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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Old Coffee Pot And Us

After I came home from work tonight, I felt for a good cup of strong coffee. So I grabbed my old coffee pot to heat the water. And when I saw that coffee pot standing there on the cook stove, it came to me that this coffee pot means a whole lot more to me than just something to heat water in.

This old coffee pot has been following our marriage over 27years. And it was on May 30 1987 that our friend and neighbour, Ivar Sølnes gave us the pot  as his wedding present. Since that date we have prepared hundreds and hundreds of gallons of coffee and coffee water in that pot. And except that the lid has lost its little top handle, the pot is just as good as it was back when it was new. It might not be as shiny as it once was, but not a dent and no damage has occurred to the pot. It’s made of stainless steel of an outstanding quality. It has seen all of our various places where we have lived during those 27 years. It has moved with us across the Atlantic Ocean and landed with the entire moving goods in Vancouver.
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The other day I had it sitting on the grate of the open fire pit and it got blackened a little on the outside. Tonight I was standing at the sink scrubbing off the sot and getting back a lot of its original shine.

Tomorrow is May 30 again. And it’s not only our 27.wedding anniversary but it’s also 12 years ago that we as landed immigrants set foot on Canadian soil at the Calgary International Airport.  And like millions of earlier landed immigrants we were full of energy and hopes for a future in a new country.

Even though we will be 5000kms apart tomorrow, our marriage which began in a little wooden church from around 1200 after Christ is stronger than ever before.

Happy Anniversary Bea!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Doing The Camper Thing

You know what it is, right? The Camper Thing is having a campfire. And since I had to move from the Provincial Park at the Bow River, I moved back into Banff National Park. Chose an unserviced site, (since I was already used to it..Smile) and when I arrived at my site, there was a pile of firewood from the previous occupant. So I chopped off a few small pieces to start the fire with and when it was going alright, I got out the pan with yesterday’s leftovers plus 2 nice Bavarian sausages to go with and had it all cooked on the open fire pit. I sure felt like I was on vacation.
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Rules are a bit more stringent here in the National Park. Generator use f.ex. is limited to a few morning hours and 2 hours between 5pm and 7pm.
So I have to make do with that.  No internet whatsoever, of course.
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                                               My new camp site

Not too many campers here in the middle of the week, which makes for a real quiet neighbourhood. Most fancy rigs are in the hook-up areas, which are in a different part of the campground.
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ELKS: They are just walking by graciously but yet rather big

I asked for a sunny spot and the very nice lady at the front entrance found exactly what I was looking for. An open grassy patch stretches to both sides behind my trailer. Elks are numerous and they walk all over the place. 
The few neighbours around have craned their necks to check out what the heck an ambulance is doing here pulling a large trailer.
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Over here I have actually plenty of trails to walk, if I feel for it. Mind you the entrance lady also talked about 2 small black bears which have been exploring the grounds this morning. Yeah…instead of rattlers we have bears around these parts. What would you prefer?  Me, I think the bears.

Apparently the park is open for equine activities as I have already seen 2 beautiful ladies riding along. The last one even said HI to me.  Oh well…..
I wonder why horseback riding seem to have become girl’s interest mainly.  I just think of my own niece, who is extremely interested in horsemanship. (aka. horseladyship) She was rather sad a couple of weeks ago when her beloved horse (it wasn’t hers, but she cared for it) suddenly died. Well, it was around 30yrs. old and that’s about what a horse has of life expectancy. I know it was like loosing a long-time friend for her. Meanwhile, she got a new horse to be friend with and I am more than happy over that on her behalf.

Have a great 2.half of the week!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Trip Across The Border - To B.C.

The Boss had thought I’d better take a trip across the border and into the BC-Mountains to get myself educated, in case I had to drive a group into Yoho National Park. Now, I Did know a few things and locations at Yoho, but my acquaintance with the park partially goes back 30 years, namely to the year 1984, when I stopped at the park on my way from Vancouver. The next visit was 20 years later in 2004 when I drove the Yoho Valley Road to see the Takkakaw Falls.

 

It was a drab kind of weather this morning, and when it started to rain across the BC-border I wasn’t surprised. I had now passed the Great Divide, with the Railroad’s Spiral Tunnel high up the slope and was on my way along the Yoho Valley Road to Takkakaw  Falls. However, the drive was stopped short before it really had begun. Either due to remaining snow, or a recent mud slide, the road was closed. Anyway, I had to turn around and head back to the Trans Canada Highway.

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My next destination was the “Natural Bridge”, which is along the way to Emerald Lake. This natural rock bridge has been caused by the “Kicking Horse River’s relentless abrasion with gravel and sand following the river’s stream. Also a softer layer of limestone has made the river’s work possible.

An interesting road-side information told the story about Ukrainian Citizens which had been rounded up by police and immigration to be detained under WWI. They were considered to be allies of Germany and had to perform hard labour. Many of the National Park Roads have originally been built by those detainees. The former campsite was located in today’s Yoho National Park.

Following the road farther in I ended up at Emerald Lake.

IMG_8964 IMG_8967  Natural Bridges                                     Emerald Lake

Back in 1984 I hiked around the entire lake with my cousin and his mother. This was the first time I saw the lake again after all those years. And while the lake itself has not changed, the Park Administration has set up a few buildings for the convenience of the many visitors. Today, the lake was still mostly covered with ice. A vendor who also rents out canoes, had hung out rain gear, which, in today’s wet weather, found interested customers.

IMG_8969             Meanwhile, the clock showed almost 1pm and I had grown hungry. So, in the relative comfort of my van, I brought out my sandwiches and coffee.

Ironically, as I was heading back east, the sky cleared for a while letting the sun light up the beautiful fresh spring-green of the forest.

I am sure I will be going back here soon, hopefully under much nicer weather conditions.

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Vermilion Lake with Mt. Rundle to the left

IMG_8973The partly rainy day was now in need to be concluded with a few nice home-made oat cookies.  Smile

 

Thanks again for coming along!

 


 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finally Some Warmer Weather

We are approaching the end of May and spring temps have been disappointing so far, to say the least. But yesterday we finally got a warm day and is this really the beginning of warmer weather?

I have been cold most of the time and even on days when the sun was out I had to bundle up if my desire to be outside got the better of me. But flowers are showing up along the road ditches and with it my hopes are soaring.

The slow flowing Bow River has now turned into a much wider fast moving river. It carries lots of sediments from the glaciers. But as long as the mountain run-off is not fed by more rain there should be no concerns for flooding.

Over on Campobello Island, the weather hasn’t been much friendlier either. Cold spring weather is the rule rather than the exception in Canada.

But for what it is good I am enjoying the current stream.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DRY-Camping Is NOT What It Used To Be

And I don’t mean that in any negative way or that I am now looking for the comforts of a full hook-up. Even a full hook-up wouldn’t solve the problem I have encountered  here. No, it’s been the cold weather which has caused my clothes to get wet INSIDE the closet.

When I took out a new T-shirt the other day I wondered why it felt soooo cold and well – wet. Investigating the matter, I removed everything out of the closet, which basically is in a slide-out,  and I felt around inside the closet with my hand and came up with water dripping of my fingers!

A leak??? 

No Sir, all that water was the result of condensation! While I am forced to heat the trailer, the humidity from inside hits the cold outer wall and builds up a stream of water. I have had water dripping of the roof hatch over my bed!

With a towel I wiped off everything inside the closet and hung up my clothes around the rig. Actually, I should have taken everything to a Laundromat and put it in a dryer. So dry-camping doesn’t mean you and your stuff is staying dry.

I have often thought that I would like to build my own RV. Take a box truck, insulate really well and start from scratch. Or buy a Chassis and even build the entire box. Some people have done it. What our RV manufacturers never seem to understand is the meaning of the word QUALITY. There are exemptions of course, but most RVs are hammered together in a matter of a few hours. Even when down in Florida we had condensation problems. Seems like RVs are only build for a dry desert climate. 

So, you may have that in mind when you buy your next RV!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ski Und Rodeln Gut (Skiing and sleigh rides good)

It was just like being back in the Norwegian Ski Resort in 1994. The crowds, having only one thing in mind, had gathered at Sunshine Village a little half-hour from Banff. This was going to be the last grand ski-weekend for everybody.

I had picked up 30 well….very young adults. Can’t call them kids anymore, as several of the young males had  beards and the females…well… Let’s not talk about it.

This was my first load picked up at a school. If you think this would be a rowdy bunch of spoiled brats you are wrong. Without any exception these young folks were extremely polite. Thanks, Sir, Yes Sir…..I heard it all the time.

And then we were on the road. The young lady who was the organizer of this tour, sat beside me and very politely asked whether she  would be permitted to turn on the radio. Well, if a bus has a radio it is for a purpose and pretty soon loud music was filling the bus. I was surprised none of them would start rocking around. But again – very polite.

Arriving at Sunshine Village we were met by nothing less than a gigantic crowd. There was thousands of cars, several buses and even motor homes and trailers. People were milling about everywhere. I got all the snowboards out of the luggage area. And off they went to the gondola and a day of fun.

I had to round them up again at 4:30pm and that would give me approx 3hrs. at home, which I spent eating and napping.

Napping is good when you have the next trip coming up at 2:45am.
I’m the NIGHT EXPRESS to Calgary Int’l Airport. Again a group from a school in Banff. And when I am home again from that early trip I can do it all over again for a group of Japanese tourists at 9:30am from the Banff Springs Hotel.

While I was plowing asphalt trails the river has stayed in its bed as a good river should do. The camp host came by and I inquired about whether or not I should be concerned about a rising flood. He told me that even last years flood which turned into a real disaster for many communities in the Bow Valley, had barely brought about 2inch of water in SOME places of the campground. So no worries there. Makes for a whole lot better sleep.
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Bow River Monday afternoon

And that’ll be all from here. See ya around!

Watching The River

Since early this afternoon it’s raining steadily and I am watching the river. It has come up a bit and if it keeps raining all night I am afraid I will see it rise substantially tomorrow. There is not much difference between the river level and the shoreline as it is, and it won’t take a whole lot until the river swells up. I have to get up early tomorrow morning if it should be necessary to move the trailer to higher ground.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May-Long-Weekend And May 17

While I had been almost alone in the entire campground, that was about to change as we approached the May-long-weekend. Campers were pouring in like a swarm of flies. There was all kind of trailers, old motor homes (the fancy ones stay in the National Park) and many tents.

TENTS?

Right, I saw a lot of young people with all kind of small tents. One especially I saw this morning, I really pitied. All they slept under was a stretched–out tarp. Wilderness-style alright!

After a right beautiful morning today, the weather changed suddenly as it always might do in the mountains. Dark rain clouds moved in over the still snowy peaks and it didn’t take long until I heard heavy raindrops hitting my trailer. I rushed out to get my lawn chair brought in the van.

Let it rain, let it rain….but where went my numerous neighbours…?  Even those having trailers went away, some leaving the trailer behind, others pulling out altogether. One guy who had dropped off his trailer yesterday, didn’t show up at all.

All the tents were gone too. Can’t blame them, really!

May-long-weekend went right into the pits.
But while the sun was still out, I went to Banff to get a bus washed. Afterwards I had thought to get down to the library for some computing, but there was not a single parking spot for my van. I tried to park at the grocery store – no chance. Now, you have to know that everything in that town is in “Miniature format”, so are parking lots. Banff Ave was packed with people walking the curbs, ready to spend their money. I just learned that Banff gets 10 mill. visitors pr. year. Thinking that everyone leaves 100 Bucks in town. That would be a neat pile of money.

So I got the heck out of there in a hurry. On my way out I noticed the first trees with green leafs. That was also the case when I drove through downtown Canmore. One night with warm temps had done this every-year wonder. And with the rain coming down now, I assume to see a lot of green next time I get to town.

It was also May 17, which is NORWAY’s NATIONAL DAY. Many memories for both Bea and me….
Talked to an old-time friend in Norway today and they had the most beautiful weather which had brought out everyone when they finally gathered to sing the National Anthem:
JA, VI ELSKER DETTE LANDET……..


Ja, vi elsker dette landet,
som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet,
med de tusen hjem, —
elsker, elsker det og tenker
på vår far og mor
og den saganatt som senker
drømmer på vår jord.
Og den saganatt som senker,
senker drømmer på vår jord.


                          May 17 – celebrations in Oslo in front of the Kings palace

I still remember the very first time I sang that song. It was on May 17 1978. I thought then, and I still think that this anthem is one of the most beautiful there is.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It’s About Time

All-of-a-sudden we got some warmer air moving in over the mountains.
IMG_8925        Big smile for the improved weather
These sudden changes in temperature are caused by the “Chinook”, a stream of air known in Germany as “Föhnwind”. 
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Some people are getting headaches of it, others, like, me throw away their Long Johns and celebrate. Indeed it was the first morning that I awoke without seeing by own breath condensate in the cold air. Yeah…and my furnace is still down. I move the thermostat and it just clicks and that’s it. I have tried to take that darn thing out from where it is cramped in under the sink, but there is no room to turn the nut which secures the gas line to the furnace. Those engineers/designers planning this should be held personally accountable for the sh… they have made. So I have been heating with an electric heater (with help of the Honda) or simply using the gas flame of the cook stove. Don’t worry I have plenty ventilation! But at night it cools down and I have wished that I had a fur coat to throw on during the coldest mornings. No fun to get out of the bed, for sure!
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So, yes, It’s about time that we get some warmer temps. After all it is mid-May.
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Yesterday evening it was so nice that I seated myself with a cup of tea at the Bow river watching how the light was changing with the setting sun.

Had a bit of rain this morning but it did stop and I went 2 miles east to haul 45 gal. of water from the next service station. Filled it over with the help of a submersible pump. Couldn’t find an in-line pump to buy so got the submersible for 10 bucks. Trick is to let the water run from the bladder into a bucket where the pump will expedite it into the trailer. Worked like a charm! 
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I even had water left-over so I finally got the winter grime washed of the trailer. Windows were almost blind.

Sure hope the weather is holding up for a while.

See ya…and thanks for stopping by again!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A New Lesson About Snotty Canmore

When we just think that we have heard it all, it’s guaranteed that something new will dazzle us.

I have been thinking that I should get myself registered at a public library to have something to read when the time is at hand. So, both Banff and Canmore have nice public libraries and since I am currently camped close to Canmore, I went to “ELEVATION PLACE” as they have called the monstrous multi-purpose building. The public library is just to your left as you step into the huge open-concept arena.
At the counter I met a friendly lady who I hoped would register me as a library user. First she told me that there was a membership process to through. Then it appeared that she wanted something official stating my address, which I didn’t have. Next thing she started talking about a $12.00 membership fee.

EXCUSE ME…? 

Since when do people have to pay membership fees in public libraries?  Asked that question the poor woman started to stammer around until she had to concede that she didn’t really know, but that she “thought” it had something to do with the local tax base.

And there I had it again. Canmore, through-out an unfriendly and most of all greedy town, had managed to p*** me off again.

I really must consider to take my business elsewhere.
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So I went to the Alberta Information Centre to pick up a few local brochures. Bus drivers are supposed to know just about everything. A book would probably have been better, but that would have to wait until next day when I again would be in Banff.

I got some gas for the HONDA Genny. It comes at a pr.gal-price of $4.87.  Remember that I am in oil producing Alberta, where we  send our oil out of the country to buy it back refined for big bucks. When KeystoneXL is a reality, we will even send out more of it. Business as usual.

You have a great day and thanks for dropping by again.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother’s Day

Usually I’m terribly forgetful of official days, whether holidays, birthdays or any other commemorative days the calendar has so many of.
But reading The “Odd Essay”, I realized it was Mother’s Day today. And that led to some thoughts about what we in our family have been through over the past 2 years.

Mother passed away in January 2012 and it became one of my saddest journeys home. And when I arrived she was gone. We all went to the last farewell and the image of seeing mother again, peaceful and still, but beyond any verbal communication with us family members, will never leave my mind. And it made me realize more than ever, how much we loved her. She was also the best mother-in-law Bea could have gotten. 

What followed has been 2 years of a lonesome life for Dad. Dad had never been one to express too much emotions, but he has missed his wife, our mother tremendously. Suddenly there was nobody to talk to when he wanted to talk. Then his health declined rapidly and he became partially confused. He is now in a care facility where he some times wonder why mother isn’t with him.

God, almighty…it is so sad.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Discoveries On My Phone

It’s like getting to know a stranger. I’m talking about that Smart Phone I got a few weeks ago. At first you really don’t know a stranger, but then he/she starts telling a bit of her-/himself, and you might find out that you start liking the person. As you meet more often you build a relationship and trust with that individual. It’s the same with my phone. Holding it in my hand the first time, it was an odd-looking stranger to me. And initially I thought I might NOT like it much. But since I need to have it around, it kinda lost its ugly face and started beckoning to be explored. I found a few things I thought were pretty good, like f.ex. the automatic email notification function. It made a little sound and let me know “Hi, I have a new email for you”.
Alright…so that was good. But then when I got a call I grabbed the phone like I would have my old flip-up phone. WRONG! VERY WRONG! Of course my fingers touched something they shouldn’t, and I lost the call. I had to call back on the stored number.

Then today, while it was raining and I was Off-duty, my phone was beside of the laptop, looking at me, and finally curiosity got the better of me. I swiped the screen, pushed here and wiggled there and suddenly I saw the “HOTSPOT” sign.

HOTSPOT??

Yup, if I touch that sign my phone turns into a hotspot. Now that made me wondering what in the world was this sales rep thinking when I specifically asked about a mobile hotspot and he said such thing was not available. I DON’T EVEN NEED AN EXTRA DEVICE to have a hotspot. It’s not cheap to use, but at lest I can do basic things like checking my email and looking up important infos on the internet. And I by far prefer to use my laptop than that dinky little keyboard of my phone, where my fingers touch the entire alphabet in one single move. I guess Mr. Mc.Donalds will be noticing a sharp decline of my coffee purchases. Smile

Where I am camped, I need to run my little HONDA Genny friend to replenish my batteries. But all-of-a-sudden it quit. So I was out in the rain looking it all over. Took the main lid off and checked oil. A little low, so I added a few squirts. And while the lid was off I also cleaned the air filter. Hehe..some desert dust there! After maintenance the thing is running again like a Swiss watch. We’ve had it for 6 years now and purchased it for just under a 1000 Bucks. That’s what I call a good investment. Best of all: It’s so darn quiet, my neighbours don’t even know I have it.

While the Bow River flows lazily along my camp site,  I know that the river can become a dangerous neighbour. Once we get big rainfalls and snowmelt it will come up pretty fast, and with only one more foot to the top of the grassy bank, it wouldn’t take much.

All over the area campers are warned about bears. Garbage containers have specialty locks which can’t be opened by bears. There have been enough stories in the past about bears climbing into unsecured containers scavenging on organic waste, leading to a big scare when unsuspecting campers were
approaching an “occupied” container. So there shall be no more of that. If rangers discover food containers stored outside they will take them away and the unfortunate camper can count on receiving a serious warning – at least.

And I just saw the first bear this year. He was a cinnamon coloured individual, but probably just a black bear. He jumped across the road as I was approaching from Cochrane towards Canmore. But he was quick hiding in the bush as I slowly passed along.

And…speaking of bears, a female Canadian oil worker has just been killed in Ft.McMurray,AB. She just happened to step out of her trailer when the bear attacked without a warning. Co-workers tried in vain to distract the bear. Normally, bears will rather flee than attack, but this one did not.

Thanks for stopping over here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Look What I Found

After only one night in high-priced snotty Canmore, I drove back to Banff and found my new little paradise in an overflow camping with self- registration. It lasted for just about 30 minutes until a flashy Ranger SUV parked behind my rig. I was approached by a nice-enough lady-officer asking about when I had arrived and whether I had filled out a registration form. I showed her the tear-off part after which she told me that the area was actually closed even though the gate had been open. By now her partner had come over as well and I told them I had already paid for 14 days by cheque.
It was then made clear that they were gonna lock the gate but that I could stay one night and go back to Tunnel Mountain. (at the rate of 32:50/day) My check would be returned, of course.
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Two-Jack-Lake

But I did not go back to Tunnel Mountain but found a quiet place at the Bow River Prov. Park outside of Canmore. It’s a no-service site @ $23/day (which is still way too much) and they allow a stay upto 16 nights. Then I would have to move before being able to come back. (what nonsens)
But it starts dawning on me that I probably can neither stay in Banff nor with my work. If Banff has no long-term accommodations to offer, and that at reasonable rates, there will be no way that I will spend most of my wages on a simple place to park my trailer. So there MUST be a solution to this.
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Lake Minnewanka still under ice
What that solution is gonna be is way too early to say, but I am not going to enslave myself just to enrich the National Park, or worse, some private nose-in-the-sky campground owners.

Another example of the same was my morning conversation with the caretaker of a Canmore Campground. I had made an offer for a monthly fee of $600.00 for 6 months, but the owner is rich enough to decline such offer and rather wait for some well-to-do weekenders which will pay $35/night and some extra bucks for using the shower.

Anyway. I needed a diversion of my thoughts, and went for a little evening ride along the Lake Minnewanka-loop. When I came to Two-Jack-Lake I turned off the road and went down to the open water. What I saw down there I could hardly believe. A couple was just getting ready to put on divers dry-suits. I couldn’t but go and ask what in the world they were planning on.
Turned out they were originally Quebecers, but living in Cochrane,AB. Every year they would be coming out here after the last ice was gone and go for a dive. This water MUST have been barely above 32F, when they finally walked out into the lake and finally dropped off view.

I told them they were going to be world-famous which made them take up position with a friendly wave before they went under.
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Breath-taking beauty!
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While in Canmore this morning, I got my trailer inspected at Canadian Tire and got a brand new license plate at the registry office. I am glad this is finally settled and that the trailer is now legally imported.
And that would be all to report from the “New West”. Thanks again for dropping by!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Me And My Ambulance

Sounds like a new blog title, right?  But don’t you worry. No changes will be done to the blog title. After all, people from all over have found this blog just by typing “American” “Travel” “Blog” in any possible combination. Who would look for me and my ambulance anyway? But l do receive local looks whenever and where ever I pop up in this vehicle. The young German lady I met up at the Banff gondola, thought it was “cool” to drive an ambulance for private use.  But then, anything outside of normal seems to be “cool” these days.
Today I noticed a father and his young daughter crossing the parking lot at Safeway. I’m not much of a lip reader but I could see that when he looked over to my van he talked to his daughter about the ambulance.
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I had my first towing experience with it today. See, dumping was canceled the other day because of frozen slide-outs. When there is ice around the edges they cannot be moved. And ice there was plenty of.
Today, when I was back from my latest bus drive with 11 Chinese, it was snowing so bad that I had problems seeing the road. Within minutes we had 3-4 inches of snow.

But back to the towing. The ambulance pulls the trailer like a charm. My heavy-duty sway bars (I do love them…) keep the van from dragging it’s tail along the road. Will try to get a pic of it tomorrow.

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The roads got slick and many cars had ended up in the ditches in southern Alberta. But the ice on the trailer was gone and I just had to climb on the very slippery roof to get the snow off it. Then I was ready to move to a new spot.

And why that?

Canada Parks has this funny rule that nobody can stay longer than 14 days. And I was already at the end of my third week. It was only permitted, because of the frozen and rather immovable trailer. Since the trailer hadn’t had its federal inspection after importation to Canada, I needed to move over to Canmore and the local Canadian Tire facility. They are the ones having contracted with the Registrar Of Imported Motor Vehicles (RIV) to do federal inspections.  And since I needed to go to Canmore, I chose a former municipal RV-Park for a couple of days. The park is NOT nice as it is located right beside the Trans Canada Highway. The noise there reminds me of any Interstate rest area. Nevertheless, the charge is $35 Bucks a night, no water, no sewer, an unusable WIFI, uneven sites  -  just 30 amps of power. Showers have to be paid extra. The “unserviced” sites ($25) they advertised, were for tents and were located between some bushes on uneven ground.
With other words a genuine rip-off place. But it’s Canmore-style, that’s for sure. Good thing with this new location: Mc.Donalds can be reached by foot as it is just a stone throw away. Bea thought that I have grown into a true McDonalds customer. The power of the WIFI – there you have it.
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While waiting for my group at the Chateau Lake Louise these “buses” came to pick up their passengers. As you can see, it was raining – a lot!

Having WIFI, has grown into a commodity everyone expects to find just about everywhere. A place with no WIFI is almost shunned today. While I was parked outside the Save-On-Foods store today, I found that the market offers a very fast WIFI service. Logically,  many people are using the store and check their emails from the comfort of their campers or cars.

Guess that’s enough ramblin’ for one day.

Thanks again for hanging in here.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Chinese Day

Over the last week I have heard Japanese, Thai and Chinese languages spoken in my bus. Today it was the latter. Picked them up at the airport around 2pm and was bound to go to Banff, but the folks were hungry and needed to go for lunch. Of course, that somehow, changed not only their day but mine too.
This time at the airport I made an observation which I tried to illustrate in 2 pictures:
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At Tim Hortons…                                       At Starbucks…
When we finally reached Banff we were already behind schedule. It was then that I noticed a problem with the bus transmission. It wouldn’t run the bus as it used to and I finally had to give it up. We barely made it to the front entrance of the famous Banff Springs Hotel and that was it. So I called the company and they sent another bus and a mechanic. Good thing it happened at the home base and not somewhere along the highway in some nasty grey weather. Of course the bell personnel of the hotel were not happy having a stinking Diesel bus stuck in their driveway, but oh well… There was really nothing I could do. Later, the arriving mechanic found the reason. Unlike I thought that we had lost tranny oil, it was a wiring defect which left the tranny high and dry.

So here I sat in a new bus driving them up to the gondola station. It was foggy and it snowed too. So there would be nothing to see, but I guess when you have paid for something you wanna do it. So after the whole gang had disappeared up the mountain, I kinda hung around a Starbucks Coffee place where I got into a chat with a young lady behind the counter. After only a few moments it turned out that she was on a work visa and from Germany. So the rest of the conversation was, naturally, in pure German.
But when the Chinese returned from their mountain trip the day was far from over. Even though it was 9pm they wanted to go to a Korean Restaurant. I started to wonder whether they ever could be tired out. By now it is 10pm and they are still feasting on Korean food, which, in this place, is prepared in the true Korean way.
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Unfortunately, that is not after my taste, so after a bowl of rice and some unspecified shredded raw veggies it was time to seek refuge in the bus. Yes, I haven’t eaten much all day, it would fit altogether on a small plate. But hey, I’m gonna have breakfast tomorrow morning and then I will have my very own BIG lunch package with me for the rest of the day.

When me and my ambulance finally reached “home” the clock showed 11pm.  Now, I could make myself something to EAT.   A freshly oven toasted roll with cheese and a little ketchup underneath was tasting deliciously “normal”.

So I will try to cut out my thoughts and find some rest for the night. 
 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Ambulance Riddle solved by Cindy @ MOONFLY 13 !!

Yes I bought a (decommissioned) ambulance to pull my trailer. Cindy must have read a lot of my posts as she was right on the money.
Two others, Rick Dorr, and Chinle at “Spotted Dog Ranch” were 98% close. George and Jeri weren’t so wrong either as the owner (me) was actually guest at the motel.
How did I get to Red Deer for the deal?

Simple.

I drove the JEEP over and traded it off against the ambulance with some money in between.

Now why an ambulance? Well, I know the 1t. Chevy vans as reliable and equipped with a strong engine. Since we already have one on the island it makes sense to buy a vehicle I have already basic knowledge of. And a decommissioned ambulance is cheaper to buy than a full passenger van.  Our little JEEP PATRIOT was never able to pull the 7,500lbs heavy trailer, even though it actually had a hitch receiver. 

Of course, ambulances have no tow package so I partially spent the day yesterday by waiting in a shop to get the hitch and a brake controller mounted. This outfit, which is located in Red Deer,AB calls itself  “Hitch Warehouse” and it was recommended by the local GM-dealer, which I thought was a mighty good advice. When I got to the “Hitch-guys” it turned out they were booked to the hilt. However, the owner was easily persuaded to squeeze me in, if I could be there at 7:45am next morning. And that’s what I did. I was out of there shortly after 11.00am and used the rest of the day to get insurance and registration. The raised roof inspires me to turn it into a camper van. (Chinle had the right hunch there) That would be just perfect for the small overnight side trips we so often have thought of, but which have not been done, due to the big rig.

I was also pleasantly surprised when I noticed that the Chevy seems to have tons of spunk, in spite its over 300,000kms on the odometer. In fact the acceleration outperforms our island van by far, even though the engine is the same 6l gas engine.
Could it be that the ambulance has a “souped-up” engine?
So what about driving an ambulance-look vehicle?
Well, on the road from Red Deer to Banff I have already noticed a slight deference from other drivers. Some simply drive all the way to the right when the van pops up in their rear-view mirror, others are leaving me the right of way at an intersection. Of course, all the red lights are disconnected, so there can’t be any unintended use of it.

My trailer needs to get to a dump station and that will be my task today. While I was driving towards Banff yesterday, it was pouring down and vision limited to a minimum. This morning it’s a horse with a different colour. It’s white, white white outside. We got easily 4” of snow. Looking at the calendar I realize it’s May 03. Is spring ever coming?

Sorry no pictures today. Maybe I plot some in later.
Thanks again for keeping me company.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What’s The Ambulance Doing In Front Of My Door?

I am in Red Deer,AB in a Motel. Outside, right in front of my door, there is an Ambulance parked. What is it doing there?
Best guess wins a free ride in our sightseeing van on Campobello Island.
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The Columbia Icefield

I know that most of you folks out there are more interested in enjoying warmth and summer than stories about ice and snow. But there is a beauty in cold landscapes as well and one of the most beautiful spots in Canada is the Athabasca Glacier as being part of the Columbia Icefield. And when it is made so convenient to see all that from  up close – why not. So here are the pictures I took the other day when getting a group of Thailanders, who never have snow in their own country, into this white eye-blinding beauty.
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At the Athabasca Glacier
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At Bow Lake

FAMOUS LAKE~LOUISE:

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The FAIRMONT CHATEAU LAKE LOUISE