Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Monday, 17 August 2015

Life In The Slow Lane


First day back at work. Email inbox full and over flowing. Urgent messages. GAH.  Can open...worms everywhere... and par for the course I guess. I suppose that is the price you pay for a week on the motorcycle, with no destination and no real plan. How I wish I could have done this thirty years ago.

Last year whilst ambling about we came across the Leitch Collieries along the Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberta. Constraints of time and schedule precluded a stop at the time, so I put it on my list for this year. As I get older I find myself taking greater interest in our ancestors and history and if I'm not careful I may turn into a full blown chit house historian, HAR HAR HAR!

It's about a 6~7 hour motorcycle ride from Castello Di La Filthie. When I'm in this area I like to rent a small cabin on a dude ranch that ordinarily caters to city slickers and equestrians. It's a bloody long haul for an old fart, even on a luxury sled like Inferno. This one hides in a dip of a ravine just off the highway. The front yard is full of gophers and nosey deer drop in from time to time. Our ancestors in the sod buster days would have considered this luxury accommodation - and I do too, but for far different reasons.


Sometimes I am struck by how beautiful my lady is. She is at her prettiest when she's not aware that she is being watched and admired.

At the interpretive history site the ruins below are pretty much all that is left of the old Leitch coal operations. This was the powerhouse and machine shop and in its day it was on the edge of the frontier. It takes about a half a day to wander the site, read the material and absorb how the operation worked, and the histories of the people involved.

Below are the ruins of the mansion of the coal tycoons that owned the operation. The picture is deceiving - I think this place was about the same size as my house and half again. Not bad, but consider that the servants lived in the bottom floor and a family of five on the upper floor...and most of the miners and their families lived in shacks! Those pillars supported a wooden verandah that encircled the front three quarters of their home.
There's a whole pile of history here alone, and more in the nearby towns of Blairmoore and Bellevue. In town I ran into some that would challenge my supremacy on the road and was happy that there was no need for a show of force. ;)

How cool is that? His n' hers trikes? I was exchanging good natured insults with the old fella (actually an exchange between two grumpy old men I suppose) when his lady walked up, regally saddled up...and left us grumping at each other on the sides of the road! HAR HAR HAR! I wished him well as he scrambled to crank the engine and take after his departing wife.

It was a good week and pretty laid back but there was a soft sorrow in it as well. As we tooled about southern Alberta and worked our way home out of the foothills I saw the wind farms. No grain elevators anymore, really. And the old abandoned buildings that were everywhere when I was a kid? They are all gone - pushed over, bulldozed and cleared away. The small rural towns are gone, replaced by growing communities on the edge of full blown urban sprawl. Drumheller is turning into Disneyland for dinosaurs complete with hordes of screaming kids, hotels, and chain restaurants. Old Alberta is as gone and as dead as the ruins at the Leitch Collieries. I think I know the sorrow of the American Indians that got moved into reservations, lost the herds of buffalo and had to listen to trains hooting and whistling in the night. What will this place become when I am just a distant memory like the miners at the collieries?

Bah - such morose thoughts. My moral and intellectual superiors don't trouble themselves with such foolishness and prefer to live in the moment. When I get back from holidays I am always happy to pick them up from the kennel and bring them home.

We're back from Sgt. Filthie's Magical History Tour and all is well. Enjoy what's left of the summer.

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