Waterton Lakes Hikes

Amber and I spend a glorious couple days and two nights in Waterton Lakes National Park (or the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park) for the 10th anniversary of our marriage. Neither of us have ever visited the park, so we are eager to take in as much as possible. We also splurge for the occasion and spend a small fortune to spend our nights at the Waterton Lakes Resort.

Before checking into our hotel, we climb the Waterton standard hike - Bear's Hump (2.8 km), a rock that overlooks the town of Waterton and the Waterton Lakes. There is a colony of fat chipmunks at the summit and a breathtaking view!

The next morning, under a cloudy sky we hike up to Forum Lake (8 km) which heads west into British Columbia which means we cross the continental divide!! The wild flowers are stunning. It starts to rain lightly at the lake, so we quickly eat and hike back to the car.

After we have lunch and a rest, we drive as far down the road as they will let us (construction at the parking lot) and then trudge 2.2 km to the beginning of the hikes at Red Rocks Canyon (1.4 km) and Blakiston Falls (2 km).

We are drenched at Red Rocks canyon in a flash thunder storm. We take refuge under a bridge as hail pounds all around us.

We sup at the Bayshore Lakeside Chophouse and then have desert and coffee at the Prince of Wales Hotel up on the hill.

Lightning lights up the lakes as we leave for our hotel.

The next morning, we pack up and do a quick trail south from the town of Waterton to Bertha Falls (5.6 km). The falls are tremendous! I run into a former student teacher I had when I was in grade 4. We drive home to our children and their caregiver (thanks mom!).


10 Years Married

August six, ten years ago, I wed a wonderful woman. After three years of courtship including a year apart, we exchanged vows on the hottest day of the year under the sun in Smithers, BC. Officiating was my friend Todd and witnessing were 150 family and friends, many of whom travelled great distances to support our commitment.

Since that day, Amber and I have lived in Edmonton, Montreal, Spruce Grove, Tactic, and Calgary. We have traveled across Canada and through much of Central America. Five years ago, we began adding to our family and have nurtured two great kids. We have enjoyed countless meals, films, books, and dates together.

I highly endorse this institution.

I love my wife. So much.

Canmore Folk Music Festival

My mom has been raving about the Canmore Folk Music Festival for a years now and we were finally in province for it this year. I'm glad we were!

The great blues musician Matt Anderson (from NB) played a couple workshops and we were excited to see him. We saw him last at the Vinyl Cafe concert at Christmas. This guy has the voice.

A couple big highlights for me were a traditional Québecois band called Le Vent du Nord. They were reminiscent of La Bottine Souriante who I have been listening to for years. Part of their ensemble is a hurdygurdy player which adds a sweet tone. Also there was Ali Farka Touré's son - Vieux Farka Touré of Mali. Again, I've been a fan of Malian guitarists for quite some time (especially Vieux's father Ali and Habib Koité). Both gave great sets! Too short really.

Some other notables were Dala, Four Men & A Dog, Ruthie Foster, Geoff Muldaur & Amos Garrett (pictured below), and the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie (above).

We lunched at the Grizzly Paw Brew Pub where I sampled their 8 lovely brews.

My family got covered in CKUA tattoos. I thought about it, but my belly is pretty hairy.

It started to rain a bit later in the evening, but most people just put up their hoods and stayed.

Next year I'll be making an effort to get the whole weekend in.

Calloway Park

I have always had a tenuous relationship with amusement parks. My weak stomach and all the noise and gimmicky booths simply don't appeal to me. Since Amber feels the same way we were unsure as to how Blaise and Acadia would feel when we visited Calloway Park (since they get car sick all the time).

They loved it! And so did I.

The park was clean. All the rides were newly painted. The ride operators were friendly.

We went to the park earlier this month after some urging from my sister and her family. My mom joined us as did my brother-in-law's brother's family. The morning was uncrowded and we had great weather. By the afternoon the line-ups were getting longer, but the kids were no less enthusiastic about the rides.

Blaise and Acadia went on almost every ride for their size. We took pictures.

Dean and I filmed ourselves on the roller coaster.

No one got sick. Some cotton candy upon exiting helped the kids cope with leaving too. It was a great day!

CrossWord Puzzle for Canucks

This is my first complete 15 x 15 crossword puzzle. I'm enjoying the process of creating them after having solved them for a couple decades.

Click for larger puzzle grid


1. Scot family
5. Infants
10. Right away
14. 40 phons
15. Title character in The Hobbit
16. Chaney and Chaney Jr.
17. Choir voice
18. To sing a la Tony Bennett
19. Sword
20. Harsh
22. Facing opposite of WbS
23. Indian leader
24. ___ Haw
26. Locality
28. Similarity suffix
29. North Africans
33. Smoke
34. Farm sound
35. Horn noise
36. Kind of blue
38. Meli ___
40. Soviet leader Stalin
42. French river
44. Contagious
47. Actress Fisher
49. Born
51. ___ & Otis
52. Database language
54. Wedding vow
56. In reality
58. OS X or Windows
59. Fruit
61. Golden or black
62. What a clock does
64. A little lie
66. Noble gas
70. Jean Charest & Pauline Marois
71. Really Upset
73. Steak Sauce
74. A law in Honduras
75. City in Japan
76. NBA star "___ the Great"Thurmond
77. PM Chretien
78. Actress Sevigny
79. Fit a horse with shoes

1. Russian Emperor
2. Kinks Song
3. Queens of the colony
4. Rookies
5. Television and radio across the pond
6. River in Geneva
7. Puts spots of paint
8. Relating to African American language
9. Jr. to sr.
10. Sheltered side
11. Juvenile
12. Composer Felice
13. Sham
21. Positive vote
23. Israeli desert
25. Sub-Lt.
27. Hockey player Horton
29. Followed JFK
30. '69 Peace Prize winner
31. Southern Region of Italy
32. Fast forerunner of reggae
37. Yang's counterpart
39. Legumes
41. Cooks pancakes
43. Homer's neighbour
45. CTRL's neighbour
46. Toilet
48. Citrus Juice
50. Electric or moray
52. RCMP rank
53. Fifteen to Eduardo
55. Uncultured
57. Scanned doc
60. Foe
63. Historical village on Skeena and Bulkley Rivers
65. South African Steve
67. Shem and Ham's dad
68. Following the scent
69. Lack
71. Singer Tone ___
72. Korean conglomerate ___woo (part.)


səˈska ch əˌwän

It still feels a little strange telling people that we spent a week vacation in Saskatchewan. We don't have any family there and we live 60 minutes from Banff.

The province does take its share of derision, second probably only to Newfoundland. The facts that it is so flat and boring and sparsely populated do not help it. Certainly the most charming thing that I knew about the province before visiting it last week was its curious collection of place names: Mozart, Cut Knife, Moose Jaw, Elbow, Eyebrow, Wartime, Shooter Hill, Forget, Antler, Climax, and Biggar ("New York is Big, but this is Biggar").

We visited the Royal Saskatchewan Museum on our last day in the province with the kids. Free admission and an encouragement to take as many pictures as we wanted were what the lady at the info counter told us.

I was exceedingly impressed with the place. Wonderful dioramas of the seven climatic areas in SK fantastically illustrated the provinces wildlife and vegetation.

Saskatchewan's history is rich with the meeting of western government with the native population. Many of treaties signed by Canada and First Nations were drawn up in Saskatchewan. Sadly, First Nations people remain second class citizens off the books, but the museum did a fine job capturing their spirit and way of life and presenting it in an admiring way.

Blaise was particularly impressed with the dinosaur exhibits. He's pictured where with a triceratops skull.

I have always admired the provinces social action tradition going back to Tommy Douglas (founder of universal healthcare in Canada) through the various left-leaning parties being elected to government (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the New Democratic Party have ruled 43 of the last 76 years). A consequence of this is Saskatchewan's high royalty rates on their vast petroleum reserves which restrained corporations from plundering it all as they did in Alberta.

I've visited quite a large swath of the province over the years, stopping to get my picture at the giant snowman in Kenaston in 1988, being a speaker in Quill Lake in the mid-90s, visiting friends in Saskatoon, attending a youth conference in Caronport, cycling through and spending nights in Gull Lake, Chaplin, Regina and Whitewood, and touring with the CUC Silverwinds and playing in North Battleford.

So, to you Saskatchewan, I lift high my glass.


My Favourite Part of the Newspaper

We've been getting promotional deals on the Calgary Herald and then with the National Post off and on for the last 6 months. I enjoy reading a selection of articles, but my real fancy comes when I get to the puzzle section. The Post has a terrific Canadian crossword puzzle, and while I enjoy Will Shortz NYT puzzles, they are very American and I can't get many of the clues.

They could improve the Sudokus though by only ever including diabolical ones.

Summer holidays are great too because I actually have time to finish them at breakfast.

In the winter, I tried writing my own crossword puzzles and came close to finishing one before I had to go back to school after a break. I should revisit that and post it here. I could charge $1 per answer. Any takers?

The Real Price of Parenting

Just finished downloading "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire and my kids want to listen to Swingset Mamas' "Dance Around the House."

Yeah, you better run!

Dream I just woke up from: Julius recruits me into a Big Brother type organization sponsored by the police where parents just drop off their kids for us to play with. Basically a thankless daycare. Anyway, Microsoft donates a bunch of calculators to us for the kids but they are impossible to figure out because they are supposed to solve all kinds of math problems like 5 + ? = 13 so you would actually type that in. The buttons had thick paper layer on top of the rubber too, so they would wear out like crazy. Horrible interface, diabolical purpose, and sickening design.

The last image I had before stirring is me throwing rocks at a giant one of these calculators that was being rushed away by anonymous dream characters.