Monday, September 28, 2009

Cool photography

Back at the beginning of September, after the Labour Day long weekend was over and I was making my way back to Edmonton, I brought my friend Dave back with me. He was doing photography with Will for Bonnie and Curtis's wedding and needed a lift back with me. Funny thing about photographers ~ they never really take a rest from their work but they cook up some of the coolest photo ideas. Dave caught some fun images of Lydia while we were on the highway.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What a game!!!!!

What a weekend I should say first. I've been planning this weekend for months now ~ ever since I saw back in May that the Saskatchewan Roughriders (my football team) would be playing a game against the local Edmonton Eskimos on September 26.

My best friend Blythe flew into Edmonton Friday afternoon, all because of the football game on Saturday. It's amazing but we had quite a few Saskatchewan friends we knew that were traversing from great distances just to watch the game. Some of you may recall that my friend Sarah and I went to the pre-season game between the Esks and Riders and it resulted in a 45-12 whopping, sending us home deflated. Last weekend Edmonton was in Saskatchewan and beat us on our home turf. I was ready for the score to be settled.

Saturday Blythe, Sarah and I got geared up for the game in as much kelly green as we could get our hands on. I even found a pair of faux Converse hi-top sneakers for a steal of a deal to complete my ensemble!
Blythe had found us the best seats ever for the game.....about 11 rows back from the field on the 10 yard line. Great vantage point for a lot of the action. The weather was completely uncooperative with the temperature hovering around +13 degrees with a strong wind. I was majorly under-dressed but as a good fan I decided to grit my teeth and bear it.

In typical fashion Saskatchewan didn't play much of a first half of the game, trailing Edmonton by 5 points, so Sarah, Blythe and I didn't think much of it when we left our seats at half-time to get some beers (biggest mistake ever). We missed the entire 3rd quarter of the football game waiting in the never-ending line for beer (although we did snap some interesting photos with other colourful Saskatchewan fans), but when we made our way back to our seats, somehow we had missed some great plays by the 'Riders and now we were leading the football game. DOH!!

The fourth quarter was a nail-biter but we held on to win the game 23-20! You've never seen a more ecstatic group of Roughrider fans in the sold out crowd of 62,000+ people at the stadium. It was pandemonium in the streets pretty much after that. Revenge was definitely sweet on their home turf!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Geo-caching and more camping

So on Friday afternoon around 3 p.m. as I was agonizing over what I should do for the weekend (I had three different choices I could entertain), I got an e-mail from my friend Curtis and he offered me Door #4 which I immediately chose. An invitation to join him and Bonnie outside of Bragg Creek, camping at Paddy's Flat campsite. I zoomed home from work, packed the car full of camping gear and immediately headed south for Calgary.

I drove only as far as Calgary Friday night but on Saturday I had more gear, and Will, in tow and we headed west out of the city, into Kananaskis Country with our sights set firmly on Paddy's Flat. Now the countryside around Bragg Creek, in K-Country, has become a familiar filming spot for movies such as "Legends of the Fall" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". I wonder why it's so popular???

By the time Will and I got to Paddy's Flat, Bonnie and Curtis were getting ready to go geo-caching. Anyone new to the term "geo-caching", welcome to my world. The best way I can explain it is the coolest scavenger/treasure hunt out in the forest using GPS coordinates to help you find where the cache is stashed. Seeing as Will and I were new to the idea we started off small, going to look for two caches along the Elbow River.

While Bonnie and I took over finding duties, Will and Curtis did typical guy things - floating sticks down the river to see how far they would go, skipping stones, or throwing rocks at their sticks. Curtis even tried to throw Bonnie in the river but his common sense prevailed and he quit before he got his butt kicked!

A quick break for lunch and then we were off again, our friend Mike now part of the geo-caching party, following the trail of three caches along the hike up a rather steep hill. Cache #1 on this hillside hike had us stumped. We looked:

and we looked,

and then Bonnie sat down to think about the clue that had been left to us and she found it! Sneaky cache site!

We found our last cache under some tree roots and oddly enough the item we took away seemed fitting for International Talk Like a Pirate Day and for Will seeing as he reckons he's a modern day pirate!

We hiked back to camp and there was some competitive Washer Toss going on between Mike and Curtis while the rest of us started to cook supper and have some cold drinks.

Saturday was a gorgeous day but around 5 a.m. Sunday morning Will and I discovered why we aren't fans of tenting in the fall, in the mountains. It started to rain, the temperature dropped to around 5 degrees and it continued to rain all morning. We were so cold and miserable that we packed up our gear and headed back to Calgary before noon.

Aside from the crummy Sunday weather, driving down to camp with Bonnie, Curtis, Will and Mike was the best spontaneous trip I've done in a really long time!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Upper Bankhead hike

On Monday Amy and I dried ourselves out from the chilly night of rain and sleet, got our campsite set up the way we liked it and spent the morning around the fire. Amy's boyfriend Dave joined us for lunch and by the afternoon Will had made the trek from Calgary out to camp at Two Jack with Amy and I.

Once everyone was settled in, Dave, Amy, Will and I took a drive to the mining ghost town of Bankhead which was just down the road a bit from Two Jack. Will and I had explored the lower townsite of Bankhead a few years ago but I had never even heard of Upper Bankhead until Amy started talking about it. We set off for a 4.2 km hike and quickly figured out it was mostly uphill.

We finally reached a spot where old mining buildings had been left behind and decorated by previous hikers. We noticed our gravel trail had somehow turned into left-over coal slag heaps. Most of the area is fenced off up here because the open mine shafts have started to collapse in and could possibly injure hikers.

Anyway, the steep hike was worth it because we were rewarded with the most breathtaking vista. Below us (as we stood on an old pile of coal) was entire Minnewanka/Johnson Lake valley below us. Gorgeous! I'd have to say that the view was worth the hike and worth freezing our butts off for in the mountains! (And no these photos are not fakes)!

Rocky Mountain Camping - Two Jack lakeside campsite

After the wedding was over there was still a long weekend to sit back and enjoy. I had taken the Tuesday following the holiday Monday off work with the plan to squeeze one more camping trip in before I conceded that fall was on it's way.

Sunday I grabbed what camping gear I didn't have from Will's garage and I headed west towards the Rocky Mountains and Banff, just an hour away from Calgary. My friend Amy (who was also a bridesmaid in Bonnie & Curtis's wedding) lives in Banff and had gone home early to snag us a lakeside campsite at Two Jack. Here is our humble little campsite for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

We were steps from the lake, coloured that odd shade of blue thanks to the minerals in the rock and water. With the snowy mountains rising behind the lake and the forest it was the most breath-taking place I had the pleasure of camping by. Fall has hit the mountains earlier than elsewhere (you can see that snow has already started to fall on the peaks). Amy and I are pretty sure that at some point on Sunday night/Monday morning we were snowed on too ~ we were so cold in my little tent! Wool socks, toques and mittens were a staple when going to bed each night.