WPCA Awards Banquet (October 3)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well, time is ticking on and it’s been a very busy time on the Ranch this fall. When we arrive home from the chuckwagon circuit, things don’t just come to a halt. There are many things to get done before the snow begins to fall. I find that there is very little time to accomplish them so we get right at the list of chores.

Some of the crew stayed on a few days to help Rick with fencing, cleaning out the liner and a few of the other odd jobs around the yard. Rick managed to locate some hay and hauled a few loads in for the winter. One load of oats has arrived to fill the bins but more is yet to come. I have been busy cleaning out the traveling trailer on wheels, catching up on yard work and tending to the house chores. And now we have to gather up the paperwork, as it is time for our yearend accountant meeting. There is just never a dull moment around here.

The winding road

The winding road

The Golden look of fall.

The golden look of fall

The Beautiful Rocky Mountains

The beautiful Rocky Mountains

Rick and I, along with our relatives Bruce and Bonnie, took a day last week to enjoy a drive to see the fall colours and the progress in the fields. We toodled a couple of hours west to the town of Rocky Mountain House. It was a beautiful clear day so we enjoyed seeing the beautiful Rocky Mountains in the distance. What a sight to see. If you have never been to Alberta this is the place to come, as we have every kind of scenery you can imagine. While we were there we stopped in at a few of the local stores, including one of our favourites, the famous Henry’s Western Wear. This store has more fashion, tack and footwear than you can imagine. If you ever get a chance to drop in there, be sure to say hello to Mabel and the crew. They will treat you well and make sure you find just what you are looking for.

Sue presented Jaycee Gorst with the Ty Tournier Memorial Award

Sue presented Jaycee Gorst with the Ty Tournier Memorial Award

This past weekend we attended the World Professional Chuckwagon Association awards banquet, held at the beautiful Grey Eagle Casino Resort on the west side of Calgary. It was fun to get all cleaned up and enjoy an evening out. I was honoured to be asked by Kim and Leo Tournier to present an award to Jaycee Gorst. This award is in memory of their little angel up in heaven who lost his life at a very young age due to some heart health issues. An award was set up in memory of Ty to recognize a female in our chuckwagon community who shows strength, care for horses, and is also a nurturing spirit to children and family.

Terry Sudnick and Crew Accepting the award for Committee of the Year

Terri-Ellen Sudnik and crew accepting the award for Committee of the Year, Grande Prairie Stompede

The committee of the year was the hard-working Grande Prairie Stompede crew. They spend many tireless hours putting on one of the best shows up in the peace country. Without all those volunteers, there wouldn’t be any chuckwagon races. Congrats to you all!

Rick accepting a Special Tribute Award on behalf of his Dad, the Late Dave Lewis

Rick accepting a special tribute award on behalf of his dad, the late Dave Lewis

Rick said a few words in accepting an award that was given to his late father, Dave Lewis. This  award was a special recognition award, to recognize all the accomplishments that Dave had completed throughout his career.


A big smile after a night of racing

He was quite the guy. I was honoured to have called him my father-in-law. He was a very humble man, a man of few words. He loved to tease and he was satisfied with very little.

Dave Lewis and his equine crew

Dave Lewis and his equine crew

Rick learned many things from his dad pertaining to training and driving the horses, something that can never be taken away.


The cleaned-up Team 23

It was fun to see all the crew cleaned up and ready to have some fun. For a complete listing of all the awards of the evening, you can go to http://www.wpca.com and view them there.

A good read and toque and mitts

A good read and toque and mitts

A celebration of 6 years old

A celebration of the six-year-old

Birthday Boy

Birthday boy

Soon after arriving back home again, we celebrated our grandson Coy’s sixth birthday with an afternoon of swimming with friends, hot dogs, cake, ice cream and presents. We all had a great time, and I’m finding it hard to believe he’s already six years old! My, how time flies!

A westward sky in the rear-view mirror

A westward sky in the rearview mirror

Down the line

Down the line

Breathtaking Alberta Sunset

Breathtaking Alberta sunset

I had a chance to capture a few photos of the beautiful Alberta sunset sky. It can be so amazingly breathtaking! I just had to share them with you.

From Home on The Ranch,

P.S. A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself.

Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede: Day 3 (August 7)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

I arose at an early 5:30am BC time this morning. I turned on the percolator, had my shower and got ready for the day. Cody fed oats, Rick had a sleep-in morning. We enjoyed a quiet morning at the barn. With making coffee in the trailer, we save a whopping $30 from the local Tim Hortons, as the guys usually show up with those fancy doughnuts too.

Not much excitement to report to you today. Amy and Coy and Kyle and Kiley Rae and their kids headed to the amusement park on the grounds to let the kids go on some rides.





Coy met up with Logan Gorst’s kids and they had fun on some of those fancy spinning, up and down rides. I did that last year, and I tell you my stomach was a little bit woozy afterwards. I’ll leave it for them to enjoy!

Before the races started, the crowd was treated to some kids wild pony racing. This is where three kids to a team hang on to a shank tied to the pony.







When the pony comes out of the chute, they try to control him and one of them tries to mount and ride the little hummer. The crowd loves to watch them. It’s a crowd thriller.

Cody was off the 3 barrel tonight. He hooked Speedy, Speirman, Vegas and one of Chad Harden’s horses. Cody had a good turn coming on to the track three wide.


The start of the horn


Headin’ to the track

On the second turn he pulled and tried to get to the rail but the wagon behind him caught up and was only able to go two wide.  A good race for experience.



It takes team work to get to the track and back, and we sure appreciate all the extra hands that help out here in Dawson Creek with all the extra work having two outfits going out.


Started hard…caught off guard!


Charging hard

Rick hooked Air on the Left Lead, Nickle on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel.  We changed things up and put Trixter up front with Cole holding leaders and Andy went in behind with Rory throwing stove.

This was Trixter’s first time up front and I believe he did a pretty good job. When the horn sounded, they started!!! So much so you can see Rick was jolted back a bit. This is a good sign, when they start so hard. He was happy with that. We ended up with 11th on the day and 19th in the overall standings.

Whatever makes you feel bad, LEAVE IT! Whatever makes you smile, KEEP IT!

Strathmore Heritage Days: Day 4 (August 3)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well! Team 23 didn’t take very long to pack up and depart the town of Strathmore to head on home to the Ranch just outside of Wetaskiwin.

Hooked on a ready to roll

Hooked on a ready to roll

Racing before the Rodeo this year was a real treat. It gave us just enough time to get home before dark.

My friend, Mrs. Laundy Louise and I

My friend Mrs. Laundry Louise and I

Before we left, I had to go see my friend Mrs. Laundry Louise at the hospital. Just one more visit. This time I came bearing a gift from a few of the WPCA chuckwagon families. A few $$$s to help her out in one way or another. Louise was in pretty good spirits considering her unfortunate loss of both legs due to health issues. We chatted and shed a few tears together. Louise was very humbled to take the cash. She sends her many thanks to the ones who donated.


The Pace Kids Breakfast turnout

Pace Kids Auction

Pace Kids Auction

Morning breakfast for most was eaten at the Kirk Sutherland camp. Daughter Misty and her working crew hosted a pancake breakfast to raise funds for PACE KIDS. This is an organization from Calgary that helps children with disabilities. The breakfast was delicious and it was a treat not having to cook for the crew. They also had a live auction of horse-related items and a number of raffle ticket items too. It was a success, as they raised somewhere in the amount of $30,000.


Latest mini chuckwagon recipients

Team 23 Good Lookin Girls

Team 23: Good lookin’ girls

Dustin' it up!

Dustin’ it up!

The final race wrapped up, and we placed sixth on the day. A speedy one that we’ll take. Our aggregate standing was 15th overall. Congratulations to Jason Glass and his crew for winning the Strathmore Heritage Days.

We departed by 4pm and drove into the driveway by 7pm. It was nice to see home and all the greener grass and blooming flowers since we finally received some rain. The crew got busy unloading the ponies into pens to run around and stretch. Supplies were reloaded and things were taken care of before the morning departure.

My little traveling monkey

My little traveling monkey

Traveling Mr. Paleontologist

Traveling Mr. Paleontologist


Coy teaching the barn crew next door how to dig for bones

The caravan was right on time, departing the driveway by 5am. We had 646 kms to travel north to the city of Dawson Creek, BC. My little passenger was hung ho for the first 30 minutes but then it was lights out for the next two hours. He was one tired little monkey. The trip north went smoothly, and we arrived sometime around 2pm. Setting up went without a hitch. It had poured rain the night before so it was a bit muddy in spots. We didn’t get stuck so that was a good thing.

An afternoon hospital visit

An afternoon hospital visit

Our first day of the show and we had a little excitement happen. Our hired barn gal Cayley was out feeding noon oats. One of the ponies got just a bit excited, swung around, kicked up his feet and managed to graze the left side of her face. Thank the Lord, she only ended up with a small bleeding wound and a minor concussion. We took a trip to the hospital just for good measure.

We’re hoping for a dry run tonight, but it doesn’t look promising. Cross your fingers and your toes! Look for my updated blog tomorrow morning. Thanks for listening.

Strathmore Heritage Days: Day 3 (August 2)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Happy Sunday! With a few more bodies in our camp, this means things are a little busier but a whole lot more fun. We have all three of our kids here, Amy, Kaylee and Cody, our grandson Coy, our son-in-law Chris, and Cody’s girlfriend Allie. Our good friend Paul is here too with his daughter Carrie and her daughter Anna. Oh, and I can’t forget my so-called adopted daughter Candice too. With all this crew around, my time in the barn pretty much becomes nil. They look after things really well.

This leaves me to tend to the meals. It’s worked out pretty good the last two days. I dug my heels in and used up all my food in the refrigerator and freezer. It’s amazing the things you can put together when you put your mind to it. Nobody complains and they go away with their tummies full. The work gets done so it’s a pretty good trade.

A DQ Treat

A DQ treat

On hot days such as the ones we’ve been having, Rick scooped up a few kids and snuck off to the local Dairy Queen for a nice cold treat. The kids loved it!

A Crappy Move

A crappy move

When things have to be done, no job is too big or to small. Just call the retired vac truck operator. I’m not quite sure if I would be trusting him to be going in the portable unit as he attempts to move it.

Fixin the Wagon

Fixin’ the wagon

As the first few heats are going, last-minute checks happen on the wagon. Just a good safety measure.

Tales on the Trail

Tales on the trail

And then there are always time for jokes, pranks, tales and laughter. Good for the Team 23 moral.

Coming off the 2 barrel tonight, Rick hooked the same outfit of Left Leader Spirit, Right Leader Spin, Left Wheel Keenin and Right Wheel Zorba. With Keenin being a newer horse, these runs are important for him. So far he’s doing pretty good but still needs some work. But from what Ricky says, “He’s gonna be a good one!” Some of the horses are like a good glass of wine…they get better with age.

4 Abreast

Four abreast

All four outfits were four abreast. Then Obrey started to make a move on the back stretch while on the rail. Rick said two wide where he was running was a bit heavy from the watering of the track. Kirk came along the outside and passed Rick to come second. Rick was third and Kurt was fourth. It was a pretty good wagon race.

The Outriders are in Line

The outriders are in line

Huntin him down

Huntin’ him down

Outriders Cole and Dustin didn’t miss a beat, riding Beau and Trixter.

A Happy Little Guy

A happy little guy

This young fella was pretty happy when he received the mini chuckwagon giveaway tonight after our race.

Tomorrow the races begin at 1pm. We will be departing from Strathmore for home immediately thereafter, stay the night at the Ranch and head for Dawson Creek in the morning on Tuesday.

When life changes to be harder, change yourself to be stronger.

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.