Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Day in the Jurassic Jungle

Once upon a time, there was a family.  A family of four, the eldest having moved away to a more exciting future on a lake.  With power boats.  We couldn't compete with that level of excitement.

Or so we thought!

Having ventured far from home on dusty roads, we discovered a hidden, secret gate.

What secrets did it hold?  Why were the bars so large and menacing?

Seriously?  We hadn't recently seen any dinosaurs in these parts.  Eh, we'll take our chances and go in.  I thought they'd go for the smallest first anyway.  She can't run as fast.  I'm safe.

 You'd better take a close look, Alice.  You're the littlest around here.  You'll be the first to go!

Hmm, it's that the length of the apatosaurus' femur, I think I might be easy prey myself!  

Luckily, Laura knew that an apatosaurs is an herbivore.  I'm pretty meaty, so phew!  Let's take a scary walk and hope that everyone is an herbivore.  One final family photo in case we don't make it back.


Screeching through the air came this guy. 

I don't know what it is.  I had no time to read the informative signs.  He may have been eyeing me as lunch!  Movin' right along!

 We walked a little further.  There were many common plants identified.  If we were for some reason stranded within these high walls, we discovered that we could burn the lichen on the trees as fuel, cooking up a tasty meal of cattails.  We could even have finished it off with dessert of wild raspberries, saskatoons and low-bush cranberries.

If it weren't for the loud, large, scary dinosaurs, it wouldn't be so bad.

At least these two were preoccupied with their own battle and not interested in a meaty, slow-running homo sapien.  We watched their struggle for a while.  It was exciting!  Who would win?  The fierce, knobby guy on the right, or the loud huge guy on the left?   And would the winner then look for someone else to fight when it was done?

Time to move on again.  We did not want to know the answer to that!

Luckily our next encounter with a peaceful veggie-loving guy.  

Coming at him from another angle, we noticed that he had a few problems of his own though.  

If you look closely, he has a smaller creature attacking him.  One with sharp teeth and two more friends on the ground moving in for the kill. 

What kind of a vicious world had we wandered into?

Flat teeth usually means an herbivore, but with a sharp pointy nose, we didn't stick around to find out if he was friendly or not.  He sounded pretty mean, and even the smaller ones were still many times my own weight.  

We left him alone and continued our walk along the boardwalk.  The problem with what could have been a peaceful Sunday afternoon walk was that we were surrounded with terrible sounds.  As we looked into the growth, this jabberwocky charged out at us!


With his puffy black lips, and black snakey tongue, once again we didn't stick around to figure out what his eating habits were.  Or his mood.

We walked 2 km of paths before we finally found a truly friendly dinosaur.  He allowed Alice to sit on him and we could pet him safely. 

Having made it out alive, we rejoiced with each other and went on our merry way. 

As we left the danger zone, we retreated to our home, where this is one of the most dangerous creatures we encounter.

  The end. 

(This adventure was to the Jurassic Park, outside of Gibbons, AB)

I've tried to do a scheduled weekly blog posting before, and I'm going to try again. Maybe I'll never learn, but I don't give up hope.

Hope is a good thing, right?

Rosa and her sister have started a weekly "Travel Tuesdays" link party and I'll see how often I'm a part of it. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


If we had heard the stories of Butte before going there, maybe we wouldn't have gone at all.  And we would have missed out on a lot. 

What did we hear?

That it was a town of prostitutes and crack addicts.  

That does explain the few "Don't Do Drugs" murals I saw, but I thought nothing of it at the time.  I didn't know the rumours yet.

That's not surprising, I guess.  It has a past steeped in alcohol and brothels.  About 30 years ago their main industry (copper mining) was in decline and it almost became a ghost town, leaving a city of unemployed blue-collar workers.  Now, I believe unemployment is still high and the main industry is still copper mining.  It's also a university town.

Now why would we bring our kids to camp in a city of prostitutes and crack addicts? 

Because we've seen no sign of that.  The people have been nothing but great.  Two examples:

Example 1
We were walking around looking lost and admiring the buildings, when a car pulled up and asked us what we were looking for.   At the time we were thinking about food (that often the case), and she pointed out some good restaurants we might want to try.

Example 2
I asked Yvon to go drive down a ledge on the road in order to see some great buildings on the hill (onto a one-way, wrong-way road too!) and we scraped the bottom of the van fairly badly.  I made him do almost the same thing on our 2nd date and he had to have the gas tank replaced.  Does he never learn? 

We were dripping oil or gas from the bottom of the van and had to stop.  A kid in the gas station loaned me his cell phone to call a few places, hoping they'd be open late on a Friday night.  He then offered to drive us all anywhere we needed to go if we couldn't get it fixed that night. 

Someone else overhead our problem, and we came out of the shop to find him on his back under our van.  He correctly diagnosed our problem, called a shop for parts, gave us directions and offered to fix it for us after his shift was over.  We bought the parts and the guy at the till offered to fix it right then and there.  We must have looked pathetically useless.

I don't know when that's ever happened to me in Edmonton, and I love Edmonton.  I love the people of Butte, crack addicts notwithstanding.  I never met those guys and I'll continue to visit Butte. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Butte continued

I do this every year.    I don't feel like blogging, although I can't say it's because I'm too busy or not wanting to sit in front of the computer.  I do plenty of that.

While in Butte, we had time to do some touristy things.  Everything required long walks in the hot, hot sun and up and down hills.  I don't know if it was the weather, the altitude or my general fitness level (or likely, all three), but I was really tired out by the walking. The girls and Yvon tend to have a destination in mind and head in a straight line for it (if we knew the straight line!), while they would leave me behind to dunk into doorways and see things like this:

If there were "For Rent" or "For Sale" signs, I had to read them and dream a little about living in those beautiful suites.   

Then I would stop to take pictures of some of the buildings, like this:

This one is for sale!

I'd finally look up and see the rest of the family WAY up the street, stopping to let me catch up.  I couldn't help it if there was so much to see, could I? 

We spent a bit of time touring the "Copper King Mansion".   It was gorgeous.

 Everything inside was hand carved, or stained glass or had intricate details.  You could spend a lot of time looking at everything, but the tour guide moved us along fairly quickly. 

The ultimate shower - with multiple shower heads and holes placed all along every pipe for a full-body spray.  Cool!

The current owners are big collectors, so there are collections and artifacts everywhere you looked.

This is a communion wafer iron.  Knippijes, anyone?

An optometrists set of lenses
I've since read that W.A. Clark was a pretty lousy man, but his house was beautiful so I won't hold it against him.

Then it was on to the Montana Folk Festival, the main reason we were in town.  Two days of music, all different styles from all over the world.  The music was great and there were often spaces under the tents to shield ourselves from the sun.

Hordes of people, surrounded by beautiful downtown buildings

This polka family band was such fun.  The ability to dance and fiddle amazes me.
 It was hard to fit all of it in that we wanted to hear, so sometimes we split up into two groups of two and followed the girls to the groups that interested them most.  For me, I could have listened to the gospel group all day.  Unfortunately they didn't want to sing all day for me, and I was forced to listen to some awesome accordian and fiddle music, Vietnamese music, stringed instruments from everywhere, swing and stuff that I can't categorize.    
The crowds at the main stage, as seen from the shady cool interior of a coal mining building.
High above the main stage, an original copper mining tower

We drank Arizona iced tea by the gallon once we discovered that they sold it in gallon jugs. 
Cold drinks were distracting
My favourite group - the Birmingham Sunlights.  It was like a Sunday sermon if you listened to their lyrics.
It was hard to fit all of it in that we wanted to hear, so sometimes we split up into two groups of two and followed the girls to the groups that interested them most.  For me, I could have listened to the gospel group all day.  Unfortunately they didn't want to sing all day for me, and I was forced to listen to some awesome accordian and fiddle music, Vietnamese music, stringed instruments from everywhere, swing and stuff that I can't categorize.    

I don't like to be away from home long in the summer because there is so much to do right at home, but I'll come to Butte again.  Anyone want to join us next time?  July 12-14.