August 2nd, 2009:
Summer’s half over! I can’t say I don’t know what happened to it because we have been on the go steadily. We got home Friday morning, ran around frantically for two days, then by the time you read this we will be on the go again.
We are meeting Cathy and Lloyd at Kennedy, where Lloyd now lives; will stay overnight there then go on to Souris and meet some more relatives. After that, we will spend three days at a campground west of Winnipeg, and hope that people we want to visit with will come out there instead of us having to drive the motor homes around Winnipeg.
While we were at Sandy’s and Blaine’s place near Didsbury, Malcolm and Doreen Bergfeldt drove out for supper and a visit. They farmed near Wynyard, but moved to Airdrie a few years ago. We had a wonderful visit.
Blaine and I were sitting in the shade outside an ice cream store in Cochrane, waiting for the girls to come along and buy us some ice cream, when a huge motorcycle pulled up and parked. It was piloted by a middle-aged man, and his passenger was a very young-looking girl, presumably not his daughter. The motorcycle was a Boss Hoss and had the V-8 symbol on the side. The man was waiting while his companion went into the ice cream store so I asked him if it really was a V-8, and he said, yes, it had a 350 short block engine which I believe is a Chevrolet product.
The Boss Hoss motorcycles are made in Tennessee. It was quiet as could be but I’ll bet it would make a Harley look like it was standing still.
We toured Custom Woolen Mill east of Carstairs on Tuesday, and were fascinated. We had a guide for the first part, the receiving, washing and dying part, but our guide talked so fast that I got lost. He then directed us to an observation balcony where we could look over the rest of the plant, the carding and spinning processes. The spinning “mule” was a very long machine, running back and forth on tracks, and spinning 192 bobbins at a time. Then we learned it had been in service since about 1908. We were told one of the carding machines, that was working as we watched, dated from the mid 1800s. It was making batting for quilts. The machines were shut down for coffee break, and a man took us into the working floor and explained how the various machines worked and what they produced. That was just luck – normally non-employees are not allowed in there.
We also visited the quilting room and a very friendly lady in there explained how the quilt sewing machine worked – it was old as the hills, too, but looked very efficient. One of the employees said their maintenance man was capable of actually making any parts they needed; without him, they would all be out of jobs.
Just realized – when I wrote last week’s report I included pictures of a little bi-plane, but I forgot to mention that I had a ride in it. It was only about ten minutes but that was enough. It was very noisy, and I sat so low that I had almost no visibility. I don’t know how the pilot could see to take off and land as he sat just as low as me, and was in the rear cockpit. When I got in, I asked if he knew how to fly and he said, “We’ll learn together!” What I should have done was asked him to do a few loops or rolls to make the ride interesting; don’t suppose he was allowed to, though. Another new experience.
On Wednesday, we visited Ellis Bird Farm north-east of Red Deer. Originally farmed by Charlie and Winnie Ellis, it became a bird sanctuary with hundreds of regularly-maintained bird houses, and a popular visiting spot. When Ellis was no longer able to farm, it was bought by Dow Chemical with the condition that the bird farm be maintained as a sanctuary and retreat, and they have done a fine job of it. There are several lovely flower gardens, hundreds of bird houses that have been sent to them from people all over the world, acres of dense bush with footpaths wandering through them, a visitor’s centre, and a tea house.
We spent two or three very happy hours there wandering, taking pictures and having a nice lunch. Two of the nicest features of the place were the complete absence of “Do Not” signs, and the friendliness of the staff. Really worth a visit if you are in the Red Deer area.
The very best part of our Alberta jaunt was the warm welcome we got from Sandy and Blaine; not only for us but also for Freckles, who had the run of about an acre of yard. He didn’t even mind when we took off for most of the day.