Friday, September 25, 2009

calling lake alberta

I recently took a few years off my life by accidentally smashing my head open. Being the bald young man I am, I don't have the added hair protection to soften the blow that so many other people do. So with a damaged noggin' and rest on order I decided to take in some relaxation time out of the city. I packed my bags on Monday and headed a few hundred kilometers north of Edmonton to Calling Lake.

The closest point of reference for those in Alberta is Athabasca,  located 60 km away. The hamlet of Calling Lake itself, isn't much to look at. With most of the population only around in the summer, you find a mix of older cabins in and around new (big money) developments along the water front. So if you, like me, are here in the off season, there is plenty of open air to breathe and space to stretch out your legs.

With things nice and slow this time of year, I was able to pick blueberries, go for walks, enjoy the water and ride the ATV's all by my lonesome. I also played a lot of domino's and did my best to cook up some delicious treats.

Speaking of berry picking. With all sorts of off-road vehicles in the area, a major berry picking site was fenced in to stop any unnecessary damage. Just like hearding cattle, pickers need to find a 'gate' to enter.

Even with low rain fall this year adding up to a disappointing crop, I was still able to gather quite a few blueberries.

I probably froze 10 cups for home, and still had some to bake with. Blueberry bran muffins!

With almost no year round population, you should pretty much bring anything you need from the city. There is the Moosehorn Market, run by a nice Korean couple, but you are going to be paying quite the premium. For example, a handful of grapes ($1.69), apples ($3/pound), and a pack of trident will cost you $3.

The lake, which apparently gets quite busy in the summer time, was a fantastic to look at during the day and night.

My family has a long history of playing domino's, so needless to say our family friends have been drawn into the game. The lake life almost begs for you to pass the hours with this game.

With no space in the cabin for myself, I spend the week inside of a gulfstream motorhome. As a tent camper, I've never slept in a tent trailer or 5th wheel; so I was blown away by the comfort of this gulfstream. Satellite TV, full sized bed, fridge, two burner gas stove, shower, jacuzzi tub, and the list goes on.

With the nice weather, I was able to spend an entire fun filled day out quading. No matter the machine - quad, seadoo, skidoo, or motorcycle, I love the feeling of rushing through the open air. There is something very peaceful about it.

Of course this doesn't mean you can't enjoy getting stuck either. All part of the game in the back country. Besides that's what winches are for!

We discovered some great parts around Calling Lake. From all the crazy types of wild mushrooms to an old seaplane dock (a smaller body of water - Hay Lakes - is located a few miles inland from the main lake and was utilized for its calm waters), the area around here is beautiful.

Of course nothing says appetitie, like a day in the woods. Good thing I brought along some pulled pork to fill that void.

Why not bring some cilantro too! That way we can eat fresh salsa while watching Satelitte TV in the middle of nowhere ;)

And for breakfast one day - french toast. I'm beginning to wonder if the only thing people use their electric griddles for is pancakes and french toast. Everyone seems to have one, but no one uses it for anything else. You?

All in all, it was a fantastic time. I've always enjoyed my time in Alberta, and can't help but think more people need to get out and enjoy the fresh air. People pay a good chunk of money for trips to animal sanctuary's, national parks and resort lakes without ever discovering the lesser known (and cheaper) parts of our own country. In less than a full week, I was able to see foxes, coyotes, bald eagles, bears, a beaver, some grouse, tons of ducks and our lovely Canadian geese. I think it was the perfect mix of conversation, good food, wildlife, and healing.


Sharon said...

Hope you're doing better now! The lake looks lovely.

Chris said...

Better indeed, thanks Sharon.

KimHo said...

The lake pictures look great! I have pending a similar trip but won't do that until next year. ah, I wish it was summer again so I can go on this trip...

Oh, I hope you are doing better now!

Chris said...

Thanks Kim. Appreciate the kind words. Gone are those dog days of summer in Panama eh...warm year round!

Sarah said...

Callng Lake! A wave of nostalgia just washed over me. Love everything about this place, but I'm not diggin' the ATV's...they do way too much damage to the delicate eco-systems around the lakes. Then again, I'm your typical tree-huggin' west coastie. Glad you're feeling better. :)

Anonymous said...

I grew up in calling lake i'm just glad your not one of those guy's who just come down to hunt and fish, And that you trully enjoy it there. I have to agree with how butiful it is but it was way nicer when i was kid you would always see wildlife and there was more bush. I know of secret berry spots my family and i would go and pick, and some beautiful camping spots

Chris said...

Thanks for stopping by Anonymous. It was so nice up at Calling Lake. Such a beautiful place, although I think that had to something to do with the lack of population when I went. A lake full of people tends to change the atmosphere. I can only imagine with all the outfitters up there, how intense hunting season would be.

After seeing some great berry spots, I can't help but think a few families must have some amazing secret spots... why not spread the love...huh, huh! :)

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