Muttart Conservatory

Our oldest son and daughter-in-law treated us to lunch and a tour through the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, Alberta … pronounced “Mutt” “tart” with the emphasis on the “tart”.

I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the conservatory so I borrowed this one from the internet … I will put it back when you have all read this blog ☺

The conservatory consists of four pyramids, with each pyramid housing a different region of plant life. The temperate, tropical, and arid pyramids remain the same year round. The fourth pyramid holds the featured display, which changes eight times a year.

We were fortunate to see spring flowers in the featured display, and I say fortunate, because the weather has been so crappy at home and I’m not sure we will ever see them other than in a controlled environment!

Daffodils are members of the genus Naricissus which also includes garlic, onions, shallots, and chives … I didn’t know that!

This pyramid was home to the Canada 150 tulip, also known as the Maple Leaf tulip. The Canada 150 tulip is the official tulip of the 150th anniversary of Canada, which occurs this year.

Tulips were first planted in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, in 1945 when the Netherlands sent 100,000 tulips as a postwar gift of gratitude to thank Canadian soldiers for the role they played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

Our next pyramid was the temperate region. Temperatures in the temperate regions are relatively moderate, rather than extremely hot or cold, and the changes between summer and winter are usually moderate. We noticed right away that this pyramid was cooler than the last.

We were very surprised to see many different orchids in this pyramid, and we all commented that we thought orchids were tropical plants. I guess others have made this comment since there was a sign that addressed this issue 🙂 Most people assume orchids come from tropical regions, but many orchids flourish in colder climates such as ours. Temperate orchids may thrive in in regions where nighttime temperatures may drop to 10C (55F) or lower but don’t freeze.

I was admiring this green and lush ground cover when I saw the face … pretty cool!

Of course we had to visit the arid region where we saw agave and many of the cacti we are familiar with from our winters south. However there were also plants from other areas of the world such as this Easter Rose Cactus from South America.

Our last stop was the tropical region where I fell in love with the Medinilla magnifica which is native to the Philippines.

I also loved the basket this plant was growing in!

In the Philippines, Medinilla magnifica grows in the forks of large trees but does not withdraw its food from the trees, so it will not kill the tree. King Boudewijn of Belgium was a fan of the Medinilla and grew them in the royal conservatories. The plant is shown on the bank note of the 10,000 Belgian francs. I would love to be able to grow these in baskets at home!

One of the main attractions at the conservatory right now is the Corpse Flower, know as Putrella, which is due to bloom within the next seven to ten days.

The Corpse Flower, which is the world’s largest flower, only blooms every two to three years so this is special treat. But it is also one of the smelliest flowering plants, spreading its rotten-meat or warm-diaper stink up to 30 metres to attract flies and beetles that help to spread its pollen … so maybe it was a good thing it hadn’t actually bloomed when we were there!

Putrella will probably grow to over 6 feet (190cm) tall by the time it blooms.

When it blooms, the enormous flower only lasts between two and four days. The smell is strongest when the flower first blooms, usually between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., dissipating throughout the day. Since we didn’t see Putrella in bloom I had to get a picture of the last bloom, in 2015, from the Internet.

There were many other pretty flowers in this pyramid.

Pineapple plant

Bat flower

As we left the conservatory the sun had come out and we were treated to a pretty view of downtown Edmonton.

It was a good thing we enjoyed the sunny skies yesterday because more snow is on the way!

Until next time …

A Late Afternoon Stroll

The rain finally let up enough for us to take a walk around the park. I always like stopping on the bridge and watching the water flow down Lambley Creek. It brings back memories of our children playing in the creek and finding forts in the bushes along the edges 🙂

 It was also nice to finally see some signs of spring!

The Wild Rose Bushes are showing signs of life. I can’t wait for them to bloom 🙂

There are some leaves beginning to peak out on the trees around our site.

And some flowers! It has been so cold around here that even the dandelions haven’t shown their faces 😦

Tonight we are off to Edmonton, Alberta to see our two son’s and their families!

Until next time …

Pretty or a Nuisance?

I enjoyed watching the antics of the Canada Geese during my morning walk.

Canada Geese are often considered a nuisance in our town. They flock to the beaches and leave their dropping everywhere! I was pleasantly surprised to see the population at the park down this year … hopefully it will stay that way all summer.

Where did my buddy go?

Here I am! Did I scare you?

They were still buddies and flew away together 😊

Until next time …

New Digs :-)

We are very fortunate to be able to spend our summers in our daughter and son-in-law’s driveway, where we are also fortunate to have full hook-ups! The benefits of this arrangement far outweigh the few disadvantages. We love being so close to the grandkids and enjoy hearing them play in the yard and having their little knuckles knock on the door for a visit 🙂  We have enjoyed this set-up for the past three summers but this year we have a new adventure in store for us. Yesterday we left this view …

View from our living room window while parked in the driveway, not a great view but we can look out the window and see the grandkids playing :-).

And twenty minutes later we had this view …

The new view from our living room window, and it will only get better once the trees grow leaves!

We are now camped at Bear Creek Provincial Park on Okanagan Lake near Kelowna, British Columbia. During his short life Maxx has spent a fair amount of time at this Provincial Park but this is the first time he has ever had full hook-ups here! Most BC Provincial Parks have no services so normally when we camp here it is dry camping, but for the next five months hubby and I are the Camp Hosts at Bear Creek PP which means we get the one site that has full hook-ups 🙂

Our site before we pulled in and hubby cleaned up the site.

We applied for this position around the beginning of February and were surprised to be offered the job a week later. This is one of the most popular parks in BC and it is always fully booked, well in advance, from mid May through early September. Since it is so close to Kelowna, and right on the lake, we thought it would be a popular choice for camp hosts and we normally see the same people in the position year after year. So we consider ourselves very lucky to have been offered the position this year!

Our duties are pretty simple, one of us needs to be available twenty to thirty hours a week to answer questions from campers and keep the pamphlet rack stocked, and that’s it! There are other things we can do to help out if we want and even some paid hours if we are interested, but at this point we were told to get ourselves comfortable, set up the site however we want, and just enjoy ourselves. On Thursday we are flying to Edmonton, Alberta to visit our two sons’ and their families and we won’t be back until the end of April so we will start our volunteer position then.

So to sum it up … we are able to spend the summer in a campground on the shores of Okanagan Lake, minutes from Kelowna and our family and friends, in a location our children spent weeks at a time every summer, and where you now need to make reservations long in advance and can only stay for a max of fourteen days, … yup it was a no brainer and we jumped at the chance!

Mostly set up, there are still a few things we want to do but that will wait until we are back from Edmonton.

Until next time …

2016/2017 Snowbird Wrap-Up

We really enjoyed the scenery on our drive out to Mittry Lake near Yuma, Arizona.

We have been home for a week and have had fun catching up with family and friends, done numerous loads of laundry, and lot’s of little chores. In the next few days we will start washing Maxx both inside and out, and clean out cupboards and storage bays.

We enjoyed some of the most amazing sunsets this year!

It sure is nice to be back in our daughter’s driveway but that will change on Monday … stay tuned 🙂

I enjoyed photographing many pretty flowers this year 🙂

Over the past five months:

  • We covered 9,527 mi (15,522 km), up from 8,085 mi (13,012 km) in 2015/2016 and 9,451 mi (15,211 km) in 2014/2015; but down from 14,093 mi (22,680 km) in 2013/2014.
  • We spent $2,150.60 on fuel compared to $1,526.24 in 2015/2016, $2,350.54 in 2014/2015 and $5,041.40 in 2013/2014.
  • On average we paid $2.514 a gallon for diesel, up from $2.096 in 2015/2016 but down from $3.128 in 2014/2015 and $3.813 in 2013/2014!
  • The most expensive diesel was $2.959 per gallon in Alturas, CA; our cheapest diesel was $2.199 per gallon in Yuma, AZ, which is up from last year where we paid $1.559 per gallon in Yuma, AZ. This past season fuel costs made up 14.59% of our budget, up considerably from 2015/2016 where fuel costs only made up 8.68% of our budget … and that is directly attributed to the higher fuel prices and more miles, not because we spent more on other line items 🙂
  • RV parks made up 15.84% of our budget, down from 2015/2016 where we spent 20% of our budget on RV parks, mostly because we did more boondocking this year. In total we spent 57 nights boondocking or 43% of our snowbird year!

It was a toss up as to which was our best boondocking location this year, Lake Mead, Nevada or Ajo, Arizona!

Our stay at Lake Mead gave us the opportunity to drive through Valley of Fire State Park, which was so beautiful!

And once again we had a great winter. Hubby and I have now spent three and a half years living full time in Maxx and we still love it, and each other 🙂

Driving home with snow on the hills in the distance was still a beautiful site.

Until next time …

We Are Home :-)

Our original plan was to spend two nights in Omak, WA and take a trip out to Winthrop yesterday, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. We woke up to heavy rain and decided we just wanted to get home, even though that meant arriving on a school day and perhaps interrupting schedules, but our daughter was okay with that.

Since it was raining hard yesterday and that makes for lousy pictures, I will give you a picture of the baby chicks I took at North 40 Outfitters the day before 🙂

I love stopping and chatting with the chicks on our way home every year 🙂

 Yesterday was the first travel day we have had in a long time were we didn’t need to set the GPS. In fact I think Maxx was pushing his truck buddy home as fast as he could!

We had a quick stop at the border with less than the usual questions, which we have heard was the case for several snowbirds who returned ahead of us.

  • How long have you been away?
  • Total value of goods you are bringing back?
  • Did you do any repairs to the RV?

Two hours later we were pulling into our daughter’s driveway and are now enjoying warm squeezy hugs and little fists knocking on Maxx’s door … yes we lead a good life!

Now that we are home I won’t be posting every day but I will try and do a blog every week. I will post our wrap up blog in the next few days and stay tune for a location change for us after Easter 🙂

Thanks for following along! 

Until next time …

One Step Closer :-)

It was a long drive yesterday so we had to get a very early start. Okay, really none of that is true … we had a slow morning, mainly because the Internet at the RV Park isn’t great and it took forever to open up my morning blogs! It was so slow that I didn’t even bother commenting on most.

We were on the road by 10:00 a.m. and by 11:00 a.m. we had pulled into Carl Precht RV Park in Omak, WA. We are now only three hours from home, and less than an hour from Canada 🙂

The reflections in the Columbia River were really pretty.

We can’t believe the fruit trees have not begun to bloom yet, but on the up side we haven’t missed the trees at home blooming ☺

We have one more place we want to visit and Omak is a good place to leave Maxx while we do that. Also there are a few items I need to stock up on before we cross the border and the Walmart in Omak is a good place for that.

After setting up we headed over to Walmart and stocked up on rubber gloves, tortilla shells, and those awesome color catchers that I can’t do laundry without! These are all things that I either can’t get the type I want at home, or in the case of the color catchers they don’t sell in Canada.

Until next time …