A Night with David Suzuki?

2 08 2014

What do you think DHS?

Should we send some students to spend a night with David Suzuki?

Tickets are slightly cheaper for Thunder Bay on Monday 20 Oct 2014 than Winnipeg on Friday 24 Oct 2014.   But I am guessing the bus/hotel would be cheaper for Winnipeg?

http://bluedot.ca/

 





24 Hour Adventure

28 07 2014

Well what do you do with 24 hours off when you’ve worked for the last 13 days? Hopefully you choose to go on an adventure! At least that’s what I did.

I had decided that I wanted to try and hit 3 of these Top 10 places to visit in Alberta, that I hadn’t visited before. I’m proud to say that I’ve now visited 9 of the 10. I wonder how I’d measure up in other provinces. Something I’ll have to look into.

Anyways this adventure meant 1200 km of travel (roundtrip), but was so worth it.
First stop was to overnight in Milk River. I did not take time to look around and see what all was there.

I was surprised on my drive south how great the mountain range to the west was. I knew I could see mountains when in Calgary in the past; But did not expect to see them as I continued further south for some reason.

I was amazed at the bridge in Lethbridge, but did not stop to take a picture. I’m sure you could google that if you are interested.

As I got closer to Milk River, I noticed two mountains to the east. Little did I know, that tomorrow I would be heading towards the foot of these mountains.

Morning came early, after all, I had some lofty goals. It was a 42 km drive to my first destination Writing-On-Stones Provincial Park. As I drove, I could see signs indicating different bridges, off the main road that crossed the river I was following. I could also see that I was getting closer to the mountains, I had seen the night before. I really have no idea how close I got.
As I got closer to the park, I saw a number of ‘Campground Full’ signs, and thought ‘oh, gee, it is going to be busy’. However, I did not see any people on the main trail while hiking, the silly people had no idea what they were missing. Maybe it was because I started out on the trail at 7:30am, but maybe not.

The park is a special place, like all parks should be. It is a partnership between the Alberta Government and the First Nation people of the area protecting not only a geologically unique and diverse area, but also a place of cultural importance to the First Nation people. The blackfoot people had been visiting and using the area for thousands of years. It is a place of spiritual importance to them. Also as the name indicates has some of the finest petroglyphs in North America.

The 5 km hike (2.5 there, and then back along the same trail) was not a quick hike and took me close to 90 minutes. Although not technically difficult, it is a challenging hike due to the rock formations that you are walking through and around. I had also heard of the prairie rattle snakes that are in the area, so was being a little extra cautious, although I never did see/hear one.

More than a few times in my life, I have found myself truly appreciating geography, geology, and earth sciences, which I think was one of the few things drawing me to this unique destination. Last year, I really enjoyed the hoodoo’s that I visited near Drumheller. When I heard there were hoodoo’s here as well, I wanted to explore.

I really enjoyed meandering in and around the hoodoo’s. The landscape, and rock formations were beautiful, inspiring, and I tried to capture some of it’s beauty. I’ve said this before that the human eye is an incredible invention, and a camera, cannot capture the true beauty that our eye takes in. So as you enjoy these pictures, think about what the camera didn’t capture, take time to zoom in on some pictures, as it really was something else to behold. Don’t just think of yourself as looking at pictures, but instead joining me on this adventure, walking in, through and around these great structures.

20140728-184457-67497083.jpg

20140728-185229-67949803.jpg

20140728-184624-67584858.jpg

20140728-184452-67492385.jpg

20140728-184817-67697148.jpg

20140728-185232-67952391.jpg

20140728-184623-67583998.jpg

20140728-184628-67588182.jpg

20140728-185043-67843289.jpg

20140728-185046-67846841.jpg

20140728-185428-68068037.jpg

20140728-184454-67494066.jpg

20140728-185424-68064086.jpg

20140728-184458-67498077.jpg

20140728-185427-68067197.jpg

20140728-185047-67847672.jpg

20140728-184625-67585687.jpg

20140728-184627-67587340.jpg

20140728-185423-68063283.jpg

20140728-185230-67950710.jpg

20140728-185046-67846023.jpg

20140728-184453-67493219.jpg

20140728-185425-68065604.jpg

20140728-185045-67845200.jpg
Although I didn’t see any rattle snakes, I did see lots of fauna. I saw a total of about 10 mule deer. This one, although a little far away and across the river, was just smiling and chilling, grazing on some of that great prairie grass. I did come up on a number of other deer, but they bounded away too quickly for my camera. I also saw a number of rabbits, and tonnes of birds.

20140728-184459-67499103.jpg

And you should have known I’d have some flower shots. I even got to see some prickly pear cacti, but they weren’t too impressive to capture, but I was excited to see some cacti way up here in Canada, EH?

20140728-185231-67951561.jpg

It was the thistles that I was most excited for. I think I may have even taken some of my best thistle shots. I’m not sure where my fascination for this plant comes from, but I like buying thistle souvenirs for some odd reason; Pictures, cufflinks, and I’m sure the list goes on.

20140728-184820-67700413.jpg

20140728-184821-67701239.jpg

20140728-185235-67955620.jpg

20140728-185234-67954806.jpg

 

 

 

This valley would not be here if it wasn’t for the river that flows through it. The river I’m sure helped in depositing some of the materials needed to create the geological features, as well carving out the valley. The park is well known for a number of it’s Cooley’s, which would have also been formed by a number of tributary streams, creeks, and rivers. Some of which can be explored with day use ‘back country’ hiking by wading across the river. Maybe one day it means a return trip. But the river was great, and provided some beautiful scenery. Water truly is important, and I think too often we take it for granted. I did not take time to step into the water, as I wanted to keep moving along the trail of this adventure.

20140728-184454-67494940.jpg

20140728-184455-67495925.jpg

 

20140728-184629-67589893.jpg

20140728-184626-67586531.jpg

 

 

20140728-184630-67590695.jpg

 

20140728-184631-67591531.jpg

 

20140728-184817-67697944.jpg

 

20140728-184819-67699596.jpg

20140728-185426-68066416.jpg

20140728-184815-67695517.jpg

20140728-185040-67840874.jpg

20140728-185233-67953988.jpg

20140728-185236-67956439.jpg

20140728-185421-68061594.jpg

20140728-185422-68062454.jpg

20140728-185551-68151987.jpg

 

20140728-184816-67696348.jpg

20140728-185233-67953191.jpg

20140728-184818-67698749.jpg

 

And we need to talk about the name of the park. The first stone carving I saw was a medicine wheel with buffalo horns coming off of it. I’m not sure about the authenticity of this carving and was wondering if it is modern day graffiti, which is illegal in the park (and I must say there was very little of).

20140728-185040-67840006.jpg

I did make to the ‘Battle Scene’ carvings, which were remarkable. The Battle Scene depicts a great battle and you can see men, teepees, guns, and horses in the fading carving. According to Blackfoot tradition, it depicts a great battle that took place in 1866 and is believed to have been carved sometime in the late 1800s. It is comprised of over 250 characters and separate carvings. There are many more carvings in the park, but they are protected in restricted areas. You can go on tours of these restricted sites, but they take a lot of time, so maybe when I have more than 24 hours I’ll come back to take a tour of the other carvings.

20140728-185042-67842476.jpg

20140728-185041-67841685.jpg

One Last View of the park, and the rocks…

20140728-185428-68068864.jpg

 

Next stop was the, The Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. It was an hour and a half drive back to Lethbridge, so I was ready to stop when I got there. The Garden was not what I was expecting. It did not have the size, the wealth of plants, and generally was not grandiose. However, it was exactly what I needed. It wasn’t long after I stepped into the gate that I was reminded that often, peace is truly found in the most simple things. Although I could have powered through and seen everything in about 5 minutes, I decided to take my time, to slow down, and to enjoy life. Altogether I spent a little over 30 minutes here, listening to the babbling brooke, and enjoying the well-manicured trees. I also enjoyed taking time to ring the bronze Friendship Bell, which hangs in the bell tower, which was commissioned specifically for Nikka Yuko and cast in Kyoto, Japan. The bell’s deep tones ring a friendship call to all visitors. For me it also rang out peace. I have a hard time turning on the news this summer, and I think more than ever we need peace. Peace of mind, Peace of body, but also Peace for the world. There is a lot of turmoil in our world today, and I hope that people will stop and listen to the bells that ring and call for peace.

20140728-185557-68157962.jpg

 

20140728-185552-68152855.jpg

20140728-185553-68153759.jpg

20140728-185558-68158823.jpg

20140728-185556-68156337.jpg

20140728-185554-68154637.jpg

20140728-185555-68155493.jpg

Back in the car and off to a UNESCO world heritage site. #3 off my list of the top 10 things to see in Alberta. The Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was also beautiful and humbling. I started my trip off with watching a short film that teaches about the buffalo hunt and re-enacts how important this was to the people. It also talked about how much work and preparation was needed to survive the harsh winters that made this buffalo hunt so important. At different times in my life I’ve enjoyed learning about TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge). In order to hunt a heard of buffalo’s without any weapons, the First Nation people must have understood a lot about the buffalo, and their way of knowledge. This TEK was passed down from generation to generation. It wasn’t written down, but instead was learnt through teachings and experiences. As we move forward with science it is important to remember that there is more knowledge out there than what science knows, and we should be consulting with those people that hold local and traditional knowledge. After the video, I went on top of the jump site. The hike is short, and the trail is paved. There were many people on top taking pictures. Back inside the impressive 7 story building built into the cliff, I quickly took in some of the exhibits but I wanted to get out on to the 1k trail below the jump site. Again for all the people on top and in the building the trail was not busy and was void of other people out for the hike. It was great to be on the ground and think about what life would have been like, oh so many moons ago; when this was a necessity, a way of life. The history of this site is well known, but what about others? The views of the prairies, the grasses and shrubs growing along the trail, the history beneath my toes, and the views of the ‘jump’ were all spectacular.

20140728-185856-68336644.jpg

20140728-185859-68339200.jpg

20140728-185857-68337492.jpg

 

20140728-185858-68338364.jpg

 

20140728-185901-68341695.jpg

20140728-185900-68340867.jpg

20140728-185900-68340027.jpg

 

20140728-185904-68344594.jpg

20140728-185903-68343718.jpg

 

Well mission accomplished. 1:30pm and I’ve visited these three remarkable sites in Alberta, but I still had to make the drive back to Red Deer.

On the drive down the night before I had noticed the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, AB, and because I have made good timings so far today, decided that I would try to stop here as well. I’ve had a great year for aircrafts, including seeing a Halifax in Trenton, flying in a B-25 in Red Deer, and now, my other favourite bomber a Lancaster, which can be viewed at the museum. Thus, in the last 2 months I’ve seen 3 bombers and flown in one of them. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it wasn’t long into my stop that I realized that I could spend a few days here going through this small hanger. However, I was going to only spend about 15 minutes.

The Lanc was much larger than expected. What a monster of an aircraft, for a world war II bomber.

20140728-190002-68402287.jpg

 

20140728-190001-68401453.jpg

20140728-190003-68403168.jpg

One of my favourite aircrafts (by name) is the DeHavilland Mosquito. I’ve never seen one and haven’t yet. But I was excited to learn that the City of Calgary owns a mosquito, and plans on restoring it with the help of the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton. I’m thinking I should become a member of the Calgary Mosquito Society to help support this project. http://calgarymosquitosociety.com/
In the museum they had a replica of nose artwork for the “F is for Freddie” DeHavilland Mosquito LR-503. The mosquito was unique because of it’s wooden frame, just like the picture of this replica nose artwork. “F is for Freddie” flew some 213 operations in WWII. It returned to Canada where it later crashed and burned in a display of it’s capabilities. There is a more complete history of “F is for Freddie” here; http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/s,freddie.html

20140728-190004-68404015.jpg

Well I made it back to work, and started working at 6:00 pm. What a great 24 hours, thanks for joining me…





A Weekend in the Mountains…

17 07 2014

Well, What can I say?

Last Year, I used my leave to go to the Canadian Rockies with my friend Ginger.   (Read the blog entry here.)  I thought it would be good to repeat the experience, but planned a slightly different trip.   Instead of visiting Banff National Park and Yoho National Park, the plan was to do a loop visiting Edmonton, Jasper National Park, the Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, and Calgary.

The trip started by going to Edmonton, Thursday Night.   Spent the night there and had some opportunities to visit some great friends, including a visit to The Buckingham (a cool place that everyone should visit).   On Friday there was a visit to Newman Theological College/St. Joseph’s Seminary, as I had just heard that they had built a new campus.   I didn’t get much of a tour, but did get to see the new chapel.   It was great, although, I was a little disappointed with the acoustics.

A highlight of being in Edmonton included driving along ‘Wayne Gretzky Drive’, seeing Rexall Place, and driving along ‘Mark Messier Trail’.  As a young kid, I had a bit of a thing for the Oilers, back when these legends played for them…

I had hoped to exchange a pair of boots on the base, but clothing stores was closed, so off to the mountains I went.

The drive to Jasper was awesome.   It took awhile to get to the park, and mountains, but was well worth it when we did.    Once in the park, I quickly saw the largest male Elk that I have ever seen.   But there was much more wildlife for the day, a big horn sheep, a young grizzly bear, and a mama bear and her cubs, and a few other elk.

Checked in at the HI-Jasper Hostel, and decided to go explore the mountains.   First stop was Maligne Lake, it was a bit of a drive, but well worth it.   I was quickly mesmerized my Medicine Lake.   It was getting late when I arrived to Maligne Lake, but not too late for a hike.   The Mary Schäffer loop, was the perfect length, only 3.1 Km to get the legs warmed up for the next day.   It was a great quick hike to stop and see some of the highlights of the area, exposing hikers to many different micro ecosystems along the way.

 

20140717-200954-72594895.jpg

20140717-201001-72601696.jpg

20140717-200953-72593294.jpg

20140717-200952-72592515.jpg

20140717-200951-72591283.jpg

20140717-200955-72595679.jpg

20140717-200959-72599939.jpg

20140717-200958-72598154.jpg

20140717-200957-72597303.jpg

20140717-200958-72598993.jpg

20140717-200956-72596493.jpg

 

It was still light, when I had finished the walk, so there was some quick photo stops on the drive back, and a chance to do some exploring near the Maligne Canyon, and its many bridges.   This made for some nice photo’s, including some flower shots.   Always time for some flowers!

 

20140717-201553-72953916.jpg

20140717-201556-72956538.jpg

 

20140717-201558-72958219.jpg

20140717-201936-73176492.jpg

20140717-201932-73172458.jpg

20140717-201933-73173299.jpg

20140717-201934-73174085.jpg

20140717-201934-73174906.jpg

20140717-201935-73175682.jpg

 

It was a good night.   Jasper is one of the largest dark sky reserves, and with the hostel, being outside Jasper, I thought I’d get a good view of the stars.   I stayed up till it was dark, but the sky didn’t look too different from what I was used to.  The next morning I was up early and it was off to Maligne Canyon.   I hiked from the first bridge to the fifth bridge, about 2.5 km, along the canyon, then I decided to go high above the canyon for a different view.   While in the canyon, the trails were busy although it was early enough there weren’t too many, but on the high trail back, it was fairly quiet.   Which is great.

 

20140717-202109-73269582.jpg

20140717-202107-73267908.jpg

20140717-202113-73273076.jpg

20140717-202108-73268775.jpg

20140717-202110-73270427.jpg

20140717-202111-73271277.jpg

20140717-202112-73272187.jpg

20140717-202406-73446482.jpg

20140717-202402-73442954.jpg

20140717-202405-73445655.jpg

20140717-202403-73443926.jpg

20140717-202404-73444825.jpg

20140717-202407-73447297.jpg

20140717-202408-73448105.jpg

20140717-202525-73525667.jpg

 

Back in the car and off to Mount Edith Cavell.   The drive was as beautiful as the hike.   I was surprised how many people were in the parking lot, and also hiking to the Angel Glacier, however, the Cavell Meadows Trail, was just busy enough.   It was also a difficult 8 km hike, with an increase in elevation of more than 500 meters, climbing to 2288 m above sea level.   Not as big as last years hike, but big enough.

 

20140717-202526-73526604.jpg

20140717-202527-73527474.jpg

20140717-202525-73525305.jpg

20140717-202529-73529210.jpg

20140717-202528-73528323.jpg

20140717-202708-73628730.jpg

20140717-202706-73626495.jpg

20140717-202706-73626103.jpg

20140717-202707-73627536.jpg

20140717-202704-73624264.jpg

20140717-202705-73625128.jpg

20140717-203008-73808975.jpg

20140717-203010-73810689.jpg

20140717-203009-73809837.jpg

20140717-203008-73808087.jpg

20140717-203011-73811557.jpg

20140717-203138-73898404.jpg

20140717-203141-73901273.jpg

20140717-203140-73900053.jpg

20140717-203139-73899232.jpg

20140717-203140-73900900.jpg

20140717-203142-73902277.jpg

20140717-203322-74002231.jpg

20140717-203319-73999439.jpg

20140717-203318-73998625.jpg

20140717-203320-74000276.jpg

20140717-203323-74003290.jpg

20140717-203321-74001205.jpg

20140717-203827-74307999.jpg

20140717-203823-74303893.jpg

20140717-203823-74303056.jpg

20140717-203824-74304246.jpg

20140717-203825-74305183.jpg

20140717-203826-74306034.jpg

 

It was great to realize that in one year, I had went from the Rockies in North America, to the Andes of South America (even if it was a bit of a rough trip) back to the Rockies.   The year really did have a lot of ups and downs.

The hike was great, but the day was not over.

The drive to the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, was long but beautiful, and included a stop at Athabasca Falls.

 

20140717-203928-74368990.jpg

20140717-203927-74367152.jpg

20140717-203925-74365999.jpg

20140717-203926-74366798.jpg

20140717-203928-74368104.jpg

20140717-203929-74369822.jpg

20140717-204147-74507962.jpg

20140717-204146-74506406.jpg

20140717-204144-74504788.jpg

20140717-204145-74505618.jpg

 

I wanted to stop and hike a few other places, but wanted to get to the discovery centre, as I knew it would be busy and had reserved tickets for the Glacier tour/walk as well as the Glacier SkyWalk.   I was guessing this would be touristy, but had no idea what to expect.   WOW what a tourist trap.   Although, the activities were pre booked, it was unknown if I’d be able to do both.   But I did manage.   Although touristy, I’m glad to be able to say that it is something I did.   Once you got out off of the discovery centre, there were fewer people, and it became more manageable.

The Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure was Awesome.   I learnt a lot about glaciers, went for a ride in an ice buggy, got to walk on a glacier, and drink glacier ice water.   It was pretty cool!  Literally!

 

20140717-204148-74508763.jpg

20140717-204316-74596612.jpg

20140717-204317-74597409.jpg

20140717-204318-74598257.jpg

20140717-204320-74600811.jpg

20140717-204319-74599931.jpg

20140717-204319-74599116.jpg

20140717-204445-74685177.jpg

20140717-204447-74687618.jpg

20140717-204446-74686017.jpg

20140717-204446-74686818.jpg

20140717-204448-74688450.jpg

20140717-204449-74689253.jpg

20140717-204450-74690049.jpg

 

20140717-204703-74823243.jpg

20140717-204659-74819509.jpg

20140717-204658-74818655.jpg

20140717-204700-74820387.jpg

20140717-205851-75531500.jpg

20140717-205852-75532392.jpg

20140717-205853-75533987.jpg

20140717-205853-75533193.jpg

20140717-205854-75534799.jpg

 

The Skywalk, was also just as touristy, but I needed to use the bathroom so bad (and none there), that I really didn’t take the time to enjoy it and take in the sights and the full tour.   But I did take time to lay on a glass floor, that overhangs the valley below.

20140717-205944-75584660.jpg

20140717-205943-75583841.jpg

20140717-205946-75586780.jpg

20140717-205945-75585853.jpg

20140717-205945-75585489.jpg

 

When I got back, I did use the bathroom, and it was far later than I thought.   I had just sat down to eat supper when I started to overhear different people talking about the road being closed.   Sure enough, it was.   The road ahead to Banff had been closed due to smoke from a nearby forest fire.   I decided to jump in the car and head back north.

I had heard that there wasn’t a hotel room left in the parks, nor a campsite.   I guessed there would be no rooms left in Hinton, and I’d be lucky to find one in Edson.   As soon as I had cell service, I employed some family help to look for a room.   They were able to book me a room at the McCracken Country Inn, in Hinton.   Although a big change to my plans, I made the best of it.

The next morning, I hit a few geocaches to remember Hinton, and was off, back to Penhold.   I cut across some back roads down to Red Deer, and made some great time, thanks to the lady that was running the McCracken Inn, for suggesting the ‘short cut’.

All in all, what an awesome weekend in the Mountains.

I look forward to the next time, we get to spend time together!

Canada truly is a gem, with so much to offer.   I was glad to visit a National Park, and even happier to see so many park users!

Have a great summer, get out there, and enjoy some nature!

Well, it almost took me a week to write this update…   But hey, I’m a working man!





Going Flying…

9 07 2014

Well, Here I am from Penhold.

Startup has been great. There are cadets on the ground and life is busy.
I have been going for walks again, when I can.

Before coming I had a great walk and swim at Blue Lake, and posted pics on my facebook feed.

Walking on the prairies is different, and I think I talked about it last summer. One of the first highlights, which I think I talked about also last year was seeing a wild rose. There is just something about seeing a blooming provincial flower, in the province where it is recognized as the provincial flower. I see lots of wild roses at home, and always have, and hopefully always will. Often, I pay them little attention, but have always kind of liked them. But when I see them here in Alberta, where I know they are the provincial flower, it warms my heart in a different way, and really does kind of makes my soul sing…

20140709-223311-81191993.jpg

Ok, enough with the ‘mushy’ flower talk, I know, I am a geek.

I did get to go on an adventure, something that will likely be a highlight of my life for a long time.

A B-25 Mitchell bomber was on the ground at the Red Deer Airport, I took a tour, and paid a ridiculous amount for a flight in it. But let me tell you, it was so cool!

20140709-223434-81274300.jpg

Although I work a lot with Air Cadets and am a member of the RCAF; I really believe and feel that I don’t know enough about aircrafts and/or flight. However, I have always liked this aircraft because of the shared name. By no means is it my favourite bomber, or my favourite WWII aircraft. My favourite WWII bomber would either be a Halifax and/or a Lancaster. I’ve read many stories about both of these, a great story about a crew and a base that was transitioning from a Halifax to the Lanc’s; B is for Buster by Iain Lawrence. However, I think my favourite WWII aircraft would probably be the De Havilland Mosquito.

That being said there was a B-25 here, and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly in it and experience, so I did. This wasn’t just any plane, nor did it just ‘share my name’. This aircraft is a flying museum, that served in World War II and has a long history since

This B-25J Mitchell Bomber; MAID in the SHADE, was delivered to the 437th Bomb Squadron, 319th Bomb Group, 12th Airforce based at Serraggia, Corsica in the Fall of 1944. Between then and early 1945 the aircraft participated in 15 missions to northern Italy and Eastern Europe. The B-25 was returned to the US and placed in storage in early 1945 when the 437th BG was transferred to the Pacific theater and re- equipped with Douglas A-26 Invaders. It was further used by the US Military to assist in the transport of VIPs. In the 1960s, the aircraft was purchased by Dothan Aviation in Alabama and converted to an agricultural sprayer. Throughout the 1970s the aircraft passed through several owners before being bought as scrap metal for $18 000 and being donated to the now Commemorative Air Force. This B-25 was assigned by the CAF to the Arizona Wing in Mesa, AZ in 1981. Extensive restoration work was then begun by the Wing’s volunteer staff and resulted in a complete teardown of the airframe to remove corrosion and the results of damage from agricultural spray. After 28 years of restoration the aircraft was flown in late May, 2009, and landed at the Red Deer Airport on the 4th of July 2014.

It was on the ground mainly as a static display, of which the lines were long to tour the plane. However, 6 ‘charity’ flights were for sale for up to 36 people, who could experience the chance to fly through history, to an era long ago forgotten.

I chose to fly in the nose section. As part of the 21 minute flight (but 2 hour process) we got to rotate through 3 different seats, including the crew chief seat behind the pilots and the gunner seat in
the front turret, of which there was a fairly lengthy ‘crawl’ through a small, narrow corridor under the pilots.

20140709-223630-81390775.jpg

20140709-223629-81389979.jpg

20140709-223632-81392383.jpg

20140709-223631-81391598.jpg

20140709-223634-81394808.jpg

20140709-223635-81395656.jpg

20140709-223636-81396488.jpg

20140709-223633-81393988.jpg

20140709-223637-81397302.jpg

20140709-223638-81398226.jpg

20140709-223639-81399475.jpg

20140709-223633-81393176.jpg
Two highlights on the ground included, as part of the preflight operations, I was asked to assist in hand turning the propellers. Then, after the flight, we were put to work, polishing the plane and rubbing/cleaning off all the oil that had spewed out of it during flight.

Anyways, Very cool Experience that I’ll never forget. The smile on my face for the rest of the day was pretty huge…. I may have also annoyed some snapchat friends with too many snaps… Lol

Take Care, and stay tuned for the rest of my adventures….

Capt. Mitchell

20140709-223809-81489245.jpg





An update, a long time in the making…

23 06 2014

Well, I know I’ve been absent for too long, but what can I say? (Long time since I’ve blogged = Long blog entry… lol)

Last I left you I was meeting with a doctor in Cusco, Peru on the night of 19 November, 2013.

I had prepared myself for what I thought was the worst case, but most likely answer that the Doc would recommend that I did not hike the Inca trail, due to my ankle. We met at the hotel at 9:30 at night. I was right… No Inca Trail…. :-(

Dr Luna was more concerned about the possibility of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot. He ordered blood work. The lab techs were at the hotel by 7:30 am, to draw blood.

I was to continue on the tour, but when the group departed on the Inca Trail, I would come back to Cusco for a few days and then meet them at Machu Pichu (Via Train) when they arrived. Although disappointed, this was still a good option.

It was a beautiful day. Entering the Sacred Valley was something that I cannot describe. So much beauty, taking a step back in time, to a great dynasty that ruled most of South America. A place with so much history, legend, mystery. Just breathtaking Beauty!

20140709-214207-78127213.jpg

Our first stop was to a little village called Ccaccaccollo, that was being developed by Planterra, a subsidiary of G Adventures. (Read more about the project here.) While here I got to help some ladies thread a loom. There were lots of demo’s, including how the wool was processed and turned into product. I really enjoyed that it is the raw wool that they were dying, using natural products. (Got to see some more cochineal beetles get squished). After this wool is dyed, it is then spun into wool, another cool process and highlight.

20140709-231440-83680187.jpg

20140709-231442-83682022.jpg

20140709-231438-83678352.jpg

20140709-231433-83673744.jpg

20140709-231436-83676533.jpg

20140709-231444-83684217.jpg

20140709-222124-80484495.jpg

20140709-222125-80485536.jpg

20140709-222123-80483542.jpg

From here we continued deeper into the sacred valley. First stop was the ruins at Písac. I had a great time hiking and exploring these ruins. Climbing to the top of the citadel provided an awesome view.

20140709-214448-78288720.jpg

20140709-232633-84393389.jpg

20140709-232631-84391554.jpg

20140709-232629-84389516.jpg

Shortly after this stop, I had received the news I was waiting for. The tests suggested the presence of a blood clot; I was to return to Cusco that night, for further tests.

We stopped to pick up some cuy from a road side vendor, (roasted guinea pigs) a delicacy that has been dinned on since pre inca times and is depicted in many Peruvian churches in paintings of the last supper. We stopped for lunch, and for some reason, I had no appetite (it doesn’t happen often).

Next stop was Ollantaytambo. Another Incan city, that is well preserved. I was not allowed to climb through the ruins, as the doc wanted me to limit my climbing until the tests were complete and we knew what we were looking at. So I sat and watched the group, had a few conversations with Cynthia (our tour guide) and wondered around without climbing. We then went on a walking tour of the ‘modern town’ and I said goodbye and got into a taxi.

20140709-214617-78377209.jpg

20140709-214616-78376401.jpg

20140709-214615-78375425.jpg

20140709-232936-84576779.jpg

20140709-232931-84571288.jpg

20140709-232927-84567755.jpg

20140709-232933-84573016.jpg

20140709-232934-84574764.jpg

20140709-232929-84569564.jpg

We arrived back at the Clinica Mac Salud ‘hospital’ in Cusco around 9pm. An ultra sound confirmed that I had an extremely, large blood clot that was completely blocking blood flow in my leg. Apparently, it was all the way from the ankle to above the knee. I was immediately admitted into the intensive care ward.

For my Birthday, Cynthia and Wendy came to visit me and bring me cake. The nurses and doctors joined in singing Happy Brithday.

20140709-214853-78533454.jpg

20140709-214852-78532415.jpg

I can’t thank Dr. Luna enough. Without him, the situation could have turned out much worse. It was always reassuring to see his face, although he didn’t work at the hospital he stopped in often to see how I was doing, and translate my concerns back to the medical team at Clinica Mac Salud.

I was about ready to leave when a CT scan showed that a piece of the clot had moved into the lungs; Pulnonary Embolism. Due to this complication I shouldn’t be attempting the flight home yet. The team decided that I’d do better at lower altitudes so I was medically evacuated in an air ambulance to Lima.

I also need to thank RBC Insurance. I had great coverage thanks to my friend Jai who sold it to me. (ALWAYS listen to your travel agent, especially when they are a caring friend).

My insurance provided a bed side companion, so my sister Susan got to fly down and join me in the hospital in Lima, she spent a week sleeping on an uncomfortable pull out in my room at Clínica Inca.

20140709-215229-78749782.jpg

Eventually I was cleared and the insurance company provided a medical escourt to accompany me on a first class flight back to Canada on December 3rd.

As you can guess I never did end up making it to Machu Pichu and have since had a very hard time looking at pictures of the ruins. I guess one day I’ll have to return and finish the rest of the trip I was planning to take, however, I may have to do it in a few trips, comparred to just one long trip.

I’ve recently found out that all together my insurance claim for this trip was in excess of $50 000. I don’t know what I would have done without my RBC travel insurance.

Upon landing in Winnipeg, I went to Health Science Centre and was cleared through the emergency room.
All this due to ignoring an ankle injury. Hopefully a lesson was learned.

I was glad to be home. I spent much of the winter depending on my family. Thanks to many doctors visits, and a lot of physiotherapy I am almost back to 100%, and am feeling far healthier (and am far lighter) than I’ve been in a long time.

I really enjoyed my family time December through March and beyond. Together we had a lot of fun, just hanging out, and it became my ‘staycation’.

20140709-215923-79163726.jpg

20140709-215920-79160151.jpg

20140709-215927-79167426.jpg

20140709-215920-79160447.jpg

20140709-215926-79166203.jpg

20140709-215925-79165385.jpg

20140709-215927-79167048.jpg

20140709-215922-79162074.jpg

20140709-215921-79161258.jpg

20140709-215922-79162906.jpg

20140709-215928-79168812.jpg

20140709-215928-79168457.jpg

20140709-215929-79169819.jpg

20140709-215924-79164549.jpg

In March I started back to ‘work’ but I’ll use that term loosely.

I sent a group of students to Costa Rica, on a trip that I was organizing, but couldn’t travel with due to my injuries. They seemed to have a great time, and it was one of many travel plans that I had to change. I’m still hoping to enroll students in a 2015, March Break trip to Belize.

Since then I did help out with the school, doing a few things. I helped set-up sound for the drama club’s production of Beauty and the Beast. The students were incredible. I really enjoyed seeing how much the students I had in Music Man had grown since their grade 9 year. I wish them and the rest of the cast and crew good wishes in their future. I also got to help out as the lead instructor for Conservation Camp. Although the program has changed a lot since I’ve done it some 20+ years ago, it is still important to me, and I was glad to be able to share my passion for resource management with this years participants. DHS’s Con Camp has been running now for 58 years, I hope it continues for 58 more. The last major project I did with the school was being the MC for graduation. This has always been an honour for me, and I was grateful to be able to spend a day with our graduates, wishing them well as they walk from our school halls into the halls of their future.

20140709-220211-79331057.jpg

I was fortunate enough to spend a second year in Toronto scoring literacy tests for EQAO. I always enjoy being able to read what students from across the province write. In the evenings I was able to visit with friends and family.

I also got in some work with the military. Specifically the Regional Cadet Instructor School (Central) as well as 906 RCACS in Vermilion Bay/Sioux Lookout. I spent a weekend in Borden in March to take my Commanding Officer’s course. I was back in CFB Borden in May to do some directing staff professional development as well as to instruct on the Senior Instructor Course. I was then off to 8 Wing Trenton to instruct on the Air Environmental Course. Besides some intense map and compass we also had a great aviation day that was very different than what I had done with RCIS Northwest. The highlights of the aviation day included a tour of the CC-177 Globemaster III, that was doing some pre-flight work ramping up to depart to Cold Lake to pick up some troops. Meeting the Bird Man(Lady) who works for Falcon Environmental Services. She had a very cool job, and if I was back in my university/post university days I might have been considering a different career path… We also toured the NAV CAN tower on the airport, as well as a quick tour of the National Air Force Museum of Canada.

20140709-220518-79518282.jpg

20140709-220519-79519070.jpg

20140709-220519-79519830.jpg

20140709-220520-79520593.jpg

20140709-220522-79522178.jpg

20140709-220524-79524110.jpg

20140709-220522-79522977.jpg

20140709-220521-79521401.jpg

20140709-220525-79525031.jpg

20140709-220523-79523765.jpg

With 906, I spent some time with the cadets, helping with training, and ended the year taking command of the squadron on 28 May 2014 during our Annual Ceremonial Review in a Change of Command ceremony. To see photos of 906, and some of our training visit us on Facebook.

Through all of this, I continued to enjoy family time.  I extended my ‘staycation’ into two week chunks between work and some travel to southern Ontario as mentioned above.    It was great to spend so much time with family and friends, and I ended up having some great adventures, and have lots of new memories.

Now, I find myself away from family once more; back in Red Deer Alberta at Penhold Air Cadet Summer Training Centre. It is hard to believe that 1 year ago I was here, back at this desk, back in this same job starting my ‘year off.’ I wouldn’t change anything about it. It was exciting, it was challenging, it gave me new experiences, and ultimately I am WALKING away a better person; a better teacher as a result of all my experiences.

Although I am technically back to work; full time for the summer and then right back to school, I am going to try and have some adventures…  I’ll also try to post them here….   Lol
If you have read this to the end, thanks, and congratulations.





Belize; March 2015

21 04 2014

Travel to Belize with DHS in March 2015

That’s right; DHS has wrapped up an ecotour to Costa Rica this year, and is planning on traveling to Belize for March Break 2015. You can travel with us.

Check out the EF site to learn more about this trip;

To learn more about this trip come out to one of the parent / student information meetings on;

Monday April 28th @ 7pm in room 107,

or Tuesday May 13th @ 7pm in room 107

For more information contact Mr. Mitchell by phone (807)216-8106 or e-mail; ted.mitchell@kpdsb.on.ca

(Here are some pictures from the group that travelled to Costa Rica)

P1150871 P1160299 P1160004 P1160014 P1160084 P1160061 P1160060 P1150970 P1160041





More from Peru…

19 11 2013

(I actually wrote this a long time ago, posted it several months later, but backdated it…)

Well I guess we didn’t quite leave the desert in Nazca! Our next stop; Arequipa was also desert! Although you can’t tell from the pictures, that this city was in an arid district, it really was rocky/sandy outside the city limits. A highlight was visiting the local market, where there were many fruits (I’m guessing mostly from the Peruvian Rainforest). Overall, it was a beautiful city, that I think I could have spent more time in!

Ted072 Ted069 Ted070 Ted066

But after that we did leave desert for highland! Next stop was the city of Chivay, in the Colca Valley. This town was absolutely beautiful, and I was glad we were here for two nights. Upon arrival we hiked on some inca trail, up to a nice lookout!

Ted120 Ted104 Ted106 Ted114 Ted119

We were up early the next morning to head to Colca Canyon, in hope of seeing some Condors! We needed some patience, but sure enough they put on a wonderful show! We hiked along the canyon before returning to Chivay;

Ted121 Ted122 Ted128 Ted129 Ted130 Ted131 Ted132 Ted133 Ted134

Next stop was Puno on lake Titicaca. Another beautiful city, we were only there a short time before heading out on the lake! First stop was the Uros (floating) islands. This was mind blowing. To think of a people who are so dependent on the lake. They create their islands, houses and boats using reeds from the lake; it is an on going job.

Ted145 Ted147 Ted148 Ted149 Ted150 Ted151

Then we visited the island of Taquile for lunch and a walk! It looked like it would be a good up hill hike, and it was, the air is thin enough at 3 813 m in elevation, without walking another 200m up, but I guess it is good training for the inca trail. Our next stop was on Chucuito Peninsula, where we stayed in the house of a family, wake up call at 5:30am to go out and help with fishing. We also took some sheep out to pasture before going for a hike above the community.

Ted153 Ted154 Ted155 Ted157 Ted158 Ted160 Ted162 Ted163

Now we are on our way to Cuscoe, where I’ll meet with a doctor to see if I should be hiking the Inca Trail. My ankle is feeling much better, I’ve stopped taking pain medication, however, my leg is still swollen. However, I’ve prepared myself for the likely answer that he recommends that I do not hike the Inca.

Ted165 Ted166

Tomorrow the Sacred Valley








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 576 other followers