Friday, December 17, 2010

12.3 Pounds!

We are soon heading into our 25th week of pregnancy and all the things that come along with it....the mood swings, appetites, weight gain, absent mindedness and all that fun stuff.....and that's just me.

Wait! Did I say weight gain? Yes, I seem to have put on a few pounds over the last few weeks. Who would ever have guessed. Those who know me best know I'm not exactly built like a linebacker. Weight gain has been something I've struggled with for a number of years. I had always been told by medical professionals I have a fast metabolism, that and, well, I admit, I don't always eat as intelligently as I know I should. It's not that I'm terribly unhealthy or in danger or anything but a few extra pounds on me are always a nice thing. If anything, its extra insulation to help endure a harsh Fort McMurray winter. I never would have believed it all myself but indeed I have put on a few pounds.

A couple weeks ago as I was getting ready for a hot shower after work (you can put this image out of your mind if you find the visual disturbing) I noticed my stomach protruding just a little more than it usually does. Admittedly this isn't all that much but still. Anyhow, I chalked it up to the meal I had just eaten and paid no more mind to until a few days ago. I had definitely started to feel stronger and felt I had gained a little muscle mass so I decided to check out my weight on the scale.

The first scale was rather old, so when I saw the number staring back at me I didn't get overly excited. It wasn't until I used Lisa's brand new electronic scale that things got interesting. According to her scale (the accuracy of which I have no reason to doubt) I clocked in 12.3 pounds heavier than when I had last weighed myself back in the summer.

I'm still in a state of shock and wonderment and really I want to step back on that scale just to confirm I'm not crazy. I know I've definitely put on some muscle over the past couple months (though I doubt I'll be fielding any calls from NFL agents anytime soon) which is always a good thing. I'm pretty much the oldest guy on my shift so it's nice to know I can keep up with all the testosterone-filled young guns I work with. I'm not done yet as another 20 pound gain would be really nice but it sure does put an extra bit of strut in my walk.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Bit Of A Scare....But All Is Well

With the pregnancy entering Week 23, we can now feel slight movements from the baby. It all makes it very real for me and I've found that the idea of a new person soon to be coming into our lives has been occupying a lot of my thoughts lately. While this is considered more of a high risk pregnancy, things have been progressing remarkably smoothly so far. We did, however, have a few moments of angst Friday evening after Lisa slipped and fell outside. I'll admit I tend to be one who defines himself by the line of work he does, but it's amazing how in one small moment, your priorities change VERY quickly.

Without going into all the details and causing undue stress for family back east, I can say that after a couple of tense hours at the hospital everything checked out okay. Lisa was a little shaken and a bit sore with slightly elevated blood pressure but she is doing okay. And the baby is safe and healthy. I admit I'm not the most religious of people but am thankful nonetheless that a few silent prayers have been answered.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Earlier in the week Lisa needed to take the van in to get it some much-needed maintenance. Our biggest issue was the windshield which had a rather large crack across it due to an errant rock. Would I mind cleaning the van out before she took it in? No problem. I grabbed a couple garbage bags (one for keep stuff and one for throw-away stuff) and got down to work. And I did quite a thorough clean up....a little too good as it turned out. In my cleaning enthusiasm, I inadvertently put Lisa's birth certificate, car insurance papers and ownership papers in the throw-away bag.

Now fortunately for me, Lisa did find them the next day after sifting through the garbage bag in the house. In my defence, the van IS much tidier and it was dark and I was nearing the end of a 10-day work shift. Thankfully, she's very forgiving.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Northern Classic

A little hockey history will be made today.....with Fort McMurray in the spotlight. For the first time ever an outdoor junior hockey game will be held down at Mac Island. The final touches on the outdoor rink were made last week and its quite a sight. Our local Alberta Junior Hockey League team, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (also known as The MOB) will play host to Drayton Valley. I'm not too familiar with the league though I do know that the MOB had a great season last year, making it all the way to the semi-finals. Last time I checked the standings, the Oil Barons were sitting in something like 2nd or 3rd place overall in the league so I'm sure it will make for a great game. Planning for this event has been in the works for some time as I understand it and one of the goals was to break the attendance record for a junior Canadian hockey game. Looks like the organizers managed to beat that record quite handily. The previous record was something like 4400 and from what I've heard through the grapevine at work, the first block of tickets was sold out in 52 minutes. I'm sure it will be a great game and a real feather in the hat so to speak for Fort McMurray.

I wish I could say I could be there to be part of hockey history but alas, my work schedule has me occupied with other plans. Ah well. Let me join the local chorus of die-hard fans though as I shout,"GO MOB GO!"

EDIT - The MOB ended up with a 4-2 victory and set an oudoor attendence record at just over 5700 people.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Womb With A View

As promised here is a picture from our 20-week ultrasound from last week, my favorite of the bunch.


Here are a few pictures of the kids having fun at the brand new pool/waterpark at the rec centre. They had been waiting patiently for over a year for it's big opening. It's a fantastic facility and will provide an opportunity for the kids to have fun and burn off some energy over the coming winter months.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Welcome To My Womb

I'm having minor technology issues here but I did want to get up a picture from our 20-week ultrasound before too much longer. You can catch a glimpse of Junior(ette) here courtesy of Lisa's Facebook page. And I promise to have a few more pictures up before too much longer.

Remembering Warmer Days

So this summer wasn't the greatest. It was much rainier and cooler than expected. Now Mother Nature has thrown another punch as we've been socked with some pretty frigid temperatures this past week. It makes from some pretty cold mornings at work though once you get moving of course it isn't so bad. I suppose I shouldn't complain as I keep hearing we can expect a colder than normal winter here this year. One a brigher note, we seem to have escaped the worst of the snowfall that's nailed other parts of the West. Still, there are moments that I long look back at these pictures and long for a little more heat...and some fall colour.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Earlier this week we went in to the hospital here for our 20 week ultrasound. It sure was a lot more convenient than having to drive all the way down to Edmonton as we did for the last one. The plan was to take a few pictures and some video but we discovered at the last minute that the one set of batteries were dead and we couldn't find the right kind of batteries we needed in the store here for the second one. We were hoping to learn if our new arrival would be a girl or a boy....and the answer is......we actually aren't sure yet. The technician told us she thought it might be a boy but it was too difficult to tell. It MAY have been a penis but baby had its legs closed and wasn't cooperating so it may have been the umbilical cord. Lisa is pretty confident its a girl however given her past pregnancy experience so I guess we'll just have to wait for now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Knowing Where You Stand

Getting home from work entails using a couple of different buses. The first bus (a big yellow one.....woo hoo!) takes me from my work site to a transfer point where I board a larger (and much more comfortable) coach for the ride back into the city. (Thanks, Diversified Buslines. What would we ever do without you?) Anyhow, at my transfer point, the bus turns off onto a siding where a pretty curious sign can be found. Now, I'd love to be able to have a picture of it but there is a very strict policy regarding the use of cameras and cell phones on site so you'll just have to take my word for it. I've been passing this sign almost everyday for the past couple weeks now and everyone seems to comment on it. As you turn onto the siding, you see a large white sign with large black lettering. It reads "BUS AND HAZARDOUS MATERIAL ACCESS ONLY".

Yikes. I didn't realize I was that toxic.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Into The Oil Patch

I've finished up my first shift with my new employer and have to say I'm pleased with how things are going so far. Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Taking a step back from a career you've been in for 10 years and looking for change has had its own unique challenges, setbacks and general moments of angst but I've managed to pull it off. I started a new position up at the Suncor site late last month which has me on a 10 days on/4 days off rotation. Today is the start of a little R and R. It's primarily an outdoor job and more physically demanding than what I'm used to but I have to say the body is holding out good so far. I actually find myself with a lot more energy now that I'm on the move and not stuck to a desk so much.

I now work with a major contractor that deals with scaffolding and the first couple days were a major learning curve, trying to remember the names of all the different pieces, how they fit together, what part is stored where and all that fun stuff. Plus, my first weekend on the job just happened to coincide with the annual inventory time. I've now counted, bundled and sorted through more right angles, standards, ledgers and transoms than you can imagine.

Getting to work requires taking a bus up to the Suncor site, a 30km drive that can take well over an hour due to traffic and all the construction going on at the moment. I'm impressed (if I do say so myself) with how well I've adapted to the 4am wake ups. Fort Mac really is a young person's town so I'm a little bit older relative to most of the people I work with but I enjoy the new pace and the energy.

The long hours mean I only get one full weekend off a month but one of the first things I did was to take a permanent marker and write the kids' names on helmet to inspire me during any rough times (as I know there will inevitably will be) that may come up in the future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Grand Tour

After a long stretch of sending out resumes, things are starting to pay off as I've started a new position with a scaffolding company up at Suncor. After a couple days of training and orientation I started the middle of last week and have had the past 4days off before I start my regular schedule tomorrow.

As with most things in life, its not always what you know but who you know and this case is no exception. After trying for a few months to find a position without success with the college and the municipality, one of our very awesome daycare clients submitted my resume into her company up at Suncor's base plant and bingo! While I had been working in customer service, the money wasn't the greatest so after 6 months of searching around for something else, I am quite looking forward to this new position.

The job site is about 30km north of town so I have to catch the bus a little before 6am to get up there. Last Wednesday I got a ride up from Heather, our daycare client, who got me the position. She works in the office there so I was grateful for a lift so I would have an idea of where to go for my first day. The following day was a bit trickier as I took the bus up by myself for the first time. I needed to catch a second bus at the main gate in order to go back to the training camp to finish up a few things. We made one stop which I thought was my stop but it ended up that it was just a transfer point. Reassured, I dozed off, not knowing that I had already passed the main gate. A little while later, I awoke to realization that I was the only one left on the bus. Lovely. On the upside, the drive did take me back to the main gate and I did ended up getting a nice little tour of the entire plant along the way. And I did eventually get to where I needed to go and have a good first day.

I work a 10-on, 4-off schedule and tomorrow, I'm off to start my new rotation...with no plans of dozing off.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Last week Lisa and I were down to Edmonton** for our first ultrasound appointment. It was a pretty exciting experience for me since it was the first time I've ever seen an ultrasound in progress. Suddenly things seem very real. A new little person is on the way.

The baby is now at 14 weeks and as of last Thursday weighed in at a whopping 2 oz with a heart rate of 147 bpm. And it was a really cool experience.....the brain, the spine, the round little head were all their to see in all their grey grainy glory on the monitor.

So far so good, although we did have a couple days of angst earlier this week. After returning from Edmonton, Lisa got a call from the family doctor. We were a little surprised that nothing was said at the ultrasound but apparently there was a little concern. I went to work yesterday not knowing what to expect and I called Lisa after her appointment was through. As it turns out, Lisa has a condition known as "placenta previa" meaning the placenta is lower in the womb than its supposed to be. So the baby is fine though in all likelihood it will be born by c-section. Initially, the idea that the baby may have to come a little early was of some concern to me but then all the children have come earlier than expected. So as long as we take things easy and follow up on medical advice, things should work out just fine and we can expect a little bundle of joy on or about April 5, 2011. And while I'm terrible at predicting things, I've had the feeling over the past couple weeks that it will turn out to be a girl. We'll know more of course after our next appointment so we will definitely keep you posted.

**Thankfully my little soldiers can navigate much better than I can as we got turned around and lost a few times in Edmonton on the way back. Note to self - maps and knowing what direction you are headed in work wonders.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who Knew?

Awhile back, I recall reading a "Top 10" list of the municipality's "Local Wonders". For the most part, there were no big surprises. The Oil Sands Discovery Centre, MacDonald Island, the Birchwood Trails.....they were all there. The one addition to the list that did surprise me though was the Fort Chipewyan Winter Road. Who knew? Having lived in places that relied on winter roads (or places that had no roads access at all) I can certainly appreciate the road's importance to residents of Fort Chipewyan or Fort Smith. Not to disparage it at all (it is quite a wonder such a road can be built given its length, the remoteness and all the challenges of geography involved), but to see it on a "Top 10" list? Who knew? I only bring this topic up because we happened to see part of it last February (it was pretty neat and the kids enjoyed the bumpy ride) AND the post I wrote about our little adventure has remained among this blog's most often-visited posts. Again, who knew?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We're Pregnant!!

While it's been a pretty quiet summer here with not much in the way of blog updates, there is one big event we've been dying to share. Yes, we're pregnant!!...or more accurately, Lisa is. It's a little too early to tell whether it will be a boy or a girl but for us it doesn't really matter. We had been planning a child for some time now but with two moves in less than a year and the new home and all the adjustments (and a few stresses) that that brought along, it got put on the back burner for a little bit. Finally though, it seems all my little soldiers were lined up and swimming in the right direction.

We are both very excited and looking forward to the big day in April. This will be my first biological child, so to say that I'm uber-excited would be a bit of an understatement. I've delved into a good book on pregnancy to help prep me for all that is to come. I am now familiar with the term "Braxton Hicks" and know that under no circumstances am I to make any comments about hips, back sides or boobs over the coming months. The book also suggests avoiding the phrase, "Now she's eating for two." Humour aside, though I plan to be as informed and as involved with the pregnancy as I can be. We are both looking forward to the new addition to our growing family. Because of the daycare, we have a total of 4 play pens in the master bedroom. I get a chuckle out of it every time I see them there lined up against the wall. Hopefully, we will only need the one but we're nothing if not prepared.

Will it be a girl? Will it be a boy? Too early to tell yet though we have names picked out already. We will post further updates of course as things progress.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Community In Bloom

With all the big oil sands developments just a short jaunt up the highway here, many people here are only too well aware that to rabid environmentalists out there surely this community is viewed by them as the anti-Christ. Which is why I find it heartening to see that Fort Mac is among the 5 finalists for this year's Communities in Bloom. I'm quite familiar with the Ontario contenders of course, having been to them quite a few times. Kawartha Lakes is actually quite close to where I grew up. Ontario sentimentality aside though I think that Fort Mac, despite how it is often portrayed in the media, has this competition hands down.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rethink Yourself

Last month I wrote this post in response to a publicity campaign by a group of environ-MENTAL groups aimed at deterring tourism to Alberta. It would seem though that their campaign, instead of scaring people off, has actually accomplished the exact opposite. Numbers of visitors to Alberta's government tourism website are actually way up. It seems that people want to actually check things out for themselves other than blindly accepting what this motley collection of groups has to say.

Come on now, there really is more here than just oil sands. Yes there is the Oil Sands Discovery Centre and tours of Suncor, but fort McMurray has a rich history and is definitely not the one-horse town that it is often portrayed as. Sorry, but what I find especially galling about this campaign is that, well, look where it comes from: the United States. Um, given that the US is the world's biggest consumer of non-renewable energy, how about stop fueling a demand for it? Then, not only would there be less need for our oil but the need for all the pipelines to the US that you guys also moan about would become unnecessary AND we would be spared all your silliness. You don't live here. You have no respect for our community or people that live. You are only interested in exploiting the Wood Buffalo region to push your own agenda. The simple fact is that American hunger for oil would occur regardless of where in Canada it was located. Northern Alberta just happens to have the fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) of having the world's second-largest recoverable reserve of oil on the planet, located on its doorstep.

There actually is a campaign website, Rethink Alberta. I won't dignify it with a link but feel free to look it up if you wish. Hint - predictably, the answers to the 8 little quiz questions they start you off with are either Canada or Alberta. How predictable. The group makes the bizarre accusation that the US is somehow victim of campaigns designed to keep it addicted to what it terms "dirty oil". Look, I know you guys have FOX News and subjected yourselves to 8 years of George Bush there, but really, try to think for yourselves. It's OK, go ahead. You can do it. Instead of wasting money on a campaign against Alberta, why don't you stay in your own country and start by addressing your concerns to the big oil company headquarters down there. How many oil companies have headquarters or offices in Texas or the Gulf Region?

Following the introductory quiz on the group's website is a page with a pledge, to the effect that the reader will not visit our fair province until three conditions are met. In a similar spirit, I thought I'd toss out my own pledge. I pledge not to visit the US until you stop fueling a demand for oil and then turn around and blame Canada for supplying your demand, clean up the Gulf (the world's biggest oil disaster I should point out)and stop burning coal (the pollution from which then finds its way over the little patch of Southern Ontario where I grew up).

The area covered by the oil sands IS NOT the size of England as the group likes to state. As a matter of fact the entire Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is comparable in size to Switzerland, which in turn is smaller than England. Kindly do some research first. I could go on and on about other errors and twists of facts (and if your familiar with my Nunavut blog you know that I just might) but for the moment I do want to thank these idiots for the increased traffic to our tourism websites and greater interest in our region.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Into The Woods

I wandered past this dilapidated building a few days back, the same day the photos in the previous post were taken. The metal fence in front of it ruins the effect a little, but the the impression I got was of an old homestead tucked away forgotten on the side of the hill from the city's earlier days (though I'm sure it's probably of a little more recent construction).

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Earlier in the week I had an opportunity to explore a new pathway that led down the forested slope of on the edge of our subdivision to the river. The pathway comes just above the water intake plant pretty close to where we were when we've taken most of our other pictures of the Athabasca. Hopefully I'll make it back to this particular vantage point later on this winter when there is less foliage blocking the view but here you can catch a glimpse down into the valley along with part of the new bridge currently under construction.

This picture isn't as good at showing the downtown core but it gives a better view of the original blue metal bridge built during the '60's.

I have it on good authority that this particular area is also a good spot to catch views of American Kestrels. While I didn't see any on this day (a number of Grackles gave me a pretty good fly-by though), I definitely plan to re-visit here with my binoculars the next chance I get.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Atari Anyone?

Clearing out a closet under the basement stairs in preparation for a yard sale, Lisa came across a bit of '80's nostalgia. It seems that when the previous owners moved out, they left behind an Atari game system. I used to have one as a kid growing up so my interest was piqued immediately. Included along with the system were a set of controllers along with a number of games. Remember Defender and Missile Control? Yup, we got them. All in all, it was a neat little find. We haven't had time to set it up to find out if it works or not but we're hopeful. I'm not sure if we'll hang onto it or not but even if it doesn't work I'm sure it's still worth something to someone. Any takers?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


It's been interesting to see how the foliage of the two ash trees in the front yard have changed since we moved here...

from mid-April...

to early May...

to late May...

to today.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Light Up Our Lives

Oh this crazy weather! We've seen more thunder storms in the past couple weeks than I've seen in the past 6 years. Of course that's mainly because of where I lived in Nunavut where big thunderstorms are pretty rare events. If I find myself cursing the daytime heat I try to remind myself that, unlike southern Ontario, there is very little in terms of added humidity here. Anyhow, all this unsettled weather has had us under a thunderstorm advisory for a large part of the day. Hopefully, the lightening doesn't add to any more forest fires up here. We haven't lived here long enough to see just how this summer stacks up in terms of the severity of forest fires although it has been a pretty dry summer and there have been a number of fire bans around Fort Mac. The largest fire in the province at the moment happens to lie not very far from here, though last time I heard it was at least partially under control. I've heard a few people mention about concerns from smoke being blown into town from this fire but I can't say that I've really noticed it myself. The only reason the fire caught my attention was because we happened to travel up that way toward the Firebag River back in February.

In other news, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was back into the classroom Tuesday evening to pick up a couple of safety courses in order to start sending resumes off into the oil patch. I passed both of them with flying colours though it took me a little longer to complete the tests than I thought it would. It's been 10 years since university, the course was all on computer, and I'm just not a visual learner. But pass it I did so I have the basic knowledge and awareness in order not to be a safety hazard on a construction site. And we can all breath a little easier now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Words are powerful things. They hold the power to hurt or to heal, the power to illuminate or confuse. I say this not only because I enjoy written communication but also as a way to introduce a rather bizarre spectacle I saw earlier this morning. I was downtown with Lisa this morning and as we were turning onto the main drag, we noticed a pick up truck. Now seeing a pick-up truck in Fort McMurray is like going to a beach and seeing sand. What made this one stand out was that on the front hood some genius had taken a can of orange spray paint and written the "N" word across the hood. We both did a double take. While I've seen plenty of racist nonsense over the years, most of it was verbal. Now we were looking at something very blatant.

A few minutes later, as we were listening to our favorite local radio station, the host (who also happens to be our neighbor) mentioned seeing this truck on air. He mentioned just how "in your face" it seemed and also wanted listeners to call in to confirm that he wasn't seeing things. Being the media diva I am, I called in to say that I had seen it too. The conversation wasn't on-air (I'm never that lucky)but the host said that if it was his truck he would have at least spray-painted over the offensive word. In full agreement I added that it was a pretty sad thing to see given how multi-cultural this city has become in recent years. I can't imagine anyone would be so stupid as to vandalize their own truck and then drive down the main street of town with it. I did finish up the conversation by saying the driver risked creating potential problems for himself and that it was a darn good thing this isn't the southern United States with all the silliness I hear going on between the NAACP and the Tea Party. I haven't the slightest idea of the perpetrator, but to that person, I simply say, "Please, grow a brain."

I really hope the driver gets his truck fixed up. It's just not something you like to see. I'm glad the kids weren't with us since they like to sound out every new word that they see.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blah Blah Blah

While I know its getting to be an old story, I recall hearing last week about an environmental group in the US taking out billboard ads and releasing a video advising travellers to avoid Alberta as a summer travel destination. Frankly, I'm glad they did it. I'd rather not have such enviro-MENTAlS tromping around here, dropping their granola crumbs all over the place and wrecking my serenity.

I take issue with the claim that the size of the development is the size of Great Britain though. The entire municipality of Wood Buffalo is comparable in size with Switzerland(41 284 is much smaller than Great Britain (219 Other than their difficulties in getting their geography right, I think its just plain sad they cast stones given the even bigger oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico (currently the size of Kentucky).

Fort McMurray isn't all tar sands and development. There are many wonderful areas to explore and enjoy. Perhaps these people should actually visit here and find out for themselves rather than casting stones from afar.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We Love Waterfalls...

but just not in the living room. OK, it wasn't quite a waterfall but when Lisa called me on the cell late last week and told me there was water coming through the living room ceiling, a waterfall image went through my head. It was really more of an intermittent dripping than a deluge but still not something you want to hear.

Nothing in the upstairs bathroom has been changed since when the house was built around 1980 and its starting to show. The pipes to the bathtub developed a slow leak which gradually found its way down to the first floor. It will all be fixed up eventually (hopefully without too much disruption to the daycare). It just seems a bit odd to have a big whole cut in the livingroom.

We had pipe problems with our last house down in Janvier (aren't we consistent?)but at least this time it thankfully has nothing to do with sewage.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This rather quiet, unassuming place (pictured below), known as Waterways, may not look like much, but it has played an important role throughout Canada's history. At one point, Fort McMurray was actually made up of three communities - McMurray, at the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers; Abasand, along the nearby Horse River, which I'm sure I'll mention more about later; and Waterways, lying in the Clearwater valley, 5 or 6 miles south of present-day downtown Fort McMurray.

Looking west along the Clearwater toward Waterways.

Two centuries ago, the area around Waterways served as a resting point along the old fur trading route leading into the Rockies. More recently, it served as a major link in the chain supporting the construction of the Alaska highway and the CANOL pipeline. Supplies were shipped (and later sent by train) to Waterways before being loaded on to barges to be sent to points north. Having read up quite a bit on both these important Northern projects, I've long been familiar with the name Waterways but since I knew at the time that it lay so close to Fort McMurray I always assumed that "Waterways" was simply an older name for the present Fort McMurray. But no, the two places were separate, and at times, fiercely rival communities.

Due to limits imposed by geography, the rail line ended in Waterways and never quite made it into Fort McMurray. As a result, the place had a lot going for it and quite possibly would have outgrown its northern rival were it not for the closing of a salt plant there in the early 1950's followed shortly thereafter by a disastrous fire which razed its popular hotel (and social hub) to the ground. The opening of the Suncor and Syncrude in the 1960's and 70's sealed the deal.

Today, Waterways is a quiet residential area on the edge of town. Most of the historical building are long gone, though some of them have found a second home at the local heritage park. Its a place we like to visit when we can to take in the views of the valley or take the kids to a nearby water park. In a quiet moment, I like to take a moment and imagine in my mind's eye a bustling place back at the beginning of the last century.

Further up the valley along the Clearwater.

Toward the end of the valley shortly before you run out of road. If I'm not mistaken, the dirt track on the left is what remains of the old rail bed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Working Man

If you've been following this blog for any length of time you might think that I don't do much with my time given all the talk and photos of trails, rivers and scenic views. Tomorrow though its back to business bright and early as I head off to work. I've been working quietly behind the scenes looking for work since having resigned my position down in Janvier. I have to admit I was a little antsy at times given that the past three months has been the longest I've been without work in the past ten years. So, it took a little longer than than planned given that its summer and the big oil companies tend to do more hiring during toward the fall but work is work all the same. This is Fort McMurray after all and while it might take a little time to find something, people seem to find work without too much trouble. I've always believed that if you are hard-working and determined enough, you'll never be out of work for too long of a stretch. And so it's now come to pass.

Lisa spoke with a client who happens to be an assistant manager in charge of hiring and helped put an end to all the resume-handing-out I've been doing the last little while. The position isn't glamorous but for now I'll take it. At least its a short walk from the house which in this auto-crazy town is a welcome thing. I have resumes in with a lot of the big oil companies and many smaller ones that are tied into the oil patch as well as a position down at Keyano College that (at the risk of mentioning it here and jinxing myself) I'd love to land. For the moment though I know I can expect to get a lot of hours which suits me well as I like to keep busy...and I'm sure I'll still have time left over to explore the area more too.

Love Those Commanding Views

A few months back I wrote on my other blog about how pretty much every place I've lived in around the north has had at least one special place that has attracted me back time and again. These quiet places allow me to unwind and better appreciate the miracle of nature. They also allow for some nice pictures too if conditions are just right.

While I've put up pictures of the Athabasca River before, I came across a spot with a commanding view of the valley. Lately, I have to admit Lisa has really been "one-uping" me when it comes to discovering the scenic spots. But, while we both had a rough idea of this new location, I will selflessly take the credit for having first discovered it. Parts of the trail leading down into the valley were pretty steep and at a few points I found myself skirting the edge of a rocky cliff within mere inches of a 150 foot drop to the rocks below. It was a little hairy going at times and the heat was pretty intense but some of the vantage points were just spectacular. I suspect parts of that trail may have been originally blazed by a drunken mountain goat.

Three shots of Moberly Rapids.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Valley Views

Some views of the river valley.

The first two pictures were taken as we headed down toward a local golf course.

This is the view from behind one of the new subdivisions a little further down river. Unfortunately, one of the first things you notice is some rather ugly buildings and a 4-lane highway but from this view its just more difficult to tell.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Insane Housing Construction of Fort McMurray

We've been told that the city's population is projected to surpass 100,000 within the next couple years. Given the rate of urban sprawl we've seen, we don't doubt it. Las weekend we took a gander over to a couple of new subdivisions underway. I found it surreal to look out over an area half the size of the town I grew up in to see housing, new roads and still more areas being cleared for growth. This past weekend, we were experiencing a lazy Saturday afternoon and, grabbing the camera this time,we decided to pass some time by going back to gawk. Yes, we did take a lot of pictures but find ourselves in the rare position of having a lot of time on our hands.

Stonecreek, where detached houses start at a mere $554k (or at least the ones we saw).

Cleared for future development.

It looks like it will be a nice area though I did find many of the houses rather generic. We also figured out how they are getting put up so quickly. You take a top.....

....and then lift it up and glue it to the bottom!

The other new subdivision, which already has some developed sections, is called Eagle Ridge.

The majority of the streets here are named after different species of birds.

Some of the view really aren't that bad, I found, though I did remark to Lisa that sadly, some of the best views will be gone after the lots are filled up with condos and houses.

Fort the slogan goes, "We Have The Energy." We also have a lot of housing springing up left, right and centre.