The lazy hazy days of summer took on new meaning as we lingered in Alberta. The summer days were hot and dry, and in neighbouring British Columbia it was even hotter, and dryer. Forest fires bumped Covid-19 off the top headline. The skies looked foggy, and the nights a blaze of red glory. Luckily, we got to spend a lot of this time at D&S’s cabin on Beauvais Lake, so can’t complain — too much 😉.
The hot summer days not only gave rise to vast forest fires, but also seemed to spawn powerful thunderstorms. A couple of days before we came down, Beauvais was hit with a particularly nasty thunderstorm, including some very large hail. Reports were of golf ball or larger sized stones. We arrived a few days later, and the area around the cabin looked like a war zone. The surrounding spruce and poplar trees had been completely pummelled, leaving huge amounts of debris all over the area and deck. It took us three days of semi-hard work to clean it all up.
And then, just as we’d got most things cleaned up, another heavy hailstorm hit:
Notwithstanding Nature trying to kill us with hail and smoke, our time at the cabin was wonderful (as usual). We did some paddling, and a bit of walking and (Ann) swimming. And we even got to spend a few days with the newlyweds when they came down to relax.
Eventually we shifted back up to Calgary to spend a few more days of good company and good ping pong.
We then shifted our lives to our little motorcycles, and headed for our house sit in Castlegar BC, with one more stop-over at the cabin.
We loaded up the little bikes and headed out early the next day, destination: Castlegar, BC. It’s a lovely 450 km ride through the mountains along highway #3, and it was pretty nice. But on this trip the temperatures were brutally hot, and we travelled through sometimes intense areas of smoke from all the fires. It was like travelling through fog. We arrived safe and sound, and got introduced to Jamie and the small gang of four-legged critters: Loki and Freya the two cats, and then Oliver, or Ollie, the dog.
The house itself was located outside of Castlegar, in a place called Robson. It’s on a largeish fenced-in corner lot. While the house is old (for the area), Jamie and her partner Andrew have done a tremendous amount of work to upgrade things. But most importantly, it’s surrounded by beautiful rock faces and lovely mountains, with the Columbia River just a couple of blocks away.
Unfortunately, we rarely saw much of the beauty since we were most often socked in with smoke. But equally happily, the animals were a constant joy to be around.
When we arrived, Andrew was already off climbing mountains with his friends, and Jamie was attempting to fly out of Castlegar airport on her way to Corner Brook Newfoundland where she grew up and still has family. Unfortunately, the smoke was so bad that her flights kept getting cancelled and re-routed. She eventually found a flight out of Kelowna — some 300 km away. Andrew drove back from his climbing expeditions, and managed to get her there and on her way.
BC Smoke map
It was like this for most of our stay
The smoky conditions persisted through most of our time there. Some days were so bad the air tasted like campfire. We often had to limit our outdoor time. But Ollie needed constant playtime… and so did we.
Our time was wonderful and pretty relaxing. Ollie was a great excuse to do a bit of running around, and of course Ann found the local swimming pool. She also tended their wonderful garden, and we got to reap some benefits with fresh veggies and greens.
Andrew ended up at the house more than expected, so we were able to get to know him a bit better. While we were there he managed to install a new sink, get the upstairs kitchen fully functional, and build a couple of end-tables. He’s an incredibly talented guy. And speaking of talent, we managed to get in a Sunday Jam session. Guess why we picked this song:
Most of our time was spent enjoying the space, and hanging out with the cute kitties and doggie. Even through the night, the four-leggers would join us in bed. It was cute… until I got up to pee and came back to find my place had been taken. Harumph😡
Sadly, our time in Castlegar came to an end. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Calgary where good family/friends and drinks awaited.
Monique and Phil even came over for an evening for food, godly banter and singing.
After a few more days of Calgarian bliss we loaded up our little red car and headed off to Cochrane to reconnect with Carol and Pete, and their zoo of amazing critters. We were last at their “Tudor House” in 2019, just before the beginning of the pandemic, so it felt a bit like a homecoming as we drove back through the gate.
We quickly got reacquainted with their collection of animals, including: Rocky, the little chihuahua that everyone loves; Sassy, the sneezy kitty; Aila, the weird Siamese; Oscar, the (near) bobcat; and Muckluck, the sweet but shy barn cat. Jade the quiet parakeet and Merlin the yackity-yack parrot complete the indoor compliment.
Moving outside we have the big critters: Angel & Mercedes, the “Pet me! No, pet me!!” mini-donkeys. And last but certainly not least there is Ibn, the horse with attitude, and big Tucker, the gentle giant.
It was really great to reconnect with Carol and Pete, and to experience their place in the warm weather. The house/farm is peaceful, and it’s a joy to be surrounded by little lives — yes, even the yacky parrot is kinda nice.
Having that many animals also kept the day fairly full and somewhat regimented. Mornings were spent servicing the needs of little dog (gotta pee!), changing bird cage waters (birds poop in their water☹️), and feeding and scooping cat poop. After breakfast it was out to the stables area for more poop cleanup.
I guess you can say I spent most of my time as a pooper-scooper.
One of the great things about the Cochrane house is that it entices people to come and visit. Monique and Phil came out very early, bringing with them their friend Abigail and her 18-month-old daughter. The little one was a real hit with the miniature donkeys. They just seemed to be utterly fascinated with the miniature human — perhaps they felt a personal affinity.
We had a lot of fun that day. Monique gave Ann (and me) some lessons in how to manage the horses better. Simple tips like blowing gently at their noses so they can smell you seemed to really help. Of course, as Nique was leaving we had to remind her that Rocky wasn’t for sale.
Over the following days and weeks others dropped by. Donna & Sam came out to spend a few hours working with the horses, exploring the area, and of course playing with Rocky. A little later Peggy, Phil and Marc visited, and finally Donna came out on her own. It was nice that we could play host for a change.
The days slipped by. I mostly enjoyed hanging with the little critters, while Ann channelled her inner-Albertan and really took to big critter husbandry.
Under the tutelage of Monique, Donna and YouTube, Ann became quite confident and proficient with her horse work. She was able to get fly masks on and off easily, and started a daily regime of grooming and hoof cleaning. I stuck to where my skills were most appreciated; managing the dung pile.
We really enjoyed our time at Pete & Carol’s, and would love to come back again if the timing works out. But as with all things, our stint here came to an end. We said our final goodbyes to all the animals, spent a lovely evening with the owners, and then headed back to D&S’s.
Our plans are a bit loose right now. We have to get our little motorcycles prepped and then stored for winter. They’ll once again spend the cold months stashed at the Crook Farm (Kevin & Barb’s place near Pincher Creek — Thanks you two!). So a drive to the cabin, and then to the farm, will be our last journey with them this season.
Sometime after that we’ll be heading east to begin our winter house sits in Ontario, but hopefully with an extended stay in the Thunder Bay/Kakabeka/Rossport area. We have so many good friends there. So we’re watching the growth of the 4th Covid wave, and hoping it doesn’t wash away all our plans as it has in the previous deluges.