It’s March, but winter is still here! We had a record snowfall this winter and it’s still coming! This pic is from early February. Are we going camping yet?!
We have other things on our mind though.. we renewed and increased our mortgage and are finally able to renovate our basement now! We got Boyd and his son Cory to do the job for us and we’re so excited!!! We made a great plan and they just started, the basement is pretty much gutted now. Can’t wait for it to be done!!
And then there was HEART, again! This time here in Regina at the Conexus Art Centre. The idea of my idol Ann Wilson being only 2 km away from our house, made me very nervous!!! The show was great again, but of course it didn’t have the 21 year build-up that made the 2011 show in Saskatoon so emotional. Still awesome though, they played my favourite song Love Alive this time (see video) and got some nice merch
What About Love
Even It Up Dreamboat Annie
Dog & Butterfly
Dear Old America
Crazy On You
Black Dog (Zeppelin cover)
Love, Reign O’er Me (The Who cover, with support act Simon Townsend (younger brother of!)
Another great year on the prairies! Of course with ups and downs.. in May we had to say goodbye to our good friend Rob, which was a tremendous blow, and just days later to Nico’s manager Joy. That was the craziest week ever and luckily we went on our British Columbia trip the next day! For vacation and orientation, as we still had the wish to move to the Okanagan. It was a wonderful trip (by car), but Nico hadn’t been able to set up a single job interview and the health region just pointed to the external job postings online. Jobs are posted on an internal list first, so you almost have to get in through a casual or otherwise hard to fill position. Nico was not going to give up his permanent full-time job here for anything less though.
After that trip we let it rest and went camping in our provincial parks almost every weekend – 45 nights in 4 months, yay! We often stayed closer to home, having friends join us and it made us re-appreciate our beautiful prairie valleys. But we ended the season with a bang at Cypress Hills where we camped after season between the majestic lodgepole pines and had moose, deer and coyotes walk over the campground!
Our furry kids are doing better than ever. Tess had bladder stones removed and the vet put her on diet food. Feeding her separately was stressful on her though, so we now feed this (both wet and dry) food to all six. We already thought we were giving them high quality food (only dry though), but their coats have become much softer and Tess is more playful then we have ever seen her! We’d like to find less expensive alternatives to what we now have to buy from the vet, but we also don’t want to reverse this big change!
Now it’s winter (this time with lots of snow again!) and looking back on that BC trip and a wonderful SK summer, we’ve come to realize that we have everything we could possibly want right here and we don’t want to uproot ourselves yet again, only for mountains and milder (but greyer) winters. We’ve built up so much in these (almost) 5 years, that we don’t want to leave the amazing friendships, a better economic/financial situation, a cute house, our jobs, the many sun hours and the friendly prairie people behind! Never say never, but it looks like we’re staying!
So we are looking forward to more SK camping next year and a trip to Europe again. Not so much Holland, for this trip we’ll be visiting friends in Germany and spending a week in vacation bungalows in Belgium with family!
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas (or whatever other holiday you may be celebrating) and much happiness and health for the new year!!
Pictures on the card:
Main: home sweet home (a few days ago).
Inserts on the left: Buffalo Pound, Crooked Lake, northern lights, 2x Clear Lake (Manitoba), Tess.
Inserts on the right: Okanagan Lake, all 6 kitties, 4x Cypress Hills, sunrise at home.
We celebrated my birthday at my brother Ton and Rita’s place in Nieuw-Vennep and left for the south on the 22nd. We visited dad and Amalia in Eindhoven and continued to Landgraaf, where we stayed with Chantalle and Roald. From there we visited a lot of people in Heerlen, the rest of South-Limburg and even Aachen (Germany). It also included a reunion of the Kajuit, a youth centre that Nico used to work for back in the 80s!
On the 26th we drove to Dessel (Belgium) to visit Marjan and Erik (Anneke and Cordy joined us there), then on to Eindhoven on the 27th where we stayed with Els and Maurice. After some visits and shopping, we went to Baarlo for a few days, for the ProgPower Festival. Together with Cora we stayed at Anja’s B&B again, and the festival was like a family reunion again (but unfortunately it ended with a tragic accident afterwards)! On October 4th we drove back to Eindhoven and Nieuw-Vennep for some last days with family.
We flew back on the 6th, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Canada and our kitties again! It was great seeing everybody again, but I didn’t care much to be in Holland again (Nico appreciated that more). I’d rather cruise around over here in our RV haha! But of course we’ll keep visiting regularly
Early this morning we got the devastating news that one of our friends (and a well respected musician) decided to leave us last night. We thought he had left his dark years behind and was doing well with his new band and all, but apparently he wasn’t well at all. Rob, we will miss you brother, at least you don’t have to fight your demons anymore and we hope you found your peace :’(
Vanmorgen vroeg kregen we het vreselijke nieuws dat een van onze vrienden (en een zeer gerespecteerde muzikant) besloten heeft ons te verlaten. We dachten dat hij zijn donkere jaren achter zich had gelaten en het goed met hem ging met zijn nieuwe band en zo, maar kennelijk ging het hem helemaal niet goed. Rob, we zullen je missen, je hoeft tenminste niet meer tegen je demonen te vechten en we hopen dat je je rust gevonden hebt :’(
Oops, it’s been too long since we updated here! Busy busy… with work, my websites, camping! I’ll have to add reports and photo albums for that in the new year, sorry… but here’s our Xmas card and message:
click to enlarge!
No drastic changes for us this year, but still a lot of ups and a few downs of course.
To start with the downs, some of our friends and family had to lose loved ones, from Milan (our friends’ Anneke and Cordy’s son) at the end of last year to Bep (my sister-in-law’s mother) this month. We realize that this must be a difficult season for them, but we also hope it’s filled with lots of love and support!
A little down we had in our own house was that Nico put out his back at work in July, resulting him to be home for a month, then he slowly built up his hours again. Partly wear-and-tear, he’ll have to remain careful! And early in the year he was diagnosed with diabetes II (well under control with some tablets), he says it’s all downhill after 50
And the ups? Seeing Heart again live (Ann Wilson is still my idol!), my bff Els and her family coming to Canada (we spent some days together in the – still wintery – Rockies in May), many camping trips here in Saskatchewan (most close by though because Nico couldn’t drive far after his injury), registering my own website design business Feel The Fire (after it being a hobby for 13 years) and a hectic trip to Holland! It was the first time back since we moved to Canada. It was great to see “everybody” again, but I already got a bit homesick after a week Other “ups” are that I’m now working from home for my Canada Life job too and that our “rental” cat Smokey is now officially ours. His former mommy felt she couldn’t take him away from all his playmates anymore after all this time. Thank you Char! <3
The start of winter is very mild this year (mostly just mildly freezing and hardly any snow) so it looks like we won’t have a real white Xmas – who would’ve thought?! But we’ll be spending it with friends
big photo: our RV on the Icefields Parkway (photo by Els)
top row: deer in Jasper, Peyto Lake viewpoint (Rockies) – dad and me, Eindhoven (Holland) – 5/6 of our feline kids
bottom row: camping pics in Echo Lake Provincial Park, Moose Mountain PP (northern lights & Nico chopping wood), Waskesiu (Prince Albert National Park, middle and last pic)
Last week we went for a bike ride around Wascana Lake, but we managed to do only the north side. When we tried to come back on the south side, the path was so flooded that we ended up just taking College. Vorige week wilden we om het Wascana Lake fietsen, maar we hebben alleen de noordkant gedaan. Toen we langs de zuidkant terug wilden komen, was het pad zoveel overstroomd dat we maar via College teruggekomen zijn.
And further, we had a great night with Steve Smyth and a few more members and crew of Forbidden on the Friday before our Gravelbourg trip. Unfortunately the show was cancelling because of flooding in the venue, but because of this we did have a chance to catch up with Steve all night long! Photos coming soon! Verder hebben we de vrijdag voor onze Gravelbourg trip nog een leuke avond verbracht met Steve Smyth en nog een paar leden en crew van Forbidden. Helaas was het concert afgezegd vanwege overstroming in de zaal, maar wij hadden daardoor wel de kans de hele avond met Steve bij te kletsen! Foto’s volgen nog!
Instead of a regular camping weekend, we decided to visit our Gravelbourg friends! The Solstice Festival was a bonus We took the motorhome, plugged in at Cees and Carlien’s motel and had a great time with them (thanks for lending us your car!)! On the festival we also ran into our awesome realtors Jennifer and Angelo Coppolla, they love to visit small town summer festivals and were camping at Thompson Lake! And on Sunday we visited Toos and Darcy in their beautiful home and Fred and Jackie in Glenbain… without taking kittens home this time!
In plaats van een normaal kampeerweekend, wilden we nu eens onze Gravelbourg vrienden bezoeken! Het Solstice Festival was een bonus We namen de camper mee, plugden in bij Cees en Carlien’s motel en hadden een gezellige dag met hen (bedankt dat we jullie auto mochten lenen!)! Op het festival kwamen we ook nog onze geweldige makelaars Jennifer en Angelo Coppolla tegen, zij bezoeken graag festivals in kleine plaatsen en kampeerden bij Thompson Lake! En op zondag bezochten we Toos en Darcy in hun prachtig huis en Fred en Jackie in Glenbain… dit keer zonder kittens mee naar huis te nemen!
Last weekend I was home alone and worked very hard for 2 long days to make a new office for me. Uncluttered the existing one, moved lots to the basement and created a nice, spacious new Feel The Fire office So happy with it! Vorig weekend was ik alleen thuis en heb ik 2 dagen heel hard gewerkt om een nieuw kantoor voor me in te richten. Eerst het oude opgeruimd, veel spullen naar een kamer in de kelder verhuisd en een mooi, ruim Feel The Fire kantoor gecreëerd Heel erg blij mee!
After our Rockies trip with a lot of driving, we just wanted a relaxed weekend in a nearby campground. As some of the provincial parks still battled the flooding during this busy May Long weekend, we decided to check out the regional park of Craik & District, a bit over an hour from Regina along the 11 to Saskatoon. The park is situated in the small Arm river valley. There are a few short trails, one that we walked several times led to the dugout house (a historic pioneer home build in the hillside), and the Arm reservoir. The weather wasn’t too bad, cloudy, a little bit of rain, but we could be outside quite a bit. On Sunday the sun came out and we stayed until 2pm to enjoy it! Such a cute campground with friendly people – definitely a place to go back to!
Small, cozy campground in a nice prairie valley setting. Spacious sites, partial shade by trees and shrubs. Various power and water sites, we had a 15 amp site with water for 23$ (and payed $5 per day for park entry instead of getting a year pass). There is a.o. a pool, mini golf and concession on site, golf centre and restaurant near by as well as the Arm Lake (Craik reservoir). Town of Craik is 1.6 km away.
For our first 4 day trip we wanted to go to Greenwater Lake, but we ended up following the (slightly) better weather forecast to Kenosee Lake, Moose Mountain Provincial Park. We even got to go on Tuesday as I didn’t have to work this week (temporarily not enough work). Tuesday and Wednesday were gorgeous, sunny days, but the rest of the week was mostly cloudy, chilly, very windy with some rain and only some sunny parts. We did go for walks and bike rides, but couldn’t sit outside much until it cleared up, usually in the evening (BBQ, firepit). There was still a lot of water everywhere, many sites were wet or muddy and the water in the lakes was still high. Unfortunately that meant that the trails were also muddy and wet (if not flooded), so we stuck to the paved roads. We’ll have to go back when it’s warmer and dryer!
Beautiful campgrounds in the forest, perfect level sites with firepit/bbq and picnic tables, situated between Kenosee and Little Kenosee Lakes. Our electric site was $22, day/3 days/weekly/transferable annual Provincial Parks pass needed ($50 for 2011). It’s a few kms back to the beach, Kenosee Inn, mini-golf, and the golf-course and more amenities in the village of Kenosee Lake.
For our 5th visit to the Banff-Jasper area (and to meet our Dutch friends Els, Maurice and their son Brian), we left Regina at 1.45pm (Nico came out of nightshift and had to sleep some hours). We stopped in Swift Current for gas and propane, which took some time as we had to find that first. Turned out the Co-Op had it on the north side of the highway, but we didn’t see it until we were already crossing the road to go to Husky on the south side. After that fairly long break, we kept going until sunset and made it as far as Brooks, Alberta! In the afternoon we got a text from Els that they arrived in Calgary (flew in with a direct KLM flight from Amsterdam). We’re close!
Monday May 2nd
We only had a few hours to go to Airdrie, where we’d be meeting Els, Maurice and Brian, so we didn’t have to rush. We stayed in touch while we were on our way and they were getting their rental motorhome from Fraserway. We would see each other at the Walmart parking lot and we got there at the same time, around noon, such timing! ) After a great reunion after 3 years, admiring each other’s motorhomes and our cats and some shopping in the Walmart, we drove to Banff over the 1A. That was a first for us (we had always taken the 1 or the 22X underneath Calgary) and we enjoyed the different views from the other side of the valley and through the forest. Near Canmore we saw a lot of bighorn sheep! In Canmore we joined the 1 again and soon after we entered Banff National Park where our friends had to get their National Parks Pass (ours from last year is still valid). On the Tunnel Mountain Campground we asked for sites near a shelter, so we could BBQ in there (it was still wintery cold). We (except Nico) first took the bus to town to check out the stores. When we got back around 8, Maurice got a fire going in the stove in the shelter, we admired the elk that walked by on the campground, Nico barbecued and we had a great first night together in there!
Tuesday May 3rd
We took our time for breakfast, Maurice made us eggs, bacon and hashbrowns Then we left the snowy campground to go to Lake Louise. We took the Bow Valley Parkway and stopped at the Johnston Canyon. There still was a lot of snow and ice in there, so most of the path was pretty slippery! We made it as far as the first falls though and it was very pretty in this winter setting. On our way up, we suddenly heard some growling and all stopped dead in our tracks right away.. then we didn’t see or hear anything! Did we hear a bear or cougar?? Was it a sound from further away (but where, in the canyon?)? Nobody was sure what we heard, so we continued. When we came back another woman told us in the same area she thought she saw a bear or heard something… what?? Nico doesn’t believe it, but I think there must’ve been something! As the giftshop/coffeecorner was still closed, we continued our journey on the beautiful Bow Valley Parkway. We wanted to stop for a picnic at the Storm Mountain viewpoint, but it was still closed, so we decided to get coffee and a snack in the bakery in Lake Louise (Village). After that break and a little snow storm, we went to the visitor centre and to Lake Louise itself. It looked just like it had all winter, still frozen and piles of snow! We also checked out the Chateau and then went back to the valley to check in on the campground. Only part of it was open (again because there was a lot of snow) but we found a double spot for the both of us. Time to BBQ again And shower, and sit together for the rest of the night.
Wednesday May 4th
Icefields Parkway time!! Luckily the sky looked much brighter today, a mix of sun and clouds. After getting gas, we took the famous 93 up to Jasper, around 10am. First stop was my favourite spot, Bow Lake. I had suggested to have breakfast on the pullout on the side of the lake, but once again it was closed (not cleared of snow). We could turn into the access road to the Num-Ti-Jah lodge and park on that parking lot, but weren’t able to get close to the lake there as someone was still shoveling the huge amount of snow that was still there. After having breakfast together on the parking lot (Maurice made pancakes), we stopped a few kms further to get to the Peyto Lake viewpoint. We had wanted to drive up the road to the parking lot for buses and the handicapped, but no such luck. We had to walk through the snow, a narrow trail was made over the road we had planned to take (so not the normal trail in the summer). But it was worth the effort as the view over a white Peyto Lake and very clear valley was fantastic again! Everything looked fantastic on the Icefields Parkway, esp with so much snow on the mountains and the great weather! It was our 5th visit and 8th time driving this Parkway and the scenic route possibly looked more beautiful then ever! After lunch at the Crossing (Saskatchewan Crossing), we briefly stopped at the viewpoint after the Big Bend and visited the Icefields Centre at the Athabasca Glacier. After that we stopped once more to visit the Athabasca Falls. There wasn’t much water yet, the falls were partly frozen and we could only get to the first viewpoint and not to the other side (still closed) We got to the Wapiti winter camping around 6.30pm. See how only 230km and just a handful of the sites along the way, take you a whole day! The campground was initially a disappointment for me, because I had expected that a part of the regular campground (in the forest) would be open, but it was only an open parkinglot, with electric hookups and a shower building though. But all in all the surrounding scenery is still awesome of course and we did have a good time there. In the evening we sat inside anyway and we were still so full from lunch that we only had smokies on a bun (took us a while to convince Brian that smokies are smoked sausages and we weren’t going to eat our Smokey )
No rush today, so we could sleep in a little and have a leisurely breakfast on one of the picnic tables around the parking lot, erm I mean campground. Our chef Maurice prepared a hot meal again with eggs, bacon and hashbrowns Then we checked out Jasper, did some shopping and had a coffee. We chilled for a bit on the campground before heading back to Jasper for supper (Maurice and Els took us out to a restaurant for our last evening together) and had a great meal at “Somewhere Else” Then we took the Maligne Lake Road to Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake, hopefully to see some wildlife. It was a beautiful drive as always, but esp. at Maligne Lake there was still so much snow that you could hardly get to the lake. I went as far as the deck of the restaurant that was still closed. The lake was still frozen as well. We didn’t stay long and drove back to Jasper. We didn’t see any wildlife until we were back on the 16 where we saw a coyote and lots of elk. We ended the evening with some drinks at the Loonens’ motorhome.
Unfortunately it was already time to say goodbye to Els, Maurice and Brian. It has been so good to see them again and it was too short, so it was tough, but at least we’ll see each other again in September. We drove to the 16 and literally split up there, they went left to B.C. and we turned right to Edmonton. Our first stop was Edmonton where we visited Ben’s Meat & Deli for some Dutch goodies (way too much liquorice and sweets, but also frikandellen, bamischijven (they called them Indonesian bami pucks) and croquettes)! Then we briefly visited Sebastiaan (CBB) and little Lars (Mariska was at work) in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton. We couldn’t stay long, as we wanted to be in Lloydminster at supper time. We got there at 7pm, it was good to see Mark again (who lived with us for 4 months a year ago) and we had supper at a Chinese buffet. Yummy!! Back at his place we chatted a bit, watched TV, surfed the net, and went to sleep in our motorhome (in front of the house) in time.
Saturday May 7th
Time for the last part to Regina. It was still pretty long and tiring. We saw a coyote outside of the Battlefields, took a break in a field near Maymont and stopped in Dundurn (south of Saskatoon) for a late lunch/early supper. Around 6pm we were finally home again!
We are Nico and Marlies Wobben and in February 2008 we moved from the Netherlands to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada! Nico is an RN at the General Hospital and I (Marlies) work from home, as an administrator at Canada Life and for my own web design business Feel The Fire. And we have 6 cats!
Wij zijn Nico en Marlies Wobben en in februari 2008 zijn we verhuisd van Nederland naar Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada! Nico is verpleegkundige in het General Hospital en ik (Marlies) werk thuis als administrator bij Canada Life en voor mijn eigen web design bedrijf Feel The Fire. En we hebben 6 katten!