On Thursday, June 3rd, I finished at the oil sands plant north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The next day I drove south to Meadow Lake and slipped back into retirement for another year. Unless, of course, I am seduced from retirement by greed, a financial setback or a bucket-list job.
It was good to be back together with Juanita again and we are quickly settling into a comfortable routine again. The unfaithful tool belt from last year seems to have stopped its disloyal off-season shrinking. In fact it may be a bit too loose. Then again, it may not be the belt, but the results of the Dukan diet which has taken my weight much closer to the end of the first season of construction of the shop/studio then it was last spring.
Work has commenced on the porch for the shop studio with the Bigfoot column bases and sonotube piling filled with re-bar and concrete. Should be able to put some load on them on Father's day weekend. Meanwhile there is other prep to do for the porch and for finally getting the fire pit set up. We moved the metal cylinder (part of a Thune press) when we moved from next door, but it has sat in our boneyard since. The track hoe that dug the holes for the porch footings also cleaned down to mineral soil for a spot for the fire pit. Won't be long before we can say "Bring on the wienies!"
Juanita and I worked around the claim during most days, but had time in the evenings to attend the last of Sonja and Sasha's soccer games.
Nick and Becky planned to come to Meadow Lake for Father's Day weekend. In anticipation, I beavered away at the porch and had the posts up and the deck finished and ready for lifting the beam into place. Debbie and the girls came out on the Saturday and it was all hands on deck to do some heavy lifting and moving. then it was stand down while we waited for Ernie to join us to help with moving one object we couldn't lift without his help. Nick and I then put up the scaffold for placing the porch beam. The scaffold came in handy the following week for building the porch roof. Everybody left for town and Nick and I stayed long enough to build the joist for a deck.
Nick's 30th Birthday
Once we had the porch roof and railing done and the deck boards screwed on we felt we could leave for a while. Which we did on the last Thursday of the month.
First stop was Ft. Saskatchewan and babysit while Nick and Becky went out to celebrate their fourth anniversary. Next day we did some shopping and took care of some business at the union hall. Then on Saturday morning we visited with Monty and Lynn Wilkins who we had worked with at the orphanage in Tlacalula, Oaxaca in 2005/2006. It was good to catch up.
The coming Monday was Nick's 30th birthday. Becky had planned a surprise paintball party for him a little south of Ft. Saskatchewan. After lunch we embarked in their new car supposedly on a trip to a car museum in Wetaskawin. I commandeered the keys on the premise that I had not driven their new car yet and was thinking of buying one. A few miles south I said this handles pretty good on the highway. How does it handle on gravel?" and turned off on a grid road. Then, "it does pretty good on gravel. Hows does it do in mud?" and turned off on a muddy road through a pasture. Nick took it pretty well (What can you say to your father-in-law?) only saying, "Don't forget you have to wash it." Then we went down a steep muddy slope into a grassy parking lot and pulled in. When he saw Debbie and Ernie and their kids getting out of their car he realized it was a set-up.
Debbie and Juanita took the kids back to Nick and Becky's and prepared and returned later with the food for a barbeque. The rest of us and Nick's friend donned camo coveralls and face masks and spent the afternoon teaming up with other groups for mock war in a variety of venues and bush. I usually got whacked pretty early and spent the time sitting and talking with the ref in the safe zone, but the others did well. There was one unfortunate mis-fire that got the birthday boy a good one from short range after one of the matches, but he took it well. I kinda apologized.
Nick's cousin and family showed up for the barbeque and after that we went back to Nick and Becky's to do the gift thing and try and learn Nick's new board game.
After church we headed south from Edmonton, turning off the freeway toward Rimsby. We spent some time trying to locate some natural springs I had visited almost forty years ago. Things change a bit over that time. We found one spot that could have been the spot, but had been developed into a campground since then.
We got in late to Canmore and our rewards stay at a Radisson hotel there. We had time to shop for supper and look around town. We drove to the park limits, but discovered it is a $19 fee just to drive into the Banff townsite and go for a walk. We returned to Canmore and did our prescribed walk there.
The following day we were on the road early. Juanita drove mostly as I planned to take pictures of the spectacular bridge between Field and Golden, BC. Didn't happen. Coming from the east you only see the top of the bridge which looks just like any other road surface. We arrived in Revelstoke quite early and walked around for a while. The Nickelodeon Museum is closed Mondays so that planned visit didn't happen. Save it for another time. Juanita was getting a bit tired of the Dukan diet's choices for on the road dining (boiled eggs, fat free cold cuts and no fat cottage cheese) so we hit a Denny's and made Dukan Diet friendly choices from there and joined their loyalty program.
Then some quick shopping at a health food store and it was back on the road to Vernon, BC. When we got there we stopped at a Walmart and bought some clothes that were more appropriately sized than the ones hanging on our skinnier frames. After checking into one of the two Best Western's in town we called a friend and arranged a time to meet for dinner at the local Denny's. What's the point of a loyalty program if you don't act loyal?
The next day we got off to a relatively leisurely start and left for Kelowna and a visit with a couple of friends formerly from Powell River. After that we stopped at the Kelowna Denny's and then took the Coquihala Connector to Merrit and carried on to Abbotsford and our hotel there. After a walk to the WalMart for supper material we ate and then drove into Burnabay to visit with my sister and her husband. The next day is June 30th and we didn't want to stop anywhere we didn't have to on the way to the ferry line-up the day before the Canada Day holiday.
In the morning the truck went in for its scheduled service at the service centre associated with where it was built. It took less time than last year and I was headed back to pick Juanita up at the hotel by ten and we were on the road to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal soon after. We arrived slightly before noon and only had to watch one ferry sail before we boarded. We were one of the first loaded, but one of the last off-loaded. Before we got to Gibson's I took a back road that locals know about and bypassed the town. When we connected back to the highway we connected just near a wreck that had backed up traffic for some distance. We got to the other ferry in the first line.
When we got to Powell River we picked up groceries and a milk shake for my mom and then went to my mom's place. Eating is not the pleasure it once was so family try and fatten her up at every opportunity.