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Saturday, November 29, 2014

..And It’s Gettin’ Colder

We keep the furnace running all night – on a lower temperature setting, but yet it felt kinda chilly this morning. Routinely opening a tap to see whether water is still running I was greeted with a few droplets only. I have turned up the thermostat to see whether it would be helping. It hasn’t so far. Outside temperature is now down to –29C and the wind chill is –40C. But there is some hope. The weather guru tells us about a warming trend towards the end of NEXT week when we should be seeing a balmy +4 on the thermometer.
The lower edges of our window frames are now showing a growing ice-build-up.

I was getting two 30pound propane tanks filled yesterday. Surprisingly, the price for our main heating source has not been going up. We did try to get bigger tanks but the delivery and pickup was extremely expensive, so we borrowed a few more smaller tanks from a friend.

It’s still toasty warm inside the rig, but we won’t be wandering outside except for walking Molly a few times during the day. When I was out with her after breakfast, first thing happening was me landing on my tail, as the road was very slippery. Luckily, I didn’t break neither arm nor leg. Wouldn’t be very productive spending Christmas in a hospital.

Mind you, maybe I could sue the park for not sanding the road. Smile

Have a great Saturday!

 

 

 

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Friday, November 28, 2014

One Good Foot Of Snow

It has been snowing without much of any break since yesterday and today we are looking at 35cm (more than 1 ft.) of powdery snow. Powdery it is because the temps are down to –21C (-6F) It is still piling up and city traffic has come to a crawl. with more than 150 collisions caused mostly by stupid driving habits (means too fast).
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And just how are we making out in a travel trailer which was never thought to be used in this climate?
Well, we are still having running water and we are not cold. Yes, our water pump has been stalling a couple of times, but came back within a few hours every time. Wind chill temperature is currently minus 31C (-23F) Yes, it is grueling cold. In fact Molly doesn’t like to be outside anymore. This morning she was back from her small business in a few seconds.

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The park has been thoughtful enough to provide snow shovels for the guests, so this morning I went over to pick up a shovel. Over night we had another 25cm so there was plenty of the white stuff to get rid of. While I was doing so a neighbour ambled over asking whether we had water running. He complained that his water was frozen. He owns a 38ft Class A motorhome and with heated underbelly he shouldn’t really have any problems. But then he explained that he had a water HOSE running from the outside tap to his rig and it was frozen in spite of heating tape being used. Dude!

 

One can’t do that in freezing temps like we have now, unless the whole thing is packed up in an insulated and heated pipe. We just fill our water tank then disconnect the hose. That’s how we get by.

Yup, it’s a learning process to attempt winter camping in Alberta.

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While I had time yesterday I made up a dough for Christmas Cookies. These are made with lard and are of a kind my mother made as far as I can think back. I’m proud to say they turned out absolutely perfect.

DSC_0065Advent will begin this weekend and after 9 years spending Christmas in California we will have a white Christmas again. That, in turn will make my thoughts fly backwards many decades to when I was still living home and our parents provided everything for the celebrations. The old country Christmas celebrations has given us lasting memories. It was a time when commerce had not yet taken over entirely.

 

I bet you have good memories of those years as well.

Thanks for stopping by again.

Alberta’s Oil

You have seen it and you have probably been very pleased with it: Your gas bill is getting lower every day. And indeed, the price for crude oil has plummeted like a rock with over 30% since the warm days of summer. Are we feeling that something is wrong? We sure do. It’s just not normal that oil prices are going low and with it our gas bill. So everybody should be happy with it right?

Wrong.

Now we are complaining that oil is going too low and that it can potentially hurt our economy. At least that’s the buzz if you have been listening to the news. Oil companies operating offshore outside of Newfoundland have already put on their financial brakes. And here, on the other side of the country, Alberta is starting to talk about “serious consequences” for next years budgeting.

Royalties from oil and gas plus taxes paid to the Alberta Government are in danger to shrink like fresh fallen snow in the rising spring sun.

The consequences will be cut-offs on important parts of social welfare. After all, that’s what all conservative governments would do. But it will also cool off the red-hot Alberta Real Estate market which could be quite healthy.

If push comes to shove it will also cause a new migration of workers – this time back to their home provinces where unemployment is waiting for them. So could the low oil price lead to a wide-spread economic crises?
Absolutely.

Can we take some learning from it? We sure can – if we are willing to.

1. we shouldn’t have made us so darn dependent on oil
2. we should have put aside more of the oil revenues, instead of spending it like it would never stop.
(Little Norway has put aside staggering 900 billion Dollars since the early nineties, while Alberta managed to save only 17.4 billion Dollars since 1976) 3. Royalties to the Government should have been set much higher instead of giving a free ride to the richest companies in the world.
There is an old saying that no trees are growing for ever.

So why are OPEC countries refusing to cut production? Could there be a strategy to hurt the U.S. and Canadian economies? Or is it simply because of these countries are so poor that they need the revenue?
I don’t know which, but what I do know is that we have to deal with it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The WEST EDMONTON MALL And My New Hat

Most people who have been to Alberta have heard of the West Edmonton Mall.

The West Edmonton Mall is the largest shopping mall in North America and the tenth largest in the world  The mall was founded by the Ghermezian brothers, who immigrated from Iran in 1959. Until 2004 it was the largest mall in the world.

 

The Mall covers a gross area of about 490,000 m2(5,300,000 sq ft). There are over 800 stores and services and parking for more than 20,000 vehicles. More than 24,000 people are employed at the property. The mall receives 32.2 million visitors per year; it also attracts between 90,000 and 200,000 shoppers daily, depending on the day and season.

 

And today I was one of those “shoppers”. I have never been, nor will I ever be, a potentially interested shopper in ANY mall. Bea knows that to the fullest. But I needed a special hat for my job and as far as I know there is only 1 specialized hat store in the city.

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The name is Chapel and we found it at the end of a long walk through the mall. Naturally, they didn’t have the colour I wanted, but I finally went with a blue one.

 

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Having the hat we went photo shooting.

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There is f.ex. the replica of the Santa Maria, adorned with all kind of fantasy figures.

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          Getting’ some food here…..and I want more!

Right below the ship they got sea lions which we watched working for their food.

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Tropical water………………………………………..and skating rink

And if you feel for a swim they got this huge water park. After the swim you might want to go skating in the ice palace or,if you got the kids with you, a trip into GALAXYLAND might be in order.

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What ever you do, you need to have your wallet with you – with a lot of Credit Cards, cause everything is just a tad more expensive than every where else. My guess is that the store rents are quite juicy around these parts.

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Another interesting part of the mall is the EUROPA BOULEVARD.  Now, I don’t know where these false facades were imported from, but they kind of look like an old European-style city. Sad part is the boulevard has very few visitors. Maybe it’s just too exotic for Albertans.

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With Christmas coming up, the mall is decorated for the “Holidays”, and I just observed a looong line of parents waiting with their young ones to say hello to Santa, who was sitting on stage surrounded by glittering Christmas Trees. Gotta be patient there.

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Win me…….                                                            A FERRARI for me?

Of course, the mall also has its very own hotel and IMAX theatre.

But we were done here. No Ferrari and no more fancy hats.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Horses

I would like to introduce you to something you won’t see every day.
I have a niece who is totally focused on horses. Horses are extremely important to her and over the years she has developed a talent to produce the most beautiful drawings of…..you guessed it…..horses. I have only picked 2 of them from her facebook page called “Randis Drawings”
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And the following drawings are not from her. They are from her Great-Grand Uncle Willi Harwerth. He made these drawings as young adolescent. Yes, he was approx. at the same age as my niece.
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                 This drawing is actually showing my Great-Grandfather, Richard Harwerth

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Good Thing We Have A Hair Dryer

Today, the “pleasure” of winter took an unexpected turn. Well, maybe we should have been prepared for that, but this morning I could not get the trailer door open. The latch was frozen solid and there was no way I could move it. Bea had the idea of using her hair dryer to thaw out the lock mechanism from the inside.
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And sure enough, after a few seconds of giving full blast of heat to the lock-set the door opened up. The reason why this problem occurred was yesterday’s weather. It was sleeting and snowing and a lot of humidity came down, settling on everything exposed. Roads were slippery to the extend that most roads up north had been closed either because of road ice or accidents. Highway 881 leading up to Conklin was closed just south of town because of a major accident with a tanker on fire. Interestingly, I had just traveled that road the day before the freezing rain came down. In fact, the road closure came only a few hours after my arrival in Edmonton.

The previous couple of days had brought much warmer temperatures. Snow had melted and water was dripping everywhere. But all that came to a sudden halt yesterday.

Gas prices have now been on a steady decline and people in Alberta are getting worried about how long this hot economy will last. As a matter of fact no economic boom will go on for ever and history shows that clearly. The last oil bust was in the eighties and it can happen again. A moderate softening of the Alberta economy can be a healthy thing as there are a lot of people struggling to get ends to meet.

Have you seen the yellow line over top of my postings? The reason why it is there is that I have been “graced” with lots of unwanted “comments”. Today 2 of those “comments” arrived again. Probably the sender could not read English, as his postings were in Spanish. They got deleted anyway.
I am still hesitant to install an approval process, as that could prevent legitimate commenters from sending their comments. I will monitor the situation and as long as there is only a couple of soliciting comments I choose to hit the Delete-Button.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When Snow Is Measured in Feet Rather Than Inches

Looking at the series of pictures from Buffalo, NY, I feel reminded of our winters in Norway when I had to start my tractor every 2 hours to remove the snow from the road and our farm yard. It would almost be futile to keep track of snow amounts by counting inches or centimeters. No, most often it came by the feet. 2 feet in one night was not unheard of. The next morning we had to dig ourselves out of the door and make a tunnel to get into our 5000sqft. pig stable. At the time our house had a steel roof. When the snow piled up high enough you could hear a loud crack, then a prolonged rumble and hope nobody would be standing close to the building, because the person would be buried under heaps and heaps of snow. The entire roof load coming down like an avalanche, would have crushed him.
I also remember the days and weeks after such a snowfall. Icicles would start growing from the roof edge. As the days went by those icicles would gradually be pushed over the edge and hit the upper-floor windows making it impossible to look out.

Our house was a log home and we had 4 or 5 wood burning stoves in the house. We carried wood from the barn to the house and fed the stoves with it. A cozy warmth was filling the 150 year old house and we would sit in our living room looking at the high peaks, covered in snow and ice. When the sky had turned blue again we often observed strong winds blowing snow off the peaks. The high mountains kept the sun from shining into our valley, so it could get quite cold as well. When the month of February came around the sun got over the tops for a few minutes only. We would celebrate with coffee outside. From that day on the sun would shine longer every day.

Those are great memories for us.

We were much younger then and we thought winter was exciting. I still think that winter is exciting but I sure don’t wish 3 ft of snow making life difficult these days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting A Tire Fixed But There Was A Problem

It’s been a couple of weeks that I noticed a loss of air pressure in one of the rear ambulance tires, and today I saw the reason why. A small screw had imbedded itself in the rubber and was causing the slow loss of pressure. So after a look on the internet I found a tire shop right here in Acheson.

When driving off the RV-Park I was met with this.
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A semi was “parked” across the road leaving only a small area behind it to pass.
But why was the tractor in the ditch???
My guess was that the driver had taken a wrong turn believing the road to be a ramp onto Highway 16A, which it isn’t. In fact it dead-ends in the RV-park. Sooo he must have tried to turn the rig around which ultimately ended him in the ditch. He wasn’t able to move neither forward nor backward.

Anyway I got past him and was now heading towards the tire shop.
But there I was told that they got no time for me today but that I could come back tomorrow. Another great example of Alberta service. After further consultations of the internet I decided to get myself over to Spruce Grove where another known tire shop could be found.

They were busy as well and I would have had to wait 90 minutes minimum before they could even THINK of looking at my tire. After this I asked myself what if this would have been an emergency? Again: Alberta Service at its best.

Another internet consultation brought another tire shop onto the screen. The address was along the same road, but I had not seen it yet. After cruising the entire length of the Avenue I saw the unpretentious sign over a small shop bay.
I pulled up and walked into their office. It was unbelievably small, crowded and felt downright chaotic. I brought up my problem and was promised immediate help – after they had finished their lunch, which was alright with me.
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They had only room for one vehicle at the time as the rest of their garage was filled with junk. Or at least that was the way it looked to me.

But within 30 minutes they had my tire fixed. I paid 20 Bucks and was on my way home, when my phone rang. It was Bea. “Don’t hurry home”, she said there is a semi across the road and NOBODY can pass by it. Didn’t I know about it? I sure did.
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When I finally arrived at the scene a huge tow truck had pulled up alongside the semi and coaxed him up from the ditch. My waiting was cut short and now coffee and Christmas Cookies were waiting for me.

Christmas Cookies?

Well, well….of course I couldn’t keep my fingers out of the cookie jar. Even my home-baked cookies are gone.  Too bad.

Temperatures have been really good today as we had no frost. At 0C (32F) it felt like spring had arrived. That led to a couple of outside errands been done. I had tried to get a quote from a propane company for a big tank delivery. A “PIG” contains 380liters and would last us a while. Unfortunately the delivery/pickup and rent of the tank is prohibitively expensive. Yes, they wanted 551 bucks for it. So I decided to ask my friend from the RV-dealership to borrow a couple of tanks from him. So today I got 5 tanks and got them filled up right away.

Another change has been that we were lucky enough to find a home to move into. It won’t be before January 17 but then we will have a warm place for 3 1/2 months as the owners are snowbirds and will travel to Mexico for the winter.

So from today on we are pretty much looking at 2 more months of trailer life.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quack–Quack We Have A Duck

You like ducks?  Me too. They are cute to watch running in the yard. But they are even better as main part of my supper.
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When I came across frozen ducks under my recent shopping trip to the city, I discovered a whole freezer full of them. And since the price was right ($2.60/pound) I let one of them go into my cart.
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Today is the day when said duck is gonna be our supper and will be served with red cabbage, cooked with onion and an apple.  It’s gonna be a feast and the lovely smell of roasted duck is filling our trailer making us very hungry people. Of course Molly noticed the preparations early on and took up stilling in front of the kitchen counter.
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After 3 1/2hrs in the oven the 2.4kg-duck is basically ready for the table. I can hardly contain myself.
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What about you? You like roasted duck?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Morning Blues

It’s 3:30am and Saturday Morning when I hear Bea stirring under her covers, then telling me that the furnace has stopped, because the propane tanks are empty. That sure activates me out of my sleep. It’s only 3 days ago I mounted full tanks. So I get up to check. Throwing myself in some warm clothes I step outside. It’s not dark around her. RV-Park Lights are casting a shallow light all around. I lift the tanks and realize that Bea is right. But stop….one of the tanks are heavier than the other. So I switch the valve over to that tank alone hoping the best.
Back in the trailer I try the furnace. Blower starts, I hear a short ignition then ….nothing. There is not enough pressure left in the tank. Darn…..I switch on the electric radiant heater and go back to bed. But sleep has deserted me.
At around 7am I decide to get up. I try the cooking range and it ignites. Not a strong flame but enough to boil water for coffee.
TV-programming is in full swing and I watch Detective Murdoch solve one of his mysteries.  At 8am I have the van started. It is time to get going for a propane refill.
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At Spruce Grove I stop at TEMPO GAS. They have the cheapest propane around here. Luckily, they are at work already. Ted tells me that they ran out of propane yesterday afternoon. The truck came during the evening with new supplies.
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When I return to the trailer I find Bea and Molly on the couch.
I restart the furnace and within a minute warm air travels through the trailer. I have another roll and some coffee.

DSC_0027  DSC_0023 There is no limit to what kind of rigs people live in. But look at the Hybrid trailer. Minus 20C and living in a tent????

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Meanwhile all kind of activities have started around the park. 

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A man is up on his roof removing snow or fixing something. Others meet outside coffee mug in hand. A few dogs have been taken on a morning walk. The sun is out, but it is cold. The weather men are talking about a warm-up to minus 5C today and look…Monday it’s supposed to get up to 0C (32F) I will have to dig out my shorts.  Winking smile
DSC_0026Have a warm weekend!