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!

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 Five (July 7)

Tuesday already. That means we are at the halfway point of the Calgary Stampede. The days go by very fast when we are here as it is such an important and busy show.

The air was pretty chilly this morning. I didn’t take a coat down when I headed to the barns but I could have used one. Once we got busy doing chores, I had warmed up.

It was laundry day for me today. Rick’s treat while here is dropping off his jeans and shirts with Cochrane’s Dry Cleaning By Dave. They come every day to the grounds from 10am until 1pm for drop-off service. Many cowboys utilize this service so they all look neat and tidy with their starched jeans and shirts.

I like it too as it lessens my load tremendously. We’re also fortunate to have a few machines donated for our use in the barns.

Once I got that all taken care of, Kaylee, Gary and I went to the Big Four to the lost and found. You see Kaylee lost her wedding band yesterday. So we wanted to report it. We’re hoping that it will be located by someone before we leave the grounds.

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Out back at our barn we had some visitors that really paid us no attention. These ducks were just looking for some leftover oats to eat.

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What a cute couple. I remember years ago Rick and I were discussing ducks, and I was clearly disappointed when Rick filled me in that the female duck was the dull one and pretty one was the male. He’s never let me forget it.

We have many fans abroad, and here we have Rick’s Aunty KooKoo (Sharon) with cousin Tammy and her daughter Sadie. Lots of our relatives love to get together at the cabin or their home, sit around the campfire and make bets on the races.

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For the night’s races, my job (along with a couple of the girls) is to take the outriding horses over to the infield and tend to them. I have a tough time getting on the horse myself, so there’s always one of the guys to give me a boost up.

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Tonight we brought over a beverage to celebrate our halfway point of the Stampede.

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There’s no shortage of love for our horses in our barn. They all get number one lovin’! Ace loves to have his lip rubbed and Jesse has no trouble doing that.

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Because of the redraw tonight, we got hooked with different drivers. So in turn we lost an outrider and had to hire a different one. Dustin was riding, but he had to go ride for his dad, Gary Gorst, as we were in the same heat. But not to worry as we picked up 2014 world champion outrider Chance Flad.

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Rick decided to hook Spirit on the Left Lead, Ranger on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. Cole rode Beau again and Chance rode Stadium. They did a great job.

Rick was on 1 barrel. When he came in to park, he said he heard someone whistle and the horses jumped ahead of the barrel. Rick tried to back them up, somewhat successfully but we were still assessed a one-second penalty. The horn finally blew and away they went.

Unfortunate luck struck and the top barrel was hit, assessing us another five seconds. That one hurts. This takes us out of the running for the top eight so we will just be running for day money now.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick is a great skinner, and I’m proud of him and he’s done well thus far. We were also happy tonight how fast the horses ran. Tomorrow is another day and we will shoot to get a day money.

One of the happiest moments ever is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.

High River: Night Four (June 21)

Today was a long day. When I first opened my eyes and ears for the morning, I heard rain, rain and more rain. This is really not what one wants to hear on a race day.

Rick headed out to feed morning oats. He came back a little soggy from the moisture, as I had the rain gear tucked away and his boots were also not reachable.

I put the coffee on just as a visitor arrived. Ralph Nelson popped by. His late father Lloyd drove chuckwagons years ago and Ralph used to do some outriding. We had a great chat as the rain continued to fall. The girls managed to get the chores all taken care off and came in for a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.

Once that was all cleared away, another local fellow named Robert stopped in. We rent a bit of pasture off of him during High River for our outriding horses. This works great for us as the pen space we have is fairly small. We prefer not to put too many horses in pens together in case they get fighting; injuries could arise.

Well, the day continued on and the skies let up for a bit of sunshine peaking through here and there. I zoomed off to town to fuel up the vehicles, reload the propane bottles and grab just a few more groceries. Once I returned, it was time to pack up the trailer before the races began at 4. Not to mention the kids were hungry again so some leftovers got used up. We did pretty good folding up one side of the liner before race time and putting away what things we could that we didn’t need, which would help us leave for Ponoka much earlier.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for racing. The sun shone and it was fairly warm out too. As we were still in the ninth heat, our routine stayed pretty much the same. Our hook today was Speedy on the Left Lead, Nickle on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. They sure did look good out there coming off of barrel 3.

The track was heavy today so times were a bit slower than the other days. The horses started good and ran hard three wide. Our heat was a fast one, surprisingly; I thought it would be slower as the track got used more. That in turn gave us a good time, as we posted a 1:18.92, good enough for fifth on the day. So happy about that. Our outriders rode well and refrained from getting any penalties whatsoever. Cole and Dustin rode Ace and Andy. Kirk Sutherland won the day money in our heat. Once the times were calculated, Mitch Sutherland came out on top, taking home the Guy Weadick High River 2015 title. Congratulations to him.

Team 23 hustled their hineys, got things packed up in short order and was on the road by around 7:30pm. It was smooth sailing all the way to Ponoka, and we arrived close to 10pm. There was still some daylight left for setup, but not much. My little swamper Coy petered out only 20km from Ponoka. Too much playing in all that fresh air with the kids today.

We all hustled like little bumble bees setting up the pens, unloading the horses and then setting up the barn. It took us a couple of hours and then we came to the trailer for a snack before heading to bed.  Oh, and I just had to sit down and write for you all. I didn’t want you to wake up and be disappointed with no blog to be had. Thanks, all, for being such faithful followers.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

Well, I best get to bed. Morning comes early and I have a pile of laundry to get done.

Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss or dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt by the heart.

High River: Night Three (June 20)

Today was just a laid-back kind of day for me. Up early as usual, and as we have our grandson Coy with us I got to miss out on morning chores. The girls and Rick got the chores done and then Rick headed into Calgary to prepare the stalls for the upcoming Calgary Stampede. It’s just nicer to get it done before we arrive. Coy enjoyed the day playing with all the other chuckwagon kids nearby.

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I’m not sure where the rest of the day went, although a few visitors did stop by, so we took the time to sit and chat. The weather was very sketchy today. Sometimes warm, a little downpour of rain, a cold wind and even a rainbow in the distance. Best of all, though, the rain stayed away for the races.

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Rick decided to keep the same hook, but switch out Speirman for Air on the Right Lead position. Zorba was on the Right Wheel, Vegas on the Left Wheel and Spirit on the Left Lead. The same two outriders, Cole and Dustin, were again paired up with Beau and Trixtor. They continue to do their job well with no issues at all.

Just before the horn sounded Zorba jumped just a bit ahead, enough to make the wagon move forward but not enough to cause it to be ahead of the barrel. The outfit started better today than yesterday but Air didn’t turn so well on the Right Lead. Ricky came out after Kirk on 1 barrel but chose to race alongside him. The race was a good crowd-pleaser at the finish line as all four wagons were fairly close together. We posted a 1:19.47 on the day, good enough for a 19th placing, which puts us 28th in the aggregate.

Looks like we might get some rain tonight. Will be a busy day tomorrow, packing up belongings before the races to be prepared to head out to Ponoka immediately after the meet.

The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.