Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 4 (August 23)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, it is Sunday already and Day 4 of the Bashaw WPCA Runoff is a wrap and in the history books. The racing season for the WPCA is complete.

Being an early race day, there was not a lot of time in the morning to do too much. All the camps in our circle took the pleasure of sleeping in. Even me. I’m not sure what time it was but I heard the door rattle while still in bed. Cody had come to get some coffee. Only thing was, it wasn’t made yet! I got myself up, prepared the coffee and started the breakfast for the crew. Once we finished that little job, it was time to close up the trailer for the trip home after the races.

Fans of Team 23

Fans of Team 23

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the final afternoon of racing. It was warm, sunny and beautiful out. The crowd was awesome, as they filled the bleachers and more.

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Turning the top

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Headin’ to the bottom

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Off to the track

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Cody and Vern

The Post Parade

The post parade

A Wave to the Fans

A wave to the fans

Our son Cody was off the 1 barrel today with the horses Spirit, Ranger, Sneakers and Law. Another great run around the barrels and track.  Cody maintained the highest number of points over the four race days, giving him a spot on the 2016 WPCA chuckwagon circuit. We are so proud of this young man of ours. I think for me, it hasn’t sunk in yet, what our 2016 year ahead holds for us. It will be very busy but a good busy.





Again today they had the crazy sheep scramble for the kids. They have to catch up to the sheep and grab a bow off their backs and take it to the lady for a win. This particular little guy made me smile. He looked like he was having so much fun out there and was oblivious to anything else around him.




I’m not sure if he managed to get a bow but he sure had fun trying to get it.


I think I won!


I won the 50 50! says Neil


Congrats is in order

At the races, there is always a 50/50 draw. Many folks always buy to help out the agriculture society for whatever they need the funds for. My friend Gin thought for sure she was going to be the winner but not so. Retired chuckwagon driver Neil Walgenbach was the lucky winner today, taking home the cold hard cash. Good for him!


Down at her level


Taking the time


A gentle touch

After the races, there is always time to visit with friends and fans who come by. Today Cody had a young gal come by with her family. From afar she loved the horses but up close she was scared to death of them because to her they were so big. Cody got down at her level, bringing one of our horses forward for her to pet. It took some time for the young gal to trust that large animal. For some, horses can be very intimidating. Cody did an amazing job by slowly gaining the young girl’s trust to pet the horse. These moment are so very precious.

A Baby Announcement

A baby announcement

To close off on my blog today, I have some very exciting news. Our daughter Kaylee and her husband Chris have announced that we are going to be grandparents again. Kaylee is having a baby, their first, due next spring, on March 2. We are thrilled to say the least. Only six months to go! I can hardly wait!!!

So my friends, my 2015 chuckwagon racing blog has come to an end.  My blog itself will continue in some casual form. I will write from time to time of things that are going on in our day-to-day lives. I appreciate you all for checking in and keeping tabs on my summer journey. Thank you to those of you who have written comments; I have read them all and enjoyed hearing from you even if I have not responded. Cheers to you all!

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Life is short, LIVE IT. Love is rare, GRAB IT. Anger is bad, DUMP IT. Fear is awful, FACE IT. Memories are sweet, CHERISH IT.

Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 3 (August 22)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Day 3 was a very sunshiny day but cool. Come the evening for the races, it was warmer, sunny and calm. Come the after-race celebration, it cooled right off so our bonfire was definitely needed.


Cody’s buds Jack and Kieran chillin’


Judy and Norm Cuthbertson, 2003 Dodge Tour champion


Our friend Rod Streeper

The day was pretty laid back. Rick zipped off to Edmonton to visit our friend Paul who is in the hospital for a few days. We wish him speedy good health. Norm and Judy and Rod and Virginia joined us here in Bashaw. It’s great to just sit and catch up on life with friends.


Amy and Allie


Sharon and Jesse


Me and my friend Gin

Lots of laughs, tales and beverages were the name of the game for the afternoon. Then most of the crew took naps so they’d be ready for the big night of racing.


Preparing the much drier infield


And they’re off!


The top barrel turn

The gentle giant and his girl

The gentle giant and his girl

The infield dried up tremendously with all the sunshine of the day. No more soupy mess to race in. Cody and all the other drivers were in total need of the pressure washer as a pre-soak before a shower on Day 2.

For his hook on Day 3, Cody had Spirit, Ranger, Sneakers and Law. He had a tremendous run to capture top time of the day to put him first overall of the pack. Momma and Pappa are happy and proud parents. He’s driving very well.


After-race bath

With driving a chuckwagon comes plenty of hard work. Cody has a few of his good buds come to cheer him on as well as give him a helping hand in the barn with the horses. Rick and I are sitting back, letting him do it all. Rick is there for support and to answer any questions but Cody’s the boss of the barn. My role in the barn is nil but my job as the chief cook has remained. It’s all good, though. We enjoy having all the kids around.


Let the sheep scramble begin!


Look out, here I go!


Sheep on the loose!

Our after-race entertainment was great as usual. Those little kids and the sheep are priceless. One of the sheep escaped and thought he was a race horse running down the track. It didn’t take him long to run on back to the others.





The Ewart and the Bushnell families came out to cheer the guys on. We are always happy to have friends come out to watch.

Cody Talance and Seairra

Cody, Talance and Seairra

My little friend Talance

My little friend Talance

We were surprised to have our new friends from Saskatchewan show up. They were donning their Team 23 t-shirts proudly. We had to take some more photos of those cute smiling faces.

Today is day 4 and the races will be held at 2pm. The sun is shining and the air is cool. I will update you all after the races wrap up.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 2 (August 21)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Through the night, the wind blew and the rains came down. We woke up this morning and it was still raining. Maybe not as hard but it was still raining. It wasn’t looking very promising for an evening race day. But the weather man said it was going to quit later in the day, which it did, but it was still overcast and cold throughout the rest of the day.

Very Muddy Infield

Very muddy infield

The track had been eyed up as very muddy but still race worthy. The races were to carry on.

A Wee Fireman for the Day

A wee fireman for the day

Waiting for the races to begin, I eyed this little guy just below where we were sitting. He got to spend some time with a local firefighter today. His orange lips and tongue gave away the orange pop that he was drinking.


Getting ready to hold leaders

Rick did such a great job last night that Cody would have him hold the leaders again tonight. Not sure what he’s getting paid but it sure must be good.



rolling along

Rolling along


Clean…but not for long!

Coming into the practice turn, we could all see the design on the wagon and the sponsor’s name on the tarp. It wouldn’t be that way for long, with the soupy mess in the infield and on the track. Things were looking good, though, as the base was great for the footing of the horses.

And He's Off!

And he’s off!

Coming around the Top

Coming around the top

Then the Bottom!

Then the bottom!

Once the horn sounded and the horses heard Rick’s distinctive whistle, the equine crew on the wagon knew it was time to start. Cody the skinner made a perfect turn on the top and bottom barrel. Tonight he was driving Spirit, Ranger, Vegas and Zorba.

First turn pace

First turn pace

Backstretch Booging

Backstretch boogying

Muddy race for the finish line

Muddy race for the finish line

I couldn’t be much prouder as a mom how Cody’s race panned out. When the race times were posted, he was first on the day and first in the average. Excellent!

Sitting Tall in the Box

Sitting tall in the box

I’m not sure who’s doing the laundry but I do know that the pressure washer will come in very handy tonight.

A birds eye view

A bird’s eye view

Once Cody unhooked the ponies and put them into their pens to cool down, it was up to the top of the liner to watch the rest of the heats’ performances.

Ed Wittchen our WPCA President and photographer

Ed capturing some magic moments

Throughout the season, Ed, our WPCA president, has been taking great shots of all the action of the races and events within our circuit. He’s one busy man, posting many of the photos on Facebook and writing up the association’s newsletter once a month. He does a great job getting this all written up for the enjoyment of our chuckwagon fans.

Serene Sunset

Serene sunset

Back at camp, with the fire a-blazing and cup of hot coffee and Baileys in our hands, we all enjoyed the awesome sunset in the western Alberta sky.

Never give up. Keep your thoughts and your mind always on the goal.

Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 1 (August 20)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Rick, Cody, Keerin (Cody’s friend and helper for the show) and I arrived in Bashaw just past lunch time on Wednesday. There was really no hurry to get here. I totally enjoyed the hour drive south by myself, but this time I was pulling our house on wheels rather than the Freightliner with a load of horses. It was nice to see the countryside of crops that the farmers work so hard to put in.

Setting up camp for me was good, although I moved  once as the first spot didn’t seem quite right. The second time was by some trees for shade from the sun. Rick just shook his head at me. No worries, as I can handle it all by myself. You learn to hook up and unhook the trailer when you’ve been on the trail as long as I have.


A threatening night

Come the evening, we lit the campfire to enjoy a quiet evening with the neighbours. We sat out an hour or so and visited, and then the sky that came rolling in brought some wind and a bit of rain. That did it for us. It was time for bed. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the magnificent-looking sky in the horizon.

Boys will be boys

Boys will be boys

Today the sun shone and it was nice and warm. There’s a little park here on the Agriculture grounds and the not-so-small boys couldn’t resist playing on it. I don’t think they knew I was watching. It was great entertainment. Oh, to be a kid again.


Cowgirls at heart


Where’s my mom?

Before the races began this evening, I took my camera out and captured a few photos of some of the young spectators in attendance. These kids are just way too cute for words.

O Canada

O Canada

A local gal led the decent-sized crowd in our national anthem. Billy Melville, our WPCA historian and commentator, along with his beautiful wife Joanne were in attendance to call the races for the weekend.


Watch out, lead man!

Cody was off the 2 barrel tonight. He hooked Spirit, Ranger, Sneakers and Law. Rick was the lead man, just like the days gone by but he just didn’t have a horse to jump on. He was one of the best back in the day.


Turning the top

Cody and Rick brought eight horses here for him to drive. A much smaller equine lineup than what we are used to.


Leaving the dust behind

He did a great job driving around the barrels and hitting the track. He was two wide alongside Todd Baptiste all the way around.


On the home stretch

The race was a good crowd pleaser, as Cody was coming hard down the homestretch trying to catch the leader.


The finish line

He was only back a horse length at the wire. Cody did a good job capturing second on the day, with Todd being first. I’m one proud momma.


Thank to the spectators

There’s always time for a wave and  acknowledgment to the crowd. And a huge thank you goes out to his sponsor, Ken Drysdale with Midwest Pipelines Inc.


Baa baa colourful sheep


On your mark! Get set!




Gotta get the bow!

For some added entertainment for the kids and laughs for the crowd, they had a sheep scramble. The kids had to collect three of the colourful bows off the backs of the sheep. Coy was out trying his best to get one but he was just not quick enough. He will have to try again tomorrow.

Well, the forecast is for heavy rains in the night. I can hear it falling already. Hopefully it won’t dampen it too much or we may have to cancel the day tomorrow and run a day on Monday. Time will tell.

The past should be left in the past or it can steal your future. Live life for what tomorrow can bring and not what yesterday has taken away. Every day is a gift.

Battle of the Rockies: Day 5 (August 16)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, I never forgot you, I just plain didn’t do my blog yesterday. Races were early in the day at 2pm. Finishing up by 5-ish. We headed to the Broken Spoke Saloon for a delicious supper put on by the Rocky Committee, got back to the trailer about 7:30pm. Then my bed was calling me. Thought I would lie down for a few minutes. Turned out to be until the next morning! So sorry!!!


A very muddy chapeau

Doing a delivery

Doing a delivery

The Crew and all the Rocky fans woke up to a very cold morning. So much so you could see our breath, had our warm coats on and lit the campfire to keep warm.


Get ready, get set…



Despite the rain and mud on Saturday and the cold weather on Sunday morning, the afternoon races turned out to be pretty good. The sun came out to shine on all the competitors.




Rick’s last hook of the year was Spirit, Ranger, Speedy and Vegas, with outriders Cole and Rory finishing up with Mover and Mandalay. The start and charge was great. The top barrel turn was as close as you would want it without knocking it over. Ricky spun it. It weebled and wobbled but it didn’t fall down. Thank the Lord!!!


DSC_1055  DSC_1059

The finish was a crowd-pleaser as the 2015 world champion Kurt Bensmiller came charging hard at the finish. Only 6 one-hundredths behind Rick. We were really hoping to claim a day money but again came up a bit short as Doug Irvine, the new Rocky champion, snuck in ahead of us. Congratulations to Doug, Jimmy Lou and crew on a show well done.


Giving away the last mini chuckwagon of the season to an excited little fan


A happy dance parade


Final cheers on the way out


Taking a look at the top barrel tracks


After the dust settled, we took a second on the day. We were happy. The world standings put us in fourth overall for this season. Come next spring in Grande Prairie, we will be back in heat 9 with Kurt, Kirk and Obrey.

Once the races were completed, the kids performed for the crowd in the wild pony race. This little gal, at the ripe age of six, was the little roundup gal on her pretty pony. She sure was a cutie out there, doing her job.

The little round up gal

The little roundup gal

Chasing the minis

Chasing the minis

Before heading out to go home, we surprised Anna, our friend Paul’s granddaughter, with her very own horse. Was she surprised.

Anna and her new horse Bingo

Anna and her new horse Bingo

HUGS! To a new best friend

HUGS! To a new best friend

You see, Bingo was a wagon horse and an outriding horse. He has done us very well over the years. And there always comes a time when these special horses have to be retired. We gifted Bingo out to Anna and we know he will have a loving home for years to come. This is not the first horse that we have found a home for. There are many others out there enjoying a restful life out in the pasture. They deserve it.

Team 23 and all the ponies arrived home safe and sound early afternoon today. It was a good feeling to be here. I love to walk around in the yard and see how things have grown. Despite the dry weather, I have apples on my tree.

Glad to be home

Glad to be home

We will only be home for a few days, then we are heading down south just a short bit away to the WPCA Qualification Run Off in Bashaw. Our son Cody will be competing along with 12 other drivers. He is hoping to be one of the top six to join up on the tour in 2016.

I will keep you informed as to the outcome of the races down there.

Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t turn out, just take another shot.