May Long weekend is the official start to camping season in Alberta. Of course it means you can get sunshine, rain, wind or snow...or all of the above. We had snow earlier in the week so we felt relatively confident it wasn't going to snow this weekend. We did get the rest - sun, cloud, rain and wind.
We have been out to the trailer a couple times already. Shadybrook opened April 30 but the water wasn't on and we had the mouse issue to deal with. Late last season and through the winter we had mice getting in the trailer. Before we stayed over night this year we needed to try and fix the problem and give the trailer a good cleaning. Hopefully the problem is fixed...I do know the trailer is clean.
Over the years there have been many issues with trees falling at Shadybrook. Sometimes they fall on trailers and for us, they fall on our gazebos. We’ve had two crushed gazebos. This winter, the Shadybrook team cleared out a bunch of trees and made a wide walking path where we used to have a forest. We have mixed feelings about this. It might be safer but we miss our forest.
The squirrels may also miss the forest. Last weekend we noticed a squirrel in our shed. We thought we left the door open and the squirrel went in out of curiosity.
We were wrong. While cleaning outside the trailer James noticed the squirrel go through a small crack in the shed door. He got Ms. Squirrel out of the shed and went to look inside. After some investigation he discovered her nest and from the other side of the shed she was loudly giving him a piece of her mind. We saw movement in the nest so we backed away and let mama squirrel take care of the situation. We watched her run back in the shed and carry her babies out in her mouth one at a time to relocate them in a safer space. The safer space happened to be the bumper of our neighbours trailer. It was fascinating to watch.
The good news this year - the bathrooms are open. And they are very clean. Great job Shadybrook!
It’s the May long weekend and Seba Beach is hopping. The market was very busy. It has moved back to the original location now that the new pavilion is finished. The new pavilion is great.
Sunday morning we went on a road trip to Red Deer. The drive down from Seba Beach was really nice. We decided we will go back to Rimbey one weekend when the covid restrictions are eased. We drove through town and noticed a brewery, ice cream shop, quilt shop and coffee shop. Definitely worth checking out!
We went to Red Deer for a socially distanced picnic in the park with Alana, Erin, Connor and Kate. It was so nice to see them. Connor is turning 13 this week so there will be two teenagers in their family.
Back at the trailer we had a fire and visited with Val.
Monday morning it started raining pretty hard so we packed up and headed home.
Oh, in case you are wondering, Ned and Fred continue to guard the wood pile.
Hey there! We hope you had a great summer. We've been camping but not writing about it. Our adventures were a bit more subdued this summer because of COVID 19. We've enjoyed our time out at Shadybrook - a lot of relaxing, reading, walks, bike rides, visiting the farmer's market, trying new cocktails (beer for James), camp fires, and listening to the sounds of nature. It's been really good for the soul but not that exciting to write about.
James watched the ACE Awards at the trailer and The Met Agency won two awards. Woot!
We also watched the first game of the playoffs at the trailer. We were hoping for a better outcome for the Oilers. Or at least to win the 50-50. Drat.
It's been a sad year for everyone. COVID has impacted us just like everyone. We are working from home and while it is nice, it is hard to be in the same place all the time. It is hard not seeing people or travelling the way we would like to. Shadybrook and Seba Beach have been a nice change from being at home all the time.
Even when it rains or is cool we try to head out for a change of scenery.
Charlotte has been good this year. As we expected though, we are not happy with the bathroom situation. The bathrooms/showers/laundry facilities at Shadybrook remained closed for the entire season. The bathroom in our trailer is oddly shaped. No need to get in to detail but suffice to say it's not ideal.
Usually we just use the oven to store the frying pans but this season we decided to try baking in it. Youtube helped us figure out how to light the pilot. I baked some cinnamon rolls and they turned out pretty good. I did learn that baking on the bottom rack may lead to burning.
Here are some of our favourite cocktails from this summer. I enjoyed making drinks with Empress 1908 gin. It makes a stunning cocktail and it's really good. They are based out of Victoria, BC and they share drink recipes on their social media channels. Click on the photo for the recipe.
And of course the flock (or flamboyance) of flamingos are always up for a party while Ned and Fred protect the wood pile.
This past weekend we had to turn on the heat one morning so that signals the end of camping for 2020 is near.
2020 has been a heavy year filled with personal loss, financial stress and turmoil around the globe. We are trying to stay positive and enjoy being outside while we can.
Everything is impacted by COVID 19 and Shadybrook is no exception. Usually the resort (that descriptor always makes me laugh) opens May 1. We were sent a note in April letting us know it would not open as scheduled and more information would follow as the pandemic unfolds. We finally received notice that they would open June 1 with no amenities. The laundry, playgrounds, washrooms/showers would all stay closed and there was a very long list of rules for social distancing. The fee was prorated to compensate for the month lost but not for loss of the amenities.
After much debate and a few pros/cons lists, we decided to drop off our cheque (yes, they still prefer cheques) for the season.
So here we are the second weekend in June (the first weekend was pouring rain) and we are getting ready for the season.
The weekend was spent setting up the trailer and tidying the site. The site is overgrown with dandelions taller than the dogs. I guess dandelions can easily grow through the road crush we bought and spread last year.
Inside, Charlotte was busy over the winter spinning some webs.
I also had to remember where I stored everything. We left quite a bit in the trailer at the end of last season. But still...
Westley is a great help when trying to make the, already difficult to make, corner bed.
James tended to the windows that were full of pine needles and other bits of nature.
We did find time to go to the Farmer's Market, we visited the Fallis "market", had some socially distanced visits with Val, played cards, had hot dogs cooked over the fire and generally enjoyed being in nature on a beautiful weekend (except for the big storm during the evening).
Tim, the mobile trailer fixer, was out to seal the roof of the trailer. Hopefully it is as good as new.
I wasn't prepared to create a cocktail of the week yet...next weekend.
The glamping Tails have settled in for the season.
And so have we...here's hoping for a fun, safe and rain-free season.
I have loved the pink flamingo since the '80's when it made a come back. How can you not love an awkward, knobby-kneed pink bird?!?
The plastic pink flamingo considered tacky in the late '60's had a resurgence and became kitsch in the '80's. I love the '80's! Big hair, fake tans (sometimes real with the help of baby oil), Sun-In, pastel coloured clothes, Cyndi Lauper, Miami Vice, Sixteen Candles, $2 Tuesday at the Village Tree Mall Theatres... I dug through some old photos for your viewing pleasure.
But enough about me and my love of the '80's. The flamingo has been used in decor for many centuries.
In 1957, the plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament was created by Union Products Inc. employee, Don Featherstone. That first pink plastic bird's name was Diego. Some fun facts about Don Featherstone: He kept 57 flamingos on his front yard, him and his wife dressed the same (we have seen people on cruise ships who do this) and he won an IG Noble Art Prize for the creation of the flamingo.
I was thrilled when the flamingo came back in a couple years ago and have quite a collection of items with images of my fav bird. Dog bed, phone cover, shirts, pj's, cookie cutters, socks, salt & pepper shakers, pens, throw pillows, mugs, trays, a plant stand, notebooks, stickers...
But what does the flamingo have to do with Airstreams? A lot. There is a culture that goes with Airstream owners - we love shiny objects, we name our trailers (and receive official certificates from Airstream), there are caravan clubs to join, we despise hail and we display plastic pink flamingos. Airstreamers for decades have travelled with the flamingos and display them outside their trailers as a way to call out to or connect the Airstream community. It's kind of like a welcome mat.
One of the first things I bought for our site in 2016 when we set up Phoebe were Ned and Fred - our first flamingos. They are from Wal-mart and they have lost their pink colour over the years. However they still do a tremendous job guarding our wood pile. Not to sound elitist but they are not Featherstone flamingos. Many knock offs have been made but the originals have his signature.
We wanted to add some original Featherstone flamingos to the site so James went on Amazon to order a pair. Finally, the Amazon delivery arrived but I was perplexed because the package fit in our mailbox. Turns out James ordered a coffee table book. It's an odd book and we are not sure what to do with it.
Round two of Amazon ordering and our flamingos arrived. I LOVE the box.
And here our the girls...Midge and Madge. They don't stay out over the winter.
I also love seeing the real live flamingo. I've seen them in the Caribbean, Sardinia and at zoo's. Even West Edmonton Mall used to have some on display.
I recently asked James if he thought I would:
1. be around and
2. be interested the next time flamingos are back in "style".
He said 'yes'. Whew!
Even though we are not camping for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19, I made a cocktail to enjoy on our patio. Here is the review and recipe for the Blackberry Basil Mojito
Wow - we haven't blogged since last July. There is a very good reason and some day, I will share why in more detail. For now though, we are happy to be back!
We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nothing is open except for essential services and people are urged to stay at home. At this point we are not sure what the 2020 season will look like at Shadybrook.
After doing some Easter activities, like dying eggs and my fingers, we decided to take a drive out to Seba Beach to check on Charlotte. We haven't visited her since we winterized in September.
We met our friend, Val, at the Shadybrook office and walked in to the trailers together - but apart. Two meters apart. We are adhering to social distancing rules! It was great to see her and her little dog Sochi.
There is a lot of snow at Shadybrook. Even if we weren't in a pandemic, I don't think the season would start on May 1!
Ned and Fred never disappoint - they are the best wood guarding flamingos! The wood piles look fully intact.
Charlotte smelled Irish Spring fresh when we opened her up. It doesn't look like we have any rodents but there is some evidence of water leaks. This was an issue that we noticed at the end of the 2019 season and we will need to deal with it as soon as we we can.
There doesn't seem to be many changes at Shadybrook except for new site markers. Our old marker is discreetly nailed on the tree in the distance, the new one looks like a provincial campground marker.
We drove over to the lake to check out the new pavilion under construction. It looks really nice...and big. We are excited to see it open.
Since we went out to the trailer, I decided to make a cocktail back at home. And since it is the Easter weekend, the Cottontail Martini sounded like the perfect drink to try. You can find the recipe here.
There is so much uncertainty now with COVID-19, the economy, and income loss. It is effecting all of us. We truly hope that we will be able to spend time with Charlotte this summer and share more blogs...and cocktail recipes!
and more deck. It was a productive weekend!
Finally the fridge saga has come to an end. At least we hope it has. The mobile RV repair guy ordered the part (the large control board) and installed it Friday night. Fixing an RV fridge is expensive - with parts, labour and travel it cost around $700. Yikes! It is nice to have a fridge in the trailer again.
We had a couple massive thunderstorms in the evenings but the days were nice. We heard lightning hit a tree close by and sent the pieces hurling in to the side of a trailer. Mother nature is powerful!
After the Seba Beach market on Saturday morning we decided to check out the Evansburg Market. It's small but we bought some delicious perogies. We stopped in at a cute coffee shop in Evansburg and I had a lavender Italian Soda.
If you have ever visited a rural community, you know this is the ashtray of choice...
The drink of the week was the Surfer on Acid - I am trying to use Jagermeister in cocktails. The review and recipe is here.
Alberta, you are quite stunning when the sun decides to shine!
On Sunday morning after breakfast we re-did our decking. Last year we bought a couple pieces of Easideck from Canadian Tire. Since Charlotte is longer than Phoebe, we needed a bit more deck. For some reason the 2019 version of the deck comes in a different size but we made it work. Val came over to help us with the building and re-positioning. The Tails supervised.
The re-positioned deck and the new piece are perfect. Cheers to relaxing on the deck in nature!
We were really excited for the July long weekend but as we got closer to the weekend, the weather forecast looked ominous.
James had Friday off so we headed out to Shadybrook Friday morning. It was really quiet - we assume due to the rain. We arrived to some sizeable puddles in our site so we headed to the hardware store in Wabamun for some gravel. We would later learn that this was a futile exercise.
Our friend Val spent most of the week out at her trailer relaxing so we popped over to her digs for an afternoon G&T. The skies opened and it started to rain and then hailed. None of us wanted to cook and Friday is fish & chip night at the Nine Iron so off we went.
Most of the weekend we had rain and then some sun...and then a lot more rain. We visited the Seba Beach market on Saturday and I went back to the library for a proper library card. We also were thrilled to welcome our first guests to the new bird feeder.
Saturday morning we had someone come out and look at the fridge. Just as we thought we need a new control board. The part will be ordered and replace it when it is in. That means we need to continue to use the bar fridge in the shed. The bar fridge is great to have but a bit of a pain in the rain to keep running outside to the fridge.
The only nice day of the entire weekend was Sunday. We basically just enjoyed being outside. In the evenings we played cards and worked on my chianti bottle candle. My dollar store candles were not as "drippy" as I would have liked! I had to take it outside in the breeze the next morning to get some drip.
Of course we enjoyed the drink of the week - The Spicy Spritz. The review and recipe is here. Spoiler alert - we all gave it five stars.
The morning of July 1 we headed to the Senior's Centre for the pancake breakfast - always good! Then we toured the Senior's Centre. It is much bigger than I knew.
It started to pour - like REALLY pour - as we headed back to Charlotte. We cuddled in and watched movies and skipped the Entwistle parade. The Entwistle Canada Day Parade has been our tradition and something we look forward to every year but the weather was just nuts.
Not the long weekend we were hoping for but...there is always next year!
OK, first things first...the fridge still doesn't work. After last weekend, we did some more internet research and went out to the site on Wednesday to try the potential fixes (and get devoured by mosquitoes). When we left on Wednesday the E0 error code had changed to E1 so we had hope that maybe the fridge would work off of power and start cooling. It didn't. We arrived on Friday evening to E0 again.
Fortunately, we anticipated this and we brought out a bar fridge from James' office. Voila! Bar fridge in shed.
So, we still have to deal with the fridge but at least we have something in the meantime.
Seba Beach was very quiet this weekend - especially the market Saturday morning. The kettle corn guy wasn't even there. That's weird! We made a few purchases and wandered downstairs to the thrift store. There are always interesting/creepy things to look at - not buy!
Walking back to Shadybrook we decided to stop in at the library. This is what we learned on our first visit to the Seba Beach Library:
- they have free wifi
- they have two computers (with teenagers attached playing video games)
- memberships are free
- they have lots of DVDs
- their tracking systems are a tad loose
I walked out of there with a set of DVDs by just writing my name on a piece of paper.
We headed back to the campsite and picked up the Tails for our first hike of the season at Pembina River. There were lots of people floating on the river and having picnics.
Saturday night Val brought over dessert and a card table (complete with Saskatchewan Roughrider Pil "tablecloth") to play a card game she has been telling us about. It's a rummy type game called Sticks. It was a lot of fun and with the summer solstice a week away, we have 17 hours of daylight. That means lots of daylight for card playing!
We also enjoyed the drink of the week, a light refreshing summer drink - Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Sangria. The review is here.
Sunday was Father's Day. My dad loves the outdoors and most of our family vacations growing up involved camping. James' family had a boat on Lake Ontario so his "camping" was on the water. Thank you to our dads for all memories of fun times outside
To celebrate Father's Day, we headed over to Kokanee Springs (the campsite beside Shadybrook) for brunch.
The squirrels at Shadybrook continue to taunt Phin and Westley. Don't underestimate the Tails...they are creating an underground movement to defeat the squirrel. The Squirrel Squad.
Another weekend seized!
We finally received some much needed rain on Friday. This is awesome for Mother Earth, not so great for camping. We decided to stay home Friday night and headed out to Seba Beach on Saturday morning. It was really quiet at Shadybrook.
We arrived to the site around 11:30 am and intended on heading over to the Farmer's Market but wait...what is this? Why is there a puddle of water on the floor of Charlotte? Why is the fridge flashing E0?
I opened the fridge - water. I opened the freezer - everything had melted and the water was dripping down the fridge.
NOOOOOOOO! We were just saying this week how great everything works in the trailer. Jinxed it.
I'm sure I have mentioned/complained about the poor internet coverage at Shadybrook. It's horrible. We have to go across the road to Seba Beach to get any service. So we did just that (and did a quick tour around the Farmer's Market.)
Once we had internet service, we did a search of what an E0 code on your fridge means (on RV forums) and potential fixes. First of all, RV people seem to speak some other language. Here is one response in an RV forum A Refer E0 code is "No communication between display and power modules." per the manual. Have you checked connections at the 'eyebrow' board and the main board?
Umm..what?!? Refer? Eyebrow Board?
Anyhow, usually we like to fix things by turning them off and then turning them back on. It usually works. Not this time. James was jiggling wires, cleaning dusty fuses and disconnecting/reconnecting power and propane. Still E0.
Luckily we had lots of ice in the cooler and it's not very hot out so we kept all the food in the cooler.
After all this, we needed a drink. The drink of the week was recommended by a friend. The cucumber basil vodka gimlet is very tasty! The recipe is here.
Sometime late afternoon, we decided to try turning the fridge off and on again and the error message disappeared and the fridge started cooling. Yes! We do know how to fix things.
The weather was a mixed bag - glorious blue skies would suddenly change to dark grey and then wind and rain. This happened the entire time we were out at Seba.
Fortunately we are still enamoured with our TV and DVD player so we finished watching season one of Game of Thrones.
While cleaning up after breakfast I noticed water leaking under the sink. Noooo! Jinx #2. This one seemed to just be a loose pipe which I tightened and it should be ok now. Fingers crossed.
We were exhausted after doing nothing Sunday morning so we needed a nap. I was half asleep when I heard the wind pick up and then hail. HAIL! Hail is enemy #1 for Airstream owners. High wind is enemy #2 if your Zip Dee awning is up. It was. We bolted outside and quickly got the awning down. Fortunately the hail was small so no damage to the trailer. Whew.
Oh, and Sunday morning we woke to this...
Now that we are back at home with internet we doing more research on how to fix the fridge. Or we will be bringing it in to be repaired.
Spring in Alberta has unfortunately become synonymous with massive forest fires. There was (and still is as of writing this) a huge fire burning in Northern Alberta around High Level. High Level is almost 800 km from Edmonton but the winds carried the smoke south and it was horrible.
The photo below was taken by our house on the worst day of the smokey air (May 30). The air quality was rated 72 on a scale of 1-10. The scale only goes to 10 because 10+ means the air quality is very poor and there is a high respiratory risk to being outside. We were on par with the air quality in Beijing. Not something to strive for.
Given the air quality, we weren't sure that we would make it out to see Charlotte on the weekend. Friday night the air was still quite smokey and Saturday morning it was questionable (a 6/10). This is a photo on our Saturday morning walk through the ravine by our house.
We had been gathering some supplies to take out so we decided to head out and if the air was bad we would come back home. That's the beauty of having the trailer set up less than an hour from home.
Turns out it was blue sky in Seba Beach...and no fire ban. Just an "advisory" - whatever that means. Most of the province has a fire ban.
The smoke wasn't bad at Seba but there was a lot of poplar fluff.
We had a relaxing time - we did a bit of organizing, visiting, eating by the fire and reading.
The drink of the week was a Licor 43 Screwdriver. The Licor 43 is a gift from a very kind friend who tried the drink in Spain. The review and recipe are here. I'm excited to try additional recipes with Licor 43.
While we did some decorating inside, Charlotte was busy on the outside. She loves her cobweb decor.
Ned and Fred prefer when I take their photo at night so you can't see that they are going white. We also have little lights in the wood pile to help them with their guard duties. James did a bit of crazy glue surgery on Ned (or Fred's) leg.
It was another quiet day on the lake...
it might be because of all the rules. Just sayin'.
Mellissa & James live in Edmonton, Alberta and enjoy exploring. Currently our Airstream is parked at a seasonal site about an hour from our home.