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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

When Travel Gets Real: The Two Cowboys - New Zealand Beer and Culinary Experience

Parking the Elusion

Here are some big numbers to keep in mind: Travel & Tourism constitutes ten percent of the world's GDP. The GDP contribution of travel touched $8 trillion in 2015 and is set to be rising to almost $12 trillion a decade from now. It is also one of the most fragmented, complex and misrepresented industries in the world!

Yet, for a small country like New Zealand, international visitors deliver $40 million in foreign exchange to the economy each day of the year. This is one in five export Dollars earned by the country. Domestic tourism contributes another $59 million in economic activity every day. Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $14.7 billion, or 5.9% of GDP in 2017. Why is New Zealand so prosperous in their tourism campaign?


We have our views about why New Zealand is punching above its weight in this sector. Firstly, the New Zealand landscape is unique. It has an incredibly diverse natural beauty from the North Island to the South. You don't have to go far to be in awe with the shades of greens, blacks, blues and whites that are dished up to your camera lens, all hours of the day and night. It is a nature photographer's paradise.

New Zealand has a rich and diverse cultural landscape too. It blends Pacific, European and Asian into a beautiful tapestry of people and community. It is probably one of the only places where you wash down a lamb dim sum donburi with limoncello, and have a creampuff with your kumara madras.

Speaking of food, it is an absolute culinary paradise. Everything grows and thrives in the fertile New Zealand climate. Agriculture has been the backbone of the economy since the country's inception. It was only in 2013 that Tourism took over from dairy as the dominating export of the nation. New Zealand attracts great culinary talent with all this beautiful produce, that is locally grown and innovatively cultivated. There is no shortage of food celebrations, shows and festivals which, together with sports, make the country an event magnet.

Getting Real Marketing Done Deep Downunder

Here is the real reason why we love New Zealand: Small businesses thrive! Competition is healthy, and people are innovative when they bring products and services to market. The tourism product is good, and it keeps growing. They know to celebrate their successes and tell their stories. Marketing is a crucial foundation for everyone involved in New Zealand's tourism businesses.

Our Canadian Provinces are missing this crucial point. It doesn't matter how many Dollars you throw at the not-for-profit staff-bloated destination supposed marketing organizations, if the product is not solidly good, even they cannot put lipstick on a pig. There must be an incentive for tourism and travel operators to market themselves. Like so many other matters, leaving a government in charge of this crucial business task is courting disaster.

Canada has a lot of natural splendour, but its entrepreneurs have lost their motivation. What should be a help to develop the tourism product of Canada has become like so many things in the country, just another destination marketing gravy train for tenure incentivized bureaucrats. What remains to be marketed then is... natural splendour. If only we - the Two Cowboys - can get a more significant chance to highlight Canada's tourism product and related businesses, then we may just be able to light the flame again of entrepreneurship and blow it stronger for Canada, our other home country.

In the meantime, while we sit out the cold winter months, we cannot get enough of exploring this great little country of New Zealand. We can call it our village because we also carry a Kiwi Passport. We are and remain committed to its success!

Enjoy our travels deep Downunder and we hope you can make the journey with us in person, one day. See you back in Canada again, soon.

Kiwi 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.


Episode 2: Flying from Kelowna, BC to Auckland, NZ

Monday, October 29, 2018

Two Cowboys: Clean and Healthy Cowboys with Chem Free Cleaning and Essential Oils in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Staying Clean On the Road

We travel a lot. We do it in our motorhome or campervans. We often "Boondock", or as it is known Downunder, "Freedom Camp".

We like to save on camping fees so that we have more money for beer, cooking, bbq, fresh produce, and great adventures. This comes with a few challenges. For example, staying clean on the road and keeping clean cooking utensils requires innovation. We don't want a man down with the runs during the journey. Things need to be sanitary.

Life on the road is a little different because, while we boondock, we don't always have ready access to water for washing dishes, knives and cutting boards. We have water. Just not a lot. We have to invent and use alternative ways to keep our cooking materials clean and sanitary and save on our precious water.


Antibacterial soap may be the go-to for anyone doing dishes at home where water is plentiful. Every good cook should follow the standard operating procedure of soap, scrub, rinse and sanitize. It keeps things clean and safe to use around the home and during food preparation.

We've discovered that there is another way to do it when access to water is limited. People have been using vinegar as a cleaning solution for a long, long time. More and more people are also returning to it for a greener and safer cleaning option.

Through our trials and research, we've found that vinegar worked really well for certain things. For example, de-greasing, cleaning mould and mildew, cleaning and descaling a coffee maker, as a replacement for rinse aid in the dishwasher (not that we have dishwashers when we are on the road). It also sanitizes while it cleans. We've turned to our own self-made vinegar concoction to keep our gear clean and sanitized. The more we used it the more it made sense to have one go-to spray bottle that is cheap and easy to use.

There is a little problem with using vinegar, though. Everything smells like vinegar!! Lemon juice may be an alternative, but we'd rather keep that for seasoning our pork and chicken.

Charlotte Lomenda from Chem Free Cleaning made a call to us and offered us an alternative. She's done a fair amount of cleaning in her life and have experimented with combining vinegar and essential oils for an even better way to clean and sanitize. She launched her business in Okotoks and offers ready to use, alternative cleaning products that work, are safe, and that smells a lot better than we can make.

It is in fact only one product. It is the right formulation of Vinegar, but with different flavours (scents) of essential oils. She took the guesswork out of our own mixology and she made it smell nice. It is made with the antibacterial and antimicrobial cleaning properties essential oils provide. It is also food-grade safe! What does that mean? It means that it is so safe that it can be used to sanitize around food, in restaurant kitchens and dining areas, as well as in your own home. She even tested it for accidental human consumption. So did we!


We trust the ingredients that Charlotte uses in her Chem Free Cleaning products.

We've trusted it even before we met her. The nice part now is that she's made it a little easier for us to have something we can use to clean with, on the road, and at home. She's taken the guesswork out of the formulation and she made it smell nicer.

Our cooking expeditions are now cleaner, we stay healthier and some have remarked that we smell better ;-) Give it a try and while doing it you know you are supporting a local entrepreneur that truly cares about her products and her customers. We are proud to know Charlotte.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Fresh 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.


Chem Free

Cooking Cowboy

Two Cooking Cowboys

Safe Mellon Cleaning

Life on the Road

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Gold Mine at Deadwood Junction and Tarnish Turkey Cappuccino in Greenwood, BC, Canada

An Ounce of Gold

Bruce Jepsen, the latest custodian of Deadwood Junction and Tarnished Turkey Cappuccino, acknowledges that he has a gold mine.

He makes a very valid point though, about his mine, "How much effort do you think is required to get an ounce of gold out of the mine?" In the case of Deadwood Junction, a surprising amount of effort is required to operate the small coffee shop, tourism stop, bakery, and summer BBQ joint on BC's Highway 3.


Deadwood Junction is in a place most people, and some would say time itself, has long gone forgotten. Greenwood, British Columbia and the Boundary Country south of the Okanagan, on the US Border may be the last holdout where small businesses can still stand a chance to mine an ounce of gold.

Ask most small business owner-operators in Canada today, and many will admit that it may not be worth the effort anymore. Many have mines that are abandoned, shut down, or the miners are on strike hoping for another time where small business owners and entrepreneurs will be allowed to succeed again without hindrance from overbearing bureaucracies.

Many, like us, strive to live and work in a Utopia where rules, taxes and operating costs are not an issue. Where entrepreneurs are allowed to hang on to more than half of their profits. Where people can be employed, skills can be developed, where they can create value and can focus on making great products and delivering services that are appreciated by the people around them, their community.

If this is you, then maybe this part of Canada with its rich history, simple pleasures and great weather may have a place for your business. Life here is easier. Much slower and a dollar goes a lot further.

Be prepared to hear more about the Boundary Country in BC from the Two Cowboys.

Deadwood Junction was founded in 2009. It is located in the beautiful City of Greenwood right off Highway 3. It is a must stop and comes highly recommended by the Cowboys. Bruce and Katie Jepsen are the current owners of a business that looks like it pre-dated Canada. Knowing the fascinating history of the area, it probably does date from a couple of centuries ago.

They make great coffee. Bruce has been baking all his life and cannot wait to get out of bed at 03:00 in the morning to get your cinnamon bun hot, sweet, sticky, and ready. He and Katy also make a prize-winning Beef Chilli. That is a story for another time.

Their little store also sells antiques and local artisan work. As small businesses do, they support local small town talent where they can!


Once a baker, always a baker. Bruce claims that he was born a baker. Nothing can replace the joy he gets from seeing you appreciate his baking and his coffee (which he takes great care to do custom for every one of his favourite clients (you know if you are one ;-))

We are proud to feature Bruce's buns this time and hope to have many more stories for you from Deadwood Junction and Tarnished Turkey Cappuccino and the small communities and entrepreneurs in this fantastic part of British Columbia, Canada.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Cinnamon 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.



Two Cowboys Flatwhite

The Junction

The Team

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Two Cowboys: Getting Back to Beer Basics with Glacier Hops Ranch in Whitefish, Montana, USA

The Original

Sometimes, the way it's always been done is not necessarily the best way. Maybe, it is better to do it the way it was intended. For example, perhaps, our brewers are flavouring our beer wrong. There may be a better way. The way it used to be done, with fresh hops.

Heritage and culture are vital ingredients in identity. Communities are built around identities. Acceptable behaviours, a shared set of values, the types of food people eat, their behaviours, mannerisms, and the beverages they drink, are all part of what makes a community different from the next.


Over the last few years, the craft brewing industry, the world over, has been challenging traditional norms in brewing and beer. Rules that may not be as traditional as many would have us think. Partly, because some of the true heritage of brewing was destroyed during the last century through market consolidation, over the top "identity" positioning, and through excessive regulation and prohibition movements.

The activity of brewing and drinking beer has gone from being in disrepute or simply being outlawed and over-regulated with a few providers of generally produced "bland" beverages, to becoming part of a cultural reawakening with a loyal community and following. The good news is that people are brewing again and drinking more craft beer. We are now benefitting from flavour experiences denied to most of us until quite recently here in Alberta. Unfortunately, not all are good. Many are getting better, which is encouraging. It can get much better.

This poses an interesting question. What was the intended flavour of beer before it all went wonky in the western world? If we should step back in time, one or two centuries, what would beer have tasted like, and if we could have tasted it, would we have like it?

As with all "old" and traditional recipes of a beverage, baking or dish preparation, the quality and state of the ingredients are essentially what determines its character. The method holds the key to success. You should not really mess with either. As far as technique goes, it can take a lifetime to perfect.

Here in lies the challenge. Can we brew beer with fresh ingredients? Yes, we can. Not many people have had the privilege to have tasted fresh beer, brewed with fresh malt and fresh hops. It is possible. We had it. It is amazing! Beer, as we know, has a limited lifespan. It is essentially liquid bread that goes stale over time, accelerated by exposure to light, oxygen. Some styles require maturation. Even in these cases, fresh ingredients make all the difference.

So, just how fresh can we get with ingredients for our beer.? We are brewing today with malt and hops that both went through preservation procedures that are of the oldest and most trusted methods in the world. Both are dried and shipped to brewers all over. In the case of hops, it fundamentally alters the characteristics of the ingredient, as we've learned from Tom Britz at Glacier Hops Farms. He's been on a mission to find another way to keep hops "pure" for the brewing process.

He's developed a non-destructive way to extract the hops parts we use for brewing through distillation. It opens up all kinds of possibilities that holds the promise of fresher and more authentic tasting beer. The question we were left with was, "does it taste better?".

The verdict: "For sure!" We are a fan, and we are so much a fan that we think it is going to change the beer world - for the next century, maybe. For next year, for sure!


Hops Oil (the way it is done by Glacier Hops Ranch under the brand name Hopzoil) is a pure essential oil made from fresh hops, steam-distilled right out of the field at harvest time. They are using a proprietary process to capture all of the fresh, intense, essential oils found only in fresh hops - the good stuff that is mostly destroyed through drying - and leaving all the biomass behind.

As we know, dry-hopping can be frustrating and expensive during the brewing process. Brewers that tried Tom's oil have learned that by using Hopzoil, they can reduce filtration losses, along with reduced labour, freight, and storage costs, and increase yield and aroma, leading to more profit out of every batch of beer brewed. This means it makes good business sense.

Does it make the beer better? Hopzoil™ provides an intense freshness that cannot be replicated with dried processed hops. The result captures the complex “fresh hop” aroma and flavour. This means that you can get a year-round freshly hopped beer taste for your beer. A taste that lasts longer than when you would have dry-hopped.

We tried it. It is a beautiful product, and in the Two Cowboys opinion, you need to buckle-up. This is going to change the (beer) world. We are glad to be part of the story.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Hops 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.


Hops Prair

Hops Cowboy!

Many Cowboys

Beer Mobile

Better Beer

Nice Beer. Yeah,  Right!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Two Cowboys: The Best Memories In Life is Made at the Cabin in Bridesville, BC, Canada

Building Liberty

“There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? 

But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden


I've finally succeeded in buying a small plot of land where I can build my little castle. My land. Paid for, completely. My name on the title. With a 75 Gallon per minute well gushing sweet, sweet cold water. Pushing up from 300 feet under my heels.

The view is incredible. The sky, enormous. Behind me a mountain. On my left a pond. Before me the future. I can see for miles.

Here, I will be building my little house and making my new home. Modest and simple from wood and finished by hand. A refuge. A fireplace, a mantle. My anchor.

It has been a four-year-long journey towards simplicity, value and significance. It is only the start. Yet, Some of it already feels a world away. Far from the daily grind of playing to the masters of interest and tax. Smiling for a dollar. Dancing for preservation. I've left that world behind now. Like so many others, I too was living for the modest 25 cents in the Dollar.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This is a journey like no other. A journey of liberty, self-discovery and purpose. Learning. Life. Meaning.

It is beautiful.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Liberty Cowboy

P.S. We will share progress on this journey. Stay tuned for regular episodes of our trials and tribulations as we set up our new location in the Boundary Country of British Columbia.

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.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Two Cowboys: Customer Reviews Are the Moments That Define Us in Rock Creek, British Columbia

Important Moments

I've discovered something real about life:

"Today is for the living. Yesterday is but a memory. Tomorrow is only a dream."

Our lives have profoundly essential moments that are strung together to ultimately define who we are and what we become. When these moments occur, the consequences often elude us until much later.

Customer feedback, in the form of an Online Customer Review, is one of these crucial moments in a business' life.

When something happens, we do not immediately grasp the importance nor its significance. We struggle through events that are painful. Happy moments encourage us. Years later, when we look back and recognize pivotable events, then we appreciate what it did for, in, and to our lives.

When one is young, a future fear accompanies each event - a fear of consequence. "Will it take me closer to my dream? Is it good for my career? Will it disrupt my business? Will I lose out on the opportunity? Maybe, I need to dream more and try a little harder."

As you get older, it is less about the consequences and more about the loss of an opportunity. The dreaded "if only" looms closer and closer when you realize that tomorrow is coming faster than you can dream and yesterday's memories are only a blur. The older you get, the more you appreciate how precious each moment is. You become more conscious of with whom you choose to spend it.

Here in lies the lesson. It is not the moments that define us as much as it is how we rise to deal with them. This sets the course for our lives. 

Choose Well

There are really only two choices. Moments happen to us, or we choose to create and rise up to meet them. Life is either a current that overwhelms and drags one along or a wave one accepts and rides.

Like it or not, our lives are impacted daily by the people around us. And this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Our family, co-workers, customers and businesses, are constants in our lives and defines who we are. We impact them and they have an influence on us.

If we mistreat them, the consequence is likely to be negative. If we support and encourage our customers, we will likely be better off.

Ultimately, we are a social species. Our livelihood depends on the way we treat others and the way we choose to see the world. It is good advice when parents teach their children to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Where Should I Spend My Dollar?

The Two Cowboys also get to decide, consciously or unconsciously, with who we do business and which people we allow into our moments. We recognize that it is a decision that doesn't nearly get the amount of attention it deserves. When we support a business, do they return the favour? When we get feedback, what do we do with it?

Our dollar for the coffee, the tenner for a steak, the oil change, or the more-than-half-our-paycheck we hand over in taxes and interest payments are all crucial decisions we should be making, aware of its consequences because it has a profound impact on our livelihood, and our daily lives.

For the business or government that gets our money and attention, it may be just another transaction - a drop in the day's ocean. For us, personally, it is much more profound. Our money and our time (our most precious commodity) are involved. For us, and many other customers it is a big deal!

The question that needs answering is, "To who does it matter more?". As consumers, we should not only make the decision with more intent, but we should be much more vocal and transparent about it. As a business, we can waste an opportunity engaging with someone that won't return the favour.

We are encouraging every customer to step up and become more visible and vocal about why they choose to deal with business A or B, or why they decided not to. Post reviews. Also, when a government spends your money, you should hold them much more accountable. Express your approval or disapproval. Don't wait for an election or fear retribution. If you don't tell them immediately, you are already a victim.

The Imbalance

We've come to develop a new appreciation for, and are now advocating "vocal 'activist' consumerism".

Our money and our time matter much to us. We want to spend it with people that value us. It should matter equally to those that get it. That is why we relish sharing our experiences in online reviews with the world regardless of the size of business with which we engage. Having a choice is no longer enough. We've found it even more liberating proclaiming our favourite and sharing our displeasure, and there are more and more people like us.

We want you, the business owner, to consider the significance of something as simple as an online customer review. Someone not only spent their time and money with you and had either a positive or negative experience but also took time to tell others (and you implicitly) about it - publicly!

Customer Reviews

The tables have turned in the marketplace. There used to be a massive imbalance where a customer or consumer's voice didn't count for much. There wasn't an audience for complaints and compliments like there is now in the online world. Gone are the days of a "complaints department" or "customer service" counter.

With the Internet, customer experiences are "democratized". Everyone has a say and a vote! Every voice has the potential to count, and some count for a lot more than many businesses would expect or like to recognize. One image, a video clip, one Google rating, a sentence, has the potential to make or break national brands! It does the same for a small obscure niche local business.

The consequences for businesses are profound, yet very simple. Treat every customer with the dignity and dedication they are entitled to, given that they too chose to spend their precious dollars and time with you. Ignore them at your peril. Know that your livelihood is in play.

Celebrate the positives. Respond to the negatives. Interact. Please, don't ignore feedback. It is an opportunity and a gift when someone wants to talk to you about your product or business. Don't delegate your social media interactions to a nitwit that only "handles" customer interactions. You are the nitwit for allowing a less-than-capable person to interact with your customers and do it publicly. If Elon Musk and Donald Trump have time to talk directly to their customers and the American people, what makes you so special that you can entrust it to an unqualified social media or marketing "underling".

Don't dismiss critical feedback. Good news travels fast. Bad news, travels even faster. The best advice we can give entrepreneurs and business owners out there is to be truthful, authentic, call out issues but stay vigilant and engage. Be part of the conversation and in the discussion. The worst thing that can happen is when you are left out of it. When people talk about you, instead of with you.

You cannot please everyone. However, make sure you satisfy the right ones. Especially, those with a platform that showcases businesses, and garners large public online followings. Their opinions tend to matter more than others.

Choose the opportunity, respect the customer, and build a relationship. It is a crucial moment.

Customer service is no longer optional. It is what you do as a business in a connected, always on, public world.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Feedback 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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Two Cowboys: Elevating Craft 2018 at the Montana Brewers Association in Missoula, MT, USA

Maturing Beer

Can beer and brewing mature? It is an industry that is as old as civilization itself. However, in North America and Canada, the market is going through substantial growth as entrepreneurs and brewers are allowed back into the market to make, create and explore the incredible life of craft beer and brewing commercially.

With it comes success, challenges and above all, an opportunity for innovation.


We attended the Montana Brewer Association's Elevating Craft Conference last week (2018).

What a pleasant surprise to see how their industry is growing and maturing where the euphoria of new licenses has worn off, and people are now more serious about their craft and the business of beer.

After two decades of craft beer, better businesses are succeeding, and an ample amount of good (great) beer is produced and consumed. Craft beer consumption in the USA continues to grow as a segment of the market. Still, there are up to two new breweries opening daily in the USA. This continues to be serious stuff!

Even more encouraging is to see how the Montana Brewer Association and its stakeholders are working together to grow the opportunity of great beer from a regulatory, educational, marketing and positioning perspective. Is it becoming easier to brew in Montana and elsewhere in the USA? Not necessarily, but people are learning how best to do it as small businesses, and slowly making their mark in numbers across the country.

The conference covered several aspects of the business of beer that should interest every brewer and brewery owner. From how to clean and inspect your keg stem to how to establish a brewing laboratory for managing the quality of your processes and products. It was indeed education and is definitely an event to consider attending if you are in the industry or the area and love the business of brewing beer.

We've seen that Canada, and in particular the Alberta Province, is still mainly going through the growing pains of establishing their craft beer industry. They have a lot to learn from markets adjacent such as Montana.

In general, the good news is that Provincial Governments in Canada are relaxing regulations for people to do craft beer. Unfortunately, while doing it, they are dressing up their contributions as the second coming to Canadian producers and beer drinkers. Not so fast, we say. In Canada, fledgeling breweries struggle to put out quality products (we know, we've drunk a lot of bad beer, already) and to remain afloat without grants, protectionism and handouts (some would say, what is new in Canada, eh?).

The very people that crow about their contributions to "help" craft is the ones in the way of craft beer and brewing's success. We are all for "free your beer". There should be a free and open market with opportunities for entrepreneurs to make the best products they can and to succeed in their businesses because they are doing a good job, not because some bureaucrat anointed them for success with a license and a grant.

The focus should be on good beer and sound principles for managing a beer business. This was the overwhelming theme of the conference and our takeaway from the event. Once the beard dress-up and bureaucratic meddling subside, the business of beer is a serious business. The breweries with a customer focus, good marketing, local presence and with a quality product are the ones that should and do succeed in Montana.


Two presentations stood out for us. John Holl, the Senior Editor of Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine, made a point about the need for breweries to tell their stories. In doing so, they can build customer loyalty and become intimate with their customers. This was music to our ears as we work to tell more stories of breweries and beer in the places we visit as the Traveling Cowboys.

The second presentation that caught our attention was one by Tom Britz from Glacier Hops Ranch. You heard it right. They have hops ranches in Montana! He is pioneering the production and use of freshly distilled hops oil for application in craft beer. It is an exciting story that we have to pursue further. Stay tuned for more on this new "revolution" in hopping beer.

We appreciate the invite from Matt Leow (Executive Director, Montana Craft Brewers Association), and the opportunity to attend the conference. We will be back for sure. We love the people we met and enjoyed the beer!

Now, how many breweries are there in Montana that we still need to visit? Stay thirsty my friends!

Hendrik van Wyk 

Hops 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.




Medical Stuff

Great Montana Beer

Monday, August 13, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Turning Left for the Hospitality of the People of Glenwood, Alberta

Chance Encounters

Our first experience with Glenwood was one of disappointment. We missed an opportunity.

We were running low on gas when we left Waterton National Park last summer and were hoping to find a small town with a gas station on our way north. Firstly, we headed for Hill Spring. Nothing. Then we aimed for Glenwood. Neither rewarded us with gas. We should have headed for Pincher Creek, but we love seeing small, tiny towns. Without gas, unfortunately, we missed our chance to get to know Glenwood.


We were under stress all the way until we made it to Fort Macleod. If we had a little more time and paid a bit more attention, we would have been surprised and rewarded by the unique characters of both these Southern Alberta towns. Instead, we sped through Hill Spring and missed our left turn to Glenwood.

Our next encounter with the people of Glenwood and Hill Spring happened when we received a chance invitation to join them for their Pioneer Days Celebrations the weekend of 20 July 2018. What a surprise! This time we didn't miss the turn. We turned left on our way back from Waterton.

During our visit, the people of Glenwood took in the Two Cowboys and made us part of their families. We had breakfast at Tina's Cafe, Polony at Van & Dan's General Store. Lost an Ice Cream eating contest at the Pioneer Parlour & Cheese Factory Museum and watched fireworks that outdid some of the best we've seen.

We've discovered massive RV parks in the twin river beds that surround the towns and danced at the Great Canadian Barn Dance until our feet hurt. In Hill Spring we ate ice cream again at the Hill Spring Trading Co. and we joined in the parade after a delicious pancake breakfast. After the show, it was a roast beef picnic! What a trip!


Here in lies the lesson.  If you take it slow and make time to look around, meet some of the people and learn more about the history and the attractions of a destination, you will be wholesomely rewarded as a traveller.

Because we did, Glenwood and its people are now one of our go-to places in Southwestern Alberta, and we hope we can encourage you to make it yours.

The small towns are where you will find the interesting people, the unique experiences and the best hospitality. They are the real travel gems you encounter on the road.

Unfortunately, they are the folk that misses out on the big destination marketing budgets, so no one ever gets to hear about them, and only a fortunate few get to experience what they have to offer. The world is a less attractive place without stories of Glenwood and Hill Spring.

You will not see a video of a Millennial blond's hair waving rhythmically with the prairie grass while horses thunder and gallop through the river beds surrounding Glenwood or Hill Spring. What you will see when you make the trip is folk riding their horses through town. Blond Millenials sitting on the porch eating ice cream with their families, and friendly people waving at passers-by. They will go out of their way to convince you of the quality of their polony and give you the first taste of their freshly baked doughnuts before opening time.

These are places whose stories should be told. The world should know more about them, and we are set on doing the job. With your support as our audience, we will bring you more Glenwood, Hill Springs, and who knows where else...

Hendrik van Wyk 
Travelling 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.



The Beginning

The Originals

Ice Cream Baron

We Were There!

Traveling Cowboys

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Old School Values and Fun at the Only Great Canadian Barn Dance, Alberta, Canada

Dance More

The Saturday Night Dance used to be an essential town event that brought the community together. Young and old came to share a meal, dance, meet new people, catch up on local news, and have some good old-fashioned fun and laughter. It was good exercise too.

Unfortunately, like the Drive-in and the Roadhouse Diner, the Saturday Night Dance also disappeared from our towns. 


One cannot precisely pinpoint when and why this happened. It just stopped, and somehow no one seems to be missing it. Maybe it ended because people became distracted by other forms of entertainment like Television, the Internet and Social Media.

If you ask Trevor Kunkel from one of the last Saturday Night Dance hold-outs, The Great Canadain Barn Dance, he blames the introduction of alcohol to these events. "Everybody had a good time and families participated until alcohol was introduced. People started to misbehave. Before you knew it, parents stopped coming. Older folks stayed away, and people found other ways to be entertained", says Trevor.

He may have a point, because the Great Canadian Barn Dance is in a dry county in Southwestern Alberta and he is now the second generation of hosts that still caters to dancers from, and visitors to the area. Saturday evenings is dance night and has been for several decades now. Friday evenings are for dinner shows, and the rest of the Summer calendar is filled with events and workshops for teaching old fashion dancing and music.

The Great Canadian Barn Dance is, quite possibly, the only campground you'll find where the whole family can camp, dance, enjoy recreational activities, and take in live entertainment all in one scenic location. It caters to music for all ages. You can join in complimentary dance lessons, and with no liquor allowed at the dance, it's an event the whole family can enjoy, the way it used to be.


We stumbled upon this gem in desperation for a Southwestern Alberta camping spot in 2017. Waterton Lakes National Park's campground was full. We needed a place to park in the area, and Google pointed the way to the Barn.

Apparently, it all started with a barn. Instead of the Kunkels taking to the road every Summer, playing for audiences across the Province, they sought a way to draw the patrons to them. It all started with hosting a dance at the Barn. That was 25 years ago. Since then, every Spring to Fall music rung out over the Prairie, and the people continued to come.

Now we have an annual appointment with the Barn too. The first time we arrived we were immediately welcomed to the Barn Dance family with roast beef, corn and mashed potatoes. Before we knew it, we were doing the two-step, the waltz, the line dance and the polka.

I am not sure what exactly draws us to make our annual pilgrimage to the Great Canadian Barn Dance. It could be the location, the food, the music, the dancing, or it could merely be the old-school values that draw everyone in to have fun together, young and old, like we used to.

People should dance more.  Start at the Barn and keep dancing. We did!

Hendrik van Wyk 
Dancing 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.



Dance Place

Old West

The Barn

Roast Beef!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Two Cowboys: Every Individually Perfect Pierogi is Pinched by Hand in Airdrie, Alberta

The Little Things

When you work with dough, every batch is a little different. Only the trained eye and the sensitive touch of a master baker is in tune with the moods of the gluten gods. They all say that knowing dough is to understand its feel.

The perfect pierogi has the same demands for detail and attention. Emma Linton knows that to craft the ideal delicate shell of her creative flavour explosions, she has to pay particular attention to the dough’s consistency, bounce and stretch. She feels with her hands for when the mixture is perfect. Every pierogi is hand-crafted. She makes her pierogies the way its traditionally been made. She pinches them by hand.


When she makes them by hand, she can trust each one to provide a thin, yet sturdy housing for her traditional and more adventurous fillings. The shell enhances the overall taste of the morsel, and it promises to remain closed so that no filling leaks out during steaming, cooking, frying or grilling.

Emma makes a lot of pierogies. She sells them at several farmers’ markets in and around Calgary. It is also available for online order through her website ( and delivery within Alberta.

We checked in to see how she does it and she obliged us with a privileged look into the inner-workings of pierogi making genius, by taking us through her processes. We are not divulging any secrets, but it is safe to say that as it is with all the simple classical recipes, it has a lot to do with the method of making and with the quality of the ingredients. In the case of pierogies, it also has a lot to do with practice and patience.

Pinching every one by hand is a tedious job. Why then the attraction is to do it? According to Emma, pierogi making was, and still is a family affair. It has a social aspect to it. It brings people together to collectively prepare food and share a meal - something that is quite unique to our species. When Emma makes pierogies, it brings her people together, and it is her hope and wish that it does the same for others.


Pierogi making is a lot simpler than most people think. A little dough, some filling, a bit of creativity, practice and patience and time with family and friends around the kitchen table.

Not only is it simple, it also allows small quantities of food to go a long way. If you have leftover meat or vegetables from another meal that you prepared, you can mush it together and work it into a filling for pierogies. Add some extra spices or flavouring sauces, and you will soon have your own style and unique pierogi creations. Freeze it to keep it and fry it up with lots of butter when it comes time to enjoy it.

If you are pinched for time and cannot go without your pierogi fix, then Emma will look after you. Enjoy her pierogies because it gives her a chance to come up with another recipe. Emma's pinched by hand pierogies comes with the Two Cowboys endorsement. It is that good!

Hendrik van Wyk 
Pinched 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.             



Market Day!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Two Cowboys: Learning Why Little Things Matter for Tiny House Builder, Finished Right Contracting, in Morinville, AB

The Little Things

When you consider living in a Tiny House, you know that the little things matter. 

It matters because space is limited in your living quarters. Everything has its place, and everything must have a purpose, or it is in the way. It also matters because you recognize how precious space is in your mind that you dedicate to the things around you. 

When you are conscious of your physical and mind-space limitations, you discover how little meaningful time you have and how much of this precious resource it can take to truly dedicate to “belongings”. There are only so many hours in a day, days in a month, and months in a year. Keeping something for "in-case" or "sentimental" value quickly becomes something in the way or another thing that needs storage, maintenance and care. It merely occupies space you may no longer have.


The same applies to the people with which we surround ourselves. If we choose to have them in our lives, do they honestly matter? Should they matter? Does your employer really commit to your wellbeing like you commit your precious life hours to theirs or will they let you go the moment you are no longer needed, useful, nice, or “a team player”. Do clients really care about your welfare or are they merely focused on extracting as much as possible for as little as they have to offer? 

Should you care to whom you hand over your money? Do the people from who you buy have your health and well-being in mind when they sell you that highly preserved meal, lousy coffee or device that will stop working or break in 18 months. Who makes, grows or crafts the items that fill your life? Are you with a partner, parent, or is your older child with you because they build you or because they use you or even worse, abuse you?

This is probably why minimalism and living tiny go hand in hand. Both are contrarian outlooks in today’s fast-paced consumption driven life. Both require a lot more thought about the things we have, the time we spend, and the people we have around us. It is anti-hoarding. It is less that is allowing for more. It is living with purpose.

We’ve discovered that it has the power to create space for more meaningful living. That is why we like it. We’ve also found that it doesn’t come easy, though. It requires firm resolve and dedication. Every decision made, item used, hour spent, and person loved needs to made conscious of the real value, role and purpose it plays in your life. The little things matter because that is where you find meaning.

A lot is said and produced online about Tiny Houses, tiny living and the motivation of people that choose the lifestyle. At the outset, it sounds bohemian to be able to live in a space that is considered small by North American standards ( Europe and Japan with their space limitations, even our tiny is considered big). A home you can move with you if you choose to live in another part of the town or country. It comes with a philosophy of possibility. It also comes with a perspective of quality which is different from what you get in a mobile home, RV or a motorhome.


We were fortunate enough to meet Steve Zaleschuk of Finished Right Contracting who shares in our philosophy. He is a tiny house builder just north of Edmonton, Alberta. Steve has been doing carpentry for over 34. You can see his keen sense of accomplishment when he takes a stack of lumber and turns it into something beautiful and useful that can stand the test of time. This is precisely what he does when he builds his customers’ small homes. Everything Steve makes is scrutinized by that little voice inside his head, “Would Grandma be happy with this?” If not, I do it better!  

Steve Zaleschuk is a true craftsman and maker. He prides himself in making a tiny home that will be enjoyed for the next eighty years by all who walk through the entrance. Everything is hand-finished and done custom to the client's satisfaction. This takes a lot longer and costs more at the outset. However, as we know with things that are well made, over time it's better.

Steve “overbuilds” his tiny houses. He thought of everything. Every last detail is done with care and consideration. Nothing is too much. Just right. We’ve discovered that the fit out of a tiny home can be a minefield of options. It is a marriage between a conventional building and an RV. Traditional buildings last longer and is more comfortable during bad weather but is heavy, more expensive and less mobile. RV thinking ads mobility, less cost at the outset, but quality and durability are usually an issue. Should you do solar? Do you really need water tanks? What heating should you use? How do you cool down in hot weather? All these questions come up, and Steve has an answer for every one of them and more. He did his homework and will guide prospective customers through a build that is perfect for their needs.

We have not seen the amount of care before that Steve puts into constructing tiny houses for other people. Steve can rightly call his houses, “homes”. If there is a little home we want to live in, Steve’s is at the top of our list. Who knows? Maybe we will get a chance to do it.

Hendrik van Wyk 
Minimalist 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.             


Quality Control
Quality Control


Really Tiny
Small Home


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