Tagged with " Calgary"
Oct 2, 2008 -

British Columbia, Here I Come!

This time tomorrow, I will be in British Columbia! After tomorrow, the only province I will have left to visit is Newfoundland and Labrador!

I’m trying to plan out my route to Oliver. It’s a 700km journey. Normally, I’d say that I could easily do that in two days, with just one overnight stop, but normally I’m not driving through several national parks with slow speed limits and let’s not forget the mountains. I think it will probably take me three days to get there, but it can’t take any more since I could be called to work on Monday. Could is a big word, but I wouldn’t want to miss my chance.

I’d like to invite you all to visit the Parks Canada website and get information on RV camping along this route just so you’ll see that I’m not exaggerating when I state that this is a ridiculously frustrating task. In order to get information on campgrounds, their amenities, and their rates, I have to visit an average of four websites!

After about an hour’s worth of Googling, I finally was able to determine that my first overnight stop will probably be at Kicking Horse Pass campground in Yoho National Park. Camping there is 30$ per night. No hookups. 40$ if you need a day pass. No hookups. Let me say that again. No hookups. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the campground doesn’t take reservations, so if they’re full, tough luck, I have to push on to Golden. This type of fleecing by the Canadian government is par for the course, unfortunately. If you’re coming to Canada, I suggest sticking to provincial and private campgrounds. Visit the national parks by day only!

Because there are apparently so few places to stop overnight between Canmore and Golden, I’m not guaranteed a spot at Kicking Horse, and I won’t be pushing off till noon tomorrow, I doubt I’ll be detouring to Lake Louise. 🙁

I have to say that this is the first night before departure since Thunder Bay that I’m just about raring to go! I’ve been here a full week and it’s been really nice, but I’ve had my fill of the area for now.

Even though I’m nine kilometres from the nearest full service town and thirty kilometres from Calgary city limits, I still feel that this location was fantastic. I really enjoyed doing my daily excursions and coming home to this spot. It’s not as quiet as it could be since it’s right at the intersection of two busy roads, but it’s peaceful and the staff is very friendly. I just wish the window in front of my computer didn’t overlook the dumpsters. 😀

I’m seeing a lot of rigs in this park that are not much different from Miranda all gussied up with skirts in preparation for the winter. Oh, those brave souls! As for me, I’m headin’ for the promised land. 🙂

But I have to say the weather here has been incredible. It dips to close to freezing at night and goes up to about 25 during the day. Miranda turns into an oven (it was 32 in here this afternoon!). I don’t know how to describe the sun out here, but it feels really close and it’s unbelievably intense. Soon as it sets, though, BRR! It’s meant nice days for exploring or puttering at home, but nights that are really comfortable for sleeping, so absolutely ideal RVing conditions. Pity they can’t last all year. 🙂

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Alberta, British Columbia, Campgrounds, Canada, Law and Government, Travel, Weather    6 Comments
Sep 28, 2008 -

Heritage Park

Scary moment of the day: I had to scrape a thick layer of frost off my car this morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Driving into Calgary today, I had to take this picture:

That’s not a lake down there. It’s a fog-shrouded town!

Preamble to my day:

1) Yes, I was a history major and am still a history buff.
2) The days have been way too lovely and sunny to spend them cooped up in museums!

So, today, I went to Heritage Park, which is Calgary’s Fort Edmonton. It’s quite a similar set up, only I got to see Heritage Park while it was fully running. It was a much more hectic, but richer, experience.

Entrance to Heritage Park is 15$ and then you pay 3$ per ride you want to take or 10$ for unlimited rides. Rides include a steam train, a paddle boat, a wagon, a trolley, and a variety of midway attractions. I suspected that the 10$ option would be the best value, so I went with that.

Guests who arrive before 10AM are served a complimentary and surprisingly hearty and delicious pancake and sausage breakfast with juice. So, I started with that and then began my tour of the park.

My first stop was the blacksmith shop where I stayed for almost a half hour watching the blacksmith turn a piece of iron into a meat fork. He gave me a lot of information on the trade and how one learns it.

After that, I wandered through the village, taking pictures of random things that caught my eye.

The Two Storey Outhouse:

This outhouse was attached to a bar with a hotel over it. Bar patrons used the ground floor holes while the hotel guests used the upstairs ones.

The Reservoir’s Water Colour:

The ride on the SS Moyie was an incredible value, affording me a half hour cruise of the Calgary reservoir.

Rugs I Wouldn’t Have in My Home:

I was startled just walking into that parlour. Imagine wandering around the house in the wee hours of the morning while half asleep and stumbling onto that thing?!

Fan Etiquette:

That Oh-So-Gaudy Victorian Sense of Style:

I wish I hadn’t been shy and had taken a picture of the interpreter in this house. My first thought was that her blouse matched the wallpaper, but I didn’t say that out loud. When I commented on the decor, she said “A lot of people are impressed that my blouse matches the wallpaper.” LOL

My Favourite House Style:

Some people, including the interpreter, call this a Queen Anne Cottage. It’s actually a rare type of Victorian that followed the Queen Anne Cottage, which has more ornamentation, and is a Gothic Victorian. If money were no object and I could afford someone to ensure the upkeep of such a home, this is what I would have built for myself. I love the square tower and the general layout of the rooms inside without there being all the Queen Anne ‘frou frou.’

Before having lunch, I decided to try the midway. I rode the whip, which was fun, but very tame. I then decided for some unfathomable reason to ride the ferris wheel. The second to last time I rode a ferris wheel, I told myself ‘never again’ and six years later I found myself riding it again and being stuck at the top for an unfathomably long time due to a mechanical problem (how reassuring). But this wheel seemed tiny! Yeah. Let’s just say I didn’t have much fun and I was really, really, really glad when the ride was over. This video makes me queasy all over again:

I walked around for a bit after to settle my stomach and decide what I was going to do for food. I carry snacks, but was getting a bit tired of my usual lunch of a granola bar, cheese, nuts, and fruit. I avoid having lunch in these sorts of places, but when I saw the prices at the most ‘upscale’ restaurant on site, I decided to treat myself to a nice meal. Prices would have been considered reasonable anywhere and were a bargain in this sort of location. 14$ (including tip) netted me a huge gourmet sandwich of provolone, turkey, and vegetables, with a side of fresh french fries and a bottomless glass of apple juice.

Add a steam train ride, tons of walking, and an extremely bright sun, and I was wiped by about 4. What a full day!

I really liked Heritage Park and suspect that even if Fort Edmonton Park had been running full swing it wouldn’t have been quite as much fun. My only major complaint about Heritage Park is that too many of the exhibits are actually stores. For example, you walk into a period drug store and are accosted to buy all manner of goods before you can walk to the back and see the actual museum exhibits. Otherwise, HP offers really good value for the money.

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Sep 28, 2008 -

Calgary, My Enchanted Land, and the End of the Road?


The only thing on my schedule for today was a visit of Fort Calgary. It’s a small museum, but the exhibits about the NWMP and the history of Calgary are quite interesting. I was accosted at one point by a retired RCMP officer who proceeded to talk my ear off for about twenty minutes about his career, his uniform, Mountie training, career opportunities within the force, his son who is serving at the detachment in Inuvik, our mutual feelings about Ottawa vs. The West, and more. It was really interesting!

As I was about to leave the fort, the lady at the admissions desk called me back and gave me some information about another museum that might interest me that is only open tomorrow (more about that tomorrow *g*) and then she gave me information on a walking tour of downtown Calgary, a scenic detour on the way to a cemetery, details on how to find a particularly interesting gravestone, a brochure about a rock garden that is a must see, and, finally, a map illustrating filming locations in the Calgary area. Whew!

I did only part of the walking tour, which was mostly a gentle stroll down Stephen Avenue, Calgary’s former main street. The architecture was exquisite!!! During a pre-WWI boom, a lot of Calgary’s original wooden buildings were replaced by sandstone structures that really reflect the amount of wealth coming into the city at the time. The Doll Building was my favourite.

The Hudson’s Bay store left me awestruck. It takes up a whole block!

I then returned to my car and proceeded to Spiller Avenue, from which she told me I should take the steepest side street I could find and that I would know why at the top; all of Calgary was laid out below me!

Next on the list was the cemetery.

The Reader Rock Garden was attached to the cemetery. I enjoyed clambering up and down the stone paths even if there wasn’t much in bloom at this time of year.
It was two by this point and I had nothing else planned for the day. So, I took a gander at the movie locations map. You wouldn’t believe the number of major Hollywood pictures filmed in the Calgary area, everything from Robin Williams’ ‘RV’ to Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ to Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (a lot of which was filmed near the town on the outskirts of which I’m currently living).

My Enchanted Land

Until the late ’90’s, I could recognize a certain landscape, or a variation thereof, in numerous movies, but I didn’t realise that it was truly one landscape from one region. It was a landscape of mountains, plateaus, and valleys; the perfect setting for everything from ‘Legends of the Fall’ to ‘The Edge’, movies set in a gentler time or about a rough wilderness. Then one day I watched the dueSouth episode ‘Call of the Wild’ and recognized this landscape in it. I did some research and discovered that my enchanted land is called Kananaskis country and it is in Alberta.

Why my enchanted land? There is a book I reread many times in my youth called ‘Cat, Herself.’ It tells the story of a family of tinkers in Scotland. Tinkers are travelers not unlike the full-time RVer. The main character, Cat, had a grand-mother who referred to Ben Loyal as her enchanted land. The expression stuck in my mind.

So, looking at the movie locations map today, I noticed a route marked the Kananaskis trail. It looked like perhaps three to four hours driving time total.

I wanted to go, but I hesitated. What if my enchanted land turned out to be two beautiful peaks surrounded by condos? Perhaps I should do what I did in 1998 when I purposely avoided Sherwood Forest, just leave it as a land out of dreams.

But I was so close. I decided to go.

I’ll let just a few of the pictures I took tell the rest of the story.

The End of the Road?

There is so much work here in Alberta, more jobs than there are workers. From an employment point of view, this should be the end of the road for me until the spring. But I really don’t think that Miranda could be made comfortable enough to endure a Calgary winter and I’ve endured enough miserable winters in the mobile home to know what I’d be getting into. But all these jobs! So, I’ll confess that I’m looking, just for curiosity’s sake, for an indoor place where I could park Miranda for the winter and live in her, like a heated garage or plane hangar.

To give you an idea of what the employment situation is like, let’s go back for a moment to my very first morning in Alberta, back when I was in Lloydminster. I decided to treat myself to a Tim Horton’s coffee before pushing off. I went in, ordered my coffee and muffin, and was about to leave when someone called to me. It was the manager. He wanted to know if I owned the RV outside and, if so, if I’d be interested in a couple of weeks worth of work.

I haven’t shared that story because I felt no one would believe it. But the woman at the museum today did and she said she had a job for me for the winter if I wanted it.

That doesn’t make actually looking for work particularly appealing.

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Alberta, Canada, Finances, Travel, Work    3 Comments