Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May Long Weekend

The May long weekend saw us headed back out to Nordegg.  This will be the drill through most of the summer as we have a lot of work to do out there this year.  The push is on to get everything finished up as much as possible through this summer, and then we can relax and enjoy the place, without too much additional work, after that.
We loaded up two trucks full of stuff, and a trailer and headed out to Nordegg for the May Long Weekend.  It was a bit of a battle to get our oldest daughter to come along as she is getting to the age where she prefers to stay home.  But we have lots of work to do out at the cottage, and she needs to be part of the family and help out.  We finally hit the road late Saturday morning.
The girls camped out in the garage, with their menagerie of rabbits, skinny pigs and dogs.  For those not familiar with "skinny pigs" they are a hairless version of the more traditional guinea pig.  The girls had foam mattresses spread out on the gravel floor in between all the cages.   We had a couple of small electric space heaters running to keep the chill out.  The girls were convinced that the paint fumes in the cottage would not be good for their beloved pets.
Modern latex paint doesn't smell nearly as badly as the old stuff used to.  Margarit and I stayed in the cottage all weekend, and last weekend as well, and didn't really notice much of a smell at all.  We worked all weekend long and now have most of the painting done.  We are ready for carpet installation in the bedrooms and living room.  Seems we work best when we have some sort of deadline.  With the exception of one high wall, and parts of two others, all of the rooms are now painted with two coats.  After the carpet is installed we will continue with the last of the painting, and then move on to interior trim, and wood panelling.
We collected some more flat stones to use for a section of floor beneath our wood stove.  The girls had a bucket of water and scrubbed all these stones.  We've set them aside and now have them ready for when we get to this part.  I also brought out some wood trim for window casings... but didn't get to those yet.  I did manage to install some walnut trim on the floor around the openings.  This includes the area around the stairwell, and at the open edge of the living room, overlooking the dinette.  This material needed to go in ahead of the new carpet.
It was mostly a working weekend with very little time for anything else.  The girls did get out a few times for an ATV ride, but that was about the extent of our leisure activities.  Seems things will continue on this basis for some time to come.  Looking back at the calender I see that I have worked for 43 of the last 45 days... with four more to go before I take a break.  We took two days off to go to the music festival in East Coulee back in early May... but other that I have worked every day... partially at the office and the rest of the time on cottage stuff.
Despite the warm days, it still gets pretty cold at night out in the mountains.  It got pretty chilly in the cottage at night with no heat.  The girls had the extension cord strung into the garage to run the small portable electric heaters, and to watch DVD's on their laptop, which left Margarit and I with no power.  On Monday morning I got up early and went outside.  I made some coffee and stirred the fire to life to warm up.  The thermometer showed a temperature of only +2C.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

First Night in the new Cottage

On the weekend of May 12 and 13 Margarit and I spent our first night at the new cottage.  It is far from finished, but we had an air mattress set up in one of the bedrooms.  The cottage is still just a shell, drywalled, ready for paint.  There is power outside on a temporary panel, and we had an extension cord strung in to the building.  It was a warm weekend, which was a good thing because we had no heat.  It got a little chilly early in the morning, but wasn't too bad.  We also had no running water, just a jug we brought along.  We had a cooler with some food, and cooked on the BBQ.  So, needless to say it was kind of a rustic weekend.
It was a weekend of another first as well.  We decided to leave all three of our girls at home in the city on their own, for the first time.  They had the house stocked up with a bunch of food, and they had a list of chores what they were supposed to work on while we were gone.
Margarit and I had the truck loaded completely full of stuff, and had one of the ATV's behind us on the utility trailer.  When we arrived in Nordegg about 1:00 on Saturday we set about unloading and unpacking everything.  This included our food and sleeping stuff.  It also included a whole bunch of tools and materials for the cottage.  We had 13 gallons of paint, enough to hopefully put two coats on all the new drywall.  We worked Saturday until evening, and then most of the day on Sunday.  We managed to get about 4-1/2 gallons put on by the end of the weekend.  It was slow going because we are using three different colors, and there are at least two colors in every room.  This required a lot of brush work to cut in the corners and at the upper edges where the walls meet textured ceiling.  But we got two coats put on the three bedrooms, plus a single coat put on the living room.  We also got a start on the stairway, the entry, the bathroom and the bay window.  As with the insulation and vapor barrier we left all the high walls until last, so this will take longer.  Whenever we get out there again we hope to get about the next third of the painting done.  This should see us finished and ready for flooring and other work sometime in June.
While we were out there we took a short ATV ride around the subdivision.  There were deer all over the place and we saw four of five groups of three or more during that short evening ride.  We also rode up to the old quarry and picked through all the rock debris up there.  We found a bunch of thin slabs that will work as a floor under our wood stove.  We brought a load back to the cottage in the ATV and next time we're out we'll grab another one.  That should provide us enough material to finish the job.
There were a few people out at the cottages in the subdivision but it was extremely quiet.  Everyone just kind of kept to themselves and there was very little traffic.  We really enjoyed the peace and tranquility and had our first fire of the season going in our fire pit.  We set up two new Adirondack chairs that we brought out.  We had our morning coffee there on Sunday morning and really enjoyed how calm and relaxing it was.  Although there wasn't any large wildlife hanging around our property this time, there were a lot of birds.  Robins, Chickadees, Juncos and some Hairy woodpeckers were drumming on dead trees throughout the subdivision, probably a territorial courtship display.  In the past we never noticed that many birds around... just the ever present Ravens.  Now that so many of the lots have had building sites cleared the birds seem to be attracted to the mix of dense woods and open clearing.  Hopefully we see a population increase in the coming years.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Back to Dorothy

On Sunday morning, after the Springfest, we all slept in for a while.  Then it was a late, rather lazy breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and coffee.  It was a big communal affair with all ten of us hanging around.  Later we decided to take a drive down the valley to Dorothy.  The girls and I used to camp out in Dorothy all the time.  It was a ghost town, rather abandoned and forgetten and a nice quiet place to stay.  More recently it has been somewhat developed.  The cook shelter in the park has been replaced.  The park is now fenced so you can't just drive in with a trailer.  And the two old churches, the photographic highlights of the ghost town, have now been restored.  The old grain elevator suffered some serious storm damage a couple of years ago and probably will not remain stable for much longer.  Ever since we bought the shop in East Coulee, we just haven't been back here camping.  
The girls explored the old nostalgic playground, and we wandered around for a while checking out the old buildings and the ant highway.  By late afternoon we headed back to the shop, packed up all the stuff from the trailer, and got ready for the drive back to the city.  It was about 6:00 before we got all the girls and pets and stuff packed back into the vehicles and hit the road.  We made an ice cream stop along the way and made it back to the city around 9:30.  
The first camping weekend of the summer, if you can call it that.  I'm not sure that staying in a trailer, parked in a warehouse, really qualifies as camping.  But we really enjoyed the weekend and look forward to getting out again.

This is a shot that I took in Dorothy 20 years ago.  I shot this with my Sinar F1 4" x 5" view camera on Kodak High Speed Infrared Film.  It was taken in July of 1998.  At that time the old United Church was in a state of abandonment.  The new house and yard had not yet been built beside it.  A couple of years later I proposed to Margarit in that very church, and she foolishly accepted.  This image was included in the Procession West Gallery Exhibition that toured western Canada for several years.  It is one of my best selling prints.  Today, the place doesn't look much the way it did twenty years ago...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

East Coulee Spring Fest 2018

I took Friday afternoon [May 4th] off and we left the city at about 2:00PM.  We needed to travel with two vehicles as the girls brought their menagerie with them.  We were travelling with two rabbits, two skinny pigs [hairless guinea pigs] and two dogs, plus all the paraphernalia of cages, bedding, food, etc.  My Mom also came along with us, so there were six of us.  After our stop in Stettler to photograph the old sign, we continued on to Drumheller, and eventually made it down to East Coulee by about 6:00PM.  Our trailer had been in storage there in our building, since last fall.  I forget that I had left it rather dirty and disorganized when I put it away at the end of the season.  So we needed to sweep things out and plug in, so that we could unpack and start the fridges.  By the time we got everyone settled down and everything put away, it was after 7:00PM.  The Springfest music festival had started that night at 6:00 and was going until about 10:00.  By this time we decided it was too late to bother buying any tickets for the evening.  My brother-in-law Shawn and his girlfriend Donna showed up later that evening and we just visited for a while before eventually turning in for the night.
The next morning we were up moderately early and had a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon.  We realized that we forgot our coffee maker which had been taken out of the trailer in the fall.  We borrowed the one in the shop, and jump started the morning.
The music festival got going at noon and we were over there relatively soon after it started.  We saw Lothar the Magician, and then a whole bunch of the bands.  We saw Suit Jacket Society, Little Bow and the Bluesland Horn Band before we took a bit of a break.  Unfortunately we missed Black Cherry Perry's Mississippi Medicine Show, which I'm told was one of the highlights of the festival.  Later we saw Glen Brown and Spur Crazy, The Barrel Dogs, The James Band, Give Em Hell Boys and the Beautiful Scars.  There were others that we missed and I kind of wanted to check out, but there is just too much to absorb in one day and you sort of have to pick and choose.  We all really enjoyed the event again this year and will be back again.  I'm not sure how long this has been going on now... I think it is about 20 years, and I've been in attendance at the last four of five of them.
Frank and Chris came out in the afternoon and joined us.  Frank had just picked up his new Harley Davidson in Calgary that morning and rode it out to East Coulee.  They stayed in their trailer at the shop as well, so when the music stopped we all sat around and visited into the wee hours.  I think it was about 2:00AM before I finally crawled into the trailer and went to sleep.
The girls saw a couple of the bands but the two young ones mostly hung out at the building with their pets, and watched movies on their electronics.  Hailey was a little more ambitious and was with us to see a number of the bands.  Mom seemed to enjoy herself and although she avoided some of the louder, heavier stuff, she saw many of the acts as well.  This is only the second time that Margarit made it out to the festival.  In the past it was often in conflict with dance competitions and recitals.  But this year the girls opted out of dance, so they were all able to join the gang at the festival.
I had my digital camera with me the entire time and took photographs of all of the bands that we saw.  This type of subject matter is not suited to large format film photography, so the big camera stayed in the shop.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

More Game Camera Photos

Most of the wildlife photos that I capture with my game camera, up at our cottage, are of deer.  Of course there is the other wildlife... our construction workers coming and going.  I suppose I'm guilty of being one of these, and have captured lots of images of myself.  Once and while there is something a little more unusual.  Recently, when I swapped out the memory cards in the camera and downloaded all the images, I came across these two.  Seems this young elk decided to wander by and check out what was going on at our place.

More Old Neon

Last Friday I took the afternoon off from work and the girls and I headed down to Drumheller.  My Mom came along with us.  We were planning to attend the annual East Coulee Springfest.  On the way down, we stopped in Stettler.  I had admired the old neon sign on the Stettler Motel as I drove past it many times previously.  This time I stopped and photographed it with my big view camera.  I figure that the building, and probably the sign as well, are not long for this world.  There was a fire in the building sometime ago and it has been condemned and closed.  It seems doubtful that it will be repaired and I expect that one of these days it will be demolished.  Not sure what will happen to the sign at that point, but at least I now have a record of it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Far Far Away

When I went out to Nordegg for the weekend, with my daughter Hailey, a couple of weeks ago, we drove a different route out there.  I came across the remains of an old school house.  We were tight for time that weekend as we needed to finish the insulation and vapor barrier in advance of the drywall contractor.  This past weekend when Margarit and I went out there, we had a little more time.  It was my intention to stop and photograph at this spot on the way out there.  We left the city really early that Saturday morning for two reasons.  One was to make it to the flooring store before they closed at noon, and the other was to photograph this school.  I was yapping so much to Margarit that I missed the turnoff and we ended up having to take a different route out to the cottage.
On the way back we returned by my intended route and made time to stop at this spot.  Faraway School closed in 1971 according to the historic marker.  What remained of the school was burnt at some point, probably after it was abandoned.  Not much left of the place but the two outhouses remain back in the woods.  Unfortunately it was getting dark by the time we arrived and there was no opportunity to photograph here with the big camera.  I took a few snapshots and plan on returning some other time.