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Friday, August 26, 2011

A year and counting...

So it's been just over a year that I've been living and reporting in Mackenzie County, in northern Alberta. Although some of the thrill of newness is gone, there is still a lot to learn and improve upon, so here I am! Still reporting for The Northern Pioneer.

Of course, now things are starting to become routine; more of a pattern, or repeat, if you will. The same supplements to prepare, the same annual events, the same busy and slow season. It makes preparing holidays far more easier and planning for work weeks more efficient.

This summer, I covered quite a few bike rodeos, kids programs and fundraisers that I also covered last year. Of course, along with the smaller, less "exciting" events came the bigger, more thrilling ones as well, such as the La Crete Pro Rodeo and local mud bogs. Last year, I was able to convince the president of the La Crete Mud Bog Committee to take me through the mud bog in his truck, but this year it broke down before my ride. However, there is still the Fort Vermilion Mud Bog to look forward to! I can only hope our, I mean, their truck is fixed in time.

I worried that things would slow down after a year working in Mackenzie County; however, I couldn't have been more further from the truth. I'm busier than ever! I now am following ongoing event in municipal government, which I was not doing fully before, and have been able to do more investigative journalism since I've been able to create some great contacts in the communities.

I guess what I'm trying to say is ... I'm not going anywhere. So Mackenzie County, you're stuck with me for now!

(Below are some photos from this year's La Crete Mud Bog)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mom's visit to La Crete: Northwest Territories and Edmonton

In case you're wondering why I haven't been updating my blog lately, it's because I've been quite busy. Mom came to visit for about 10 days, and aunt Heather and Josie also came along for part of the trip. I had a great time but it's sure made me homesick for Ontario!

When Mom, Aunt Heather and Josie first arrived in La Crete after a long drive from Edmonton, they were exhausted and ready for bed. However, I had other plans: a tri-birthday party to celebrate all three of their birthdays that I had missed. I brought out a chocolate two-tier cake, cards for all, and birthday gifts.

After that Heather and Jo scooted off to their hotel, while mom and I caught up before bed. The next day we mostly sat around outside and talked, drank wine, and enjoyed a small tour of La Crete. That evening, once Chris was off work, we headed north for the Northwest Territories.

We stopped at the 60th Parallel / NWT sign, which probably was the highlight of the trip. We arrived in Hay River, NWT, at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday, planning to stay until Sunday. We played games in the hotel until about 2:00 a.m. when we decided to go to sleep. Wrong. Aunt Heather pulled back the sheets to find two bugs. Bedbugs - she called them. No, more like screamed. I initially thought they looked more like beetles than bedbugs, but I had no idea what bedbugs looked like. Chris took some photos and looked it up and we got out of there within minutes. I was throwing everything into the closest bag I could find. When we got in the car, Chris's dirty socks and wallet were in Mom's purse! (We were later informed that these were not bedbugs, but instead Strawberry Root Weevils - still gross!)

So now it was nearly 2:30 a.m. and we're driving around Hay River wondering what to do. None of the hotels/motels were open, being a small town, and there were drunks roaming about that were scaring us. We decided we ought to sleep in the truck until morning, when some of the stores and motels would be open. The safest place we could think of was the RCMP station, so off we went. However, Heather figured that 3:30 a.m. crammed in a truck was a good time to play on her iPad and sing, so none of us slept. Just before 4:30 a.m. we decided to just head home.

We stopped at some waterfalls along the way home, a very tiresome and ugly drive. Thanks to Chris for driving to and back from Hay River! We stopped in High Level for breakfast and were home in bed by 11 a.m.

So, change of plans. We enjoyed some home-cooked meals and a picnic at the Blue Hills Tower before Heather and Josie left on Monday morning. Then mom and I hung out for the week, while I worked some. Mom came with me to a council meeting, among other events, which mom found to be a little less exciting than I did. We also went to the Mennonite Heritage Museum, the Trapper Shack restaurant in Fort Vermilion, and the famous Pizza Place in La Crete!

Friday morning after one of my events we all headed south for the West Edmonton Mall - a much longer drive than the Hay River one. About 850kms one way; actually, I out 1780kms on my car driving there and back. We left around 10:30a.m. and arrived at the mall around 7:00 p.m. for "cocktail hour" and met up with Heather and Josie in the hotel room.

We spent the next couple of days at the mall: enjoying shopping, the underwater sea world, animal shows, the water park, water massages, movies, sushi, wine, and more shopping! It was a ton of fun and we even met up with Karen and Ralph, mom's best friend growing up, for dinner and drinks.

Sadly, mom, Heather and Josie left on Sunday for Ontario. Chris and I drove with them to the airport and said our goodbyes after some lovely Tim Hortons coffee and lunch (a luxury in the north). Chris and I decided to stay in Edmonton another night before heading north again.

It was a fabulous time, now I am just looking forward to my trip home for Christmas!ev