Posted by: Valerie | June 22, 2010

Way out west in Cowboy Country

The great hall at Jasper Park Lodge

It’s been several weeks since I last wrote here. I’m afraid I have been otherwise occupied – holidays, then getting back from holidays, laundry etc. Oh, and buying a new laptop to replace the first one that was finally laid to rest in Joe’s shop last week. While it’s great to get a new machine, it’s a pain in the rear reloading and replacing all the software.

I thought I might have a chance to get writing this weekend when I was in Ottawa babysitting Magnus, the granddog, while his family scooted off to New York for a bit of fun. Nope, I visited friends and generally lolled about in between dog walking. I also had to reclaim Charlie our cat who has been staying with James and Ange while we were away. I have no doubt that they are glad to see the back of him as they had just taken delivery of new white leather furniture before Charlie arrived. We had all ignored the fact that Charlie still has his claws. Nuff said… except that I feel dreadfully responsible.

I was explaining all this to my sister and she reminded me of the time she went on an appointment and left Gretel, her utterly ghastly (imho) German Short-haired Pointer, in her new car. Half-an-hour later she returned to find the inside of the vehicle completely destroyed – upholstery, dashboard, steering wheel, the lot. The interesting part is that the insurance allowed her damage claim and made it all like new again. Gretel survived to be ancient and there are many stories about her multiple misdeeds, including the time she ate the sweater I was knitting, needles and all. Never liked that dog after that.

Meet Benson, the sweetest Rottie I've ever met.

Being away during planting season means that I have no baskets or annuals coming in the garden so I have been scrambling to get something going. Not much left in the garden centres so I’ve been belatedly sowing sunflower seeds and tomato plants just hoping for good results. The perennials are doing well though but a great deal of weeding and staking is in my immediate future.

 Joe and I left Toronto for Calgary on May 13th and didn’t return until June 10th. I could say that the blackflies drove us away and it wouldn’t be far short of the truth. Indeed by the time we returned the blackflies were gone – to be replaced in force by deerflies. We should learn to face it – there will always be something out there eager to eat us, at least until mid-August. Meanwhile we are cheering for the dragonflies, the Bancroft Air Force.

 We had a great holiday however with virtually never a bug in sight. We based ourselves at Fish Creek Ranch near Bragg Creek – where my sister lives with Doug, her fella. Sue lent us her honking great Chevy Tahoe so we were able to take off on some lengthy trips. First we headed up the Icefield Parkway to Jasper, a jaw-dropping excursion. The scenery is almost beyond description. We stayed there for five nights, including a surprise birthday gift for me of one night at the incredibly posh (and expensive) Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Magnificent!

 From Jasper we made a long drive to Sicamous on Shuswap Lake in BC. Sicamous is not a very attractive town but our hotel was very pleasant. It had a laundry and I collected lots of coins and set off to do some washing. We had been away for a while by that time and were running low on knickers etc. Faced with this foreign washing machine, I carefully followed the instructions about how to insert the money and where to add the detergent and fabric conditioner and successfully got the whole thing going. The door clicked into the locked position. That was when I realised I had forgotten to put in the clothes… All in all, though, it was a good stop. The weather was warm and welcoming and the flowers were blooming.

 Another treat was waiting for us in the southern part of BC. We went to be guests for two nights at the Tinhorn Creek winery in Oliver in the Okanagan. This was also a gift – this time from Anna and Tim! We were feeling extremely pampered!

Umbrellas in the desert t Osoyoos

Our mission which of course we accepted happily was to spend a day touring the wineries and buying lots of wine on their behalf. Unfortunately it rained and rained for our day in Canada’s desert and our visit to the Osoyoos Desert Centre was a washout! We bought lots of wine though. Then back to Bragg Creek in driving snow over the Crowsnest Pass. Ah, Alberta!

May 29th, 2010 Unbelievable!


Well of course that’s not all I have to tell but perhaps that’s a big enough serving for one posting! Keep watching this space.

For lots more visuals see my web albums at So far there is one of the Jasper trip, BC and Anna and Tim’s marathon of which more to come.


  1. Great to hear about your trip and going to check out the photos. Thanks heaps for the photocards and am looking forward to hearing more. Spring in Alberta certainly sounds interesting!

  2. I’m glad that you had a great trip–I copied it to friends from Tucson who are doing a similar driving tour . Your photos are great. I am complaining about temps in Tucson at 108 degrees but will take that over black flies and deerflies ANY day of the week!!

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