Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What can I say? It was just a beautiful fall day in Yoho National Park.

Just a couple more late photos from Ottawa. Taken Sunday morning from the 25th floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel - looking west and north across the Ottawa river into Gatineau.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

On Sunday, September 24, 2006,thousands of police and peace
officers from across the country gathered on Parliament
Hill to honour colleagues who have died in the line
of duty.
In the past year, 10 police and peace officers have made
ultimate sacrifice in keeping communities safe. They are:

Wildlife Protection Officer Nicolas Rochette
(Québec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife)

Wildlife Protection Officer Fernand Vachon
(Québec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife)

Constable Valérie Gignac (Laval Police, QC)
Constable John D. Goyer (Abbotsford Police, BC)

Corporal Matthew Dinning (Canadian Military Police)

Corporal Randy Payne (Canadian Military Police)

Senior Constable John C. Atkinson
(Windsor Police, ON)

Senior Constable Donald J. Y. Doucet
(Sault Ste. Marie Police, ON)

Constable Robin L. Cameron
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police, SK)
Constable Marc J. D. Bourdages
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police, SK)

Other historical names
that were added are:

Constable Harry L. McKenney, July 17, 1946
(B.C. Provincial Police, BC)
Constable Murdock J. MacDonald, September 3, 1948
(Sydney City Police, NS)
Constable Alfred Sauvé, May 24, 1951
(Hull Police, QC)
Constable Kenneth G. Kornelson, May 17, 1965
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

Their names have been added to
the Memorial Honour Roll which
now includes
the names of 729 fallen officers.
The Service is a lasting tribute to the
sacrifice of those brave men and women.
Their names are forever etched on the glass panels
erected along the perimeter wall adjacent to the
Memorial Pavilion.
In 1998, the federal government officially
proclaimed the last Sunday of
each September as Police and Peace Officers'
National Memorial Day. This
Service gives Canadians an opportunity to express
their appreciation for the
ultimate dedication of these police and peace officers.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

For a change of pace, this weekend finds me in Ottawa to attend the National Peace Officer's Memorial on Parliament Hill.
I spent the morning walking around on the hill, and having a look for a number of friends' names on the wall.
A damp day in the nation's capitol, but nice and warm, and the humidity is welcome this time of year.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On Monday I saw a nice young bull moose. Unfortunately, most of the moose I see these days are dead - victims of either the highway or the railroad. This one met his end on the Trans Canada Highway in Yoho National Park. Park Wardens are not permitted to enforce their own speed regulations any more, and the RCMP detachment in Field, BC was closed many years ago, so it is pretty much a freeway out here much of the time. This one was likely hit by a big truck, judging by the debris at the site, but they rarely stop or report the accident if they can drive away.
After hauling away the remains, so as not to offend other speeding drivers on the road, I was off to check out reports of a forest fire near Saskatchewan Crossing. Even though I was on my way to a 'fire', I was passed by many tourists intent on getting past the scenery as fast as they possibly could. Eventually, out on the highway towards Rocky Mountain House, I searched for the elusive smoke. Reports put it between five and fifty kilometers from the junction. Given the residual smoke in the area from fires burning in southern B.C. and northern Washington state, it was not an easy task. Eventually, my many years of experience paid off, and led me more or less directly to the fire location. By examining the subtle clues, I was able to figure out the most likely location of the raging (not) inferno. There was just something suspicious that I was able to detect in the way those three helicopters kept circling the same spot across the river, just outside the park boundary!
Getting there was a bit of a struggle and I had to improvise to keep from breaking the warden's rule. I opened the gate with a master key, but found the trail obstructed by not one, but three trees blocking my way. I actually had to use a 'manual' axe to remove them. There was no owner's manual or warning labels, but I had not forgotten how to start it up. Otherwise, it would have meant contravening the Rule of the 5 W's. Basically, the rule reads We Won't Walk Will We? So when I got there, I took some photos just for you guys. (and gals!)
Fire location: 51 59.61n 116 39.33w Use your Google earth, described in earlier posts. It's fun, and best of all - free.
Two of the helicopters were bucketing the fire picking up water from the Saskatchewan river; the third was used for spotting.
For more info on forest fires in Alberta - if you are really bored - check out
Disclaimer: The photo with flames is NOT this fire. It is from the Alberta website.
or Parks Canada Fire links at

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Here we are again, a few days later, handicapped by a partial computer crash, but really enjoying the awesome weather! Booked off a short weekend this time and went up to my old stomping grounds - Jasper!
I went up Friday evening right after work. The drive was very scenic as always, but a bit hazy from all the forest fires in Washington state and southern B.C.
Cruised through a couple of old (and new) hangouts, but did not find anyone that I knew. Grabbed a bite and headed out to the horse pasture near town that serves as the location of the world famous (?) Jasper Warden Days! A few campers were already on scene, so I pulled in and built a nice fire - which lured a few hardy souls out of the assorted campers and tents nearby for a discussion of how we would fix the Parks if we were in charge. And it does need fixin'.
But I digress. Lots of fun was had by all, the retirement of two wardens was celebrated, and the band played, and the people danced the night away. As usual, the after-hours party began immediately afterwards and featured several violins (fiddles?), guitars, an accordian, a flute, and likely a few harmonicas.
Camping was random, amongst the trees and piles of horsey poop. Can I say that in a blog?
Made a quick trip to my old home at Maligne Lake on Saturday before the competition got rocking, then played the 'tourist' on the way home on Sunday. Visited the now almost deserted Athabasca Falls station. Pretty sad to see it that abandoned and run down.
Incredible warm sunny weather for this time of the fall, so I enjoyed the trip all the way home.

Stay tuned for the next installment called 'Fire on the Boundary', featuring lots of helicopters bucketing a fire right on our park boundary! No flames, just helicopters. Okay?
Don't forget to review all the great Google ads for related goodies.
'Harley on a sign' back by popular request!
Don't ask me about Hewlett Packard customer service. Because, well, there is none. Luckily my home computer (Sony) is working just fine!

Monday, September 4, 2006

I like this idea of getting long weekends every second week! I had a few options in mind for the long weekend, but family considerations trumped the others this weekend. I left a day early and drove down through Cranbrook and almost to Yahk. Had been out early in the morning mountain biking and hiking in 6" of fresh snow in the mountains, looking for a missing hiker, so when I found a quiet rest stop off the highway, it didn't take much convincing to stop for the night. Next morning through Creston and the Salmo-Creston summit and Kootenay Pass (1774m), however high that was - I think it was around 5600'! Then on in to Trail - where I used to work briefly, many years ago, and to Rossland - home of Red Mountain and a flurry of extreme condo development.

I travelled north from Kaslo, BC on highway 31. Well, highway #31 is pretty interesting - for a numbered provincial highway! Even in the Kaslo area, it is not that wide as it follows along between the frequent cliff faces and the lake. It is very scenic, though, and there are several provincial campgrounds along the way. Once past Meadow Creek, however the road becomes essentially a gravel logging road, in many places barely one lane with no speed signs, curve signs or warnings other than 'no services' ahead.

While the road is not nearly as rough as some I described in Mexico (see Feb 2006), there are some weird similarities. I was puttering along at about 60km/hr when I came to a construction ahead sign with a 70km/hr speed limit! I resisted the urge to speed up to comply with the limit, but then I found that all work had stopped for the weekend. The true safe speed through the construction zone - which was repairing sections of the road washed out by the Lardeau river - was about 20km/hr. The road was posted with warning signs that specified the proper radio frequency (166.080) to use to avoid getting run over by logging trucks. This is kind of strange on a provincial highway, but totally expected on an active logging road. Since there was no log hauling evident, I did not bother digging out my 2-way radio, but I wondered what the average tourist was expected to do? Unlike the 'safety boulders' used so efficiently and effectively in Mexico, the BC method of marking hazards is positively high-tech. Orange plastic bags with some sand in the bottom. That's it!

My last attempt at getting online had been at Ainsworth Hot Springs, but my mouse was acting up, or so I thought, so I gave up trying. Also found some signal in Trout Lake, but did not realize at the time that all the USB ports on my HP Pavilion dv8000 notebook had malfunctioned, and I was trying to use a USB wi-fi adapter instead of the built-in one. Unfazed (well, not really), I carried on towards Beaton. I had heard that the St. Leon hot springs on the way to Nakusp were now closed to the public, and sure enough, there was a no trespassing sign at the start of the St. Leon forestry road. Bummer. A very nice backcountry spring that was one of my favourites.

I glassed across the lake from Ainsworth and checked out a nice primitive campground at Eagle bay, but there appeared to be a lot of campers there due to the long weekend. So I drive right on to the Galena Bay ferry without any wait and headed for Revelstoke again. Decided then that I had best not miss the Brent Lee Band playing for the weekend at Wild Bill's in Banff, so I headed there direct with a stop at home in Lake Louise for a shower and clean clothes. Another excursion comes to an end.