Saturday, November 14, 2009

Medium Life Goals and Saturday Musings

In life, we have three types of goals: big goals, medium goals and little goals.

Big goals are landmarks along our life line, bucket-list items.

Our trip to Germany was a big goal.

Little goals are the ones that help us survive our lives, the 'get me through this day, Lord' goals.

Getting through last Friday with body and mind intact was a little goal. Trust me.

Medium goals are the bookmarks between survival and life-time achievements. Wednesday I completed a medium goal on my to-do list. Bryan and I drove the length of the Douglas Lake Road and explored a very little of the famous Douglas Lake Cattle Company Ranch.

It seemed a shame to waste a perfectly beautiful afternoon on a 'free' day midweek. The inside stuff could wait. Bryan and I grabbed the water bottles, camera, topog map and filled the pick-up's fuel tank. We'd attempted this trip last spring but his back was still too injured to take the rough road. Just in case, he also grabbed a bottle of extra strength pain killers. Always prepared.

If you have a map or use Google Maps on-line, you can follow along. Better the Google topographic feature, because then you can see the terrain we traveled through.

The north end of Douglas Lake Road meets Highway 97N at Westwold. The first little bit of road travels along the edge of a farmed valley. That soon gives way to horse and cow country, and then moose and mountain goat terrain.

For not being a specified forest service road (aka, a REAL road), it has its moments.

Looking east from the crest of the Douglas Lake Road, at about 1000m elevation or so.

Well, almost the crest.

Heck of a road, eh? Looking north-ish, from where we came.

And then, over the high point of the road, we descended into a sea of grass. The Douglas Lake Ranch is half a million acres of some of the most astounding natural grasslands in the west. Lakes are strung along the valleys like sapphires on a necklace.

Perhaps it takes a cattleman to appreciate the beauty of the area. I know that Bryan and I were both in awe. At the valley's bottom, we drove past the feedlots.

And then, around a bend in the road, lay the Home Ranch.

Looking southwest at the Home Ranch, and the Quarter horse barn below.

I stole these two photos from websites because by the time I had the presence of mind to take pictures, we were on the other side of the valley!

If you've never been to an old-time remote ranch, you'd not know that they were often little villages unto themselves. There is a general store here, and a school, perhaps twenty or more families.

At the end of the valley, looking back over the ranch and the Home Ranch buildings.

We continued on, through two Indian Reserves, until we met Highway 5A. Turned right and travelled in a generally north direction towards Kamloops. At Campbell Creek Road, we turned right again, heading east-ish towards Bernhardvale (Bernhardtvale? I can never remember how to spell that place!), continuing on to Highway 97N. In a short way, we were back to our starting point in Westwold and home in time for supper.

A lovely three hour drive and we never passed through a community of more than 50 people, reserves not counting.

There was snow above 800m that day. There is snow on the ground here as of Friday morning. It was a mild day today, snow is gone in the lower places, and temperatures are to be much high again the first half of next week. This is why we live here now.

But we are still winter people. Curling season started in Falkland this week! and we won our first game on Thursday night, an auspicious beginning under a new skip. Our second, Mike, is AWOL in South America for a few months. So Carrie press ganged her father Don to be our skip - I hope we don't give him reason for second thoughts.

Carrie is now third, Fay second and I in a repeat performance as lead. Seeing as I got back into curling for fitness, that's a good thing. And given the heavy ice conditions the first four ends, I did indeed get a work-out, both throwing rocks and sweeping others.

Tender twinges in various and sundry parts of my body were reminders of that work-out. I'd hoped that gardening season would closely overlap curling so's to offset the worst of the twinges, and I may have been somewhat successful with that.

I was thinking about curling, about winter sports and winter people. A few years ago, I was at my mom's house with friends from a temperate country, and the question was asked: How long does it take for you to get ready for winter?

Mom and I looked at each other and smiled. As farm women raised on the prairies, the answer was instantaneous: All summer.

We (my childhood family, and then my family up north) did enjoy hot afternoons at the river and mild evenings playing slow pitch and drinking beer. But from the first crocus poking its nose through the snow and the first calf to hitting the still-frozen ground in spring, through to the last load of barley off the combine, the last calf through the sorting gate and momma cows off to winter pasture in the fall, summer was one long piece of work all geared towards surviving winter.

Winter, too, was hard work. But it was also long dark evenings of socializing and relaxation: cards, curling, skating on the local rink under floodlights, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through the bush on full moon nights. When the snow was deep, the mercury at the bottom of the bulb, the livestock all cared for the and woodbox full, that's when life was quiet and contemplative.

Enough retrospection. We have a supper date in Kamloops. The show Bryan's watching is almost done. The sun has set behind the mountain and it's time to head out the door.

I hope you've enjoyed a quiet, recuperative Saturday.

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