Up we GO!

I was invited to go flying and did aerobatics in a Pitts Special Biplane with pilot Stefan Trischuk at the Whitecourt Airport. We did some loopty-loops, barrel rolls, and even flew upside down. (Those are completely technical terms.) I think we got to 2.5 or 3 Gs.

It was awesome.

Also, FYI, I am not screaming in fright. I am WOOHOOing. It’s different.

The Whitecourt Hometown Heroes Air Show is July 26 and 27, 2014.

Up we GO! from Olivia Rutt on Vimeo.

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Boots, buckles, and cowboy hats

This weekend was the big rodeo in Whitecourt.

WHAT FUN!

I posted a bunch of pictures to Flickr. Go check it out.

Here are some sequence shots I turned into GIFs.

Chariot Races at the Whitecourt Rodeo

Chariot Races at the Whitecourt Rodeo

Getting bucked off

Getting bucked off

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This Crazy, Addictive Rodeo Life

I recently wrote a features article about the ups and downs of being in a rodeo in the Whitecourt Press. I interviewed a number or rodeo competitors from the area and a rodeo announcer.

My article in the Whitecourt Press

My article in the Whitecourt Press

It’s a long read but here’s the article. I’ve also added in some photos from the Sangudo Rodeo.

This crazy addictive rodeo life

Your hand is secure. You can feel the muscles of the bull underneath your legs, hoping it will stay calm in the chute. You breathe. You clear your mind and nod.

The gate flies open and everything happened at once. The bull is out, bucking, as it takes everything in you to stay on. Those eight seconds are the longest and shortest eight seconds of your life. Then it’s over, whether you stay on or get bucked off, it is over.

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Continue reading

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Doing things that make you proud: Climbing a 100ft fire tower

I woke up yesterday morning with a mixture of nervousness and excitement fighting within me. I was going to climb a 100-foot fire tower.

When I set up the climb with the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, they told me not to worry if I can’t make it to the top. I shouldn’t be ashamed because not everyone can do it.

That made me more nervous. What if I couldn’t do it? I was more nervous about not being able to do it than the climb itself.

The TOWER

The TOWER

Arriving at the site was a bit of a struggle. I don’t have a 4×4 and driving those oil roads were a feat in themselves.

I received a brief orientation, was harnessed up, and clipped onto a metal cable. A clip the size of my fist and a cage surrounding the ladder were the only things stopping me from falling to my death.

I looked up ready to take my first step. My mind was filled with tips from orientation: take one step at a time, always have three points of contact, alternate between left and right, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of not going all the way.

I just told myself – okay I said it aloud – “Let’s do this!”

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A little bit about the ladder: It is 100 ft straight up. It is surrounded by a metal cage. It is the only way to and from the lookout booth.

About 40 feet up, I’m at the tree line. It is my first real view of my surroundings. The first thing I notice is how tired my hands are. I have been gripping those ladder rails hard and my grip is going numb.

At 50 feet, I do the one thing I was told not to do: I look down. Thank goodness I am not afraid of heights. When I looked down, I smiled. Look how far I got. Then I look up. Oh god. I have so far to go.

At 80 feet, I am done. I can’t go on. My hands, my arms. I won’t be able to make it. But I made it that far. And there’s no way I’ll be able to climb down right away so I pushed myself 10 feet farther. As the hatch opened, I stumbled on the floor of the booth.

My arms were like noodles. My hands were forming into claws. My throat was dry. However, the best thing is I MADE IT.

The AMAZING view from above

The AMAZING view from above

I felt, literally and figuratively, on top of the world. So my advice: do those things that push you. As Babe Ruth said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”  Maybe I should start this saying: “never let the fear of failure keep you from climbing the tower.”

Stay Curious,

Olivia

Watch for my article in the Whitecourt Press out on Tuesday

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Summer Solstice

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice. June 21, 2014. It is the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year (although scientifically it is not the day with the earliest sunrise or latest sunset, but I won’t get into that)

For millennium, different civilizations held great significance to the summer solstice. For me, it coincides with my mother’s birthday (Happy birthday Mom).

One of the items on my bucket list* is seeing the sun never set above the Arctic Circle. Although this wasn’t exactly what happened this year, I am farthest North I have ever been. Whitecourt sits at the 54th parallel, compared to home at the 43rd parallel. The farther North you travel, the longer the day is. For instance, today I had 17 hours and 10 minutes of daylight; compared to home that had 15 hours and 26 minutes.

It was a busy day for me running and covering so many events. I stuck around and watched the beautiful traditional dancers at Rotary Park for National Aboriginal Day. Also, bad on me for not wearing sunscreen, I’m a little bit crispy. So here are a few photos from the longest day of the year.

People practicing yoga for the Summer Solstice in Hard Luck Canyon

People practicing yoga for the Summer Solstice in Hard Luck Canyon

Traditional Dancer at Rotary Park for National Aboriginal Day

Traditional Dancer at Rotary Park for National Aboriginal Day

This little Caterpillar is so happy that it is finally summer.

This little Caterpillar is so happy that it is finally summer.

Sun will be up at 5:09 am tomorrow morning and as my dad would say, “The days are getting shorter as we head toward winter.”

Or as Ned Stark would say, “Winter is coming”

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Hard Luck Canyon

I’ve been to Whitecourt for about three weeks now. I absolutely love it. There is so much to see here. It is a small town, so it is pretty easy to recognize people, and easy to get around.

The best thing I’ve noticed about Whitecourt is the smell. It always smells like pine. It is surrounded by trees (forest capital of Canada) and there is a paper mill in town, so it is pretty predominant.

So here are some pictures from some of the things I’ve seen around here and some facts about the town.

McLeod River at the Hard Luck Canyon

McLeod River at the Hard Luck Canyon

Beaver Creek Falls also known as Hard Luck Falls and Bridge above

Beaver Creek Falls also known as Hard Luck Falls and Bridge above

Hard Luck Canyon is about 20 kilometres south of Whitecourt. The McLeod River carved out the soft, sandy rock to form this beautiful Canyon

Beaver Creek Falls

Beaver Creek Falls

Falls from an angle. The best time to see the falls is in the Spring

Falls from an angle. The best time to see the falls is in the Spring

Whitecourt is also located at the confluence of four waterways – the Athabasca River, McLeod River, Sakwatamau River and Beaver Creek. “Where the rivers meet” is a common saying here. The community was first formed by the Cree and named Sagitawah (the place where the rivers meet).

Boat on the McLeod River. The boat behind is on the Athabasca. Cool right?

Boat on the McLeod River. The boat behind is on the Athabasca. Cool right?

There is an awesome park in town called Rotary Park. It has a pond, a lazy river slide, a splash park, a playground, and some sports fields. It is a great place to hang by the pond and have a picnic.

Rotary Park pond

Rotary Park pond

There is wildlife everywhere. I’ve seen moose, deer, and various bird of prey. After town council there was a couple of deer outside of the building. My neighbour feeds a family of deer during the winter months, so I can’t wait to photograph them.

I love those big fuzzy bumble bees

I love those big fuzzy bumble bees

Some cool butterflies outside my house

Some cool butterflies outside my house

Deer near Whitecourt Mountain

Deer near Whitecourt Mountain

Whitecourt is the Forest Capital of Canada, has a meteor crater, and some pretty amazing look outs. So here are some more pictures of beautiful Whitecourt!

Coal Mine Hill Lookout over Whitecourt and the Athabasca

Coal Mine Hill Lookout over Whitecourt and the Athabasca

The view of Whitecourt Mountain from 8-mile hill. Whitecourt lies north of this mountain

The view of Whitecourt Mountain from 8-mile hill. Whitecourt lies north of this mountain

Weather here has been iffy. It would be sunny for most of the day, then pour for an hour.

Weather here has been iffy. It would be sunny for most of the day, then pour for an hour.

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10 things you need to know about taking a cross country trip

So I left a couple of days ago for my third cross Canada trip, but the first one where I drove. Compared to being a kid when your parents make all the decisions, I learned a few things about the long haul that I would like to pass on.

1. Make sure to get your car serviced before you make the trip. My car needed an oil change at 16,000 km and it was going to hit that mark on my trip, so I got it serviced early to avoid the headache. My service person checks everything out for me, they topped up all my fluids, rotated the tires and even changed my wipers.

2. Have a good idea of an itinerary. Knowing where you want to stop for the day, stops along the way, and other breaks will help you stay on track and on time.

3. Don’t be afraid of breaking the itinerary. Our unexpected delay outside of Sudbury, caused us to change our itinerary. It was a great move, as the motel in Wawa was a lot nicer that the one we were going to stay at.

4. Snacks are your best friend. We were able to save money by buying one lump of food and not buying breakfast, lunch and dinner.  A cooler with protein shakes, carrots, pepperoni sticks, cheese, and water and a bag full of crackers, bread, wafers, bananas, chocolate almonds, and veggie stix were sufficient for our whole trip.

5. It’s good to stop every 400 kms or so. Stop for the bathroom, for a point of interest, or even just to stretch your legs. It was pretty easy to break up the trip between towns or points on interest

6. When packing your car make sure you are not cramped in the seat and have all your necessities within arms reach.

7. Podcasts. Even music gets boring after a while. Dad and I have a similar interest in history, so I downloaded the Stuff you Missed in History class podcast. It is quite interesting and most of them are only half an hour long.

8. It’s a great idea to stop at the first information kiosk when you pull over. We found ourselves on a new road that was not on the outdated map that we had, or on the garmin. Stopping at information will give you the most update maps and it can give you some ideas of where to stop in the province.

9. Keep your eye out for the roadside information attractions. There are some neat attraction stops along the highway and you get to learn a little bit of history on the way. Some of the ones we passed by are: the halfway point of the TransCanada hwy, the Arctic/Atlantic watershed divide, the longitudinal centre of Canada,  the provincial boarders, and the boarder of where Northwest Territories was in 1877.

10. Keep your camera up front. There are so many amazing photo opportunities on the side of a highway, and you never know when you might come across wildlife. They could run away before you get that camera out.

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Kilometre 3,284 (Lloydminster) to Kilometre 3,770 (Whitecourt)

The LAST leg of the journey.

We finally found the Welcome to Alberta sign outside of Lloydminster.

We finally found the Welcome to Alberta sign outside of Lloydminster.

Today is kind of a sad day. Today, I drop my dad off at the airport and continue on to Whitecourt, my new home. I don’t think it has hit me that everything has changed.  JKKKKKKKKKOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII (That was my grandma’s cat jumping on my keyboard I just have to keep that also look how cute they are!)

Sputnik

Sputnik

Couscous

Couscous

We left Lloydminster early, hoping to sight see on the way to Edmonton Airport. We’d be passing through Elk Island National Park, and we wanted some extra time in case we spotted some wild life.

Our first stop was at the giant egg, also known at the Vegreville Pysanka. It was one of the many centenary projects that happened in Alberta in 1974.

Vegreville Pysanka. So BIG. Look how tiny I am next to it!

Vegreville Pysanka. So BIG. Look how tiny I am next to it!

This part of the province has a large Ukrainian population, so we stopped at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village to see the rich history of the county.

Play actor and his truck at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Play actor and his truck at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Here we learned about the history of the Ukrainians that came to Canada in search for a life. The Village is a recreation of the different time periods from small, crude huts, to the rich towns built by the people. All the workers were in period garb and play acted. All of the building you could go into and explore. (I also spotted a bust of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Go Golden Hawks!) My dad was almost attacked by a pair of Canada Geese, but don’t give him sympathy, he provoked them.

LAURIER!  Represent!

LAURIER! Represent!

These are the geese that hissed at dad.

These are the geese that hissed at dad.

Our next stop was in Elk Island National Park. Here you can see bison, deer, bears, wolves, beavers and more. What did we see? Nothing. Not a single animal. I am thinking I would like to go back when the weather is a little nicer and do some hiking on the trails they have.

Elk Island National Park

Elk Island National Park

The only wildlife we saw in Elk Island. She was unimpressed.

The only wildlife we saw in Elk Island. She was unimpressed.

We pulled into the airport much earlier than we thought we would. Saying goodbye sucked, but I know they are only a phone call away.

They rest of the trip was to Whitecourt. Whitecourt is in the Woodland County. There are trees and trails everywhere. I can’t wait to start my new job and get to know this little town.

Here ends my road trip across Canada.

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Kilometre 2,302 (Portage la Prairie) to Kilometre 3,284 (Lloydminster)

Alberta is probably so excited to see me that it cried with happiness. All day.

Rain was the challenge today. It rained off an on for most of the trip through Manitoba and was just cloudy through Saskatchewan. After Portage la Prairie, we wanted to take the Yellowhead Hwy. It was a road that dad and I have never been on.

In 1877, this would be Northwest Territories. in Manitoba

In 1877, this would be Northwest Territories. in Manitoba

The Yellowhead Hwy starts at the corner of Portage and Main outside of Winnipeg, MB and continues on through Saskatchewan and Alberta where it forks in British Columbia. At the base of Mt. Robinson, the tallest mountain in Canada, the hwy splits North to Haida Gwaii and South to Hope, BC.

The highway has an interesting history. The Yellowhead Hwy was named after Pierre Bostonais, a Metis fur trader and explorer. He had blonde hair and was nicknamed Tete Jaune which translates to yellow head.

There wasn’t much to see in Manitoba. We saw trains and small lakes, but there were not many towns on the Yellowhead. The towns that were there seemed to have many closed own businesses and run down buildings.

Stormy day

Stormy day

Made it to Saskatchewan

Made it to Saskatchewan

I absolutely love Saskatchewan. It is so flat, the sky is so big, and for the first time, you could feel the enormity of Canada. You could watch two different storm systems pass on either side of you. Towns here seemed to be more prosperous and more plentiful than Manitoba. I realy liked the town of North Battlefords. It was starting to get hilly here and the landscape was stunning. We stopped at the Mountie statue.

So flat...

So flat…

Mountie statue in North Battlefords, Sask

Mountie statue in North Battlefords, Sask

"Don't fence me in" A bison made from barbed wire fence. Battlefords, Sask

“Don’t fence me in” A bison made from barbed wire fence. Battlefords, Sask

Dad and I are stopping in Lloydminster for two days. Lloydminster is a cool town. It is right on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In fact, the main road running North/South is the border. They have these cool red border markers that are a neat photo opportunity.  We totally missed the World’s largest Sundial (next time?).

On the border

On the border

Sitting on the border. my feet to two different places. (I always think of a Walk to Remember when I do this.)

Sitting on the border. my feet to two different places. (I always think of a Walk to Remember when I do this.)

What is interesting to see here is the difference between the Alberta side and the Saskatchewan side of town. It is growing more on the Alberta side even though there is an agreement between the two provinces for the town.

Saskatchewan might be the most difficult to understand when it comes to time. Although Saskatchewan is part of the Central Time Zone (with Manitoba), the province doesn’t recognize daylight savings time. One of the ladies at the information desk in Lloydminster explained that during the summer, Saskatchewan has the same time as Alberta and during the winter they have the same time as Manitoba.

We are almost at the final leg of our journey, then it’s a whole new adventure from there.

 

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Kilometre 930 (Wawa) to kilometre 2,302 (Portage-la-Prairie)

(Posting it after-the-fact because, again, no signal, and the internet at the motel isn’t free)

Rainbow over Wawa

Rainbow over Wawa

Well, Holy Mackerel. What a day. We started the day with a light drizzle and a rainbow in Wawa and traveled to the sunny, warm Thunder Bay. We stopped at the Terry Fox memorial to stretch our legs and take a few pictures. You could see the Sleeping Giant rock formation. (I mean, sure, it kind of looks like a sleeping giant.) Before this we stopped at Terrace Bay, and found a really impressive gorge and waterfall, called Aguasabon Falls.

The end of Aguasabon river into Lake Superior

The end of Aguasabon river into Lake Superior

Agusabon Falls, Terrace Bay, ON

Agusabon Falls, Terrace Bay, ON

Terry Fox Memorial

Terry Fox Memorial

Sleeping Giant. (I don't know, do you think it looks like a sleeping giant?)

Sleeping Giant. (I don’t know, do you think it looks like a sleeping giant?)

We decided to drive on Hwy 11 rather than Hwy 17, because it was a road my dad had never been on, and it wasn’t that much longer. The southern route follows the Ontario/ US border and was supposed to be more scenic than the northern route. On that route was the Arctic/Atlantic Watershed boarder which separates the flow of rives from one ocean to the other.

Arctic/ Atlantic watershed divide

Arctic/ Atlantic watershed divide

I definitely recommend taking that route over 17. It is filled with hills and cliffs and lakes. What was surprising here was the corner of Ontario. Fort Frances looked so much like home. It had hay fields rather than the Shield. It was flat and warm, and completely out of character for Northern Ontario. Hwy 11 swings north to meet up with the TransCanada and that stretch of road was stunning. We followed the major lake, Lake of the Woods, from the boarder to Kenora.

Let’s be real, my dad did most of the driving today. Not only is he more suited (and more experienced) to driving, but after we saw the second moose while I was driving, he told me I needed to sit in the passenger seat to take the pictures.

MOOSE! (in Lake Superior Provincial Park)

MOOSE! (in Lake Superior Provincial Park)

We finally reached the Manitoba border around 5pm CT, under an ominous sky. Soon, the land started to flatten and going 120km/h was completely normal. The skies opened up and let everything out. It was like driving under Niagara Falls. I missed the first gas station of Manitoba, not realizing the next one was at least 100km away. Well, I pulled into the next gas station, running on fumes. Honestly, I thought we would run out of gas and be stuck on the side of the road, with no phone signal (I thought that only happened in the movies), and in the pouring rain.

Made it to Manitoba before a massive torrential downpour

Made it to Manitoba before a massive torrential downpour

Flat and nothing in Manitoba, oh and lightning

Flat and nothing in Manitoba, oh and lightning

(Side note: Speaking about gas, WHY IS GAS 150.9 IN NORTHERN ONTARIO? Is it really that hard to get that it is a quarter more per litre than Manitoba?)

We’ve stopped in our planned place of Portage-la-Prairie, MB and will continue on to Lloydminster, AB tomorrow.

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