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2018 trips started out in our traditional first stop at Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park near Whitecourt, AB in early May.

Next was two weeks on the road in June to see dead dinosaurs, live pandas and assorted other critters. Then 17 days in July and August to the north-west part of Alberta.

We are planning our next year’s trips as I type this. Alaska maybe?

We were out 39 nights in 2018.

May 9 - 14, 2018  - Whitecourt AB

Our site at Carson-Pegasus Prov Park

Here we are back in our traditional first trip of the season campground. We arrived on Wednesday around 2pm and the larger half of the lake was still covered in ice. We were alone in and had our choice of sites. With the forecast calling for wind, we chose a well sheltered spot and settled in. Within a few hours the wind and sun had done their jobs and the ice was gone.

The fish were hungry the first day and we both had lots of strikes. We kept the two largest fish which went into the freezer, followed by three more in the coming days. Not our limit but very tasty very cold water trout.

Thursday saw several more RVs arrive and by late Friday afternoon, with sunshine and warm temps predicted, the campground was full.

I went treasure hunting in the playground with my metal detector and found $2.25 which is a record for this park. The coins went into my treasure can.

We went fishing in our little tin Jon boat but decided it is too small and uncomfortable for us, and especially for my bad back. We sold it shortly after we returned home.

On Saturday while Tess was fishing, Camper and I were sound asleep in the sunshine in a nicely reclined camping chair. I suddenly woke up flat on my back on the ground with the dog standing 10 feet away looking shocked. Me too! The chair had simply snapped dumping us both. Camper had a nice soft Greg to land on. I hit my head and back on the ground but no permanent damage was done except to the chair.

May 29-30  Chain Lakes Prov Park

We hit the road around 11am planning to visit dinosaurs in Drumheller, Pandas in Calgary and the mountains in Kananaskis for 2 or 3 weeks. The CR-V tows very well and I especially happy how much easier it is than the Tracker to connect and drop. The difference is that the base plate on the car is from the same manufacturer as the tow bar rather than a third party as was on the Tracker.

We arrived at Big Knife Prov Park. The is one of the cleanest and best maintained Alberta Campgrounds. We registered for 2 nights.

We had a nice fire and BBQ burgers for dinner. I really like my new ‘zero gravity’ chair. Later I went down to the river to try and catch another monster pike. Nothing after an hour and a half. There were two other guys fishing and they got skunked too. There were dozens of swallows swooping around chasing bugs to take back to their nests under the bridge.

The weather forecast predicted cooling and wetter and they were right. It rained off and on and the overnight temperature dropped into single digits. The batteries held up well and the furnace kept us warm. We had a great breakfast – mmm, bacon – and were ready to face the day by 11:00.

After taking Camper for a walk, we went back into Camrose. We toured much of the town and are impressed with it. Tidy, well kept homes, and a walkable downtown. Every business you need except Costco.

After a stop at Wal-Mart for supplies, we went to the casino. I lost my budget against a very hot blackjack dealer and I pretty much sat around the rest of the afternoon while Tess won about what I lost. We have a good system.

We got home around 8:30 to a very happy dog. We are the only ones in the campground so it will be a very quiet night.

May 31 - June 3 Drumheller AB

Back on the road, we turned south towards Drumheller via secondary highways. It was a nice relaxing drive although I had forgotten just how steep the drop is into Bleriot – 13%! That’s a first gear crawl and I still had to use the brakes every 100 metres or so.

We pulled into the campground and we were the only ones here. The hydraulic levelling jacks picked today to stop working: the error code says a bad connection. A project for another day.

I went exploring with the camera and walked along the river for a bit but it was tough so I went back to the campground trails. I watched a woodpecker for a bit and tried to find the owl hooting but no luck. There are gophers, chipmunks and lots of birds here.

In the late afternoon we lit a fire and by dinner it was getting very cool. We ate inside then returned to the fire until about 9:30 when we went inside like the old farts we are.

It started to rain while we had our showers and got ready for bed. Funny how a camping shower feels so much better than a home shower.

It rained steadily all night and must have been chilly as the furnace came on regularly to keep us all snug and warm.

As usual, it was early afternoon by the time we were ready to move. We took the Bleriot ferry across the Red Deer River and went to visit the Royal Tyrell Museum. It has been 20 years since we were here and while the scenery hasn’t changed, the museum’s displays are updated. We spent several hours there and as usual, I found it interesting and Tess didn’t. She even tried to bribe me into hurrying by phoning me to say she was eating very good pizza in the cafeteria. It didn’t work.

We toured the town and of course, the theme everywhere is dinosaurs. As we made the pretty drive back to the campground, this time up the south side of the river, we stopped at a viewpoint overlooking about 20 kms of the river valley badlands. We saw a very pretty American Goldfinch that let me get quite close for a photo.

While resting up by the fire from a busy day, we saw a pair of male Baltimore Orioles fighting over territory (or an unseen female). No photo but it is a positive sighting. The book says they don’t come past Saskatchewan so it may be an unusual sighting. Regardless, it is a new bird for me.

Since it is Friday night, the campground is now pretty busy. There are a bunch of young people having a good time but the Ranger came by to remind them to behave and they did. Overnight the forecast issued a frost warning (!) but it didn’t come to be although it was pretty chilly.

We woke up at 10:30 on Saturday – we always sleep better and longer when we are out. The sun was shining and the birds noisy. A perfect day to do not much of anything. We ate breakfast while I did my log, walked around the campground which is now two thirds full. I found time to check the wires going into the control panel for the hydraulic jacks and it seemed they were coming out. I jammed them back in and the jacks work again so we won’t be wiggling around whenever we move inside the RV.

We were going to have a fire but the wind came up as another weather system moved through. We decided to wait until tomorrow. We played Scrabble inside instead. I actually Scrabbled with the work ‘shiniest’ as my first word and wound up winning the game.

We are now in completely relaxed mode and did very little all day Sunday. After taking Camper for a walk, I decided to go into Drumheller to find the public dump station and see it I could find some plumbing fittings to stop that trickle leak in the wet bay. I found the dump station after a visit to the information dinosaur (the biggest in the world) and bought a fitting and Teflon tape at the local Co-op.

I got home to find an angry Tess, even though I remembered to buy milk. She was locked out of the motorhome with the keys inside! All the keys inside. Now there aren’t many RV lock and key combinations, so it is possible another camper had a key that would open the door. No such luck. One of the campers did offer to lend me her 4 year old monkey (son) to climb in a window so that’s what we did. His Dad boosted him up through the kitchen window and he found the keys on the easy chair and handed them back. I unlocked the door to see a proud little boy and a happy dog.

Since Tess had nothing to do all afternoon, she went around gathering up firewood left behind by other campers. We are now fully restocked and Tess had a fire going all afternoon. We BBQ’d and ate dinner by the fire and by 9:30 were ready to go in.

Tomorrow will be a traveling day so we had showers and Tess beat me at Scrabble.

June 4 Balzac AB

The GPS brought us straight to the Costco gas bar just north of Calgary. After putting $290 in 7 and Toad, we noticed a new to us casino nearby. Of course we went in. We registered for a one night stay in their parking lot.

As there are no table games because of the attached horse racing track, I bought some scratch tickets and went back to the RV to keep Camper company and get dinner ready.

There were three other motorhomes here when we pulled in, including another Bounder. The leveler is cranky again, so I jiggled the wires and it worked.

June 5 - 6 Calgary AB

Lots of adventures today starting with the cranky hydraulic jack controller. I could not get it to retract the jacks despite trying everything I could think of. In desperation, I went to a couple of local RV dealers and Bucars recommended Derek, a mobile RV tech.

I called him and he arrived in about 10 minutes and after some fussing with the wires going into the controller, he was able to get them to retract. He confirmed the connector was bad and suggested I order a new one and chase the wires looking for an intermittent short. $100 and we were ready to go. Bargain price and great service!

We arrived at the Grey Eagle Casion in south-west Calgary and registered with security.

Next stop was in Toad to the Calgary Zoo to see the pandas. They are like big cuddly plush toys. There are less than 2,000 of them in the wild so it is pretty special to be able to see them, especially up close and personal.

Wednesday was another busy day in Calgary. I went to the Military Museums and spent 4 hours exploring the exhibits from the Army, RCAF, and Royal Canadian Navy. Very well done and I learned a lot.

In the RCAF building I tagged along with a group of 4 including 3 retired RCAF members: one technician and two pilots who flew CF-18 and CF-104 fighters. They were swapping stories and details about the airplanes and some of the missions they flew. Very cool.

Since Tess and Camper stayed home while I went to the museum, when I got back, she went into the casino to eat the Asian buffet dinner.

Lots of lechon and other good things. And she stayed to play, of course, while Camper and I had a quiet evening.

We have decided to leave tomorrow because Tess can’t handle a third buffet in a row, especially seafood because she would over-eat again. Perhaps we’ll stop in next Thursday and she can do it then.

June 7 - 10 Chain Lakes Prov Park

An uneventful trip today – the best kind. It took less than 2 hours to get to the park. There are few campers here and there are 121 sites so it is very quiet, at least for tonight. There are no fire pits and even propane fires are not allowed so we won’t be spending any time outside after dark. There is a $6 charge to use the dump station but the good news is that all sites have 30 amp power so we can run the A/C and the nightly rate is only $30. We needed it today as it is hot. The campground is very clean and well maintained. We can see a bit of the lake from our campsite.

There are fat, long tailed gophers running around and a fellow camper told us coyotes regularly come through the campground. We’ll keep Camper close. I took the metal detector to the playground which isn’t sand but fine gravel. Anything that was dropped sat on the surface and the owner picked it up. I didn’t find anything. There are a few people fishing and a couple of teenagers said it was well stocked with rainbows so we will have to try our luck while we are here.

We paid for 4 nights so we will have time to fish and explore the area. There is a “World Famous” beef jerky store in Longview and some junk stores to check out too. When the sun went down at 9:30 or so the temperature dropped quickly and the mosquitos came out in force so we went in. I set up the satellite dish so we will have TV to watch if we want.

We had a chipmunk come to visit and to torment Camper who eventually chased it away. Cute little guy was eating dandelion heads before they opened up into yellow flowers.

We were all ready to go to the big city of Longview when a new Class C on a Sprinter Chassis stopped to ask about the campground. We got to talking and they wound up staying about an hour. Very nice folks from Calgary on their way home from Waterton Park. I am sure we’ll hear from them again in the future.

We went into town on Friday, which is a 20 minute drive north. The town is about 4 blocks long along the highway and maybe two blocks back on each side. There is a Lions campground, a school, a couple of gas stations, some shops and the beef jerky store. We bought some very tasty jerky and some frozen treats.

While relaxing in my very comfy zero gravity chair, I watched a coyote walk down the road in front of our campsite. I put Camper inside just in case. After leftover pizza for dinner for me and crab for Tess, I went fishing.

While I was washing marshmallows, there were a half dozen deer grazing on the other side of the lake. Then three moose came down to the lake to drink. I didn’t even get a bite although a fellow fisher did pull in a decent rainbow. Once the sun went down it cooled off quickly so I came home.

After our usual slow start to the day we got down to the business of relaxing. It was sunny and warm so of course I had to test out my new chair in these conditions. I fell asleep for an hour in the sun and woke up as red as a lobster. Not burned, but another half hour and I would have been.

We took Camper for a walk to the concession stand beside the lake and treated ourselves to French fries. They were expensive and not very good. Home cut fries but undercooked in not hot enough oil and therefore soggy with grease. The gravy was good, but we still didn’t finish them.

After dinner we went for a walk around our loop and loop B. In loop B I noticed an older Class A Winnebago dripping water from the wet bay and the owners inside. I knocked on the door to tell them and they had no idea. They are a young family with 2 kids and just started RVing last year. While I was chatting with them, Tess continued the walk with the dog. They saw a coyote and two moose and headed back home while I was still visiting.

Eventually I returned home to find them not there. Since I had the keys, they were locked out again. Across the road from our site is the communal area with a fire pit. There were a group of Filipinos there yesterday so I went over. Tess and Camper were visiting those same folks and their fire. They had a very cute puppy that wanted to play with Camper, but he is a cranky old man and doesn’t ever want to play so he just sat there. After a bit we came home and spent the rest of the evening watching a movie, then to bed.

Because of the chilly and windy weather, the whole day Sunday can be described in a short paragraph. We stayed inside, played Scrabble (I won), drank a bottle of wine, bundled up to BBQ dinner, watched a movie and that’s about it. Not every day is a new adventure when we are out. The important thing is that we are out with each other.

June 11 Kananaskis Turnoff on Trans-Canada

As planned, today was a travel day. We turned north on Hwy 22 to return to Longview and then turn west into Kananaskis. We did read the sign that says the secondary highway was closed 54 kms ahead. Since we were turning onto Highway 40 in 48 kms, I didn’t worry about it.

Wrong. Don’t know why the route is completely closed at the 48 km mark but it was so we turned around and returned to Longview to continue north on Hwy 22. We were fighting a 60-80 kph headwind going west so the return trip eastbound was much faster and quieter.

We were about 10 kms north of Longview when we heard a very loud bang from the area behind and above the driver’s seat. Luckily, there was little traffic on the road and we could safely slow to 50 kph while trying to figure out what it was. There was no room to stop. When a semi passed us going the other way, we saw it.

The awning that covers the street side slideout was coming unraveled with the wind and billowing out. Then the spring tension in the awning roller would overcome the wind and snap it back into place. There is a device attached to the awning roller to prevent this but when I climbed up onto the roof, I saw that it had snapped off. I made temporary repairs with a couple of ratchet straps and we continued on.

Twenty minutes west on the Trans Canada and we arrived at our destination for the night – the familiar parking lot at the Stoney Nakota Casino at the junction of Hwys 1 and 40.

The wind continued to blow like mad, so we parked facing into it. Because of the temporary fix to the slide cover, we had to leave the living room slide in which reduced our cross section to the wind but because our jacks are out of commission, the motorhome was still rocking and bouncing with the wind gusts.

Since this is a First Nations casino, they allow smoking so it didn’t take very long until we were both complaining of sore eyes and throats, so we left.

June 12 - 14 Calgary AB

The drive was uneventful except for construction in south-west Calgary which delayed us about 20 minutes. With the wind behind us nearly the whole way, it was a quick and quiet trip. After checking in with Security at the friendly Grey Eagle casino, we headed out for some Pho. After the GPS lead us to a couple of closed places, we struck gold with the third one: Lemongrass Vietnamese Cuisine. The food was simply excellent. Tess had soup and I had lemongrass chicken on rice. Next it was off to the grocery store and finally back home around 6pm.

We hung out in 7 for a while then Tess went into the casino. Camper and I went for a walk had a brief nap and cuddles until about 10 when I went in to find Tess and have a beer. She was about ready to leave with her winnings (of course) when she decided to play $20 in one last 5₵ machine. Naturally, she won 185 free spins and it took 15 minutes to win another 4,000 nickels!

Our last day of this trip; Camper and I stayed in the RV and did the dishes, generally cleaned up the joint. Then we had a nap and went for a long walk. When 7pm rolled around I went into the casino to find Tess.

Today was the seafood buffet, our reason for being here, and Tess took full advantage of it. She had 4 plates of crab, lobster, shrimp, etc. so she got her money’s worth. I went to the bar and ordered the burger & Bud combo for $15. Since I don’t want to play, I sat there and watched the Eskimos football game and drink another half dozen beer.

We got home to a happy dog about 11pm. The trip home the next day was uneventful.

July 23 - 26 Barrhead AB

Friends Brian and Lorrie came by the house at 2:00 as planned and we headed north-west through Barrhead to Thunder Lake Prov Park. Traffic was light but we hit several rain showers on the way and by the time we settled into our sites, It was raining steadily. Of course by the time we and the Sorges had finished setting up, the rain stopped. Our site is pretty cramped for our rig and even with blocks under the jacks, I couldn’t lift the back enough to get perfectly level although it is close enough to be comfortable.

We had a good visit catching up and talking about our grandkids. The next day we all jumped in their Jeep and went into Barrhead to see the town. We drove around then went walking in old downtown. We stopped in at lots of little stores and even bought a couple of items. The ice cream was good too.

As my early 65th birthday meal, we had a big brunch next door with the works: pancakes, bacon, hash browns, eggs and fruit. As always, my first card was from Brian and Lorrie. We all ate so much we decided to go for a walk down to the lake to try and stay awake. After our afternoon naps we fired up the BBQs. Another amazing meal with steak, lobster for the girls, garlic toast, beans, wine and so on.

We were all ready to go at noon on the 25th and when I started the engine to bring in the slides and raise the hydraulic levelling jacks, the jacks control panel was dead. Here we go again. I checked all the fuses twice and then called Good Sam. They sent a mechanic who spent an hour hot-wiring the system and retracting the jacks. He left around 5pm so we re-registered for another night.

After the mechanic was gone, we sat and had a cold beer and we realized we were starving so Tess whipped up lasagna, corn on the cob and garlic bread in about 15 minutes and we pigged out. No fire tonight, just a walk and then a movie and early to bed so we can get an early start tomorrow. It will be about 3 hours to get to Young’s Point Prov Park which is a long drive for us.

Just to make sure things didn’t go too smoothly for us, the shower drain decided to clog itself at bedtime. I tried to clear it with a coat hanger and the shower hose down the hole but no luck. We’ll deal with it tomorrow so in the meantime we bailed it out by hand.

July 27 - Aug 6 Valleyview AB

On our way north-west we passed through Whitecourt which has a public dump station along the highway. After the holding tanks were empty, I ran the flushing hose through the window and Tess sealed the end to the shower drain with a towel and I turned it on full blast. The clog was gone immediately. One problem fixed!

We continued north-west along highway 43 and saw several deer eating beside the road and a big black bear standing 50’ off the highway just watching the vehicles go by. He had a shiny coat and looked healthy.

North of Valleyview, we pulled in to Young’s Point Provincial Park campground. Since firewood is free here, we started a fire a little earlier than usual and cooked our hot dogs and kubi over it.

Bed time for us was around 11 when most campers were still enjoying their fires. We fell asleep to the sounds of laughter, dogs barking and fires crackling. Nice.

After a quick trip to town the next day, we started the fire and around 7:30 I went fishing off the docks on the point and around the boat launch. In 90 minutes I caught exactly nothing. There are fish in there – I saw one follow my lure and others breaking the surface.

Back to the campfire and my bug zapping tennis racket. The smallest bugs smell the worst when they are hit. Even with bug spray, we both have a few bites although they bother Tess much more than me. We came in around 10:00 and I had a shower. Happily, the shower drain is doing its job. Then at 4:00am Camper got sick and puked up his dinner and snacks. Mostly on me but some got into the bed and the rest was in the shower where I put him once I woke up and got mobile. He seemed to feel better afterwards so once everything was cleaned up, we all went back to bed.

Sunday was moving day as many campers who have powered sites are on their way home and we moved just down the road to site B78. Not only does it have 30-amp power, it is nearly level. We need it for the air conditioners as temperatures are right at 30C. We gathered more firewood for tonight’s fire and went about our usual setup routines and were all set by about 3:00.

We were going to go fishing Monday morning but by the time we were both up and actually ready to face the day, the mood had passed. Instead, we decided to run into Grande Prairie for essential supplies – beer, bread and honey. We decided to hit the casino to see if my luck here had returned (I won $2,500 here years ago) but no such luck. I lost my $20, ate a decent dinner and had a beer. Tess lost her budget too so we came home.

We spent my 65th birthday doing exactly what I wanted - fishing. Swan Lake has produced lots of big rainbow trout for us over the years but not today. We were skunked. Back at camp, we started a fire and with the sun filtering through the trees on a warm afternoon in my fancy zero gravity throne with my dog beside a campfire, I felt like a king! Tess made Chicken Kiev, rice, corn on the cob and a store bought lemon meringue pie for desert. Great birthday!

On Thursday After dinner I went fishing at the actual point in Young’s Point Prov Park. I caught a walleye on my first cast and then 4 more over the next 90 minutes. None were big enough to keep but the little ones do put up a good fight and are fun to catch.

On Friday Aug 3, we moved about 15 kms around to the south shore of Sturgeon Lake because Young’s Point is a reservation only campground and every site was reserved for the long weekend, including the one we were in. Williamson Prov Park campground is all first come, first served and we were here by 10:00. It was less than half full. We picked a nice, level site with power. As a bonus, firewood and the dumping station are free here too.

The next day Tess took Camper for a walk and to pick Saskatoon berries while I stayed at home for some quiet time. They got back around 1:00 and we went to the beach to watch the boats and kids. We got a picnic table 30’ from the lake and boat launch and settled in.

There is a steady stream of boats being launched and retrieved, kids playing and a couple of guys fishing from the docks in the middle of it all. We saw them bring in several fish so it seems they don’t care about boats and people.

The next day was a fishing day I and went back to the dock at the boat launch to try after promising Tess a walleye. I was doubtful about catching one big enough to keep but it has been so long since she has eaten one, I thought I’d better try.

Happily fishing was steady and I soon caught and released a few pike and small walleye. A fisher at the other dock caught a nice walleye and after I measured it at over 50cm, told him it was a keeper. He wasn’t interested but did offer it to me. I accepted and immediately brought it home to Tess. She was very happy. I returned to try and get a second one. The fellow who had given me the fish then hooked a “monster” just as he was bending over to pick something up. He was off balance and the fish pulled him into the lake!

I was fishing with a brother and sister who had very poor equipment and a great attitude. The boy was about 8 and his sister was 11. After fixing up their reels and lending them jigs, the boy started catching walleye. He pulled in 5 fish in a half hour including two keepers. He gave one to me so now I had our limit of two walleye. Since he gave me a fish to say think you for my help, I let them keep the lures. Nice kids.

Aug 7 - 9 Grande Cache, Edson AB

We were back on the road again about 11:30 am, heading west. We stopped at Costco in Grande Prairie for fuel for 7 and for toad. The total was $320 which is a lot. When I am reading this journal in 15 years that may seem cheap, but not now.

We turned south on Hwy 40 towards Grande Cache. This is a new road for us; it goes through a remote part of Alberta along the foothills of the Rockies. Or at least it will as we continue south. For today, it is just a two-lane highway through the boreal forest. There were a couple of major river crossings with the usual steep valleys. There was quite a bit of truck traffic nearer Grande Prairie but it dropped off south of the forestry and pipeline / oil well working areas.

The campground guide shows 6 Prov Rec. Area campgrounds between Grande Prairie and Grande Cache. About mid afternoon we came upon the turnoff to Musreau so I took it. Turns out it is 6 km along a dusty gravel road but since there was no way to turn around, we were committed. We settled into site 40 which is mostly level. Some wooden blocks and the new jack got us within a half-bubble and a big pile of dry, split firewood was in the next site so I brought it over. Dry wood – what a luxury!

We went for a drive around the campground. It is very spread out and too far to walk to the beach or boat launch areas. There are maybe 10 campers her in the 69 site campground. Lots of warning signs about bears, wolves, cougars and lynx. We didn’t see any of those but Tess spotted a new raptor sitting in a tree and later we saw a falcon speeding through the trees but I couldn’t identify what kind.

The next day we continued south on Hwy 40 today and the smoke in the air was thick enough that we couldn’t see the mountains. I showed Tess the coal mine at Grande Cache where I made several deliveries during my hot-shot driving days. Just south of town we were looking for a place to stop and have lunch when we found Victor Lake. It is the town’s water supply according to the signs, and a local said it is well stocked with rainbows. To prove it he caught several. Hey, we can do that! Well, no, we can’t. At least not today.

We planned to stop for the night at Jarvis Lake, about 20 minutes north of Hwy 16. It was full. On a Wednesday. We checked in at the next campground along Hwy 16 at Obed Lake Prov. Park and it was full too. There is only half a dozen sites and it is right beside Obed lake at $11 per night including firewood so I am sure it is always full.

We continued east and the next campground near the highway is here at Hornbeck Creek. About unserviced 25 sites and $20 per night.  There are about 6 RVs here including us. I didn’t even have to drop Toad. Since we had no neighbours within earshot, we fired up the genny. One roof air while preparing dinner in the microwave, then two roof airs working together brought the inside temperature down nicely. The poor folks without a generator must be cooking in their rigs in this 31C heat.

Home tomorrow.

As it turned out, this was our last trip of the season. We spent 39 nights out in 2018.