Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 4 (August 23)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, it is Sunday already and Day 4 of the Bashaw WPCA Runoff is a wrap and in the history books. The racing season for the WPCA is complete.

Being an early race day, there was not a lot of time in the morning to do too much. All the camps in our circle took the pleasure of sleeping in. Even me. I’m not sure what time it was but I heard the door rattle while still in bed. Cody had come to get some coffee. Only thing was, it wasn’t made yet! I got myself up, prepared the coffee and started the breakfast for the crew. Once we finished that little job, it was time to close up the trailer for the trip home after the races.

Fans of Team 23

Fans of Team 23

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the final afternoon of racing. It was warm, sunny and beautiful out. The crowd was awesome, as they filled the bleachers and more.

photo 4

Turning the top

photo 5

Headin’ to the bottom

photo 1

Off to the track

photo 2

Cody and Vern

The Post Parade

The post parade

A Wave to the Fans

A wave to the fans

Our son Cody was off the 1 barrel today with the horses Spirit, Ranger, Sneakers and Law. Another great run around the barrels and track.  Cody maintained the highest number of points over the four race days, giving him a spot on the 2016 WPCA chuckwagon circuit. We are so proud of this young man of ours. I think for me, it hasn’t sunk in yet, what our 2016 year ahead holds for us. It will be very busy but a good busy.





Again today they had the crazy sheep scramble for the kids. They have to catch up to the sheep and grab a bow off their backs and take it to the lady for a win. This particular little guy made me smile. He looked like he was having so much fun out there and was oblivious to anything else around him.




I’m not sure if he managed to get a bow but he sure had fun trying to get it.


I think I won!


I won the 50 50! says Neil


Congrats is in order

At the races, there is always a 50/50 draw. Many folks always buy to help out the agriculture society for whatever they need the funds for. My friend Gin thought for sure she was going to be the winner but not so. Retired chuckwagon driver Neil Walgenbach was the lucky winner today, taking home the cold hard cash. Good for him!


Down at her level


Taking the time


A gentle touch

After the races, there is always time to visit with friends and fans who come by. Today Cody had a young gal come by with her family. From afar she loved the horses but up close she was scared to death of them because to her they were so big. Cody got down at her level, bringing one of our horses forward for her to pet. It took some time for the young gal to trust that large animal. For some, horses can be very intimidating. Cody did an amazing job by slowly gaining the young girl’s trust to pet the horse. These moment are so very precious.

A Baby Announcement

A baby announcement

To close off on my blog today, I have some very exciting news. Our daughter Kaylee and her husband Chris have announced that we are going to be grandparents again. Kaylee is having a baby, their first, due next spring, on March 2. We are thrilled to say the least. Only six months to go! I can hardly wait!!!

So my friends, my 2015 chuckwagon racing blog has come to an end.  My blog itself will continue in some casual form. I will write from time to time of things that are going on in our day-to-day lives. I appreciate you all for checking in and keeping tabs on my summer journey. Thank you to those of you who have written comments; I have read them all and enjoyed hearing from you even if I have not responded. Cheers to you all!

photo 3



Life is short, LIVE IT. Love is rare, GRAB IT. Anger is bad, DUMP IT. Fear is awful, FACE IT. Memories are sweet, CHERISH IT.

Battle of the Rockies: Day 5 (August 16)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, I never forgot you, I just plain didn’t do my blog yesterday. Races were early in the day at 2pm. Finishing up by 5-ish. We headed to the Broken Spoke Saloon for a delicious supper put on by the Rocky Committee, got back to the trailer about 7:30pm. Then my bed was calling me. Thought I would lie down for a few minutes. Turned out to be until the next morning! So sorry!!!


A very muddy chapeau

Doing a delivery

Doing a delivery

The Crew and all the Rocky fans woke up to a very cold morning. So much so you could see our breath, had our warm coats on and lit the campfire to keep warm.


Get ready, get set…



Despite the rain and mud on Saturday and the cold weather on Sunday morning, the afternoon races turned out to be pretty good. The sun came out to shine on all the competitors.




Rick’s last hook of the year was Spirit, Ranger, Speedy and Vegas, with outriders Cole and Rory finishing up with Mover and Mandalay. The start and charge was great. The top barrel turn was as close as you would want it without knocking it over. Ricky spun it. It weebled and wobbled but it didn’t fall down. Thank the Lord!!!


DSC_1055  DSC_1059

The finish was a crowd-pleaser as the 2015 world champion Kurt Bensmiller came charging hard at the finish. Only 6 one-hundredths behind Rick. We were really hoping to claim a day money but again came up a bit short as Doug Irvine, the new Rocky champion, snuck in ahead of us. Congratulations to Doug, Jimmy Lou and crew on a show well done.


Giving away the last mini chuckwagon of the season to an excited little fan


A happy dance parade


Final cheers on the way out


Taking a look at the top barrel tracks


After the dust settled, we took a second on the day. We were happy. The world standings put us in fourth overall for this season. Come next spring in Grande Prairie, we will be back in heat 9 with Kurt, Kirk and Obrey.

Once the races were completed, the kids performed for the crowd in the wild pony race. This little gal, at the ripe age of six, was the little roundup gal on her pretty pony. She sure was a cutie out there, doing her job.

The little round up gal

The little roundup gal

Chasing the minis

Chasing the minis

Before heading out to go home, we surprised Anna, our friend Paul’s granddaughter, with her very own horse. Was she surprised.

Anna and her new horse Bingo

Anna and her new horse Bingo

HUGS! To a new best friend

HUGS! To a new best friend

You see, Bingo was a wagon horse and an outriding horse. He has done us very well over the years. And there always comes a time when these special horses have to be retired. We gifted Bingo out to Anna and we know he will have a loving home for years to come. This is not the first horse that we have found a home for. There are many others out there enjoying a restful life out in the pasture. They deserve it.

Team 23 and all the ponies arrived home safe and sound early afternoon today. It was a good feeling to be here. I love to walk around in the yard and see how things have grown. Despite the dry weather, I have apples on my tree.

Glad to be home

Glad to be home

We will only be home for a few days, then we are heading down south just a short bit away to the WPCA Qualification Run Off in Bashaw. Our son Cody will be competing along with 12 other drivers. He is hoping to be one of the top six to join up on the tour in 2016.

I will keep you informed as to the outcome of the races down there.

Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t turn out, just take another shot.

Battle of the Rockies: Day 4 (August 15)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, I must confess. I slept in this morning. Right until 9am. I feel kind of guilty, mind you. I am usually an early riser and I like the quiet mornings. But when I went to bed last night I had my mind set that that was what was going to happen. It felt even better when I heard the rain falling on the trailer as I was in bed. It rained continuously throughout the night. I thought for sure that the races would be cancelled, but not so.  The rain let up later in the morning and never did break open again. There were plenty of dark clouds looming around all day and the temperatures were cool. But no more rain.


Can and bottle picking

While we’ve been here, I have been teaching Coy money lessons. We were at a store and Coy wanted a toy. We left there, telling Coy that if he wanted to buy any sort of toy he had to work for it. Coy was told he had to pick cans and bottles. And he did just that. The first go round bought him a little toy but now he wants to work even harder to earn that Avenger Lego kit. Good for Coy!

As the day was a slow, quiet one, once I got the Team 23 crew fed and watered I headed to town to pick up a few items for dinner. I got the list completed and then headed back to camp. There is never enough time in a day, as the afternoon chores were ready to be tackled and I began to cook the spaghetti and garlic toast for our supper meal.


Headin’ out of town


A bit behind on the first corner


Coming down the home stretch

Because we were on the 3 barrel tonight, Rick hooked Speedy on the Left Lead, Air on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. The outfit started but not enough to come near the rail! This made Rick take the outer route of three wide coming off the barrels but then he decided to pull and go to the rail when the coast was clear. It worked out fine in the end as he took the rail route on the fourth turn to speed ahead and take second of the heat. We posted an 8th on the day and ended up 12th in the show. Tomorrow there are no points awarded. We will all be just running for day money. It will be our last race of the season.



Our outriders Cole and Rory have done a great job for us these last few shows. Tonight they rode Mover and Andy.


A special moment

This shot of Cody was taken this evening by Kim, our crew member. Cody was holding the horse to be washed up for the evening. Baths are very important on these muddy days.


Time to relax by the fire

Once the work was all completed, some time was spent around the campfire enjoying the evening before we hit the hay.

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

Battle of the Rockies: Day 2 (August 13)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Another beautiful day in the Rockies! Warm weather and sunshine! I’m lovin’ it!!  And to think that in only eight weeks, it will be October.  Brrrrr.  I am just going to enjoy what we have now.

Breakfast with Bonnie

Breakfast with Bonnie

This morning we had a full breakfast made. Bonnie was in charge of the griddle. She was a little hard on herself on how the eggs turned out. There were no complaints from the ones who were eating it so I think it was all good.

Gary Gross's #1 fan....Bonnie

Gary Gross’s #1 fan….Bonnie

Gary Gross, our chuckwagon announcer, stopped by with a few Timmies drinks for the crew. Bonnie had to get a photo taken with her favourite guy.  Don’t they look great?

This journal journey has been quite interesting and fulfilling for me. Since I have doing an actual blog that is open to the public, I have reached 26 countries! That’s crazy! I never would have dreamed that this would reach people worldwide. People who have either committed to follow or have viewed the blog are from Canada, USA, Ecuador, Thailand, Switzerland, Cuba, United Kingdom, Australia, Panama, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Sweden, Cameron, China, Slovakia, Israel, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Poland and Turkey. WOW!  That’s cool. What a neat way to share just a little of what we love to do here in Canada.

A 6 horse hitch

A six-horse hitch

Every night before the chuckwagon races begin, the committee has a few other entertainers come to perform in front of the spectators. Our good friends and neighbours from back home in Wetaskiwin, Foss and Shawna Irwin, have brought their beautiful six-horse hitch to Rocky Mountain House. They come in and parade in front of the grandstand for all to admire. A lot of work to get this team looking shiny and groomed.

Aurora and Lexus

Aurora on her equine therapy horse Lexus

Horses really are amazing animals. And they can be used for so many purposes. My friend Tara, who helps me with my blog, had her beautiful and unique daughter ride this equine therapy horse named Lexus out in Truro, Nova Scotia. Aurora sure enjoys her lessons.

The sound of thunder on a clear blue sky

The sound of thunder with a clear blue sky

Here at this show, they run a demonstration race of a chuckwagon before the real races begin. Last year, our son Cody did it. This year, Lane Tournier, son of fellow competitor Luke Tournier, is doing it for the crowd.

Ethan Motowylo

Ethan Motowylo

Derek Kent

Derek Kent

Tyler Robinson

Tyler Robinson


Lane Tournier



With him, they are having four outriders who race  along, just like it used to be. It’s great entertainment and brings us back to the good old days when we had four outriders per chuckwagon.

A charging start

A charging start

An excellent barrel turn

An excellent barrel turn

Rick hooked the same leaders tonight, Spirit on Left Lead and Ranger on the Right Lead. Then he put  Zorba on the Left Wheel and Vegas on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Trixter and Rory rode Stadium. The team started hard, as you can see. Rick got out alongsideJohn Walters. They ran a respectable race but unfortunately one of our outriders knocked over a barrel. That’s a no-no. It cost us two seconds in penalties. You can’t afford that if you want to win the show. Tonight’s position was 31st on the day and sitting 17th overall.

Whatever you’re going through right now, just remember there’s hope in every breath, in every heartbeat and in every mile. Don’t give up!

Strathmore Heritage Days: Day 2 (August 1)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

I woke up earlier this morning, put the coffee on and enjoyed the morning silence. A few folks are just getting going around the barns at this time. After the horses were fed their oats, Rick was out on the local tractor pushing up the manure into one big pile. The kids got going with the chores. Cody and his girlfriend Allie arrived in the wee hours of the morning. So we scheduled to hook an outfit during track time. Things went according to plan.

After I served my ham and egger breakfast buns, it was time for cleanup. Shortly after, our friend and chuckwagon historian stopped by. Doug is collecting video interviews from different folks along the trail. Doug interviewed me about life on the chuckwagon trail over the years and then also interviewed Rick. It’s fun to reminisce of days gone by.

An interview with historian Doug Nelson

An interview with historian Doug Nelson

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing until I found I was having some issues with my computer. Pop-up viruses, that is. A call went out and Ed Wittchen, our WPCA President, came to the rescue. He came on by and with the aid of a friend in Calgary they got working on my computer to clean it up and install some protection. I think we got  a good chunk of things figured out and I thank Ed a whole bunch for his help.

Canal Bridge Jumping

Canal bridge jumping

While I was dealing with that, the kids from Team 23 and other barn hands from the grounds headed out to the local cannal bridge for some jumpin’ fun! Yes, they were brave and jumped off into the water. They all came back, saying it was a blast. Oh, to be young and full of no fear again.

Helping Troy

Helping Troy

As the first few heats got underway, some from our crew helped cousin Troy prepare for his run.

Law peaking out

Law peeking out

As we prepared our horses for the evening races, Law stood patiently waiting.

The backstretch run

The backstretch run

Our hook tonight off the 1 barrel was Spirit on the Left Lead, Spin on the Right Lead, Keenan on the Left Wheel and Zorba the big grey on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Beau and Dustin rode Tixter. These boys did a great job!

When Rick came in and Cole went to grap the lines to put them straight, they went far over to the right. Rick was out of shape! The team was sucking to the right. When the horn blew, Ricky managed to drive the team around the barrels in a clean state. Our time gave us a 14 on the day. Pretty respectable. lucky mini chuckwagon recipiets

Happy little chuckwagon recipients

Happy little chuckwagon recipients

Yesterday and today, the happy and lucky little recipients came by to say thank you with the big smiles on their face. What a joy this is for me to see.

Sometimes we need someone to simply be there. Not to fix anything or to do anything in particular, but just to let us feel that we are cared for and supported.