Dog Day Afternoon

July 10th, 2017 , 18:36

Had a bit of a lie in, got up and packed for the next day (as we were planning an earlish start) and pulled together stuff for the day. Went to pick up our friend, whose mother had contacted Stampede Customer Services to ask where Joe could find his Reuben Dog! So to get to transport into Calgary we had to drive to the station! CTrain – and all the messages were about Stampede, funny that. The best one was ‘Don’t let your little cow pokes wander! Hold their hand!’ Had to change trains and they announced to change a station earlier than we thought, so we followed directions. Turned out the driver was correct as the next station was packed!

Off into the Stampede grounds and straight to Wiggle Chips (no really!) for Joe’s Reuben Dog – he said it was ok, but didn’t notice anything special. Then again, he’s never had a corn dog before! I took a bite and the sausage in it was definitely more like pastrami.  But yeah, deep fried batter wrapped around a pastrami flavoured hot dog, with cheese but no sauerkraut. I had perogies which were really nice. We did not have the Bear Balls, not even the maple syrup ones (I think they were doughnuts). Joe still says the best buy was the 2 dollar elk stick – a dried sausage of elk, a large dried sausage of elk.

Once we’d had lunch we headed for the arts and crafts area which was a weird mixture of stalls selling things and really lovely art work. Sort of Ideal Home Show meets C&W art show, along with a children’s area with a reptile show (I got to see a giant frog)!  There were also a lot of crafts on display from cake decorating to quilting to wood working. Joe took lots of photos!

We then headed for the Tipi Village where we ended up spending most of the afternoon! The one hour dance demonstration lasted much longer, but we really didn’t mind as we were enjoying watching it all. The introduction was how the Tipi Village came to be at Stampede and part of this was ‘playing Indian’. There were many types of dances and everyone, from tiny child to adult were dancing. They would do large ‘inter-tribal’ dances where everyone joined in each doing their own dance, then split out into different ages and/or dance. When they did the tiny little children the MC introduced his grandson who was 1, then pointed out a little girl and said he thought she was 1 at which she nodded emphatically. She wanted to get on with the dance – she was dancing all the time and really well! As the dancing was ending the rain started, so we ducked into their art area out of the rain.

We then went hunting the dog bowl – kept asking for directions and getting different replies! But finally found it just as a show was starting so we grabbed seats and watched. Really enjoyed it – from agility races, to dancing and skipping rope, to long jumps into water.

Then dinner. Joe had eyed a place doing steak and prime rib sandwiches so he headed there, our friend wanted perogies. I didn’t know what I wanted so I wandered around; I saw Joe’s sandwich which looked good, but I wanted the steak rather than prime rib. Now his sandwich was pretty much pulled prime rib on a bun – large but manageable. So I order my steak sandwich and get sent round to the grill where he asked me how I wanted my steak, then pulled out this huge steak and bunged it on the grill. Ok, he’s sure to cut it up right? Nope, someone else’s sandwich was done before mine and I watched in growing horror as he opened the bun, dropped this huge steak onto it, put a huge stack of cooked onion and another huge stack of mushrooms on top of that,  then pushed the container sort of closed (it wouldn’t go all the way) and handed it over. I got to where friend and Joe had found a place to sit holding this huge thing and friend took one look and said ‘half a cow sandwich’ which stuck.

So we head for the stadium and the chuck wagon races and evening show with me holding this huge sandwich (mind you, it was just the steak and toppings that were huge – they were plonked on a normal hamburger sized bun!) Get in and I head for the seats to try to eat this thing before everything starts (and I have to stand for the national anthem!) Managed it, just, and it was very good.

The evening theme was Home Grown Heroes with people from the military, rescue services, police, etc. And during the anthem a helicopter flew over with a large Canadian flag underneath. Then chuck wagon races! Which were fun to watch. We were randomly picking wagons to cheer on and having fun; between races they’d bring out a local heroes and interview them which was interesting. The first two were firefighters who did their interview, then went to audience dancing – only the audience thought they should dance, so they waltzed together. That was probably the most memorable interview!

Then came the end of race 6 and the rain. The sky had been getting darker and darker, our friend headed in to get a rain poncho, and the skies opened so Joe and I followed. Along with everyone else. Thunder, lighting (really nifty lighting) and torrential downpour, I think there was even hail. So everyone just stood in the lobby and waited it out – though I think a few left. The rest of the races were cancelled (there were supposed to be 9) and the evening show was delayed for about an hour and a half! But they did the show – we all headed back out to persistent rain, but not bucketing it down, and waited out the delay as they tried to sort out the stage. The show was good, but they cut about three things out due to the delays and we only sort of saw the fireworks as we headed out at the end. There was one act where they played fountains on the stage – because there simply wasn’t already enough water there I said. Then the MC came on and said the same thing, it was the obvious joke to make!

Back to the hotel quite late – which is why we packed in the morning!

Frog Blog

Wildlife

July 10th, 2017 , 5:53

Well Canadian wildlife is hiding from me! 

Last night we watched the Stampede fireworks from our hotel room. Our friend mentioned that we should be able to see them, so we stood at the window and watched and sure enough – a really good view. They are a ways off, but clear enough. We’ll probably watch again tonight and, of course, tomorrow night we’ll be there to see them!

So we were up late last night with the fireworks and decided to have a slow start to the day. Things conspired against that – noise in the hotel (we’re not sure who was collecting the room service trays early this morning, but we suspect a Greek plate smashing team or similar) and at around 8am a jet flew low over the hotel. I asked Joe if he was awake and wanted to get up and he said ‘no!’ rolled over and started to snore. So. 

We did get up eventually and had breakfast and got ready to head to the local park – Weaselhead. We went hoping to see some local wildlife as there are often deer or elk there. We’ve also heard that bears hang out there. But did we see any of that? Nope. Also heard a lovely bird song but never found that bird. We did see sparrows, finches, cedar waxwings, and chickadees. So not a total washout. But still no snowshoe hares even though they are apparently very common and found in everyone’s garden. But did see the black squirrels. 

We saw and heard a thunderstorm moving in so headed back up toward the car. The thunderstorm passed us by, but we decided to head out and get something to eat – Joe was hungry. When we got in the car though we suddenly remembered we wanted to go see Big Rock. So off we headed for Okotoks and the rock. In Okotoks Joe said he was still hungry and there is a bar and grill! So we pull into this strip mall and In Cahoots Bar and Grill. We only wanted a small snack as we were going back to our friends house for dinner again, so ordered the sharing platter. When it came out it was huge! And very very good. So we had a good ‘snack’ and headed out to the rock.

The big rock is, surprisingly enough, a very big rock. But really interesting to see. The area is also nice and it was nice to do the walk. So we had fun walking around. Then back to Calgary and shower and off to dinner. We’ve had another lovely dinner and are now waiting for the fireworks again!

Frog Blog

Sorting day

July 9th, 2017 , 6:10

So were thinking of what to do when we discovered the laptop didn’t charge. So Joe did troubleshooting and figured out it was the plug. So off we went to find a new cable and nope, couldn’t find it. So our friend offered a cable and we can get charged again. But today ended up being a bit of running about and sorting things, including boring stuff like laundry! So generally a sorting and resting sort of day. But there are now photos up! I’m hoping to get some sorting done a bit later or at least get them into an album! 

We also had a wonderful dinner at our friend’s house and a wander around the neighbourhood. So a lovely sort of day.

Now the rodeo yesterday – now that I don’t have to peck at a tablet! Opening day had all the ceremony and dances and welcome. Then the rodeo. The announcers were good at telling you what you were watching and what made a good ride or a bad one and how the scoring was done. However, their entertainment bits, well, the 70s called and they want their ‘jokes’ back. 

But the events were interesting. Started with the novice saddle and bareback broncos. Then the tie down, which was really interesting – though it took me every rider to figure it all out as it was over in seconds. One calf won the event – the rider through the lasso and missed and the calf was off to the exit gate as fast as it’s little legs could move. Yay Calf! Every event is over in seconds! We then got bareback champions and steer wrestling. And one of the steers won – the guy grabbed and the steer just wiggled and ran on. Interval was the Calgary Stampede marching band which were fun. Good musicians, though I’m not sure about the dancers, gun twirlers, and flag wavers. Then we had saddle bronco followed by the only event women did – barrel racing. Not sure why women can only do that, but there you are. The final event was bull riding which was rather exciting. They then have an event where a team of three kids try to hang onto a pony, get one of the kids on it to ride. Most of the kids ended up being dragged across the arena face down. At the end the winners came up for the presentation of the bronzes. We had great seats right where we could see everything. And Joe got some great photos!

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Photo update

July 8th, 2017 , 17:51

So this morning should have been uploading photos and generally sorting. But the laptop won’t charge – I’m having to peck out blog posts on the tablet! So photos may be on hold until we return home! And Joe has loads of course. 

That’s also why details of the rodeo were limited. May do more if I get on the hotel computer and can actually type!

Frog Blog

Stampede

July 8th, 2017 , 3:24

Up early and only partly because of the crying baby in the next room. Meet friend in lobby at 7 and headed into Calgary for our parking. Once parked we collected a bagged breakfast and headed for the buses which were taking us to the parade seating. So Joe got to ride in a yellow school bus! Though they are much nicer than I remember them being!

We were quite early, about 45 minutes before the parade was due to start, but there were people already coming along and performing.  Sort of a pre-parade. The parade was fun, but very long. We did get to see Nenshi on a horse – the reason he ran for mayor!  Also lots of horses in the parade. Oh and British tanks! Doing doughnuts in the road. They were closely followed by a much larger Canadian tank which also had to do a doughnut even though it almost didn’t fit across the road! Also lots of tartzn and drum and pipe bands.

At the end of the parade we dashed back to the buses for the ride to the stampede grounds. The queue to get in was long but moved quickly. We had a wander around the site before heading to the grandstand and our seats for the rodeo. As its the first day we got all the welcoming stuff – including a dance by the treaty 7 tribes and a flyby. Then the rodeo which ended up being fun and interesting. 

After the rodeo we got some food and had another look around before heading out to find a shuttle back to the parking lot and the car. Drinks and relaxation in the room!

Frog Blog

Calgary

July 7th, 2017 , 4:50

So up early – the hotel had paper thin walls and our neighbours were up before 5am. We got up about an hour later, got showered, packed, and had breakfast and were on the road with a petrol fill up by 8:15. The drive was lovely – another clear sunny day. Lots of road works – it is road working season here – so a bit slow going and we didn’t manage to stop as often as we’d have liked. But no poles down over the road!

Saw more bald eagles and birds, but no mammals, despite all the warning signs of elk, moose, deer, sheep, and goats. Drove through Revelstoke and Glacier National Park, saw where we’ll be staying next week. We stopped at Golden for food and ended up at a Fire Pit barbecue joint – with excellent food! So an hour stop for a really good burger and BBQLT (applewood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato). Joe took photos as we left as a row of motorbikes had parked out front!

Then through Banff where we got caught in traffic from an earlier accident. We didn’t stop for any views, but made note of where we’d like to stop on the way back. Then along to Calgary. The change in scenery was interesting, but by that time I was tired of driving! Calgary at rush hour as I forgot the hour time difference.

We’re staying at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino and the hotel is really nice!

Got collected at the hotel and taken out to Wild Rose Brewery which is on the old army base. Really nice place, Joe enjoyed the beers and we had a lovely collection of appetisers to share. Very full! Now off to bed as we’re up early for the Stampede Parade tomorrow morning!

Frog Blog

Highway 1

July 6th, 2017 , 6:56

Otherwise known as the Trans-Canadian Hwy. Though we didn’t get on it until nearly past Vancouver, even though it starts in Victoria, we went up to Sidney and took the ferry across from there, rather than the ferry from further north on Vancouver Island. Got to the ferry too early, again, and so were put on the one an hour earlier, which was good! Also discovered a local artist, Sue Coleman, as one of the little shops was selling cards and prints. Lovely work.

Had breakfast on the ferry on our way over. Watched a whale watching rib head out – they headed across our stern and pulled up with people pointing, so I had a look and saw a bald eagle in a tree. Get across and am focusing on driving off the ferry when Joe says ‘oh, it’s a bald eagle sitting there!’ I missed it as he waited to point it out. He thought they’d put a fake one up on a lamppost the way it was sitting there, but nope, real eagle. Then as we were driving along we saw another one flying over head. There was another possible siting further into the mountains, but only the three confirmed.

Took 17 around Richmond until it hooked up with Hwy 1, then off to the Rockies. We stopped for petrol once we were well clear of Vancouver – and couldn’t figure out how to open the petrol cap! Took us ages to work out where the lever was (next to the driver’s seat, on the floor). Got that all sorted and back on the road. Beautiful scenery and interesting watching the trains go by far below us, then we’d work our way down to the river, and the trains were above us. Saw loads of ‘watch out for deer, elk, big horn sheep’ signs. The first sheep sign we passed I said ‘Oh, I’d love to see a big horn sheep! But probably no chance . . .  why are they stopping right in the middle of the . . .  oh look! Sheep! Right by the road! Nifty!’ Joe said the sign should say ‘beware of tourists stopping for animals!’ But the sheep were all we saw. Not a single elk. 

We got just outside of Kamloops and came to a complete stop. Eventually found out there was a pole down across the road. A policeman pulled up beside us, asked if we were local, and when I said ‘erm, no’ he said well to go back down that way toward Logan Lake and just follow the traffic! So Joe had already checked the maps and picked out a route, so off we went. Only there was no traffic to follow, so it was a good thing Joe found a route. It was a tiny little local road (pretty sure what the police meant us to take, but wasn’t sure how to tell us which one it was) with cattle grids and ‘watch for livestock next 5km’ signs every five kilometers. We figured the only sign they had was 5kms so they had to buy up a bunch and put them every 5kms! And, just like the wildlife signs, there was no sign at all of any livestock. Not a critter to be seen!

So we went something like an hour out of our way to get around a pole in the road and finally came to Salmon Arm after 8pm. By that time it was just slogging along – the scenery is still wonderful but we were getting a bit tired! Checked into the hotel and asked the best place within walking distance (I was tired of driving) and ended up at a ‘local pub’ which was nothing like any local pub we have at home! But it had very good food and very good service. Now to sleep, up tomorrow to carry on to Calgary!

Frog Blog

Museum day

July 5th, 2017 , 2:35

Slept in a bit today. Well, as much as we can sleep in as we’re still a bit jetlagged. So up around 7 (technically awake well before 7, but we were sleeping in damn it!) 

Headed out and walked around the coast a bit – past Fisherman’s Wharf and along past the Coast Guard station and then back onto the path. Saw lots out at sea, but no binoculars or telephoto lens so not sure what was out there that we saw! But it is another lovely sunshiny day. Then we headed up the Trans Canadian Hwy, starting at Mile 0 (yep, Joe took photos, having waited for the family that were posing at the sign in every possible configuration – “right now, just the boys . . . “) and stopping when we reached the Royal BC Museum

Had a coffee and light breakfast, then headed into the museum proper. And spent hours there. Only two floors but they have a lot on them! Well worth a visit. Stayed until our feet wore out completely, then headed further into downtown. Found a lovely little coffee/cafe place and had lunch. Then did some shopping, so I now have a new pair of walking sandals and a hat. 

We were tired so we finally took one of the harbour taxis back to the hotel – hooray! They are like little bathtub toys and I’ve been wanting to ride in one since I first saw it. So a lovely little puttputt across the harbour back to the hotel, where we got online and booked hotels for the rest of our time in Canada. Getting ready to have a light dinner, then pack for the drive to Salmon Arm tomorrow!

Frog Blog

The Galloping Goose

July 4th, 2017 , 2:47

The Galloping Goose is a 50km or so trail, from the Sooke potholes to Victoria (or vice versa). You can go about 5km further on to an old mining town, but nothing is left of the town and the car access ends at Sooke Potholes. So we were dropped off with two bikes and plenty of water at the potholes and left to make our way back to Victoria! We went with a company called Cycle Treks and they were very good and helpful!

We got ourselves sorted, had a look at the potholes (very nice, even though we didn’t go down to them – still too cold to swim!), then headed off onto the trail. The first 20km is really nice, very beautiful. Then it opens out a bit and goes into farm land. Then the last bit is houses and city outskirts. But a nice ride and easy enough! We saw more wildlife on the drive up though – deer were by the road. But we saw birds on the bike ride, though not sure what types! Photos will start to be up sometime soon. At one point in the ride, we were working out how to cross the road, got across and looked at each other and said ‘we’ve missed our chance to go through a Tim Hortons drive through on bikes!’ It was on the other side of the road and we weren’t turning around!

Once back in Victoria we returned the bikes and went and got dinner. Now crashed in the room!

Frog Blog

Happy Hangover Day!

July 3rd, 2017 , 1:49

There is a theme of watching fireworks from the hotel deck this year. Last night decided we couldn’t see the fireworks from our room, so headed downstairs and out onto the deck where we could watch the fireworks – and yes, they were over the harbour. In keeping with the theme!

Headed for bed after the fireworks. Up too early again, but slowly shedding the jetlag.  Had breakfast at the hotel, a very nice start to the day overlooking the harbour in the sunshine. Not really whale watching weather – bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky (usually when we’re whale watching it’s raining and cold, or even horizontal snow in the dark!) – but we were off for the boat. Really nice trip and we were out for four hours. We saw lots of birds, including pidgeon guillamot, gulls, arctic tern, and a bald eagle. We also saw seals. And orcas and a humpback whale! Got to see the fluke several times. A really nice time out.

Once back we headed off to the bike hire place to check all was sorted for tomorrow’s ride. Then had a walk around the shopping area of Victoria. We’ll have dinner at the restaurant at the hotel and then rest up for our cycle ride tomorrow.

Frog Blog