Bonnyville, Alberta Day #2


Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

It was a very beautiful morning weather wise.  Rick got to sleep in til 7 am as Bruce agreed to feed morning oats for him.  We are still trying to catch up on some much-needed rest from the busyness of Calgary.

All the Chuckwagon Crews have track time to practice from 7 am to 10 am every morning.  It’s just like going to the evening performance, as there are many wagons going on and off the track.  Great watching.  This morning Rick and Cody both had a couple of horses each to get blown out.  So together they hooked a team of four and Cody drove.  Relative Debbie Bailer is here for the show, and of all the years of being around the wagons, she had never gone for a ride.  Well today, it was her day.  She was thrilled to climb on up and hang on tight, and away they went.  She loved it.  A check mark off her bucket list.


A Home Made Tent

When camping as a kid, there are many things to do. Grandson Coy has quite the imagination.  He gathered up all the chairs, some firewood and a tarp and made his own tent with a table and TV inside.  I even got to go in and enjoy a little visit.

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Today, it was a special day for all the ladies of the Chuckwagon world.  The Bonnyville Chuckwagon Committee and local businesses put together another Ladies Day Spa for all of us.  We were treated to massages, manicures, pedicures hair cuts, and lots of delicious food and beverages.  A huge thank you to all those that contributed.

Tonight Cody came off the 2 barrel and ran 3rd in his heat.  He managed a 1:16.22 for 17th on the day.  He sure looks good sittin up in the box.


Kickin Up Some Dirt

Well, it looked like a speedy run, but when that dust settled, the judges penalized Rick with a 3 second penalty coming out of the barrels.  We are not in agreement with that but it is what it is.  We placed 34th for the day.  Rick drove well and the horses ran amazing.  Spirit, Speedy, Skippy and Vegas were the hook, and Andy and Ice were rode by David and Cole.


A Happy Little Man

On a happy note, this little guy was very excited to receive our mini chuckwagon giveaway.  Isn’t he just so cute?

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations



Bonnyville, Alberta Day #1

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

It has only been four days since the ending of the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  Rick and I have had a few extra hours of down time here in Bonnyville to rest and relax before the next race meet begins.  We sat and chatted about our Calgary Stampede journey.  It can definitely be described as a roller coaster ride and one that will be remembered for many years to come.  We had the excitement of being one of the chosen 36 drivers to compete this year.  We arrived with the attitude of “Going For Gold!”.  Our first race was 5th on the day, very respectable.  We had experienced a horrific night #3,  of the chuckwagon rolling over, yet Rick and the horses were unharmed.  We felt so  many emotions that evening. We picked ourselves up, dusted us off and persevered on.  We were elated to win a day money and have a few more great runs.  Two disappointing nights of hitting barrels.  Our Wheeler Law, received top Equine Award, which made us very proud. We were one of the top money earners.  And yes, now that the dust has all settled, and we have traveled north to the town of Bonnyville,  together, we look back and say “Yes, we sure had an amazing Calgary Stampede, and we are forever grateful.”


Yesterday was a fairly relaxed day.  Some great folks of the town of Bonnyville, treated our  chuckwagon  families to some fun on the lake.  One of the Chuckwagon sponsors, swung by the grounds in their fancy limousines, to pick up all the patrons.  Off they went, getting loaded up in some pontoon boats, to a little island to have some fun in the sun.  Rick and I stayed back with the ponies, and let our working crew have some fun.  By the looks of their smiles, they enjoyed themselves to the fullest.  A huge thank you to all that gave of their time and boats for this afternoon adventure.  Its a real treat.

Later in the evening, the drivers, their families and sponsors were welcomed to the 2016 Bonnyville Race meet.  We all gathered into their new Beer Garden Facility.  What a great building they have there.  It has yet to be completed, but when it does, it will be put to great use for many venues I’m sure.

Our chore crew grew this morning.  Our Bonnyville friends showed up to give us a hand.  That meant that I didn’t have to head to the barn, I stayed in the kitchen to prepare our breakfast meal.



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I don’t leave camp too often, as there is plenty to keep up with,  first and foremost the caring of the horses, meals, laundry, sponsor events, book work and more. But today, relatives Bruce, Bonnie and I, were invited to go out to our Bonnyville friends to enjoy a morning of moving bulls from one pasture to another.  We were so glad we went.  Rick decided to stay back as Cody was hooking an outfit.  When he saw our photos, he wished he had come.  At any rate, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The weather was perfect.  The horses were quiet.  The bulls trailed along like troopers, as if they knew where to go.  And the scenery was amazing.  There were saskatoons and raspberries along the route.  The birds in the air and the quietness of the country.  You don’t get it much better than that.

It was  a beautiful evening for wagon racing despite the bit of wind and rain that arrived early afternoon.  All chucwkagon outfits were rested and ready to get back at it.  Cody was slated to race in the third heat on barrel 1.  He had a terrific start.  Him and Cody Ridsdale battled to the finish line with Ridsdale edging him out.  Cody manage a time of 1:16.37 good enough for 9th on the day.  He was happy with that as he beat his dads time.


Barrel Practice

Rick also came off the barrel #1 position, but in the fifth heat.  We thought the run was faster than posted, but then Rick said the outfit stalled coming around the top, which in turn causes to take up a bit more time. We did win our heat.  Our time was a 1:16.75, but was totally clean all around so we will settle with that.  The hook tonight was Spirit (LL), Speedy (RL) Cowboy (LW) Skippy (RW) with Stadium and Andy as our outriding horses being rode by David and Cole.  They are both great outriders doing a great job.


Stadium and Andy

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  Respect is earned.  Honesty is appreciated.  Trust is gained.  Loyalty is returned.


Barrel Practice

Bonnyville Bound

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Monday morning on the Stampede grounds was hopping.  The show was over and everyone was packing up and heading out.  We are always so excited to arrive in Calgary, but yet so glad to be leaving as the 10 day show wears you down.


Blue Sky’s Above

Early morning blue sky’s were above us, as the loading began.  The sun shone bright and things were good.  The crew was busy as bee’s down at the barn loading all our belongings into the semi.  I stayed up at the trailer, making a bite to eat for breakfast and prepared the Travelin Trailer for the journey north.  Things got a little tense when the Freightliner keys went missing.  Rick had them the night before as he moved the big rig onto the grounds.  What he forgot, was he safely put them on the pick-up key chain for safe keeping.  This ended up using precious travel time in a search party going through dirty laundry, coat pockets, and drawers.  When Rick finally retraced his steps from the night before, the light-bulb finally went on as to where they were.  Thank goodness, as there were thoughts of having to call to have a new ignition switch put in.

The last thing to load are the horses. No problem there as they are troopers when it comes to this.  The numbers were counted, and we were up two and down one.  Rick and I purchased 2 new outriding horses from Rae Croteau Jr. at his dispersal sale, and Zorba was sold to another driver.  It’s always hard to say goodbye to ones we have had for a long time, but decisions are made based on how they are performing on the wagon.  Sometimes they are getting up in age, and just don’t race like they used to.  It was time to find him another home.


The Big Grey Wheeler

Our herd is forever changing.  There are always new ones coming in, (usually in the fall) and some are sold or granted over to folks who would love to have a horse to just care for.


Fast Friendly

One particular horse we have had for some time now, was sold at the beginning of Calgary.  He just wasn’t cutting it in our chuckwagon world.  He went to a native friend of ours and quickly found his niche in the Pony Relay Race.  He was very fast they said and very happy with his performance.

We departed the Big City Lights of Calgary around 1 pm, headed north to the small town of Bonnyville, in northern Alberta,  a 7 hour drive, with a couople of rest stops included.  To date, from the start of our travel season, we have driven 3296 kilometers.   By the seasons end, we will have covered 5521 km driven mostly all over Alberta, and into Saskatchewan and British Columbia.


A Work of Art

Our Grandson Coy, is forever drawing this or that. Some day I’m sure he will have some wonderful masterpieces.  Here is a signed piece that he did for us. Pretty good I must say!

The Bonnyville Show begins on Thursday.  Looking forward to some fast and speedy runs.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23.

P.S.  Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.



Calgary Stampede, Alberta Canada Day #10

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

I don’t remember ever being here at the Calgary Stampede in the many years past, that it was ever frequented with so much rain, day in and day out.  We enjoyed a very sunny and warm morning doing our chores.  It felt so good and it amazes me, how the sunshine can really change the mood in people for the better.

Immediately after chores, all members from the Chuckwagon families high tailed it over to the North side of the barns.  Rae Croteau Jr. had decided to call it quits.  He was selling out all his tack, horses and wagon. This is never an easy thing to do, as one gets quite attached to their horses and the way of life on the road.

Rick and I were able to catch up on a few words with Rae Croteau he attended the sale.  We purchased our first 4 horses from him when we first started out, and they were good ones at that.


A Family of Fans

Shortly after the end of the sale, this nice family came by to say hello and to meet Rick.  There is always time to say hello and sign a poster or two.


A Girl Photo



Our next door barn helper, Brace, anxiously waits for Troy’s signal to begin harnessing.

There was another late afternoon down pour, to  make the infield and track a very sloppy situation.  But don’t be fooled,  it may be sloppy on top, but it has a great base just below  that gives the horses great solid footing.

Rick hooked Spirit on the Left Lead, Spin on the Right Lead, Skippy on the Left Wheel and Vegas on the Right Wheel.  Cole and David rode Ed and Stash, two of Cody’s horses.  Rick made a nice turn on the 4 barrel and headed to the track, traveling two wide the whole way around.   He posted a 1:17.67, the 4th fastest time of the day.  A very good run to finish up the Stampede with.


Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Champ

A shout out goes to Kirk and Kathy Sutherland for his achievement of winning the 2016 Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby.  It may have taken him 45 years to obtain this win, but it just goes to show,  persistence pays off.

When it rains, It pours.  And that just means more work in the cleaning up depart.

Because we were in the first heat, Rick would get back , unharness, clean the tack then head to  the CBC tent to watch the races on TV.  There was never shortage of entertainment around there.


This little guy was happy to receive a signed Cowboy Hat from us after one of Rick’s race.


A View From The Other Side of the Fen

Well, the 10 days of Stampede have come and gone.  It feels in some ways that we just arrived.  In other realms, we need to get going, and move onto the next stop in northern Alberta, Bonnyville.  Rick and I are both looking forward to catching up on some much-needed rest in the next few days.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.





Calgary Stampede, Alberta Canada Day #9

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends

Before heading out to the barn, I put one breakfast pan into the oven, set my timer for an hour to come back and put the next one in, timing it just right for when morning chores were complete.  Oh it smelled so good when I came to pick it up.  Nobody complained, just good comments.  Preparation is everything when making meals to feed a crew.

During the day, we had some down time.  Kaylee and Ryker were hanging out and visiting in the barns. Being a grandparent is like no other feeling.  You just gotta love those little jiggers.  We are very blessed to have our kids to come join us here at the Calgary Stampede.


Having Some Fun

Amy, Coy and I headed over to the Grounds to enjoy some time away from the barns.  Coy really liked hanging out in the kids area.  We also headed to the GMC tent where Coy was having an interview with WPCA Broadcast announcer Billy Melville.  Coy got to ask Chuckwagon Driver Chanse Vigen a question, and then the footage played during the races at night on the big jumbo tron.

What a great job Coy did.


Rain, Rain and More Rain

During our chore time in the afternoon, the clouds opened up again and dumped an enormous amount of moisture in a short time. It poured!  Walking the horses  outside for their afternoon excercise came to a hault for a few minutes.  Rick rides Zoomer and leads two horses at a time,  and he tells me he is made of sugar, and he doesn’t want to melt!  And I believe him.

Only 2 more sleeps and we will be heading on north to the next show in Bonnyville.  So I took some time and packed a few things from the tack room and hauled it up to the trailer.  The dreaded packing day is something that no one looks forward to.  It seems it takes but on hour to unload all our belongings, and three hours to pack it all up and leave.  Not sure how that works.


Rick Fraser & Rick Fraser

Before the races, we had a visitor come by to meet us.  And yes, his name is Rick Fraser.  We heard about this fella a few times as he is a politician here in Calgary.  When we were in the city we would see his campaign signs set up all around.  And somehow, when we were in Strathmore one year, one of his signs ended up on our camping spot.  We’re not quite sure who planted it there, but we have a real good idea.  At any rate, it was good to meet Rick and have a photo  taken together.

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As the sun has not come out to shine on us, the track conditions stayed so soupy and muddy for tonight’s race. So much more work for us all.

Rick was off the barrel 3 tonight, hooking Nickel (LL), Speedy (RL), Deveraux (LW) and Law (RW) .  David and Cole rode Andy, and we borrowed a horse from fellow driver Dustin Gorst.  All was set and good, the horn sounded and all four wagons were off.  Chanse Vigen had an amazing turn off the 2 barrel and he was gone. Rick and his horses had some trouble maneuvering around the top of 3 and crunched it.   Very disappointing, especially when that happens 2 days in a row.  We have had such a roller coaster ride this Calgary Stampede.  But you know, we all have a journey.  And through our journey we have to take from every moment, a step back and say to ourselves,  “What did we learn from it?”  and take away the good and leave the not so good behind.  I believe in my heart, all things happen for a reason.  And good always comes forth through everything, we just have to seek it and embrace it.

There are four excited drivers after tonight’s races.  Kirk Sutherland and his son Mitch. Jason Glass and Vern Nolin.  These guys will be vying for the $100,000.00 dash for cash in Sunday nights finals.  Good Luck to all the Teams.

We have a number of vets for our Equine Athletes that are on site 24/7 in case one needs attention.  These folks do a fantastic job, coming along side and caring for our horses.  Before the races, they go around to every horse that is competing that evening and do quick assessment to make sure they are all fit to go.  That is a total of 216 head of horses each night that are looked at.  That is  impressive work by all.

Rick has no shortage of teasing when they come around.  Vet Erin and Rick were comparing their injuries, both horse related.  Not sure which one was hurt more, I know  they will both heal and be good again in no time.


A Childs Excitement

My evening ended with a bang.  Grandson Coy, was soooooo excited for me to come with him to the fence and enjoy  the fireworks.  We were litterly almost right beneath them.  They were so loud, but yet so very impressive, colorful and astounding.


So Much Noise

Together we laughed, screamed and yelled at the excitement of it all.  I will treasure this experience forever.  It was one of my favorites.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and Team 23

P.S.  Time spent playing with children is never wasted.