July 11-17, Sylvan Lake, Alberta

We left Edmonton Thursday morning and drove south to Sylvan Lake where our friends, Mike and Barb live.  We arrived just before noon and are camping in their backyard.  It is great; we have full hookups, lots of grass and trees and beautiful views.  Mike and Barb live on 80 acres and have a view of Sylvan Lake from their front window.

Thursday evening we enjoyed a dinner cruise on Sylvan Lake aboard the Zoo Cruise Boat.  We drove to the lake in Mike’s 1955 Chevy Belaire that he had before their got married.  We had a great dinner with Mike & Barb and enjoyed the views of the lake.  Sylvan Lake is a beautiful 16.5 sq mile lake and is a very popular tourist area in Alberta.

Friday morning Mike took us fishing on Sylvan Lake.  Rex, Mariah and Mike fished and caught a lot of walleye and one pike.  Mariah had a great time and caught 8 fish.  She kept Mike busy taking fish off and baiting her hook.

Rex enjoyed his morning of fishing and caught the most fish – 13.  Mike only caught a couple of fish as he was too busy helping Mariah.

Mariah and Nancy relaxing at the boat dock while waiting for Mike and Rex to load the boat.

We had a great morning on the lake.

Saturday morning Mike got their 1957 Rolls Royce out and chauffeured us to the Ellis Bird Farm for the Bluebird Festival.  The car has the steering wheel on the right side - it was a lot of fun to ride in this great car and we certainly attracted a lot of attention in it.

The Ellis Bird Farm was established in 1982 by Union Carbide Canada Ltd to carry on the legacy of pioneer conservationists, Charlie and Winnie Ellis.  Charlie and Winnie’s farm was renowned for supporting the highest nesting density of Mountain Bluebirds ever recorded and the couple devoted their retirement years to looking after bluebirds.  They sold their land to Union Carbide on condition that the company supports their conservation efforts.  Two quarter sections of the original farm are now the site of the Prentiss petrochemical complex, while a full section has been maintained as a working farm.  Approximately 112 acres of the farm have been set aside as wildlife habitat and public space.  The original farm site has been developed to promote environmental education and wildlife conservation.  

The Bluebird Festival is a fund raiser for the farm with a chili lunch, a petting area with goats, sheep, chickens and a pig.  There were lots of booths set up with baked goods, crafts, and environmental displays.  The farm is assembling the world’s largest outdoor collection of functional bluebird nest boxes.  Bluebird boxes have been sent to the farm from across North America.  This grain elevator is one of only a very few pioneer farm elevators still in existence today.  Designed and built in the early 1920’s by Charlie Ellis and his father, John, the elevator was used to store grain.  This elevator was the only one of its kind in the area and is still fully functional.

After lunch we enjoyed walking around the beautiful grounds.  We stopped at a pond and Mariah used a net to see what was living in the pond.  She found some scuds and a couple of leeches.  The Butterfly Garden was beautiful with many different varieties of flowers blooming.  We had a great day enjoying this beautiful farm.

Saturday was Nancy’s birthday and we celebrated by taking a ride in Mike and Barb’s Cherokee.  The plane seats 4 so, unfortunately, Barb stayed home so the rest of us could fly.  What a great experience – this was Nancy and Mariah’s first time in a small plane and we all enjoyed it a lot.

The views were great!  We flew over the Red Deer River where it takes a horseshoe bend outside of the town of Red Deer.  The contrast between the yellow canola fields and the green trees and grass was beautiful.

We also flew over the Ellis Bird Farm that we visited yesterday – it looks a lot smaller here than when we were walking around it.

This is Mike taxiing back to the hanger after our flight and refueling the plane.

As we were putting the plane back in the hangar we got to watch some parachutists landing on the air field.

 We had a great time and thank Mike for his generosity in taking us in his plane.

After lunch we went fishing on Sylvan Lake again.  Rex again caught the most fish – he stopped counting after 20 fish. 

Mariah caught 9 fish – here grandpa and Mike are getting ready to take one off the hook.  Despite the fact that Mike was busy helping Mariah, he also caught a lot of fish today.  Another great day on the lake!

Monday Mike’s brother Barry, and his wife, Lynn came with their 5th wheel to stay for a few days to help Mike finish the inside walls of his shop.  Barry and Lynn are also friends from our RV park in Arizona.   Rex is helping with the shop work so we did not do any sightseeing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  They installed sheet metal panels on the top half of the walls and plywood panels on the bottom half.  This took a long time as the building is huge, 50 ft x 60 ft.  While the guys worked the ladies visited, did some grocery shopping and laundry.  

Monday night we all went out for dinner to celebrate Nancy’s and Mariah’s birthdays.   The birthday girls got to ride in the Rolls Royce once again/  After dinner we came back to Mike & Barb’s house and continued our celebration with cake and ice cream.  What a cute cake Rex and Mike got for us!

Nancy’s 60th birthday day was on Sunday and Mariah turned 17 on Wednesday.  Mariah said it was her golden birthday as she turned 17 on the 17th.

Tuesday evening Mike and Barb’s daughter Jenny, and her husband, John, and son Quentin came over for dinner.   Jenny and John’s younger son and daughter were at summer camp so we didn’t get to meet them.   We enjoyed meeting them and Mariah especially enjoyed having someone her own age to talk to as Quentin is 16.

The guys finished up on the building on Thursday morning and we headed out to David Thompson resort in Nordegg just east of the Columbia Ice fields.  We are going to base there for a few days for sightseeing in the Columbia Ice fields and Banff and Jasper National Parks.

We really enjoyed our visit here and thank Mike and Barb for their hospitality.  We taught Mike & Barb and Barry & Lynn how to play pegs and jokers so we now have more people to play with while we are in Arizona.


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