Tag Archives: Mark Cooper

Back to Football

Mark is trying out for Bedford Road’s senior football team this year.  After playing every position on the defense last year, he decided to test himself against some older and stronger players.  If he makes the team great, if not he will have tried and gotten some work in than if he had just played junior football.

Since practices start on Monday, it meant that we had to get him some gear this weekend.  His cleats and gloves fit but we ran out after work to get him some shorts and some stay dry shirts.  While we were at it, we picked up some cross trainers.  All this so he can increase his chance of long term brain injury by playing football or developing cancer by playing football on the shredded toxic waste we call SMF Field

Of course Oliver was in a bad mood over this.  Despite only going into grade two, he can’t figure out why he can’t play tackle football yet.  Apparently all other sports suck and aren’t worth his time.  He has some time to wait until Grade 6 when Kinsmen Football starts.  He isn’t impressed.  He’ll be even less impressed when Mark takes off to play football.

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada in Banff National Park

We used to come to Cave & Basin National Historic site quite a bit when I was a kid.  It wasn’t as big of deal back then and it was much more poorly lit as you entered the Cave part (which I loved).  So having not been there since 1983, it was nice to head back and see what has changed.  Of course taking the boys back here was great and they enjoyed it quite a bit. 

After the crowds of Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon, a quieter venue was a great way to kill an hour or so while the boys learned about the history of the place and it’s roll in the founding of our National Parks.

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

So this is the cave part of Cave and Basin.The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaThe Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

It used to be a hot springs where people would come from all over to bathe in.  Those days are long gone but Parks Canada has recreated the bath area of the hot springs.The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaThe Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

Two of Parks Canada famed red chairs were waiting for me to sit down and relax in.The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

This is the basin part of the Cave and Basin.  There are endangered Banff snails in there and the smell is quite sulfur-ish.The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaThe Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaThe Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaIMGP0463The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

It’s Batman and Wendy exploring the lower levels.  Mark and I were enjoying a cool breeze on the upper deck.The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaThe Cave and Basin National Historic Site of CanadaThe Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

The green roof of the Parks Canada gift shop which has an assortment of Parks Canada and Banff gear that you won’t see anywhere else in the town of Banff.  It alone is worth checking out.

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

If for some reason you want to see some more photos of Cave and Basins National Historic site, check out my album on Flickr.

Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

While in Banff National Park, Wendy and I took the boys up to Johnston Canyon which was insanely busy.  The parking lot was packed and by the time we left, people were parking over a kilometre in both ways down the Bow Valley Parkway.   We had plans to take the boys to the upper waterfalls.

So as the sign says, it is a 1 km hike to the first falls.  Yet when I started the Map My Hike app on my iPhone, it said that it was 4k with a return hike. 

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

I think I have met these three people before.

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

They enjoyed the walk.  They weren’t tired but the progress was at a standstill because there was a group taking selfie’s up ahead.

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

This is my favorite shot from the hike.

The hike along Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkJohnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

A Parks Canada employee has what looks to be a long and wet day ahead of him.

Parks Canada employee preparing for what looks to be a long days work at Johnston Canyon in Prince Albert National Park

IMGP0396Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

This is the legendary lower falls of Johnston Canyon.  We had planned to go to the upper falls but as the photos show, the crowds were brutal and the antibiotics I had to deal with the infection in my ankle hadn’t beaten the infection back very far.  Combined it meant that it would be a long hike and since we are coming back next summer to hike to the inkpots, it wasn’t a big deal to call it a day and dodge the selfie sticks back to the car.

Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National ParkWendy Cooper at Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

I think we can all agree that I nailed this picture of a chipmunk.

 Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

Did I mention that the trail was packed.  This is the main reason why we didn’t go to the second falls.  So many people (and my ankle was really hurting me).  Also, most of the people we passed on the trail were looking at their phones.  Apparently world class scenery and nature doesn’t compete well with Angry Birds.

 Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park Johnston Canyon hike in Banff National Park

If you want to see more photos from Johnston Canyon, check out the full set on Flickr.

Sawback

Sawback is a small picnic area on the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Johnston Canyon.  It used to be small and has gotten smaller since Parks Canada has moved the tables near to the roadside turn off and allowed the vegetation to take over old picnic areas.

Growing up, it was my favorite place in the world.  We used to take a yearly trip from Calgary (and later Saskatoon) to Johnston Canyon and then picnic at Sawback.  I was looking forward to taking the boys there and was quite disappointed when all there was left was some picnic tables near the parking lot.

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It wasn’t the picnic areas that make it so great, it was the babbling brook of glacier runoff that make it so much fun to explore as a kid.  I knew that didn’t go anywhere so I followed an overgrown trail into the bush and 50 feet into it I found the brook.

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Mark and Oliver did exactly what I did year ago and this jump across it and get all wet.

Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkMark and Oliver at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkMark and Oliver at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

This shot was right after I had scolded the boys about making faces every time I tried to take their photo. 

Mark and Oliver at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

So while the picnic tables placement kind of sucks, we will return in 2016 with a proper picnic blanket and food.

Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkWendy at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkA forced family photo at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

I told Mark that there is a sacred Cooper tradition of dunking one’s head into the glacier water that ran out of the Sawback mountain range.  He put his hands in, screamed from the cold…

Mark dunking his head into freezing glacier water at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National ParkMark dunking his head into freezing glacier water at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

 

And dunked his head into it.

Mark dunking his head into freezing glacier water at the Sawback Picnic area in Banff National Park

After he got out and was struggling with hypothermia did I tell him that he was the first of the Cooper’s to do such a thing.  Yes, I am a horrible father.

All of the snapshots I took at Sawback can be found in their album on Flickr.

How the West Was Once

After two days of being up at 4:45 a.m., I feel like I am slacking and sleeping in today.  It’s almost 7 a.m. 

Today we are heading to Heritage Park.  I haven’t been there since I was in Grade 4.  Much as stayed the same but a lot has changed.  That was so long ago that the school I attended for Grade 4 has closed.

Before we go to Heritage Park, I need to take Mark to Chinook Centre so we can hit up the Apple Store and he can get a new iPod Nano.   His died and then I leant him my old iPod Touch which he then dropped.  So here we go again.  I wonder if he can get an Otter Box for it.

Oliver doesn’t know there is a Lego store in that mall but I can’t see us walking by it and not going in.

After that it is to the park where we will wander around aimlessly and eat homemade food, ride a steam engine, take a cruise on a paddle wheeler, and see how Calgary was once.

The Rockies

Another obscenely early morning around here.  Wendy posted late last night about the trip out here.

I am waiting for the crew to get ready before we head downstairs to grab breakfast and then hit the road to Banff National Park today.  We are taking the old highway through Cochrane along a winding road to Canmore.   From there we will make a quick detour into Banff for some fresh bread and food before heading to Johnston Canyon where will hike the trail to the second large waterfall.  It isn’t so much of a hike then a stroll.  It’s also a great place to people watch as there are tourists from all over the globe there and they are fascinated by a lot of things (like squirrels) that we find mundane.

From there we are heading to a picnic area called Sawback where we will have a quick picnic lunch, then proceed up the Bow Valley Parkway until we get to Lake Louise.  Along the way we are checking out a campground that we plan to stay at next year.  It looks good online but it’s always nice to see it first hand.

After we explore the Chateau Lake Louise, we are heading back to Banff where the Banff Gondola and Cave and Basin National Historic site wait for us.  After dinner the plan is to see the Bow Falls chill out (or warm up) in the Upper Banff Hot Springs before heading back to Calgary.

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is one of my favourite spots on earth.  I loved going there as a kid and I can’t wait until I can show Wendy, Mark, and Oliver the site.  As for the Chateau Lake Louise, it was there that I proposed to Wendy so it will be fun heading back there.

This and that

Some random thoughts…

  • I really should not have filed a column for The StarPhoenix this week.  Typing 800 words with a pic line in your hand hurts.  It doesn’t start out that bad but after 200 or so words, it is agony.  So when you read it Monday, envision me in pain and ignore the fact that it felt mediocre and forced to me.
  • Mark Cooper: PhotographerI don’t know how it happened but these arrived in the mail today.  Well actually I do.  Mark has been out with his Pentax K-x and now with his Pentax K-30 for up to six hours a day taking photographs of the city.  He went down to the Lion’s Skatepark and instead of guys being upset that he was taking their photos, they were excited and all wanted to know where they could see his photos.  Mark asked if I would help him design up and print out some business cards on blank stock.  In the end it was cheaper and easier to do some cards up at Vistaprint so we did.  This is what he came up with.  He is thrilled with them.
  • Mark is also talking about joining the Royal Canadian Navy for a three year tour after high school.  To say that Wendy is unimpressed by this idea is an understatement.   The phrase “rising tensions between NATO and Russia” does not go over well in our house.
  • I haven’t really talked about it but I did order a new Pentax K-3 with a 18-135mm lens last week.   I have been too sick to go out and use it but it did allow me to give my Pentax K-30 to Mark.

Pentax K-3 with 18-135mm lens

  • Mark is thrilled with his “new to him” K-30 and I am looking forward to trying out my K-3 around town.  First I need to get rid of the pic line in my hand.
  • Everyone asks if I am going to make it.  It’s been a week of injecting saline solution and antibiotics into my arm and the cellulitis is clearing up but it does that with oral anti-biotics.  The problem is that it comes back as soon as they stop.  So while it looks good, I really don’t know and won’t know for another couple of weeks.
  • The pain is a lot less in the leg.  Last week the dog licked me and I thought I would lose it.  Tonight socks were able to come off with no pain.  That is progress.

Knife Fight

I use a knife at work and for months, I have used a Strider folding knife.  Strider makes knives for Seal Team 6 and they are really, really nice knives.  This one is smaller but still looks intimidating which isn’t the look I was going for. 

I found a Gerber Rip Stop knife and I decided to get it but Wendy said that the boys would want to get it for Father’s Day.  So instead of letting me have it, she got me a $3 knife from Wal-Mart.

I had it with me and never really used it until one day it wouldn’t even cut through tape.  It was that bad.  Mark found out and starts to re-inact a potential 911 call.

Mark: Help, I am being attacked by my knife wielding lunatic father.

Operator: Are you hurt?

Mark: Well kind of.  He has jabbed me several times and I am starting to get a rash.

Operator: I hasn’t broken the skin?

Mark: No but a couple more days of this and I could get a callous or something.  Maybe a minor infection.

Operator: All the police are busy but I can send a dermatologist early next week….

The knife was that bad.   So finally I get the Gerber Ripstop and the first thing I test is that it can cut Scotch tape.  So at least I am making progress.  It also doesn’t look intimidating  So we are winning in that way as well.

Father’s Day

It was a weird day around here today.  Wendy’s father is dying of cancer.  While they used to be close, he has been horrible to her from the night she told him that she had been molested as a child.  He changed that night and has been horrible to her ever since.

In hindsight if he had said to her that he never wanted to ever talk to her and owned that, it would have been easier but no, her mom has tried to work things out while at the same time blaming Wendy ever since then.  With him dying he wanted to see Wendy (just Wendy, not Mark and Oliver) one last time.  Wendy said no and he kind of burnt every bridge remaining.  Well not that there were not burnt bridges left but he knocked over the piers as well.

It’s really tough on her.  They used to be close.  She thought of him as a friend.  Over the years her mother has been clueless on everything while at least her dad understood some of what she was going through, he would then be cruel while fully understanding what he was doing.  In many ways he hurt her more than the people who molested her did.

So every Father’s Day I get the full brunt of all of that emotion and anger that Wendy feels towards her father.  It just spills out.  Today was no exception except that it had all of the emotion of her being upset that I was sick as well.

Today I had big plans.  The infection in my leg plays havoc on my blood sugar levels.  That makes me really tired so the plan was to go to bed early last night and sleep in today.  However everyone was upset at that plan and was somehow mad that I went to bed early (except the dog) and early this morning they were upset that I was still sleeping.  That was the start of my day.

Another transition in the house is that I am no longer making everyone get ready.  I am frustrated with having to get Wendy and Mark moving out the door every time that I have calmly told them that I am going to give them an itinerary and if they aren’t going to be ready to leave on time, I will leave them behind.

So Friday I let them know that I had tickets to the Saskatoon Valkyries game and that I would leave for Gordie Howe Bowl at 12:30p.  No one was even close to ready.  So I left without them.  That upset everyone even more and made them even more emotional and upset.

I come home and lay down because the last thing I should have done is sit on a bleacher and watch a football game today and waited until my foot had returned to normal.  Again, that caused more anxiety because I wasn’t having fun. 

This kind of anxiety just freezes Wendy and Mark.   Wendy doesn’t know what to do and just introverts everything until she explodes.  Mark is processing this too and doesn’t know what to do. 

So finally I send all three of them out of the house to go for dinner.  The silence was awesome and I got some reading and writing done.

In some ways it is easy for me to deal with things because I have been down this road before with my mom and I know whatever happens, happens.  The doctors will make emergency referrals and do emergency tests and then two months later I will see the specialist I should have seen a month ago.  It’s the Saskatchewan way.  You may die because of how slow our system is but you won’t have to pay for it (somewhere right now Brad Wall is preparing a bar graph that shows less people dying or losing their legs while on a waiting list then under the NDP).

In Wendy’s defense, she had good care when she was really sick.  She has sat there while angry nurses have gotten angry at me because tests haven’t been done yet and have had them say, “Doesn’t anyone realize how serious this is?”  Last time I said, “think of the greater good.”  It didn’t go over well.

In the end, Father’s Day is a difficult day for Wendy.  That makes it a confusing day every year for the boys. 

One of these years we will have a nice Father’s Day.

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

For Oliver’s Birthday, we went and hiked the Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park.   The nature trail starts at the interpretive centre located beside the campground office.  The nature trail follows a 1.5 km loop and winds through an aspen woodland, a swamp, over shortgrass prairie and across sand dunes.

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

The Gift of Green Nature Trail in Pike Lake Provincial Park

We walked in the late afternoon and it was a great trail to walk.  Pike Lake has gotten a lot nicer in the last several years and this is a great addition to the park.

Happy Birthday Oliver

Oliver turns 7 today which means he was up early opening his birthday gifts and basically celebrating his day.

We picked him up a moon chair.  He thinks it is so awesome that he is worried that we will all be jealous because our chairs aren’t as cool as his.  Not sure he has to be worried but I am glad he likes it.

We had picked up three 1 litre Nalgene water bottles for Wendy, Mark and I.  Oliver was less then thrilled he didn’t get one.  I picked up a 500 ml bottle for him at Atmosphere so now he is thrilled.  We also got him a fanny pack because a) he wanted one b) I will mock him about it for his entire life. 

We also got him an Avenger’s book, a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey, a hacky sack, and a headlamp.

Tonight, we are off to Pike Lake for a hike and then back for late evening pizza and cake. 

Marley

Mark and Marley

I haven’t really written about Marley since we got her on my birthday.  So here we are in June so I thought I would give that of you who care about dogs an update.

The first few days at home were rough.  She bit.  A lot.  My hands, face, elbows, knees, legs, side.  You name it, she bit it.  She just led with her teeth and my pain was real.  I wasn’t alone, she was biting Wendy, Oliver, and Mark.  She also bit Hutch a lot who took it even worse than we did.

Eventually she stopped ramming us with her teeth and then we only had to put up with her chewing up stuff, biting Hutch, jumping up on us, jumping through the air to get to people food, and kicking me in the face as a I slept.   We have most of the stuff resolved but every morning she gets into bed between Wendy and I and kicks one or both of us in the face while she sleeps on her back.

It has been a harder adjustment for Wendy.  She has never had a puppy before.  It was always been dogs two years of age or older.  Having a rambunctious, defiant, and rowdy teenager for a dog has been an experience for her.  One that she is still figuring out.

With the biting stopped, the boys, especially Oliver were able to bond with her.  Elway was my dog who didn’t even acknowledge Mark was alive.  Maggi was also my dog who acknowledged the boys were alive but saw them more as staff than as equals.  Actually to be honest, she saw Wendy as staff as well.

Marley has become my dog too but sees Oliver and Mark as co-conspirators in her fun rather than staff.  Wendy and I are the parents.  I just happen to be the parent that gives her pieces of steak when Wendy says no.

I find new dogs are weird.  When Elway died of cancer, I never wanted a dog again.  When we got Maggi all I could think of for the first couple of weeks was that she wasn’t as good of dog as Elway.  Within a couple of years she had become my best friend and confident. 

When Maggi died of cancer, I was devastated.  She had been such a big part of the family.  Now there is Marley who isn’t Elway or Maggi but we are slowly figuring each other out and bonding over our hatred of the crow that perches outside our window and makes a lot of noise at 3 a.m.

So like a lot of puppies she goes all out all of the time.  After an epic battle today with her rope and a long walk with Mark, she is curled up in a ball beside Wendy saving her energy for attacking me and kicking me in the head at around 5:00 a.m. because she needs her tummy rubbed before going back to bed.

When Caesar Milan says never let your dog sleep on the bed, always let them sleep on your bed.

Mark is now 15

Happy Birthday Mark!

He turned 15 today.  Despite his best efforts, he has made it 15 times around the sun without being tossed from the planet.

We celebrated in part on the weekend.  On Friday Wendy and I took him shopping and got him to pick out some new sunglasses.  He totally ignored the incredible looking sunglasses I picked out for him and instead picked some sunglasses that look like he is from The Matrix.  Whoa.

On Sunday morning we got up early and I gave him a MSR Pocket Rocket stove, fuel canister, and base.  For $8 the base makes the entire system a lot more secure.  Mark is pretty responsible but he is a teenager and therefore his coordination comes and goes. 

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

Wendy gave him a one person mess kit to cook with while hiking.  Oliver’s response was, “Only one person?  What’s Mark going to eat?”  He’s always looking out for his older brother.

We then took off to Prince Albert National Park and went hiking for the day.  We hiked the Waskesiu River, the Mud Flat Trail (where we got close and personal with some black bears), and hiked both sides of the Narrows.  Mark cooked us up some lunch with his new gear.  After a day of hiking and exploring, we went to The Angry Taco for dinner and called it a day.

Tuesday morning, we gave him the rest of his gifts.  Oliver gave him a frisbee disc golf set.

We all got him a Altec Lansing XL Soundblade Bluetooth Speaker which he has wanted really badly.  He was pretty happy to get one.

Altec Lansing XL Soundblade

Today after school him and I are heading out for a quick game of golf and then coming home to have some steak that has been marinating for several days.  It is starting out as a nice day.

So this is how it all ends

Tomorrow I am off to Prince Albert National Park to explore the Mud Creek Trail (and some others) with Wendy, Mark, and Oliver.

It is a great trail to explore during the spring because of the high number of hungry black bears who feed on the fish in the stream.

Hungry black bears, a wound on my foot and a messed up ankle.  What could go wrong?

We are also up there celebrating Mark’s birthday (he turns 15 next week).  That birthday brings up the awkward conversations around learners license and driving.  As I told Mark, first let’s survive a bunch of black bears and then we can talk.

So… if is this blog and my Twitter go silent over the next couple of weeks, you know what happened.

If I had only picked up one of these.