Tag Archives: Wendy Cooper

Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies

A couple of months ago I was sitting down for beverages with Wendy and some friends when we started talking about some hikes we wanted to take in the Canadian Rockies next year.  Scott Theede recommended that I get Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies by Kathy and Craig Copeland which is a self-proclaimed opinionated guide to hiking trails all over the Rockies.

Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies

I looked on Amazon and they wanted $400 for it.  Indigo wanted over $1000 for it.  Fortunately it was just between print runs and I was able to get it from Indigo for about $30.

One of the hikes we want to take is to Berg Lake and Mount Robson (a hike that Scott has taken and posted to Flickr).  It is highly recommended in the book.  Wendy was chagrined to find out that the hike she wants to take next year to Lake Agnes Tea House is not recommended at all (we will do it anyway as it gives ideas to make it a better trip.  That and Wendy really, really wants to have tea in a mountain tea house).

The book arrived in a heavy duty case.  Half of the case is full of opinions about which hike to take.  The other half is small booklets that offer the technical details on each hike.  The idea is that you do your research ahead of time and then carry only the map and details with you.  It makes a lot of sense.

So the plan is to hike to Grey Owl’s cabin in June with Wendy and Mark (for his birthday).

In July we are heading to Banff, Lake Louise, and Calgary for a holiday and plan to hike Johnston’s Canyon then.

In the summer of 2016, we are going to camp in Lake Louise for a week at a rustic campground (where there are no showers) in the Bow Valley (grizzly bear country) and take in six day hikes through the Bow Valley with Mark and Oliver.  I’ll be honest, this no shower thing is already freaking me out.

In 2017 Oliver will be old enough (he’ll be 9) and we will take a multi-day hike into Berg Lake and Mount Robson (with some time exploring Jasper National Park and the town of Jasper).  Hopefully we won’t be wasting much time in the Canadian Rockies (Wendy’s trips to mountain tea houses excluded).

Am pretty excited to explore the rest of the book and the trails in contains in it.

He who shall not be mentioned

As some of you know, I have this weird project where I want to photograph and document all of the important buildings in Saskatoon.  Over the years I have made some significant process in doing that and today with the weather nicer and it being a Sunday, Wendy and I went into Mount Royal.

Sunday’s work well for photographing schools because it seems weird to photograph them when kids are there.  We took some shots of Mount Royal Collegiate, Howard Coad and St. Maria Giametti Schools.  We also took some of the Mount Royal Mall, Mount Royal Lutheran Church, and explored St. Paul Place.

I was editing them and some others when I stumbled across an old building that I knew nothing of and started to Google to see what I could find.  I found a City of Saskatoon report that was presented to council a couple of years ago.  As I was reading through it looking for the information that I needed, it had almost 20 photos that I recognized as being mine.  Some of them were used more than once but you get the point.  

I have had a conversation with city administration about their constant stealing of my images going back years.  The agreement was that they can use them with credit.  No money was needed to change hands, only that I was given credit for the images used.

I think this worked once or twice.  On one of the downtown reports, the photo was credited to Flickr.  I refuse to believe that it was because the report writer thought a website was the author or that you just credit, “the internet” for things you take from there, they didn’t want my name to appear on it.  That’s fine but either a) buy the rights to the image from me or b) don’t use my images.

As I was looking at this report, my initial thought was that the person writing an internal report never realized he or she had to credit anyone but then as I went through it, they credited other sources, including the City, which they really wouldn’t need to give credit to, since you know, they are the city.

My response normally would be “whatever” but I know a lot of photographers in this city that are way better than I am and need the money to pursue their craft and run their business.  In using my stuff from Flickr and Bridge City, it undermines their livelihoods.  I know it is a lot easier to “right click” and “save as” but in what other field of work is stealing someone’s work okay?

It’s not like I am that difficult to deal with.  My stuff has been published in books and magazines, is on a magazine (ok it’s a journal), was on the front page of The StarPhoenix (Barry Hotel being demolished), is on a CD of a band in Japan who does thrash metal, and yes, has been given permission to be used in city publications.  I have even had a photo used without permission by The Toronto Star (that was awkward) and I have never demanded payment.  Only that I am given credit.

Sometimes credit can’t be given and then I will take some form of renumeration.  A hotel gave Wendy and I a free weekend at their hotel.  For one report where they did not want my name to appear, I was bought off with a burger and drinks (and the great story of why they didn’t want to use my name).

I know the city administration is a big bureaucracy and for many of these reports, there is no expectation that they are read by anyone (including council) but how hard is it is to email someone and credit them correctly?  Apparently too hard for city staff.

Update: Some of you have asked why I don’t complain to City Council.  Some have brought up my frequent complaints to admin but others have also thought it isn’t a big deal that the city takes my work.  I am never that sure if they are okay with theft or they just don’t understand intellectual property.  Either way, it keeps happening and I guess it always will.

Visions Electronics

Mark lost his cell phone on the weekend.  He is pretty careful with it but he was out with Wendy running some errands and it went missing.  He was devastated.  I wasn’t convinced the dog didn’t eat it and hid it somewhere but whatever the case, he needs a new phone.

He is with Virgin Mobile and we are pretty happy with it.  I have always bought his phone outright and then we only pay $25/prepaid for texting and minutes.  That was my plan for this time.

I looked at The Source and Best Buy and was unimpressed with what they had for $100 – $150.  Really unimpressed.  We then went to Visions and they came out with a Motorola Moto G for $150.  I went to buy that but then Visions only charged me $98 for the phone which made it an even better deal.  They did that a couple of years ago as well.  I appreciated it then and I appreciated it now.

As they were ringing me in, the salesman told me about a special low rate they can get me signed up for.  I was like, “Go on…”.  I am only paying $25 now but he had a $19/month rate that was still month to month.  It was actually $18 a month but I pay $1 a month to lock out data.   It’s only $6/month cheaper but that’s $72 for the year.   It all ads up I guess.

The only hitch was as he was signing us up, we had to phone in to get the internet lock put on it.  No problem or so I thought.

Wendy heads home and phones Virgin while I set up Mark’s phone.  It takes her almost an hour to get the data lock put on it.  The women on the other end wouldn’t let Wendy speak.  She first tried to activate the phone (it had been activated at Visions), then she went on this other lecture to Wendy for like  20 minutes about something totally different.  Then it was something else.  It was hilarious.  Finally we got the data lock put on his phone and we were good.

If you are looking for a Bell or Virgin cell phone in Saskatoon, go to Visions.  I have shopped around and for whatever reason, they are the best at cellular sales, even on prepaid phones.

Maggi

About this time back in late 2005, Wendy and I were out for a drive and she wanted to go look at the SPCA at puppies.  We had just put down Elway the Halloween before because of liver cancer and I was missing having a dog around the house.

We went in looking for puppies and came out with a full sized, rambunctious and rowdy Weimeraner/Retriever cross that had been badly abused.  In the interview room Maggi physically wounded Wendy by jumping all around while Wendy actually said with a straight face that she thought this massive dog would be a good lap dog.

The scene in that interview room at the SPCA reminded me of when two Loonie Toon characters are locked in a room and fighting.  It was hilarious and Maggi came out on top. Then in the line to adopt Maggi, the dog somehow wrestled Wendy to the floor and I remember looking down at Wendy who was flat on her back in the lobby of the SPCA and thinking that this isn’t going to end well.

We took her home and she was confounded by the stairs.  She had never been in a house before.  If you touched her, she would get so excited, she would run off to another part of the house.  If she saw your open hand, she would lay down and cry because she was sure I would hit her.

Slowly she became my dog.  I remember the first time she jumped up on the bed and slept there.  It was a big deal that she trusted me to be that close.  Eventually she realized that no one was going to hit her, stairs could be mastered, and a queen sized bed was just about the perfect size for her to lay on.  Over time she also realized that scaring the pizza delivery guy wasn’t helping her get leftover pizza and chilled out even with strangers.

We went on countless walks to the park and she was never happier than when she had her frisbee.  She ate with the frisbee, slept with the frisbee, went to the bathroom carrying the frisbee, and carried the slimy frisbee to bed.

Maggi with frisbee

She loved to fetch and would do anything to get a frisbee.  She hurdled a merry-go-round once to come up with an errant toss.  She jumped the front of Lee’s car to get another one.  One time two Saskatoon Police Officers stopped just to watch her come down with frisbee after frisbee.  After some tosses, their black police uniforms had blonde dog hair all over them.  They didn’t seem to care.

The one thing that would drive her crazy was fetching snowballs in the yard.  She would tear up all of the snow looking for a ball made of snow.  

Maggi getting a snowball

She would never give up and eventually would bring back any snow as a way to save face.  Of course I would make another snowball and toss it out there and it would start all over again.

Maggi with a stick

Maggi was always a bull in a china shop and we were worried when we brought Oliver home that she would be too aggressive with him who was still two months premature.  I’ll always remember that dog walking extremely slowly across the floor and giving Oliver a little lick before laying down right beside him.  For whatever reason Maggi thought of Oliver as her puppy and was forever overly protective of him.  When he napped, she slept outside his room.  When he played, she always was near.

Wendy and Maggi

Maggi was smart and devious.  She never really accepted sharing a bed with Wendy and was always trying to kick her off.  She would lay beside us and punch Wendy in the head. She would actually uncover Wendy at night while making a nest for herself.  She would also try to push Wendy’s legs out of the bed.  She may have accepted me as the alpha male but she never ever respected Wendy as the alpha female of the pack.  

She liked Wendy and even loved her but never really respected Wendy.  Many times Wendy would get mad at Maggi and she would walk over to me and look back at Wendy with a look of “do something about her.”  That always went over well.

Maggi looking for a ball

This fall she developed a lump on her leg.  We had it tested and it wasn’t cancerous but a fat deposit.  We dealt with that but there was the danger that it could return as cancerous.  In December it did and she started to struggle breathing and walking.  This week I realized she was in an incredible amount of pain.  The lump grew daily and we took her to the vet who told us that it was not only cancerous but had spread to her lungs.  There wasn’t any choice and today we took her to the clinic and I held her as they put her down.

Maggi asleep in the Honda Accord

Maggi and Mark

Let sleeping dogs lie

Maggi and Wendy

Siesta

Goodbye Maggi

Sports Illustrated writer Peter King wrote this about his dog Bailey when he put him down.

I will endure a few weeks of the occasional dark thought, and I will think: ‘Pretty good trade, 159 months of companionship and friendship and unconditional love for one or three months when sadness creeps in. In fact, that’s a fantastic trade.’ I feel the same as when Woody died: The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.

It was a good trade for my family as well.

The Grey Owl’s Expedition Gear Guide

Since we are still planning to do a hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin in June, we have been picking up some gear for the trip.  A lot of people have been asking us what we are taking so here is the quick list of gear that is going.

North 49 65 litre backpack with an internal frameBackpacks: To carry the gear, we have some frameless backpacks with hip straps.  You can spend a lot of money on these and after reading around, we think we found the right balance between comfort, durability, and price.

I am carrying a 65 litre pack.  It is lots big enough for an overnight trip and this way Mark and Wendy don’t have to carry as much stuff.  It will hold Wendy’s and my tent, the cook set, and sleeping back with a lot of space left over.  I won’t use all of that space but it is there.

If I was walking the Appalachian Trail, I would definitely have purchased a more expensive backpack but it’s only a day and we are only taking so much stuff.  Mark and Wendy have some smaller bags that I bought there bags on clearance for a combined $30.  They are 40 litres and have the external straps they need.  They should do the job.

Tents: Wendy and I are staying in a three man tent we bought for $16 from Wal-mart.  They had a loss leader going last winter and we got it then.  It’s light and just big enough for the two of us.   The tent opens up and hopefully we will be able to sleep under the skies rather than under the fly.  If it does look like it could rain, we’ll be fine underneath it.

Ozark Trail 3-Man Tent

If I was going camping rather than backcountry hiking, we would have gotten something larger and higher quality.   Weight and size are a factor.  Also the price was insanely cheap ($16 on sale).  If it doesn’t last, no harm done but the reviews online were pretty solid.  It’s no where near as durable as a tent from the North Face but then again, it won’t be asked to do much more than keep the mosquitoes or drizzle off of us.  If it was just me, I would got with a two person tent but this way there is just enough room for us and some of our gear.

0765159 1

Mark is staying in a one person tent from Eagle’s Camp.  It is small but it will be only him and his bag. Either way it is really light and since Mark will be carrying it in and out, he will appreciate the weight.  We bought some ropes to add as guy wires which opens it up a bit.  It’s small but it is light.

We did waterproof and seal the seams and upgraded the tent pegs to something lighter and more likely to stay in the ground.  If the weather is miserable, we should be okay.

Sleeping bags: Mark had a sleeping bag but Wendy and I wanted new 1.5 pound sleeping bags.  We will have foil covered sleeping foams as well and inflatable camping pillows at well which are small, light, and are more comfortable than our bags.   We also bought some compression straps so the sleeping bags take up as little as room as possible.

For lighting both Mark and Wendy have headlamps and lanterns  We also have tactical flashlights and Nite Ize LED zipper tags on our backpacks so if we wander out in the dark, we can be seen.

For the kitchen, we have a Primus Classic Trail Stove and Primus fuel canisters.  Stoves have their own fanboy culture which I understand but for the price, it can’t be beaten.  I know this isn’t the stove to use when it’s winter but since we are doing the hike in June, we should be okay.   It also has a five star review on Amazon.com so it seems to be doing the job.

Primus Classic Trail Stove

As for the camp kit, years ago Lee gave Wendy a great camp set.  We picked up three sporks and we are set to go.

Carmanah Large Cookset from Outbound

As for water, I have talked to a lot of people who had drank right out of Kingsmere Lake with no side affects.  There are giardia warnings about the water so we will have some water filters.  It’s way cheaper using purification tablets but I am told they are disgusting.  Since we are walking along side the lake, we will be using collapsible water bottles to keep weight and volume down.

Food: Basically MRE’s.  We have been to Cabela’s weekly testing out one or two of them each time.  We will eat some snacks on the way in, have a nice dinner (well away from the campground to keep the bears away) and then a big breakfast in the morning on our way out.  Hopefully we get going in time to be back in Waskesiu for a late lunch before heading back to Saskatoon.

Clothes: I went out and invested in some decent hiking shorts and shirts this summer.  As a friend of mine told me that chafing is not something that you will want to do while on the trail.  We also went to Cabela’s and got tested by the Dr. Shoal’s machine for the kind of insoles we all need.  While the custom Dr. Shoals insoles are right there, a row over are competitor insoles designed the same way for a fraction of the cost.  They make hiking boots feel a lot more comfortable and will hopefully make the trip more pleasant.

Technology: We won’t be taking much technology along although we will have a GPS, compact binoculars, and some rugged cameras.  We will have our multi-tools and a hatchet with us but I don’t know if that is considered technology or not.  In case we do get some rain, we have some gadget bags which are essentially waterproof zip lock bags for gear.  It says that you can submerse them but I’d rather not.  What they do a good job of doing is if a tent or bag does leak, your stuff will still be safe.

We bought everything local.  While MEC had a good price on some stuff, by the time we calculated shipping, it was less expensive to get something at Cabela’s and Wholesale Sports.

Let me know if you have some suggestions in the comments below.