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.

Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 2 (August 21)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Through the night, the wind blew and the rains came down. We woke up this morning and it was still raining. Maybe not as hard but it was still raining. It wasn’t looking very promising for an evening race day. But the weather man said it was going to quit later in the day, which it did, but it was still overcast and cold throughout the rest of the day.

Very Muddy Infield

Very muddy infield

The track had been eyed up as very muddy but still race worthy. The races were to carry on.

A Wee Fireman for the Day

A wee fireman for the day

Waiting for the races to begin, I eyed this little guy just below where we were sitting. He got to spend some time with a local firefighter today. His orange lips and tongue gave away the orange pop that he was drinking.


Getting ready to hold leaders

Rick did such a great job last night that Cody would have him hold the leaders again tonight. Not sure what he’s getting paid but it sure must be good.



rolling along

Rolling along


Clean…but not for long!

Coming into the practice turn, we could all see the design on the wagon and the sponsor’s name on the tarp. It wouldn’t be that way for long, with the soupy mess in the infield and on the track. Things were looking good, though, as the base was great for the footing of the horses.

And He's Off!

And he’s off!

Coming around the Top

Coming around the top

Then the Bottom!

Then the bottom!

Once the horn sounded and the horses heard Rick’s distinctive whistle, the equine crew on the wagon knew it was time to start. Cody the skinner made a perfect turn on the top and bottom barrel. Tonight he was driving Spirit, Ranger, Vegas and Zorba.

First turn pace

First turn pace

Backstretch Booging

Backstretch boogying

Muddy race for the finish line

Muddy race for the finish line

I couldn’t be much prouder as a mom how Cody’s race panned out. When the race times were posted, he was first on the day and first in the average. Excellent!

Sitting Tall in the Box

Sitting tall in the box

I’m not sure who’s doing the laundry but I do know that the pressure washer will come in very handy tonight.

A birds eye view

A bird’s eye view

Once Cody unhooked the ponies and put them into their pens to cool down, it was up to the top of the liner to watch the rest of the heats’ performances.

Ed Wittchen our WPCA President and photographer

Ed capturing some magic moments

Throughout the season, Ed, our WPCA president, has been taking great shots of all the action of the races and events within our circuit. He’s one busy man, posting many of the photos on Facebook and writing up the association’s newsletter once a month. He does a great job getting this all written up for the enjoyment of our chuckwagon fans.

Serene Sunset

Serene sunset

Back at camp, with the fire a-blazing and cup of hot coffee and Baileys in our hands, we all enjoyed the awesome sunset in the western Alberta sky.

Never give up. Keep your thoughts and your mind always on the goal.

Bashaw Qualification Run-Off: Day 1 (August 20)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Rick, Cody, Keerin (Cody’s friend and helper for the show) and I arrived in Bashaw just past lunch time on Wednesday. There was really no hurry to get here. I totally enjoyed the hour drive south by myself, but this time I was pulling our house on wheels rather than the Freightliner with a load of horses. It was nice to see the countryside of crops that the farmers work so hard to put in.

Setting up camp for me was good, although I moved  once as the first spot didn’t seem quite right. The second time was by some trees for shade from the sun. Rick just shook his head at me. No worries, as I can handle it all by myself. You learn to hook up and unhook the trailer when you’ve been on the trail as long as I have.


A threatening night

Come the evening, we lit the campfire to enjoy a quiet evening with the neighbours. We sat out an hour or so and visited, and then the sky that came rolling in brought some wind and a bit of rain. That did it for us. It was time for bed. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the magnificent-looking sky in the horizon.

Boys will be boys

Boys will be boys

Today the sun shone and it was nice and warm. There’s a little park here on the Agriculture grounds and the not-so-small boys couldn’t resist playing on it. I don’t think they knew I was watching. It was great entertainment. Oh, to be a kid again.


Cowgirls at heart


Where’s my mom?

Before the races began this evening, I took my camera out and captured a few photos of some of the young spectators in attendance. These kids are just way too cute for words.

O Canada

O Canada

A local gal led the decent-sized crowd in our national anthem. Billy Melville, our WPCA historian and commentator, along with his beautiful wife Joanne were in attendance to call the races for the weekend.


Watch out, lead man!

Cody was off the 2 barrel tonight. He hooked Spirit, Ranger, Sneakers and Law. Rick was the lead man, just like the days gone by but he just didn’t have a horse to jump on. He was one of the best back in the day.


Turning the top

Cody and Rick brought eight horses here for him to drive. A much smaller equine lineup than what we are used to.


Leaving the dust behind

He did a great job driving around the barrels and hitting the track. He was two wide alongside Todd Baptiste all the way around.


On the home stretch

The race was a good crowd pleaser, as Cody was coming hard down the homestretch trying to catch the leader.


The finish line

He was only back a horse length at the wire. Cody did a good job capturing second on the day, with Todd being first. I’m one proud momma.


Thank to the spectators

There’s always time for a wave and  acknowledgment to the crowd. And a huge thank you goes out to his sponsor, Ken Drysdale with Midwest Pipelines Inc.


Baa baa colourful sheep


On your mark! Get set!




Gotta get the bow!

For some added entertainment for the kids and laughs for the crowd, they had a sheep scramble. The kids had to collect three of the colourful bows off the backs of the sheep. Coy was out trying his best to get one but he was just not quick enough. He will have to try again tomorrow.

Well, the forecast is for heavy rains in the night. I can hear it falling already. Hopefully it won’t dampen it too much or we may have to cancel the day tomorrow and run a day on Monday. Time will tell.

The past should be left in the past or it can steal your future. Live life for what tomorrow can bring and not what yesterday has taken away. Every day is a gift.

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 3 (August 14)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Brrrr! The temperature was somewhat colder today than yesterday. OK! It was a lot colder. I had to put my sweater on this morning during the morning breakfast preparation.  We had some rain off and on throughout the later part of the afternoon.

The day before, Bruce had gone on a quad ride out west with some friends, and along his adventure he stopped and picked some wild blueberries. Oh, they were so good. We decided to add them to our morning pancakes and were they ever delicious with a little bit of syrup.

A few of us in our camp decided to head out and try to find a garage sale or two this afternoon. We found two and a few of us came out with a deal. We were disappointed we didn’t find more but that just means less stuff to pack home.

Coming into the barrels in the mud and rain

Coming into the barrels in the mud and rain


A muddy situation!


A muddy backstretch run

Late this afternoon, the clouds began to open up and the rains came down. I would have preferred to stay in my trailer with a good book and have a nap but that didn’t happen. There were horses to tend to for the races this evening.

Rick hooked Air on the Left Lead, Nickle on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on Right Wheel. When the horn sounded, they sure went. The Team didn’t quite make it to the finish line first but came in at a close fourth. Considering all the mud that transpired after the rain, it wasn’t  too bad of a run.

Cole and Rory rode Trixter and Andy and managed to complete the figure 8 and ride within the allotted time. No penalties! Thank you, boys!


Waiting for the outriders


Rory preparing his ride


Cole adjusting the cinch


A very muddy driver

I’m thinking a trip to the laundromat might be the order of the day tomorrow, with the looks of the driver. But maybe the car wash might be better. We can send the chuckwagon and the driver to the outrider fundraiser car wash at The Brick to get all cleaned up. What a brilliant idea!

Good things come to those who believe, better things come to those who are patient and the best things come to those who don’t give up.