Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventure - Part 1

My Dad was one of the most patriotic Canadians I've ever known. He loved to travel - but by car and in HIS country.
He used to say that he didn't see the point of traveling to other countries until he had seen all of Canada (though he did badly want to go to Alaska - but that is a different story for a different day).

I have been privileged to get to travel lots in my life - both inside and outside of Canada - and although I have LOVED many of the countries/places I have visited - it is Canada that continues to awe and amaze me the most.

And hence my pushing for a trip within our own 'backyard' for our holiday this year. (Wow - that concept is still new enough to sound weird!!! Holidays in our life that don't involve sled dog races are still such a novelty!)

Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures is about as close to our own backyard as you can get. Being interested in the history of the Athabasca area and having run so many of the old Gold Rush trails (the Athabasca River, the Landing Trail, the Peace River Trail....) we were well familiar with Darcy and Shirley's business and had even spoken to them a few times over the years about visiting by dog team in the winter, but had never gotten planning into high gear. A trip up the river could not only be a great fall getaway - but the motivation to make a winter trip happen too!

Friday before last we met up at 'Poacher's Landing' about an hour north of Athabasca for the start of our adventure.

The jet boat was quickly loaded and Mark, I, Darcy, Shirley and their son Cole piled in for the 4-hour trip downriver.

It was a meandering trip with a number of breaks for coffee, outhouses visits, lunch and exploring.

Wolf tracks at one of our breaks. Without exception, everywhere we stopped over the weekend I found wolf tracks. Obviously they are thriving in the area!

 Both Mark's and my favourite part of the day was the trip through the old Pelican Rapids settlement. It's been known for a long time that there was oil in the sand in the Fort McMurray area. The story goes that while drilling for the oil at Pelican Rapids around the turn of the century, a natural gas pocket was hit. The decision was made to flare it off so they could get back to drilling for oil. The flare burned for TWENTY ONE years.
Many, especially natives, liked to camp in the area, due to the warmth produced by the flare and a settlement of over 100 people evolved.
Because the area is hard to access many of the remnants of the settlement remain.

This is supposedly the remains of an old Hudson Bay Trading Post. I could find no references to it online, but the Hudson Bay Co was VERY active in the area - and completely controlled the trade up and down the river!

 The old church is gone - but the graveyard remains.

After Shirley brewed coffee and refilled thermos at the cabin there, we were underway again..

  It was early evening when we pulled into to the Lodge. What a gem of a place!!!

Our cabin for the weekend


After getting settled in, having a great meal and some good chat around the fire pit we called it an early evening.

Here are a few 'odds and ends' shots from the day!

Stay tuned for Part 2....and maybe even Part 3. Depending on how many of the over 500 pictures I took that weekend I decide to torture you all with!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Maybe You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks!

About 1am last night I was woken by the dog yard and Guardian Dogs on full alert. There is no mistaking that noise from an evening howl and anything similar. Once someone with multiple dogs with high prey drive has heard it, your feet are out of bed and moving before you have even properly woken up.

I flicked on the porch lights to a HORRIBLE sight - a porcupine walking in front of the house with 2 massive Guardian Dogs a half a step behind him. I hollered for Mark as I threw clothes on and grabbed a headlamp.

Five years ago Cricket had a run in with a porcupine. It ended badly for all - with a dead porcupine and an ugly quill removal from Cricket (which took 3 people). In my experience NO dog learns from a porcupine encounter - if fact it usually makes them MORE wild to get one (revenge perhaps).

I flew outside to find no porky and Cricket and Bear casually strolling around. What the.......??? I KNOW I did not imagine that. Mark was not as convinced.

I then noticed three cats in a semi circle staring under the porch. Getting down on my stomach I was able to find the fat prickly beast hiding under the house.

After some consulting it was decided to round up the cats, lock the Guardian Dogs in a pen for the night and see if Quilly Willy couldn't find his own way out of the yard before daylight.

Please, don't think too much of us. I have watched my dogs go through too much pain and spent way too much on vet bills in the past to have any warm and fuzzy feelings for porcupines. Even watching cute videos of them eating watermelon that you all post for me just makes my stomach churn. I don't hate much in life - but I HATE porcupines. The problem was that there was no clean shot on him.

We tucked Cricks and Bear in a pen with a bit of kibble as a reward, quickly rounded up KD, not so quickly caught Tic and chased Bait (who was thinking this was the most fun night of his life) around the yard for way too long.

At 4 am the dog yard hit full alert again. I went out but it appears our visitor had made his break. Good for him.

I suggest he keep moving, as he will be given no mercy should he show up again.

As for Cricket and Bear - I think they might be the SMARTEST Guard Dogs on the planet. I am in awe. I lay in bed last night thinking of the horror it would have been to pack 250 bleeding pounds of stressed, in pain dogs into my van for a 2 am rush to the vet. *shudder*

I'll have nightmares for weeks.

Friday, 25 September 2015

New Collar - Twig


I continue to learn all sorts of new things here in my new home.

I'm getting along great with the guard dogs, they're fun to hang around and very patient.

I tried to show Bear some of my new Ninja skills that Bet taught me.  I could have sworn he was laughing at me.  I don't think I'll ever get as good as Bet.

For instance, the other day she taught me how to deflect a ferocious attack.  She told Bear to attack her... ferociously.

Honestly... I think I would have piddled myself if I saw that coming right for me!  I thought poor Bet was done for sure, but then...

Yep, she totally diffused the situation by asking Bear how many ounces in a cup.  It stopped him completely in his tracks!  I've never seen anything like it!  Cricket knew, but she just chuckled and wouldn't give him the answer.

Of course she told me that you should only use the question deflection tactic when all other avenues of escape were blocked... sometimes ferocious creatures actually know their measurement conversions, but it's a handy tool to have in your Ninja arsenal.

As you can see, Bear has been completely immobilized by the question, letting Bet escape easily.

I need to practice my diffusion questions, and also work on trying not to run, because sometime running makes things worse... but I do like to run.

One of the (as Bet calls it) "Biggie Big" things happening around here is that I'm outgrowing my collar.

I like my collar, I think it's very pretty, but it's sorta girlie, and I wanted something more FIERCE!  Bet was very happy to help me collar shop.  Apparently she has magazines, and bookmarked Websites and and color swatches for all of her ensemble shopping.

I can't get one of the really cool official herding collars, like hers, just yet because I'm still growing.  Those types of collars are very special and only for real herding dogs.  I haven't herded a single thing here yet, unless you count the cats.

Unbeknownst to me, KD actually called a meeting of CATS (Cats Against Twig Society) and was trying to have me removed from the house because I "bother" her too much.

Kick her out!
Frankly she's too fat and needs a little exercise anyway.  According to the Musher they really have no say in the regular household rules, although they seem to think they own the place.

Where was I... oh yes, the collar.

Bet looked up the meaning of colors for me and found that yellow is very fierce... but she told me that I can't wear a yellow collar and gave me a sad look.  Apparently that color is retired, and only worn by the beloved Kara, who was very fierce herself.

Bet also found that orange is also very very fierce, and since that's the color of a particularly annoying cat, I knew that was a good color... just to make KD mad.

I had to undergo a test to make sure that orange would go with my furs.

I think it's a go.  We told the Musher, so I hope my new collar gets here soon so I can be FIERCE!

- Twig

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

"Hey Bear"

"HEY BEAR!!! I've got a SECRET"

"Wanna guess what it is???"


 " 'Kay. Don't tell anyone, but I'm a NINJA"