Friday, October 18, 2019

Rocky Mountain High Canadian Style…

Since we had already visited Baniff and Lake Louise in previous years, and it’s the most congested areas during the summer, we decided not to go through there this time around.  Our friends showed us another route that would take us straight through to Jasper without all the traffic and congestion of Baniff National Park, and still enjoying the Rocky Mountains - yea!

…and it worked wonderfully!  What a beautiful drive.  The weather was wonderful and the view, spectacular!  At every turn, each of us kept say, “wow, look at that!”  You would think neither one of us hadn’t seen mountains or lakes before, but because of the glacier melts, the colors of the water in the lakes are more teal than blue, the waterfalls seem more rushing, and maybe because of the elevation, or the fact that the fire or bugs haven’t destroyed the forests yet, they seemed more lush.  I don’t know, I just know it took our breath away. 

That first drive through, to get to our campground in Valemount, we could see the Columbia Ice Fields, but didn’t really stop, as we wanted to get settled, and we had the RV, so not a lot of space to pull over.  But even at a distance, they were impressive…we were so glad we had booked ourselves into four days to come back and really take our time here.

Here are some of the shots from that drive through...

...catching up in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Brief Stop in Medicine Hat, Alberta Canada…

As we continued on our journey west through Canada, we made a two day stop-over in a small town called Medicine Hat to check out a place we had read about called the Medalta Potteries

Medalta is a historic factory - a time capsule to the beginning of Western Canada’s industrial revolution.

Medalta Potteries first operated from 1912-1954 and at one time was once considered state of the art.  Updates were done and expansions were made to keep up with growing demand, changing products and to take advantage of new technology. 

Even though Medalta’s kilns were based on medieval design, they were the height of technology.  Kilns like these once dotted the North American landscape.  They were a sign of progress - of the settlement of the Canadian West. 

The stoneware market plummeted during the depression when glass replaced stoneware and in the early 1950s they were bought by a Montreal firm who concentrated on movie house giveaways, but then television came along and that no longer was viable.  By 1958 they went into bankruptcy.  The building sat empty for years. 

Jim Marshall and Jack Forbes saved this wonderful building from destruction.  Back in the mid 1970s they had a “dream” of reopening the pottery.  They were able to organize a group of volunteers to help them and work hours and hours of labor to dig out and excise the old kilns and factory to begin again to create and to also still leave some as a museum. 

A gentleman by the name of A.T. Schlachter (Tony) made rather a large donation to the museum…his personal collection of over 2500 pieces!  He has been (and still continues to) collecting South Eastern Alberta pottery made by the Medalta Potteries.  His collection was really quite something to see…rows and rows of beautiful crocks, each one a little different, as well as a full room of beautiful vases and glassware. 

It is a great place to spend hours roaming through, learning, viewing and enjoying.  Well worth the stop! 

Medicine Hat itself has quite a few “artists”, so I can see why Medalta has been successful once again.  As we drove around town, we spotted some great murals.  Some carved out of stone, by a gentleman by the name of Jim Marshall who has has done quite a few here.  I particularly like one of some storks…

...catching up in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Royal Regina

Regina is the Capitol of Saskatchewan with a population of a little over 193,000 people and about an hour from Moose Jaw.

Our first stop here was to go see their capitol building, which here in Canada is called the Legislative Building.  It's a big beautiful building with a copper dome (newly done in 2016) built in 1912, modeled on the architectural style of the English Renascence and Louis XIV of France.  They give a half hour tour, which is always nice.  The most impressive part was the massive solid marble columns.  There were so many, huge, and beautiful.  A lot of the US Capitol buildings have faux marble, but these were the real thing, very impressive.

We only saw two rooms outside of the main entryway, unlike so many American Capitols, their Chambers where the legislative business is done and their Library.  Both lovely.  I especially like the a reader, one wishes they had such a place in their own home!

The grounds were very English, including the Trafalgar Fountain, which stood in London's Trafalgar Square from 1845-1939.  A statue of Queen Elizabeth II on her horse rains over the garden from the time she visited for the Centennial in 2005.

Our next stop was to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre, where they train all of Canada's police officers.  We really don't have anything like this in the US that we can go see, so this is quite a treat.  We started off with a 22 minute multi-media presentation giving a great over-view of what the cadets go through in their 6 months of intense training at the Depot, as well as little history of the RCMP.  Then we were taken by cart around the facility and shown the buildings, barracks, mock training set-ups (like shopping malls, cars, homes, neighborhoods, etc), then a stop at a small church where we went in and the guide shared some of it's history.  She also shared that each of the cadets have to have an "extra-curricular activity", so many choose the choir, the Depot has to have a parade band, and they know that most don' know (or want to) play an instrument, so the officers just choose every 4th cadet to be in the band!  So, she asked us not to judge their playing to harshly!  ;-)

At 12:45 p.m. precisely each day, they have a public Parade Inspection.  Tuesdays and Thursdays is choir practice, so they are excused.   We were there on a Thursday and saw a great many file into that tiny little church...must be a lot of singers in that choir!  ;-)  However, promptly at 12:45 p.m. the troops (4 of them) began playing and marching to the field in front of us.  Orders were yelled and lines and formations were formed.  The commander came out and inspections began.  Afterward more orders then the troops started marching in various formations - criss-cross, squares, up & down, back & forth, all kinds of great formations then out they went again!  Very cool.  Our guide explained that each cadet has to earn a piece of his/her uniform as he/she goes, so, depending on how long they have been here and have passed that part of their training is what they have on.  So we saw some with straight pants, blue vests & caps, while others already had their jodpurs, blue shirts and  Mountie tan hats.

Afterward, there is an extensive museum to enjoy and learn.  We did miss seeing horses though, as those are now housed in Ottawa.  "Mounted Police" is now a specialty that is selected afterward.  Only about 150 people are in this unit.  I think it was around 1969 when the guide said  "that the RCMP decided they needed more than 1 horse power to fight against crime now".  ;-)

We ended our stay in Regina with a wonderful dinner, then headed on back to our campground in Moose Jaw with full tummies and great stories to share.

...catching up in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Friday, October 11, 2019

Hello Saskatchewan!

From Manitoba, we moved on to the Province of Saskatchewan,  to stay in Moose Jaw for the next 10 days.  It made a great "home base" to explore the surrounding area without having to move from campground to campground...and it was a charming little town with a great name!  ;-)

As you know, the first thing Jack wants to do is stop at the Visitor's Center when we arrive anywhere, and Moose Jaw was no exception.  We were greeted first by "Mac" the 30' tall Moose!  Well...Mac looked a little strange...seems he was missing something here...something rather important for a moose, I'd his antlers?  So, I inquired about them as we entered (probably like hundreds before me).  Seems they are being fixed by a local taxidermist due to high winds and a previous problem they had before that they wanted to avoid, since he weighs in at ten tons!  Mac is quite famous, it seems...he was the tallest in the world, until the Norwegians' moose built one a bit taller...well, that wouldn't do.  So the citizens around here got out the word and people from all over Canada, US and even London sent in money to put their abilities to work and make Mac bigger!  He is back on top as the world's biggest!  Way to go Mac!

One of the best things I loved about this town, was the murals!  Wow, they had a bunch too!  We spent several days just driving around town enjoying them and (of course) taking lots of pictures of them!  Here are some of my favorites (although it was really hard to pick just a few).  I love how they "go outside the edges" on some of them, doing unusual things...very creative artists here!

Canada Mosaic 150 by 150 communities (each submitting individual handmade tiles)
History of the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company
Cruising Mian Street by Grant McLaughlin (c2011)
Living with the Land by Grant McLaughlin (c2013)
The Lady and the Cow by Ernie Bereti (c1991)
As we wandered around town, we ran into a small place called the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre.  I love owls, so we just had to stop and see what this was all about!  A sweet young lady was in the front office and told us it was a "self guided tour" and gave us a brochure, and pointed us to the door on the opposite out we went.  There were about a dozen small enclosures with these small Burrowing Owls inside...mostly hiding.  There was one larger one with displays and explanations of what is happening to these tiny  creatures.  One sad fact...As recently as 1992, Moose Jaw was a hot spot for burrowing owls, with 39 pairs nesting throughout the city.  But by 2006, not a single nest remained.

Because these owls nest on the ground in grasses, small bushes or reeds, they are easy prey, as well as easy for farmers to mow over.  The Centre is trying to educate as well as reintroduce these owls back into the fields.

After we toured the area, we came back inside and chatted a bit with the young lady.  She is studying zoology.  She has spent her whole life (all 18 years!) in Moose Jaw and was surprised to hear we found it fascinating here!  She enjoyed hearing about our travels, and we encouraged her to get a passport and be open to travel and explore the "big world" out there...she was sure wanting to!  ;-)  It was a great little of those unusual ones that are special finds along the way...glad we took the time.

One other interesting place they had  for us to visit was their Western Development Museum.  It was established in 1949, and we were surprised at not only how large it was inside, but how many things they had that in all our travels, we'd never seen before!  They really had quite a collection of unique items from all over Canada...trains, planes, autos, snowplanes, a horse drawn ambulance, a mechanical horse, I could go on and on...but my favorite, was the cutest little homemade trailer made back in 1946!  Here's just a small sample of what we saw...

Diesel-Electric Locomotive (c1956)

...catching up in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A Brief Trip to Brandon, MB Canada...

Brandon is the second largest city in the Province after Winnipeg and is an agricultural and industrial center - but Jack was interested in it's military history and made his first visit to their Royal Canadian Artillery Museum.  He enjoyed it.  I stayed in and finished my book...;-)

We met up and wet to the Tourist Bureau for Canada and met a young lady who was a wealth of information for the rest of our trip!  She loaded us down with a ton of books and maps!   She also made a great suggestion for lunch and an afternoon visit to a place called the Crow's General Store, so off we went.

Lunch was in a refurbished firehouse called Prairie Firehouse, and she was right, it was fabulous!

You just never know what you will find, or who you will meet when you set out on an "adventure".  Today was one of those special occasions.  Crow's General Store is unique, but even more unique is it's owner Don.  When you turn the corner and first see the store, your mouth drops and words almost escape you...finally an "oh my goodness" comes out as you try and take it all in...which isn't easy.  Slowly walking around, you see vignettes everywhere.  From "people" setting in theater seats to old cars at a gas station to children's tricycles and toys.  Farm equipment and wheels, wheels, and more wheels.

Inside is set up like an old fashioned ice cream parlor.  While we were there we were pretty much the only ones inside, so we got to talking to the owner.  As we shared our story, Don shared his and how he got started.  He had been a landscape artist, but suffered after a severe flood that happened a number of years ago and lost all his savings.  He then lost an eye, and couldn't drive his truck any longer, so that ended that as well.  He looked around and decided that he had all this acreage and still needed to do something, so started collecting stuff (and friends and others have added) and opened the ice cream parlor.  He works 7 days a weeks, more than he would like, but although business is good, it's not quite enough to hire another person full time....yet.  He has plans to expand and add a miniature golf out back (that should do it!).

He was a delight, and certainly made our afternoon!  He asked for my phone and took tons of pictures of us in various poses around the ice cream parlor...I'm not sure who had more fun, Don, or us!  

Saturday, we set out for the Farmer's Market.  I love local market's and always try to find one wherever we are on a weekend.  You just never know what you can find.  Some are small with just a few fresh veggies and things but some are super large with all kinds of food, crafts and just never know until you get there!  This one just turned out to be a wee little market with some baked goods, fresh veggies and a few crafts.  We did pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread though, that's always a treat!

...catching up in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Things happen... we all know, there is a reason for all the  cliche's in "best laid plans", and "all good things come to an end", and "good old Murphy's Law" etc.  Well, all those applied to me just as we were heading into Canada for the highlight of our summer trip!  My trusty, favorite, best-friend, computer up and died on me...ugh.  I rushed it into the first Apple store we came to, only to be told that it was "to old" to fix any longer, and that I needed to buy a new one...and for "what I do", I needed the best (of course) and that would be a mere $3999.00!  Ouch!!!!  Noooo, I could wait until I got back to Arizona and check with my guys, who have done all the work on my baby these past few years, and just maybe they can work one more miracle.

So, in case you haven't noticed, I've been "off the air" for a bit...but, due to hand-writing them out, I will endeavor to catch up!   I am back in Arizona now...the bad news was, my guys at MACMEDIA (who I love & trust) couldn't fix it after all, but gave me a great deal on a 2015 laptop for half the, I'm back in business!  So, let's see...where were we?  Ah, yes...

Whizzing Through Winnipeg...

Our first stop in our Canadian Adventure was the Capitol of Manitoba, Winnipeg.

Winnipeg has over 650,000 people so is quite large, and quite diverse in land and people.  They are quite proud of the fact that they have 35 different nationalities living there. The  confluence of the Red River, which flows south to north, and the Assinboine River, whose eastward flowing waters were a main route of Western exploration, led to the founding of fur-trading post in the early 18th Century.  The fertile lands created by the rivers later drew farmers and other settlers.

Because I was still healing from my sprained ankle, we decided the best way to "see Winnipeg" was on one of their Trolley Tours.  It was a great way to see this beautiful city, albeit frustrating in that I couldn't get out (it wasn't a hop-on-hop-off) and walk around and really enjoy the city and photography it the way I would have liked to, but better that than not at all...and having a guide with all the information is always fun and enjoyable!

Winnipeg like the city was made up of various distinct "areas"  like the French District, where French is still spoken there and all the restaurants are French; China Town; The Exchange District where the city's original warehouse district was, most of which was built in the 1880's, now are cafes & houses; The Theater District with historical buildings (the first theater built in 1901) showing live and film; along with various other neighborhoods.

The best part of the tour was a side trip that we actually did get off of the trolley for.  It was a walk down a back alley of a local artist by the name of K. Barteski who lives and paints here.  It seems that one day a neighbor spotted her painting a polar bear on her garage door.  She asked her if she would paint hers as well.  The artist said she would, if it was an Arctic animal, otherwise, she would charge $5000!  She chose an Arctic animal.  Soon the other neighbors followed suit...and slowly the whole alley has filled in with beautiful painted garages and fences of Arctic animals.  Ms Barteski is a well know artist and philanthropist donating money, time and art to her beloved Arctic animals.  Her work is absolutely beautiful.  What a treat it was to see this back alley!

The Trolley begins and ends at a place called "The Forks" - Winnipeg's main gathering place.  The history is that at the confluence of the Red and Assinboine Rivers, a meeting place has been here for more than 6000 years, beginning with the Aboriginal peoples.  Within this area is the Forks Market - a renovated railway, cold storage warehouse with shops, boutiques and restaurants housed in a four-story building.  A fun, festive place to meet and eat...we did!  Canada has a local fish called "pickerel", that in the US is Walleye, and is a lovely, light, flaky, white fish.  They fry it in a wonderful beer batter for their "Fish N Chips" and it's so yummy!  All served up in a large paper cone.

The next day we drove north to a small Provence of 5,800, called Gimli.  Established in 1875, Gimli was the site of Canada's first permanent Icelandic settlement, the largest outside of Iceland.  We visited the New Iceland Heritage Museum to learn about their incredible journey from Iceland to Canada after a volcano nearly destroyed their land.  Canada was in need of pioneers and farmers, so was advertising in Europe, offering to pay passage and land as long as they stay and work the land for at least two years.  A long treacherous trip and many hardships that so many went through...makes one sure appreciate our easy life today!

Icelanders are fishermen, and Gimli is located along Lake Winnipeg, the largest lake in Canada.  It had a nice dock, that we took a walk along it and discovered a couple of artists restoring murals that had been painted all along the side of the dock walls.  Very cool.

Our last visit in Winnipeg was to the Royal Canadian Mint.  This mint produces all the circulation coinage for Canada as well as coinage for more than 75 foreign countries whose flags greet you upon the driveway entry.

We didn't make the sold-out tour, but while they were off on their tour, we were left in the entry with the manager and two mechanics working on an old stamping machine that now is being used for souvenir coins.  We ended up chatting with them as they completed fixing the machine and got a personalized, one-on-one "tour" about the machines and how they all work.  They were all so nice, the mechanics, the manager and the guards.  We even got lift their solid gold bar, which wasn't easy - it's heavy!  I think we had more fun and learned more not going on the tour!

There was so much to see and do in Winnipeg, we could have spent a week there, but with my inability to walk much, it just to limiting.  I guess we will just have to come back again some day, eh?

...catching up in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: