Friday, December 26, 2008

Jingle Bells, Noel Noel and all that. Feliz Navidad.
I know that I should be in Mexico, or at least California or Arizona, but alas, I am still at home, suffering from the cold instead of avoiding sunburn, like I should be.

Christmas eve brought a rash of wrecks on the roads, but fortunatley, no injuries were reported. We got called to 3 wrecks at once in the late afternoon. One pickup (below) managed to jump the guardrail, rip off a wheel, flip twice, and end up in the ditch with no injuries. We let the ambulance check out the people and dog - just to be sure.

Another collision at the same spot proved minor and the participants exchanged information and carried on; one had to change a flat tire as a result. And another driver hit the ditch just down the road.
After clearing up those, another car reported hitting a deer, so I spent some time unsuccessfully searching for wildlife victims.

How did you spend your Christmas? Here's how I spent mine, after I quit working the day shift.
Here's how the roof of the fifth wheel looked, as I just started to shovel off the snow. And I know that snow and fifth wheels should never ever be in the same sentence!

Next is a view of the truck camper roof - from the fifth wheel roof.
Fifth wheel roof almost shoveled clear. Merry merry Christmas.
The 5'er from the roof of the truck camper - whose small solar panel keeps the battery charged, if I keep the snow off it.
And, the bigger solar panels that do a great job of keeping the batteries in the 5th charged right up.
On Christmas, I went out again in the daylight to search for the deer that may have been injured in the collision with the car. First I spotted the coyote, then I found the eaten remains of a deer, then I spotted the wolf pack lounging on a hillside nearby, so I know they had enjoyed their holiday feast. There is a good chance that they were chasing the deer when it was hit on the highway. They were too far away for a useful picture with my little camera, but I have some pictures to post as I brought a friend for a look.

Just missed seeing the whole pack today on a nearby highway - maybe tomorrow.

It's pretty quiet around the house now, without the little furry guy following me around telling me his cat tales. Miss you lots, Harley.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's hard to know how to compose this blog entry.

At least it has been less than a week since the last entry - which is better than my average when not on the road.

But sadly, the only real 'star' of the blog will not be taking an active part in future entries. Harley (the most amazing cat) will no longer outshine the Golden Gate Bridge, talk back to the US Customs or the Mexican Army checkpoints, and he will not try to leap out of my truck into the drive-thru window at a Tim Horton's! He will not stroll the Mexican beaches or chase geckos, or stalk flocks of gulls on the coast. Nor will he curl up contentedly on my lap as we drive on further adventures.

Within a few hours of the last post on December 18, he was laying quietly on the carpet behind my desk, patiently waiting for me to come to bed so he could crawl in and stay warm!
Within minutes, a massive heart attack or blood clot occurred, and my best little buddy and traveling companion of 9 years was gone.

It was a complete surprise and shock, but I was just glad I was there with him, to hold and comfort him as he passed on to his happy camping grounds.

To be fair, and to save him from embarrassment, I did not tell you that he had been diagnosed with diabetes prior to last year's road trip. He was on special food, but it was not enough and his back legs slowly lost their coordination and strength. If you were counting, you may have noticed that he did not pose on many signs last year, but his attitude and demeanor did not change at all.
Back at home, working with the local veterinarian, we finally found the correct insulin dosage, administered twice a day by injection, and his mobility returned. I was thrilled when he once again was able to walk and run properly, and even zoom up the stairs from the basement - when the goblins were after him! And his litter box, which had been moved by necessity to the main floor, was moved back to it's original location. He was as happy and content as ever.
Even the needles, which I had not looked forward to, proved to be no problem at all for either of us, and he rarely even noticed them with his little face deep in the food trough!
So, with the apparent success of the treatments, I was making plans for another 5 or ten years of travel with my little buddy. We don't really know if the diabetes had any link at all to his final medical condition, but I do know that he had never looked better.

This post (and all future posts) is therefore dedicated to my friend and travel companion of many years.

1 May 1998 - 18 December 2008
(photos below)

I’m Still Here

Friend, please don't mourn for me,

I'm still here, though you don't see.

I'm right by your side each night and day,

And within your heart I long to stay.

My body is gone but I'm always near,

I'm everything you feel, see or hear.

My spirit is free, but I'll never depart,

As long as you keep me alive in your heart.

I'll never wander out of your sight.

I'm the brightest star on a summer night.

I'll never be beyond your reach.

I'm the warm moist sand when you're at the beach

I'm the colorful leaves when fall comes around,

And the pure white snow that blankets the ground.

I'm the beautiful flowers of which you're so fond,

The clear cool water in a quiet pond.

I'm the first bright blossom you'll see in the spring,

The first warm raindrop that April will bring.

I'm the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,

And you'll see that the face in the moon is mine.

When you start thinking there's no one to love you,

You can talk to me through the Great Spirit above you.

I'll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,

And you'll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.

I'm the hot salty tears that flow when you weep,

And the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.

I'm the smile you see on a baby's face.

Just look for me, friend, I'm everyplace!

Author Unknown

Before I was big and handsome!

My first real camping trip - to Yellowknife, NWT!

Ya, ya, some ol' bridge. I need a cat nap.
Biggest tummy

November 2008
At least I got to go on a few short trips in the new 5th wheel!

I like the 5th wheel, too!
My favourite hunting grounds near Sundre. We went here a lot.

Mexican hunting cat.
Cape Mendocino, California.
Waterton Lakes National Park, AB
Jasper National Park, AB

That bridge again. Rub my belly, OK?
Looking for sea lions ...
Utah movie set.
Canyonlands National Park, UT

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ
My sixth birthday + card!

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet
goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and
play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those
who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember
them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss
someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and
looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs
carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you
cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses
rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once
more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never
absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown... (link)

If you've read this far, there's a chance you might like to look at even more pics of Harley here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on my December 7th post.

The bear story that hit the media as a result of the photos I posted on the blog has only gotten bigger!

At least two of the photos first featured on this blog were featured on a CFCN TV Calgary news story tonight.
Click on the link below to see the story.

Or look at this CTV Link.

I have been hoping to encounter a group of wolves in the area recently, but the best I could come up with was some tracks that were almost warm!
I found these tracks of a group of at least four wolves patrolling the roadside looking for a meal.
Fortunately the 'carnage' department has been quiet. There was a call regarding a head-on collision between a car and a semi-trailer - which is usually not a good thing.

But in this case the truck was moving slowly up a steep hill when the car allegedly lost control and crashed into it. The truck's bumper was barely bent, but the rental car did not fare so well. No injuries were reported.

I have been religiously following the travel blogs of Tioga and George, the RV-Dreams Journal,
Len's Travels, and many others, wishing I was on the road with them, or at least somewhere warm.

Hopefully, developments on the home front this week will enable me to start marking some dates on the calendar when Harley and I can flee the cold and finally get back on the road by February or March at the latest :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In case you were wondering, -40 degrees Celsius is the same as 40 below zero Fahrenheit.

For those of you who think you are reading an RV related blog, I can see why you would be confused.
Well, let me tell you, the temperature in my fifth wheel this morning was -40 (-40.6, actually), and I'm quite sure the same was to be said for the truck camper.

Makes me wonder if I drained all the pipes properly?
Fortunately, I was able to read this from the remote thermometer by my bed, and did not have to experience this in person.

So, what does a sane person do when this happens? They get the heck out of there asap to somewhere a whole lot warmer.
So what did I do? After putting as many logs on the fire as would fit into the wood stove, I decided it would be a great morning for a nice refreshing outdoor - hot tub!
So, before I went off to work, I spent a relaxing 15 minutes under the stars getting warmed through to the core. There was no wind, so getting out is not a concern at all. Just watch out for metal door knobs and doors that lock behind you when you close them.

I was planning to go for a bit of a ski today, but ended up getting my work truck stuck in deep, cold snow. It did well till it was pushing too much with the front bumper. A bit of shovelling solved the problem of being stuck or getting cold.
Dang, forgot to take any incriminating photos!

Speaking of being stuck, this car did a much better job of getting stuck than I.
Seems the driver zigged when the road zagged, and the car was partially buried.
The driver took advantage of an ambulance ride, but did not appear to be seriously hurt :)
It's that time of year again to brush up on the avalanche rescue skills, so we headed out to participate in some scenarios involving buried dummies, buried tranceivers, and the rescue dog.
You will be glad to know that all the dummies survived the dog bites and probe strikes.

In the 'narrowly averted carnage' department there were a couple of new entries.

This truck was getting 'tired' (haha) and sent a couple of wheels on 'walkabout' while driving down the highway.
One wheel hit on on-coming semi truck, but it was a glancing blow that did minimal damage.
If it had hit a small car, or started to bounce ... you can guess the results.
And, earlier that day another big rig got 'direction-challenged', and exited the highway by crossing the oncoming traffic lane - fortunately without including any other vehicles in his icy dance.
He did come up against the wildlife fence along the highway and removed a few of the posts.
Once again, no one was hurt, except a large elk silhouette sign that was flattened. At least this time, only a plywood elk was killed.
On the bright side, perhaps if the cold snap continues, it will kill off a lot of those nasty pine beetles that are planning next years infestation and eastward spread.

Till next time ...