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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Ontario Christmas!

I write to you today from my HOME.


I am so glad to be here. Though we didn't really have a white Christmas (we have about an inch of snow, which doesn't quite cover the Fields) it was absolutely lovely! I am getting used to how bright it seems to be here, compared to La Crete, as well as driving on our beautiful Ontarian HILLS which I miss so dearly in Alberta.

My Christmas holidays began Christmas eve. I went to Toronto to meet up with a friend for lunch, do a little walk down memory lane, and of course, gossip! We compared travel stories, although her stories of travelling to Ireland and England definitely outdid my icebridge-ferry stories of La Crete. She's off to the U.S. next, though, which doesn't make me at all jealous!

That evening I met up with my boyfriend, Christofer, for his family gathering in Toronto. In Spanish culture, they open gifts at midnight on Christmas eve. So I went for a feast, exchanged gifts and visited. It was strange to go from La Crete, where nobody hugs or touches, to his Spanish gathering where everyone greets with a hug and a kiss! We left Toronto around 2am and got to my parents' around 4am.

Of course, my older brother Bradley, who's autistic, was very wound up. Though he didn't get up until nearly 9am, I heard him up at 7am. So I think Chris and I slept from about 4am to 7am before our Christmas day began, at my parents' house.

We got up to find half our living room sprinkled with gifts. Bradley, Dylan and mom sat on the big couch, Chris and I took the love seat (I have always sat on the love seat since I was a child!) and Dad took a chair between the couches. I was "Santa" and delivered the gifts. It was a great Christmas and it took us a few hours to get through all the gifts. Chris got new luggage from my parents, I got Dylan a new pet rat and he got new boots from mom and dad, Bradley got some of the loudest most annoying toys ever (I sleep beside his room so loud toys keep me up ALL night!), mom got shopping and spa money, dad got tickets to a local show, and I got some shopping money (because I am QUITE deprived of this in La Crete) and a diamond necklace from Chris. He also got my mother and I diamond earrings :)

After gifts and breakfast, we played with out new gifts and Chris and I struggled to stay awake. My cousin Donnie, his girlfriend Jess and their son Jamie came over to visit for a little while, while the six of us were playing the board game Apples to Apples. After that visit, Uncle Matt, Aunt Debbie and my cousin James came to visit. It was so great to see them, especially James. I hadn't seen him in a long time! In the evening, we had a Christmas hot tub :)

Chris stayed the night again and I drove him to Toronto in the morning. I decided I should use the washroom before driving the two hours back home again so I went inside. Bad idea. I had to go in and kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss about 12 people or something. Go pee. Come back out and say goodbye, which means kissing everyone again. I was there for about 5 minutes and kissed about 40 times. Insane!

I came home and we had our Holmes gathering, and most people were here already. The kitchen, dinning room and living room were lined with tabled strewn together for our sit-down feast and the room smelled of delicious turkey and sweets. We had such a great feast, I am still full from it days later. And then the desserts started, and we had more desserts than could fit on the kitchen table!

After that we had our gift exchange and most people stayed to visit. We played games and all of us were too tired for a Christmas hot tub, so we all went to bed pretty early.

Officially, that's when the Christmas events were over, although my days are jam-packed with visiting and shopping, and of course, relaxing as well. It's so great here, I've already picked out some mansion houses for Chris and I to buy when we move back to Ontario :P

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I recently lost somebody very special to me.

To us, he was like a Grandpa, or as James and Donnie called him, Grampie. He was my Aunt Debbie's Dad, and although I call my Aunt Debbie's sister Aunt Barbie and her parents my "almost" grandparents, we're not related by blood. However, that doesn't make them any less family to me.

Last Monday, a week ago yesterday, Don dropped dead of a heart attack. No sickness, no signs if illness or injury, no shortness of breath. He was just visiting a friend and leaned forward and dropped dead.

It was so sudden that when my mom called, shortly after noon our time (2PM in Ontario) it almost didn't seem real. I got off the phone with her, called my boss Larry at the Chamber to let him know I was taking an extended lunch, then my boyfriend to tell him what had happened, and then called the Echo office to talk to Tom, my Pioneer boss. While on the phone with Anne, an Echo employee, I started to lose it. I got off the phone with her, called a friend, and completely broke down.

I couldn't believe that he wouldn't be there the next time I went to the cottage. The next Christmas. Newyears. Canada Day Social "Back North" (Ontarians, 'back north' has a new meaning now that I'm in La Crete, and I'm sure Don would have loved it here!). Nothing would ever be the same.

One thing I told mom that was special and unique to him was his offering of "screech", or as the rest of the world knew it, wine. He was so welcoming and always wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable, with wine in hand. I don't think I'll ever hear the word "screech" again, but if I ever do, I'll think of him.

Last night I settled down with a glass of dry, red, wine with Chris and it made me think of Don. And as the boys went ATVing by our backyard, it made me think of Don back north. And writing a moose hunting article last week also made me think of Don. I am noticing more and more that little things remind me of Don, and that I'm thinking of him all the time. Maybe it's his way of showing me that he's still with me; maybe he never left me.

I know that it will be hard at Christmas when I go home. Being here and so far away, it hasn't completely sunk it. It will be hard to go visit Norma, his wife, and not have Don offer a glass of his homemade wine when I walk through the door. Or to have him start up the coo-coo-clock for Bradley. Or to just see his soft, warm, smile standing at the back of the room, making sure everything is organized and going as planned and that everyone is happy and welcome. Or have him get up and offer me his chair as I walk into the room.

But I know the emptiness won't be forever. I'll be seeing you again, Grampie Don.

Many recent changes

So much has happened since my last blog update.

First of all, Christofer and I have moved upstairs in the house we were renting from. So now we have a giant master bedroom, a giant bathroom with a jacuzzi bathtub, and giant walk-in closet. We also have our own living room, which is bigger than our living room and kitchen in our old place, with a lot more furnature and room to have people over. Our kitchen is huge so now we should be able to have people over more comfortably. A laundry room and a tredmill also come with the house, so we are very happy for both of those (though I have yet to go on the tredmill). There are also two bedrooms upstairs that we plan to rent out for Abe. Every person we get that rents (either the bedrooms or suite downstairs) we get 10 per cent of the rent, so that will be deducted off our rent. Which will really help us out! Although the room mate thing should be interesting, especially since we have two men interested. Hopefully they don't have a problem with cats. Or common-law relationships.

Another major change is that I have recently taken a second job. I now work part time at the chamber of commerce, in La Crete. I am doing some advertising and PR things, but mostly heading the AE&I Workshops and Career Centre; running workshops and one on one meetings for resume building and career hunting. I'm really enjoying it so far, although balancing both jobs and some sort of social life has been challenging.

It's two weeks from today that I will be home, and I cannot wait to go home for Christmas. I am home from the 21st until the 2nd. I just can't wait for some homecooked mama meals, my own bed, and hottubs and gin&wink with my family. Oh Ontario, I miss you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A post from Greg

So, my new La Cretian best friend, Greg, has started a blog about La Crete. So far, he's just written one post (come on, it's his first night at it, give him a break!) but you should check it out.

It can give you a little taste of La Crete from his perspective, as well as how I am behaving in La Crete! :)


Monday, November 15, 2010

High Valley meets my parents in Belleville, Ontario

This is a photo my dad took of my mom with High Valley, in Belleville, Ontario. High Valley was on tour with Carolyn Dawn Johnson, and since buying their CD I have fallen in love with their music. I looked up their tour dates and saw they would be in Belleville Ontario, about a 20 minute drive from my parents' house.

It only made sense for them to buy tickets.

So they did. They loved the concert. Their only complaint was that High Valley's portion was too short.

My parents made this colourful, lovely sign for High Valley and my mother bumped her way through the crowd and made her way to their table while signing autographs. All the while, both she and High Valley were laughing.

"We knew you were coming," one of them said to my mother. "Ashley told us!" I had interviewed them a few weeks before, via phone, regarding their nomination for the CCMAs.

I am kind of jealous that my parents, three provinces away, have met this local band and I still havent. And apparently we go to the same church, and their parents live just across the street.

They promised me a visit before Christmas, and High Valley, I'm still waiting! :)

Voting turn out in Northern Alberta

Here's a column I wrote for the November 3rd issue, just after our elections and first council meeting with our new council.

Insider Reflections
Too many complaints for too little votes
Ashley Foley
In this past municipal election, I was much more enthusiastic and informed than in any other election that has affected me in the past.
This was mostly due to the fact that I am the main reporter for the Northern Pioneer, and covered all Council meetings for the three months prior to the election, so I was well informed of community issues. As well, I attended forums and spoke with most candidates running for election.
I felt thoroughly informed, both about current events and also about what each person was running for and why.
For once, I was ready to make an informed vote. However, since I had only been an Albertan resident for three months, I was unable to do so.
Fair enough, laws are laws. So that’s why I was unable to vote. Can you explain your reason?
I live in Ward 3 (La Crete) where, according to the 2010 Mackenzie County Unofficial Census, over 2,700 people reside. I find it frustrating to see that only 467 of you came out to vote on Election Day.
That’s about one sixth of the population that voted. Which means that one of six people complaining about municipal issues in the coffee shops, truck stops, or check out lines have the right to do so.
These issues include ward realignment, highway 88 paving, Zama Access road paving, the Ferry/ice Bridge crossing, and the list goes on. For the five out of six people in La Crete alone who did not vote, what right do you have to criticize our Council or current issues?
I desperately wanted to vote but was unable to do so. Five out of six people in La Crete chose not to vote. I would have loved to have the vote so many of you carelessly threw away.
But enough finger pointing at Ward 3 (La Crete), because most of the other Mackenzie County wards did not fair much better.
Ward 1, (Blue Hills/Tompkins) with a population of over 1,300 people had only 92 voters. That’s one in thirteen people who voted to elect the person who will represent your Ward for the next three years.
Ward 5 (Blumenort), with a population of over 1,100 people had only 63 voters. That’s one in seventeen people who voted.
Ward 7 (Fort Vermilion), with a population of over 725 people had 219 voters. Congratulations, Ward 7, because one in three people voted in your Ward. This Ward had a reasonable turn out, yet still fairly low.
Ward 8 (Rocky Lane), with a population of 380 permanent residents had 134 proud voters. Nearly half the permanent residents voted (however, there are 514 temporary residents, which makes the voting statistic much lower).
Ward 9 (High Level Rural), has a permanent population of 584 (603 residents including the temporary population), and had 99 voters. Though the numbers are much different than in Ward 3, these statistics are similar to Ward 3’s one in six people who voted in the 2010 municipal election.
These statistics come from the Mackenzie County 2010 Results and the 2010 Mackenzie County Unofficial Census Report.
If you didn’t vote because you were not eligible to vote, or had a family emergency, or simply have no interest in County issues such as ward realignment or highway 88 paving, then there is no wonder why your vote was not accounted for.
However, many non voters do attend forums to voice their opinions, or write letters to Council in mercy of grants or other favours, and complain over Council decisions without taking charge in the opportunity to vote.
We only get the chance to vote once every three years, and it’s the only time we are 100 per cent certain that our voice, our concerns, our vote, counts. In 2013, make yours count.

Many Hats in a small town

Here's a column I wrote a little while ago referring to small town politics. It's one of my favourite columns so far, so I hope you enjoy it!

Insider Reflections
With Ashley Foley
Many Hats in a Small Town
In small towns, especially La Crete and Fort Vermilion, there are a lot of organizations, businesses and leadership roles to be filled and fewer people to fill them.
The solution: each person wears a lot of hats.
Usually, I interview business owners, councillors, RCMP Officers, or Fire Fighters, and in meeting them in that persona, would create a biased judgement based on their role.
However, in attending Get to Know You Night and other events and small business interviews, I have come to realized that I had made biased assumptions on these figures based on their roles. Most of these people actually play more than one role in their community.
For example, in attending council meetings in Fort Vermilion, I had always assumed each of the business people sitting around the table were intimidating.
However, after meeting with Ray Toews in Fort Vermilion as a multi-business owner and Canadian Ranger, I was introduced to a softer, more friendly and less intimidating side of him.
It is said that judgements are made within the first ten seconds of meeting someone, and that first impressions are everything. Perhaps I was too quick to judge people based on their roles, titles and uniforms.
These people are the exact same people in flesh and blood, but show completely different personalities depending on which role they are in.
It all depends on their hat.
Perhaps that’s the special part that I get to experience that my classmates back in Toronto are missing out on, the closeness and multi-personalities that come with a small town.
Though I too grew up in a small town, much smaller than Fort Vermilion, as a child I hadn’t realized or learned to appreciate different traits in people. The teacher was a role model, the video store owner rented movies, and the person with peacock farm was the strange one nobody knew well.
On the other hand, these northern villages are unique. I don’t believe I would have ever experienced so many personalities in one individual by staying in a small town in Southern Ontario, because the nearest city or town is only minutes away.
Here, on the other hand, there is more responsibility on each individual, and less reliance on cities and government run resources for the communities to run effectively. And they do so in a uniquely wonderful away.
But it takes a lot of hats.

Column about finding home.

Here's a column I wrote for the September 15th issue of the Northern Pioneer. I thought you may enjoy giving it a read.
It was written in refernce to Pioneer Days in La Crete this past summer.

Insider Reflections
With Ashley Foley
Learning to Appreciate Home
This is the first time in eighteen years that I am not returning to school in September. However, with being a reporter, I am constantly learning, growing, and experiencing new things. Luckily, I will be a student forever.
My favourite part is experiencing the events I attend. Many reports attend and report on events, but I want to experience them. So don’t be surprised if I show up to your event and ask to participate, such riding passenger in the recent La Crete Mud Bog, golfing for my first time at the MCC charity golf tournament in La Crete, and getting my first ride in a combine at the Food Grains Harvest in La Crete.
However, one of the most touching experiences and emotional interviews I have ever done, was at last weeks’ Pioneer Days in La Crete, when I met Sarah, daughter of Henry Harvey Peters.
Henry Harvey Peters pioneered and established the farm located on the heritage ground -- or rather, the farm that was there. Today, we see it as a beautiful piece of history, frozen in time, for us to enjoy and learn from. However, Peters’ children see it differently.
I found Sarah sitting at a picnic table in the morning, just before the antique parade began. She saw me looking for a place to sit and offered me the seat beside her. At the time, I had no idea the adventure I was soon to discover with her. She had unknowingly asked a reporter to join her, and I had found the perfect interview subject.
She brought me in and painted a picture of the way things used to be on the farm for me. I know everyone else was enjoying the delicious waffles at the Wolfe House, the Loonie Toss, and other exciting events; but money can’t buy the joy I felt discovering the land and farm in its original use, with Sarah.
She showed me where she was born, where she played, and what it was like growing up on the farm. I mentioned that it was impressive to see all the antique machinery. She just smiled, rolled her eyes, and said, “You should have seen it when it was all up and running.”
She completely lit up when she talked about her father’s farm. It was like she was a kid again, playing in the flour mill with her brother, Cornie (who also toured with us for part of the day).
Even standing in the exact same place she had stood so many times before, she said the only things that felt a little like home any more were the flour mill, garage, barn and blacksmith.
As we stood between these buildings, she pointed in every direction sharing different stories. It was like her lips couldn’t move fast enough to get all the words out at once.
We went into the house they grew up in together, stopping in each room to share more memories. She pointed out things that myself or any other passer-by probably would over look, such as the shelves in the closet in the basement painted in multiple colours, or the fact that the room in the upper left hand corner was later used as a laundry room.
Cornie joined us, pointing out another small building between the barn and blacksmith. “That’s where we were born,” he told me. All seven of the first children were born and lived there, until the house was build, when Sarah was eleven.
They had wanted to go inside the building, but the doors were locked. Another realization that this place is no longer home.
When Sarah spoke of the way things were as a child and how things have changed, it brought her tears. She explained this was not what he father wanted, and he would have never let this happen to his land.
It really got me thinking. We are so naive and selfish in our own pleasures, that many do not stop to think of the original pioneers and what their wants were. Did anyone even ask the Peters’ children how they felt about their home becoming a tourist attraction? And in doing so, destroying what they remember as home?
She taught me so much about the pioneering days, and allowed me to understand a lot of the history in La Crete and how its grown over the past few decades. But most of all, she taught me to appreciate my home and my family; putting importance to the phrase “home is where the heart is.”
She taught me to cherish all my deepest and most sincere memories and not to take for granted each visit I take back to my quaint and charming hometown, Tamworth, in southern Ontario and not to read too deeply into the changed curtains, redecorated garage or strange car in the driveway. Because home isn’t found here.
Home is in people you love, and in the memories you share.

drinking and driving rant

I wrote this little rant about drinking and driving in the summer. However, it was never published, just written for myself, but I thought you'd enjoy reading it.

In moving to La Crete, I have been introduced to “cruising,” apparently a pastime enjoyed largely by teens and young adults in Northern Alberta. To me, driving around in circles and up and down the same road time and time again, wasting gas and polluting the environment seems a little unorthodox, but, to each their own.
At first, I wasn’t phased by the constant back and forth driving of the same cars up and down main street in La Crete, or the crowds of trucks and Sunfires in the Co-op parking lot each evening throughout the weekends. Not until I showed up to work with a parking lot full of glass, of course.
Perhaps I was just naive in thinking these people racing up and down main street, or parked in a clutter in the middle of a parking lot, were just having innocent fun. Cruising seems fine enough, and I’m not opposed to a drink or two at a local gathering, but when it comes to drinking and driving ... that I have a problem with.
Much of the coffee shop gossip in La Crete surrounds the hot topic of RCMP, more specifically, the lack of RCMP coverage in La Crete. It never fails: every weekend you can hear screeching tires racing up and down the road and every Monday morning there is broken glass all over parking lots and streets.
Recently, the RCMP have been present in La Crete due to phone call complaints about reckless driving in the area. And, people have been punished for their actions. Still, the drinking and driving continues, and the lack of RCMP supervision on La Crete roads during weekends is still a major issue.
According to the RCMP, there should be one RCMP officer on patrol in La Crete. This is hardly enough to cover the entire town of La Crete each night. Shortly, La Crete should be getting another RCMP officer to help patrol the area, however, the name of the officer and date of arrival is still unknown to me.
When I first arrived in La Crete, I thought it was strange that the small town had double lanes through the middle of town. Now I see that this was a huge mistake. Putting double lanes in there is just asking for young people to race back and forth. It’s no secret that it happens, so why isn’t it being stopped?
Racers: I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but there is a time and place for drinking and for driving, but they should never be done together. If you want to race, sign up with Penner Speedway, just outside of La Crete. If you want to drink, go to Fort Vermilion or High Level to a pub or lounge, or on a friend’s back porch.
In a town that is booming with babies and children, what would make someone want to get drunk and speed up and down a road all night long? Do they understand they are not only putting themselves at danger, but innocent bystanders as well?
And if the loud, screeching tires; smashed bottles puncturing tires and shoes; putting themselves and others at danger; wasting money, gasoline and clean air didn’t already put me over, it was the behaviour of these young adults when in “racing mode.”
A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I took a walk in the evening. Evening walks used to be my favourite thing to do. Just as the sun sets and the skies turn into wonder water colours of pinks, purples and oranges. It’s the perfect time to walk in the summer, because the weather is not too hot and humid (in Ontario, at least! No need to worry about humidity here).
However, on my first and probably last evening walk in La Crete, I was disturbed by an ignorant and rude racer who slowed down, rolled down his window, and yelled absurd comments to me and three ladies I was walking with.
Like I said before, I couldn’t wrap my head around the sport of “cruising” for leisure, unless of course it was part of a date, but when “cruising” becomes racing, and racing becomes drinking, and drinking becomes reckless and unsafe driving, this becomes a problem for the community. For everyone who is driving through La Crete on a weekend, for everyone who has children, and for everyone whose son or daughter is involved in the act.

First Column in the Pioneer: cell phone use

I was going through back issues of the Pioneer today, and I thought some of you may enjoy reading my first column I wrote, back in the August 25th issue. It's regarding cell phone use in public.

Insider Reflections
With Ashley Foley
Growing up in a small town of about 500 with no cell phone service was not out of the ordinary for me. I didn’t use my cell phone much, and didn’t see the need to use it when I was at home.
Then when I spent four years in Toronto in school, we were taught not to have our cell phones on during a lecture. Heaven forbid your cell phone beeps to notify a text message or even worse, that awful Lady Gaga ring tone you thought was so cool when you downloaded comes on in the midst of a Psychology or Multimedia lecture.
Busted. Kicked out of the lecture. I’m not sure which is worse, being made fun of by the professor in front of a full lecture hall, or having to leave like a kindergartener who was being disruptive.
After moving to La Crete, I am very surprised at how dependent people are on their cell phones. And I’m not talking about the teenagers either, that’s inevitable. I’m talking about you guys, the mid thirties to seniors.
To me, my cell phone never comes before a face-to-face conversation. If I am at lunch and my cell phone goes off, I don’t answer it because the person I am visiting with is more important than a phone call.
However, I have been speechless at the number of events I have attended where people are not only not turning off their ringers, but also answering calls in the middle of the events.
For example, when I arrived at the MARA Field Day event a few weeks ago, I made sure to turn off my ringer before walking in. An old university habit, I suppose.
I was surprised to see that I was among the few who had the courtesy to turn off my ringer. In a room filled with people aged 35-60, I can’t count the number of times a cell phone disrupted the speakers.
Not only that, but there was more than one person who answered their cell phone without leaving the lecture, which not only was disruptive to the lecturers, but also to the people around that person, as well.
Of course, not everyone in attendance was gabbing on their cell phones, but there was constantly cell phones ringing and dinging throughout the lectures.
Today’s youth have been labeled as cell phone crazed and technology dependent, and this may be so. I for one, try to have polite cell phone etiquette in public places. I have been the one at the front of a lecture trying to get the attention of those on cell phones, and let’s be honest, how can I compete with a Lady Gaga ring tone?
Ask yourself this: how dependent on your cell phone are you? Could you go without texting, bbming, or calling for a day? A week? Or even for a couple of hours to give respect to the host of an event?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A day with "Bob"

The other day, I went to Home Hardware to speak with a man we'll call "Bob" (as I've been asked to omit names from my blog), who is on the La Crete Health Committee. He was a great man, and gave me as much information as he could. I've interviewed him before, and being a 'man of many hats' I've seen him in the community quite a bit.

We talked about that subject, then he informed me of another great article idea and asked when I'd be able to come back out. Without hesitation, we both jumped in his truck and headed down 94th street to his other business.

Note to Torontonians and city slickers: in the country, it's not odd or dangerous to get in a car with someone you hardly know, even being a man or even a stranger. Especially in La Crete. And besides, his truck was huge, I couldn't resist.

He appologised for the smoke smell and informed me he was burning brush. That explains why my house has been covered in a black cloud of ash the last few days. He lives just on the other side of the small group of trees across the road.

After giving me a tour of his other business and doing some interviews, we talked horses on the drive back. He says he has a few of his own and recently went on a trailride in La Crete with 50 other horses. How this happened and nobody told me about it or I never found out, is still a mystery. Anyways, we went back to HomeHardware and he showed me some photos of the horses and trailride and it seemed absolutely lovely.

After having a rough day, "Bob" sure had a way of bringing light to a dull day. Hope to see you around more, "Bob!"

Many Hats in a Small Town

Here's a column I wrote a few weeks back, and was published, but that I thought a few of you might enjoy back home who do not read the Northern Pioneer.

Many Hats in a Small Town
Ashley Foley

In small towns, especially La Crete and Fort Vermilion, there are a lot of organizations, businesses and leadership roles to be filled and fewer people to fill them.

The solution: each person wears a lot of hats.
Usually, I interview business owners, councillors, RCMP Officers, or Fire Fighters, and in meeting them in that persona, would create a biased judgement based on their role.

However, in attending Get to Know You Night and other events and small business interviews, I have come to realized that I had made biased assumptions on these figures based on their roles. Most of these people actually play more than one role in their community.

For example, in attending council meetings in Fort Vermilion, I had always assumed each of the business people sitting around the table were intimidating.
However, after meeting with Ray Toews in Fort Vermilion as a multi-business owner and Canadian Ranger, I was introduced to a softer, more friendly and less intimidating side of him.

It is said that judgements are made within the first ten seconds of meeting someone, and that first impressions are everything. Perhaps I was too quick to judge people based on their roles, titles and uniforms.
These people are the exact same people in flesh and blood, but show completely different personalities depending on which role they are in.
It all depends on their hat.

Perhaps that’s the special part that I get to experience that my classmates back in Toronto are missing out on, the closeness and multi-personalities that come with a small town.

Though I too grew up in a small town, much smaller than Fort Vermilion, as a child I hadn’t realized or learned to appreciate different traits in people. The teacher was a role model, the video store owner rented movies, and the person with peacock farm was the strange one nobody knew well.

On the other hand, these northern villages are unique. I don’t believe I would have ever experienced so many personalities in one individual by staying in a small town in Southern Ontario, because the nearest city or town is only minutes away.

Here, on the other hand, there is more responsibility on each individual, and less reliance on cities and government run resources for the communities to run effectively. And they do so in a uniquely wonderful away.

But it takes a lot of hats.

Jasper Photos

Okay, so I'm a huge liar and never posted photos from Jasper. However, my friend Kristin posted some in her blog, so check hers out, incase I never get around to posting pics myself.

I have no idea when my life became so busy! However, I love the business. Chris and I are both so busy, with him working days and me working evenings and weekends, that we hardly even get to see eachother! And then, of course, we see our Greg, the third person in our relationship you might say, almost every day. He's great and sure makes the darkening days light up.

Enjoy the photos on Kristin's blog post about Jasper, and I'll try to update you again soon!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And it... a brand new car!!

Chris and I have been hmm-ing and haw-ing over a new vehicle. Me, being the girl, thought we should get something older, used, something more affordable. Chris, on the other hand, wanted something shiny.

I wanted something with 4wheel or All-wheel drive, because apparently that's a must in moving to Northnern Alberta. It's one of those things most people failed to mention before getting here, and you just kind of pick up on when you pull into a parking lot filled with giant trucks driving a tiny Sunfire.

We wanted a truck, but lets get real here, we both have GIANT OSAP loans to pay off and we're both just getting started on our jobs. Therefore, a 30,000-50,000 truck was out of the question.

We looked at a few SUVs and Jeeps, and really liked them. I was stuck on something with 4wheel drive, preferrably with heated seats, while chris wanted his sunroof. Finally, we found something we could both agree on.

A beautiful, red, 2007 Dodge Caliber.

It has my all-wheel drive for those long, snowy drives, as well as heated seats for both the front seats, both of which I wanted. It has Chris's sunroof, and it's red, which is gorgeous. And to top it off, it has a fridge in it, which will make an 8 hour trip to Edmonton so much easier! It also has a subwoofer, so watch out La Crete while I blast those country beats!

Becomming an Albertan

It's official, I'm an Alberta.

I'm not sure how to feel about it. Excited? Because now I am officially a grown up, with a grown up job. Or sad? Because I love Ontario, and now I'm no longer an Ontarian.

My Albertan license came in the mail about a week ago. It sure isn't as beautiful as my blue and green Ontario licnese, but I suppose it will do.

Then, my Alberta Health "card" came in. I put card in quotations because you can hardly call the thick peice of paper a card. It's not even laminated. *sigh* they just don't do things the same way here in Alberta, my fellow Ontarians!

In a few minutes Chris will be putting my Alberta license plate on my car, which I purchased about three or four weeks ago, but have neglected to put on my car. Partly, because I was lazy and the weather has been far too cold. But mostly because I didn't want to get rid of the last Ontarian Id I had. Besides, I love it when people comment on my license plate. Today, while I was getting gas, the lady beside me rolled down her window and said "You're a long way from home!" We talked a little bit about Ontario, which I love, because I sure miss it!

Okay, I'm a little LOT homesick and can't WAIT for Christmas to go back home and see everyone I left behind!

Until then,
-Dearly missing Ontario

Thursday, October 14, 2010


For Thanksgiving, Chris, Kristin, Greg and I headed to Jasper to fill the empty void that would be there without seeing our friends and family over the holiday. Lets just say, the mountains sure filled that void!

However, since I haven't got a lot of time to fill you in now about it, check out Kristin's blog at: get some details about the trip from her perspective.

It was amazing! "Breathtaking" was the word of the trip, and rightfully so!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

3 Ontarians + 1 New Brunwick-er

I do appologise for being so busy, and not updating my blog sooner!

A few weeks ago Kristin and I finally visited each other. I went to her house for the premiere of Greys Anatomy on a Thursday, and we went shopping and to Tim Hortons. Of course, I spent way too much money at Walmart and we baked cookies, drank wine, and did a lot of gossiping!

Grimshaw is beautiful. She definitely got the better location (being only 20 minutes away from a Tim Hortons and Walmart), however, I am the only reporter at my paper which makes my job fun because I get to choose my hours and projects. All in all, its a win-win situation!

On Saturday, Kristin came to La Crete to visit Chris and I for the night. She came while Chris was working, so we had time to gossip without a boys interfearance. We went in to La Crete to buy the new High Valley CD, and then like the total creepers we are, stook outside their parents' home just across the street and took photos of us with the High Valley CDs. I'll be sure to upload that once I get it on my computer!

By the way, I LOVE their CD. It is SO La Crete. Fellow Ontarians, they are touring in Ontario in Belleville, Peterborough, and Oshawa (opening for Carolyn Dawn Johnson) you guys should totally go!

Then Chirs, Kristin and I decided to go to the Blue Hills Lookout. All the while, Kristin was assuring us "this is going to be breathtaking" as my car was fishtailing and swirving around on the thick gravel road. It started to get mucky, so I decided to drop it into second. Then first. Then I realized my car wasn't moving. I tried third, second, first, drive. Nothing. Now, I had started to roll backward. I quickly slam on the break and pull the emergency break and Kristin and Chris get out to investigate. They ended up wiping off as much muck as they could from my tires so I could back down the gia-normous hill, which was also on a curve. Of course, we stopped for a photo shoot before backing down the rest of the hill.

That evening we had a local teacher over to play Dutch Blitz and Blockus. Hilarious! So much fun. His name was Greg, and I believe he will become my new La Crete best friend!

That night at 2am we were called to a fire call. I had had a couple of drinks, so Chris had to drive me to it. So there we go, all four of us, to an accident down on 94th. It was a lot of fun and Kristin was too excited to be called by the fire department at 2am!

The next morning, Chirs, Kristin and I went to a Christian Fellowship church and then had a wonderful picnic outside while playing bored games. Around three, Kristin left, thinking she was going home. Little did she know the ferry would be closed, forcing her to return to La Crete by 5pm, wasting two hours of driving and gas, to go north an hour to High Level and then back down toward Grimshaw. She made it safely home by 9pm.

This weekend, Chris, Kristin, Greg and I are going to Jasper for two nights (thanks to my wonderful Uncle Paul for booking us the hotel!), so I'll be sure to update my blog again after our trip to the beatiful rockies!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

High Valley

Last night, I was able to speak with the up and coming band, High Valley. For you country lovers like me out there, you've probably heard On a Combine on the radio -- that's them!

They're originally from La Crete area, and I can throw a rock to where their parents live now. I can see the house out my window.

High Valley was nominated for a CCMA this past week, Rising Star, so I interviewed them about that and some other events. They're heading to my beloved Ontario next month, so keep an eye out for them.

Dylan, if you're reading this, they're going to Peterborough and I highly recommend going if you can!

I can't say too much without giving away my article about them, but Paul Brandt (you know, that country singer I am absolutely obsessed with?) has worked with them since 2007. He actually has helped produce their latest Album, and they've recorded songs with Paul. Just another reason why High Valley and I will become best friends.

Brad, the oldest of the three brothers in High Valley, was the one I spoke with. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son, and his other two brothers live in La Crete. Brad promised to drop in and meet me when they're all in town, so he could 'meet a diehard Paul Brandt fan from Toronto.'

With any luck, this will lead to Paul Brandt coming to La Crete to meet me as well, and giving a private concert in La Crete, with High Valley.

...I know, unlikely. But you have to dream big, right?


Last week, my mom asked for one professional favour: that I take at least ONE day a week to myself. A ME DAY. I work every day, whether I'm at an event, at the office, or working from home. She said if I didn't slow down, I would get burnt out, and well.. Mom's know best! So today is my ME DAY!

I woke up when Chris got up and he made me breakfast. After he left for work, I went back to bed until almost 10am. I'd say my ME DAY is already off to a good start!

After that I sat around in my PJs, my favourite passtime, and did some cleaning and facebook creeping. Okay, mostly facebook creeping.

I missed the finale of Big Brother last night, so I looked it up online and started watching that. It was a two hour finale, so I took a few breaks. I paused it to make lunch for noon, when Chris was coming home. We has soup, pasta, and a bun. We had some hangout time on the couch, trying to figure out why our lives have become so busy and trying to schedule in a few things we want to get done this week, before he left again.

I finished watching Big Brother in my PJs and called my parents for a good chat. We talked about Big Brother, home, about a vehicle Chris and I have our eyes on, and other things. As we were hanging up the phone, I was promising myself I was going to shower and get dressed now. It was 2:00, but Dad asked me if I wanted to play Warcraft (I know, I'm a total nerd. My parents and I play a lot together now that I've moved so far away). So we played that for a bit before Dad had to go for dinner.

Finally, I showered and got dressed! Wearing my lovely pink John Deere shirt Aunt Debbie and Uncle Matt got me :)

I finally got around to hemming my pants I bought when I was in Edmonton, and have yet to sew on the buttons on a coat I got at a yard sale a while ago.

It has been a great day. I feel totally revived. It's been so busy since Chris came to Alberta, so it was a nice day to myself. Next week, I don't have any events, so I'm sure it won't be so hectic. I'll get a chance to do a few features!

Thanks for the advice, Mom!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Food Grains Harvest

Last week was the Food Grains Harvest in La Crete.

I found out this was happening just after driving through the night from Edmonton, arriving in La Crete just after 10am. This was about the time when Lisa, my co-worker from the Pioneer, called me to tell me I had an event to be at in a few minutes.

I wanted to cry. I was so tired, and I hadn't slept in I don't know how long. But, up I got, showered and ready for the Food Grains Harvest, just outside of La Crete.

I got there, mingled a bit, had a BBQ lunch, and started taking photos. I met some ladies who were telling me a bit about the event, since I had never been to a food grains harvest before.

From what I've learned, every year there is a field donated from the Mackenzie County (near La Crete) and a field is harvested each year for the Food Grains Harvest. Everything is donated: the seeds, fertilizing, harvesting, trucking, etc. This year, over 5,200 bushels of canola was harvested, making just over $52,000. This cost is then matched 4 to 1.

I was introduced to a wonderful man by the name of Willie Friesen, who let me ride with him in his combine. I had never been in one before, and coming from a family of dairy farmers and cheese makers, I sure didn't know a lot about harvesting canola. Thanks to my friend Willie, I do now.

I rode with him for about an hour, which was how long it took the nine combines to harvest the field. Though I was so tired, I wanted to learn more about farming in Northern Alberta, oil, and logging.

Now, this machine is nothing like the tractors I'm used to. This was a giant, sexy, green, John Deere, luxurious machine! I mean, this thing had air conditioning! And there were so many computers in there, I'm sure that if I weren't in there with him, he would have been on facebook. You can even watch movies and listen to music in there. Why would you ever need to leave?

I think these Albertan farmer's have it made pretty good out here.

Ontarians to Alberta

Last week, I picked up Chris from Edmonton, which was quite the ordeal in itself. an 8 hour drive straight, with the ferry out, just to find out his flight no longer would come in at 9am the next day, but 11:15pm the next day. Obviously, I was not impressed.

We had a dreadful drive through the night, both so frustrated with each other we didn't even speak. When we pulled in the driveway we both looked at each other and just laughed. Luckily, we started liking each other again.

Now, of course, everything is wonderful. Couldn't be better! I am so happy to have him here with me.

Yesterday, he got a job in La Crete with Quality Motors as a Finance Control Assistant. I am so happy for this! I was worried he would have to go back to Ontario if he couldn't find a job. We're still not sure how much he makes, but we're both so excited for this.

I was both excited and nervous when he got the job. Excited, because it meant he would be staying in La Crete with me. Nervous, because it meant we were really staying here for a while. For a few years, perhaps. And that made me nervous and homesick.

My friend Kristin also started working in Grimshaw, Alberta, this week. I haven't been down to see her yet, but we're trying to work out some time to visit one another in the next couple of weeks. I am so happy I have some Ontarians here with me now!

This place is finally starting to feel like home.

Pioneer Days

Last week was Pioneer Days at the La Crete Heritage Centre. It was SO much fun! I didn't think I would have so much fun.

I got there in the morning and took some photos before finding a place to sit with my pancake breakfast. A woman let me sit with them, since I didn't have anyplace to sit. It turns out her name is Sarah, daughter of Henry Harvey Peters, the man who pioneered the farm Pioneer Days and the Heritage Centre is based on. What better person to meet? I got a fastastic interview and tour.

She took me to the flour mill, which originally I was going to skip but am I ever glad I didn't. Her brother, Cornie, was in there giving tours so I got some photos and they answered a bunch of questions.

The two of them sat down with me and told me what it was like when they were kids growing up on the farm. It turned into quite the eye opener for me and quite the emotional interview for Sarah. She says her father wouldn't be happy to see what has happened to her land, and it really doesn't feel like home to her any more, with everyone moved around and changed around. Who knew having your home turned into a tourist attraction was so hard on you?

After that, I drove home to drag Chris out of bed. We went for the rest of the fair, enjoyed some delicious mennonite foods, and got some old fashioned photos taken together. It was such a wonderful afternoon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Mud Bogger

This is an entry I had published in the September 1st issue of the Northern Pioneer, for my column. It focuses on my experiences at the bud bog in La Crete. Enjoy!

Well, it’s official. Mud Bogging season is well underway and I for one, has been converted.
It certainly didn’t take much for me to fall in love with mud bogging at the La Crete Mud Bog, Saturday, August 28th. What’s not to love? Mud, check. Trucks, check. ATVs, check. Sounds like a perfect afternoon, to me.
Though I’ve had my fair share of splashing through puddles and swamps in trucks and ATVs in sticks of Ontario, I had never experienced a Northern Alberta mud bog. However, what kind of reporter would I be if I simply told you what it was like to watch a mud bog? I wanted divulge myself into the thrill of mud bogging. And with the help of mud bogger Jake Wiebe, I was able to. Here I won’t tell you what it’s like to attend a mud bog, I will help you to experience what it’s like to be a competitor.
“Alright, hop in,” Jake Wiebe tells me, as he hops in the driver’s side of “Bolt,” the name of the truck, with ease. We’re third to drive through the freshly mixed up mud bog, thanks to the backhoe operator who made numerous piles of muck throughout the bog.
This task was easier said than done. The bottom of the truck nearly came to the shoulders of my five foot frame. I attempt to lift my not-so flexible leg up to my shoulders to reach the bottom of the truck. He looks at me, probably asking himself if it’s too late to go back on his promise to take me through the bog. I look around at other mud boggers in the pit laughing at me, and I can’t help but laugh along with them.
Jake Wiebe jumps out and proceeds to help me in. He makes a step with his hands together and the first thing I think is, “oh no, his hands are going to get dirty when I stand on it.” Then I realize how ironically silly this worry is.
I step into his hands, and prepare to pull myself up. Well, that wasn’t necessary. As soon as my foot was in Jake Wiebe’s hands, I was flying up into my seat. His being able to lift me into my seat by my foot definitely put me to shame.
So we’re in, buckled and have the helmets on. I think I checked my seatbelt and helmet eight times, before asking Wiebe, “is this okay?” He laughed and said yes, as we drove up to the start line. We were next.
I had a million questions going through my head and I realized I was kind of nervous. I wanted to ask Wiebe what I should do if we flipped, (though he promised me already he wouldn’t). I eyed the window opener in case we flipped and I needed to escape fast.
I think Wiebe sensed my anxiety. He looked over at me, and even though his mouth was covered, I could tell by his eyes that he was smiling. Not necessarily in a ‘this is going to be fun’ smile, but in a ‘I’ve got 5 bucks that you’re going to pee your pants’ smile.
He warned me to hold on, and the next thing I knew the engine was growling and even with my seatbelt on, my butt was no longer on the seat.
The front of the truck went down and I could feel the umpgh when the wheels hit the water and muck, squealing in protest. My heart beat fast and I let out a loud, high pitched, teenage-girl-giggle, which never quit we had reached the other side.
Without missing a beat or losing control of the Bolt, Wiebe looked over at me, giggling and bouncing in my seat like a child, and laughed along with me, though in a much more mature fashion.
On the next hard heart beat, the front of the truck was now pulled upward. I could no longer see out any of the windows. I could feel splashing on my feet and looked down to see a small puddle of mud forming on the floor. I’m not sure how the muck was coming in, nor did I care. For once, my short height was paying me a favour; my short legs were not long enough to comfortably reach the ground and were safe from most of the splashing.
My legs dangled and whipped around like fallen leaves on a windy day, this way and that. My mouth likely gained two inches in size, from smiling so wide the whole time.
I couldn’t hear a thing except for the truck’s loud engine, water and muck splashing, and myself giggling. For those 13.10 seconds, I even forgot that we were in front of an audience.
I’m not sure how Jake Wiebe got us to the other side safely. I couldn’t see a thing. Though feeling somewhat vulnerable and not knowing what to expect, the excitement and thrill was enough to make me crave more.
We got to the other side and jumped out so the next driver could use the truck. Jake Wiebe hopped out before I did (of course), laughing, and the organizers on the other side of the bog looked over at the two of us in confusion.
“I took the reporter through,” he laughed to them. “She never stopped giggling the entire time.”
The total experience of getting in Bolt, going through the bog, washing off the truck, and getting out, was less than a minute. But a minute was enough to make love it!

(September 1st issue of the Northern Pioneer, Column: Insider Reflections, Ashley Foley)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A day on the Runway

This morning I headed off to the Fort Vermilion Airport. I had never been there before, so I was excited to see what I would find. They're extending their runway by 1000 feet, so I'm going to do an article on it for the paper.

I called yesterday to let them know I was coming, and, like many stories dealing with a business/company, people tend to scatter when they see me walk in the door with my camera and reporter's notebook. I finally got ahold of Jason, Chief Pilot, who answered a few of my questions for me. Then I asked if I could take photos, and he said sure, go ahead, and basically left me to take my photos. I asked where I was and was not allowed to go, and he said, "You can go wherever you'd like, you can walk down the runway to get a better look. But if you see a plane taking off or landing, just step to the side."

Um, really? Just step to the side while a giant bird tries not to land on you. This is so much different than security at Pearson International, in Toronto, or any other airport I've been to, for that matter.

So off I go, walking down the runway. I got lots of photos of the machinery moving dirt and doing a whole lot of things I didn't really understand, and then headed back to get photos of the planes. There was a larger medical evacuation plane there, so I wanted to get some photos of that.

As I'm walking toward it, the two pilots greet me. They were wonderful! They told me all about their experiences being pilots and why they love it. The man and co-pilot said he likes to take tons of photos while he's up there, and the captain and woman pilot said he has thousands of pictures of clouds, and laughed. He said he also likes to put his feet up and read the paper, which triggered my fear of flying in airplanes again and further proves that my fear of flying is not "nothing!"

The woman let me in the plane and showed me around and how it all works. It was so cool! There was enough room for two stretchers in there, plus a few family members/medical staff. She said she has been flying for ten years and would never give up her job driving for Alberta Health to fly for Air Canada or West Jet. "It's boring," she says, and less rewarding.

When the ambulance came, she said I could stay to take photos of them take off. They were flying a one month old baby to Edmonton. She says most of the people they fly to Edmonton are babies, but this one is probably one of the oldest. The youngest has been a half hour old.

She said I could walk down the runway, if I'd like, and that she would taxi out to the other end of the runway and take off at this end, so I could get a better photo. She said she would be sure to try not to hit me as she was taking off, and laughed.

As they taxied out, they waved to me and posed for a photo, and then as they took off they waved as I got some amazing photos of them. The plane's wheels lifted off just as they were passing where I was standing. It was so amazing!

My Advice on a Road Trip from Ontario to Alberta

Just a few days ago, my boss Tom offered one of my best friends from home, Kristin, a job at another one of his newspapers, in Grimshaw Alberta. She will be moving up here in a couple weeks and will be only three hours away from where I am.

I decided to write her an email about her road trip out here. It's quite entertaining, and I thought I would share it with you... in case you ever decide to drive out here, or, if you're just looking for a good laugh.


Beware of Winnipeg.
If you plan to stay in winnipeg, which I don't recommend, but if you do, don't go to the north part of the city.

If you look at a map, there is kind of a circle highway around the inner part of the city, so you don't have to go right through the madness of downtown Winnipeg, we went north. Don't do that. Go either through the city, which I alsowouldnt recommend, or through the south part. And if you re planning to stay there, stay in the south. We stayed just on the other side of Winnipeg, but it was expensive and creepy. My coworker is from Manitoba and she said the south and inner part of Winnipeg isn't too bad, but where we were was like the worst part of rexdale, in the north. it was all strip joints. The motels and hotels had strip joints attached and it was so creepy and not well lit

No Vacancy in Medicine Hat.

Also, we had planned to stay in Medicine Hat, AB, but unless you get there really early you re not likely to find a room. We got there around 830 or 9, and we tried 3 hotels/motels and they were all booked. So we had to drive to the next town, which had a sketchy hotel BUT super cheap! lol But now that it's late August, it might not be so bad. When I came, it was in the middle of the summer so there were tons of tourists and stuff. If you don't stay in the cities, there are tons of hotels/motels and there are tons along the highways and stuff. This was the only place we had a hard time finding a hotel. And in Winnipeg, we found lots, but they also had drug deals are strippers outside, so we opted out of those motels/hotels :P

Enjoy Ontario
And we stayed in Wawa, Ontario our first night, at a small motel just before you get to the town of Wawa. It was really cute and very clean. I recommend this place -- you'll see it. It's a good resting place between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.

OH thunderbay! When you're coming in on the major highway, and after you pass the turn off for Sleeping Giant Provincial Park (where I rangered once) there will be the Terry Fox monument about a 20 minute drive later, on the right. You have to turn off the highway in order to see it because its up high but its literally 2 minutes off the road. It would be a nice place to have a lunch picnic, especially if you stay at Wawa the night before, you'd be in perfect time for lunch in Thunderbay. And while you're up there, if you look out across the water, you will see Sleeping Giant, and the island looks like a giant sleeping in the water :)

About two hours outside of Thunderbay, You'll see the exit for Quetico Provincial Park / Atikokan, where I rangered in 2007. Think of me when you pass this! And then about three hours later or so, you will see the turn off for Sioux Lookout / Ojibway Provincial Park, where I rangered in 2005. Think of me here, again! And be sure to get photos at the Ontario sign!

Prairie Fun
Keep an eye out for the salt Fields in the prairies, just before you get to Alberta or just after you enter AB. They re so cool. I wish we had stopped. It looks like snow covered Fields! And of course, the oil Fields. They're interesting to see. And..that's about all you'll see throughout the prairies!

Safe travels!
Love you!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rodeo Photos

This boy is so cute! This is what my future son will look like, haha!

A really fun weekend in the north :)

After our wild night Friday, I came home and went to bed shortly after midnight. On Saturday, I went to Fort Vermilion for a Children's Festival shortly after noon. It was neat, there were all sorts of events for the kids and it was all free. A bike rodeo, face paints, jumping castles, running races, cupcake decorating, etc. It was so neat! I got a lot of pictures of the kids for the paper, and did my Question of the Week there.

After that, I came home to work on some stories for a bit and went in to the office. After dinner, I picked up Kevin, Lisa's son, to head off to the races at Penner Speedway. It was fun, and I even saw my landlord Abe there. I got some nice photos and got to meet some new people.

After dropping Kevin off safe and sound, I headed off to George and Margaret's, where they and Lisa, Henry, Kat and Jadzia were relaxing around the fire. I picked some delicious raspberries and then we had hotdogs around the fire and hungout for a while. It was really nice...until we found the huge spiders in the garden. Tons of them. There were 6 or so in this one area, and they were huge. Luckily, spider hero pabah (George) came to the rescue with some awesome spray!

I came home and then Chris and I were up until nearly 5am chatting online and playing games. So dumb! Lol so then I slept until noon the next day, which I hate.

When I woke up, Kat had text me asking if I'd like to go to High Level to the pool and for dinner. I said yes, and grabbed some breakfast at the computer. Then mom called me from skype and I got to say hello to grandma, grandpa, uncle paul, sharon, brad, mom and dad :) It was nice!

After that Kat came with Jadzia and we headed to the big down of High Level for a swim. It was a nice, relaxing day, filled with bad techno music. We went to Boston Pizza for dinner and hardly touched either of our meals. So much food! But it was a lot of fun. I'm heading back to High Level on Wednesday, although I'm not sure where the office is there....

Best Friday Night in La Crete Yet!

This weekend has been a lot of fun. Friday after work, Lisa invited me to do some pickling at her place with Margaret. I have never liked pickles, but I really like Margaret's pickles. I don't know how she does it, but they're delicious! So we did that for a bit and then I went out with Ryan on the 4wheeler. It was hilarious. This thing was meant for a 6 year old and theres myself and Ryan on there together, driving around the feilds.

Then I went back to pickling and playing with the cats. After that, Lisa, Henry, George (Pabah), Margaret, Kat, Jadzia and myself all went for dinner. It was nice, and then we went back to Lisa's for a couple of drinks on the porch.

As we were chatting and enjoying the lovely evening, we hear people racing up and down main street, a few blocks away. So we call the RCMP, because they're rarely in La Crete. Kat calls them a few times because it kept getting worse, and then we decide to go for a walk to see what's up, and get a license plate to call in to the RCMP.

We get to main street and see a silver sinfire racing up and down, among others. We tried over and over to get the license plate, but in alberta there are only license plates on the back, so its hard to get the numbers. As we're walking, we see someone else race down and BAM! They get pulled over. Hilarious! Right in front of us. And then, literally 5 seconds later, a second cop pulls over another vehicle on the other side of the road. Total chaos in La Crete. Lights on both sides of the road, and two people pulled over at once. This is huge. \

So the second guy leaves pretty quickly, but the first guy is getting searched. Then, for some unknown reason, 4 other vehicles pull up and get searched. If I were a stupid boy teenager driving up and down mainstreet drunk, I wouldnt go investigate when my friend got pulled over, but hey, I'm not a drunken teenaged boy either. So now all 5 vehicles are getting searched and ticketed.

All the while, the silver car is still driving up and down main street. Then he slows down and yells at us, not only slowing down enough for us to get his license plate, but also a description of the guy. BAM! Call the RCMP and 20 minutes later he calls back to say he found the guy and ticketed him.

6 tickets in one night. Apparently over 800 dollars worth of tickets. All becaue of us! ha! And as this was going on, I went in to the office and called the RCMP asking for an update. They should be sending the press release soon. :)

I think that's the most action this town has seen in a long time :P

Rodeo Fun

Last Monday and Tuesday was the La Crete Pro Rodeo. I showed up just as the opening ceremonies started and found Lisa in the stands. I stayed there for a while, but I couldn't get the best photos, plus, all the sexy cowboys were on the OTHER side of the arena, so obviously, that's where I needed to be.

So off I went, to invite myself to the back part where all the cowboys were. I took a bunch of photos and tried to stay focused on the competitions. Then, I decided to invite myself up to the VIP section to get better photos. All in all, a good day.

There were tons of horses there, and bulls. My favourite events is bareback, by far, and then saddle bronc. Love it!

I wish I could just be a rodeo reporter. Oh, life would be grand. Following those cowboys around from rodeo to rodeo... I mean, uh.. working from rodeo to rodeo!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Council Meeting

Last week was my first council meeting on my own. Usually, they start at 10am, but this week was supposed to start at 9am. I called on Monday to see if the 9am part was "In Camera" (when myself and the public have to leave) and I was told no and to be there for 9am. I didnt want to be there any earlier than I had to be, because I knew I wouldnt get much sleep. Monday was my deadline day and I was in the office all day, and then I was at the rodeo covering it for the paper all night until about 11, so by the time I got home, I was exhausted.

I woke up early and left the house by 830am to be in Fort Vermilion for 9am. I got there at 10 to 9, walked in and was just getting out my notebook when one man, a councillor I hadnt met before, said "youre going to have to close your ears for this part until we start the council meeting, because you can't hear this". They were just talking on the other side of the room, I hadn't even noticed them. We were in opposite corners from each other. He obviously just wanted to make himself known, and I had been warned of this.

The meeting started around 9:10am and then "Person 1" calls In Camera as soon as it begins. So out I go until nearly 11pm.

I finally get back in for about an hour and we break for lunch. After lunch, we went for about a half an hour until "Person 1" called another In Camera session. I was out in the hall again until 2:30, when they breaked.

At this time, half of them went outside and half of them stayed in for coffee so I went back in to set up. When "Person 1" came back in, he said to me "You didn't take a picture of the sod turning for the newspaper?" and looked very unimpressed with me. I told "Person 1" I had no idea it was even going on, because I had been in the hall due to In Camera. I also said he and the rest of the councillors walked by me without mentioning the sod turning. "Person 1" then proceeding to tell me not to listen to anything on the coffee break, because technically we were still In Camera. "Person 1" was hinting that s/he wanted me back out, but I wasn't about to stand on the other side of the door just for that person to give me permission to come back in. The doors were open, so it was open to the public.

As soon as it began again, "Person 1" motions to come out of In Camera and looks at me. I just smile. Kill them with kindness, it my moto.

The third time we went In Camera the rest of the public were allowed to stay. The other reporters have said they have been allowed to stay In Camera as long as they dont take notes, so I put my notes away. "Person 1" looks at me and reminds me that they were In Camera, walks to the door, and motions for me to leave. I told "Person 1" I had put my books away and wouldnt take notes. "No, you're far too dangerous," s/he says. So out I go again. I know for a fact that kicking me out and allowing everyone else to stay is wrong, but I just smiled to "Person 1" on my way out and said, Ok then!

I was there until after 4pm but probably only in the council meeting for about 3 or 4 hours. It was ridiculous. In Camera was called for just about everything by "Person 1". Oh well, I'm not running off. See you next week, "Person 1"!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rodeos and Cowboys

The last week has been a slow news week, but I was able to dig up a few interesting stories. I got to do a few features, which was nice, because I love writing features. The break was also nice because the week before was SO busy, and this week is also pretty jam-packed full of events.

I got to talk to three local cowboys, Jesse Flett, Chad Rendle and Justin Rendle. They're all from Fort Vermilion and compete in pro rodeos. I wrote a profile on each of them, so that will hopefully be in this paper.

Tonight is the Pro Rodeo in La Crete. I'm very excited for that. I hate that I'm so tired, though. Today was my deadline day, so I spent most of the day at the office, just came home to grab some grub, write to you, and off to the rodeo. I'm sure I'll be there for most of the evening, and then I have to be in Fort Vermilion tomorrow for the council meeting. That, I am not looking forward to. Then race home from Fort in time for the Rodeo again. It's too bad I couldn't be a rodeo reporter. Ahh, that would be the life!

Today I saw two horses tied to a post in town. A couple from the rodeo had rode into town for lunch on their horses. To be honest, I wasn't surprised to see horses tied to a post in this town. I figured it was kind of a common thing for La Crete. Nothing really surprises me in this town, anymore!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Camping at Tompkins

This weekend I went camping in Tompkins, just near the ferry to La Crete. It was a ton of fun. I went with Lisa, her family, Kat, and her daughter and her parents. Kat and I shared a tent, so I got some girl talk giggles in before bed (Danica, I think you know what I mean..haha)

Henry, Lisa's husband, had a great time teaching me German. And by teaching me German, I of course mean that he taught me all the bad things I need to know. I won't even repeat the things he was teaching me! But it was a ton of fun. Henry and I also had a water fight, which we won't speak of again. I will, however, get him back. One day...

Kat and I rented some kayaks on Saturday and took them down to the beach at the ferry. It was a ton of fun. It wasn't until after we'd rented them that I was told the Peace River is the third most dangerous river in the world. Great. It was fun though. Kat and I kayaked over to this sandbar island and hung out there for a while before heading back to camp.

Later that evening, Tony and his girlfriend arrived, and Tony wanted to go Kayaking. So Kat and I went to kayak upriver to where Tony and the rest of the kids were waiting to go kayaking. Because none of the parents were around, Henry wanted either Kat or I kayaking with one of the kids. Well, by the time we got up to the ferry, I was exhausted. Tony took Kat's place in her kayak and said, 'let's go upriver past the ferry.' It just about killed me! It was fun though, but my arms were quite sore the next day.

I introduced the Albertans to banana boat s'mores and "changed their lives." They're so good! I think everyone enjoyed them, even Henry, who refuses to admit that something I do or make is amazing! :P

All weekend I was comparing and keeping points on whether camping was better in Northern Alberta or Northern Ontario. Ontario's benefits were that the bugs weren't so bad and when I left home from camping in the north, I was no longer IN the north. Alberta's benefits were that it was lighter longer and of course when I was camping in Northern Ontario, I was at Rangers, so it was (for the most part) alcohol free.

All in all, I'd say they're about tied. We may have to go again to make my decision final.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Work, work, work!

This last week I have been super busy with a bunch of different events for work. I've been pretty busy, between last Saturday's rodeo in La Crete to today's River Daze festival in Fort Vermilion. Here are some events I've covered this week, but, of course, you'll need to buy the paper to read about them in full!

Car Wash, Fort Vermilion: This was last Friday, in Fort Vermilion. I especially liked this event because it was put on by the Alberta Rangers. Being an Ontario Ranger, I enjoyed watching and comparing the two programs. I hope to see a lot more from them throughout the month of August.

Rodeo in La Crete: I wrote about this in more detail before, but this event took place last Saturday at the LC Rodeo Grounds. It was a ton of fun, despite the freezing cold weather. I got to see a bunch of horses and cowboys, which I can never get sick of!

La Crete Bike Rodeo: This event was on Tuesday, at the LC Arena. There was an RCMP Officer from Fort Vermilion issuing "tickets" to kids participating, regarding bike safety. I got to meet a bunch of people and watch a whack of adorable kids learning bike hand signals and bike between pylons.

Council Meeting in Fort Vermilion: This was last Wednesday. I met with Lacy, the reporter from High Level, and we went together. It was terrifying. I have to continue covering council meetings on my own from now on, and I'm certainly a little more than intimidated. They go SO fast and I don't completely understand the language. Should be interesting when I go to the next one on my own.

Bear Traps in Fort Vermilion: without giving too much away from the story in the paper, there have been a few bears spotted in FV so two bear traps have been put up. More details will be in the paper.

MARA in Fort Vermilion: MARA Field trip day was last Thursday in FV. I went to the meetings, met a bunch of people and learned a lot about farming. As I was jotting down stats and info, a man beside me whispered, "Do you understand any of this?" It was kind of dark so I couldn't really tell what his expression was, but I gave him a smile, shrunk a bit in my seat and said, "No. I'm not really a farmer, I'm just a reporter." He laughed and said, "I thought so," and smiled. I thought, do I stick out THAT bad here? After this I checked out the museum, which I hope to write about next week.

River Daze in Fort Vermilion: This took place all weekend, Saturday and Sunday. I just went Sunday. There were events such as canoe races, iron man relays, and raft races. All events were on the Peace River and it was a ton of fun, despite the cold weather and the fact that my camera battery died. Lucky for me, Adel Fletts came to the rescue and took photos with her camera for me!

Golf Tournament in FV: Adel and I drove over to the golf tournament from River Daze to get some photos. They let us take out one of the carts, and since she was taking photos, I drove. We got in the cart, put the key in, and I pushed the gas. Nothing happened. She looked at me and said, "have you golfed before?" I said "No, have you?" She hadn't. So we had to wave someone down to help us get it going. Apparently, we were in neutral.

There are a bunch of other stories too, and events from the previous week, but these are some of the things I've been up to. I also went camping this weekend with Lisa and a few other people, but I'll fill you in on that in another blog post.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alberta is Bipolar

So, this week has been amazing. Last night I went to the fun rodeo, which was a lot of fun, aside from the freezing cold weather and pouring rain. However, i loved the horses and wished so bad that I could go riding. I took a ton of photos for the paper, too.

Today, on the other hand, has been much less thrilling. Sundays are quite boring around here for me. Most people here spend Sunday with their family and friends.. both of which I am lacking here. Not to mention, shopping is not an option. Perhaps next Sunday I'll go to High Level for something to do.

Of course, Sunday is usually spent skyping with friends and family and Chris, for me. But today, it seems all my friends, family, and boyfriend all have a life.

I went to the lake to do some reading earlier and to clear my head. However, by the time I got there, it was pouring. I had the chance to watch some cute ducklings dance in the rain and listen to the numbing sound of the rain patting on my car, and then came home to watch a movie. Which froze partway though. In the words of my mother: "I hate DVDs."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alberta is starting to grow on me..

This has been a surprisingly fun week, even though I haven't got much accomplished work-wise. It's not like I haven't been trying, but it's been SO hard to get ahold of people!

Lisa and I have had a ball this week. Wednesday I decided to sleep in because I didn't need to be at work until 10:30. Lisa has other plans. She text me at 9am to get out of bed because there was "apparently" an ambulance at the dentist office next door; plus, she wanted me to meet someone. So, out of bed I got. When I got to the office there was no ambulance to be found. Whether it was there or not is still being looked into... But, I still got to meet Denise, which was nice.

Later that night, Lisa invited me for coffee with Anna (or Anne? I forget now), which was a lot of fun! We gabbed and gossipped, as women do over coffee!
This morning I slept in and came to the office just in time for lunch with Lisa. After lunch, Susan, the old reporter, came in to meet me with her adorable daughter. We talked about upcoming events and such, and it was great to finally meet her. Just before she left, Ben Peters, one of the first people to own land in La Crete, came in and we talked. He's written a number of stories about his pioneering days. He's such an interesting guy -- La Crete'ers reading this, I think you should sit down for coffee with this guy, he has some great stories! He's written and published a few, so I'm going to talk about them in my feature.

In the afternoon, I got a chocolate craving, so we went and bought soo much chocolate. I definitely didn't need that much! But I justified it like this: if my boyfriend has to be three provinces away from me, then I can eat all the chocolate I want! Who am I trying to impress? haha, hopefully he still loves me when I've gained 200lbs.

After work we went yard saling. So much fun! I had never done it before! I got so many good finds! I got a bunch of photo frames, a coat, a tea pot, two skirts, boots, a bunch of hangers so I can FINALLY finish unpacking! It was a lot of fun. We plan to do it again soon!

Then I came home and started putting up my photos. I bought a large frame, which holds a whole bunch of photos, so I filled that with photos of family and Chris, and then a couple smaller ones for work. Then I hung a few around the house.

It's really starting to look and feel like home here! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Becoming a Fire Fighter...?

Last Monday, Peter Weibe, the fire chief for our local fire department in La Crete, stopped by the office to introduce himself. While he was in, he asked if I'd like to join the fire department. I laughed at the idea, but he said a reporter in High Level had joined their fire department and it really ended up benefiting both the fire department and the local newspaper. He said I wouldn't be running into any burning buildings, because I would be taking photos, primarily, working as media. I considered the idea, and eventually convinced Lisa to come to the meeting that night.

Her husband didn't like the idea, but I was still glad she had come. There are about 20 firefighters, I was told, and I would be the only girl on staff -- which makes me a little nervous.

While I was at the fire station Monday night I got to try on a bunch of firefighting equipment. I could hardly even walk -- then the firefighters all took off on a run! I wished them luck and decided to ride in the truck instead. We met them at the playground, where they proceeded to use the playground as an obstacle course. Whether it was for training or not, it looked absolutely hilarious! There were about 8 grown men in firefighting suits going down slides head first, sliding down poles, and crawling through tunnels. Definitely a sight to see!

So now I need to decide whether I want to go through with it or not. At this point, I'm still not sure...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Perfect Weekend

Last night Abe came down to set up my TV, because of course, I have no idea how to work anything electronic. After that, I started asking him where to get photos printed and where to buy a kettle, etc. so he suggested Martha, his wife, take me for a drive around the town to show me everything while he sets up my TV. So Martha, her daughter, myself and max (their dog) all went for what we thought would be a short drive through La Crete. Little did we know, however, that La Crete actually has a lot to offer! We were over an hour on our little adventure, but now I think I know where just about everything is. Most importantly: I know where the rodeo grounds are!

Of course, when I got home it was nearing 11pm, which is 1am in Ontario, so I couldn't get ahold of Chris before I went to bed, which made me really sad. After about four attemps at calling him, an email, and probably 4 or 5 texts, I gave up and went to bed. At midnight, I received a quick I love you and goodnight call from Chris, so I could sleep happy.

This morning I went to church with Abe, Martha, and Martha's mother, in Fort Vermilion. It was really nice. I hadn't been to church in a few years, so I was a little nervous, but everyone was really welcoming and Abe and Martha introduced me to a ton of people. I am so lucky to have them as landlords. They really take care of me! A few people noticed my face from the picture in the Northern Pioneer, which I found a little embarassing, but also flattering.

I got home shortly after 130 and called Chris, so we met online to have a skype date. We've been finding it hard to find the time to just talk and "hangout" so we played checkers, chess and hangman on skype. It was a lot of fun. We played for about an hour and a half before he left to visit with his family. Then I visited with my room mate on skype for a while. It probably sounds silly that I've been sitting at the computer for most of the afternoon, but it's sure been nice to visit with everyone from Ontario! Skype doesn't make the distance seem so far.

I've found a bunch of chocolate so I think it would be wise to go for a walk later... but we'll see how ambitious I'm feeling after this chocolate bar!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Grocery Bags & Recycling

One of the first things I noticed here is how people pack their grocery bags here. First of all, I have yet to see anyone using a re-usable grocery bag (I haven't used mine yet because I haven't finished unpacking, and they're all full of shoes, dresses and girly things!). Secondly, people sure do not believe in packing their bags full around here.

I had to laugh to myself, because today I bought groceries after work and most bags only had one to three items in them. It's nice for those who don't want to carry a heavy load, but either way, those groceries have to come in. So whether you use 1 bad for the 5 items I've bought, or 3, I am carrying them all in at once. So there I am, walking from my car to my apartment, carying likely 9 or 10 bags, each with a couple of items in them. Sure, they weren't heavy, but that's a lot of handles to grip! And not to mention, these are all going to end up in a landfill and never completely decompose.

I'm not sure if Alberta is less "green" than Ontario (I always thought it would be more "green") but hardly anything can be recycled. It's strange. I'm used to recycling, composting, and filling my re-usable grocery bags as full as I could in order to live "green" and it seems people are not quite as concerned about those things here. Not to say that they're ignorant of living green, it's just strange to throw away cardboard, paper, and table scraps.

Ahhhh well, I guess we have SO much land up here (because no one else lives here except Santa) so there's no one else to complain about the recycling and compost going into the garbage!

A Productive Day (First official paper completed)

Today was my deadline for next week's paper. I submitted 10-11 items, which is great because Tom, my boss, had said that by September I should be submitting between 8-12 items per week, but I shouldn't worry about getting that many right now. And, I had a shortened week! I'm so excited to see the paper when it comes out this week.

Friday night and this morning I went to cover the events at the Bible Camp in La Crete. They has a special family camping weekend event called Creation Family Camp, with Dr. Silvestru, a geologist known worldwide. He was great! He talked about creation, evolution, and religion. I wish I could have stayed all day for the rest of the events, but I had a deadline to make!

I've had a pretty productive day: attended an event in the morning, sent the paper out to my boss this afternoon, went grocery shopping, and just finished making and eating dinner. Spaghetti -- one of my favs! I wanted to treat myself for getting the paper out. I am also looking to skype with someone tonight and have a celebration drink, so text me friends!

I think I'll go for a walk before my skype date tonight with my boyfriend, Chris. There's still like, 5 or 6 hours of daylight left, I may as well take advantage of it while I can!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The first paper

Today the first paper was published since I've been here. There's a bio on me on page 5, which is somewhat embarrassing to see my photo in the paper. I'm used to having bylines in papers, not photos!

There's also a small event I covered which appeared in the paper. Not a whole lot yet, but next week I should have a few more articles. I've got a few ideas I might want to try out with the paper, in a few weeks, so I'll have to talk to Tom about them.

I'm glad for the paper coming out today with a touch of me in it, because I was beginning to get a little discouraged. It's kind of given me a second wind. This next issue I should have a few articles in, and then the following weeks it should be more steady.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dirt Road

Sometimes, all you need is a long drive and a good cry.

Finding Home

This morning I had an english muffin for breakfast, and I put my mom's homemade strawberry jam on it. It tasted just like home!

I'm not feeling too homesick yet, but this place doesn't quite feel like home yet, either. It feels more like I'm just looking in from the outside. Perhaps after a few months it will feel like home, and once I finish unpacking my things.

I think I should figure out where to print photos and get some printed to put around the house. I wanted to bring photos, but I didn't have much room (after shoes and dresses, of course!). I'm sure there's a printing place somewhere here, I've heard someone mention it, but I haven't found it yet.

I finally got my old laptop out so I can play all my favourite music, which has made this place more homey. Music can do great things! It still just doesn't feel like it fits, just yet. Not that it feels like I shouldn't be here, I just don't feel like a La Crete-er yet. Or an Albertan. Everything is so different and unknown.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First Impressions

Despite the advice and warnings I have received about La Crete, it really is a great place. Everyone I have met has been very kind and more than helpful. I would be lost without my co-worker, Lisa! Who, to my surprise, is also a Mennonite. Who knew not all Mennonites wore dresses? I am learning so much and having so much fun learning a new culture and part of Canada.

Today I went to pick up some office supplies, which is not quite as easy as you may think. There is such thing as my beloved Staples out here, and what we know and love as the Source is more like their Staples here. Well, it’s their Staples, Source, and Telus phone store ... all in one.

Today was my second full day as a reporter in La Crete. Yesterday I wrote a bio on myself and covered a small event. Today, I did some more interviews and finished a story about the new doctor in town. Apparently, he is the first permanent doctor for La Crete. I’m glad he arrived just before I did!

It’s still hard to get used to it being light outside until after 11pm and panicking that I’ve slept in when I wake up at 7am to a bright, mid-day sun.
I have a few more interviews set up for tomorrow, and then this week my deadline is Saturday at 5pm. If the weather is nice, I may go to Fort Vermilion to the beach for the day!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Advice That I have Received Since Arriving in La Crete

I haven't been here long yet (about 24 hours) but I thought I would list some of the advice I have been given from people in the community since I've arrived. I'm not going to name any names on here, so if you want to hear the complete story, just ask me! I'm going to keep updating this, so be sure to check back often!

-"Give it a week"

-"People usually drive around 120km/hr or 130km/hr here. There usually aren't any cops between here and the ferry."

-"Don't be seen in public smoking, drinking, or with a boy."
This is due to the fact that I am a girl in a mennonite community

-"The Mennonites here are ignorant, so don't take it personally."

-"You should learn Old German. Not so you can understand what people are saying TO you, but ABOUT you."

July 10: Last Trip Day

Today was an early morning. I woke up at 6:30 and jumped in the shower. I told Chris to wake up and get ready, because we were leaving in 20 minutes for the airport. He had to be there between 7 and 730 to make the flight. We had argued about this: he said he didn't have to be an hour early, both the ticket and myself thought he should.

I got out of the shower and dressed at 6:45. Chris was still in bed. I was obviously not impressed.

We finally get out of the hotel around 7am, when we should have been to the airport. It's about a 5 minute drive though, so at this point, I wasn't too worried.

Chris, who is never in a hurry for anything, decided to take his time and take the garbage out of my car before we left. By the time we got to the airport, it was 7:21 and I missed the turn for parking. I turned around and got parked at around 7:24.

We got inside and fought with the Kiosk to print his ticket for a long time. I had already checked him in online the night before, so all we had to do was print it. That took forever and finally we had to go to an agent for help. When we finally got there, she told us we were took late. She could see us at the kiosk struggling from where she was sitting, she obviously knew we were frustrated, and instead of helping us print the ticket, she lectured us about being late (I think it was 7:32 when we got to her, two minutes after we should have given her the printed ticket but we had been at the kiosk trying to print it). She told us we were too late and would have to take the next flight, as well as pay an additional $150.

We went to the lady who was helping us get our new ticket for Chris. She asked how many items he would be checking and he said none. It was 7:37 at this point and boarding time for the plane was at 7:40. She gave the lady who did not help us make the flight a disgusted look. She said, "You only have that one carry on?" we said yes. She could see that we had already checked in but just needed the ticket printed. She shot the first lady another dirty stare. "You know what," she said, determined, "You are getting on this flight." She quickly closed up her station. "I'm going to rush you through security, say your good-byes." Chris and I kissed each other in the airport quickly and I muttered an "I love you" through tears. I watched Chris and the lovely Air Canada lady run through the airport and to the front of the security line until I could no longer see him anymore.

I think this goodbye was good. I cried a little bit, but it all happened so fast that I didn't really have time to be sad and cry. Before I knew it, he was gone.

I headed back to my car. We had parked in such a hurry that I had forgotten where I had parked my car. When I finally found it, I got out all my maps of Edmonton and Alberta. My GPS had died the day before, so I was on my own.

After getting more than a little lost, I made it through Edmonton and on to the 16 until I found the 43 and headed North. For the longest time, a yellow hummer and I were playing cat and mouse on the highway. Ironically, I stopped for a rest the same time he did, and when waiting inside to pay for my snack he said hello. "Where are you headed," he kindly asked. I told him La Crete, and that I had travelled from Ontario. He said, "I know, I saw your plates. They brought brought back memories," he said and smiled. I smiled back at him and we both went off to our separate cars. Just as I turned my car back on and was about to pull out, I see him briskly walking toward my car, smiling.

"Would you like to have lunch," he asked. I smiled, happy to have some company. Though I didn't want to stop driving, I was really tired and after the emotional morning with Chris leaving, I could use a rest. And a friend.

We had a lovely meal talking about Alberta and Ontario and making light conversation before we both left heading in opposite directions.

I made it all the way to the La Crete ferry in good time; however, the La Crete ferry is possibly the smallest ferry ever. Some of the boats that go by mom and dads on the canal are likely bigger than this ferry. So I had to wait my turn . . . for an hour and a half.

I was supposed to call Abe and Martha when I got to La Crete. Well, I got here and guess what: no cell phone service. Great. So I finally pulled in to a small gas station and called Abe who came to pick me up.

Abe and Martha have a beautiful how that sits high on this flat, Albertian land. It's white with green trim. As we drove toward it, I thought: wouldn't it beawesome if it was that big house? And guess what, it was!

Abe showed me my apartment and then invited me into his house for a cold drink and to chat. Luckily, he's a mechanic, so he said he'll give my car a look. Abe and Martha are really nice people and have given me lots of advice and help in getting me settled.

After I quick call to mom and Chris to let them know I was alive, I headed out to get groceries. It was 9pm and the sun was still shinning strong and bright. I just picked up the necessities, some fruits and veggies, a little meat, cereal, milk, a few soups and pastas. My bill was 99 dollars and change. Things are so expensive here. What I had bought I could have got for at least 20 dollars cheaper back home, likely even more cheaper!

I brought in my groceries and started unpacking my car. It was about 10:30 and the sun was just starting to go down, but it was still quite bright out. by 11pm, the sky was orange and the sun was setting.