City Centre and the Rocky Mountains.
The day was sunny and about 8 C and the view from the bike path in Northeast Calgary, alongside the Airport, includes the high rises of downtown about 10 kms away and the Rocky Mountains about 60 kms away.
The office towers are partly hidden by the fact that the city centre is located beside the Bow river and is below the surrounding city. The office towers are actually 50 m taller than shown in the photo I miss the clear crisp air and the fact that the sun shines for about 2200 hours each year.
As well the proximity to the mountains allows me to hike there or visit to take photos very easily.
The Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede started in 1912 and "The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth" has been going strong since then. This is the only time of year you can find free food every day on the street corners of Calgary. For 10 days, there is a free pancake breakfast somewhere in the city, with two huge ones at Chinook Shopping Centre and at Market Mall Shopping Centre. Sometimes, if you look hard enough you can even find a free dinner somewhere.
The Stampede is basically a mix of midway, rodeo, and entertainment with a huge western theme, and it overtakes Calgary for 10 days. The whole business world almost shuts down for a week, with people wearing jeans every day to work --a pair of jeans being their only nod to the "dress western" theme--and heads being turned the other way as people leave work early to go to the bar or come stumbling in hung over at 10:00 am.
Being born and raised in Calgary and having gone to the Stampede for 15 years straight, I rarely go any more; however, I do get nostalgic feelings about it and will tune in to the televised Stampede Parade or get a craving for a corn dog and a watered down lemonade. If visiting Calgary, it is worthwhile to go once and see what the fuss is about. Try to eat before or after you leave the fairgrounds, as you can end up paying $10.00 for that corn dog and lemonade.
Ranching played a large part in Calgary's development, and so many Calgarians are proud of the city's western heritage. Calgary's nickname is "Cowtown", but it doens't live up to it unless you count the requisite country and western radio station, and two bars called "Cowboys" and "The Ranchman's".
Ranching and western heritage may be responsible for the fact that you can wear jeans to almost any function anywhere, though as Calgary keeps growing and becoming a major world business centre, this practice seems to be declining.
However, cowboy culture is no more apparent than at Stampede time, where everyone seems to don any one of, or all of the following: Jeans, cowboy hat, boots, neck kerchief, or bolo tie. Also, you'll notice some guy wandering down Stephen Avenue Mall screaming, "Yahooooooo!"
I am not into western culture or country and western music, but when Stampede rolls around, hey why fight em? Join em! And, for 10 days, jeans are accepted attire for anywhere you go.
Bring a backpack, because the mountains are only a short drive away! If you visit during the winter, make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing. If my memories serve me correctly, I have seen the temperature dip below 40 degrees celicius twice during the time that I was there! Bring a 300 mm lens along so that you can get a chance at getting a photo of some prime wildlife like bears and mountain goats. Bring hiking boots, climbing equpiment, and some spare cash to rent a bike.
Are you ready for some Football?
Calgary’s supports a professional football team called The Stampeders who wear the city’s colors of red and white. They are part of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and usually play their home games on summer/fall weekends at McMahon Stadium. The stadium is also used by amateur football such as the University of Calgary Dino’s and high school teams. The Canadian game has a couple of difference from the American version: the field is longer and wider, there is one more man on the field per team and there are only three chances to make 10 yards or more before turning the ball over to the opponents. Although popular, tickets can often be obtained to see a game, so come out and help the mascot Ralph the Dog cheer on the team.