Thursday, July 29, 2010
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
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
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 sq.km)....which is much smaller than Great Britain (219 000sq.km.) 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.....
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 McMurray....as the slogan goes, "We Have The Energy." We also have a lot of housing springing up left, right and centre.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
(In care you're wondering, the above picture was taken at the 8th hole of a golf course on the far side of the river from where we live.)
Along with the bridge project are a couple of new overpasses to the Thickwood and Timberlea subdivisions. Price tag....$64 million...but you get a widening of Highway 63 along with that. If you're not familiar with the layout of Fort Mac, Highway 63 crosses the Athabasca and continues along its west bank up to all the big oil sands projects. Within about 5km of crossing the bridge though are a couple turn offs up into Thickwood and Timberlea. Thickwood has pretty much grown as much as it can I would think but Timberlea is still expanding. (I'll have pictures up soon of all the insane housing that's going up up there.) I have no idea how many people actually live up in this area but its probably safe to say that at least half the city does. So with all the commuters added to all the big trucks and construction equipment heading further up the highway to the oil sands, this little highway is just not a fun place to be at certain times of the day. The improved traffic flow from these two projects can't come soon enough.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Just a random shot from around town. This is in one of the last parts of Fort Mac we hadn't been to yet. Grayling Terrace was one of the city's first subdivisions built back in the '70's I believe. Oddly enough, this little piece of Grayling Terrace actually sits in a valley but I'm sure the back yard views are nice. Good luck to any parents trying to keep their kids off THAT.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
From the trail at the bottom it reminded me of some sort of Japanese bunker left over from World War II. Most likely, it's either a clever bird blind of some sort or perhaps a shelter for a homeless person which makes me thankful for the loving family we have and the nice roof over our heads.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
I was able to get down there with a camera late last week. A few pictures didn't turn out as I forgot to wipe off Elijah's fingerprints off the camera lens after playing peek-a-boo with the camera but after I got the lens cleaned up I managed a few decent shots. Here are the best of the bunch.
You can see these bluffs as you head back over the river on the bridge and Lisa was able to get a nice unobstructed view.
The Horse River feeds into the Athabasca just south of the bridge. A little hard to see from this vantage point. We know there are some nice trails that cut through the valley over there just waiting for us to explore them....and we plan to do that just as soon as we figure out how to get to them since we didn't have our map with us on this particular day.
The rapids aren't nearly as ferocious as ones I've seen on other northern rivers but we still like them all the same.
A nice little cut line across the river, keeping us safe from forest fires. While there are a lot of tinder dry areas and fire bans aplenty, its fortunately been a quiet forest fire season so far in the area.
A view upstream. There's a golf course a little further up the bank and then miles and miles of wilderness after that.
Looking back down river to the north with the Horse River valley and our dusty mini-van in the background.