Monday, July 5, 2010

Cowboys and Mountains

Saturday 3rd July 2010

The Gordie Howe camp site was a very pleasant place. Being in the overflow bit meant that there was no trees as it was basically a field but that also meant that there was a wind and this kept the 'squitoes' ,as they call them here, down to acceptable levels. We moved the tent as far away from the softball pitch to save our heads and got on with the chores of washing, provisioning and chilling out. We set off in beautiful sunshine to go to the Superstore, 3 miles away. Half an hour later when we exited it was pouring with rain and blowing a hooley. Not having brought our waterproofs we covered the seat as best possible with shopping bags and waited out the storm. 20 minutes later the sun was shining again. Arriving back at camp there was a gazebo tent that had been flattened and people muttering about the wind, but luckily we were intact. That night went to watch a softball match which seemed very exciting for the kids playing and their mum's and dad's watching but lacked a certain depth of appeal to me.
Sunday was a day for the blog which took longer than expected, as people wanted to talk to us while sitting outside the office to the camp site. That night we were invited to a barbie with Wendy and Darell who had befriended us the day before. They were living in the camp site for the summer, going out to work at their chosen profession of painters during the day. They lived in a tent with a very large air bed in it and a lot of blue boxes filled with things to make long term camping pleasurable. The real downside was that every time there was a big happening they had to move out of their space and re-camp in the overflow site. This took them all day to do. One of the most tiring things I find that we do is setting up and breaking camp so for them it must be a real chore for them.
We introduced them to Veggie burgers, meatless sausages and barbecued sweetcorn which weren't half bad cooked on their barbie and a lovely evening sharing their company was had. The only downside was the 'squitoes' with being in the main site (they moved back in that day) with tree cover eat Jill and myself alive.

Monday came and we had decided to go and see the Western Development Museum . This was the start of us not talking to each other of 2 days. Jill thinks I'm driven but my excuse is that when you have something to do you should get on a do it. Well ,by the time Jill had stop practising being dead (asleep) for that chance encounter she might have with a bear, and spent an hour 'making herself beautiful' it was 1100 and we still hadn't left the camp site. Grumble grumble. We went round the museum both doing our own thing and both enjoying what we saw.
We were finally thrown out at 1700 when it closed not having seen everything, which is why I think we need to get going early some days, grumble grumble. We drove back into Saskatoon in silence to look around
and walk along the river where we were able to listen to some Jazz played by the Saskatoon Municipal Jazz Band.
(Jill's view of the day I'm sure to follow now that the domestic has been made public!)
Having laid the law down that if Jill wanted a shower she should have it the night before we set off, to which I was told to sod off, I tried another tack of suggesting that if a shower was wanted in the morning Jill should get up early enough so that we could get away by 0930. Morning broke and I was up at 0700 to be closely followed by a very grumpy Jill. Having showered and prepared the breakfast just as Jill had finished her ablutions, we ate in more silence. Jill went off to wash the dishes and I had the camp collapsed by the time she got back. I was really feeling that I was doing most things in this partnership, grumble grumble. Just after 0930 we were on the road heading towards Calgary.

A Quiet day (still not talking) of long straight roads and endless skies and an occasional truck wash
as we travelled along the 7 towards Alberta. At the border it changes into the 9 and after a stop at the tourist information where they sold us a map for $2, we headed into the town of Oyen to get provisions. It was about 1400 and I had decided (still not talking) that as we had done a decent mileage today we should stop quite soon for the night. I have to admit I do find the riding very tiring and much prefer to start early and finish with some time to relax in the evening. Just up the road at Cereal the Chamber of Commerce (a few old men who have nothing better to do we were told) had created a camp site just by the road. The down side was it was just by the road and had no trees. The up side, it had a long drop and a nice shed with a long table that we did all our cooking on, and it was only $10 a night. Watched a thunder storm go over from the safety of the shed and retired before it got dark at 2215 to a sleepless night listening to traffic. Did you know that the big lorries have more than 18 gears, as one pulled away from the junction by the camp site, and I thought it might help me nod off, rather like counting sheep.

Without much trouble we were up at 0630, breakfasted and on the road by 0900. We were going to head straight for Calgary, but due to our new found communication skills ( the odd grunt and forceful suggestion at this point) we detoured down the 36 and the 570 to Drumheller the capital of everything dinosaur and kitsch. After the flatlands we now entered the Badlands. Stopped to walk round some Hoodoos
and get a general feeling of the place then on to Drumheller. One of their claims to fame is having the biggest T-rex in the world . Our destination was the Royal Tyrrell Museum which had a really good exhibition of the old times and the bones that had been found in the area.

We left about 1500 and taking the 9, 21 and 1 we ended up at Mountain View Camping 13 Kms east of Calgary. We have found that private camp sites near cities are not a very pleasant experience. This wasn't an exception. We were greeted like long lost enemies and given a pitch that resembled concrete. Looking round we demanded a change and were given the site we chose by the lake with ducks and geese swimming on it. Much better we thought. Little did we realise that there was also a cockerel who started clearing his throat at 0230 in the morning no more than 10 feet away from our tent. Along with the noise from the Trans Canada 500 metres away, we didn't get the most restful night. The Camp site also charged $5 for internet wifi and $1 for a shower along with $32 a night. You could see the Rockies from the camp site 80 miles away. That is like seeing France from Plymouth! After having seen nothing on the horizon for days the site of the mountains was magnificent.
The reason that we wanted to go to Calgary was that my father designed the stadium at the Stampede back in the 60's, so the next day we headed off into the city. It was the 1st July which over here is Canada Day and the start of a long weekend for some people. Luckily the main tourist attraction, the Calgary Tower was open and we enjoyed a great couple of hours looking at the surrounding city and Rockies.
Built onto the side of the tower is a glass platform which has nothing between it and the street 185 metres below.
I really didn't like the sensation of walking on the glass. Jill said it proved that I was human and that I had feelings (still fine tuning the domestic).

Walked to the Stampede park through deserted streets, past the Saddledome and wandered around the Stampede area. The stampede starts on the 9th and there was great activity putting up the rides, temporary shops and general attractions. We were able to walk into the stadium without any problem and watched the rehearsals for the forthcoming cabaret show that will happen at 2000 every night while the Stampede is on, with singers, dancers and a couple of flying girls.

We took a decision that night, sod the expense we should go and see the stampede as everybody we have met said it was amazing. It's sold as 'The Greatest Show on Earth' and we were only a week away from it starting so the next morning after packing up and forgetting to return our departure card and dissatisfaction survey to reception we headed off to the sales office. On the third loop around Calgary's one way system we found the entrance to the park and with the help of a very helpful sales girl, handed over $271 for gold seats on the top balcony for both the Rodeo in the afternoon and the Chuckwagon racing and Cabaret in the evening followed at 2300 by fireworks for the opening day of the 9th. On the opening day there is also a parade that starts at 0900 around the streets of Calgary and lasts about 3 hours. A long day is waiting and a nap in the afternoon might well be in order for us older folks.

On our way out of town stop by a post box where Jill posted a card. I was looking at a map when Beverley, Brad and their 2 children, Isabelle and Coco came up and asked where I wanted to go to. Explaining that I was looking for a park and ride so that when we found a camp site on the west side of Calgary for the night of the 8th we could leave the bike and get a train in to avoid the hassles of parking on the 9th. ( I hope you are following this). She then offered us a place to stay that she was converting from B&B to longer term lets that wasn't occupied at the present. The thought of a roof with laundry facilities and clean linen was too tempting so we agreed a 2 day rent of $150, got her phone number and headed off to the Banff National Park were we thought we would spend the intervening days, walking, seeing some wild life, resting and chilling out (and navigating the domestic).
We arrived at Lake Louise camp ground at about 1800 to be confronted with a FULL sign. Not being deterred we headed towards the office and joined 3 push bikers in the queue, Charles and Oliver from Quebec (Father and son team I think) and Evan from Vancouver. They had met on their first days riding and decided to ride together. They were all planning to ride to the east cost in 2 months. It had taken 2 months for us to get here and we were exhausted so I really take my hat, gloves and most of my other clothes off to these guys. They took compassion on them and us and gave us a site all together, splitting the cost so it was only $7 for the first night. Went to a talk on Grizzles that night given by a warden which was very informative and inter active.

After they had left in the morning we settled into making a camp for the next 6 days until we head back to Calgary for the Stampede. The night are very cold here and we are back to wearing all our clothes in our sleeping bags. The days aren't much better so I did a bit of physical activity to keep me and us warm later. The camp site is surrounded by an electric fence, they say to keep Grizzles out but it could be to keep us humans in also.
Jill felt reassured by this until see found bear claw marks on the trees next to our tent.

Having reorganised the camp we walked into the village of Lake Louise where Jill did some clothes shopping and I got grumpy (again) because I wanted my lunch. We then headed off down the and took in some of the scenery. That night lit a fire and went to another talk given by another warden about conservation in the Park over the years. In 1912 there was a plan to eradicate the carnivorous animals of the park, bears, coyotes, wolves,, wolverines etc, and they created a museum were stuffed animals of the dangerous variety were displayed. This caused an imbalance in nature and they had to start culling elk and other animals. By 1969 they had changed the policy and were now re-location rather than shooting. Now they keep the humans in electrified compounds to keep the animals safe.

Domestic having run out of steam as we are now talking you will all be pleased to hear I'm sure. Jill says she maybe pre-menopausal but she thinks I'm having her mood swings!

1 comment:

  1. what blog wouldnt be complete without a desription of a domestic!! Only 2 days though so not a major one! Loving the pics, Calgary story about your father I dint know about. Have been there a few times. Not jealous about the sleeping arrangements x