Strathmore Down Time

We arrived in Strathmore from Bonnyville on Monday. We had a few extra hands to help pack us up the morning of our getaway. I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of those kids. There were four of them and it sure got us on our way much faster.

We stopped in at the ranch outside of Wetaskiwin on the way,  dropping off a couple of horses and picking up five more. We were hardly home long enough to smell the roses and then continued on down south. I also picked up my little swamper Coy. He had his bags packed and was ready to go.

Threatening Skys

Threatening skies

Clouds of Thunder

Clouds of thunder

Upon our arrival around 5pm, the skies didn’t look so great. We got right to work building pens so we could unload the horses sooner rather than later. This is the first thing we do when we arrive at all the shows. Some rain fell on us but it didn’t last long, thank goodness. Just enough to dampen our clothes and take a 20-minute break, and then the rainbows shone bright.

Amazing Colors in the sky

Amazing colours in the sky

Tuesday was a day of hittin’ the books. My bills all had to be paid and my GST had to be submitted. It was nice and quiet on the grounds, as there were only a handful of outfits that arrived.

Wednesday and Coy could hardly stand it! I had promised him we would drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller 6o minutes away. It is a huge, famous dinosaur museum. Coy loves dinosaurs, and when we did the tour he could name just about all the dinosaurs on display.

Coy an the Triceratops

Coy and the Triceratops

A humungus Tyransisaurus Rex

A humongous Tyrannosaurus Rex

A budding Archeologists

A budding paleontologist

A sleeping kid in a Triceratops

A sleeping kid in a Triceratops

We both enjoyed our adventure, and I learned a lot from that five-year-old little kid who says he wants to be a palaeontologist when he grows up.

With so much going on, Coy woke up with a sore throat. I wasn’t really sure what it was, so I decided to get him checked out at the local hospital in emerg. They did a throat check and we will know the results tomorrow.

Mrs. Laundry Louise, Coy and I

Mrs. Laundry Louise, Coy and I

While there, I visited my friend Louise. You see, Louise is our friend whose door was always open for our chuckwagon family when we arrived in her town of Strathmore, for she owned and operated a small laundromat. One of the friendliest gals I know. Louise was always interested in our life on the road.

Mrs. Laundry Louise and Me

Louise and me a year ago

We only see each other once a year and always start up where we left off. Unfortunately this past year for Louise, life was changing. Louise had some serious health issues and had both her legs amputated, and she had to sell her business. When I was told of this a few weeks ago, my heart hurt for Louise. Today, she filled me in on what all took place these past few months. The decisions, the pain, the adjustments and the future yet to come. I couldn’t help but cry a few tears for Louise as she told her story. She seemed so strong. Louise’s life will never be the same, but she is one strong gal and she forever will be my hero. I have put a call out to all our chuckwagon family and friends to step forward and donate a few dollars to help Louise in the days to come.

Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart.  Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason.  Don’t give up.

Bonnyville: Day 4 (July 26)

Well, that’s a wrap for the Bonnyville 2015 Chuckwagon Races. And boy, did we dodge some weather bullets this week, so to speak. We had very little rain during a few of the nights, but nothing during the days. Oh, I tell you, this makes for so much less work when the weather co-operates. Today the races were in the early afternoon. It kinda messes up the program in the barn but we work around it. Races were at 2pm so the chores got done this morning, we had our breakfast and a couple of hours down time, and then it was back to preparing for the races. What a beautiful day it was.

DSC_9733

Heading to the track

DSC_9737

Rounding the first turn

DSC_9752

Coming down the home stretch

Rick was coming off the 2 barrel today. We hooked on the Right Lead Spinner, Left Lead Spirit, Left Wheel Keenan and the Right Wheel Zorba. The same hook as yesterday, just switched positions with the wheelers. Cole and Dustine rode the same horses as yesterday, Bingo and Trixter. Both those guys did superb jobs this show, riding flawlessly.

As Rick drove the team into the barrels, they were a handful.  He had a tough time trying to stop them. He was assessed a one-second ahead of the barrel penalty as they just went a wee bit ahead of the barrel before the horn sounded. But when they went, they went hard. Rick made a nice turn around the barrels, cleared the infield nicely and came alongside Kelly, but headed him the whole way. Luke Tournier was along the outside of him and Evan trailed in behind. None of the others could catch him. With the one-second penalty, we ended up with a 23rd on the day. Without that penalty, we would have posted 11th. But like I said yesterday, our ponies are running and feeling good.

Luke Tournier won the Bonnyville show. A big congratulations to him and his family!

We have 3 more shows to go, with only 14 more runs. My, the summer is going by fairly fast now.

DSC_9765

Team 23 Fans

DSC_9766

Our Saskatchwan Firends

Chantelle and her girls stopped by to visit after the races. We met this fine family in Saskatoon this year. What a treat to see them again. They came bearing a delicious, yummy Reeses’ homemade dessert for us. Oh, how lovely. Was great to see them.

IMG_3716

A Happy Little Guy

This little jigger was the lucky recipient of the mini chukwagon giveaway today. There were many who were wanting it and he was the lucky winner. Love his smile. Before the races, I went out and took a few photos around the barn. I personally love the black and whites. Just a little bit of a different perspective on things. Thought I would share some with you.

Time for Rest

Time for rest

20150726_140656

The Racing Jacket

The Tools

The tools of the trade

The Cadillac

The Cadillac

A Signiture Like no Other

A signature like no other

Team 23

Team 23

A Special Bond

A special bond

As the day comes to a close, there are many thing to be thankful for. My husband, my family, our lifestyle, our freedom. Who could ask for more.

The Sun Sets on the Bonnyville 2015 Chuckwagon Races

The sun sets on the Bonnyville 2015 Chuckwagon Races

A huge thank you to all who follow along on my journey.

20150726_141009

Catch you down the trail

The older I get the more I realize…that the things that cost nothing hold the most value.

Bonnyville: Day 3 (July 25)

Last night was a late one. Sat out by the warm camp fire chit chatting and then came in to write my blog. I don’t think I laid my weary little head down until after 1am. Coy, our grandson, stayed over in our camper, so we both slept in until 8 this morning. I needn’t worry, as our barn crew girls and Candice, along with Rick, got the chores done up.

When I did arise, I got out in time to help hook an outift for the morning practice run. This made making breakfast a bit later than usual. Once everyone was fed and watered, humans and horses, a few of us headed to town to seek out the local garage sales. We managed to find a few, and everyone came home with some kind of bargain or two.

This weekend, Coy has been having so much fun playing with the kids and adults. His mom Amy won a small swimming pool at the Ladies’ Day Spa Auction, which was just perfect for Coy to have a so-called bath in.

A splash in the pool

A splash in the pool

Coys loves superheros, but his favourite would be his mom!

Coys Superhero.....his mom

Coy’s superhero…his mom

Coy loves lego so much that our friend Nicole decided to bring some from home for him to play with. It didn’t take long for Coy to make fast friends with Nicole, as she is a teacher at the local school and she has the perfect way with the kids.

Some serious Lego Playing

Some serious Lego playing

Coy and his new friend Nicole

Coy and his new friend Nicole

This weekend, we have been fortunate to have Candice join us to help out with the chores and the horses. Candice is like an adopted daughter to us and we appreciate all the assistance that she gives to us when going down the road.

DSC_9597 DSC_9600

When it’s race time, Candice helps prepare the horses and then comes with me and brings one of the outriding horses to the infield to give to the outriders when our heat is on. This helps me out tremendously.

Bruce and Bonnie our camping companions

Bruce and Bonnie, our camping companions

This weekend we’ve really enjoyed our relative’s company here in Bonnyville. I think Bruce and Bonnie have been coming up here to the races every year since it started. They also live in Wetaskiwin, where we do. It’s just like camping when they join us. We share making all the meals and just enjoy sitting and chatting around the campfire at night.

Tonight Rick was excited to be turning the 1 barrel. His hook was Spinner on the Right Lead, Spirit on the Left Lead, Keenan on the Right Wheel and our big grey Zorba on the Left Wheel. Cole rode Bingo tonight and Dustin was on Trixter.

The team was ready to charge and so they did. Ricky turned just a little bit too soon and managed to crunch the top barrel. Oh, how I felt so bad for him. No driver ever wants this to happen. He felt pretty bad when he came back to the barn. He knows we are all part of a team and we rely on him to do his part. But at the end of the day, we are all human and things just happen. On a brighter note, if you took the penalty off, we would be sitting first in the show. What this tells us is that the horses are running very well and performing to their best ability.

DSC_9688 DSC_9696

Tonight’s recipient of our mini chuckwagon after the race was this good-looking little cowgirl with a very happy face. This sure makes us smile when we get to see who takes it home.

A proud recipient of the mini chuckwagon giveaway

A proud recipient of the mini chuckwagon giveaway

I heard we should be getting some rain tonight, so things were cleaned up and tucked away outside just in case.  Tomorrow’s another day; looking forward to another great run.

Don’t wait for the PERFECT MOMENT, take the moment and make it PERFECT.

Bonnyville: Day 2 (July 24)

Day 2 of Bonnyville and no shortage of things to do. A beautiful sunny and warm day it turned out to be. It was so dewy outside this morning when we got up to feed the ponies and enjoy our morning coffee with the Gorst camp next door. I would have sworn it rained in the night. But no, it just was very damp out from the rains that fell all around us last night. I was so thankful those threatening rain clouds did not burst open on us.  I was dreading all the extra work that comes with the rain. Pretty thankful it stayed dry.

It didn’t take long for the morning to go by and then Amy, my friend Lucy and I were off to the ladies’ day spa. Oh, what a treat it is for us ladies of the chuckwagon family to be pampered and spoiled.

Tina the masseuse girl

Tina the masseuse girl

Double Duty

Double duty

You see, some of the local ladies, headed by Joanne Michaud and her daughter Tina,  put together this fabulous day where about a dozen gals and one guy come with their products and services to wait on us with whatever we would like to do.

Look at my nails!

Look at my nails!

We were offered hair cuts and hairdos, massages and foot baths, pedicures and facials, and just a little bit more.

Something special

Something special

Charliegh picking door prizes

Charleigh picking door prizes

They had some games and prizes, and auction items with proceeds going to a local group raising funds for an autism awareness group in their community. We were happy to be able to donate to them.

stress relief

Stress relief

Pedicures for 2

Pedicures for two

And I must not forget the wonderful luncheon that was provided with champagne and orange juice too. A very HUGE thank you to everyone in the group who provided such a wonderful day to so many.

Fancy Cowboy Cupcakes

Fancy cowboy cupcakes

The Kitchen Crew

The kitchen crew

Bonding Time

Bonding time

A wonderful back massage always feels great

A wonderful back massage always feels great

Sheila holding  a wee one

Sheila holding a wee one

Joanne manning the prize table

Joanne manning the prize table

Fun times

Fun times

Sometimes on days where there is downtime, one just never knows what will go on. Well, someone from another camp needed a haircut so he came a-calling. Craig trusted Cayley, AKA Rapunzel, to snip a few strands off his crown. I think she is apprenticing for the barber shop. I offered my haircutting scissors but she continued to use the regular scissors out in the barn. How Red Neck is that? HAHAHA. We lead the most interesting life on the road.

Barber Shop Practice

Barber shop apprentice

So we had some surprise visitors this afternoon. Malcolm, AKA Mouse Mackenzie, his wife Ruby and son dropped in for a quick hello. What a great surprise. You see, Mouse was in a serious accident a year ago. He was doing what he loved, riding his horse, got bucked off and broke his neck along with suffering some other injuries. He was never paralyzed but the accident set him back quite a bit in all his faculties. To see him today was astonishing. He is progressing more than doctors ever thought he would. We were so proud to see him stand. It’s so amazing what total determination can do for a person, no matter what your hurdles may be. Mouse is our inspiration.

Mouse Mackenzie and Family with Rick and Sue

Mouse Mackenzie and family with Rick and Sue

Rick decided to hook the same outfit tonight and run the same outriding horses as last night. We had Speedy on the Right Lead, Air on the Left Lead, Trick on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Bingo holding leaders and Dustin rode Andy throwing the stove. Both did a superb job.

Rick pulled into barrel 4 tonight. It was  going to be a tough one, trying to pop out of there to steal the rail on Luke, who was on 3. The horn blew and the outfit started and the skinner skinned the team around the barrels to go two wide alongside Luke. Rick had Luke headed the whole way around and even passed him just a bit more on the home stretch. What an exciting run for us! We posted a speedy run to capture second on the day and move us to the top of the leaderboard in the average for the show. Feels real good!

DSC_9616

DSC_9622 DSC_9630 DSC_9637 DSC_9642
We are continuing to give out a miniature chuckwagon every night to one lucky fan. Last night a pretty young gal was the recipient of this little wagon. Tonight she and her friends came by to say thanks. We chatted a while and found out that she is originally from England. She thoroughly enjoys the wagon races and hopes to go for a ride someday.

DSC_9653

Signing off and headed to bed. Morning comes way too early sometimes.

Sometimes there is no next time, no time outs, no second chances. Sometimes it’s now or never.

Bonnyville: Night 1 (July 23)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends!

Yesterday was pretty much a slow day. Yes, the chores still had to be done, one outfit had to be hooked, water buckets had to be emptied and refilled, manure had to be hauled away and new bedding had to be forked in, but with that all aside, it was pretty much a relaxing kind of day. Pontoon Party at the Lake Our two hired gals, Kim (AKA Fiona) and Cayley (AKA Rapunzel), were excited and thrilled to go to the lake to go on some pontoon boats with many of the other WPCA members, families and hired hands. You see, the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Committee members  donate their time and their boats to give our group a day at the lake. So awesome to get away from the grounds, have some fun and take a much-needed bath in the lake. This committee here does it up so good for us. We do appreciate them.

Baby Rose

Baby Rose

I, on the other hand, got to do some cuddling. I was the lucky gal who got to look after baby Rose, while her mom and dad Adrian and Evan enjoyed time at the lake too. I think I was the spoiled one. What a beautiful baby she is. Will take that job on at a moment’s notice; just call me Nana Sue!

The evening came and we were treated to a lovely meal by some of our local friends, Nicole and Sandy and their families. Oh, how this is so enjoyable for me because I don’t have to cook and it’s a most delicious home-cooked meal. Rick and I also had to scoot over to the Sponsors Meet and Greet tent for a bit to enjoy a beverage or two there.

Makin Bacon

Makin’ bacon

Team Meetin after breakfast

Team meeting after breakfast

Another beautiful day today. With Bruce and Bonnie, Rick’s relatives, camping with us, we enjoy our meals together. Bruce loves to cook so he brings along the grill, deep fryer and barbecue. This morning we had a classic breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. My Ricky was excited as it wasn’t the turkey bacon I normally fry up.

Pete

Our friend Pete

Our friend Pete likes to makes his rounds in the morning at most of the camps. He is one friendly soul and makes everybody smile that he meets. Gotta love this guy.

Chuckwagon Kids

Chuckwagon kids

Scary Dinosaur Look

Scary dinosaur look

A dinosaur Face

A dinosaur face

Another Dinosaur Look

Another dinosaur look

Our grandson Coy loves to play with the other chuckwagon kids. And there are plenty. Our daughter Amy arrived with Coy last night to spend the weekend with us. This morning he could hardly wait to get up and go to play with the Gorst girls. Today they played dinosaur games and even made some pretty scary faces for the camera. Pretty good imaginations they have.

The Famous George Normand

The famous George Normand

George Normand

George Normand

When in Bonnyville, I like to go out with Bruce and Bonnie and whoever else wants to come along and venture around the community to see different things each year. Today we stopped by the local cemetery to search for a friend’s headstone. We found the ones we were looking for, and in doing that we came upon the late and  famous chuckwagon driver George Normand. At the young age of 38, George lost his life doing what he did best, driving a chuckwagon. He was on his way to being the king of chuckwagon racing. He was a great one and they named him The Bonnyville Bullet. Forever remembered.

Cole and Dustine the outriders

Cole and Dustin, the outriders

After 10 days off it was time to get back at ‘er. Tonight we continued to hire outriders Cole, holding leaders and  riding Bingo, and Dustin, throwing the stove on Andy. I tell you, these guys are doing a heck of a job this year. So much so that we don’t even have to worry about them. We are totally confident that they can do the job and do the job well.

Chad Fike helping out

Chad Fike helping out

As Cody, our son, is not here with us this weekend, we have fellow competitor Chad Fike up in the wagon box with Rick giving him a hand if need be. This is a great thing, as Chad is young and he can get pointers from Rick on some aspects of wagon racing. No different than when Rick was young and rode with the likes of his Uncle Dallas Dorchester and his dad Dave Lewis. No matter what you do in life, there is always something to learn from someone better than you. You just have to be open to it.

Boy did they start

Boy, did they start

Tonight’s hook was Air on Left Lead, Speedy on Right Lead, Trick on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. When that horn went, boy, did they start. Almost as good as Luke Tournier on barrel 4. Luke fired out of there to grab the rail. Rick was not too far behind, with Kelly Sutherland on the inside of Rick and Evan in behind. The outfit ran hard, Rick said.  Luke ended up with a day money run and we managed a fifth on the day. Fairly excited with that.

A Fine Speedy Finish

A fine speedy finish

Looking forward to another day up north, hoping the weather stays sunny and warm.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.