July 9-19, 2013 Alberta Trip:
This summer I finally got a chance to visit my brother since he left Newfoundland to begin a career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. His first posting is in Assumption which is in northern Alberta close to Rainbow Lake. During my visit we spent the first few days in Edmonton where we shopped at the West Edmonton Mall, Cabela's, and visited Reynolds Alberta Museum and some of Steve's friends. The rest of the trip we were in Assumption where we hung out, rode ATV's, fixed ATV's and had a great time!
50. The pre-dawn hours of Tuesday July 9, 2013 found me at St. John's International Airport awaiting my flight to Toronto, then on to Edmonton Alberta. The trip had been planned for months and finally the day was here! The flight went well and I landed in Edmonton around lunchtime greeted by Steve at the terminal.
49. Not wasting any time we grabbed lunch at Five Guys Burgers, then it was on to Cabela's for for some afternoon shopping, redneck style!
47. That evening we met up with some of the guys who had been posted in Assumption Alberta with Steve last year for a few drinks and wings at the Tap House Bar and Grill, and later the Great Canadian Brewhouse.
46. The next day we went shopping at the West Edmonton Mall for most of the day which was an experience as the place truly is gigantic!
34. If you've never been there, its definitely worth a visit if your anywhere close to Edmonton, not just for the shopping, but also the sheer volume of entertainment al under one roof.
That evening we met Steve's former Sergeant Gary for supper at The Twisted Kilt. The food was awesome, beer even better, and our server "crazy Amy" was top notch!!
33. The next day, on Gary's recommendation we went to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum. This museum started as one mans private collection of cars, trucks, farm equipment and airplanes, and was later passed over/taken over by the province of Alberta.
32. This beautiful facility sits on 223 acres just south of Edmonton near Wetaskiwin and boasts a 101,000 square foot ultra modern building with hundreds of displays and a full service restoration shop to maintain and add to the collection.
31. Also on site are a 19,000 square foot building for the aircraft display, and a 109,000 square foot storage building for projects not currently on display.
19. We were amazed at the quality and variety of the displays, there are examples of every kind of motorized vehicle imaginable on display. Many are in pristine restored condition, some "as found", and according to the maintenance people in the restoration shop we chatted with, many of the vehicles including the ancient huge farm tractors actually run!
11. Often the large tractors are taken out, fueled up and ran at Farm Shows all over the province!
9. The restoration shop is a mechanics dream. Its a full service facility covering all disciplines of work, from wood working, mechanical, metal work and paint.
8. Its operated by some paid staff, and many, but mostly by many skilled volunteers who put in hundreds of hours restoring additional vehicles and maintaining the hundreds of vehicles currently in stock.
6. Its truly an amazing display and I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever in the Edmonton area. In the summertime you can also take rides around the outdoor test track in cars from many eras, including a 1930's Model A truck!
5. We spent most of the day at the museum because it is huge and truly spectacular.
2. At the rear of the property, there is a second building which houses their aviation museum. This is quite an extensive collection of really neat and some very rare planes, helicopters and flying machines.
On our way to meet Gary for supper again, we stopped at Leduc Meat Packers, where it was rumored the best pepperoni and beef jerky was sold. We confirmed this was definitely true, and bought a rather large quantity of both for our trip up north. It is by far the best Beef Jerky I've ever had.
1. After supper we decided to hit the highway and begin our 10 hour drive north to Assumption making it as far as Peace River that night.
66. The next morning we picked up a few supplies and left Peace River continuing our journey north to Assumption where Steve is Posted and lives. This is about 30 minutes outside Rainbow Lake in North Western Alberta.
65. After picking up Steve's big white dog Dawson from the sitter, we unloaded the car and went on a tour of the community in one of the Police Cruisers.
62. Its not a big place, but its quite pretty, and I had my first up close look at Bison!
61. These things are huge, and it was neat to watch them spar with each other just meters away from the truck!
59. One of the neat things about being this far North is the extra long daylight hours. My first evening up there I couldn't believe it was still perfectly daylight at 11pm! It was great for getting things done, such as cleaning up bikes after a run, or having a late BBQ supper.
58. The next morning we went out to the Garage (also known as our most Western and Northern Area51 facility!) to tackle repairs on Steve's project Rincon ATV. He had a temperature light gremlin since day one and we now believe the trouble is in the engine oil temperature sensor. Sure enough the wire was cracked and not making a good connection on the sensor.
57. Since Steve had a brand new sensor in stock we went ahead and installed it. With the sensor in place I repaired the wire and made a new custom connector to snugly fit on the oil sensor. Some solder on the connector and silicone sealant to keep the water out and we were ready to test.
56. We suited up and went for a little cruise around the community and some local trails. I was riding Steve's Rincon, and he was riding one of the detachment's Polaris ATV's.
54. We didn't want to get too tangly & muddy as we had skid plates to install on Steve's bike. Sure enough the temperature light stayed off and the bike ran great! Looks like the problem has finally been solved!
49. We passed away the whole afternoon under sunny skies and warm temps checking out nearby trails, many were survey grid lines, and others lead to old oil lease sites.
39. It was a great ride and although the horse flies were ungodly thick, Deep Woods fly spray in the green can worked wonders and I managed to keep my sanity just fine!
37. The next morning we got up and installed new skid plates on Steve's bike. He ordered the full package from Ricochet and they are a quality item as you can see on his Area51 project page. With the plates installed, we did a little cleanup around the Garage getting things better organized for working on projects.
36. Later that afternoon we loaded up the new Clay Target thrower and headed out in one of the Cruisers to a remote pit to set up the first ever Assumption Alberta Sporting Clays Shoot, participants - 2.
32. We had a great afternoon, I taught Steve some tricks to shooting clays, and he taught me tricks for pistol shooting. All in all it was a great afternoon and we managed to get through most of our ammunition and clay targets.
31. Monday morning brought crappy weather, so we postponed our planned ATV ride and headed out to take care of some errands in Rainbow Lake. We did the ten cent tour arriving home just after lunch. With the weather clearing later that afternoon I gave Steve a hand to take care of some yard work he's responsible for being the only person living in the 4 man barracks. We mowed some tall ass grass, cleaned up the yard and stacked up a bunch of stuff for a bonfire later this week.
29. After an afternoon of hard work we relaxed in the fly free gazebo with a few brew.
28. With the bikes tuned up and new parts installed, we suited up hit the trails to find some of the infamous Alberta Mud. It took us all of about 10 minutes to completely bury both bikes on the "winter road".
27. The mud here is extremely thick, slippery, and bottomless and a heck of a lot of fun! After making a tangly sideways pull with his new WARN 2500lb winch, we got Steve's bike out of the muskeg and then went back to free the Polaris, which having stock tires was not stuck nearly as bad!
26. We spent most of the day out on the trails covering mile after mile, some muddy, some were just great cruising trails. Most of the trails are very straight and nearly all are smooth, I don't know if I seen one rock the whole day. Trail obstacles consists of mud and fallen trees, the trails usually follow gas lines survey lines all across the country.
25. Unfortunately a fallen tree caused some grief for the detachment bike and we got a flat. The tire was not punctured but knocked off the bead, we tried our best to make a trailside repair but ended up limping the bike home.
24. That evening we relaxed with a few brew and had an awesome bonfire to pass away the night.
20. The next morning we took the flat tire and rim (as well as two tires & rims from the other detachment bike that had slow leaks) to Rainbow lake to have them repaired. Within an hour we were on our way home with tires fixed and ready to ride, and some additional supplies put in the bike tool kit in case it happened again.
18. This time we headed further away from the community out towards Assumption Hill, which is really the only hill in the whole area. Similar in height and grade to Long Harbor Hill on the TCH here in Newfoundland, this gravel hill is brutal when it rains. With the slippery mud, even a 4wd truck needs to make a run at the hill at at least 80kph to successfully make it to the top! Winter must be a real treat!
16. On this ride we really got to try the bikes in some of Alberta's slippery, sticky fantastic mud and infamous muskeg! Steve's Rincon did surprisingly well, after reading reviews that the Automatic tranny doesn't work well in mud, I found that it actually worked really well.
14. The ATV trails in this area were beautiful as they ascended and descended this hill in multiple places, sometimes as a nail biting ride, sometimes with switchbacks.
7. We had a great ride with multiple stucks, but even more places where Steve's Mud Lite XTR's pulled the bike through, much to my surprise!
5. That evening we relaxed after our long day on the bikes, had a great supper and crashed on the couch with a few brew.
4. The next day was my last day in Assumption. We cleaned up around the house, packed up and drove down to Grand Prairie where I would catch my flight home the next morning.
3. We went to Mike's Steakhouse for supper and were not disappointed, and ended the evening with some shopping at Wholesale Sports (which in my opinion was even better then Cabela's) and a movie at Cineplex.
2. My flight home started out well with my first leg taking me to Edmonton. then it started a slippery slope down hill from there. My flight was nearly two hours late leaving Edmonton due to a mechanical issue with the plane. Unfortunately this lined us up perfectly to intercept a brutal thunder storm in Toronto which closed the airport forcing us to land in London, ON. We were stuck in the terminal there for 3-4 hours before finally being able to proceeded to Toronto. Even then, with thunder heads lighting up the night sky all around us we had one sketchy landing.
1. With the terminal blocked with delayed travelers, we were stuck on the Tarmac for another hour before finally pulling into a free gate. With my connecting flight long gone, I got my new ticket for the next morning straightened away before the lines got long, and proceeded downstairs to pick up my luggage. With so many planes and travelers, it was a brutally long time getting my bags, but they finally arrived around 3am so I could go back upstairs to get a bite to eat. By the time I was at the gate for my Saturday morning flight, I had been up over 30 hours, I didn't want to take a nap and miss boarding, so I popped a couple Red Bulls and toughed it out. Once in my seat on the plane I crashed and cant remember taking off, but all went well and I made it home all OK.
All in all it was an excellent adventure. Steve and I have more in common now then we ever have, and we both really enjoyed the trip. Whether its visiting a cool museum we never knew existed, riding new trails on ATV, or cutting 3' high grass, it was all an excellent adventure and I can't wait for the next one!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith