Archive for Calgary

Calgary, Alberta

July 23, 2008

 

It is Monday nite.  I am in Calgary.  On the way here to pass the time, I called several B&B’s [talk fast…it’s costing me 60 cents a minute!].  I got this one for $60/nite, which is a steal here…but had no idea what to expect.   I drove thru town and drove.  It’s a “regular” house.  It’s run by a retired couple who built an upstairs on 30 years ago when their kids were home.  Now, they rent it out.  I was going to play it by ear re if I stayed another nite.  They seem very pleasant, but it’s out in the boonies-ish…are we still in Calgary?

 

I asked about how easy it is to get to the city center, and he suggested walking the 12 blocks to the train, and taking the train in.  That way I don’t have to drive in the traffic, but more importantly, pay $3.75/hr to park my car.

 

I told him I’m staying another nite.  Here, I am ok with NOT staying near the city center.

 

AND they have wireless!

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Calgary, Alberta

July 22, 2008

I know a lot of people on my blog have been to Calgary for work reasons – it’s an oil and gas town.

In reading over things to do in Calgary, nothing overly grabbed me re what to do.  I know I want to cycle in a huge park – Nose Hill Park, and cycle along the river to downtown, but other than there, I will go checkout downtown and play it by ear.

Come to find out, the location of this B&B is a good one.  It is a 10 minute walk thru a pretty park to get to the C train.  It is location a block away from a major street.  If I turn left on that street I go to Nose Hill Park, if I turn right, it T’s into the parking lot for me to cycle on the path along the river to downtown.

Back at the C train.  The ticket machines accept exact change only.  A daily pass is $6.75.  After reading all my literature, I’m not sure that I would have known there was a train here.  It is def hidden in the small print.  They have lots of places where they talk about how difficult it is to find a place to park, and the expense, so one would think they would add: TO AVOID THIS, take the train. But no.

In the train station, there is one very small map that shows the route.  Granted, I believe there is only one train/route, but I wanted to see a map to figure out where to get off.  On the train there is only a little map above the door – if you are seated, you can’t see it.

Remember John Travolta’s pose for the movie “Saturday Night Fever”…where he is dancing, and has his finger raised up in the air?  They have an ad here…Staying Alive.  With a man’s hand raised in the air, with the finger pointing up.  It just shows the arm from the elbow to the pointed finger.  On the hand is a latex glove.  It is an ad for prostate exams.

There is a pretty rapidly moving river [I believe Bow River] flowing by downtown.  Lots of statues here [bear, Indian Chiefs…].  There is an amphitheater with a “wading pool” with lots of people picnicking nearby.  They are putting on a children’s play.

I stopped at the ERCOT center for the performing arts and listened to an organ recital.  In my research, I can’t seem to find any live music, or any performing arts events going on in town at all.  I ask about this at the ERCOT, and they give me the alternative free weekly paper to go thru.

I head over to Stephen Avenue, which is pedestrian only during the day. I always like this. I pick a place to have lunch and sit outside to watch people go by.  I open the paper, and the first article is about the homeless in the city.  Just then, the beggers start coming.  So, all thru lunch everyone sitting outside was subjected to beggers begging for money.  One young guy kept giving people money.

And pretty much all day I kept being asked for money.  Later, I discovered a part of town called Kensington [across Louise Bridge from downtown].  It’s an arty neighborhood.  I stopped 2 guys walking by to ask the name of the neighborhood.  They told me…pause…AND????  
And what?
Aren’t you going to ask me for money?
Ha…No.
Wow…EVERYONE asks for money.

And he’s right.

After lunch I got my addiction and sat on a bench to people watch.  Of course, there are either street people on the benches, or people smoking.  EVERYONE smokes.  I found that the locals seem to be dressed up more than usual.  A lot of woman showing “a sense of style”, most not pulling if off very well, in my opinion.  A lot of women seemed to be overly tanned [with fake boobs].  I suppose this somehow happens in energy cities.

Nothing downtown interested me.  I spend 2.5 hours there and did and saw all I wanted to.

I went to Nose Hill Park, which is a huge park here.  I cycled up and down hills, on a windy day for 45 minutes, and I was spent.  I didn’t want to go cycle by the river, but I knew I had to.

I’m so glad I did.  I was told that the parking lot would be very busy due to people getting off work.  And it was.  What that really means is: people park thru car here and cycle into downtown.  The river is really pretty, clear and beautiful green color.  There is a walking path near the river, and then another path for cyclists and inline skater.  The path is just packed with a steady stream of cyclists coming home from work.  And they are hauling it.  THIS is the best part of Calgary.  I cycled downtown [around 20 minutes] and back.

I read that a folk singer was singing at Oolong Tea House, so I went there at nite.  This is in Kensington.  I really liked this area.  There were several acts, so stayed for that.  When I went outside, it seemed as though it was 6 pm, but it was 9.15.  The sun does set later here.

So, then I went over to this live music club that I had read about, that was having Punk Rock Bingo.  Sounds like more fun than what it actually was.  Bingo + loud music + guy heckling you.  I didn’t win anything.

Oh, I met a woman at the folk singer and I told her I’m going hiking over near Banff today.
Have you hike before?
Well, right now my body isn’t in good hiking condition.
No, I mean have you hiked during active bear activity time.
Ahhhh.
Do you have pepper spray?
The border police took it.
Don’t you dare go hiking without pepper spray.  I mean it.  The bears are out.

This morning, the innkeepers said the same thing.  I didn’t bring up the bear issue, they offered it up.  Apparently this is the time of year that they are active.  DON’T hike by myself.

Nothing like bear anxiety to ruin a good hike.

I had planned on going to Kananaskis to hike.  Then over to Canmore to hike. Then to Banff.  Today may go faster than I had planned.

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Regina, Saskatchewan

July 22, 2008

I went way out of my way to get to the Dieppe Memorial in Regina.  I drove and drove, winding thru a neighborhood.  Per the map – and it’s just a dot, with no address, it is on a river.  In my mind, I was anticipating this really cool memorial where the soldiers are getting out of their boats and running ashore or something…that they could have done, since it’s near the river.  But alas, no.  It’s in a neighborhood, next to the Dieppe Grade School.  And it is just a cement block with some words, and the flags.  What a disappointment. [I suppose they also didn’t want to somehow showcase their “retreat” by having more there.]

I drove around downtown.  It is a dumpy downtown…nothing of interest to me.  I wanted to see the Legislative Building, but couldn’t see/find it downtown.  And it’s not on my map.  I asked a local, and she gave me directions and said it is wayyyy across the bridge.  I was gearing up for the long haul.  Come to find out…it is less than ½ mile away.  But there are NO signs…nothing.  No signs saying turn here, no signs saying what it is.  I saw a building, and thought it is either the Legislative Building or it is an art museum.  Later, I found out that Walter Scott [first premier of Saskatchewan] had the building designed to be similar to the Lovre in Paris.  So…thinking it was an art museum was not so far off!

I parked and went into the building to look around.  You walk in, and there is a kindly older gentlemen sitting there.  Just him.  No security guard, no security screening device, no nothing…just him sitting there.  He said that I can’t just walk around, BUT there is a tour every 30 minutes.  I had 20 minutes to wait.

I decided to scam the system and asked him if I could go to their café.  Sure.  He asked my name, and wrote it down in a log book and gave me a visitor’s badge.  That’s it.

Went to the café…annnddddd…I’m back to eating poutine!  Poutine = French fries + gravy + cheese curds.  Gotta love it!

Went back to take the tour.  They give them in French and English.  The gentleman told me that there is a couple waiting for each tour, and the guides s/b out any moment.  I walked up to one of the men waiting, and said “English?”
He responded “Why, yes I am” with a British accent.  He’s probably thinking…how in the world did she know?  Ha.

During the tour I became a 14 yr old boy:
In my mind, when I think of Regina, I pronounce the “I” as eee.  However, the locals pronounce the “I” as eye.  Every time the guide said Regina, I lost concentration to what she was saying and thought back to that Seinfeld episode, where Seinfeld has forgotten the name of his gfriend, but knows that it rhymes with a female body part.  I giggled to myself. 

They call the native people Aboriginals.  Lots of them living in Regina.

Per the guide, most of Saskatchewan is river/lakes and trees. Only the south is prairie and flat.

They have a public library inside.  Anyone can come in and use it.  Can you imagine the White House having a library that anyone can come in and use?

In the legislative chamber, the gov’t party sits on one side, and the opposition party on the other – facing each other.  In the gallery above, people sit so they can see their “side”.  Thus, above the gov’t party sits the opposition party’s people.

The Legislative Building sits near the river.  There is a trail by the river, and lots of flowers and ducks. It seems that a lot of people use the trail, but no one/vessel was in the water.

After the tour, I took off for the 7.25 hour drive to Calgary.

Little did I know that yesterday was the prettier part of the drive to Calgary.  Unsure what the definition of prairie is, but this is probably it.  Reminded me of west Texas.  Towns were smaller [1 or 2 buildings] and further apart.  Most little towns didn’t have a gas station.  It was a really boring drive.  So boring…that I started listening to my learn to speak French cds, which I rarely put in…cuz I’m looking around me taking things in.

When I looked at the route a few weeks ago, it did look like there was nothing between Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary.  But I just assumed that I was an ignorant American and just don’t know better.  There isn’t.  I would NOT recommend this route to anyone. 

There are lots of trains going by – both yesterday and today.

No mile markers.

Before a little town, there are what looks like homemade signs advertising places…and they are ?? probably 3’ high and 5’ long, and close to the ground [not high up].

Remember when a highway went thru a town?   Or I should say, the town grew/expanded around the highway.  Then in the states they built the interstate and bypassed the towns.  You drive on the interstate and think…oh…there’s a town somewhere over there, I wonder what it looks like?  That is why I like to drive the old highways and not the interstates…so I can see the towns.

Here [at least the Trans Canadian Highway 1] they still go thru the towns.  I like that.  There is a sign stating “Important Intersection” and a speed limit change…so you can pull off/on.

It was 95’ at 6 pm with no clouds in the sky today!!  This must be some sort of a record.

Immediately once I entered into Alberta, the landscape changed – baby mountains/hills, short grass and sand.  But this didn’t last too long, and I was back at boring.

Near Medicine Hat were some really pretty scenery but that came and went…and I was back to flat.

There are oil and gas equipment/facilities [pump jacks] everywhere.  There are cows/farmland/pump jacks.  And did I mention flat?

About 1 hour from Calgary the baby mountains/lumpy hills/pretty green pasture land started up.   Pump jacks still all around.

20 km [12 miles] from Calgary there is zero sign that a city is anywhere nearby – just farmland.

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