Strathmore Down Time

We arrived in Strathmore from Bonnyville on Monday. We had a few extra hands to help pack us up the morning of our getaway. I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of those kids. There were four of them and it sure got us on our way much faster.

We stopped in at the ranch outside of Wetaskiwin on the way,  dropping off a couple of horses and picking up five more. We were hardly home long enough to smell the roses and then continued on down south. I also picked up my little swamper Coy. He had his bags packed and was ready to go.

Threatening Skys

Threatening skies

Clouds of Thunder

Clouds of thunder

Upon our arrival around 5pm, the skies didn’t look so great. We got right to work building pens so we could unload the horses sooner rather than later. This is the first thing we do when we arrive at all the shows. Some rain fell on us but it didn’t last long, thank goodness. Just enough to dampen our clothes and take a 20-minute break, and then the rainbows shone bright.

Amazing Colors in the sky

Amazing colours in the sky

Tuesday was a day of hittin’ the books. My bills all had to be paid and my GST had to be submitted. It was nice and quiet on the grounds, as there were only a handful of outfits that arrived.

Wednesday and Coy could hardly stand it! I had promised him we would drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller 6o minutes away. It is a huge, famous dinosaur museum. Coy loves dinosaurs, and when we did the tour he could name just about all the dinosaurs on display.

Coy an the Triceratops

Coy and the Triceratops

A humungus Tyransisaurus Rex

A humongous Tyrannosaurus Rex

A budding Archeologists

A budding paleontologist

A sleeping kid in a Triceratops

A sleeping kid in a Triceratops

We both enjoyed our adventure, and I learned a lot from that five-year-old little kid who says he wants to be a palaeontologist when he grows up.

With so much going on, Coy woke up with a sore throat. I wasn’t really sure what it was, so I decided to get him checked out at the local hospital in emerg. They did a throat check and we will know the results tomorrow.

Mrs. Laundry Louise, Coy and I

Mrs. Laundry Louise, Coy and I

While there, I visited my friend Louise. You see, Louise is our friend whose door was always open for our chuckwagon family when we arrived in her town of Strathmore, for she owned and operated a small laundromat. One of the friendliest gals I know. Louise was always interested in our life on the road.

Mrs. Laundry Louise and Me

Louise and me a year ago

We only see each other once a year and always start up where we left off. Unfortunately this past year for Louise, life was changing. Louise had some serious health issues and had both her legs amputated, and she had to sell her business. When I was told of this a few weeks ago, my heart hurt for Louise. Today, she filled me in on what all took place these past few months. The decisions, the pain, the adjustments and the future yet to come. I couldn’t help but cry a few tears for Louise as she told her story. She seemed so strong. Louise’s life will never be the same, but she is one strong gal and she forever will be my hero. I have put a call out to all our chuckwagon family and friends to step forward and donate a few dollars to help Louise in the days to come.

Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart.  Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason.  Don’t give up.

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.

Down Time Between Shows

Seven days at home and was I excited! With the Calgary Stampede all finished up, it was all I could do to drive our unit home to the Ranch. All of our Team 23 were pooped right out. We made it safely and had the ponies unloaded by 4pm. I had no choice but to head to my bed and go to sleep. I slept for five hours. Awoke for another couple, and went back to sleep until morning. Tuesday was a day of organizing, laundry and decluttering from all the Calgary extras that we bring along. IMG_5166 It was nice to be home. The ponies sure enjoyed the green grass and the wide-open space.IMG_5153 I love to see the hay field baled up and looking good. It brings me back to when I was a kid on the farm. Our neighbour Ed does our haying for us and seems to do a pretty darn good job. No rain on it this year, which is a bonus.

We had some special company on Friday. Ed and Vera Wittchen and family came to the Ranch. Ed is our World Professional Chuckwagon Association President. The main purpose of the visit was their daughter Tara and her daughter Aurora were in from Nova Scotia, and Tara has been my main instrument of setting up and keeping my blog running smoothly. So she came over to give me some much-needed pointers. Their son-in-law and grandson came along too. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit, with a lasagna supper to boot.

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On Saturday, Rick, our family, my sister Dana and I were flown out to Grande Prairie to visit my dad who has not been feeling too well. We were fortunate to have three hours to spend with him. A huge thank you to our sponsor Northwell Oilfield Hauling for arranging this special trip.

My Dad and I

My Dad and me

My kids, dad and me

My kids, Dad and me

My Beautify Girls, Dad and I

My beautiful girls, Dad and me

Dad and and my sister Dana

Dad and and my sister Dana

Coys first Plane Ride

Coy’s first plane ride

Great Grand Kids are So Much Fun  Coy and Grandpa Sig

Great grandkids are so much fun – Coy and Grandpa Sig

We visited and then he took us out on a little trip in his Kubota around the RV park that he built right on the home front where I grew up. I’ve been gone for nine years now and things have sure changed. My dad is so proud of the park, and so he should be, as he built it with his own hands. If you ever need a place to park your unit when in the area, look up Country Roads RV Park; you won’t be disappointed.

I no sooner landed back in Wetaskiwn and I was headed out west to go “glamping” with Rick’s Aunt Sharon, cousin Debbie and friend Connie. I thoroughly enjoyed my time away.

Glamping at Twin Lakes with the Gals

Glamping at Twin Lakes with the Gals

Auntie KooKoo

Auntie KooKoo

Chillin at the Lake

Chillin’ at the lake

We had good times with food, friends and laughter, and now have cherished some great memories.

On the Road Again

On the road again

Our time at home came to an abrupt halt, and it was time to jump back into the freightliner and head north to the city of Bonnyville for our next WPCA show. We got away approximately at 7:30am, arriving in at 11:30am. We made great time and it was a lovely, enjoyable trip.

Back home, my friend Mary Lynn, AKA the Red Neck Barbie, contacted me, saying there was a wicked storm a-brewing in the Ponoka area. I don’t listen to the news when we are on the road, so I rely only on the sky and my friends to fill me in on the things going on. Well, it was a doozer when all was said and done. Mary Lynn sent me all these amazing photos to share with you. storm photos IMG_9279

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IMG_6710 IMG_6765 FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender_2Thank goodness no one was hurt that I know of. What a wicked storm it was. Fortunately our Ranch in Wetaskiwn was not damaged. Back in 2011, the day after we arrived home from the Calgary Stampede we were hit with a very similar storm. I never wish to experience that type of thing again.

Well, races begin Thursday, and we are looking forward to a fast and speedy race meet. We are the defending champions and hope to retain the title.

There are many things in life that will catch your eye. But only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.

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 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.