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 3 (July 25)

Last night was a late one. Sat out by the warm camp fire chit chatting and then came in to write my blog. I don’t think I laid my weary little head down until after 1am. Coy, our grandson, stayed over in our camper, so we both slept in until 8 this morning. I needn’t worry, as our barn crew girls and Candice, along with Rick, got the chores done up.

When I did arise, I got out in time to help hook an outift for the morning practice run. This made making breakfast a bit later than usual. Once everyone was fed and watered, humans and horses, a few of us headed to town to seek out the local garage sales. We managed to find a few, and everyone came home with some kind of bargain or two.

This weekend, Coy has been having so much fun playing with the kids and adults. His mom Amy won a small swimming pool at the Ladies’ Day Spa Auction, which was just perfect for Coy to have a so-called bath in.

A splash in the pool

A splash in the pool

Coys loves superheros, but his favourite would be his mom!

Coys Superhero.....his mom

Coy’s superhero…his mom

Coy loves lego so much that our friend Nicole decided to bring some from home for him to play with. It didn’t take long for Coy to make fast friends with Nicole, as she is a teacher at the local school and she has the perfect way with the kids.

Some serious Lego Playing

Some serious Lego playing

Coy and his new friend Nicole

Coy and his new friend Nicole

This weekend, we have been fortunate to have Candice join us to help out with the chores and the horses. Candice is like an adopted daughter to us and we appreciate all the assistance that she gives to us when going down the road.

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When it’s race time, Candice helps prepare the horses and then comes with me and brings one of the outriding horses to the infield to give to the outriders when our heat is on. This helps me out tremendously.

Bruce and Bonnie our camping companions

Bruce and Bonnie, our camping companions

This weekend we’ve really enjoyed our relative’s company here in Bonnyville. I think Bruce and Bonnie have been coming up here to the races every year since it started. They also live in Wetaskiwin, where we do. It’s just like camping when they join us. We share making all the meals and just enjoy sitting and chatting around the campfire at night.

Tonight Rick was excited to be turning the 1 barrel. His hook was Spinner on the Right Lead, Spirit on the Left Lead, Keenan on the Right Wheel and our big grey Zorba on the Left Wheel. Cole rode Bingo tonight and Dustin was on Trixter.

The team was ready to charge and so they did. Ricky turned just a little bit too soon and managed to crunch the top barrel. Oh, how I felt so bad for him. No driver ever wants this to happen. He felt pretty bad when he came back to the barn. He knows we are all part of a team and we rely on him to do his part. But at the end of the day, we are all human and things just happen. On a brighter note, if you took the penalty off, we would be sitting first in the show. What this tells us is that the horses are running very well and performing to their best ability.

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Tonight’s recipient of our mini chuckwagon after the race was this good-looking little cowgirl with a very happy face. This sure makes us smile when we get to see who takes it home.

A proud recipient of the mini chuckwagon giveaway

A proud recipient of the mini chuckwagon giveaway

I heard we should be getting some rain tonight, so things were cleaned up and tucked away outside just in case.  Tomorrow’s another day; looking forward to another great run.

Don’t wait for the PERFECT MOMENT, take the moment and make it PERFECT.

Bonnyville: Night 1 (July 23)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends!

Yesterday was pretty much a slow day. Yes, the chores still had to be done, one outfit had to be hooked, water buckets had to be emptied and refilled, manure had to be hauled away and new bedding had to be forked in, but with that all aside, it was pretty much a relaxing kind of day. Pontoon Party at the Lake Our two hired gals, Kim (AKA Fiona) and Cayley (AKA Rapunzel), were excited and thrilled to go to the lake to go on some pontoon boats with many of the other WPCA members, families and hired hands. You see, the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Committee members  donate their time and their boats to give our group a day at the lake. So awesome to get away from the grounds, have some fun and take a much-needed bath in the lake. This committee here does it up so good for us. We do appreciate them.

Baby Rose

Baby Rose

I, on the other hand, got to do some cuddling. I was the lucky gal who got to look after baby Rose, while her mom and dad Adrian and Evan enjoyed time at the lake too. I think I was the spoiled one. What a beautiful baby she is. Will take that job on at a moment’s notice; just call me Nana Sue!

The evening came and we were treated to a lovely meal by some of our local friends, Nicole and Sandy and their families. Oh, how this is so enjoyable for me because I don’t have to cook and it’s a most delicious home-cooked meal. Rick and I also had to scoot over to the Sponsors Meet and Greet tent for a bit to enjoy a beverage or two there.

Makin Bacon

Makin’ bacon

Team Meetin after breakfast

Team meeting after breakfast

Another beautiful day today. With Bruce and Bonnie, Rick’s relatives, camping with us, we enjoy our meals together. Bruce loves to cook so he brings along the grill, deep fryer and barbecue. This morning we had a classic breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. My Ricky was excited as it wasn’t the turkey bacon I normally fry up.


Our friend Pete

Our friend Pete likes to makes his rounds in the morning at most of the camps. He is one friendly soul and makes everybody smile that he meets. Gotta love this guy.

Chuckwagon Kids

Chuckwagon kids

Scary Dinosaur Look

Scary dinosaur look

A dinosaur Face

A dinosaur face

Another Dinosaur Look

Another dinosaur look

Our grandson Coy loves to play with the other chuckwagon kids. And there are plenty. Our daughter Amy arrived with Coy last night to spend the weekend with us. This morning he could hardly wait to get up and go to play with the Gorst girls. Today they played dinosaur games and even made some pretty scary faces for the camera. Pretty good imaginations they have.

The Famous George Normand

The famous George Normand

George Normand

George Normand

When in Bonnyville, I like to go out with Bruce and Bonnie and whoever else wants to come along and venture around the community to see different things each year. Today we stopped by the local cemetery to search for a friend’s headstone. We found the ones we were looking for, and in doing that we came upon the late and  famous chuckwagon driver George Normand. At the young age of 38, George lost his life doing what he did best, driving a chuckwagon. He was on his way to being the king of chuckwagon racing. He was a great one and they named him The Bonnyville Bullet. Forever remembered.

Cole and Dustine the outriders

Cole and Dustin, the outriders

After 10 days off it was time to get back at ‘er. Tonight we continued to hire outriders Cole, holding leaders and  riding Bingo, and Dustin, throwing the stove on Andy. I tell you, these guys are doing a heck of a job this year. So much so that we don’t even have to worry about them. We are totally confident that they can do the job and do the job well.

Chad Fike helping out

Chad Fike helping out

As Cody, our son, is not here with us this weekend, we have fellow competitor Chad Fike up in the wagon box with Rick giving him a hand if need be. This is a great thing, as Chad is young and he can get pointers from Rick on some aspects of wagon racing. No different than when Rick was young and rode with the likes of his Uncle Dallas Dorchester and his dad Dave Lewis. No matter what you do in life, there is always something to learn from someone better than you. You just have to be open to it.

Boy did they start

Boy, did they start

Tonight’s hook was Air on Left Lead, Speedy on Right Lead, Trick on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. When that horn went, boy, did they start. Almost as good as Luke Tournier on barrel 4. Luke fired out of there to grab the rail. Rick was not too far behind, with Kelly Sutherland on the inside of Rick and Evan in behind. The outfit ran hard, Rick said.  Luke ended up with a day money run and we managed a fifth on the day. Fairly excited with that.

A Fine Speedy Finish

A fine speedy finish

Looking forward to another day up north, hoping the weather stays sunny and warm.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

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 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.