We've had a great summer: July spent here at home, a week traveling to Kamsack and Calgary, a week of interPLAY, and two weeks in Ontario. In our travels we connected with 43 family members. I counted, on our flight home last week, as I couldn't sleep and I needed something to do. I also listed the name of every single person that I could remember from Mindcamp, Canada's creativity conference, five days that closed out our Ontario excursions. Remarkably, that number ended up around 75.
Meeting people and spending time with family are awesome, but the measure for me of a great holiday is experiencing the sensation that time is standing still and mentally disconnecting with the world back home. As I look back, one week felt like two and two felt like four, so time did indeed slow down. And while I had to deal with one or two things that came up back at home, I felt mentally present throughout our travels. It was a great vacation.
I thought I'd do something different with this edition of the Wood Buffalo Update. Rather than writing from memory, I'm going to use photographs as memory triggers and sharing whatever stories they inspire. How does that sound?
We drove 1,300 kilometres on that first leg of our holiday, driving the northern route from Fort McMurray to Kamsack. As we were getting close, a beautiful sunset was developing and I insisted we stop a couple of times so I could snap a few pictures.
Justifiably, Heather was getting tired of pulling over for me, so rather than asking a third time, I opened up the sunroof, carefully positioned my iPhone in the jet stream, holding tightly, and snapped a picture of the sky as the sun made its final descent.
I leaf my way through the stack of local newspapers when I get home to Kamsack. I have done it religiously going back to the mid-1980s when I returned for the first time from university in Saskatoon.
Mom and Dad are great about resisting the urge to toss the growing pile of yellowed newsprint in the garbage until both Doug and I have had a chance to go through them.
There were two items, apart from the one celebrating Dad's volunteer efforts in the community, that really jumped out to me. One was the obituary for John Friday, a fellow who was quite a bully when we were little. Playing football on the site that is now the RCMP detachment, likely in 1979 or 1980, he bullied us for the last time as I finally pushed back, and punched a few times. Seeing that he is gone reminds me that he was somebody's son, brother, father and grandfather. He was only 45.
The other was the obituary for Lawrence. He was always around, from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper, the local Mr. Fix-It who had every tool under the sun and the skill to fix or build pretty much anything. A lifelong bachelor, Lawrence was always friendly, eternally helpful and a fixture in the community. It seems surreal that he is gone, though he lived a good long life passing away at 84.
It was so nice to see everyone, smiling, talking, reconnecting. It was great to see Dad doing incredibly well. Here are a few pictures that are worth sharing that capture brilliantly the spirit of the three days we spent in Kamsack.
|Uncle Lloyd, Shelley and Aunty Lydia|
|Heather with Anwyn; Dylan and Henry; Ben, Anwyn and Kade; Sophia and Maggie, Dylan and Maggie|
|Malisa, Greg and Jana; Kade, Dylan and Doug; Kim and Keith; Doug, Mom, Kade and Dad|
|Julia loved the day at Calaway Park. I enjoyed the fishing in the trout pond.|
|Games are often in progress, especially between Dylan and Grandma Wager as they often engage in long checkers battles|
|I can't say enough our our Bow River fly fishing adventure|
|Ben, Michael, Julia, Susan, Dylan, Neil and Heather outside the Glenbow in downtown Calgary|
|We got to see the Escher exhibit at the Glenbow, absolutely a highlight|
|Heather with baby Juliana and her Aunty Emilie|
|The boys playing around in Fergus|
|The beautiful ladies: Heather and Kathy|
|Cool dudes: Pierre and Dylan|
|The musician: Erica|
|We enjoyed several great visits with Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty|
|Robbie and Pierre are always so full of life|
|Maryann and Joseph Patrick gave us an awesome tour of their dairy farm|