Thanksgiving in L.A.

We made the trek from Victoria, British Columbia on the southern tip of Vancouver island to Lethbridge, in the southern reaches of Alberta to celebrate Thanksgiving with  family. By car, it’s a ferry ride and fifteen hours of mountain driving – or, three hours flight time. We usually put our air miles to use and fly, as we did this time. We flew to Calgary, stayed overnight  at a hotel near the airport, and the next morning took the connector flight to Lethbridge, Alberta – or L.A. as it’s often referred to.

That flight is an experience. From the departure gate, we board a bus that takes us to the far end of the apron where our ride awaits. The aircraft is a Beechcraft turbo prop that holds about eighteen people, and it’s full. It’s a cosy experience.The seats look like they were borrowed from a kindergarten class, but  every seat is a window seat. The flight from Calgary takes forty-five minutes.

Lethbridge is also my home town and soon familiar landmarks appear on the horizon. Our flight path takes us over the high level bridge that spans the mile and a quarter river valley carved by the Old Man River. It’s difficult to get a decent photo from the aircraft window, but here are some ground photos of the big bridge.

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Under the bridge

The modern City of Lethbridge, with a population approaching one hundred thousand, is located near the site of the original settlement, of Fort Whoop-Up. The fort was a trading post established in 1869 by two American traders. Originally named Fort Hamilton after one of the founders, the fort earned a wild and lawless reputation.

One type of alcohol sold by the Whoop-Up bandits was known as Whoop-Up Bug Juice, a highly prized alcohol spiked with ginger, molasses, and red pepper. It was then coloured with black chewing tobacco, watered down, and boiled to make “firewater”.[5] 

The reputation of Fort Whoop-Up led to the establishment of the North West Mounted Police and their famous march west in 1874. Reminiscent of on present day ‘war on drugs’ efforts.

Fort Whoop-up has been re-created in Indian Battle Park in the Riverbottom near the big bridge.

This photo overlooks the river valley towards the site of the original fort near  the junction of the Oldman and St. Mary’s rivers. The Rocky Mountains are just visible against the horizon.

Coulees near Lethbridge

Looking towards the original site of Fort Whoop-up

We often stay at Paradise Canyon, a timeshare and golf resort in the valley. It’s a beautiful setting, and we’ve been here so often that it feels like our home away from home  – but the weather is subject to rapid change at this time of year.

This photo is from our timeshare unit two days ago.

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This was the scene when we looked out today.

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We enjoyed a wonderful thanksgiving feast with family, and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Word on the Street

word on the street logoWow! It’s October 7th. already. The changing colors of tree leaves, cooler mornings and shorter days, confirms the calendar. Fall is indeed happening, but I feel a bit like Fred, a character in my novel The White Limousine – like I stepped into a time machine at the beginning of summer and was transported to today. I have vivid memories of places and events from summer. I think they’re all real – but are they? Were they just dreams or a false memories? Maybe I’ve been reading too much Steven King. Speaking of The King of the horror genre, I’m just finishing one of his new releases ‘Joyland’. I’ll share my thoughts on that book in a future post.
One of my more recent memories, which I’m sure was real, was a trip to Lethbridge in Southern Alberta. Lethbridge is my hometown, and over the past few years, I’ve been back many times. I’ve become re-acquainted with my old digs. Lethbridge is a vibrant, modern city, but many of the landmarks of my youth; the big bridge, the clock tower downtown, the main library, the train station, the modest house where I grew up are all still intact, and the beauty of the coulees and the Oldman river valley is timeless. I still feel a strong sense of connection and belonging amid the many changes.

September 20th, 2015 was a beautiful, sunny day, a perfect day for Lethbridge’s fifth annual Word On The Street Book and Magazine Festival. The festival evolved from the Toronto Book and Magazine Fair, becoming Word on the Street in 1994.  Word On The Street Festivals are now held in seven cities across Canada. Sponsored by the Lethbridge Public Library, the event provides authors with an opportunity to showcase their work, meet and talk with other writers, take in a variety of talks and workshops and hopefully sell a few books.  My table display featuring The White Limousine garnered considerable attention. The experience was a memorable success and one I hope to repeat again next year. By then, my next novel, The Douglas Document – Betrayal, will also be on display, but it will be available long before then. Stay tuned!