Calgary Stampede Wrap-up

I promised to write a final full wrap-up of Stampede. It was just way too late when we got in from congratulating the new 2015 winners and enjoying the company of Team 23’s Stampede participation. Monday was out of the question, as it was a packing, traveling and sleep day. Now that we are home and it’s Tuesday, I found a few minutes to write.

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So we celebrated our youngest child’s birthday. Cody turned 24 on Sunday. WOW!!! I will forever remember the day he was born, as he came a month premature. Cody was born only a few days after Grandpa Tommy Dorchester’s passing. He’s become a gentle giant at 6’5. He is just a bit big to sit on our knees anymore but we love to have him around just the same. He’s been a huge help in the box training horses with Rick. He’s going to be a great driver himself one day.

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Being at the Calgary Stampede, we always have folks drop by that we rarely see. Kim Nevada swung by for a hug and photo with Ricky. She’s beautiful inside and out and hasn’t changed a bit over the years. Her husband Jimmy used to outride with Rick and also drove a chuckwagon too. Another family, Alden and Natasha Harms, stopped by. What a surprise. Alden went to school with our kids but is just a few years older. My, how the years go by. Great to see them and their family.

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Rick’s looking for a new job in the fall so he thought he would try his hand at filming. Not sure how that went for him. There was no job offer after. He’ll keep looking.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

We were very excited with our hook on Day 10 of the Stampede. Rick had Spirit on the Left Lead, Ranger on the Right Lead, Law on the Left Wheel and Keenan on the Right Wheel. Our outriders were Cole on Leaders riding Bingo and Rory throwing stove with Trixter.

Coming into barrel 1, I was nervous if they would stand with Keenan being a new horse and this would be his second race. They didn’t have to wait long and the horn blew. Off they went, Rick did a great job turning the figure 8 and they were gone! What a superb race, almost clinching a day money run, but we came in second on the day. We’ll take that! We were first in our heat by quite a bit. What a great way to finish off the Stampede and even better in front of our sponsors, Northwell Oilfield Hauling. A huge thank you to them for all their support. We couldn’t do it without them.

Rick and I and Team 23 made an emergency exit out of the Stampede grounds on Monday morning.

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We’re going incognito for a week to curl up and sleep some hours away during our few days off before we head to Bonnyville.

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In between my naps, I am tending to the laundry and the garden. It’s pretty dry here so not many weeds and the grass is rather brown.

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I must say, all in all, we enjoyed our 2015 Stampede. Team 23 was exceptional with all their work with the horses and all the barn chores. Couldn’t ask for anything better than that. This chick’s happy. Thanks to all of you for following along. Bonnyville is our next tour stop, beginning Thursday, July 23. I may blog a time or two before the show starts. Until then, howdy ho!

Someday everything will make sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.

Calgary: Night Ten (July 12)

This is going to be short and sweet as we are headed home tomorrow, and it’s 1:33am and I have to get up tomorrow at 7am just in time to pack the rest of our belongings.

Congratulations to Kurt and Ashley Bensmiller on winning the $100,000 dash for cash for the second year in a row. Every chuckwagon driver’s dream.

Cody, our son, had his 24th birthday today so we enjoyed some cake along with our supper and we even sang.

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Rick and I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Northwell Oilfield Hauling and to his crews. It takes many.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

I will write again in a day or two. Looking forward to my bed at home.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize our worth and value, but because we finally realize our own.

Calgary: Night Nine (July 11)

Day 9 is a wrap and Day 10 is on its way. Seems like we just moved in, although my body is yearning for some much-needed sleep soon. We will be starting to pack things up tomorrow, as we will head home on Monday.

Today we had a beautiful morning enjoying coffee and stories with the neighbours. Making a big pot of coffee for everyone is what I like to do. If I were at home, I’d make banana bread for them too. This past week we have had some homemade baking from others and we sure enjoyed it.

After chores and breakfast, most of the chuckwagon families gathered on the south end of the buildings to attend an auction sale. It was not just any sale—it was a retirement sale for Jerry Bremner and family. They decided to pack it in. Selling during Calgary is your best bet as you most likely get more in dollars for your horses. The sale went well and we even bought a couple as well.

During the 10 days of the Stampede, the chuckwagon community is treated to the use of the Sports Medicine Team. Many of our crew took advantage of the chance to receive a massage or chiropractic treatment. I had myself a 15-minute massage. Oh boy, did I feel it. My neck and shoulders won’t be the same. I plan on going again tomorrow.

After a short one-hour lie down, I was headed down to the barns to tend to help with chores. We had a few visitors tonight. The first was little Zander. What a cute little boy he is. We met Zander when we went to the Alberta Children’s Hospital at the beginning of the week. He’s been having treatments but was granted a day pass to come to the chuckwagon races. Zander was very shy but every now and then he would post a smile. We knew he liked the horses and the visit.

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We met a friend of a friend and, boy, was he tall. This guy made our son and his friend Tim, AKA “High Tower,” look somewhat small. I don’t think I’ve stood by such a tall human being. I must say they all look great!

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One other guy that stopped in for a visit was Johnny Morris, our Albertan curler. He has joined up with The Mavericks to help support charities, sponsor a chuckwagon and just have some good, pure fun. We had Carter Rycroft and his family out to our ranch during spring training so it was nice to meet his partner.

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Tonight’s races were being threatened by rain. And that’s all it was—threatened. Thank goodness! Otherwise I could have been going to the laundromat again.

Rick was off the 1 barrel. He was quite excited about that as he hooked a newer wheeler on the string. The lineup was Left Lead – Spirit, Right Lead – Ranger, Left Wheel – Air and Right Wheel – Keenan. Cole rode Beau and Dustin rode Stadium. We were a penalty-free outfit today! Yahooo! And they all worked very well.

Rick Fraser Team 23

The semi-final heats were ran to see who would get into the final $100,000 dash for tomorrow. The successful drivers were Kurt Bensmiller, Kelly Sutherland, Logan Gorst and Vern Nolin. May the fastest wagon win tomorrow!

Follow your dreams for they are whispers from your soul.

Calgary: Night Eight (July 10)

We’re keepin’ on, keepin’ on! One hour at a time. Three-quarters of the way through the show and we feel it. Everyone is tired from the early mornings and the late nights. This 10-day Stampede is a grind. We love to be here but it sure takes its toll when you don’t get enough sleep.

My plans were to get a mini-nap in today but…it didn’t come to fruition. It was our turn to cook the breakfast for both barns. I don’t mind doing that while Team 23 cleans the stalls and walks the horses. It all comes together quite nicely.

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It didn’t take the kids long to disperse for their morning naps after they enjoyed a big breakfast meal. Rick and Cody headed around the corner to the film review room. They replay all the heats from the night before for the drivers and others to watch. Not that it can change how you did, mind you; it’s available just for one’s viewing pleasure.

With a few moments to myself, I decided to take a few photos of the quiet shed row. Once the forks and rakes are put away, the lights are shut off, and the fan is turned on the horses settle right down and rest. It’s pretty cool to see their transition from chores to quiet time. There’s just something to be said when we get to relax along with them in our shed row.

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Amy, Coy and I headed out to the local Calgary Zoo. Coy was pretty excited to see all the animals. I didn’t realize just how big the zoo was. I think our kids were maybe 6, 8 and 10 when we frequented it last. There were so many animals to see. I asked Coy what was his favourite when we were all finished, and he said all of it. I do know that he sure liked the dinosaur display. He is hip on dinosaurs. And if you ask him what he’s going to be when he grows up, he will tell you a palaeontologist and an archaeologist as well. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

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Tonight’s racing was exciting for many of the drivers. It was the night where eight drivers would qualify for the semi-final run on Saturday. So many cheers and so many tears for family, friends and fans.

At the end of the evening, Kurt Bensmiller, Mike Vigen, Jamie Laboucane, Kelly Sutherland, Gary Gorst, Vern Nolin, Logan Gorst and Mark Sutherland were the top eight qualifiers. Out of those eight, Kurt Bensmiller was the one with the top aggregate time after eight nights of racing. He wins a pickup and a bronze trophy for his driving efforts. Congratulations to Kurt and his crew.

Alisha, Candice and I have been taking the outriding horses over to the infield for the races everyday. I always like to ride them over. Today Alisha did too.

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Rick hooked Nickle on the Left Lead today, Speedy on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Zorba on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Ace and Chanse rode Andy. When the horn blew, Rick did his job and got around the barrels and onto the track in good condition.

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Cole mounted his horse and was coming around when another outrider on the next barrel was out of control and ran into Cole. This put Cole behind getting out onto the track, which in turn made him late, then we received a one-second penalty for a late outrider. Unfortunate for us.

Tomorrow, we are reseeded again into new heats. I heard we are in the sixth heat and on barrel 1. I would include the draw but we have not gotten it yet. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

Calgary: Night Seven (July 9)

I’m much like many of you. When I get up in the morning, one of the first things I do is read my morning blog just to see that I got things right. This morning, I chuckled at some of my message. The crew all had a good laugh at some of my sentences and wording.

At the time of writing, I was so tired and I also had had a few glasses of wine. So…when it came time to sit down to put things together, I thought in my mind things flowed quite well.  When I mentioned who was outriding, I did name Cole properly but for Chance Flad I wrote “handsome tan”! Not sure how I got that. Just a tad bit embarrassed. Oh well, you can all chuckle with me because Team 23 and I had a good laugh too.

We are so fortunate to live in a free country. I don’t think most of us really understand how good we have it. Every night, before the night show begins, the band plays “O Canada,” a singer leads us, and we all stand and remove cover. A helicopter circles over with a Canadian flag hanging below. What a cool sight. This gives me the chills but makes me proud even more.

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Yesterday I received an unexpected, thoughtful and beautiful gift from a lady I do not even know. But what I do know of her is she’s a friend of a relative and she receives my blog, sends it on to others, and is a huge fan of chuckwagon racing and Team 23. The gift was just a little something-something to keep a gal looking and feeling good. What a nice gesture you did for me, Dianne. I thank you so much. Sharing with you and others of my summertime journey has touched me in many ways when I hear feedback from all of you. This instance is just one of them.

I have to share another feel-good story. We were in Strathmore the other year. A lady came knocking at our door. I did not know the lady but she was friend of a friend who passed my adventures along. This lady wanted to personally meet me and thank me for all my writing. She particularly enjoyed my P.S. sayings at the end of the blog.

She proceeded to tell me this had helped her to get through some rough waters, for she had just lost a child in the previous year. WOW! My heart hurt for her. I couldn’t imagine. But what I did learn from this is when your gut feeling tells you to do something…DO IT! It could change another’s life sometime down the road without even knowing it.

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It takes a team to do what we do. And I enjoy taking and sharing photos of all the crew doing what they do best. They make it happen around our camp. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to sneak on out and join our sponsors in their suite to enjoy and watch the last half of the races. What a treat that was.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick and Sue Fraser

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Today was another exceptionally warm day. Hit the 30s, I’m sure. Not to worry, the ponies are well taken care of. Once the chores were all done, we brought out the two big fans that we brought from home and got them going in the barn to get the air flowing. We then kept the cement sprinkled with water, which also helps keep the temperature down. They love it and rest for the better part of the afternoon.

Tonight Rick was off the 3 barrel, which is shorter than the 1 and 2. The team that he decided to hook on this short barrel was Speedy on the Left Lead, Nickle on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Ace and Chance Flad rode Andy.

Rick had a great start and a pretty good run with the team. As a matter of fact, it was the where day money was won.

Once we returned to the back of the barns, we got news that they hung us with a one-second penalty for interference. Rick said as they were rounding turns 1 and 2, Luke and Rick’s wagon touched hubs. That’s it…that’s all. We just don’t understand the judging calls sometimes.

Onward and upward for a better run tomorrow.