Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Journey or the Destination???

When I was a child our family would make a yearly vacation trip to Nova Scotia, where both Dad and Mum's families lived.  It was always at least a seven hour drive from where we lived in New Brunswick.  There weren't fast food restaurants along the way so Mum would pack a lunch that we'd eat in the car, after our preliminary bouts of car sickness had passed, of course. The trips seemed to be endless to us as young children.  I always knew when we were close to our grandparent's home because Mum would take the pincurls out of her hair and comb it out so she would look nice when we arrived at her parents' home.  In those days, the destination was definitely more exciting than the long car ride. Dad would drive as direct a route as possible, with no side trips or stops for sightseeing.

Maybe it's a part of aging, but I've begun to believe that the journey can be just as fun and exciting as arriving at the actual destination, whether it's a long holiday trip or a walk down the road to visit a friend.  With all the travelling Lloyd and I have been doing between Edmonton and Lethbridge, we've come to embrace that philosophy and the simple joy of travelling distances together in the best possible company, each other.

Sometimes the 5+ hour trip passes quickly with us just talking - telling stories about our childhood and we've found that even after 42 years of marriage there are still little facts and stories we don't know about one another. Sometimes we listen to music and podcasts and drive along enjoying the memories and pleasure that certain music brings to mind.

But the most fun part of making the drive we've discovered in the past year.  Lloyd has become a picture taker, thanks to the advent of cell phones with cameras. We don't drive the major north-south super highways any more, opting instead for the back roads of Alberta where the traffic is lighter and the sights more exciting.  Whether it's Lloyd driving or me, if we see something that looks interesting or photo worthy, we'll pull over to the side of the road and stop to explore and take pictures.  That's how we discovered the small communities of Millicent and Patricia and Rosebud that I've written about previously.  Occasionally the five hour drive has taken us close to nine hours to complete because there's been so much to see and explore along the way.

Yesterday's trip from Lethbridge to Edmonton took us eight hours. There was a place outside a small town that we have driven past hundreds of times and always said, "We should stop there some day", but never did.  Yesterday was the exception.  It's a little place called Aspen Crossing just out side the village of Mossleigh in the middle of the prairies.  There's a restaurant in an old railroad car, and a couple of other railroad cars around.  There was a large nursery full of plants and flowers, a patio area where every Friday night there's a show held, either live music or a play or something equally as entertaining, complete with a buffet dinner...all very rustic...much more to Aspen Crossing that we had imagined as we drove by time after time.  We lingered here for awhile taking pictures and wandering around.  Here's a sampling...

Creative use of an old car at Aspen Crossing

The restaurant Car

The kitchen attached to the restaurant car

This beautiful rooster crowed constantly athough it was 6 pm when we were there

A nice little resting place for travellers

And inside the Gift Shop, this lovely looking old mother with
her tray of reaslistic.

Mossleigh's triple grain elevators, visible for miles around.  I imagine it
won't be long before they're torn down and replaced by the giant
concrete ones used now...the end of an era.

It's harvest time in Alberta and the prairies are
dotted with these gleaming golden bales of hay.

This field has just been cut and the hay is waiting to be baled.

A decrepit old barn with character.

So that's just a taste of why it takes us so long to get from one place to another.  I hope you enjoy the getting there as much as the arriving in your travels too.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Alberta Wanderings

Lloyd and I have been doing lots of wandering around Alberta thse past few months. It's such a huge province (255,500 sq. miles or 661,848 sq. km.) and the scenery varies from mountains and lakes to prairies, boreal forest lands, badlands rich in dinosaur digs, cities, towns, villages and everything in between.

When we looked at the map closely, we discovered (several years ago actually) two towns in south-central Alberta with my not-so-common first and second names.  So on one of our trips between Lethbridge and Edmonton we went in search of the towns of Millicent and Patricia.  Interestingly enough these two places were located within 10 km of one another.

Someone liked my name enough to name a community Millicent.

This road is all there is to the unincorporated community.  Lovely
farm land all around.

And then there's Patricia.  A small town at the gateway to the
Alberta Badlands and Dinosaur Provincial Park.  Every small town
in Alberta has an annual rodeo and Patricia is no exception.

Many dinosaur fossils and bones have been found in the Alberta
Badlands, making it quite an popular area for naturalists.
 And while we're on the topic of my name, my last name, MacKenzie, is very well represented in Alberta.  The highway north that Lloyd has travelled for the past 19 years is the Mackenzie Highway, and one of our longest rivers is the Mackenzie, both named after the famous explorer Alexander Mackenzie.  So, I feel right at home in this province.

Here's a few more Alberta sights.

Every town has it's claim to fame! Potatoes are Vauxhall's.

This bridge is located by a recreational area not far from Drumheller

Pigeon Lake near Edmonton

Prairie Sunset with windmills near Taber

Twilight and granddaughter at Henderson Lake in the middle of Lethbridge

Mountain in Banff National Park

Cameron Falls in Waterton Park

Oversize traffic that forces other vehicles off the side of the road.

Oil jacks and bales of hay coexisting in the fields

And lest you think Alberta is all rural, here's some
of Calgary's buildings.

And there you have it - a thumbnail sketch of my adopted province.   Come visit sometime.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

With Wendy at Windy Waterton

Don't you just love alliterative titles :)

This Labor Day weekend my sister and brother-in-law visited us in Lethbridge.  Our main event of the weekend was a trip to the famous Waterton Lakes Provincial Park.  Although we live just over an hour from the park, it's been years since we've bothered to visit.  It's a beautiful place.  Our daughter Amy and her family come down for a week of mountain hiking and visiting with her in-laws in their cabin somewhere in the mountains.  For us older ones though, exploring the town was all we could manage.  Waterton has something for everyone.

On a bluff overlooking the town of Waterton stands the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel.  This busy hotel was built in 1929 and strives to maintain an air of British elegance...a lovely place to visit.
The gift shop and restaurant are very popular with the tourists.

The valets and other hotel staff wore kilts to add to
the British atmosphere.

This beach at the edge of town is watched over by the grand Hotel.

And of course Wendy and I enjoyed browsing in the gift shop.

This is taken from the bluff behind the hotel.  Those lakes form a
chain that crosses the international border between Canada and
the US.  A boat makes regular trips through the chain of lakes.

The beautiful Cameron Falls is a popular spot to visit

There's a trail to the right that takes you above the falls
for a beautiful view.

And we finished our day off with a visit to one of the many ice cream
shops in the townsite.  This one was closed for a wedding so we had
to go to another one, but I liked the name of the shop.

And now summer's over, kids are back in school, RVs are parked for another year and life gets back to normal as we prepare for a beautiful fall and long winter ahead.  It's nice to know we have nice summer memories and photos to remind us of the long lazy days we've just enjoyed.