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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27


Traveling with Pets
Today I thought I say a couple of things about traveling with pets. 
We have had pets with us ever since we started traveling through North America. 


The first year we had our yellow lab BOOMER and her excellence Ms.MOLLY with us. Those years we traveled in a pickup and a 5th. wheel and our two companions were staying in the backseat of the crew-cab pickup. To make it comfortable for them we removed the seat itself and put a plywood board in its place, which reached all the way to the front seat. We placed a nice mattress on top of it so they would not notice bumps in the road. If you want your pets not become a nuisance you have to make sure they have a comfortable ride with enough room for them to turn around and stretch out. And pets do NOT belong in the front seat!!! It is also a good idea to loosely leash them to the seat, so they don't turn into a projectile under a sudden break-up. You can also get a solid grate installed behind the front seats.


The second very important thing you should observe is making frequent stops every 2-3hrs. Pets are living creatures with normal bowel movements and they need to get out, stretch their legs and go about their business. Always remember to leash your pet when stopping along the road. Too many pets have gotten lost as they ran after a rabbit, were hit by an oncoming vehicle or simply never were found again by their owners.


If your pet tends to throw up under driving, don't feed it 12 hrs. before starting the trip. It will safe you for a mess.


Planning a road trip you probably wonder if you are welcome with your pet at the campground or hotel. 
Let me tell you that we only once had a problem when pulling into an RV-Park in Calgary, AB. The Park had a WEIGHT LIMIT for dogs!!!!  You can be 98% sure you will never experience anything like that. The only other restriction I have heard of a couple of places is that Pitbulls. Pitbull-mixes and Rottweilers are not welcome. Also, some municipalities have bylaws restricting these breeds. (Example for Pitbulls: City of Denver, CO)


Make sure your pet is no problem at the hotel/motel or campground. One of the biggest problems these facilities strive with are barking and/or destructive dogs when the owners are absent. If YOUR dog has a tendency to bark out his frustration when you are not home, then please don't leave them alone. Always phone ahead to your planned place of accommodation to learn about their pet policy. You can also find information on the internet for travelling with pets. Many hotels also post their pet policy on their websites. 


There are things you can do with your dog to prevent him from barking excessively. The secret is doing frequent WALKS. Your pet will thank you for that in a way you might not realize now. When you got your dog tired from a walk, your reward will be the freedom to go to that museum, to visit a National Park (pets are not allowed on trails in U.S. National Parks)  or to see an evening performance at the theater or simply go shopping.


We can leave our Molly for up to 4 hrs in our RV without having to worry that somebody will start looking for the number of the animal control officer. With that said you have to make sure that the inside temperature in your rig is not getting too high and that your pet has a filled bowl of water. On a sunny day the roof hatch must be open and windows must be cranked open on both sides allowing for moving air throughout. Also we always walk with her to get her doing her business BEFORE we leave. Establish good travel routines with your dog. 


Back in 2005: Our dogs, Boomer and Molly at Bodega Bay, California
If your dog shows destructive habits while you are off on sightseeing in town, you probably have to put him/her in a crate. Besides of the fact that destructive habits are a sign of wrongful treatment of the dogs, make sure that the crate is big enough so you can place a water bowl inside and the dog can turn and stand upright.


One of the things you can do is visiting public dog parks.  It is a lot of fun watching dogs interacting with each other chasing a ball or just running like crazy along the course. It's good socializing for both the pet and his owner. I remember specifically our visit to a San Diego Dog Beach where at least a hundred dogs were splashing in the surf and running along the beach.  Another example is our  walks through San Francisco.  We met many people who were just thrilled about petting our dogs when we came down the curb. Pets are natural contact creators. 


Give your pets a special vacation as well. They will love you for it and they sure deserve it.




Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26


You know the feeling when being sick and the days are just about crawling by? You are not up to anything and even the walk with the dog seems like  "O not again!"


Well, then you know what I am like these days. No, I'm all coughing and turned upside down.  And on top of  that the weather turned grey, though at least a little warmer. Yesterdays 14C were almost feeling like an outbreak of summer. Weather forecasts had predicted an outrageous 16C, but of course that must have been INSIDE, not where we are.


Sparkle...with the sparkling eyes
We are visiting friends here and are parked in their driveway. Yeah, we have long driveways here in Alberta.  
While they are gone to work we watch their house, the kids and their dog, a beautiful black lady by the name of SPARKLE. Because we don't like Sparkle be alone in that great big house we have invited her into our rig. 


She immediately let us know her appreciation, by looking over the seats, jumping onto our laps and sometimes enjoying the view out front through the big windshield.


Hatschoooo....... sorry folks it's just me and my cold. Have used a ton of paper towels already,  


But there was SOMETHING I did this morning. Our holding tanks had to be emptied. And that was turning into a worry a couple of days ago, when I discovered that the only public dump station in this town had been dug up and vanished. My inquiries at the towns information office, which also runs an RV-Park behind the office, were met by, "sorry, Sir, our campground is still closed". "But all I need is your dump"..... But they produced a copy of a flyer which advertised an all-year-open RV-park a few miles out of town. 
Luckily, the owner was very understanding when I phoned ahead and allowed me to come out and do what I have to do. So, this morning we readied up the bus and were heading out due west on Hwy.55.  


Amazingly the RV-park showed a good number of rigs who apparently had wintered there. The windows of the rigs were taped shut with insulation, skirtings were set up around the trailers and motorhomes. A few cars and trucks were parked beside of them, but most owners were off to work, presumably somewhere in the oildfields. 


It took me just 5 minutes to empty the tanks, than I was back up on the  road heading towards what's still gonna be our home for the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


EASTER SUNDAY!

Been on the egg-hunt already?  No, me neither. But boy do I remember egg-hunting when I was little.
My parents always took me and my brother on a walk in the woods. They had all the eggs with them and somehow they managed to hide the eggs before we actually got to them. When we had found a hand-full we brought them back to our parents for safe-keeping. Then we looked for more. In the meantime they were hiding the eggs we had already found, once more. And, funny enough, oftentimes we had to back-track to find the eggs we had by-passed. We never understood how we could have by-passed them.

Those were the years we still believed what our parents told us. I understand that is not always the case these days. O, and the Easter Bunny has made it into you-tube and other media, where he ends up as a hunted animal. No, Sir, that was unthinkable in my days. Just see what happens with the Bunny in the following animation. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23


COLD LAKE, ALBERTA
Cold Lake might not be the most exciting place in the world, at least not if one think tourism, but I will not miss out on the chance to tell you a little bit about the town and the area.


Cold Lake was basically nothing but a trapper post and a place where Indians lived before WWII. 
Yet Cold Lake was first recorded on a 1790 map, by the name of Coldwater Lake, which is one of the biggest lakes in the area. 


Originally three communities, Cold Lake was formed by merging the Town of Grand Centre, the Town of Cold Lake, and Medley on October 1, 1996. Grand Centre was renamed Cold Lake South, and the original Cold Lake is known as Cold Lake North. Because of its origins, the area is also known as the Tri-Town.


The start of what is now known as Cold Lake was given with the establishment of an AirForce Base by the Canadian Military. 


Pretty soon oil was discovered all around in Alberta, and Cold Lake became a center for the oil industry. With two pillars for the local economy the city has seen a lot of recent growth. While the recession ravaged the U.S. it was hardly noticeable in Alberta. 


Both images:  Cold Lake, seen from the Prov.Park


Like in most boom towns the result was a rapidly increasing price level in most service professions and the real estate market. With rising oil prices we will see even more activities with more explorations from oil companies. 


For recreation a marina was build, and in the summer the area by the water is heavily frequented by boaters and beachcombers. As the name suggests, the waters of Cold Lake never get really warm. The lake is 30km wide and very deep and it is only in quiet bays that the water will reach swimming temperature. But if you like going fishing Cold Lake is the place to be. 


Cold Lake Provincial Park invites with mile-long trails for quiet walks through a natural woodland habitat. It also offers camping in the park. Beware of the bears here! Mother bears with cups have been seen in the park quite often.


Cold Lake has an approx. pop. of 14,000. It is located 295km North-East of Edmonton on Highway 28.




As you see I have given our pages a make-over with different colors. I think it looks a lot nicer now.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20


Our international Readers


Our travel blog has been in operation since march 23, and I am absolutely amazed about how international we have grown. We are enjoying that readers from Canada, USA, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Israel have been looking into the blog, and for all we know it could be many more which have passed "under the radar".  Thank you all for your interest, and we recommend that you sign up as a follower or subscribe for email updates. Also we encourage comments to our blogs and if you have any questions let's hear them.


In many parts of the world spring has sprang and warmer weather has emerged. Not so in our present location where night temps have been under frost-level and even daytime temps are in the 40s F  (3-8C)only. 


Northern Alberta is a pretty cool spot (and I mean COOL..) in spring and during fall season. Summers are short and sometimes stay cool as well. Cold Lake is on the 54th latitude and located far, far away from any coast. Winter temps get usually down to -35 to -40C And we did encounter -50C one winter. When the temperature went up to -35C a few days later we thought it pretty mild. That's how cold -50C is!


What we've been up today?? Not too much, to say the least. I was up on the roof and tilted our solar panels towards the sun. We have 2 130W up there which, on a good day, will charge up our 360W battery bank. Using an inverter which is capable of transforming our 12V system into a full-blown 120V AC-power for running the TV, the computer and such, we are almost completely self-contained with power. 


Now we are going full-speed towards Easter-Celebrations and with Easter-Eggs and Easter-Bunnys all over the place, I will wish all our readers a 


HAPPY EASTER!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ALBERTA SUNRISE


April 18

Alberta Sunrise

Our first day in Canada runs up very, very cold and a beautiful sunrise.  With the furnace running on full power, we have our breakfast before we're heading out on the road. We take Highway 36 which starts at the town of Warner and runs straight north for most of the day.  

Abandoned Homestead on the prairie

Suddenly we are running into a dense fog. I know another motor home is in front of me but it has disappeared in grey fog. I switch on all the lights so other drivers can see us, but there are vehicles coming down the road without ANY lights. What are people thinking? The fog area is about 60 miles wide, and I praise the Lord when finally the fog  is lifted off.

The great white North stretches for hundreds of miles. Some snow has melted and many fields have been flooded.  Alberta is the province with the least curves in the road. Here we can drive 50 miles without the slightest bend in the road. We cross the North Saskatchewan River - still covered in ice. From time to time we stop to let Molly out and have a bite to eat or something to drink. The hours are passing by until we finally reach Cold Lake, AB after 9 hours on the road. Another major leg of the journey is done. We plan staying in Cold Lake 1 month before we are heading east to Campobello Island in New Brunswick.

Still frozen lake in Alberta

Entrance to Cold Lake, Alberta

April 17

In the middle of Montana
As we get up it becomes clear that the weather has changed to a grey sky and RAIN!  O, - and it is cold as well. There is hardly any daylight when we leave Sheridan in a big downpour. From Sheridan the I-90 runs northward, then turning west at Hardin.
At Billings we leave the I-90 and turn onto Hwy 87 north. It’s a country-style highway only but with extremely little traffic.  It runs through the town of Roundup and Lewistown before it descends to Great Falls, where we hit the I-15 north. Interestingly, the weather had a few lighter moments with a little sunshine after all, but we did encounter snow flurries as well.  The ever-stretching plains along the highway are still covered in snow, but the road stays clear.
At about 6pm we arrive at the Canadian border. We pay a few bucks in duties for our case of red wine and wow….we are back in Canada. From the Mexican border to the Canadian border we made it again. Now we have another 18kms to the Alberta town of Milk River. We park at the Tourist Information Center, which is closed for the season and call it a day. Hopefully it is not going to be too cold tonight. 

Endless seems the road in Montana
Mountain Range in northern Montana

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Leaving Denver

April 16


We are leaving Denver and going north on I-25 towards Alberta. Saturday morning traffic north of Denver makes me think somewhere someone offers something for free. Thousands of vehicles are heading north at 8.30 this morning. Traffic southwards towards Denver is even worse. And I always thought people like to sleep in on Saturdays. 


Everything is just fine until we have passed Ft. Collins. But all of a sudden a strong wind is blowing out of the west --- hitting us from the left. 




After passing into Wyoming it gets worse. At Cheyenne I have fixed my thoughts of parking the rig, but Bea says that the weather is getting worse over the weekend, and spending several days in a noisy truck stop isn't really one of my favorites, so we go on and braving it out at a lower speed. It is hard to understand how the locals (are there any??) can stand this ever-blasting storm around their houses. As soon as you step outside you'd be blown clean out of your shoes.


When we reach Wheatland and park for lunch the wind dies off almost completely. With new energy we are back on the Interstate.making 65mph going straight north. North of Casper we get more wind but it is not as bad as this morning. 


Wyoming seems to be the State in the North with the lowest gas prices, which doesn't mean I consider gas/diesel cheap these days....!!


The I-25 ends at the town of Buffalo,WY and the number changes to I-90.


Our destination for today is the City of Sheridan, just south of the Montana-border. First we check out the public rest area at I-90. Unfortunately overnight camping is not allowed here, so we make a mental note of it to mention it here in the blog. It will forever be a riddle to me why I can't park a vehicle overnight on a public rest area, which is fully lighted up and so close to town.


So we turn around running back two miles to the City center where we find nice over night parking on a huge customer friendly Walmart-parking lot.


Even though the Eastern part of Wyoming is flat, the State has
mighty mountains on the Western side




Will you let me drive soon.....??

Friday, April 15, 2011

Colorado!

April 15


After a wintry day yesterday, the sun is out again, but the North-Western wind makes for a cool day. Park owner Nancy is working with a major beautification project at the park entrance. The old ugly mesh fence is gone, and today a big truck arrived bringing a load of huge rocks. Nancy calls it: " My 1000-year fence" and it really shows off.




From Prospect Park I can see far to the snow-capped gleaming tops of the Rockies.




Our little lake is deep blue today and the creek runs, well-fed by the melting snow in the mountains, through the spring-fresh valley.








The clear weather makes me think of our visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall of 2008.
Here are our pictures of the Rocky Mountain National Park north of Denver. 


Estes Park, the little town just below the National Park entrance

Fall Colors

Road to Estes Park

Entrance to Eisenhower Tunnel at I-70

Thursday, April 14, 2011


April 14


SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!! I can't believe it, but it was snowing this morning when I got up at 6:15am. The Denver News on TV are full of it as well. Luckily we didn't plan to travel today. So what are we gonna do today? Well, there is some hope for a bit of sunshine later today. Those people traveling up through the Rockies today are really having a problem. On Vail Pass and up at the Eisenhower Tunnel snow is piling up big time.


I think for now I'm going with another cup of HOT coffee.


Prospect Park this morning

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prospect RV-PARK

April 13

This is the 3. time we are visiting the Prospect RV-Park here in Wheat Ridge, just west of Denver. 

This time we are staying one week at the campground. Why do we come back here time after time?  Well, first of all because of NANCY, the park owner. She is one of the friendliest people we know. 
Also we come because of Prospect RV-Park is located adjacent to the public 250 acre Prospect Park and a green belt stretching from the City of Golden through Wheat Ridge into Denver. Mile-long trails for bikes and pedestrians invite the visitor to enjoy nature close to urban settlement. Prospect Park offers huge lawns, and play areas for kids. Dog owners love this park and can be seen there at any time during the day.
Huge cottonwood trees spend shade over benches in quiet spots where one can enjoy the scenery and the look onto a little lake, where Canada geese and ducks swim around. 
The pictures you can see here are taken at an earlier visit, when the flowers were still in full bloom.

 The beautiful Prospect-Park







History of Denver


Denver City was founded in November 1858 as a mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in western Kansas Territory. That summer, a group of gold prospectors from Lawrence, Kansas, arrived and established Montana City on the banks of the South Platte River. This was the first settlement in what was later to become the city of Denver. The site faded quickly, however, and was abandoned in favor of Auraria (named after the gold-mining town of Auraria, Georgia) and St. Charles City by the summer of 1859. The Montana City site is now Grant-Frontier Park and includes mining equipment and a log cabin replica.
On November 22, 1858, General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas, placed cottonwood logs to stake a claim on the hill overlooking the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, across the creek from the existing mining settlement of Auraria. Larimer named the town site Denver City to curry favor with Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver. Larimer hoped that the town's name would help make it the county seat of Arapaho County, but ironically Governor Denver had already resigned from office. The location was accessible to existing trails and was across the South Platte River from the site of seasonal encampments of the Cheyenne and Arapaho. The site of these first towns is now the site of Confluence Park in downtown Denver. Larimer, along with associates in the St. Charles City Land Company, sold parcels in the town to merchants and miners, with the intention of creating a major city that would cater to new emigrants. Denver City was a frontier town, with an economy based on servicing local miners with gambling, saloons, livestock and goods trading. In the early years, land parcels were often traded for grubstakes or gambled away by miners in Auraria.
The Colorado Territory was created on February 28, 1861, Arapahoe County was formed on November 1, 1861, and Denver City was incorporated on November 7, 1861. Denver City served as the Arapahoe County Seat from 1861 until consolidation in 1902. In 1865, Denver City became the Territorial Capital. With its new-found importance, Denver City shortened its name to just Denver. On August 1, 1876, Denver became the State Capital when Colorado was admitted to the Union.
Between 1880-1895 the city experienced a huge rise in city corruption, as crime bosses, such as Soapy Smith, worked side-by-side with elected officials and the police to control the elections, gambling, and the bunko gangs. In 1887, the precursor to the international charity United Way was formed in Denver by local religious leaders who raised funds and coordinated various charities to help Denver's poor. By 1890, Denver had grown to be the second largest city west of Omaha, but by 1900 it had dropped to third place behind San Francisco and Los Angeles.




Denver Impressions








Saturday, April 9, 2011

Los Alamos

Got a change in the weather. Yet we took off to see the Jemez State Monument, which is a ruin of an old Spanish mission 45 miles from Bandelier, but dark clouds appeared from the west and when the rain turned to SNOW, we called it quits and turned around. Instead we went to Los Alamos. In town we found the Bradbury Museum, which depicts most of what is worth to know about the LANL, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Wars the U.S. has fought incl, WWII.  Here, in Los Alamos, the first Atomic Bomb was developed. When the tests were finished on the Trinity Site north of Alamogordo, two bombs, FAT MAN and LITTLE BOY were built here, which in turn were dropped onto the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed about 300.000 people.  But it also ended WWII.


While we were inside, the dark clouds had been replaced by gleaming sunshine. To us Los Alamos is not a very pretty city with an apparently young population. Los Alamos is build on the Mesas along the Alamos Canyon. Huge areas are closed off for the public as scientists are concocting new weapon systems for the various wars the U.S. is involved in. Not our cup of tea at all.


April 08

Taos,New Mexico
We are leaving Bandelier Nat’l Monument. Our destination is Taos. We want to find a VERIZON store as we need to replace our charger for the MIFI Internet-unit.

I have visited this area two times earlier and fell in love with the beautiful landscape out her. The drive leads us on route NM 522 along the Rio Grande, which actually is not very grand, except you think of the general scenery.  We are lucky and find the VERIZON store and get a new charger. Because of the difficulty of finding in-town parking for the rig we leave on Hwy 64 towards the Rio Grande River Gorge, which can be viewed from the bridge  650ft. above the canyon.

Along the way we find the Monte Bello RV-Park. By now a strong wind is blowing from the South-West. We decide to stay for one night and drive back to town with the JEEP to walk the Adobe Old Town.


Rio Grande, south of Taos

Mexican store front in Taos
High Sierra towards Taos
From Rio Grande Gorge Bridge at Hwy 64

Shopping arcade at the Historical Plaza, Taos

Taos is a nice city with an interesting architecture, and it has a reputation as a city of artists. What really sucks in Taos is the booming traffic through the center. It really robs this city of its charm. It's a daring undertaking to cross the streets as a pedestrian.


However, we do look around in a Mexican Store selling everything from rusty sculptures via pottery to woven carpets.
In the evening we try to figure out what to do the next day. The weather forecast is not good. Rain and even snow together with gusts of 55mph are predicted, and we are in mountainous terrain way up on a 7000ft. elevation.
We find out that if we leave by 6am next morning we might make it out of the storm center before it unleashes its power on us. Anticipating an early rise we retire at 9pm.


April 09

Quarter to 5am I am awake and make out of the bed. It’s still pitch dark, but that changes within the next 30 minutes. A faint pink shine appears in the east, when we are ready to leave.

Along CO Hwy 160 shortly before Walsenburg

We turn onto Hwy 522 which will lead us first through the mountains, then through the San Luis Valley to Ft. Garland at Colorado Hwy 160. We have decided that the route over the La Veta Pass is the quickest escape from the nearing storm.  Up on the pass we are rattled by mighty cross winds, but, except for a few rests of snow on the side, the road stays clear. 

Two and half hours after our early departure we reach Walsenburg at the I-25.  The winds are down again and we make good speed north.
We pass the City of Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and finally we see the outskirts of Denver. On the ringway 470 east we get to the I-70 and the turn-off to 44Ave in Wheat Ridge, where we find our Campground, the Prospect RV-Park.

Approaching Denver on I-25
We meet Nancy, the owner, in her office and she is overjoyed to see her old guests again. Pretty soon we are settled in besides the fence which separates us from the beautiful municipal Prospect Park. The sun is shining and it is very warm outside. So, after lunch we venture out with Molly into the park and have a wonderful walk along Prospect Creek, which gently rustles along through the forest.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bandelier Nat'l Monument

April 06

Excavated walls of the great Pueblo
Another beautiful morning seems to be underway. Today we will explore the Frijoles Canyon. With the Visitor Center opening at 9am we have lots of time for our morning rituals, like f.ex. going with Molly.

Caves in a row
Shortly after 9am we are standing in front of the counter at the Visitor Center. Bea buys a trail guide for a Dollar and after first viewing the new film about the park on a big-size screen we are marching along the bottom of the canyon. Soon we see, high on the cliffs, the first caves. Matter of fact, the entire cliff wall seem to be one cave besides the other. It resembles a swiss cheese!! The first big site we stop at are the excavations of an ancient pueblo building. It sits right on the flat bottom of the canyon. People were not confined to the Frijoles Canyon. The walls of this pueblo belong to the village of TYUONYI.. (QU-weh-nee) This grand pueblo was 1-2 stories high and contained about 400 rooms for approx. 100 people. A central plaza contained 3 Kivas (KEE-vah) which were an important part of the ceremonial cycle and culture. As a community center it served not only for religious activities, but also for education and decision-making. Unlike in our secular world, there was no separation of church and state in Ancestral Pueblo culture. Religious beliefs were a thread woven throughout their daily lives.

Climbing ladders for inspection
We walk on through the spring-green forest and get up to the caves along the main loop hike. Many of these caves are blackened from the fires of the pueblo people. It is most intriguing to inspect these little caves, many of them only reachable by climbing ladders. Cave entrances are low, for the people living here were between 5ft for the average woman and 5ft 6in for the men. Their life expectancy was around 35 years. Arthritis and bad teeth were common ailments. Childbirth was a dangerous process, taking many womens life.

During the late 1400s the canyon population reached about 500.
It was the swiss-born Archeologist Adolph  F.A. Bandelier, who studied and described the Frijoles Canyon and the cliff dwellings, after people from the Cochiti Pueblo led him into their ancestors canyon.

“The Grandest Thing I ever saw”

was Bandeliers comment.

One of 4 ladders to Alcove house
Like wondrous kids we walk along these cliffs, climbing up ladders and down into the dark of the kivas, and I wish being able to enter a time machine watching the daily life of these busy people.
Along the bottom of the canyon flows a live-giving little creek, like it has done for hundreds of years. It must have been a life line for the ancient ones, when they tended to their small agricultural fields down here.

The return path is leading us along the bottom of the canyon through a mighty forest of standing pines. I expect some of these trees being as old as the cliff dwellings. Birds are singing here as they always have done during spring. A rare peace is streaming towards me. 





The ancient forest......
View from Alcove House
Just my size...or?
Cave Researchers....