Ponoka: Night Four (June 29)

As I rolled over and opened my eyes this morning, I realized I was the only one in bed. Rick had gotten up and headed the barn and I didn’t even hear him. This is quite unusual for me, not to wake up when he does. I must have been tired.

I jumped up and got the percolator going while I got ready for the day. It was just after 7 when I got to the barn. My hubby said he didn’t think I was coming. He had decided we were hooking two outfits but unfortunately I didn’t get the memo the night before. At any rate, I arrived just in time to help with the first hook and then the second one too.

It was a bit soggy out this morning, as it had decided to rain on our parade. Enough so that it settled all the dust around the area.

I decided to send Rick and the girls to have breakfast over at the legion. I said I would stay back and wait for our bale of straw to be delivered. Well, the straw arrived and then so did my friends, Bev and Norm Little. We sat shootin’ the breeze in front of the barn and enjoyed a cup of coffee too. They had lots of stories to tell of days gone by, which made for some pretty good laughs.

A couple of gentlemen stopped by to meet us. The one fella phoned us up this past winter and asked about obtaining one of our mini chuckwagons. I told him to come by when we were in his area. Well, he did, we chatted and I asked him what the reasoning was for the little chuckwagon. Back home in their small town of Killam, there are a group of eight guys who meet at the local coffee shop in the mornings. They are all avid followers of…you guessed it…the WPCA chuckwagon races. So these guys do up a draft just like in the NHL. They all have a pool of four wagon drivers and collect points throughout the season. And this year they are awarding the winner with a trophy. It will be our mini chuckwagon mounted on a base of some sort. How cool is that?

Rick Fraser Team 23

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Tonight we also met another HUGE fan of ours. His name is Richard Zeluf. Last year we gave him one of our Team 23 hats. According to his daughter-in-law Janine, his hat is one of his prized possessions. Tonight we surprised him with a mini chuckwagon to take back home with him. The look on his face was priceless. “Is this for me?” he said as Rick handed it to him. He was in disbelief. He is very excited to show the boys during tomorrow morning’s coffee.

Rick Fraser Team 23

I trucked on over to get a few horse supplies at McFeeds today, then decided it was time to get the laundry done before we head to Calgary in a couple of days. I think others had the same idea, as it was pretty busy in there. But with so many machines it really doesn’t take too long to get things done.

Back at the trailer with the clean clothes and such, I thought I’d better tidy up and prepare the supper for the crew. A big pot of chili sounded good, as it was much cooler out today with the rains that came down.

During chore time this afternoon, our son Cody took advantage of the girls and made them pull just a little bit harder while he took a break.

Team 23

The kids are great to have around, as they are all pretty good sports and love to have a good time.

Team 23

Rick decided to hook Spirit on Left Lead, Ranger on Right Lead, Vegas on Left Wheel and Zorba on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Beau and Dustin threw stove with Trixter for his ride.

Just as Rick got stopped and ready, the horses moved forward just a bit. Not sure which horse caused it, but Rick pulled back and he was good enough to not be ahead of the barrel, thank goodness.

When the horn finally went, one of the horses reared up a bit, then away they went, around the bottom barrel and onto the track to pull and follow Kelly Sutherland.  Not sure if this helped us or not, as I think the running was two wide and not on the rail. We posted a 1:19.60 for 23rd on the day. Unfortunately our running time was not good enough to keep us in the top eight for the redraw tomorrow. So in other words, we will not have the chance to compete for the final dash of $50,000.

On another note, we have been very consistent and we are ready for the Calgary Stampede.

Tonight we met a young fan, Kaden, right from our hometown Wetaskiwn. Kaden, his sister and his dad came out to see the chuckwagon races. They knew that when Rick is finished the race he hands out a mini chuckwagon. So Kaden’s dad told the sister to go to one end of the stands and for Kaden to go to the other end. He thought this might give them a good chance in receiving the mini wagon. Well, his dad must be pretty smart because it worked. Kaden got the wagon. He was one proud young fella.

Rick Fraser

The next two days are going to be busier than normal. It will be time to start packing up, picking up and dropping off things at home before we head to Calgary on Wednesday. I hope I get my list figured out so I don’t forget anything that I might need when we are there. It’s getting pretty exciting as the Big Show, the Calgary Stampede, begins in only four short days. So hard to believe.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.

Ponoka: Night Three (June 28)

Another day of wonderful, hot weather. I think it reached 30 degrees for sure.

We didn’t hook any horses this morning so we just did the chores. We were short a crew member, as all the girls went out last night to celebrate our hired girl Kim’s 24th birthday. They all had a great time. Kim got to sleep in.

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I had an appointment at 10, so I made sure all the crew were fed and watered. Rick really doesn’t like it when I say that. He always says to me, “We’re not horses, you know.” But at the end of the day they are happy that I’m cooking for them.

I arrived back at the trailer by noon. My next project was to sort through all the Team 23 T-shirts that arrived. With the help of Amy, Kendra and Allie, we refolded, sorted and organized them all so my trailer would be livable again. It’s pretty bad when your neighbour boy pops by and says, “You sure have a lot of junk in here.” He sure made me laugh.

We were off the 1 barrel tonight. It’s our favourite. Rick hooked Spirit on Left Lead, Ranger on Right Lead, Vegas on Left Wheel and Zorba the big grey on the Right Wheel. We continue to have Cole holding the leaders and tonight he rode Beau. Dustin threw the stove and rode Trixter, his favourite.

The outfit started hard and came to the track to get the rail. They all ran hard and finished first at the finish line, placing us 9th on the day. The driver did a great job too!

I must say, Ricky’s a pretty good skinner, as he had some real good teachers and comes from a pretty good gene pool: his grandfather Tommy Dorchester, his stepdad Dave Lewis and his uncle Dallas Dorchester.

I don’t have any race photos tonight, as I didn’t realize until I got to the infield that I forgot to put the battery back into the camera. Grrrrr. Silly me. It won’t be the first time and may not be the last. Ho hum.

But the photos I do have are some great ones of our good friends Doug and Deb Hanson’s grandkids. They are our number one fans. They were at the races tonight sporting their new Team 23 T-shirts.

Team 23

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And afterward, they posed for a photo with a gentleman named Jim Plamondon. Jim was thrilled to have received our little mini chuckwagon giveaway tonight after Rick’s race. It put a smile on his face.

Team 23

We met another young fella tonight. Damien came to visit us from Red Deer. He met our friend Mary Lynn from Bruce’s Tru Hardware store. She sent him over to meet us and get a signed poster. We did better than that and gave him a T-shirt too. I think we made a fan for life. He said he’s coming back next year for sure.

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In my opinion one of the best things about our chuckwagon journey is meeting all the wonderful people along the way. There are so many of you out there, with so many different stories to tell and different paths of life. And we appreciate meeting you all and letting you come into our lives to see just a bit of what we do.

A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

Ponoka: Night Two (June 27)

So here’s the deal…today was so busy!!! Rick and I arose around 5:45am. He scooted out to feed the horses before we hooked them. I put the coffee percolator on and then prepared myself for the day. Out to the barn I went, with coffee carafes in hand. The girls and Cody were ready to harness and hook.

Track time here is from 6am to 8am. So if one is going to take advantage of the two-hour window, you better be organized. You see, the track is a ways from all the barns. It takes time to go up the chutes, do your practice run and then return. And if you want some of the outriding horses exercised that uses up quite a bit of time too.

We managed to get the one hook in and send out a few outriding horses. Once the hook was done, I raced back to the trailer to make up some yummy breakfast wraps for the crew before I departed over to the Stage Coach Saloon for the Chicks for Charity Champagne Breakfast. A group of local ladies here put on a breakfast with auction items, goodies and a wonderful breakfast to raise money for charities. It’s such a treat to attend.

Just before it wrapped up, I snuck out next door to the infield to partake in the Special Needs Rodeo. Rick and I have been volunteering with this rodeo since it started quite a few years back. We now have many of the chuckwagon drivers and outriders come and pair up with the 25 children who sign up to attend. These kids range in ages and have some type of disability.

This is such a heart-warming time for us to share with them, these two hours to just go out and have some fun. The organizers put stations together that mimic the rodeo and chuckwagon events, along with animals to pet. An awesome turnout for all.

Rick Fraser

Ponoka Special Needs Rodeo

Ponoka Special Needs Rodeo

Ponoka Special Needs Rodeo

Ponoka Special Needs Rodeo

Ponoka Special Needs Rodeo

Ponoka Special Needs Rodeo

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Special Needs Rodeo

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Once that rodeo wrapped up, Rick headed over to the legion to attend a WPCA board meeting. I went the other way and quickly popped into the grocery store to pick up some ice and water to replenish the coolers. I did that job back at the barn, then jumped on my bicycle with a gift in hand and scooted over to a neighbour’s trailer to celebrate little Rose Salmond birth at a baby shower. Evan, another chuckwagon driver, and his wife Adrian are thrilled to be sporting their first bundle of joy. I was lucky enough to be able to hold that little bundle for a few minutes, before heading back to camp.

I decided it was “me” time and I laid my head down for a nap, but not until I put my earplugs in and my headphones over my ears. I’m not really sure that I slept, but I do know that I rested. I’m not the greatest napper whatsoever. The next thing I knew, it was 4:10 and time to get the supper put into the crockpot and head back out for chores. The crew is doing very well looking after things, so pretty much everything was covered.

Tonight’s hook was the same as last night: Speedy, Nickle, Sneakers, and Law, with Andy and Ace as the outriding horses. Cole and Dustin tended to them, doing a fine job.

When the horn blew, all four wagons went. Rick was wide but then pulled in behind the other three wagons. Coming down the home stretch he got an opening and went wide, catching the others at the finish line. What a great crowd-pleasing finish. This race gave us 10th on the day, and lands us 10th in the aggregate.

I am happy to have a couple of helpers bring the outriding horses up to the infield with me.  Allie and Candice take my job right over, I just need to be there.

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After the races, we get a lot of visitors from friends, wagon kids and sponsors. Tonight Rick must not have gotten enough driving in the real race. He hooked up the mini and went for a spin. Just a bit slower pace.

Rick Fraser Team 23

I think we might have a few new fans, as I got them sporting Team 23 T-shirts. Do you think competitor grampa John Walters will like his grandkids’ new shirts?

Team 23 fans

Looking forward to another warm day tomorrow. Hopefully just not quite as busy.

Today, dream the dream you haven’t yet allowed yourself to consider. The one that seems unrealistic, unreachable or even insane. Tomorrow, take the first step toward making it happen.

Ponoka: Night One (June 26)

WOW! Where do I start! There are so many stories I would like to tell. Only a few days have gone by since I posted on the blog and we have been busy since.

Our home is only a short 30 minutes from the Ponoka grounds, and that can be good or bad, whichever way we want to look at it. It’s almost better to be far away from home when we are racing. Being this close causes us to make trips home for things that we may have forgotten and think we need, thus spending a lot of time traveling and away from the barn, missing out on the afternoon nap.

Yet I was very excited to be home for even just a few minutes to enjoy all my lovely planters that my daughter Amy did up for me. She’s got the knack and totally enjoys it.

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I was treated to an appointment with my hairstylist Tisha in Wetaskiwin. It was time to cover up those silver slim strings that are atop my head. It always feels so good when I depart from there. She does a great job.

But I have to tell you a neat story connected with this day. Before I left my trailer that day, my gut told me to take along a $25 gift card that we were given by our new friend Chantele in Saskatoon, whom we met while we were there racing. It was a thank you gift to go have lunch or something while on the road.

After I got into my vehicle, I noticed a gal in the car parked facing me. Through her body language, she looked somewhat agitated and frustrated. I sensed that I needed to go give her this gift card.

I got out, walked to the window and asked if she was okay. She replied she was and she let me know she was waiting for her sister who was in an appointment, she had a wee one in the back seat, her boyfriend was looking for work and she was expecting a child. I handed her the $25 gift card and asked if she would take it. She was elated and said, “You just made my day!” I replied, “No! You just made my day by accepting this gift.” And away I went.

It felt good to pay it forward. It was meant to be.

Well, it was Parade Day in Ponoka, and Amy brought in her little mini for Coy to drive with his wagon and do a little advertising for her dog grooming business. It sure looked cute with her nicely cleaned puppies, the shiny wagon and the Overacker clan who came along to hand out candies and business cards.

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It’s always neat to see the other entries and I was totally smitten with this cute little Native gal who won first in her category.

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And you can’t have a parade without some members of our Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Don’t they look sharp?

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Shortly after the parade, Rick and I were off to Bruce’s Tru Hardware in downtown Ponoka with Chad Harden and crew for the guys to meet and sign posters for the customers. This is the greatest store around. Mary Lynn, a.k.a. “Red Neck Barbie,” and Bruce have more inventory in there than you can imagine. If you need it they pretty much have it, from hardware to clothes, from giftware to food, from toys to plants, just to name a few. They are even carrying WPCA merchandise so when you have a moment go check them out.

I am very fortunate to call Mary Lynn my friend. She has the most giving heart I know. She has helped so many people in need, and continues to do so pretty much each and every day as you’ll see in the photo and article about Hope, a young lady with cancer, having some fun time with Mary Lynn.

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Because Mary Lynn has been so good to so many, Rick and I gifted her with her very own “Team 23” pink pitchfork.

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She loved it! Unfortunately, I don’t think it will ever get dirty but that’s okay, as she’s going to keep it on display at the store.

We are always so excited to be here in Ponoka. It’s such a fun Stampede with so many people from all over the province and from far away, coming to camp for six days or more. It’s one big camping party all coming together to watch some rodeo and chuckwagon events as well as take in some local activities too.

The crowd was pretty good tonight despite the lovely hot weather we had. It’s a cooker. Love it!

Rick and his team of Speedy on Left Lead, Nickle on Right Lead, Sneakers on Left Wheel and Law on Right Wheel were off the number 3 barrel tonight. Cole held leaders with Ace and Dustin threw stove with Andy.

Rick Fraser Team 23

The team started but didn’t come to the track quite as hard as Rick was expecting. On the inside of him was Evan Salmond on 1, Kelly Sutherland on 2 and then Chad Harden on 3. Evan was a speedster and took day money. We managed 12th for the evening, which is pretty good.

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I’m thinking tomorrow will be another scorcher again. Bring on the popsicles and water guns!

I’ve learned…that just one person saying to me, “You’ve made my day!” makes my day.

Setting Up in Ponoka

We got all settled here in Ponoka. Yesterday was more of a laidback day. Coy, Denver Harden and I zipped over to the laundromat across the road with my two baskets full of dirty laundry. This is one job I wanted to get done and over with for the week.

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We were all very tired from Sunday’s racing, traveling and setting up. That sure makes for a long day for us all. I had to have a sleep yesterday, as I was so tuckered out. Managed about 45 minutes worth.

Once the chores were done, and supper made and served, I headed to bed for a full night’s sleep. It sure felt good to get that in.

We all made it to the barn for chores this morning, and a beautiful morning it was. I made breakfast wraps for the crew, while they helped the Harden barn hook a couple of outfits.

When that was all finished, I tucked myself into the trailer, pulled out my “To Do” file and conquered all the bills and accounting stuff that never goes away. I enjoy doing it but I also don’t like to miss anything going on at the barn. I tend to pick a day and catch up on all of it so it doesn’t need to be looked at for another week.

I just about had it all finished when a text came saying a storm was rolling in. Out to the barn I went to help the girls cover up the straw and hay, secure the barn walls down and get the ponies in under cover. Well, the horses didn’t quite make it in, as the hail came hard and fast, and it hurt!

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We waited until it lightened up and then scurried on out to their rescue. Once we were under cover, the rain and hail came again even a bit harder. We were soaked and cold. The storm must have lasted at least 45 minutes. We jumped into the truck and put the heater on full blast to warm us up. rls suggested a trip to the local Wendy’s drive-through for a bite to eat as they were starving…so they said. But I know how it goes: If you feed them they will work. Always a method to the madness.

Rick missed all the excitement as he had to take a few of the ponies to visit the horse doctor. He made it back once the rain had stopped and the chores were completed.

Some great news for all you fans. Chuckwagon Radio Network is partnering up with AM 700 The Light to broadcast the races of the 2015 Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby. How exciting is that? I have attached the announcement for you all to read at the bottom of this blog entry.

Another update: I will be discontinuing sending out the blog entries as full email messages in the near future. I wouldn’t want any of you to not get my blog anymore. Make sure to sign up as a follower if you haven’t already. You can even sign up to get a short email alert every time I post a new entry.

Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 19, 2015 Chuckwagon Radio Network Ltd.

Since 2002, the Chuckwagon Radio Network Ltd. has been a proud broadcaster of the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby and the tradition continues on radio and now on AM 700 The Light.

The CRN is excited to be working with AM 700 The Light to bring our listeners the best coverage of the world famous Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby.

Our on-air radio broadcast crew consists of Veteran Broadcast Announcer Dan Butler, Co-Host, Russ Peak, Co-Host/Color, Analyst Billy Melville & Arnie Jackson, Statistician Norm Braybrook, Analyst John Kennedy, Roving Reporter Kim Tournier, and Calgary Stampede Track Announcer Les McIntyre.

This growing exposure of the sport of Chuckwagon Racing is very exciting, and the Chuckwagon Radio Network looks forward to this great opportunity to reach listeners in Calgary an surrounding area on this new station.

We would like to thank Touch Canada Broadcasting, Calgary Stampede, JSA Sports Network and the WPCA for their support of our program and we look forward to working with our new broadcast partner in the future.

Join us starting July 3rd through the 12th nightly at 7:30pm on AM 700 The Light for this year’s broadcast of the GMC Rangeland Derby from the Chuckwagon Radio Network.

For More Information:
Jamie Tiessen, CEO
Chuckwagon Radio Network Ltd.
http://www.chuckwagonradionetwork.com
Phone: 403-333-8800
Email: Jamie@tiessenconsulting.com