Wednesday, May 30, 2007

If summer is not yet sure it has arrived in the mountains, it is safe to say it is coming along well in the foothills.

And, with summer comes some inevitabilities.

Grass, and mosquitoes! They have not really arrived yet in the mountains - as you may well guess looking at the snow in the previous post, so I was a not ready for the small swarm that greeted me when a arrived at my Little house on the prairie.

I had made a run into the city and came back with a shiny new - Tractor!

Well, at least a teeny little one with a mower under it. Thanks to Canadian Tire for using the forklift to drop it shipping crate and all into the back of my pickup. The grass had been winning it's battles with me for the last couple of years, but 'No more'! For the first time, I was able to cut all the grass, without even breaking a sweat! Okay, so I lost a little blood to sustain the horde of attackers.
Once that was done, I started some real 'farming' and started to harrow the last decade's accumulation of gopher mounds that threaten the integrity and warranty of the mighty tractor.

And if that wasn't enough ........................................?

Then with unaccustomed dedication to achievment, I set about closing in the area under the rear deck - to provide a parking spot for the mighty agricultural implement. I was not able to finish the project this time, but I impressed myself with not making it a total mess.

Harley took care of mouse control for the project and I survived the aerial assault of the blood sucker air force with a combination of a benevolent wind, long sleeves, and copious quantities of chemical deterrents.

Strangely (though I am not complaining), I did not see a single gopher this time, even though this is prime season for them. Perhaps they have all moved to Saskatchewan, which I have heard is overrun by the little terrors?

Or maybe the hawks, owls, and coyotes have been busy?

There are many signs of progress in our little neighbourhood the last while. Last visit, new decking was applied to our bridge. Today, the grader was there doing a bang-up job of smoothing the roads, and a trencher was laying cable to our new, soon-to-be installed remote controlled entry gate. I'm not yet sure if we will have to use 'garage door' type remotes, or punch a combination at roadside?

I know there hasn't been any Mexican beach pictures for a while, but would you be satisfied with a couple of shots of my neighbors houses?

I'm back to slaving away at work, where the prime focus seems to be on picking little hobos off the train and trying to return them to their mother. Three little black bear cubs left home and caught a freight into British Columbia last week, riding on a grain car where they had been feeding on spilled grain. The first homecoming worked out OK, but I understand they did it again -guess they thought it was fun. That will end when they find themselves on a night train west and end up in Kamloops or Chilliwack, where no one knows their mother (Bear #6 -green tag), or where they came from.

Stay tuned, huh?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

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Most of the snow has left the valley bottoms (for now!), so I was able to venture down the old 1A highway west of Lake Louise to the continental divide. This road has been closed to vehicles for quite a few years now, so to see this display you have to walk, cycle, ride horse, ski, dogsled, or find other non-mechanical ways to get there. It is sad to see such a fine structure falling into disrepair. This display marks the Alberta - BC boundary, and a small creek runs down the boundary and splits into two. One half flows east towards the Atlantic, the other half west towards the Pacific!

I found some wildlife to photograph, and contrary to what you are thinking, this squirrel has likely never seen a human before, but was very unafraid and did not mind me getting within 6 feet to watch him eat his lunch. Much of my hiking of late does not involve trails, just bushwacking through the area, looking for old cabins, game trails, historical artifacts, and of course wildlife.

There was quite a mix of weather on the long weekend, including sun, rain, wind, and of course - snow. And it has not changed any since the weekend. In the afternoon, a thunderstorm, this evening, snow. Huge fluffy white flakes floating down, then the sun came out and shone brightly once again. It was so wintery outside that the 'microwave tiger' decided that it would be just as well to stay inside and give the chipmunks, squirrels, and mice a day off.

The START of the snow!

The next morning!! (Yes, this is MAY 24th!)

Only six weeks till Merritt!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Although it might seem that summer is here in the valley bottoms, it is still a fair ways off in the high country.

I decided to have a look at the Tak Falls road today in Yoho National Park.

There are still avalanche deposits across the lower sections of the road.

I expect that the large slide paths that cross the upper section of the road will have deposits on the road of ten to twenty feet.

The river is still running fairly clear, which is an indication that serious melting has not yet begun in the alpine areas of the park.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Meanwhile, .......... back at work.

We are just hanging around the mountains!

We do a lot of mountain rescue at work, and one of our standard techniques for getting into steep or rough terrain is to use the helicopter.
Since it is usually too steep or rough for the machine to land, the rescuers typically fly in to the scene hanging on a long line underneath the helicopter. When the patient is packaged for evacuation, the helicopter returns and a rescuer flies out with the patient in a specialized stretcher.

Although the technique is used many times a year, we hold training sessions at least once annually to refine the procedures and keep our rescue pilots and wardens in top form.
These photos are from a practice session we just conducted in Banff.

Some might not consider this work, but this is what we get paid for!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Well, I guess this is 'Springtime in the Rockies'!

Just when you think it is spring, mother nature throws a curve ball at you and reverts to winter conditions.

I had painstakenly shovelled all the remaining snow in shady parts of the yard - On to the lawn.

This is done to make sure the grass does not start to grow until at least June! No grass means no mowing! But I needn't have worried as everything was covered by a nice layer of fresh, white snow that does not melt nearly as fast as the old dirty snow I was shovelling.

What month does global warming start? Wonder if I can get a Beta version?

Stay tuned for 'how I spent my day hanging around' (from the underside of a helicopter).

Coming soon.