A favorite quote:

Make play a high priority in your life for if you die tomorrow no one can play for you, but someone can and will do your work for you!!!" Ken Beebe (Dr. Play)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday drive…

..again! We are getting into a bit of a habit. It seems when we are home for a weekend, we get the itch to be on the road, even after last weekends marathon roadtrip. It was about noon when we packed up and hit the highway. We drove north, for the entire length of 52nd St from south to north, west on McKnight Blvd then north again on Barlow Trail past the airport. We turned west onto Country Hills Blvd to Shaganappi Trail then for the first time ever, onto the Brand new Stoney Trail, which is the north part of the Calgary ring road that is under construction. IMG_7326

This project had been ongoing for 3 years now and it is finally open… well, almost. You see, if you drive from the west to the east as we did, the rest of the new freeway from Center Street to Deerfoot Trail (about 1km) is not open yet. It goes from a 6 lane 100km/hr freeway, to a left turn onto a 2 lane 60km/hr country road to nowhere. Yeesh… the line up was pretty solid.IMG_7329

It really seemed like there were too many cars out here on a Sunday afternoon, and soon we realized why we felt that way. There was paving happening on the Southbound lanes of Deerfoot Trail, at the new interchange onto the still unopened portion of Stoney Trail (where we should have come out if it was open), and they had 4 lanes of 110km/hr freeway squeezed into a single lane, which in turn had the entire freeway at a standstill for about 15kms back toward Airdrie, which in turn, backed up all these country roads with supposed shortcutters. IMG_7340 IMG_7338

We were stuck on the country road for about a half hour until we got to the turn off into Balzac to have a look around Bucars RV store. We did happen to get a look at a Carriage Cameo like the one that Dee and Jim just bought after selling all their stuff with plans to go fulltime RVing in the new year. Dee and Jim are a couple that we follow and they follow us on these blogs. They sold their condo, paid cash for their new RV and are living the dream now, way to go you two. It’s a REALLY nice Fiver!

Once we were done at Bucars we decided not to sit in the line of traffic, so we went north into Airdrie and then east out into the countryside. It wasn’t a very warm day, and was kind of windy, but it was still very pleasant to be out of the house for the afternoon. IMG_7344

Oh, in the tiny little… um… I’m not sure what to call it… It is named Kathryn on the map, but there is only a school and a church there, so I guess I would call it a country community center. We stopped at the country community center of Kathryn, because there was a playground there and it was just time to get out and stretch our legs again. Here is the result. IMG_7409 IMG_7357IMG_7429 IMG_7352 IMG_7348 IMG_7346IMG_7402

After that we got back in the car and enjoyed the rest of our trip back home.

This is Lake Chestermere, just east of Calgary. I thought they would have drained the lake by now as it is just a dammed up section of the Western Irrigation District, but it’s still full. This scene looks very different when there is no water here…IMG_7438

We were  just in time to make supper. mmmm supper. Since we had the cast iron pan, and we had some frozen Pickerel (walleye) fillets given to us by Uncle Mo last weekend (Caught by him at Chitek Lake, SK), we figure a fish fry was the way to go. Yumyumyumyum!!! The fish didn’t last long enough for pictures, but take my word for it, Northern Saskatchewan Pickerel is the BEST eating fish in the world, holy moly was it good. On top of it all, Mary Jo and Greg had brought us some fresh corn yesterday that we put on the BBQ and it was the BEST we have had all corn season this year. Golly, it sort of became a supper that everything was given to us, it was even cooked in a borrowed pan!! LOL too funny…

That’s it… goodnight now.

Pic of the day, It was hard to choose. Andrews spirit is amazing. Look at that dimple, I could just squeeze him!IMG_7369

NOT a birthday party…

We had invited Mary Jo, Greg and Sophie over for Greg’s XX  Birthday but were told that Greg doesn’t really like celebrating stuff. He enjoys celebrating in general, just not celebrating stuff.

So Traci ordered a cake that said “Just a cake”, and Andrew and Sophie each got to blow out a candle. We also cooked up a very tasty supper. I had asked my friend Scott for a recipe he mentioned in his blog, that said he knew how to do pan seared scallops really well. He sent me that recipe and we were on our way to an amazing feast. I borrowed Poppop’s cast iron pan to do the searing, as the recipe recommended it.      

Here is the Recipe as I received it.

Seared Scallops: Recipe provided by Garrison Ale House in Fredericton New Brunswick
(Scott's suggestions / comments are in brackets)
Really hot pan - smoking. (used a cast iron pan)
Use Canola, olive oil burns. (seasoned the pan with finely cracked fresh pepper)
Once pan is blistering hot, cook scallops one side, (set aside) and deglaze pan (keep liquid aside).
Deglaze with Amaretto or tequila and lime (I used wine and will try tequila and lime next time)
Get pan smoking again.
Sear the other side of the scallops.
Cook to medium rare (center of the scallop, as viewed from the side looks opaque)
A note on the scallops: We used the largest ones we could find. They were frozen. I thawed them well in advance and strained off all the moisture. Try not to wash them with running water to thaw them, it washes away much of the flavour. Let them thaw on their own in a strainer. Just before cooking, I patted them dry with a paper towel. Scallops were almost room temperature before they hit the pan.

I made a couple changes. The biggest one was adding Giant Tiger Prawns to the searing pan… wow did those turn out good. The other change was using a Mandarin Liqueur for the deglazing and then tossing the scallops and Shrimp in the pan after searing the second side to coat with the reduction. Oh boy was it good. CIMG6601

The meal was fantastic. We did boneless Ribeye steaks on the BBQ that were salt and peppered, brushed with a BBQ roasted garlic and olive oil infusion, and seasoned with a sprig of Rosemary during the BBQ process, drizzled with a nice B√©arnaise sauce, CIMG6602THEN topped with the scallops and Prawns.  The whole thing was topped off with twice baked potatoes, mashed with sour cream, butter, fresh chives, salt and pepper, and fresh grated parmesan cheese, topped with paprika and more parmesan. Just before putting the potatoes  in the oven we brushed them lightly with melted butter so they would bake to a golden brown.  Just for good measure we had fresh carrots with garlic butter and a nice bowl of greens.CIMG6604

We purchased the seafood from the North Sea Fish Market and the steaks came from the butchers counter at Safeway. It was ALL incredible.

We took our time at the table as it was so good. We always have plenty of laughs and good conversation with Mary Jo and Greg. We have been having nice visits with them for a number years now, but tonight was the first night that Andrew and Sophie were able to really play together. It really made a pleasant difference in our evening as the kids entertained themselves for the most part. Andrew had a great sleep too, as they ran and ran and ran for the better part of 3 hours.CIMG6617

They are both saying CHEESE!CIMG6619

All in all we had a super visit, and hopefully it wont be 3 months before the next visit. CIMG6613

Pic of the day - To top the night off, we got to witness an AMAZING sky!IMG_7310

Friday, September 18, 2009

Long drive home…

This post is mostly from last Monday. We drove home from Saskatoon after going in to see Steven. He was pretty sick and was just getting ready to go for another Chemo treatment. Poor guy, this is the start of a long road for him and his family. He still had the energy for a smile and a hug for Andrew. It’s just the type of kid he is. Steven is a very considerate guy, even as sick and tired as he was.

We got back to the campsite at about 10:30, as checkout is 11 and after stopping to dump our tanks on the way out, we were on the road at 11:15. We re getting pretty good at this camping dealy. We used to spend a lot of time setting up and packing up, but we have become so efficient it makes it a much more pleasant experience for all of us.

This was going to be a long day. It’s 630km of really REALLY flat roads. IMG_7200a

This is probably up there in the top 5 boring drives in Canada. The funny part is, I don’t mind it. When Traci and Andrew are asleep I listen to sports in the radio, or just contemplate stuff.

I do love watching the sky…IMG_7208 IMG_7300

Even on a this boring stretch of road, there are some interesting sights. I find myself looking at skid marks on the highway and wonder how that moment in time turned out for someone. I’ll watch the other drivers as they approach, just to see if they are paying attention to driving or consumed in something else while they drive. I always like the driver that seems to have dropped something and they actually disappear from the windshield as they bend over to reach for whatever it is they lost.

Special interest picture. This is the Cactus Corner truck stop out in the middle of nowhere near Hanna Alberta. About 1200 people live in Hanna and is the hometown of the Band ‘Nickleback’. To me though it is more famous for the fried chicken they serve at this truck stop. If Andrew was awake, we would have stopped for sure. If you only knew what I was  sacrificing for you Andrew. LOLIMG_7213

On this particular trip I started thinking about another type of trip. One where we would pull the trailer out of it’s deep winter sleep and drive to Yuma or Scottsdale. It would be about 3 - 8 hour days of driving to get there, but we would stay a month. What a way to get to see Disney, SD Zoo, the Slabs, the desert, and all the other cool stuff near there. We really only have 3 years to make this trip as Andrew will be in school and we are tied to his schedule from then on. I have already mapped out a route (I-15 for 1000miles, yikes), and also by reading all the RV blogs I read, I have a pretty good idea where I would look for parks in the area. Cool thing is, we wouldn’t have to tow the trailer back as my parents would drive down in the car and take over the camper for a couple weeks and we would go back in the car. Seem like a better way to enjoy some sun than spending 5 grand at a Mexican resort for a week.

Anyhoo, Mondays trip was uneventful.

Good gawd this highway goes on forever… IMG_7299

Andrew as always, is an amazing traveller. 2 hours into our drive we stopped in the small town of Kindersley and walked around their mall. It’s really small but was pretty busy for a Monday afternoon. We had Dairy Queen for lunch in the trailer and then it was back to the road. We travelled straight through for 4 hours from there. Andrew had a pretty good long nap, but was restless when he woke up, as were we, so we stopped East of Three Hills and had a hotdog supper in the Red Deer River Valley.

IMG_7289 IMG_7292IMG_7242

There is a nice campground in the trees off in the distance there…IMG_7230

Traci all geared up in her Husky Sweats… see the coolness she exudes! IMG_7222

This spot is only about 30 minutes from Drumheller, but we don’t go through as it adds a half hour to the trip. We enjoy this place for about an hour, got some blood flow back into our lower extremities and were fresh for the last hour and a bit home.

We got home about 8pm. 8hrs and 45miuntes in one travel day. A new world record for us as a team. It’s really not a record we want to try to beat again. We were tired. Unfortunately Andrew had a LOT of stored energy and didn’t go to sleep until almost midnight. I got up and went to work at about 8am, Traci and Andrew slept till 10 then had a nice day of  decompressing.

It was a very short trip (3days), very yet very long trip (mileage, 1600 kms on the odo), but completely worthwhile. I told Traci when we got home that it felt like we were away for 3 weeks. But now 4 days later, it doesn’t even feel like we were there. A trip like that can be pretty surreal. It’s kind of like the days I used to fly to Vancouver at 7am for a noon meeting and be back in my Calgary office by 3pm. I’m sitting there thinking ‘was I just in Vancouver?’

We are contemplating another camping trip before we winterize the trailer, but it is kind of nice to be home for a bit too. We have been very busy this summer and have taken advantage of our trailer, that’s for certain. I cancelled our rip to Kelowna for the Half Marathon, as I don’t have the time to dedicate to training. It’s a shame, but work needs me more now than running does. There will always be another race.

That’s all for now, Goodnight now…

Pic of the day, screen door cheeky…IMG_7272

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Husky Sweats…

pants_grey_sideOk, so if you have never owned a pair of University of Saskatchewan Husky Athletics sweatpants… you haven’t lived. they are the most comfortable sweats you will own, and being that they are branded UofS Huskies, it makes you instantly cool. As is righteous. Not cool as in cold ‘cause they are sweats. hehe.

We went to the University today to get a new pair. Ok, backtrack- These sweats don’t wear out either. Traci and I both lost a bunch of weight and our current pairs don’t fit well (for going out anyway, the big ones are that much more comfortable for lounging in) and we needed new ones. The UofS is under renovations and we couldn’t find the store so we went to the Midtown mall and found what we were looking for at The Bay. $234.56 later we escape. Andrew is outfitted, Neil is Outfitted, Traci is outfitted, and for taking care of Zo and Dinkdink, Nan and Poppop are outfitted. We justified the costs by saying it was the price of staying in a hotel and putting the donks up in a kennel for the weekend, where we are camping and putting the donks up at Nans. The sweats make you a better person by just putting them on. Look-em up online and order them now!

Our day sort of started at 3:30am when Andrew fell out of bed. We heard this loud thump, Traci sits up in bed and asks “was that Andrew?” yep, we look down and his head pops up and he crawl back onto his sofa bed and goes right back to sleep. I could hear Traci’s thoughts right at this point because I purposely left the bed rail at home as he has never fallen out of anything, and I reassured her he wouldn’t. I could feel the ol’ laser eyes beaming through me in the dark, yikes. I got up and propped a couch pillow under the sheet so he wouldn’t fall out again. We all went back to sleep. I got up at 5:30am to have a drink and a bite to eat as I was going to run at 7am. After a glass of water I went back to bed.When I  woke up I was ready to go. I crawled out of bed trying not to wake Traci and Andrew. I looked up a the clock and just about choked. It was 10:10am. We have NEVER slept this late in the camper before, in fact I can’t remember a day since Andrew was born that we slept this late. I guess we needed the sleep or else it wouldn’t have happened. I was a little ticked I never got to run, but I made up for it with a tasty Bacon, Eggs, Hashbrowns and Toast breakfast… yum. We got ready shortly after and went out as mentioned above.

We had lunch in the Mall, and Andrew ate really well. He doesn’t  normally like meat, but put it on a stick and hoo-wee, it might as well be a popsicle, he just devoured my souvlaki on a stick from Opa’s Greek kiosk.CIMG6586

As we finished lunch we called Carey and were requested to bring Steven a Fettuccini Alfredo from Vanelli’s. We went and got that and headed up to the hospital. Steven was deep in concentration building the lego tractor we purchased for him as he had just finished putting together the Combine. The Combine was really cool actually, and I was happy he enjoyed it. Andrew went over to it and grabbed it off the shelf and Steven just about jumped out of his chair “WHOA” he says, and takes it and places it a bit farther back on the shelf. Good for you Steven, you know what is important. I have plenty of models I have built that are in styrofoam peanuts in boxes downstairs that will come out when Andrew know what is a toy and what isn’t. We got to see Steven’s Gramma (Careys Mom) Myrna. The last time we saw her was 12 years ago at our North Battleford wedding reception. It was good to see her, and she looked great! We finished our visit as Andrew was getting tired and Steven was even more tired so we headed back to the campground for naps. I was feeling quite good at this point so as soon as Traci and Andrew were comfortable I headed out for my run. 17km on a gorgeous day on the Meewasin Valley Trail system along the South Saskatchewan River. It was terrific. I am so lucky these days, my last 4 long runs have been in Radium Hot Springs, BC, Kananaskis Country, AB, Okotoks, AB, and Saskatoon, SK. If I wasn’t a runner I could never have experienced these places so intimately.

Traci and Andrew were just getting up when I got back an 1.75 hours later, so after my dermal abrasion (the free showers here have the strongest pressure I have ever experienced) we made supper. Thin sliced New York steak on Teriyaki Noodles and a side of Corn. Yeah, we are really roughing it here.

After supper we called Carey to see if we should come see Steven again, but he was sleeping so we decided a visit in the morning before we take off would be better. We were going to pack up and head over to Auntie Carols again, but they wanted to come out and see us at the trailer. Well ok then, we tidied up a bit and had a really nice visit with AC, UM, and Doug. IMG_7176

Uncle Mo played with Andrew the whole time. When we moved the visit into the trailer (mosquitoes) Uncle Mo picked up once of our couch cushions and asked Andrew if he wanted to have a cushion fight. Andrew went right over to the other cushion, picked it up and whomped UM with it.IMG_7177 That went on for a while, and then they started playing catch with a soft ball. UM would ask, “Are you ready?” and Andrew would squeal “YEAH, YAY!!!!!” and make us all laugh.

We finished our visit with Hugs, High fives and Kisses all around. That Andrew, always the hit of the party. 

We were craving some Tim Horton's so we hopped in the Truck and took a drive over to 8th Street. We went all the way over there as the neighbourhood that is adjacent the campground is not very nice, as proved by the hookers strolling down 20th Ave as we drove with our doors locked over to more comfortable streets. We took a scenic tour down 8th and around Circle Drive, and came into our CG from a different direction to avoid the worst parts of the ‘hood. It’s all worth it for an Extra Large Double Double though isn’t it?

earlier in the evening I walked around and took some pictures of our CG. The place is next to a nice golf course and buffered from the ‘hood by a bunch of ball diamonds, football stadium and hockey rinks. The site itself is REALLY pleasant, and as I said before, a true oasis in the city.

IMG_7154IMG_7160  IMG_7151 IMG_7172 IMG_7163

We will visit Steven in the morning then come back and break camp and hit the highway. Should be a good day on the road as we have the while day to get home. 

Here is the pic of the week. Andrew is FAST asleep here. Pretty comfortable in his rolling home. In his words whenever we approach the trailer “Dere it is! Home!”CIMG6585

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Visit with Steven…

We had supper over at Auntie Carols. It was AC, Uncle Mo, Doug, Debbie, Curtis, Traci, Andrew and Myself. Andrew did his normal magic on everyone and had them eating out of his hand within minutes…

After supper we went to the hospital to visit with Steven. He looks pretty good, he is tired but I guess that is to be expected. His sense of humour is in fine form. We took him a Lego Technic kit, a Harvester Combine of course, as he is a farmer. I felt a little funny though as most of the things he has received so far are high tech gadgets. Oh well, he seemed quite pleased with it AND it doesn’t ever need batteries, hehe.

Andrew was very timid and clingy in the room. He kept eying up the IV tree and staying really close to me while looking around at everything. He really had a freak out when the nurse came in to change Stevens medicine on the tree. He was really distressed. IMG_7141

He seemed to be better shortly after the nurse left and he warmed up to his normal jovial self. He was offering up his grapes to everyone and he even  helped get Steven a drink a bit later. Steven is a champ, he is such a nice kid, when Andrew walked up to him the first time and quietly said something (in his own language), Steven looked right at him and answered him with a nice “uh huh, that’s for sure..”. Andrew thought that was really cool and sort of clung to Steven from then on.

We spoke to Steven about his central med line and he lifted up his shirt to show us. I asked him if I could take a picture that I could put on the internet, he said “Sure, if you want my nipple in the picture…” IMG_7140

We just had some comfortable small talk for the rest of the visit. I think there will be plenty of time in the future to chat about bigger stuff, bit for now it’s just like it always has been, how we pick up our conversations in the middle, even though we may not have spoken for a year. It was getting late by then so we said our goodbyes, Andrew was all huggy by then, so it was a good goodbye, and we will see them tomorrow again…IMG_7148 IMG_7145

Oh yeah, Early in the conversation tonight I was a little shocked to hear Steven talking about selling his dirt bike, as he would not be able to use it…. Then he says, I want to buy a bigger one!!! hehe, we adults, we read too much stuff into stuff don’t we?

I am running this 16k route tomorrow morning. Not a world beater, but I am taking our small camera as this river valley is amazing.

Interesting trip…

It was a not very interesting trip, until we wanted the trip to stop.

First of all, Nan corrected me on the lost sausage location. It’s Mundare Sausage, not Muenster Sausage, and it is outside Vegerville (home of the worlds largest Pysanka, by the way), not outside of Camrose as we originally thought.

We are CERTAINLY not in the mountains anymore…IMG_7004

Ok, so we drove without incident from Calgary, up the QEII highway to Wetaskawin, then over to Camrose and on to Wainwright. This had us about 5 hours into our journey and getting close to dusk. We stopped in Wainwright to stretch our legs and let Andrew burn off some steam in this very nice park along the highway. Oh yeah…. we almost ran out of fuel. We were about 20 minutes gone from Camrose when I looked at the fuel gage. whoops. This was the first time I looked since we left Calgary. Seriously, how new am I, jeez… Anyway, the trip computer said we had 51km left in the tank, with 41km left until Wainwright. Boy, that takes a lot of trust… but we made it, and put in 90 litres… uh huh. The tank only holds 92. we were close, but lesson learned… I hope.

Here is our sojourn into Wallace Park…IMG_7053IMG_7056IMG_7075

Andrew seemed to get the idea that this was something special…IMG_7069 

You put your head in the lions mouth to drink from the fountain! LOLIMG_7049 IMG_7039 IMG_7030

Jeez, you think the long shadows would have signalled that the sun was going down, now wouldn’t you… see below for the explanation.IMG_7074

We get back in the truck and drive on to the east. I know of a regional park that is right near Marsden, and while I haven’t been to the EXACT spot that the park sits, I have driven past the sign many times. IMG_7009We did stop for some cash at a little store in Marsden and I asked the lady how far it is to the campground. “Oh, 5 minutes or less”, great, thanks. We hit out on the highway and drive for about 5km. The entire time I am saying, I thought the sign said the access was only 2km… We drive for a bit more and then we turn around. Just when we turn around there is a sign that says Manitou Lake Regional Park, turn left. So we did. CRAP,  Gravel… ! the sign says the campground is 6km down this road, so off we go at 30km/hr. We get to a sigh that says turn right, so we do and drive, oh… 10km!??! Now the sun has set and we are facing west into a bug filled windshield, and harvest dust filled air, and Uh-oh, DEER! everywhere! so now the mojo is pumping and I still can’t see anything, and then… well… the road ran out. nothing but a dirt track. So… ticked off, we turn around. We get back to a road that looks like it goes back into Marsden, so we take it. as we turn left there is a sign that says turn left to get to the campground. WHAT!? we came down that freaking road. “Uh, Traci, do you want to go find in” “NO”. ok, let’s hit the highway again.

Now it’s dark and a 1/2 hour later than we wanted to travel. North Battleford is 1.5 hrs away still. Ok, let’s pull off at the first park we see. Well, we did see 2 separate signs to 2 separate parks, and when we pulled off to find them, there were no more signs. Did I mention it was dark! So… what now. We are getting close to Indian Country. there are 3 MAJOR reservations between here and North Battleford, and they have never been known for their safe harbours… if you get my drift.

We end up driving to Cut Knife. IMG_7091aNow, Cut Knife is a pretty big town along this road, so when we see the sign for the campground, we, obviously follow it. Just as we enter Cut Knife proper, the pavement runs out. Yep, the town is all gravel. Strike 1. Then there are no signs to get to the campground. Strike 2. Then the only person on the street looks like an Axe murderer to Traci (he looked pretty dodgy to me too) Strike 3.

Hey, I got an Idea! Let’s go to North Battleford! Well, we did, and we are VERY happy we did. David Laird CG is great and we had a VERY restful sleep, and nice time in the morning playing out in the site, had great FREE showers and an really nice cup of coffee. We didn’t even unhook the rig as my deft ‘black of night’ parking skills had us as level and comfortable as can be.

IMG_7084 

So that is it, you are caught up now and we are really happy to be is S’toon as we call it.

Good day now…

I will leave this one up in the air for you…. get it?IMG_6992