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.

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Heading to the track

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Rounding the first turn

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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.

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Team 23 Fans

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 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!

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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.

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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.

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 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.

Calgary: Night Six (July 8)

You know, I never really know what day it is when we are on the road. It is either a race day or a non-race day. Today I had to ask someone what day it really was. Yes, it is Wednesday although I thought it was Thursday. Not sure why.

Team 23 was a bit slow getting to the barn this morning so barn chores began just a little bit later than normal. This was just fine, as it was a beautiful morning to sit and visit. Coffee and Baileys is the main beverage poured, along with the delicious banana bread that Allie’s mom Penny and Maxine so graciously provided for our crew. It was delicious—thank you!!!

I need to mention that here in Calgary we have hired a caterer to supply us with our evening meals. This is such a treat for me, as it has relieved me of cooking for 10 and gives me the opportunity to be there for chores and/or tend to the barn tours that come by in the evening. Tonight the caterer brought us rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies and salad. Love it!

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There are so many people who have never been near a horse or seen a chuckwagon race. The Calgary Stampede often brings in groups of people to come to our barns for tours. We always oblige and let them know the heritage that comes along with our lifestyle. Tonight we had some folks from Alberta, Arizona and Vancouver. Rick gave them a tour of the barn. They were all so interested in what we do. We often take our lifestyle for granted but yet we are so eager to share our love of the lifestyle we live.

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Rick and I were excited for today, as our daughter Amy and our five-year-old grandson Coy arrived to spend the rest of the week with us. Coy AKA Batman had called to get me to come and enjoy the fireworks together. This is just what I did. And boy, were they good to watch.

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Today Rick and I went out onto the midway to see what we could see. We decided to take some candid shots. Marilyn Munroe was there so Rick had to pose with her.

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We found some coke bottles with Cowboy and Cowgirl on them and posed with them. Boy, it sure is hard to find an English-speaking person to take the photo.

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Once we got that all done, Rick decided to purchase some tickets to win the beautiful red Corvette. Wouldn’t we look good driving that baby down the highway at Mach speed?

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We are happy to have Amy and Coy here. Coy loves to play with Emma, Shauna’s daughter. They were so happy to play together.

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Tonight’s hook was comprised of Spirit on Left Lead, Ranger on Right Lead, Left Wheel for Vegas and Right Wheel for Law. Cole rode Beau and Chance Flad rode Trixter. Rick was off barrel 2, and boy did they tear out of there, so good that Rick beat Luke out and he was on barrel 1. We were so excited to have placed third on the day.

I have more stories to tell but they will have to wait until tomorrow, as I’m falling asleep at the computer. NOT COOL!

Let your smile change the world. But don’t let the world change your smile.