Thursday, July 12, 2007

Calgary Happenings, Part III

I have a few minutes so I thought I would do one more blog. Thanks to Joanne's digital camera I have had pictures to show you of my experiences so far. You will have to wait until I get home to see my pictures once they are processed. So far I have 12 rolls to process (or is it 14?)!

Joanne took me to Banff National Park for a day. We went along the old Trans Canada, 1A, and the sights were amazing. How can anyone not believe in God when they see the beauty all around? Joanne and I went to Lake Moraine. What a beautiful spot. I think I could live in the mountains so easily. I kind of feel about them the way I do about northern Ontario - awestruck.
I was able to take a couple of pictures of trains traveling the rails along this stretch of road. Some day I would like to travel across Canada by train in a sleeper car. What a great way to see the country.
I think I have these growing my garden back home! The columbine is one of my favourites.
I was so glad that Joanne was patient with me since I kept yelling, "Stop the car!" so I could get pictures and I wanted to sketch. Lake Moraine was a lovely spot to stop and get out the sketch book and pencils. It would have been great to have a day just to sit by the side of the lake and paint. The water is turquoise. Who needs to go to the Caribbean when you have the lakes in the Rockies? The only problem is that you freeze the tush off if you swim in the ice cold water.
A couple days later Gayle drove me up to the mountains. While we were at Lake Moraine four teenage boys dared each other to jump into the lake. They all jumped in at the same time and as soon as they came up they made a mad dash for shore. They would enjoy being a part of the polar bear club that goes for a swim every winter in the Great Lakes in Ontario. I think the one in Toronto does it around New Year's.

When Gayle took me up to the mountains we also went to the Columbian Icefield in Jasper. Such a "cool" place. It was interesting to learn all about the glaciers and the shaping of the Rockies. There were trees there that are 300 years old and only about six feet tall. There was another patch of trees that were 8oo years old and only about eight feet tall. They harshness of the mountain environment with winter-like conditions almost year round makes for an extremely short growing season - I think they said about six weeks! The day we went was actually a warm day - 15 degrees.

Nathan and I took a tour bus out onto the glacier. It was one of these buses that are used in the oil industry on these humongous wheels. Nathan was excited because his family has only visited the toe before. We saw big horned sheep on the side of the road. I tried getting pictures of them through the bus window. Hopefully they will turn out and I can show you them at another time.

On our way back down the highway we stopped in Lake Louise to see the famous Fairmont Hotel. We also stopped in Banff for dinner. We ate at the Old Spaghetti Factory in the open area section. Eating spaghetti looking out at the mountains - life couldn't be better! A couple days before when Joanne took me to the mountains I saw the other famous Fairmont hotel, Banff Springs, and the Canadian Place owned by the government (Canada House?) and used for summits and retreats. I preferred the Banff Springs hotel to Lake Louise because of the rocks/bricks used in constructing the buildings. They look more historic.

Anyway, now that I have rambled on and on and on, it is probably time to say aurevoir. I will be traveling into the BC interior for camping with Stephen and Gayle and the kids. We are hoping to go to Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump (I love saying that!), the Frank Slide and the Crowsnest pass. These are all historic places. I will write again when I get home. So.... toodles for now and speak to you soon!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Calgary Happenings

Here is the next update of my visit: Joanne took me to the bomber museum in Nanton. There was a wonderful display and information about the Great Escape and the role Canadians played. Bruce just happened to have the movie so that night I watched the movie.
We visited Drumheller and the hoodoos. Cool place with interesting formations but it sure was hot that day. Another afternoon Joanne and I went backroading to look for abandoned buildings. The prairies are full of them since it was so hard to make a living and get a farm established. If the buildings could talk I can just imagine the history and personal stories they could tell. It is sad that so many grain elevators, a key to the export of winter grain, are now silent.

I had a blast at the Calgary Stampede. I got up early - very early - to get into the city and reserve a place on the street. I sat with Stephen and the kids - aren't they just too cute!

I loved the standing ovation the armed forces received, especially the army. How fitting considering just the day before we lost another six of our soldiers. They are doing such an awesome and courageous job in Afghanistan that they deserve all of our praise and support.

I loved seeing the street cleaners that were a part of the parade to clean up all of the droppings.

That night we all went to the grand stand show. There were the chuck wagon races before the show. The rider I cheered for won his heat. I have no idea who he is, but his wagon said "sandalwood" on the side and since I live off of Sandalwood Parkway I thought it was fitting. Amazing Las Vegas style show. I loved the dancing, the ventriloquist (?), the native ring dancing, and the fireworks.

Monday, July 02, 2007

It's Me Again - I'm Here!

I finally have a few moments to blog. Flew out to Calgary on Saturday. The flight went okay. I don't like flying alone - I like having company. The seat beside me was empty so it wasn't so bad. I liked watching the airplane on the map to see our progress. I ate pretzels and watched some TV. Travel certainly is becoming more luxurious!

I couldn't believe that I was able to get a flight out for $149 ($200 when taxes etc. are counted in). On the way back it is costing me $350! So much for a cheaper trip!

After touching down Joanne was there to greet me. It was great to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar place. We stopped by Stephen's with a Dairy Queen ice cream cake to say hello and see what is left of his family. Nathan, Kathryn and Stephen - Gayle and the rest of the girls are away on some singing thing. I love being with family. It's too bad that I have to take an airplane to see them. I would much rather take a car so it can happen more often.

Yesterday Joanne and I went to a small town (forget the name) to see a bomber museum and go through some antique stores. I bought two school books from 1909 and 1912. Joanne started reading a poem and I laughed since I do that same poem with my children in grade 2! We saw a lot of books that we read when we were younger and they were newer at the time. I sure felt old! In my class a few years ago we were talking about "many years ago in the pioneer days" and one of the kids said, "You mean in the black and white days?" It made me laugh because I was brought up in the black and white days! I guess age is a relative thing because I still feel like that little girl sometimes.

The bomber museum was cool. I liked seeing the war from such a Canadian perspective, especially the display about the Great Escape.

Tomorrow I think we are going to Drumheller - the dinosaur place. I can't wait. So until next time, toodles!