2011: The Year That Was


It’s only natural that as one year ends and another begins that we stop and reflect on where we were and what we accomplished, especially since – if you believe the Mayans – we all have less than a year left anyway.  With that in mind, indulge me while I look back on the lasting memories of 2011.

Those of you who follow DanOCan.com on Facebook will have already seen this video, but if I had to summarize the entire year in five minutes or less this is what it would look like:

Year in Review



The Seventh Annual Geocacher Breakfast was held at the Priddis Cafe and Grill.  It was a tremendous success and 32 different Geocaching accounts logged in as attendees – tying the 2006 event as the second most attended of the annual breakfast events.  It’s not easy to get a group of people to drive out into the country in the early hours of a Saturday morning in the dead of winter.


The other January highlight was heading out to visit the Sharples elevator and the Springwater schoolhouse.  Although I have been to these sites multiple times over the last five years, it is always great to see them again – even if our route to Springwater had to be modified because of drifting snow on the main road.

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Snowshoeing was the activity of the month for February.  Graham and I completed a fairly significant trek on the Tom Snow Trail in Kananaskis.  Shirley and I also found time to attend the Titanic exhibit at the Calgary Science Center.  (Sorry, I can’t bring myself to call it Telus World of Science or Telus Spark as it is now known.)




More snowshoeing was in order – it seems like we had an awfully large amount of snow this Spring.  When we weren’t out exploring the best of Kananaskis Country I managed to find time to stop in to see my old friends at Redwood Meadows Emergency Services as they took delivery of their new tender truck.

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A lot of our time in April was taken up by our kitchen renovation.  We did manage to find time for a road trip to visit the old Bottrel General Store, however. 

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We also managed to squeeze in a road trip down to Lethbridge to visit my family for Easter – naturally along the way I felt the urge to stop in at the town of Monarch which is well on its way to becoming a ghost town since the Crowsnest Highway was realigned to bypass the town several years ago. 

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And, of course, April marked the Calgary Cache and Release Spring 2011 event and the world was introduced to “Team Short Bus” for the first time…

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April showers are supposed to bring May flowers but May downpours bring flooding.  We watched with bated breath as the water levels of the nearby creeks continued to rise and eventually spilled over the banks and flooded over the road.  Unlike the floods of 2005 we didn’t suffer any damage or losses but our sump pumps were working overtime to keep the water at bay until things dried out.  We also entered into the final stages of our kitchen renovation and were ready to put our house back into some semblance of order.

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June was a busy month as well.  We went to see Supertramp at the Saddledome and then started our major summer vacation of the year – three weeks of RV’ing on Vancouver Island.  We absolutely fell in love with the Metchosin area and decided we’ll retire there one day.  In between multiple meals of fish and chips we even managed to squeeze in a few good hikes, most notably to the top of Mount Manuel Quimper and out to Ripple Rock.

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There was no rest for the wicked in July.  We barely had time to unpack from our vacation before it was time to head off to Saskatchewan for the annual Ghost Town Convention.  Having missed the previous year I was looking forward to this event more than normal and it did not disappoint.  After leaving Shirley at her sister’s place in Saskatoon I carried on solo to Humboldt where I dumped the trailer before joining the event in Marysburg.  Out of the four GTCs I have attended this was the best one by far. 

Rather than trying to pick two or three pictures from the 100s I took that weekend, I figured I’d just repost the slideshow I made shortly after the event.

Ghost Town Convention 2011

The other notable event in July was nearly breaking my ankle only a week after summiting Ha Ling Peak near Canmore.  I had to compensate for my lack of mobility by finally taking a trip out to see the elevator at Farrow.  It was a good thing I did because the owner would burn the elevator down (for “safety” reasons) just five months later.

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August was a month of transition.  I was promoted to Manager of Service Operations at the University, earning the promotion I had been wanting for the past five years.  I was finally able to bid farewell [mostly] to the day-to-day systems administration work I had done for the last decade and take the next step in my career.  It was nice to be able to do it with the same organization I have spent so much time with.

I also transitioned from hobbled sore-ankle dude back into a hiker.  I celebrated my return to action with a solo hike up Cox Hill.  We also started to see the first signs of Autumn creeping into the landscape leading me to get out and start doing some photography work in the evenings again.  I also managed to add a road trip to Dorothy and attend a Geocache event on the summit of Mount Burke.  Oh yeah, I also reached my highest summit so far by completing the climb to the top of Mount Allan.  Sometimes you just can’t fit enough living into one summer, you know?

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Highlights from this month?  Whew!  Shirley’s family all came to our place for the Labour Day long weekend as we hosted the Waddell family reunion.  That was a tremendous amount of fun.  I went out and did some night photography at a friend’s farm near Millarville.  And, to top it off I completed my longest hike ever when I reached the location of the former Forgetmenot Fire Lookout and then went to Railway Days at Heritage Park.

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Hmm, yet another road trip – this time to check out abandoned places in the SE corner of Alberta.  And, yes, another hike – this time up Canyon Creek to finally find a cache called “Pika Cave” which I had wanted to do for the last five years.  2011 was definitely a year for accomplishing goals that had remained on my plate for far too long.

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Our only sad event of the year was the death of our beloved cat Nona.  We had her for 12 years and she suddenly was struck down by an arterial thrombosis embolism (ATE).  It was tough to say goodbye but we always knew the day would come, we just didn’t expect it this year.  That was a tough event. 

The month ended on a happier note as we flew to Vancouver to attend the 99th Grey Cup game where the hometown BC Lions beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the championship.

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Wow, and here we are.  The last month of the year.  After a quiet Christmas at home we went back to Lethbridge to visit my family again and to also pay a visit to the oldest grain elevator in the province in Raley.

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I have NO idea what 2012 holds in store for me.  I know it will have a very hard time living up to 2011 and what a wonderful year it was.  Here’s hoping the Mayans are wrong and we’re all still here one year from now and I’m looking back at 2012 and talking about how great of a year it was. 

If I learned anything in 2011 it is to not delay trying to achieve your goals.  None of us are guaranteed anything and so you have to take advantage of every day you are given.  “Timing is everything” –- as a good friend of mine said this year during the Ghost Town Convention.  Make the most of your time in 2012.

Happy new year, everyone!

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