#BixbyFifty #Day06 – Photography

Today I am feeling a bit reflective and nostalgic. I just set up a Flickr account for SaskGames. Basically, it will be for pictures I have taken of boardgames or people playing games. As the SaskGames News Bulletin progresses, it will become more important to have a central repository of stock images. If you are interested in a bunch of game related pictures, the account is:
2016 MegaGame

That is not the reason for today’s post though. I went through my folders of digital pictures from 2014, 2013, 2012 looking for gaming pictures. By doing that I was wading through all of my pictures of the last couple of years. Lots of memories came flooding back to me of various people, events, and travels. It was quite a pleasant task. We have so many digital pictures… I can hardly venture a guess as to how many. Perhaps 20,000 or so. Thankfully they are in folders by year, month, and event so they are “largely” organized.

I feel like it is a blessing to have these in digital format. We mostly use our TV as a large picture frame and have the xBox 360 stream pictures to it in a slide show. It allows us to enjoy our pictures on a regular basis. Going through the folders looking for specific images has sparked another project for me. I think I will go through all of our digital pictures and clean up some of the organization and folders. It is a task I am really looking forward to as it will be a very rewarding stroll through the strata of the last 14 years. Yep, 14 years of digital pictures. I starting using a digital camera in 2000. Aside from that, we have had a very large portion of our older photographs scanned and they will need to be organized into folders. This task will take a long time to complete as it is fairly large in scope. I have no problem with that. I can savour this project and pick away at it in small chunks. That will allow me to have bite size chunks of nostalgia.

I am grateful for these pictures. These captured moments in time and space. I look forward to visiting and reliving various canoe trips, backpacking excursions, family visits, outings with friends, backyard gatherings, poker games, boardgame events, travel, snowshoeing expeditions, and many other zany things we have ventured to try over the years. These pictures will be yet another reminder of a number of other blessings in my life.

DSC_4023I am truly thankful for the photographs and how they are a catalyst for a flood of wonderful memories.


We need Tools to manage our Tools


Planning these days is made easier by the cornucopia of organizational tools at our disposal, right? Am I right? Sadly… no.

The trouble nowadays is that there is such a vast array of tools at our disposal that we end up being very fragmented in our approach to getting organized. This gets further compounded when we are trying to organize details as a group. Each member of a group will have their own pet tools and styles for how they want the group to rally and organize. Planning efforts can become extremely fragmented and you now need a tool to manage the tools. Ahhhhhhhhhh! *^&%#$@! There goes the neighbourhood.

I am in the middle of planning a trip to Europe with a couple of other family members and we are struggling to get focus on the basics of the What, When, Where, Who, and Why of the trip. I am not one of these OCD peeps that want to plan each minute of my vacation, just a basic outline so we can draft a rough itinerary. All three of us are compatible in this regard as well so planning should be simple, ‘n’est pas?

Last weekend I was trying to get a composite view of our trip and realized how fragmented our communications and planning had become. It made me realize that we live in a time of great opportunity to be organized, but that opportunity is often not capitalized. Here are the elements of our current trip plan:

  1. Paper notebook with ideas for the trip. This was supposed to be a single safe source for ideas and notes.
  2. A Paper map hanging on our wall with some stickers for possible locations to visit.
  3. Paper calendar for drafting a rough itinerary.
  4. Scraps of paper with note fragments.
  5. A discussion thread on http://forums.bixby.ca/ with collected notes and ideas.
  6. My email inbox
  7. Kathy’s email inbox
  8. A communication thread on Facebook between Kathy and I.
  9. A communication thread on Facebook between Krystal and I.
  10. A communication thread on Facebook between the three of us.
  11. A Google Doc on Google Drive with some collected notes.
  12. A Google Map with pin points and notes for the trip.
  13. A collection of notes and scribblings from various phone calls and Skype conversations.

This all may sound silly, but it is in fact a reality of the this day and age. Without a disciplined approach to focus on one or two planning tools, efforts can become very cumbersome and hard to manage. This is not a testament about the three of us, it is just a reminder that focus is our friend. All of the above notes and tools just evolved organically out of our excitement to plan a trip and each person was left to think and plan according to their vision of how to organize information. It is quite amusing when you step back and look at it with the detachment of looking at a crime of communication in which all parties are complicit.

Another important reminder for me that focus is needed from the very start on ventures such as these. In the end, it really does not matter what tool or tools you choose, but it is important to choose a couple and maintain your discipline to use them to their full potential.

There are LOTS of tools in the toolbox, but we only have TWO hands in which to wield them.


Gratitude – Day 97 (Dehydrator)

This is another entry in my week-long homage to our recent canoe trip. One of our latest household appliance purchases is a food dehydrator. I was always under the impression that these things were to be used for the standard apple rings, and other pieces of dried fruit. Boy was I in for a surprise. Kathy bought this so we could minimize weight and bulk for the canoe trip. Sure, sounds good. I was quite surprised at what can be dehydrated.

We ended up dehydrating apples, strawberries, bell peppers, hamburger, chicken…
…that’s right. I said hamburger and chicken. Kind of surprised the heck outta me too. We ate like kings on our canoe trip. Chicken Alfredo, Beef Stroganoff. I am now a believer of the dehydrator. No more is this a novelty device so you can make apple rings to hand out to rellies at Christmas; this things has a very practical purpose. Our next step is to formalize meal plans for canoe trips / backpacking trips and publish a small meal plan directory in the trip planning section of Bixby Forums. There are a few of us looking to participate more in these activities and having easy to prepare meals and meal plans will streamline the trip planning process greatly.

We have most of the gear we need for these excursions and that makes it so much easier to plan and go. The one area of considerable effort that remains centers around food, and this certainly simplifies that. The great outdoors just got more accessible!!!

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~ Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright

Gratitude – Day 95 (Canoeing Up North)

I suspect this week will see a number of blog entries crop up relating to our last canoe trip. We did a 56km Canoe trip over 7 days / 6 nights. It was a fantastic trip out of Missinipe, SK. There are so many things to love about this trip. The water was mostly calm for paddling. The weather was quite cooperative but gave us a few displays of her power and force. Swimming was therapeutic. Once we did our first portage, we left the motorized boats behind and had French lake to ourselves. The food was really quite amazing. Kathy did a superb job with the meal planning and our new dehydrator is now a vital part of our trip planning. Greg and Marilyn were an absolute pleasure to canoe with; the four of us are a great fit for outdoor excursions. The fires at night were soothing for the soul and tired muscles. White wine was an enjoyable way to end most evenings as we sat around the fire and recounted the days adventures. Robertson Falls was simply stunning with the magnitude of water flowing over the falls. The sunsets were often colorful and mesmerizing. The sound of loons echoing over the lakes. The list goes on…

I really enjoyed this trip and it will be recalled with great joy and fondness for the rest of my days. I look forward to planning more canoe trips now. This was my first canoe trip of this length. I learned a lot about gear, packing, anticipating weather, and tripping in general. Got to work on my canoe skills and I feel much more confident with my paddling abilities. Here’s is to a fantastic week that I will always remember.

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof!  In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make – leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone – we all dwell in a house of one room – the world with the firmament for its roof – and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.  ~ John Muir

Gratitude – Day 083 (Backpacking)

I just returned from the mountains. Love the mountains. I missed my daily blog ritual the two days before we left for Alberta and did not blog while away. I now need to re-establish my rituals. Easy to blog about being thankful for backpacking though.

We spent four days (three nights) at Elbow Lake in the Peter Lougheed park (Kananaskis). The hike is a 1.3KM hike from the parking area to the camp sites, so it is a short hike to test your backpacking gear. Even though it is short, it is quite steep. This is the second time we have camped there.

There were a number of other campers there this year, whereas last year, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. No worries though, as backpackers tend to be in the respectful demographic of campers. Talked to some very interesting people.We settled in on a Thursday and got our homestead set up and went for a short walk around the lake. On Friday, we hiked up to Rae Glacier and back. Nice hike and lots of variety in the terrain and trail. That night we hiked down to the truck and back and retrieved a small lumbar Arcteryx pack for day hiking, and a bottle of red wine. 🙂 . On Saturday, we decided to hike to Rae Lake and it was another very enjoyable hike. We hiked around 25km throughout the course of this trip and really enjoyed exploring the area. We are now ready to review and revise our hiking pack lists to be even more streamlined for future backpacking trips. This area gets a high recommend from us for anyone looking to get into backpacking and test their gear in a beautiful setting.

Until our next trip…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~ John Muir


Gratitude – Day 55 (Trip to UK)

The time is getting close when our friend Catharine Snell in Winnipeg will be moving to London, England. This is a very big move for her and we are quite excited for her. This has me looking back at a trip we took to the UK in 2005. It had always been a desire of mine to see Scotland & England; I was not disappointed. One thing I recall from the trip is how humbling it was to be in such a rich tapestry of history. The attraction of the UK is quite significant. Great rail transit system, historic splendor, ease of travel to the rest of Europe, narrow boats, arts & culture, great ales, and cool accents. 🙂

It is possible when Kathy & I end up moving from Regina, that we will tour a bit more of the UK and Europe before settling at our next quasi-permanent residence. I know, a few months in the UK would certainly be fine with me. There is so much more I would like to explore. We were completely blown away by Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Isle of Skye was magnificent. The Tor was spiritual. One of the big highlights for me was Stonehaven in Scotland and the ruins of Dunnotar Castle. For everything we saw and did, there were a hundred things we didn’t get to see and do. That leaves a real appetite for a repeat trip.

We are so fortunate to be able to travel and see some of the world. It is not something I take for granted. This was a dream trip and I look back at it very fondly. 21 days in the UK. I fin that my travels really broaden my perspective on the world and various cultures. You can learn about other parts of the world by reading a book or watching a travel documentary, but there is no substitute for being there.

Bealach Na Ba

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~ St. Augustine

Gratitude – Day 048 (Travel)

I have had some pretty amazing travel experiences. I suspect that by moving from Alberta to Nova Scotia when I was 7 years old, the zest for travel was created at a young age. Also, many of the family slide shows were pictures of trips my parents and older siblings took all over the USA, Cuba, & Mexico. I did not start my own travel adventures until I was 23. That was when I went to California and Alberta in one trip. It started the journey of my own travels.

I think that travel is a luxury. I do not take it for granted. It still amazes me that I can wake up in Regina, Saskatchewan and go to bed that night in Dallas, Texas. That is pretty damn cool. Over the last 25 years, I have been very fortunate to have taken some great trips. There is so much to see and experience. Some people spend all of their travel budget chasing the surf and sand on annual tropical vacations. I guess I understand the attraction, but I really like the variety of experiences.

Just off the top of my mind, some of the highlights for me include:

  • Nashville, Tennessee a couple of times: River cruise, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, NFL Game, Geocaching.
  • Miami, Florida a few times: Coconut Grove, Stone Crabs, South Beach, New Year’s Eve, Drive to Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Art Deco.
  • Denver, Colorado a couple of times: Drive to Pike’s Peak, Above an electrical storm, Elk Steak, Dinner at a restaurant that used to be an old bank vault.
  • San Francisco, California: Alcatraz, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury District, Huge music store, Celtic pub with Irish wolf hound, streetcars, Golden Gate bridge.
  • Boston, Massachusetts: Cheers, Historic parks, Lobster, Chowder, Great walking, vibrant feel to the city.
  • Chicago, Illinois a number of times: River architecture tour, Miracle mile, Sears (Willis) tower, Fantastic walking, Millennium Park, Live blues, Lou Manotti’s pizza, Roger Water’s concert.
  • Toronto, Ontario on a few trips: CN Tower, Yonge street, Eaton’s centre, Hard Rock Cafe, Blue Jays game, Maple Leaf’s Game.
  • Vancouver, British Columbia a number of times: Granville Island, Stanley Park, Renting bicycles, Walking & touring, Suspension bridge, Circe du Soleil, Kits Beach, Lion’s Gate bridge, Les Blues, Denman avenue, Deep sea fishing, guy balancing rocks on beach, Aquarium, Cricket match.
  • Seattle, Washington: Pike’s place market, Jen Skahen, Great food, Space needle, lots of walking, superb microbrewery beer.
  • Portland, Oregon: Micro breweries, great walking, organic markets, Powell’s book store, Thursday night game night at a pub, transit system.
  • This list is getting large and I have only scratched the surface. I thought when I started this entry I would list the highlights and be done. The highlights keep coming. This is ridiculous. I have even more to be grateful for that I thought. Have not even touched on: Great Canadian Beerfest, Harrison Hot Springs, Deep Cove Hot Springs, Victoria BC, Cathedral Grove, Seas Kayaking at Tofino, Sea Kayaking in San Juan Islands, Rogue Brewing in Newport Oregon, Astoria, Oregon, Tree brewing in Kelowna BC, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Lussier Hot Springs,  Cannery Brewing in Penticton BC, Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway, Cycling the Golden Triangle, Radium Hot Springs, Waterton Park, Hiking the Carthew-Alderson Summit, Hiking the Crypt Lake trail, Takakaw Falls, Horseshoe falls, Yellowstone Park, Grand Canyon, Great Sand Hills in Saskatchewan, Great Sand Hills in Colorado, Disney World, Disney Land, Las Vegas, The Gun Store in Las Vegas, Ziplining on Fremont Street, Cirque Du Soleil in Orlando, Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, Crazy Horse Monument, Mount Rushmore, Cave of the Mounds in Wisconsin, House on a Rock, Wisconsin, Don-Q-Inn near Madison, Wall Drugs, Mitchell Corn Palace, The Gateway Arch in St Louis Missouri , White water rafting on teh Snake River, Jackson Hole, Tidal Bore rafting the Shubenacadie River, Montreal, Cruise out of Miami, Cozumel, Ocho Rios Jamaica, Grand Cayman Islands, Snorkeling in Jamaica, Swimming with the Stingrays, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, The Devil’s Tower Wyoming, Custer’s last stand, Bryce Canyon, Columbia River Gorge, Waterfall hike outside of Portland Oregon, Acadia National Park in Maine, Cape Breton Island, Napa Valley Vineyards, Kelowna Vineyards, Osoyoos Vineyards, NHL Game in Greensboro North Carolina, Indoor Skydiving in Las Vegas, Outdoor Skydiving at Waterville Nova Scotia, Halcyon Hot Springs, Grand Tetons, Logan’s Pass and teh Going-To-Sun Road in Montana, Drumheller Alberta, Jasper Park Alberta, West Edmonton Mall, Mall of America in Minneapolis, San Diego, The Coronado, Grumman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, Universal Studios, Huntington’s Beach, The Inn on Spanish Head in Lincoln, Oregon, BoardGameGeek convention in Dallas, Texas three times, New Orleans, Kennedy Space Centre in Florida…
  • Then there is an entire list that would reflect England and Scotland.

Okay, this almost came across as a brag list. Not my intention. It just flowed and blew me away. I am sincerely and deeply humbled by this list. I could have kept going, but I had to stop somewhere. If, perchance, I should get run over by a bus tomorrow, please do not mourn my passing. This list in another indication that I have been more fortunate than most people on this planet. I have been given the opportunity to see and do many things and for this I feel extremely blessed. I think some of these trips need to be broken into separate “gratitude” entries in the coming months. Some of these trips were absolutely spiritual for me and it would be great to explore the memories on the blog in a deeper hue of gratitude. Until then, travel safe, keep tabs on your passport, and greet life’s new adventures with a smile and sense of exploration. There is a whole lot of world to discover out there…

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.  ~ Mark Twain

Gratitude – Day 34 (Canoe Trips)

Trip to Grey Owl's Cabin

I have gone Canoeing off & on for years. Early memories are of taking Level I & II canoe courses at the lake in Rawdon Gold Mines in my early teens. During my high school years, a group of friends would generally go on a trip once a year, or so. Then life happens and I did not do a lot of canoeing.

A few year’s ago, Kathy developed a passion for canoe trips. She has gone on some extended trips up North and has a number of courses and clinics under her belt. For the first few years of her new found passion, I did not go with her on any trips. This was her thing. The last few years have seen us canoe more together and it has rekindled an old love of mine for being in a canoe. It started for us with the YMCA Echo Challenge; Kathy and I did the canoe portion of the relay. It has worked up to a number of afternoon or day trips such as going for a paddle in Wascana lake or paddling the spring run off of Wascana Creek. A few years ago, I joined a group Kathy was part of to paddle around the Gem lakes. It was more of a relaxing trip with a stationary campsite. An opportunity to be outdoors and work on a few paddling techniques. Another very enjoyable trip.

A lot of Kathy’s trips has been stepping stones in a path. Most of her earlier trips were guided by some of her canoe friends. Kathy was now getting enough experience and gear that she could start guiding trips. This included a character building trip on the Saskatchewan river to St. Louis. It was an interesting trip with three couples in inclement weather. What a hoot. Thank goodness for decent gear on that trip. Every year we pick up a few more pieces of gear. The right gear and equipment can sure make a difference.

Last year, we managed to get in the canoe a fair bit. The highlight for me was a paddle to Grey Owl’s cabin. Kingsmere lake was so peaceful. We are planning to go back this year.  It is awesome that we have good friends that enjoy these activities as well. Great activities are often enriched by sharing them with great people. I look forward to our trips this year. I am sure they will challenge me physically. I appreciate the opportunity to get out and commune with nature in a canoe. The world looks so much different from the waterways. Changes your perspective on things. Kathy thankfully joins me in my hobby pursuits, I am grateful to be included in hers.

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature. ~ Pierre Elliott Trudeau