I haven't done a post since Calvin died just over 5 weeks ago. I had the wind taken out of my sails and didn't feel like sight seeing or updating a blog. My buddy Bob in Fort McMurray encouraged me to update the blog because as it sits now it's like a story with no ending. He also said that in a few years I'll look back and be glad I did. So here the rest of my journey:
After Calvin died I stayed in Victoria for another day and half to get his ashes. I am very grateful to the people at Belmont/Langford Animal Hospital. The normal process to get your pet cremated and get the urn is 5 or 6 days. The did this in aa frction of the time and they were very good to me thru the whole process. After getting the urn I drove right to the ferry in Sydney and got the hell off the island. Nothing against Vancouver Island but I didn't want to be there any longer.
I had 2 days in Vancouver before my friend (Heather) flew in for 5 days. This was very good timing because it was so nice to see her while dealing with Calvin and all that goes with it when a pet dies. While waiting I filled the time by going to the movies, golfing and touring the Greater Vancouver Area. It's pretty much like the Greater Toronto Area but with nicer weather and nicer scenery. Here is a pic of me on the 10th fairway at McCleery Golf Course. It was a pretty nice for a municipal course. I rented clubs so the first few holes were interesting while getting used to them.
Heather flew in on Thursday night. Here she is after just getting off the plane.
On Friday morning we took the little ferry over to Granville Island in Vancouver. This is just a little trendy place that has markets, shops and restaurant patios. We had a great day! Here we are on the neat little patio called "Cats Social House" that served Granville Island Beer - very good if you ever get a chance to try it - and the best sweet potato fries ever! Something else I learned here is that when you are finished your dinner, if you put your knife and fork at 4 o'clock on your plate, this is the sign to the waiter/waitress that you are finished eating. Heather mentioned this and I really wasn't buying it, so I asked the waitress and of course I was proven wrong - LOL.
We walked down to the Olympic Village to check it out. Nothing really special, I think we expected more. But we found this massive chair and took a rest. A nice english lady offered to take our photo.
We stayed in Yaletown on Friday night and decided to have sushi for dinner. It was so good and susprisling inexpensive.
On Saturday Heather suggested that we rent bikes and tour Stanley Park. It was a great idea. We saw the whole park in just over 2 hours. I would suggest this to anyone who wants to see Stanley Park.
After Stanley Park we drove to North Vancouver and went up the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain. It's a bit of a tourist trap but the views are very cool. Also there are grizzly bears living in compound for visitors to see. It was sooooooooo cold t the top. On the ground it was very warm so I was wearing shorts. A big mistake.
On Sunday Heather wanted to go to Manning Park where she worked for a summer while in University. It's about a 2.5 hour drive from Vancouver. Heather took this photo of me while driving to Manning Park. Apparently this is my typical driving position.
We walked around Lightening Lake and took a few pics. It really is a beautiful place.
We stayed the night in Hope, BC. This is the meaning of a bedroom town. There is almost nothing in the city but hotels. Here is a picture from our balcony.
The next day Heather had to catch a plane at 4pm so we decided to drive to a winery then right to the airport. The winery was Lotusland in Abottsford, BC. I really liked the Enigma red wine. It's a Gamay Noir, Pinot Meunier blend, whatever that means. All I know is that all the other reds were very bitter. Here is a picture of Heather tasting a white wine.
After dropping Heather off at the Airport, I drove to Whistler. The Sea to Sky Highway is quite the highway. Very windy. Whistler itself is really only 2 ski areas, Whistler and Blackcomb. The other stuff is just fluff. The village is just a pure toursit trap with not really anything to see. Unless you like shops and restaurants - very standard stuff. I took a few pics in the village.
Olympic Rings in Whistler Village
Whistler ski area
I left whistler and took highway 99 to Cache Creek. This is the most brutal mountainous windy drive I have ever seen. My average speed could not have been over 30 km/h. I think I would have been better off going south to Vancouver and then noth from there.
I stayed the night in Cache Creek and then drove to Calgary to my cousin Shaun's house. In Banff I stopped to take a few pics of these mountain goats. Very cool!
I stayed in Calgary for a week and a half. Didn't do any site seeing as I already saw pretty much everything there was to see when I was there in August. What I did do was drink a lot of beer with Shaun and sit in the hot tub every night - LOL. I must say that I miss that tub!
It was Kim's birthday while I was there. Here is a picture of Kim and her friend Susie in the backyard sitting by the fire. I missed her actual party on Saturday because I left for Fort McMurray on the Friday. Sorry Kim!
Kim is opening her birthday present from Jo Ann
Kim and Shaun in their backyard
I really enjoyed hanging out with Shaun, Kim and Jo-ann. It was exactly what the doctor ordered after everything I went through with Calvin. They treated me like gold and I am grateful to them.
Shaun and I did put hardwood floor in their dining room area one day. I don't have a picture but I wish I did because I thought we did a pretty good job.
One day I went to Bison Transport where Shaun works. It was very cool. Bison is a huge trucking company and Shaun is the Yard and Maintenance Supervisor. A very impressive position. After looking at the size of the lot and building I can see that he's got a lot of responsibilities. Shaun spoiled the hell out of me. It happened to be driver appreciation day while I was there so I had a fill of Tim Horton's coffee and donuts. Then he bought sushi for lunch. Man, I had a great time. I wish every work day was like this - LOL.
After leaving Calgary I drove 8 1/2 hours north to my buddy Bob's house in Fort McMurray. This is long drive but well worth it. I stayed with Bob and his family for 12 days and I had a great time. They treated me like family. I arrived in Fort McMurray on a Friday and on Saturday, Bob's daughter Katie had a concert at MacDonald Island in Fort McMurray. They play a native style music and were fantastic! Here is a picture of Katie and her band.
I played the Wii with Bob's kids, Katie and Conner. It was a blast!. They kicked my ass everytime but I had great time. Thet really brought out the kid in me. This is Conner and his friend Chance playing the Wii
Katie is 11 and Conner is eight. Here is a pic of all 3 goofing around:
Conner and Katie wanted to show me their room.
On Sunday Bob and I went four-wheeling just outside of town. It was a lot of fun. I hadn't been on a four-wheeler for years. Here is a pic of me getting stuck in a huge mud puddle!
The fall colours were beautiful. Here is a pic of Bob and the four-wheelers over looking a big valley.
The next day I went the the "Oil Sands Discovery Centre." If you are ever in Fort McMurray this is a "must see." It tells you everything you need to know about the Oil Sands. I learned how the oil is taken out of the sands and all about the Tailings Ponds that result from this operation.
The following day I went for a bike ride all over the city. I got lost several times. Fort McMurray has an awesome set of bike trails right in the city. This is better than any city I've seen. I'm not just talking about paved paths, these are dirt/wood chip paths that tke you right thru the forests in the city. On my travels I found that they have outdoor fitness equipment in this park. Very cool!
The next day I went golfing at a place called Quarry Ridge. It's a nice little par 3 course with a couple par 4's mixed in. My shoulder was still killing me from falling in Port Hardy so I decided to play a smaller course. It was aa very nice day. I had a hard time finding my ball on almost every hole because of the leaves on the ground. But the greens were in fantastic condition so I was happy I decided to play.
On the Thursday, Bob was nice enough to give me a tour of his work - Suncor. I honestly was blown away. Suncor is just an amazing place. The Oil Sands are and absolutely huge operation. Everything is humoungous. My house could fit in one of the gigantic hulers - dump trucks. We toured the tailings ponds and a lot of the new areas Suncor is getting ready to mine. It's very impressive and I'm thankful to Bob for taking me. Anyone who tours the oil sands operations can't help but come away with a different opinion of the companies and employees working their.
The biggest thing that hit me was just how much care these companies put into being environmentaly friendly. There are millions and millions of dollars spent to ensure the environment is not disrupted. Also, safety is a gigantic deal at Suncor. I understand why know after touring it. Danger is everywhere if the workers are not careful.
Suncor has a policy of no photos on site so the only picture I got was outside the gates.
On Friday, we went on a 3 day 4-wheeling trip. This was for sure one of the hi-lites of my trip. Bob's neighbour, Gord, lent me his quad.
There were 5 of us. Here is a pic of the other 3 guys:
From left to right is Gary, Shannon and Gord.
We left Fort McMurray and drove north on HWY 63 for about an hour to where the winter road statrs. As the name says this road is only open to trucks in the winter. It's all sand and very bumpy.
We off loaded and started on our journey up to a place called Six Lakes. It's about a 3 1/2 hour quad ride from the drop off point.
The road was very bumpy so everything had to be starpped down so it couldnt move. Anything loose gets shaken and destroyed. I learned this the hard way with our Subway subs. I put them in a side pocket area but since there was room for them to move around they were totally uneatable - LOL
Six Lakes area is beautiful. The lakes were so clear. Here are a few pics:
This picture was very cool when we stopped along the trail. It was a total contrast of colour. All the green trees surrounding the yellow leaves. I'm not sure if the picture does this scene justice. When Bob and I were looking at it we were very impressed.
On Saturday we went fishing. Bob took this pic of me and the 4-wheeler I was driving:
Here is Bob relaxing on his quad:
Bob then snuck one of me while relaxing/fishing.
On Saturday night we wnet for a midnight ride. We stopped off t this camp site to have a beer. These guys turned their trailer into a tent trailer so they wouldn't have to sleep on the ground, very neat.
On Sunday we got up and pcked in the rain. Here is a pic of us stopping on the way back dealing with the weather.
When we got back to Bob's, Conner and Katie made this sign up for us. Very Cute!
I had a great time on this trip. I'm glad I stuck around Fort McMurray to go!
Here are a few more pics of Katie and Conner.
Conner raking leaves.
Katie eating breakfast.
Conner playing the Wii.
Here is a pic of Katie and Conner playing on my laptop before going to school.
I also need to mention Bob's caregiver, Melanie. I didn't get a photo of her but I wish I did. She treated me very well during my stay and I want to thank her!
I had a great time in Fort McMurray. Bob, Katie, Conner and Melanie made me fell like part of the family. I am very grateful to them!
I left Fort McMurray on the Tuesday and headed home.
The lyrics from a Gratetful Dead song "Truckin" seemed perfect to describe my 3 month journey:
You're sick of hangin' around and you'd like to travel
Get tired of travelin' and you want to settle down
I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin'
Get out of the door and light out and look all around
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it's been
Truckin', I'm a goin' home
Whoa, whoa baby, back where I belong
Back home, sit down and patch my bones
And get back truckin' on