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Monday, June 18, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Seeing the Light with Dark Sky Guides in Waterton, Alberta, Canada

Not So Dark


Sometimes you need darkness to appreciate the light. This is indeed an opportunity in Waterton National Park as the residents of the town reinvent themselves after the devastating Kenow fire of 2017.

One of the ways they are doing it is to offer a new experience that is well suited for the literal darkness of the destination - stargazing! You can now have a guided stare at the breathtaking heavenly night sky of Waterton with Dark Sky Guides.


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The four Robinson Brothers were lucky to grow up in Waterton Lakes National Park, and over the years they explored all areas of the National Park, both in daylight and after dark. As third-generation tourism service providers (they also operate Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company), sharing Waterton Park’s abundant human and natural history has always been a part of their lives. Now they are starting at the heavens and they want to take you with them.

After the Kenow Mountain Fire burnt a significant portion of Waterton Lakes National Park in September 2017, the brothers knew it would be more critical than ever, to show people that there is more to Waterton that just daytime hiking through (the once forested) mountain landscapes. And so, Dark Sky Guides was born.

Between the four of them, the Robinson Brothers officially have 40 years of experience acting as tour guides in Waterton Lakes National Park. And over the years the brothers have travelled to many destinations around the world, picking up best practices from other tour guides and companies across the planet.

Dark Sky Guides offers small, personalized tours that will open peoples’ eyes to an entirely new area of Waterton Lakes National Park – the night sky above. The brothers hope to encourage every single tour participant to connect on a personal level with the National Park, in their own particular way.

Observations


We were lucky to be invited to the dinner kick off and Dark Sky Guide launch night on the 29th of May 2018.

Keith, his brothers and their team surprised us with a fantastic meal while we waited for the sun to set and the moon to shine. At around 22:30 we were treated to the new experience of having our own local guide - one of the brothers - from Dark Sky Guides showing us the heavens above Waterton Lakes National Park.

The moon was full. With the telescopes they provided, we were given a chance to see it in a whole new light. We were left with a renewed appreciation for the area and for our own small place in the vastness of our Universe thanks to their expert guidance and commentary about the heavenly bodies.

Keith noted that while the summer nights in Alberta doesn't provide a lot of dark hours, they hoped to offer the experience year-round. Winter in Canada is a stargazers dream, and there is no better place to dream than amongst the beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park.

This is a recommended Two Cowboys experience, and we wish the Robinson brothers all the success they can have with their new venture!

Hendrik van Wyk
Moon Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode to promote a local business or event.

Photos


Maiden Voyage

On Tour

Mooning

Big Gun!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Two Cowboys: Smoking Meat, Cold Beer and BBQ is a Lifestyle at Trappers Mountain Grill in Waterton, Alberta

A BBQ Lifestyle


I once asked a competitor at a Canadian BBQ Society sanctioned competition how long he's been grilling and smoking meat. He surprised us with his answer. Two years, he said. Truth be told, my question was meant as a joke! We didn't know there was another way to cook meat. We've been doing it for all our lives.


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BBQ, smoking and grilling meat is a lifestyle for the Two Cowboys. Five out of seven days, at the close of the day, we are outside doing our thing with steak, chicken, pork and whatever we can find to cook on the grill or in the smoker (including vegetables like pumpkin, asparagus, potatoes etc.).

We've done it in rain and sunshine, in blazing summer heat and when it is -30 C in Canada. To us, it is a sacred, primal, right of passage as a reward for being at the top of the food chain. We cherish the opportunity. The rite that plays itself out alongside our grill, fire or smoker is as old as humanity itself. It is who we are. We love every moment of it and are always looking forward to it. In the same way, we are always on the scout for fellow comrades with a similar passion and commitment to the lifestyle.

We meet many during our travels and we love telling their stories. This is how we've come to know Steve and Debbie West from Trappers Mountain Grill in Waterton, Alberta. Steve shares our love for BBQ and cold beer. He is also an innovator and a passionate entrepreneur that makes Waterton his home for six months of the year when he is not fishing in Florida. Steve likes to do something unique that allows him to share his passion for good food, BBQ, Gin and Beer.

Observations


This is how Trappers Mountain Grill is launching something new in Waterton this season. Steve calls it his Backyard BBQ. The plan is, once the rush of the summer days subsides and the lines for food and ice cream are over, to do a delicious smoked meat sandwich. It will be available at the back-door of his restaurant on main street Waterton Avenue.

It promises to be an excellent sandwich that will go down well with your own crispy cold beer (sorry folks, you have to bring your own beer). For Steve and his team, it is another way of sharing their passion for cooking meat in one of the worlds most picturesque locales. He is doing it with his new US$35,000 smoker!

Apparently, he's been practicing all winter to get the recipe locked down, and it is finally ready for the "big time". In his own words, "It is a mean piece of equipment with the single purpose of delivering the best-smoked fair available in Waterton town" - authentic Southern-Style BBQ.

Steve's venture promises to deliver a hearty meal and great fellowship when most food establishments in the town close down for the evening. It is the way it should be done, simply and deliciously with good friends. The Two Cowboys were there to give it a try. Enjoy our experience with us.

Hendrik van Wyk
Trappers Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.

Photos


With Friends

Backyard BBQ

Southern Pride

Chevy!

See You There!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: It is Summer 2018 and Waterton is Open for Business Again in Alberta, Canada

Now More Than Ever


Waterton is a place dear to our hearts. Its scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. But, we are most fond of its people. Waterton is open for business in 2018!

The tiny seasonal village adopted us, the Two Cowboys, as their own. From our start in 2016, they gave us an opportunity to showcase their natural beauty, the variety of food and intrigue, to the world. We cannot start a Summer in Canada without our annual visit to Waterton. This is our fourth year.


Open for Business!



Waterton After the Fire


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At the end of May, the snow melted, and the remaining trees were green. The flowers were out all over Waterton's grasslands, and in the town, the baskets were in bloom. We made our way to our favourite camping spot unsure of what 2018 will hold for the destination. During the last couple of years, we've worked with Waterton to promote the town, the destination and its businesses.

This year we were even more committed than usual to show the world a little of our Spring paradise, because of the recent Kenow fire. The disaster destroyed a lot of the natural attraction of Waterton in 2017. The good news was that the village was saved, except for the Parks Canada Information Centre (which was slated to be moved anyway), and nobody got hurt. We found Waterton open for business.

At the townsite, many of the faithful pilgrims returned to pick up the pieces after the disaster, with the hope to continue where they left off, before the fire. The big question on everyone's mind this year was if Waterton would recover from the incident. Will the visitors return and will patrons again come to enjoy the beauty and the people of the community?

Observations


With every significant and sudden change in people's lives, such as what happened in Waterton, there is a sense of loss. However, such a move also provides ample opportunity for reflection and renewal. Some may regard the event of a massive forest fire in Waterton as a disaster and a loss. We make the case that it need not be the case.

It is not a loss for nature. Instead, it only a step in the continues cycle of renewal. It's a natural cycle that been playing itself out in the forests and on prairies of Canada, over and over for millennia. It will continue to do so long after humanity left the planet. Waterton's forests and animals didn't lose something. It gained necessary renewal.

The question that remains is if the event will translate into a loss for the town and its businesses. Will tourism return in 2018 like before and will the businesses suffer if they don't? People will be aware that what they came to expect from Waterton's Park landscape is no longer there. Instead, there is something different, and equally spectacular, or will they drive by towards the other natural attractions of the Province?

The opportunity now, for the visitors to the Park is to discover this natural process of renewal and experience the unique ways that trees recover, new flowers blossom and animals return to a rebirth of a region.

With it, the businesses in the town have an opportunity to renew and refresh. The tourists are unlikely to return to previous numbers in the near term. It will put pressure on revenue and force a rethink for a complacent few that got too accustomed to the visiting masses. For others, it will open opportunities to try something new, upgrade, or for new businesses to step in where some may decide to throw in the towel.

Waterton's businesses and its people are as much an attraction for the destination as its natural beauty. They are all given a chance to renew, rebuild, attract and grow. The ones that take this chance will be the folks who prevail and flourish and who we will promote in years to come. Those are the people you will find in Waterton this, the next and the years thereafter.

We are glad that Waterton is once again open for business.

Hendrik van Wyk
Waterton Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Photos


On the Water of Waterton

Majestic!

Waffletons

Renewal

The Locals

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