a few things about their wives and family as well.

We packed up early the next morning and said goodbye. John and Elaine have owned this travel van for 28 years, and it has more than 300,000 miles on it. They are a bit leery of taking it too far these days, but it still gets out to the various lakes and campsites around Moose Jaw a few times a year. They were rather intimidated by our 5th Wheel, as it blocked the whole street in front of their house and dwarfed Nelly Belle.

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On our way to Alberta we stopped in Maple Creek to visit with some of my cousins, children of my Uncle Wayne who just passed away. Art, on the left, and I hadn’t seen each other for more than 45 years. His sister Karen is in the middle and his brother Garth is on the right. We made Randy (Karen’s Husband) stand in the back row, as he broke up the symmetry of the group by being the only one taller than 5’5”. Believe it or not, I’m a bit of a giant among my relatives, as I’m a fair bit taller than most of them.

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We spent the night in Medicine Hat, and I’d like to say we slept, but as the TransCanada Highway was on one side of us, and an active CP Rail train track was on the other side it wasn’t a very comfortable night.

We planted ourselves in Okotoks for our Calgary visit, which wasn’t all that convenient, but as there is very few RV sites in Calgary it was the best we could do. The site is on the Sheep River, and very nice though. Jason and Diana drove out to spend the evening with us, and while we didn’t have the necessary supplies for Smores, we did have a decent fire and a Marshmallow Roast.


The following day was spent with Jocelyn and our Grandkids at the Calgary zoo. We were there for over 6 hours and had a great time, although we were ready for a nap after we were done.

It’s amazing how penguins can captivate a kids interest.

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We never saw a Mountain Goat in Colorado, so this one will have to do.IMG_3263IMG_3269IMG_3272

One of the reasons I never posted anything while we were in Calgary was that I used most of my monthly Data allotment on my cell downloading videos for the kids such as ‘What does a Whooping Crane sound like?’

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Ayden loves to pose. I have several of these type of pictures.IMG_3274

This was a very Big Elk (Wapiti) and for a moment I thought it was a statue as it was perfectly still.

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I do believe I’ve been to the same barber as these Alpacas.

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As well as animals they have a large section dedicated to dinosaurs as there are several sites in southern Alberta where you can find their fossils.

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Several of the Dinosaurs in the park are Animatronic. Later on when we passed by the Velociraptor Payton jumped almost a foot when it roared at him.

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Despite how nice and sunny the day looked while we were at the zoo the evening was downright nasty as we drove back to the RV in yet another world class Thunderstorm. Over the 50 minute drive we must have seen 200 lightning bolts across the sky, and it didn’t stop for the rest of the evening.

I spent the next day working with Jason on the house renovation that he is desperately trying to get finished before he and Diana head to London for her work. The next morning we packed up the RV, stopped by Jason’s shop (which he has sold – Hallelujah) to pick up some stuff that he wants us to store while they’re in Britain and headed home to the heat of Kelowna.

And that was our week. All we have to do now is dump the tanks in the RV and park it in the side driveway and we’re on to our next adventures. Or another nap.