Grasslands National Park Animals

Wood Mountain
-Road Killed Rattle Snake

There are not a lot of rattlesnakes around the park, especially the East Block of the park where Wood Mountain is. Nick, who is with Brenda showing off the snake skin, almost stepped on one by accident last week and it didn’t even try to bite him.

The snakes are mostly interested in these guys
Wood Mountain

Watch these videos, as the numbers get bigger at the end of the titles.

Deer at a gravel pit. Fossils in this pit go back to at least 13 Million years ago, and contain horse, rhino, and other animals from ancient Saskatchewan well before ice ages scraped much of the province flat like it is around Regina.

Go To Wood Mountain #exploresask

The Wood Mountain Folk Festival is today, Saturday Aug. 24, 2013, at the Mergel Ranch. On Friday I drove down from Regina in my $50 rental car (for 3 days, from Enterprise). It’s getting 5.7L/100km highway driving in ECO mode. 2013 Elantra, Hyundai. I successfully passed a semi along the way in the hills.
Limerick, SK

Limerick, SK

Cloud finger at sunset
Is this a finger? Not photoshopped.

I looked through Limerick’s centennial garden.
Limerick, SK

Limerick, SK

If this wasn’t so far away, I’d take many more photos on this hill at Lakenheath.
Luthern Peace Church 1922 pano

Here’s a bell I hadn’t seen before, and the Melaval, Sask. inscription surprised me!
Lakenheath, SK

It hailed in Assiniboia while I was at a steak fundraiser dinner. $15, but my parents treated me.

Still plenty of time to make it to Folk Fest from Regina, it’s under 3 hours drive, and there’s only gravel for the last eleven miles. The music starts in the evening, after a farmers’ market. The music is $45, and includes free camping on site at the festival, on the ranch.

Aurora in Wood Mountain

One of the advantages to small-town Saskatchewan, is that it’s easier to escape light pollution than it is in a city like Regina. I was fortunate to be out of the city on June 29th in the very early morning, so have many fantastic aurora (Northern Lights) photos and animations to share. A south pointing solar wind storm was hitting the magnetosphere, so we got very pretty lights.

They appeared even to the south of me, at about 49 degrees latitude. Kansas saw them apparently.
Aurora from Wood Mountain
- Here’s one from overhead, as a satellite streaks south.

Moon from Wood Mountain
- The Moon was looking more super than usual, as the sky was mostly clear. This is max zoom on my camera, 48X digital. 12X is actual magnification.

Aurora from Wood Mountain
- These streaks of light were an experiment as I ran through the frame twice, holding my cell phone flashlight app turned to police lights mode.

Aurora from Wood Mountain

Aurora from Wood Mountain
- The church has become disused for religious services it hosted for Catholics and United, for more than three decades. The grain elevator behind the church needs saving, as it’s in the cross hairs for demolition if a group of interested people don’t step forward to give it a new direction. The Grain Elevator, a NFB film, was filmed in this particular elevator.

Dark Sky Preserve at Wood Mountain

Dark Sky Preserve Sunset

I found a new way to appreciate my home town through the eyes of astronomers this weekend. Also, I used the astronomers’ telescopes, which is a great way to look from their perspective on the universe. Wood Mountain is the gateway to the East Block of the Grasslands National Park which is designated as a Dark Sky Preserve. The Park and the RASC Regina branch had Peter McMahon from SkyNews Magazine come out to check out the park and give a presentation.
Dark Sky Preserve

As the presentation ended, uncommon noctilucent clouds lit up on the northern horizon, illuminated by the set Sun.

Noctilucent Clouds at Dark Sky Preserve

RASC had people from Regina, Saskatoon, and even Port Hope, ON attending the star party.

As everyone was eagerly photographing the clouds, I saw a satellite zooming up from the west, and it was soon confirmed to be the International Space Station. It made another pass an hour and a half later.

Dark Sky Preserve
I lost count how many satellites I saw. There was a binary pair, someone explained were US Military. There was an Iridium, known for its magnificent flare overhead. And I saw a meteor too.


The skies stayed perfectly clear for the next two hours, then some clouds and fog rolled in just before it started to rain around 2am Sunday morning.

If the rain on the tent hadn’t been so noisy, then these Leopard frogs would have been the noisiest background noise.
Leopard Frog

Meadowlarks sing very loudly and distinctively. I enjoy imitating their tweeting with a whistle.

I’ll be going on next year’s Dark Sky Preserve tour of southern Saskatchewan, that’s for sure! The weather looked rainy from Regina, but it cleared up as soon as Saturday afternoon hit in the Park. The campers who tried Friday night too, ended up a little rained on, near Val Marie. You never know what the weather will hold until that hour hits.

Cats On The Net

This one goes back a few years now…

April 6, 2006 Thursday
Final Edition
SASKATCHEWAN: Mayor’s approval rating with felines is suspect
BYLINE: The Star Phoenix

Residents of a village in southern Saskatchewan may want to be on the lookout for a cat that’s got a definite taste for politics.

The mayor of Wood Mountain says he spent three days in hospital last week receiving antibiotic treatment for an infection after the feline bit him.

Michael Klein says he was chomped while at the home of a business acquaintance. He perhaps should have seen it coming.

The same cat bit him a year earlier on the hand, forcing him to get antibiotics and a tetanus shot.

Klein says he is now fine, but the status of the cat is not so assured. It has disappeared.

Mini Solar Tour in the Fog of Wood Mountain and Glentworth

I went on a road trip Saturday with my friend Adam K., down to my parents’ place, and his grandparents’ farm. On the way around southern Saskatchewan, we saw close to 150 deer and antelope, a snowy owl, a dozen hawks, a handful of Canada Geese, smaller birds, two dead raccoons, and the final resting place of four children who passed away in 1919 (Spanish Flu maybe?).
Ukrainian Catholic Church

To Moose Jaw
The road into Regina was ice, and the road to Moose Jaw was quite a bit better, but still partly covered in a thick layer of ice. There was a semi on the eastbound highway that had done a 180, and blew open its trailer door, strewing boxes across the ditch at Belle Plaine.

We filled up in Moose Jaw, then ate at the Steakhouse in Assiniboia (we had waffles). The GPS kept trying to convince us to turn off the paved road instead of going to Limerick. We went to Limerick, I took a couple photos, and on through flooded Flintof and dry Wood Mountain we continued. Many deer were along the way, and the misting rain continued through the trip after Moose Jaw’s southern hills.
Flintoft turn

Hawk landing
- A hawk about to land

After second lunch we strolled around the various energy and heating systems my parents had installed for their home.
Solar Hot water panel mount

Solar PV

Convincing SaskPower that a generator ring/link was a good idea for a Saskatchewan power meter, took some convincing. Fortunately Dad is persistent.

Wood Mountain elevator

Ukrainian Catholic Church
- 1925 built Ukrainian Catholic near Glentworth, SK

Ukrainian Catholic Church

More photos next time of the animals who made this print:
Deer tracks

Winter in Saskatchewan

When it’s too cold to explain, photos will have to do.
Wood Mountain December Sunset

Christmas Tree

Deer at Wood Mountain

Sundog at Lakenheath, SK

I don’t go to church anymore, and didn’t want to long before I stopped going. This year I was invited to two different Christmas church services, and ended up going to neither. When I do go, it’s out of respect for my family’s traditions, and end up socializing with people I would otherwise not see day-to-day. Most of the time I cannot bring myself to support what I feel is such a waste of time, money, and effort to support religious institutions that do far less good than they promise and would have us believe they do.

The new Nigerian priest for the part of southern Sask. where my parents live, became lost when trying to drive to church in Glentworth on Sunday. He wound up in a town about 30 minutes away, then called for directions and arrived about an hour late. There was a fresh coat of snow everywhere, the road included, so it must have been a bit of an ordeal to go from +30 to -20 in the span of a month, and become lost where the closest farmyard can be 15km from any given point on the road. He was oriented for Christmas Eve evening service at least. The roads have not been kind to priests in the past year; Father Carrigan, a priest that served Wood Mountain and Lafleche, passed away from a highway collision.

Mrs. Klein

2003 Grandma 150-5065_IMG
One of the oddest things about death is that there’s no way to reach that person by their usual phone number. We can call people in Antarctica, in space, in Tehran, on the toilet, or flying through the air. We can’t call people on the phone after they are passed on, however. It’s just another unfortunate, gut-wrenching reality when it comes to death. The feeling of being apart when they aren’t here, that used to be resolved through phoning, just wasn’t solved by Bell and probably never will be by anyone else.

My Grandma, who was 93, passed away today after a difficult week for her. I visited her yesterday, after medical people helped to stabilize her, and she was able to have simple conversations. She had trouble eating yesterday, was literally tired of being old and said as much with, “I’m too old for this.” Her body agreed with her, the following day. She was expertly cared for, and as comfortable as possible in her final years.

Life isn’t easy not being able to see very much, and she had to give up playing card games on the computer, and emailing people (which she started doing in the mid-90s on a Compaq 8086 then IBM 486 my Dad and I helped set up for her and Grandpa). Macular degeneration can take a hike, by the way. She had to move out of her house many years ago, and was getting by at the lodge in Lafleche for a while, walking downtown to get her mail even. This past year she’d had some small strokes and lost some of her short term memory, and had to move to the Foyer in Gravelbourg. Her mother had lived there for a time in the early 1970s.

I’m thinking about a lot right now, obviously. There’s a lot to consider. While I’m sad, I’m also trying to remember that my Grandma had a good, long life that can be celebrated, with plenty of family to remember her fondly. My Grandpa’s death was sudden and not really expected, and this death is sort of the exact opposite. There’s still a numb feeling, having heard the news, and knowing it will hurt as I contemplate everything.

Stories she’s told me stick out right now, and I feel I have to write them down again so I won’t lose them. Like how her parents met (re)hanging laundry; our family’s connection to Napoleon; how her older siblings were told she blew in on the cold February wind. Or how I may have had a different name if she hadn’t been in Africa while I was born, since I was born 100 years after her father’s birthday. She’d have suggested my parents choose my Great-Grandfather’s name, although my Mum wasn’t too keen on that option it turned out anyway.

So now I just have memories of my Grandma. How she enjoyed gardening; our trips to the casino; her vegetable barley soup; how she liked to provide ice cream for her grand kids, and how I got to return the favour by delivering some to her in the Foyer in August. She had a life well lived so it’s better to celebrate her long, fulfilled life than to mourn her death.

ADDED: Online condolences.
Here’s a bit more about being blown in on the wind.