Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sibbald Flats and the Grand Valley Road

I had this past Friday, June 19, off from work. My girlfriend and I had planned a day where we would go have a picnic. It didn't quite work out that way as we got off on a late start, and the weather wasn't all that great either. We headed out on Hwy 1 to go to Cochrane, AB to pick up some supplies before going up the Grand Valley Road. However I had a moment of spontaneity and suggested we go to Sibbald Flats first. My argument was the wildflowers should be blooming about now, and be in abundance. Off we went.

I have hiked Sibbald Flats area before. There is a day-use and group camping feature of the provincial park. so it was my expectation that we could park our car and strolll not too far to find our subjects. Unfortunately, the car access areas were locked up. We did find a forestry demonstation area with an interpative centre instead, and nearby were able to find some flowers to photograph.
There were tall bluebells and the classic Indian Paintbrush. There were others had it not been for my friend I might not and still don't know.

We were turning around to go back to cochrane when we received a phone call that caused us to return to Calgary. But afterwards we resumed our day and headed up the Grand Valley Road. We came to the junction of GVR and Wildcat Hills Road and headed west. I should add this is all northwest of Cochrane. We did see a Great Heron in a creek. But being jittery birds that they are it flew off as soon as I applied the brakes. So we didn't get a photograph.

This is ranchland. some of the oldest ranches in North America still raise cattle out here. We drove past the Simpson Ranching Company homestead and the Beaupre Ranch. The district we were in is actually named Beaupre. The area consists of rolling hills; one after another like waves they go until they crash like breakers into the Rockies. You could imagine cougar and bear live here too. But, you'd never see them. We did see plaenty of deer along the ditches and the fringes of scrub brush.

My girlfriend and I had time to talk about life and present events. She is normally a happy person, but some things right now are causing her a lot of tears. I have joked that I should buy shares in Kleenex for the amount we use these days. I spoke to her of how life will improve in time and came up with a little ditty, parts of which I borrowed from Hank Snow, which i sang to her.

There's a bluebird at my window
He sings a song to me
He tells me of all his blessings
And then he flys away
I often think of my little friend
During my day
Especially when things aren't so swell
His songs reminds me to smile.

The weather was full of small showers. Soon we reached a junction with the Forestry Road where we knew we needed to turn back. We traced our route back and back at the junction of GVR and WHR we came across a big ol' Hereford bull. with all authority he stood there taking a whiz. We were opportunistic and snapped off several pictures of him. Isn't he grand?

We also came across tow calves that somehow got under a fence. they were grazing near the road. We got down the highway a bit when we came to a ranchhand residence. Driving in I reported the strays to the young woman who answered the door. Her dogs were inside and quite eager to get to know me, and she struggled to get them to quiet down. She thanked us for the news and said she'd get some cowboys on horses to go herd the ccalves to safety.

We headed back to Cochrane where we had a beautiful supper at the old hotel (one of the first in the town back in the 1890's). After eating I attempted to pay the bill. Feeling the service given to us along with the food being great I calculated a tip and went at the debit card machine. Being stubborn and not wanting to wear my glasses I entered my amount and concluded the transaction. Initially, when the server mentioned the final amount I thought that it was kind of low. Only the next day did I realize why. Because I couldn't see I had failed to add an extra zero. So, what should have been $6.60 became $0.66. I looked at my discovery in horror. I have never been so cheap with wait help. I dashed off a thank you note to explain what occurred and mailed it promptly. I expressed how I felt and that I wanted to make it up to them the next time we returned.

We travelled back to Calgary satisfied that we had seen much and made good of our plans.


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