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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!