Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The way people work in Grande Prairie and other things.

Canada is the second largest country by land mass. It is sparsely populated. Grande Prairie is one of 18 cities and is the largest in the Northwest area of Alberta. The population in 2016 was 63,166. Fort McMurray is the largest in the Northeast. Fort Mac is the city that had the huge fires last summer. Fort Mac has the highest wages in all Canada and Grande Prairie has the second highest wages in all of Canada. Grande Prairie also has the highest crime in all Canada. The biggest is probably car theft.

There are four major areas of the economy. Agriculture, Energy, Forestry and Commerce.

There are huge differences with jobs in Grande Prairie. Right after Christmas, the ground is frozen and the temperatures are cold. The forestry and energy industries come alive. People go to work in the oil patch and the goal is 100 straight days. They work 12 hour days, not counting the commute. Most of the workers just stay in a camp. When the weather gets warmer and the ground starts to thaw, work comes to an almost halt. They still work, but have to be more creative until the ground dries.

The logging industry hauls logs to the mills around the clock every day, even Christmas.

These trucks have been on the highway all summer, fall, and winter.

We live next to a privately owned logging road and they were moving in logs as fast as they could. When the ground thawed, they stopped.

This is next to our apartment. The private logging road is 200 miles long. The road enters the saw mill in 500 meters.

Close up of that truck. All trucks have three trailers.

The lumber mill across the street from us has huge piles of logs.

This is across the street from our apartment. It is a large lumber mill that makes 2 x 4's. You can see Grand Prairie's only tall building in the background. There is no way I can photo how big this place is. There are acres and acres of these logs. I took these pictures today, 4.26.2017

I went to the 14th floor of our tallest building in town. The first picture shows the main road into town. The other picture is towards our house. Both of them show Muskoseepi Park in the foreground. The park is huge and goes through the center of town. There are three places to cross. This is the middle crossing. the other crossings are on both ends of the park.

The oil and gas, and the lumbering industries have come to a halt. Most of the range and township roads outside of town are closed to traffic because of the deep and slippery mud. If you live on one of those roads, traveling can be challenging. All Canadians seem to have high gum boots.

We have been unable to get a picture of the range roads. The picture on the left is a parking lot and is not fully being used. Depending on the day it takes tractors to haul them out. The picture on the right shows a temporary wooden path that is put down if some equipment absolutely has to be moved. It is time consuming and laborious. It is used as last resort and only if weather changed and they got caught short of their plan. This is in town at a construction sight.

Agriculture has its problems. Grande Prairie had the first snowstorm in 2016 on October 8. Many of the farmers didn't have their crops out of the field. Main crops are hay and canola. Our friend just barely got his hay in before the snow. After the snowstorm, the ground was too wet and soggy to get the equipment in to recover crops still in the field. The neighbor of our friend had fields of cut canola. He was able to bring his crop in, in small batches and rented huge dryers. It was a major cost, but he didn't lose his crop and total investment. Other farmers were not so lucky. Either the fields didn't have good access or the canola hadn't been cut. And now it will delay them putting in crops this spring. There is a shorter growing season in Northern Alberta, but there are long hours of daylight to compensate. With our move farther north, we won't get to see how they prepare and plant. Our ward members expect the ground to be dry enough to work on their gardens by the end of May.

Canola fields in the summer
Hay fields in summer.

Hay still in the fields during winter. 

 Canola still in the field. 4/19/17

Most fields look like this. Too bad they don't grow rice. 4.19.17
 Had to show a section of a road full of chuck holes. They are on every road in Grand Prairie. The Canadians say there are two seasons in Canada, Winter and Road Construction. But we happen to know there are three seasons in Canada, Winter, Summer and Mud. Everybody who gets snow has road construction.

Some problems working in the patch. Lots of times a dad or a son will be working in the patch for a year at a time. Their families live in Southern Alberta and this is where their work is. It might be impossible to go home except for Christmas. If the place is closer, they might get home for a weekend every month. There are a few who get home more often. Women also work in the patch. We don't know any, but we do have two YSA women who drive trucks for them. There is need of hauling lots of liquid either into the patch or away from the patch. One of our YSA does that. The other drives a gravel truck. Some of the YSA men are welder's assistants. There are lots of pipes and structures that need to be welded. The mission leader is a welder. He drives home most nights, but he puts in his 12 hours and travels the distance.

The other times families are apart are when one or the other parent is getting more schooling. In order to move up in your job, you must get another certificate. It means you will be in school. Most of the time people in Grande Prairie can get the required training in Edmonton which means they can be home on weekends. Sometimes the schooling is in Calgary or Lethbridge. Then they don't come home as often. Very rarely they have to go to another province. One of our YSA is a volunteer fireman. He is now in training to step up and be in a permanent fire hall. He had to get his advanced training in British Columbia.

And the final reason families are apart is for an illness, or surgery. Major surgeries are done in Edmonton. After a few weeks recovering there, they are sent back to Grande Prairie and complete recovery here. Sometimes they are home and sometimes they are in the hospital here.

Queen Elizabeth II Hospital (QEII)

We made a recent trip to Edmonton to go to the Temple before we head up to Yellowknife. Oh, wait!! I haven't told you that we are being transferred to Yellowknife. It is in the Northwest Territories and is the capital city. We have to drive 725 miles farther north to get there. It will take about 13 hours. We have been busy wrapping up loose ends here, and that's why I am late with this blog. We had a zone conference the end of March and President said we are needed in Yellowknife. Thank goodness we got more than one day notice that the Elders and Sisters get. Anyway we went to Edmonton. We also went to Muttart Conservatory, the West Edmonton Mall (WEM) the largest mall in North America, and the Temple.

 Edmonton Temple is a micro temple.

 It is right next to the Riverbend Stake Center. They share parking lots. The Stake Center is larger than the Temple.

We really enjoyed ourselves.
This is going through downtown Edmonton. I'm glad Elder Brown drives, I navigate. Neither one of us is fond of Edmonton. There are too many things to watch out for.


 These are from some of the pyramid greenhouse rooms at the conservatory. All of it inside. The grounds will be pretty some day, but not one thing is in bloom or has buds.

This is one of the entrances into the amusement park inside WEM.

This was a skating lesson at the rink in WEM

 There are 800 stores, a shooting range, miniature golf course, many restaurants and 3 or 4 food courts. The water park was larger than we have ever seen before and was totally inside. It had a wave pool, lazy river, huge slides for all ages, surfing area, zip line, shallow, deep, plus more. We couldn't get good pictures through the viewing glass. We opted for this car that some lucky person may win. We got 16,000 steps walking walking around the WEM.

This is the ski resort in Edmonton. It is in town, closer than WEM and the Temple. It's not very big, there are subdivisions all around it. This Freeway goes right by it. They are closed now, but it still has man-made snow. You can probably tell the runs aren't very long but a part of the hill has a steep section.

 This is another lumber mill on the way home.

No leaves on any of the trees in the boreal forests on the way home. These are in contrast to the pictures I showed in one of our first blogs.

I took a picture of this same sight on the way coming to Grande Prairie. It sure looks different now.
There are many of these bridges in Canada. This is on the way home.

 This is our parking lot when it started to thaw. The big puddle is where our parking space is.

 There was gravel down during the worst of the ice. They are starting to sweep the gravel up. They got half way finished. The driveway was thick with the gravel because snow kept covering it and they would bring more. They didn't do it all winter, but I guess some tenants complained.
The YSA loves to play card games. They also like to bring their controllers and play video games.

This is how the younger kids leave their things on activity night. They don't do this at home. Everyone removes their shoes in homes in Canada and they have nice places to put everything.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, plant, car, outdoor and nature  Image may contain: plant, tree, flower, sky, outdoor and nature
This is earth day. Look at these nice flowers       This is the day before Earth Day in our old
at our son's house in Utah.                                    neighborhood.

Same day, Grande Prairie. Not a bud or any sign of Spring.

I suppose that it is spring in Canada. It just doesn't look like anything we are used to. We have had lots of snow lately. Six out of ten days it snowed all day, but didn't put down very much. It is called Spring snow. Again, not familiar. Spring snow in Utah has daffodils peaking through. We will miss Grande Prairie. We have gotten used to it. We have made friends here. Some of them are the kind that will last forever. And some will be a good memory. We have loved getting to know so many missionaries. Because there are two wards here, there are two companionship's of missionaries. We have also had Tagalog language missionaries to teach the Filipino people. There is one set of elders in Yellowknife. We will probably get to know them even better because we will have more contact and rely on each other more.

This was shared with us by our Mission President's wife in April newsletter. I like it. It works for any age.
"The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us to become the Best-Version-of-Ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them help make them great.
We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the Best-Version-of-Ourselves."
My question to myself, and to you, is - Are you that Friend and Companion?! Are you striving to raise others up and helping them to become their greatest selves?
"Being blessed with hope, let us, as disciples, reach out to all who, for whatever reason, have 'moved away from the hope of the gospel' (Col. 1:23)"


We enjoy our association with President and Sister Pattison. We have enjoyed getting to know the other senior couples. There aren't many and now they are starting to rotate home. That is why we are going to Yellowknife. The missionary couple is going home, and no one came to replace them. Set a goal that you will go on a mission with your spouse. You will never be sorry. The Church is true. Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and restored Christ's Church to the earth after a long apostasy and reformation. Our Prophet today is Thomas S. Monson. God will never take the Church or Prophets away until Jesus Christ returns to the earth to preside over His Church. It is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will remain for eternity.

We love you all.
Sister Brown, Mom, Grandma, Robyn

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