Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Living it up at Lakeview

We've had a few semi-summer days this past week, and Todd took full advantage of the sunny, windy conditions. He's been riding out at Gull Lake a fair bit, and I think he even got in a session at Sylvan if I'm not mistaken (I was working nights last week and it's mostly a blur... UGH...).

You should check out his blog sometime - Learn Stuff. Yes I'm biased, but all loving aside, he's an amazing athlete and he often writes about his workouts and other activities that help keep him fit and strong. Lately, most of it has been about kiteboarding, which he thoroughly enjoys. Can you tell??

Even though he was wearing girlie-shorts, he still managed to rip it up! Yep, that's my spare harness... good thing it is a little on the large side for me... fits Todd like a glove... hee hee!! He suffered a blowout on his Dakine shorts, which is a little disappointing because that's the second pair that has blown apart in almost the same spot. I think he'll be trying some other brand next time.

Anyway, twelve more sleeps until Maui! Yeah! I'm getting more and more excited by the day!


Monday, May 17, 2010

More surprises!

Twice now in as many days, I've been completely blown away by the beautiful Alberta landscape which I never knew existed! I visited my parents in Medicine Hat over the weekend, and I dragged them around the countryside, checking out some cool spots mentioned in the 'Explore Southern Alberta' guidebook. On my way home to Red Deer yesterday, I decided to stop at yet another locale which is noted in the book - Dinosaur Provincial Park. HOLY... MOLY...!!! I had no idea what a phenomenal place it is!

I thought I'd maybe make a quick stop at a general viewpoint or something, and take a few pics... Until I got there... and OMG!!! There was no way I couldn't take a closer look. So, 2-1/2 hours and about 6km of hiking trails later, I left the park just flabbergasted by its beauty.


I definitely need to go back! The history is amazing and the landscape is so unusual and so unexpected. My friend Jody would have a hay-day with her camera - the shapes and patterns are stellar!

If you are ever in the vicinity (Brooks, AB), I would highly recommend making a trip to the park. It is well worth it!

An added bonus to my day: I stopped in at Todd's parents in Bassano... and had a delicious supper with them! It was a short visit but it was nice to see them. Now it's back to work for a couple of weeks, then we fly to Maui for some surf and sun! Yeah! Life is good!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

The middle of the bald-ash prairie!

Well as always, my parents are good sports I must say! I'm in Medicine Hat right now, and since the weather is completely GORGEOUS here, I insisted we get out and do some prairie sightseeing. I only lived here for, oh, a third of my life... so I was surprised when I read about all the neat places (I've never seen!) listed in the 'Explore Southern Alberta' guidebook. I rattled off the day's itinerary, packed a cooler, and shooed Mom, Dad and baby poochie Barney into the truck, and away we went.

We started off by driving to one of the strangest anomalies I've yet to see... Red Rock Coulee, south of Seven Persons. The book describes it as "like you've time-warped to another planet"... and it's totally true!

The giant red orbs dotting the coulee are 'concretions' - I'll have to let you read up on their interesting formation on your own - and they are amazing and weird and some are solid and some have broken apart. They are spread over an area that's at least 1.5 km long.

Next we zipped over to Manyberries, where we stopped at the old train station. The railroad track was taken out several years ago, but some caring folks restored the station and a caboose. I think there is a teahouse in the train station, but it wasn't open today. We may have been too early in the season for it.

Our last stop was at the great little Etzikom Museum. The place is celebrating their 20th year next week, and I've never heard of it until this weekend! Tsk tsk! The museum exhibits are wonderful and there is a quaint little soda shop offering ice cream and home-made baking. Outside is a display of windmills and some antique farming equipment. I loved the windmills!

As we were rolling along in the Expedition, the Sweet Grass Hills were visible far to the south. And with all the snow the area had received recently, the hills looked quite pristine and almost mountainous! They aren't really 'mountains' per se (uh oh, is that the Rockies snob in me?? hee hee), but seeing as how nothing else is around them, the remaining snow cover made their 2500 feet of relief look impressive!

We stopped on the way home at a quiet, abandoned, roadside churchyard and ate our lunch. Then we headed back to town. In total, we covered almost 230km and spent nearly 6 hours enjoying the bald-ash prairie - it was a fantastic day!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Climbing season is here!

There is still a ton of snow at elevation around the Canmore area, but things are starting to look up, weather wise.

Today we hung out at Grassi Lakes, enjoying the sunshine and the nice warm limestone. Todd and his buddies climbed and I belayed and took some pics - my gawd I could just gaze at those gorgeous pools for hours, as the colors are amazing!

At the end of the day, I realized that it was actually the first time I've ever hiked from the bottom right to the top of the canyon - we always go partway up (or down) and then return to our car the same way. It was great!

Tomorrow I'm driving to Medicine Hat to visit with my parents, and hopefully I'll get to see a few old friends while I'm there also. I'm looking forward to it!

Then it's back to work for a couple of weeks before we leave for Maui. Did I mention that I'm soooo excited about the trip?? Yaaayyyyy for vacation!!!


Grassi Lakes Trail ('More Difficult' option)
Time (car to car): 1 hour (bottom to top only, not return)
Distance: ~2.5km (bottom to top only, not return)
Elevation Gain: 250m

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nothing 'mini' about Lake Minnewanka...

How much fun was today!? Let me tell you!! Todd and I hiked down the Lake Minnewanka Trail to Aylmer Pass Junction - what a beautiful area! I totally didn't expect it to be such a nice outing. The entire time we had awesome views of the lake and surrounding mountains, and if we had started a little earlier, it would have been perfect to finish off with a trip up to the Aylmer Lookout. Next time, for sure!

It felt soooo good to get outside and stretch the legs. We took sandwiches and had a great lunch along the lakeshore, and we explored the LM8 campground and its wildlife. And... the sun shone pretty much the whole day. Yeah!

Not sure what's up for tomorrow - hopefully more of the same! Could it be possible?? Could spring really now be here??


Lake Minnewanka Trail to Aylmer Pass Junction
Time (car to car): 5 hrs
Distance: ~16km
Elevation Gain: ~100m

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Winter continues...

We've been in Canmore this past couple of days, and the weather has been extremely disappointing! There is so much snow, at higher elevations, I can hardly believe it! Weird.

And the forecast is for MORE SNOW! Yuck. I was really hoping to get out for some hiking or scrambling and maybe even some rock climbing... but all these things are clearly out of the picture right now. Oh well. We decided instead that a couple of days of skiing might be in order - yeah!! Nothing like several inches of fresh snow and +5C temps!! Sunshine, here we come. That is the plan for Monday and Tuesday.

Last night, we had a fantastic evening with some friends at their groovy new little house - baked salmon was on the dinner menu (yum!) and Jody even made me a birthday cake!! How nice was that!! Of course I got to take the leftovers home with me - mmmmm!! And today, I wandered out east of town for a couple of hours with my camera, where I saw mountain goat after mountain goat after mountain goat... which I have tons of pictures of, so I didn't stop... and then I saw a herd of deer. They were hanging out on a steep, south-facing hillside and didn't seem bothered at all that I was getting closer and closer to them.

Tomorrow, if there is any sort of break in the dreariness whatsoever, I'm going to try to convince Todd to come with me out to an old fire lookout down near Kananaskis Village... or... maybe my friend Toni and a guest will come visit for the day?? *HINT*HINT*  If that is the case, we'll probably head up to Grassi Lakes - that place is beautiful, rain or shine!

At any rate, I'm not at work... so I really shouldn't complain about anything. A so-called "bad" day in the mountains is ALWAYS better than any kind of day at work!!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Let it snow!

Quick... can you tell me what is in this picture???

Don't worry... I had to do a double-take this morning also, when I looked out the window... Those are our vehicles, folks. Yep, Old Man Winter came back with a vengeance. Hard to believe it's the fourth of May! The neighbor's poor little playset is looking pretty dejected too.

Oh well. Only thirty or so more sleeps, and we're off to Hawaii! Yeah! Unfortunately, our June Caribbean sailing plans had to be postponed; a minimal selection of boats at that time of year meant that it would be slightly more costly than we had planned for just the two of us to sail. We couldn't find anyone else to join us in St Vincent, so we decided to take a trip to what is considered by some to be the birthplace of surfing/kitesurfing... Maui! I'm super excited! Todd is really looking forward to it - June is supposed to be one of the windiest months - and I can hardly wait to check out the beautiful island and its snorkelling and hiking, etc.
In the meantime, we are going to spend a few days in Canmore, and then I'm heading to Medicine Hat to see the parents before I go back to work on the 17th. Snow or sun, it should be a great couple of weeks off!