Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Start of a New Season

I'm going to market
Jacob's Tails
If you are interested, please let me know

Click on the pictures to enlarge them
The weather in September was the best for the whole year – we had temperatures up to the 30’s C – but then we all knew THAT wasn’t going to last. Change it did – come October and the cold, cold, cold. We got our flu shots, finished packing and got going – frozen shampoo and all.
I did manage to do a couple of articles for RV West (one on the Connections we’ve made over the years and the other on Travel Medical Insurance) and at least one should be in the November issue and they will both be on my e-column .

We were told that the border crossings had tightening up and it was strange! They never asked us where we were coming from or if we were Canadian citizens or anything like they usually did but he did ask if we had tobacco, alcohol or firearms (I never could figure out why they would ask Canadians if they were bringing firearms into the States - da) and where we were going. We told him we were going to Death Valley. Then came the question we really didn’t expect “what are you going to do in Death Valley.” We looked at each other – it was so-o tempting - but we both restrained ourselves and did not say DIE.
Then he asked us how much money we were taking down - we'd never been asked that before and had a tough time figuring it out. They’d always asked us if we had over $10,000. Finally we just told him we use our credit cards - that seemed to satisfy him. Then they asked us if we packed the Motor Home ourselves – so who else would have packed it? Anyway, all questions answered and we were on our way.
Again we were reminded how bad the roads and traffic is around Salt Lake City – narrow, narrow lanes, road work signs all over and drivers who always want the spot on the road where you are and get really pissed-off when you won’t give it to them. Again we say – never again – there are better roads we can take.

The way over to Death Valley turned out to have a few stops and detours. We got side-tracked into Zion National Park for a couple of days. Zion is particularly significance for us. On our first trip south, we had to forego our visit to the park to get back to work in Calgary. We decided that if we didn’t start our traveling soon, we may not be able to – thus the beginning of this great adventure we’ve been on.
Zion is in Utah north-west of the Grand Canyon and 2009 marked its 100th year as a National Park. The Grand Canyon is absolutely awesome . . . Zion Canyon feels more intimate . . . up-close and personal. Rather than the spectacular view from the rims of the Canyon (like the Grand Canyon), in Zion, you are in the Canyon looking up at the rims. The Virgin River is to Zion Canyon what the Colorado River is to the Grand Canyon. Again you are reminded of the millions of years of wind, rain and erosion that created the every changing texture from the white lime layers through the multi-coloured Navajo Sandstone strata and at least seven other stratifications down to the Virgin River.
When we were first here (in 2001), we drove up the Canyon road and along the switch back highway towards Mount Carmel. Because of the high volume of traffic, private vehicles are no longer allowed along the Canyon and they have introduced a shuttle bus.
We just happened to have a shuttle driver who was incredibly passionate about the park and shared his knowledge and views with us. The shuttle moves slowly up the canyon stopping at the Human History Museum; various trail heads; and any other special attractions or wildlife the driver deems interesting. At each stop you can get out, explore the area, take a hike or whatever and then catch another shuttle to take you further or back to the visitor center.

Climbing is one of the favourite activities (No, we didn't try!!) and the hiking trails are everywhere. People actually climb mountains like this . . . straight up!

The Court of the Patriarchs are three massive peaks that are just one example of the Mormon influence in the Park.

They saw the canyons as temples where man could worship in safety. The Park was renamed Zion (a Hebrew word) from Mukunuweap National Monument to reflect that perceived sanctity.

Besides the campgrounds, the only place to stay or eat is at the Zion Lodge – a facility built in the 20’s – that also is the trail head for a number of hiking and horse trails.
Each stop offers something special
The varnished walls;

The waterfalls;

The Narrows along the River Walk at the far end of the Temple of Sinawava Shuttle stop.

Our next stop has been Mesquite, NV. Time to dump, get water, Fred has to make bread and then off westwards towards Overton.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Summer of 2009 - the Highs and the Lows

I'm going to market
Jacob's Tails
If you are interested, please let me know

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

The Highlights

The highlights, of course, are anything new and different – the sights and people we spent time with. Waterton (always a highlight); Heritage Days; the trips to Wetaskiwin and Sparwood; celebrating the 100th year of Lethbridge’s high level bridge and last, but not least, celebrating my brother’s 70th birthday.

We visited Waterton early with my old school buddy and his wife. We were so early in the season that the Prince of Wales Hotel wasn’t even open yet but we did get our

classic pictures of Cameron Falls and Cameron Lake.

Heritage Days just reminds me how much Lethbridge has grown and changed since I grew up here a zillion years ago. There must have been over a couple of dozen cultures represented in costumes; presentations; or food (or all three) – I love it!!


The plan was to get up to Wetaskiwin to visit with Chuck and Sheila then go west to the Columbia Parkway and Jasper and down to Cranbrook to drop in on Ina and Alan (RV'ers from Nanaimo).

Just like we always did with Chuck and Sheila we went exploring the area. Lord, it was cold and rainy but we did get up to explore an oil rig on show at Leduc.

We’ve never been along the road between Rocky Mountain House and the Columbia Parkway so figured it would be a great trip. The weather was horrid – so cold and rainy – what a big sissy I am and besides I got a horrid cold – Long story short – we ended up coming back to Lethbridge so I could recuperate. We never did get to Jasper or to see Ina and Alan but Ina and Alan did come to see us.

Going along Highway #3 past Pincher Creek, through the Crowsnest Pass to Sparwood has turned out to be one of our favourite summer excursions. More and more windmills stretch across the ridge across from Cowley and single Windmills dot the landscape from Fort MacLeod right through the Pass.

The campground we stay at in Sparwood (Mountain Shadows) has good sized sites; good facilities (and WiFi); some wildlife; and is reasonably priced (a plus for BC). We always seem to find lots of side trips emanating out of Sparwood and this year were pleasantly surprised to be joined by neighbours from the Condo we live in.

The Sky – the Wind mill – the old grain elevator near Pincher Creek

A local electrician put lights up to celebrate the 100th Year of Lethbridge’s High Level Bridge that turned out to be incredibly spectacular.

And last but not least was the celebration of my brother Stan’s 70th birthday

and presumably his retirement. It was a great party – in fact the whole weekend was terrific. All his kids and their spouses were there; the grandchildren and a couple of cousins – Dianne (daughter of Mom’s older sister) and Marty (son of Mom’s younger sister). Patty did such an incredible job at the open house on Saturday and then the brunch at an interesting little place (Reading’s Rock Garden CafĂ©) on Sunday.

The Lowlights

This was the first summer that I really am a Senior. I’m not sure what that means except that some of my dental and optical expenses are now covered. There have been times when I feel much more like a mushroom – you know – in the dark and dirt thrown on you.

The first incident was when I took some of our old eyeglasses into the ophthalmologist’s office to be recycled.

A very haughty little receptionist told me, “We don’t have anything to do with eyeglasses.” And she had no idea what to do with them (I think she would have liked to tell me what I could do with them – but she generously resisted the temptation).

Okay, chalk that one up to her arrogance.

As you might know, the technician actually does all the testing and the doctor comes in to confirm what s/he did – so he can justify his fee. As I do every year before we leave, I asked for a new prescription. It was exactly the same as last years (and the year before and the year before, etc) and I was painfully aware my vision has changed so I told them that and asked them about that.

“Oh,” said the doctor, “we don’t check your vision, we just do medical and surgical procedures –and we don’t do anything regarding eyeglasses.” (Now I know where the receptionist got her attitude). Needless to say I was a little annoyed (pissed-off would actually describe it better) not that they only dealt with medical and surgical issues but that they didn’t tell me. So I picked up my records from him and went off to find another eye doctor.

The next incident was with the dentist. I knew we are eligible for dental subsidy and getting my teeth clean should be completely covered. I went and did! Yes I made an appointment and the gal did a great job – never saw the dentist, which was just the way I wanted it.

Then I get a phone call from the dentist’s office saying that “yes, the cleaning was completely covered but there was a Professional Fee from the dentist that was not covered.”

What – I didn’t even see the dentist! What is the fee for?

No rational answer – the usual – That’s what we do!

So again my dander gets up. So I phoned the Insurance people and the Dental Association and still got no answer.

Welcome to the Land of taking advantage of the pensioners or just the time of the extra fees for anything and everything!