Monday, January 26, 2009

The countdown to departure for the south continues - with agonizing sluggishness!

And last weeks warm temps have departed - in no uncertain terms, leaving us back in a deepfreeze, albeit a pretty one.

Much of the snowcover is now adorned by some huge surface hoar formations.
If not broken up by winds, or melted, this may become another critical layer in the snowpack once it is covered up by large accumulations of new snow. It may become the layer on which future avalanches slide.
Near Bow Lake, these 'sun dogs' are evidence of the cold.

  1. A parhelion.
  2. A small halo or rainbow near the horizon just off the parhelic circle.

Num Ti Jah Lodge is ... Open!
More mountains along the Icefields Parkway

And along Highway 11, east of the park.

It was pretty, but cold.
Below is a photo of one of my summer time camp spots, along the shores of Abraham Lake.

Here is how the spot looked back in July. Which do you prefer?
Waterfowl Lake.

And, the boundary between Banff and Jasper National Parks along the Icefields Parkway.15 days, and counting down!

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's time to start getting excited! Only one more set of days off before I can pack the camper and leave this frigid land. (That's still almost 3 looooooooong weeks)
It's actually been pretty nice here the last week - very spring like, but that's not the point. I know there are many more feet of snow to fall (and shovel), and months of sub-freezing temperatures yet to endure.
And another potential change of plans! I was not planning to go down Baja this year, for the first time in three years, because my new truck needs ultra low sulphur diesel fuel, which they do not yet guarantee to supply in Mexico. I had resigned myself to staying in the sunny states of America for the next while. But, ... I had a chat with a service guy at the GM dealer today and he said there should not be a problem with the truck or the warranty as long as most of the driving was highway driving. So that opens up the possibilities again. Hmmm ... :-)

Okay, so what's been happening around home? Well, one of my friends and neighbors just moved out.While I was sorry to see them leave, they had to leave behind their winter firewood supply, much of which is now stacked in my back yard! Don't worry, I paid him for it.I think it will easily last me till departure date.
I've been out driving the roads of late, and came across these artistic snowballs rolling down the hills at the edge of the road.

Workwise, there has been a lot of coverage on the avalanche situation this year, with many fatalities involving snowmobilers primarily. The ski areas control avalanche terrain inside their boundaries. Normally, no avalanche control work is done in the back country, but we do control paths that affect the roads and highways in the park. Last week I was involved in closing the Trans Canada Highway, so we could safely control slide paths threatening the highway and the CPR railroad. A helicopter was used to place explosives in the start zones. One of our staff took some video and you can see it and several others on YouTube.

Back at home, both the camper and the 5th wheel are vying for the chance to head south, but I think the camper will win once again, for economic reasons, and the ease of re-winterizing if necessary, when I have to come back in late April.

Also at work, I have been doing a number of roadside wildlife surveys, and track surveys. Usually don't see too much, but I did manage to get this shot of a cow moose along the road,
and also this bull moose at a distance.

I also found time to play tourist and check our some of the displays at roadside pullouts - at least at the one that isn't barricaded for the winter. I think you can read the display info if you click on each photo?

I am always intrigued to see how people happen onto my blog. In one case recently, someone googled 'razor wire, cape lookout' and found my blog as I (and many others it turns out!) had commented on a particular house on the coast that looks more like a fortress than a residence, with a high fence and razor wire, more suited to Guantanamo bay, it would seem? Then, I got caught up in another blog (perhaps the searchers?) of cyclers who had passed by there a couple years ago. You can check out that blog HERE!
Or you can look at my surreptitious photos of the house in my archives at, well, here!
I read their blog for quite a while as they passed through some of my favourite travel and camping areas.
And then someone from Portland looked at a whole big bunch of my photos and links! Maybe it was the bicycle blogger?

Another Googler found my blog by searching for 'wreck scene photos of 5th wheel campers', but only because I had used those words in another context and order. Not sure just why they were looking for that kind of pic?

But I really like the ones that search for 'Harley,' 'Roadtrip', 'Baja' etc, because you know it is actually your blog they are looking for, and just lost the link!

So I have been reading lots of other travel blogs, some of which you can find on my blog list, getting in the mood for the coming adventures. I hope to track down some of the other writers this year to compare notes and share travel information.

It will be a different trip this year without my long-time co-pilot Harley, who was always great company; and entertainment! I'll miss ya buddy!

Speaking of attitude; I guess I could always open up the passenger seat to girlfriends (past or future!), but that could spell nothing but trouble - or fun!
Till next time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

There's good news and bad news this time around. The good news is, the truck you see buried in snow will be saddled up with the camper in just over a month, and will be headed south, south, south!The bad news is; the truck is totally covered in snow! And so is the camper and the 5th wheel. I'll be shoveling them off again whenever I have time - during daylight hours.
Welcome to the spies from Parks Canada! Apparently, they have nothing better to do than read my blog and try to determine if I possibly took a photo while I was at work! All I can say is 'get a life'!
After several large dumps of snow, which incidentally convinced even me to strap on the boards and do a few powder runs, the sun came out and the results were some irresistible photo ops.
I had to take a 10 second coffee break for each of them.
All of these photos were taken along the Icefields Parkway, also known and the Banff-Jasper highway, or Highway #93, north of Lake Louise, south of Jasper.
Mt. Wilson, near the junction of #93 and #11 highways.

There were some high elevation winds, transporting the fresh snow around, no doubt increasing the avalanche hazard in these back country areas.

In fact, the reason I was forced to drive through this wondrous scene, was to close the road north to Jasper, till the avalanche hazard along the road was safely controlled. I wonder if I can say that?
In fact, at various times over the last few days, most or all the highways leading from Alberta into British Columbia have been closed for hours or days due to avalanche hazard, or driving conditions.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The rash of road wreckage continued after Christmas.
The roads were generally icy, but no matter how much sand was applied, it blows clear and reverts to being very slippery again.
All the holiday travelers are in a hurry to get somewhere, and some may not even have winter tires! Got called to a wreck here in the morning, but was quite surprised to get another call to the same spot in the afternoon. The holes in the snowbank were side by side. If the morning vehicle had not been towed out, it would be touching the vehicle in the picture. And this was on a straight stretch.
In another ugly wreck, it appears that this minivan was hit by a jacknifed semi truck sliding down the hill right across the road.
We had five ambulances on scene, and fire departments from both neighboring provinces. The weather was bad and the STARS helicopter could not respond.
Last I heard, everyone pulled through.

It was time for me to get out of there, so I headed out to my place in the (quiet) country.
This is the Trans Canada Highway, looking west towards the mountains, on New Years eve.
We celebrated the new year in Sundre, then on the first I headed out to my 'other' place.

Looks like it is still standing - Thanks to my neighbors for keeping an eye on things for me!
Ah, yes; peace and quiet - even if a bit on the cold side; and I had to shovel snow!

At least the driveway was freshly plowed.

And there was no grass to mow!
My new little trees are poking throgh the snow.
Deer tracks.
My well creates a little spring in the front yard and it is a popular deer watering hole - as you can see by the tracks coming from all directions.
Bridge over the James River.
And, some horses out in the pasture on my trip home.
Here's hoping it is about 5 weeks till I can head south for a few months!