One Very Special Day at The Calgary Stampede

Howdy All!

As each and every one of us goes about our days,  we make plans, sometimes days, weeks, months and even years ahead filling up our calendar.  Yet even the most finalized plans may not turn out how we expected.  And you know?  That is just OK.  Because through those changes, there is always good or even better that comes out of it all.


Back home in May, before we left for the 2018 World Professional Chuckwagon Tour, Rick and I made the decision it was time to hang up the lines.  Our career as a Chuckwagon Driver and his wife, were coming to and end.  We made the call to our announcer Les McIntyre, and passed on the news.  The horse auction sale was set for July 14th, the last Saturday of the Calgary Stampede.


Me and My Dad

When we completed our show up in Grande Prairie on May 3rd, where I was born and raised, I couldn’t have asked for a better closing.  My father was able to come for a visit after the final night of racing.  He was excited to be able to see Rick and our son Cody race.  He loved seeing the grand-kids and Great grandson Ryker.  Thanks to the world of technology, we also face-timed our daughter Amy and grandson Coy so Grandpa could see them as well.


Family Time

When the night came to a close, and we said our goodbyes, I said to my kids, that I knew in my heart, that would be the last we would see dad/grandpa.  I just knew.


Hi Above the Skies

Calgary Stampede arrived, and I was informed that my father was on his last days.  Word came from a friend of my fathers, that Dad had asked for me, as he knew he had not long to live.  A gracious friend, flew us and my daughters and grandson to say our last goodbyes.


Although he was not coherent, in my heart I knew he heard my whispers of “Thank you daddy.” and “I love you!”. “Till we meet again.”  A very comforting and precious moment.

While in the air, returning to Calgary, my dad went on to that heavenly place they call home.


Loving What He Does

The Stampede continued, and life went on.  With my husband, kids, grand-kids, friends and family, we were just where we needed to be, continuing our life as competitors at the Calgary Stampede.

My fathers funeral was set for July 14th, the last Saturday of the Calgary Stampede. The day of our Retirement Auction Sale. Sometimes in life we are stretched to our fullest, and I believe with my full being, that a person has to do what their heart tells them and not what others input would be.

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I gathered my husband Rick and my children together, and it was decided that we as a family needed to be together for our sale, and also to have our time of celebration of my dad’s life with one another as well.

The horse sale went according to plan.  The emotions were high, the buyers were there.  All in all the whole thing went well.  At one point I looked up, and a beautiful bird was hovering over.  A sign that my dad was free.

My dad was a man of many trades.  Everything he did, he did with his hands.  He taught his children to work.  An electrician by trade, yet a carpenter,  construction worker, bookkeeper, farmer, provider, you name it, he did it.  It was only fitting that with the traits that my dad taught us, my siblings created a work of art, the casket to which my dad would be laid.

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The afternoon of July 14th, we gathered together, my children, grand kids, and a few close friends.  The Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Committee went above and beyond to help my kids set up a place for us to celebrate the life of my dad, and the grandpa they knew.  We hugged, we laughed and cried a tear or two.  We finished our gathering with a toast of rum and coke in honour of the man I called dad.  He loved to have a rum, with anyone who passed through.  I say thank you to all that made this day come true, and it is just where we were supposed to be.


Nickel a Horse of Power

The day did not end there.  The races continued, and we were in the final 8.  Off the four barrel was tough and we just didn’t have enough to make it to the next days Championship Dash.  It was still a very good run at that.

We had many visitors come by.  My friend Marci and her friend Simone, dropped in to say hello.  We began to chat, and I was asked are we keeping any of the horses.  I mentioned we were still undecided as to what we were going to do with our highly awarded right leader Nickel.  I introduced them to Nickel and what I heard next was just the decision we needed to hear.  I was told that Nickel needed to go home.  That Rick had promised him over the years that when we were done, he was going to go home and just be.  Nickel said he was tired and had a bit of arthritis set in.  You see, this lady has a gift to communicate with animals.  And this is what she had said.  This couldn’t have been a better ending to a day filled with so many different emotions.


Thank You

As we have only been home a few days, my time has been spent trying to catch up on some much-needed sleep, as I have come home, emotionally, physically and mentally drained.  I know I just need to recharge and look after me.

I thank each and every one of you that has sent me a message of condolence and otherwise.  I have read them all.  I have started to send my reply’s, as there are so many it will take me awhile. Thank you for following along.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S.  One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go.  Whether its guilt, anger, love, loss or betrayal.  Change is never easy.  We fight to hold and we fight to let go.











Calgary Stampede Day #10

Howdy All

So much has happened this past two days, and I have long way to soak it all in.

The races are complete and we congratulate Kurt and Ashley Bensmiller and another win.


1st Harrow Interview

I was given the opportunity to meet up with Kelly Vanderbeek in the CBC booth to be interviewed on our last harah.  The interview went well, and it was good to have a moment to tell a piece of our story.


Ron Maclean and I

While there, I was able to tick off my bucket list of meeting Mr. Ron Maclean, the man of Coaches Corner in Hockey Night in Canada.  A kind soul he is.


In Awe

The fireworks are always a sight to see and the kids sat still long enough to watch them.


A Piece of Memory

In our barn over the years, we have been measuring the kids each and every year to keep track of their height.  To add to this tonight, we had everyone sign a message of what they wanted to say.  We get to take that keepsake board with us, and we will replace it with a new one.


Happy Little Kids

My nephew and family came for the last day of racing to see us off.  How special is that.  We were very happy to see them and this means the world to us.



Friends are what matters.  Keith has been along on our journey for many years.  He may not have been at all the race meets, but he said he’d never miss this one.  And he didn’t.


Barn Crew

We could’t have done all that we accomplished this week without our family and barn crew.  We had tears, we had laughter, we had grumpiness and pain.  But most of all we bonded and got so much closer.  We thank them all and would not change a thing to make it better.  It was beautiful.



I am so proud of the family we created.  We may not be perfect, but hey what family is?

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S. This journey is yours, enjoy each and every step.




Calgary Stampede Day #9

Howdy All!

Just so you know, this one is going to be short and sweet.  I’m so tired and need to get some sleep.

What a Day!!!  With all things being considered, this day was a very good day.  Everything went perfectly.  Well almost perfectly.



It was our sale day of our horses.  It went well and we were happy and sad all at the same time.


We also sold a wheel jack with all the proceeds going toward the Wetaskiwin Food bank.  Rick did a pretty good job!


After lunch my kids had a room on the grounds secured by the Chuckwagon Committee to hold our own little service to honor  my dad.  This was so beautiful.


Our race off the 4 barreol didn’t quite get us into the final dash for cash.  Darn it.  But yet we still had a  really awesome day.  I want to fill you in tomorrow as I really need some shut eye.

From the Travel in Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S.  Always believe that something WONDERFUL is about to happen.



Calgary Stampede Day #8

Howdy All!

I was pretty excited to have Rick come down to the barns this morning.  You see, Rick and I had always talked about how neat and special it would be to have many rose bouquets outside our barn, to look and feel a little like the Kentucky Derby.  It was always just a dream.  Well I decided that it would be a dream no more.  I got our daughter Amy to pick up 20 dozen roses from Costco and arrange them accordingly.


Our Kentucky Derby

Amy and her husband Chris, along with friend Seairra, stayed up after midnight making the display beautiful.  I wanted it, so when Rick came down in the morning it would be a great surprise.  Well it was a surprise indeed he said.

I too thought they looked beautiful.  And also, I am a little bit partial to them as the color red is my favortie.


A Special Little Visitor

After chores, I hurried on over to an appointment I had in Calgary with a friend.  It was a much needed time.  While I was away,  Amy sent me this photo of a little butterfly that stopped by our barn  I like to think that it was my dad dropping in to say hi.


A little lovin goes a long way.  Our worker Kim from New Zealand gave Louie a really good massage by doing this for him.


A Sign of Respect\

Each night before the races, the Army Helicopter fly’s by our grand Canadian Flag flying below.  The band on the stage and the people in the stands sing our national anthem freely,  proud and strong.  Back behind the chutes, the outriders take off their helmets, and stand and recognize the free country that we live in.


The Top of One

We had the coveted one barrel tonight.  Just before the races, a major wind storm flew in and the temperatures dropped.  We see all kinds of weather here in the city all due because it is so close to the Rocky Mountains.

Our hook tonight was Spirit on the Left Lead, Ranger on the Right Lead.  Jim on the Left Wheel and Sporty on the Right Wheel.  Chanse Vigen and Ryan MacNeill rode Ed and Andy.  The team started pretty good, but Rick said he didn’t make the prettiest turn.  But you know what?  He made it around the barrels in a clean manner, and ran the race in a 1:12.06, which in turn was fast enough to get us into the top eight for the semi-final Saturday.  Our “Team 23” Crew were pretty happy with that.



Night number 8 was a good one to celebrate with just one drink.  Our friend and relative Tammy, arrived before the races.  We decided we after the dust settled it was time to make that happen.  A little bit of red wine doesn’t hurt anybody.  So that is what it was.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”


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P.S. Very little is needed to make a happy life: it is all within yourself.  In your way of thinking.


Calgary Stampede Day #7

Howdy All!

It wasn’t too exciting of a day.  Chores went according to plan.  We had a great breakfast made by the Dorchester Clan next barn over.  We then went over to a near by building to be interviewed by the historical committee.  Rick, Coy and I had stories to tell.  There is a group of people that are compiling all sorts of information from different drivers and outriders for their archives.


Another Year Older

We celebrated our son Cody’s twenty seventh birthday. I don’t particularly like store-bought cakes, so I got Rick’s relatives to make up one of Cody’s favorite………….a lazy daisy cake. It was delicious!


Papa and Ryker

After the horses were all walked for afternoon exercise, Papa took grandson Ryker for a round about the barns.  He really like it.


Sponsor Photo

Around five pm we have the sponsors come through, and today we had another great group of people go through the barn to meet the horses and ask a few questions.  Rick and Cody looked after them all. This is a really great way to promote  a business.


Heading to the Barrel

Tonight we were off the four barrel.  We hooked Louie on the left lead, Nickle on the right.  Spin on the right wheel, and Orchid on the left.  Chanse Vigen rode Ed holding the leaders and Orchid was rode by Ryan MacNeill.  The boys didn’t start as good as yesterday.  Rick got out and decided to pull and go to the rail.  Sometimes this works and you can get a hole coming home down the stretch but not today.  It was a slower heat and we place 31st on the day  and sitting 5th in the aggregate.


Over the Tunnel

Tomorrow the aggregate champion after 8 days of racing will be crowned.  We hope to stay in that top eight for the 2nd last day of racing in order to get a shot of making it to the final Dash for Cash heat on Sunday.  I hope the stars all line up.


New Friends

Coy has no problem showing people around the Chuckwagon barns and answering any of their questions.  These two girls then wanted a photo with Coy and he obliged.


Group Photo

Our daughter Amy’s husband arrived today to spend the last three days and cheer the team on.  They sat up in the stands and got the crowd going with all the “Ricky” faces.

Only three more sleeps and the 2018 Calgary Stampede will come to a close.  This is so hard to believe as the week has just flown by.  We are going to make the most out of the time we have left and enjoy every minute of it.

From the Travelin Trailer

Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”

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P.S.  Never force anything.  Give it your best shot and then let it be.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.