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Pictures from Floyds Go Bad

Floyds Go Bad

Roadtripping the Badlands

Sat
23
Jul '11

Red Rock Rangers

Quinlan and Aidan are now Junior Rangers for three different Utah parks, Canyonlands, Arches and Dead Horse Point. They also were eligible for a Red Rock Ranger program that requires that you fill out all the activities and are Jr rangers of at least 2 national parks and 1 state park. Today they both received a patch for completing the programs.

Aidan now has a new ambition, he wants to become a park ranger. He is so proud of all the junior park ranger badges he earned. Most of them weren’t too easy either. The Rangers ask the kids a lot of questions about the activities they completed, and at 2 he had to recite a pledge to help protect the parks. This is right up his alley. It combines being outdoors and being able to police things that other people might be doing wrong.

Right now I am writing this as Quinlan sleeps in the car and Aidan is practicing his hiking skills. As much as I want to see Delicate Arch and the petroglyphs, 100 deg f is way to hot for me and I don’t mind waiting in the air-conditioned car. We are off to see the Grand Canyon tomorrow and Vegas on Sunday, so I guess I will still see my share of sights.

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Sat
23
Jul '11

Junior Rangers of Canyonlands National Park

Today, 21 July, was the first of two days in Dead Horse Canyon State park just outside of Moab, Utah. This park is closely situated to both Canyonlands and Arches national parks. All three have Junior Ranger programs, and you can use a backpack full of activities and return it to either Arches or Canyonlands.

Since renting a van worked so well while we were in Alberta for the Best of the Bad, we rented a vehicle here as well, a Suburban this time. I must admit I preferred the Caravan. Having another vehicle makes touring the parks a lot easier.

So far we have the activity books related to the Canyonlands Junior Ranger program and Dead Horse Canyon Junior Ranger program. Each book has activities for several age ranges meant to show different aspects of the park and how to conserve the eco-system. While any age can do the activities they are aimed at the 5-12 age range, with the 6-9 age group highly motivated. During these sorts of activities I can see how goal oriented Aidan is, as well as a boy who loves to know what the rules are.

As it is, it gave both boys something to do while we were touring around Island in the Sky. Since Canyonlands is divided by the Green and Colorado rivers into three, Island in the Sky is the easiest to see by car, coincidentally it is also the closest to our campground. The viewpoints around Canyonlands are spectacular and easy to do with children. There are a number a small to medium hikes that can also be done. Today Aidan and Anthony and Granpa went on a short .3 mile hike to the Mesa Arch. Aidan was really impressed with the arch and its proximity to the edge of the canyon. Quinlan finally dosed off so I stayed with him in the car.

Tomorrow we finish the Jr Ranger for Dead Horse before we head over to Arches. I can’t wait to see the Arches for myself and Aidan can’t wait to have three Jr Ranger pins. Let’s just hope that the boys go to sleep soon or things may change.

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Sat
23
Jul '11

Tea; a Cultural Conundrum

My first experience with the cultural differences between Canada and the US in the language used to describe tea was about 13 years ago when Anthony and I went down to Seattle and stopped for something to eat at Wendy’s. I remember clearly asking for an iced tea and being both surprised and extremely disappointed in what I received. Instead of a sweet cold drink I got cold tea. It was cold and very bitter. I always forget this when I am in the US.

In Canada iced tea is a sweetened cold drink. Tea is a regular steeped orange pekoe unless you ask for a specific tea like Earl Grey or Darjeeling. If you go anywhere in Canada if you asked for a big honking tea at breakfast they would know you wanted a hot beverage that was very large in size and you would be asked if you wanted milk and sugar. That should have been my first clue that something was amiss.

In the US if you ask for a big honking tea at breakfast you will not receive a large hot tea to which you can add milk. Instead you will receive a large cup of cold bitter unhappiness, and when you express that hurricane of sadness you will be asked for more money to get the •hot• tea and even more money to get milk instead of creamers.

My advice to Canadians and Americans alike is to remember to learn the local tea lingo to avoid the hurricane of sadness that is the wrong type of tea, whether it be hot, cold, iced or sweetened. The cultural divide is wide, but with some reminders it can be bridged.

Sat
23
Jul '11

Day 2: Quote of the Day

Aidan looks out the window and says excitedly, “I knew it! That is a disguised police car! See that all white car? It has a police officer in it! It also has a police computer. That was so cool!”

All the adults in the RV laugh, because there is no disguising the unmarked police cars, even a 6 year old can tell what they are.

Sat
23
Jul '11

Caching in the Badlands

July 16th was our Best of the Bad event in Three Hills, Alberta. We had a great time and it was a fantastic Mega event. There were lots of activities for everyone and lots of caches to find and the weather finally cooperated.

By the numbers the day looked a little like this:

# of finds: 43
# of mega events attended: 1
# of mosquitoes: too many to count
# of people in the minivan: 5 adults & 2 kids with booster and carseat
# of relatives not seen in a year: 2
# of magic shows: 1 with plenty of observant kids keeping the magician honest.
# of naps: 0
# of hours Anthony and I got out caching by ourselves: almost 3
# of caches we got in those hours: 22 making our total caching total our best ever.
# of kids partying in the back of a pickup truck for the 1st time: 2, they loved sitting in the back of Paula and Jimmy’s truck.
# of times I sang “fires burning” before Quinlan fell asleep: .5
# of happy but tired people at the end of the day: at least 5.

I hope the event in Duncan next summer is as good and has as much community involvement.

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Sat
23
Jul '11

Wifi is Scarce

I wasn’t quite prepared for how scarce the wifi was going to be on this trip. With this is mind there will be a bunch of post and pictures coming in spurts. I apologize and hope we can fix the pictures when we get back home.

Gwen of Floyds Go Bad

Wed
20
Jul '11

Montana is really hilly

Southern Montana, which is to say anything south of Great Falls is surprisingly hilly. And mountainous. I expected Montana to be essentially what we saw the day before: lots and lots of wild grassy plains. I was rather wrong. It’s rather picturesque.

The population density, however, is still pretty negligible.

We started the day with breakfast at McDonalds. We haven’t done that for many years. For good reason too.

Related: I must ask for “hot tea” and not just tea. Also, what abomination is cold, unsweetened tea?

After breakfast, we stopped by the local grocery store to reprovision. And then we drove.

We drove, and drove, and drove some more south into the wilds of Montana. The wind kept up, making driving at the best a chore, and at times downright stressful. I’ve taken to referring to the RV as a land yacht. It floats down the road, going where the wind takes it, corrected only by my quickly-developing arm muscles and keen sense of self-preservation.

The route to Yellowstone isn’t exactly the road most travelled. The highway that leads to West Yellowstone is a hilly, windy (as in full of turns), windy (as in full of moving air), and narrow road. There’s not a lot of traffic on it, but it’s mostly 2 lanes. With a 75 mph speed limit. The RV can hit 75: downhill with a tailwind. It’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world. As such, we took it mostly at 65. Better fuel mileage, but it doesn’t make you many friends.

We made it to the Madison Campground around 6 pm. We soon after had a nice kabob and rice dinner, and we all roasted marshmallows fir dessert. The boys were particularly excited to have a real campfire.

We didn’t do much this day other than driving, provisioning, and eating, but that’s all right.

There’s no wifi here, though. No cell service at all for that matter. How will we survive such Neanderthal conditions?

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Wed
20
Jul '11

Montana is really flat

Day 4 was the end of the Best of the Bad, ending (for us) with a great pancake breakfast first thing in the morning, put on by a Three Hills community group (their Historical Society, I think, but I’m disconnected right now and can’t check).

Then it was hitting the road to take the rented van back to Calgary. After Calgary, it was a long, boring drive south to the Sweet Grass Montana border crossing. There are very few to no traveller’s services on the drive — rest stops, picnic parks, and the like so we ended up eating lunch in a deserted parking lot in High River.

The only interesting thing on the rest of the drive south was the Alberta Visitors Centre about 10km from the border. We stopped there for a break and took some photos of the cool dinos and rock formations they had there. We also grabbed a geocache that was there, but in the process of doing so we had to take the RV down a secondary road that ran on the outside of a hay field.

We’d seen a car driving around this field earlier while looking at the dinos and wondered what on earth they were doing. As we went down the dirt road, this car came at us and stopped along side. Inside were a very elderly man and two equally elderly women.

“I don’t suppose you want to help us count bales, do you?” asked the man. ” Not particularly,” I responded. “I counted 70-odd the first time but only 53 the next,” he went on. I surveyed the field. “41 that I can see from here,” I told him. He eyed me. “Where ya going?” he asked. “Montana” was my terse reply. I just wanted to go get the cache. He was clearly curious about why I was attempting to take an RV down this dirt road along side his field. I was curious why he was driving a nice sedan around a hay field, but really just wished he’d continue along his way.

He feigned disinterest and I took the opportunity to wish him a good day and continued 100 m down the dirt road. I turned the RV around, parked it and then Dad and I hopped out and hiked 100 m further down the road to where the cache was. The old guy trailed us in his nice sedan until we left the double-track road to go get the ammo box nestled up against the post of what must have been his field.

I don’t know what he must have thought we were doing, but he wasn’t so concerned to ask us directly.

The border crossing was pretty uneventful. There was one lane out of 3 open, and about 10 vehicles ahead of us. There border agent asked us a minimum of questions, and we were on our way.

Northern Montana is boring. The rolling fields of Alberta gave way to uncultivated, featureless rolling grass fields. For hundreds of miles. The apparent population density is shockingly close to nil.

There is one thing Northern Montana has in spades, though. Wind. Lots and lots of wind. I was fighting the steering wheel the whole way, trying to keep the rig in one lane or another. Driving straight generally consisted of keeping the steering wheel turned 15 degrees. We went around some corners on the highway with the steering wheel actually turned the wrong way for the corner. Boy is that disconcerting.

Eventually we encountered civilization and then we were in Great Falls. We didn’t see much of Great Falls, so I’m not exactly sure what makes the falls (there weren’t any particularly large hills nearby) nevermind what makes them Great. Also, it was quite hot. Over 34 degrees in the RV. Fortunately we had a fully serviced site and were able to turn on the RV’s air conditioning. Unfortunately, the heat combined with an over-tired toddler and a late supper turn Q’s stomach inside out. Repeatedly. And, we needed to do laundry, and that ended up being a long and complicated process in itself.

All in all, a long, tiring day.

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Wed
20
Jul '11

Bad News

Day 3 was the Best of the Bad geocaching event. It started with a pancake breakfast on the campus of the Bible College we were staying at, and got better from there.

We packed up the minivan and headed south east to “Iter Itineris: Floyds Go Bad”, the Legacy Trail cache placed in our behalf. It was part of a smaller trail of caches going up a badlands canyon. And it was awesome (see the pics below). Unfortunately we had to be back to the event site for 12:30 so that I could take a turn manning the BCGA booth. That meant we didn’t have time to grab all the caches in the canyon.

Back at the main site, I manned the booth for a while, and had a chance to talk with a number of interesting people, including my Twitter pal @goliphant.

We grabbed some burgers afterwards from the onsite food services and afterwards we were joined by my sister Paula and her guy Jimmy, who came down from Edmonton to visit. They went off with Dad to grab some lunch while Gwen, the kids, and I went and watched a kids magic show. The kids had a blast.

Then, more geocaching! Everyone piled into the minivan and we hit another mini-trail in the Legacy Trail. It was a great bonding experience, and we were able to visit and have fun with Paula and Jimmy.

Back to the main site again for a marvelous dinner in the main dining hall, followed by a bit more visiting back at the RV.

We were able to put the kids to bed at a reasonable time, as the trip’s excitements and late nights caught up to them.

Gwen and I took advantage of having Grandpa there, and went back out geocaching. We managed 22 caches in just a little over 2 hours, with the last few happening in the dark with headlamps.

Our not-really-trying tally of the day was 43 caches, a team best. Many cachers at the event had a 100+ day!

The event was so well done. With apologies to the Washington State folks, this one was much better than Geowoodstock 8. There was so much to do, for the whole family and having camping right at the event site was excellent. The Legacy Trail was amazing. So well done.

Every one of us had a great time. It was definitely worth the trip out!

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Sun
17
Jul '11

My Favourite Photos Day 1 to Day 4

Quinlan at Yardstick Creek Park

Uncle Jimmy carries Aidan up the steep hill to the geocache. Luckily he carries much heavier gear in the armed forces.

Abandoned house near Three Hills, Alberta

There are a lot of abandoned building around Three Hills.

They really mean it here in the prairies when they warn you about a turn.

Sunset in the Badlands of Alberta

Yet another abandoned building in rural Alberta.

This picture doesn't do it justice, the moon was huge and orange and both Anthony and I said "Wow!"