Monday, March 5, 2012

There and back again

We’re back on the boat.  And it feels like we’ve been everywhere since I last posted.  We arrived back yesterday after a leisurely trip in from Merritt but before that ……………..

I dropped Marilyn off at Woodland on Friday morning so she could schmooze her contacts there & I headed out to Shellbrook.  When I arrived at the Miners ranch Ken and Kevin were feeding cows.  I’ve always said that driving into that yard feels like entering a time machine and transporting back 50 years.  Friday was no exception.

Miners -6

In the picture Ken and Kevin are unrolling a straw bale by hand after carefully pulling all the twine off it.  There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a high labour way to bed cattle. 

Miners -2

I see a lot of high capital cost farms in the course of my work for Palliser and Growsafe.  Its nice to see that there really is another way to make a living off the farm but there is a lot of hard manual labour involved to do it this way.

I picked Marilyn up after lunch on Friday and we headed back to Saskatoon to pick up some prescriptions and then turned west.  We got as far as Cochrane that night, having bypassed Calgary completely.  Coming from Saskatoon its easy to dodge west at Airdrie and miss all the Calgary congestion although even Airdrie is starting to have its own traffic jams. 

On Saturday we tackled the Rockies and everything went well until we got to Revelstoke.  Rogers Pass had a lot of snow piled up but the road was more or less bare. 

If you look really carefully in the middle right of the next picture you can see the top of the structure from the photo above with a blob of snow on top of it.

As I said, everything went well until we got to Revelstoke.  There’s a rest area – maybe 3 or 4 acres of gravel - on the west side of town where the truckers often spend the night.  We’ve spent the night there on occasion too and on Saturday we stopped there to stretch our legs.  Almost as soon as we pulled back on the highway we stopped again.  It was starting to snow, we were headed up a slight grade and the road disappeared around a curve with no evidence as to why we were stopped.  There was very little opposing traffic coming through but occasionally a highway service vehicle would appear.  Finally I walked back to a semi that had spun out behind us and asked him if he had heard anything on the CB.  He said he had heard that a semi was spun out on a hill ahead of us which may or may not have been true – we never saw any sign of that.  We did see a big highway wrecker go by headed up the hill but when we finally got moving again he was tending to a pickup pulling a stock trailer.  We were stopped for about two hours though so the wrecker could have cleared a semi and been helping someone else by the time we got to the scene.

Finally everything started moving again and after a couple of false starts we got moving too.  Big Fords are wonderful highway cars but some of the more recent versions haven’t been very good on snow.  Marilyn’s Grand Marquis was possibly the most helpless pig I have ever driven if there was even 4 inches of snow on the road.  Fortunately we have traction control and we were able to get moving.  Once we got going the semis were chewing up the snowpack with their chains so it was rough but we had pretty good footing.  By the time we got to Craigellachie the pavement was dry again.  Listening to the news today it sounds like we got through in the nick of time because the highway was closed in several places and for more than 24 hours in some spots.

We brought a full carload of “stuff” back from the Prairies.  I like to buy things on ebay and have them shipped to our UPS address so there were several boxes waiting for us.  Its just so much cheaper to get things if you don’t mind waiting a bit.  For example I bought 6 feet of 6 different sizes in 4 different colours of heat shrink tubing for about what I would have paid for maybe 3 feet of tubing at an electronics store.  That’s 24 different pieces of heat shrink, each 6 feet long.  They should last me for the rest of my life.  All I had to do was wait for them to arrive. 

Today I got busy putting it all away on the boat.  Tomorrow I need to install our new Trimetric monitor (which was in one of the boxes) and then on Wednesday we’ll start out for Port Angeles.  Marilyn has a sewing conference in Victoria on the weekend so we’ll be spending the weekend in the inner harbour before crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

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