Calgary Stampede has been going on ever since we arrived and the whole city is teeming with Horses and Cowboys/Girls – there is a real carnival atmosphere.
This event is massive and we have tickets for tonight’s Chuck Wagon Racing and Grandstand Show. It is the 50th anniversary of the Grandstand show, which is a variety show with singing, dancing, fireworks, magic and something for all the family. We can’t wait to go… but that’s later tonight and this morning we have some serious shopping to do.
We must find a Stampede shirt for the Mr, there will be the obligatory trip to the Pandora shop and lunch at the food hall. Also, Carter is a huge Spiderman fan, so we want to buy him something Spiderman related. This little chap, still can’t get used to our names, so we seem to now be ‘Grandma’ and ‘Brother’ forever … that suits us fine.
Shopping complete, we head for the food hall. We just can’t get used to the portion sizes here, so as usual I ordered way too much food. I had a Gyros wrap with salad and the Mr went off to get some Thai Noodles with Prawns. I saw someone with fries and it was a small portion, so as we were going to share our fries with Carter, I ordered 2 portions. When they came, it was enough to feed a small army for a week… we left more food than we ate! Lesson learned … don’t ever order 2 of anything!
Towards the end of our shopping it was getting close to nap time for our little man, he was becoming slightly agitated (understatement), so Robyn took him back to the car while we went to buy a new electric razor for the Mr to replace the one damaged by the baggage handlers throwing the bags around. We watched them loading the plane at Toronto and they just drop the bags from a great height! I forgot to mention earlier, along with the razor, a whole bottle of styling spray was burst in my case, so when we opened it, apart from a lot of my clothes being wet, they smelled like a Hair Salon, took me back to my days as a Stylist at Barnett’s Ebbw Vale! Anyway…I digress…
We spent part of the afternoon repacking our cases ready for tomorrow’s road trip and then when Kate arrived we tried on our shirts and boots etc for the Stampede. We are all so excited and me and the Mr are so glad it’s going to happen this time, as we were so disappointed when it was rained off in 2010.
At 4.30 we were ready. We will meet Adam at the Thai restaurant for an early evening meal, then he’s taking Carter home and me, Robyn, Kate and the Mr will go on to the Stampede Ground! Once again, we have no sense when we order the food and when it arrived at the table, we were ‘gobsmacked’ by the amount. I have never seen portion sizes like this in my life. I think my jaw actually hit the table!
We had Shrimp Pad Thai, Chicken Pad Thai, 3 portions of Thai Curry, (some Shrimp some Chicken), Crispy Chicken and 2 portions of rice! The curry came in a bowl that would have held 4 portions back in the UK and needless to say, there was enough food for a further 2 days to take home after we had eaten! OMG – we are all stuffed!
Carter and Adam left after supper, as the show will be too late for the little man and the rest of us bundled ourselves back into the car to go to the Stampede Grounds.
We found a parking space quite easily considering the amount of people looking for spaces and we walked along to the ground with the swell of people all going in the same direction. The atmosphere is amazing, it’s like a real old fashion fairground with sideshows, fairground games, huge trucks and show houses, live animals for the children to pet and learn about from the farmers and loads of food and drink stalls. There are marching bands, zip wires, candyfloss, donuts, hotdogs, popcorn…you name it…they have it! I think everyone should come and see it, at least once!
We got to the stadium and found our seats, we were in the centre at level 5 and we had a perfect view of everything. This is the 50th anniversary of the Grandstand Show and it has been dedicated to the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans. The opening was, as you would expect, very patriotic, with the singing of the anthem, a helicopter fly past with a Canadian flag trailing underneath and tribute to all ethnic groups that make up this tolerant and diverse nation. It was quite emotional to be a part of it and we are so glad we were, tonight, it would be fair to say, that we feel like Canadians and part of this big friendly community, even if just for a little while.
And they’re off!
The Chuck wagon racing was so exciting, 4 wagons in each heat, pulled by 4 horses. They do a figure of 8 and then along with their outriders, each team does one circuit of the course. These horses fly! They go so fast and the skill and speed of the outriders as they hurtle around the track alongside their team wagons is a sight to see! We each chose our favourite wagon before each heat and although there was no money involved, we were all quite competitive. The noise from the crowd during the races was unbelievable as the wagons and horses sped to the finish line! Chuck wagon racing reminded me of what it must have been like 100s of years ago when pioneers went on the long journey to take part in the land races, where they had to race their wagons and put a flag in the ground to stake their claim to their own piece of America! What a way to start a new life!
The Grandstand show was on immediately after the Wagon racing and during the interval, we queued for the bathroom (as you do) and ordered more Beer from the waiter as they prepared the stage for the show. You can’t help but appreciate the amount of preparation and hard work that goes into this event. It runs like a clock and with military precision.
The show’s main entertainment is sung and danced by ‘’ a very talented group of youngsters, who are a real old fashioned ‘song and dance’ troupe. They are so slick and professional and it’s obvious that it’s something they are proud to be a part of. The show was hosted by the Granddaughter of the man who first introduced the Grandstand show 50 years ago. I would have found out the name for you all, but the Wi-Fi is down and we have no data signal in the mountains. I am going to have to save this post to my Dropbox and upload it when we eventually do get a signal. Anyway, you can Google it, I’m sure!
The lead singer of ‘The Archies’ sang ‘Sugar Sugar’, which was a big UK hit in the 70s for those who remember that far back. We also saw a ventriloquist, a comedian with a stutter who was hilarious, an illusionist, who escaped from a straightjacket while dangling from a burning rope attached to a bear trap! ‘Eddie the Eagle’ flew in on his skis! Yes … Eddie the Eagle Edwards no less. We had a drum troupe suspended in the air, an acrobatic roller skating duo, which was one of the scariest things I have watched, as her head skimmed the ground, while she was dangling from a rope attached to her partners neck.
Then there was the most spectacular Finale… with fireworks, lights and a giant blow-up 50th birthday cake that we almost missed as we were too busy watching the pyrotechnics! Phew…what an evening of entertainment! It was amazing – everything on this holiday so far has been amazing. When we finally got to bed it was almost 1.15am and we were totally exhausted but what a great show… and so to sleep with a head full of sights and sounds to remember forever!
The next day… We were awake by 07.00 but there will be no time to write up the blog. Breakfast, finish packing and then off to pick up the hire car for our Road Trip through the mountains. You can see the Rockies in the distance from Calgary and even though we have been before we haven’t been on our own and also, the Mr hasn’t driven here before and especially not in a left-hand drive automatic car. You cannot get a manual gearbox car for love nor money from the hire companies and for those who don’t know, driving here is mainly on long straight roads that go on for 100s of kilometres, so it makes sense to drive an automatic. Fuel, is half the price that it costs in the UK with a litre costing around $1.30 approximately 80p.
We ordered a Chrysler Malibu but on arrival we were shown to a lovely white Nissan Altima. Lovely roomy car with a boot big enough to sleep in should we get lost!
We followed Robyn back to the house to pick up our luggage and the cool box (borrowed from Kate). We have Beer, half a bottle of Chardonnay, Tea bags and one of Robyn’s Banana loaves with chocolate chips, …we will pick up some groceries on the way. So, after some big Welsh cwtches for Carter and Robyn it’s Tata for now (until we return in 2 weeks) …Rocky Mountains here we come.
The start of the journey was wet and misty, (no not inside the car :-). The weather has cooled today and there is thunder about. As we head towards the mountains the rain became heavier at times and the temperature, which up until today has been around 28 degrees, has now dropped to a chilly 13!
We would drive for almost 5 hours today and should arrive at Kimberley, early evening. We travelled around the outskirts of Banff National Park and then through Kootenay National Park. This is Bear Country and there a is a slim chance we could see either Black Bears or a Grizzly… I am hopeful but not expecting to see them. When we were here in 2010, we saw a Black Bear with babies cross the road and a young female Grizzly leaning on a wall near Lake Louise…what a sight and as stated before, they were gone before any of us could grab the camera!
During the drive we saw 2 Foxes, a Deer and a few Buzzards but as we were driving quite quickly, photographs were not possible.
Arriving at Kimberley at around 5.30pm we drove to the destination on the Sat Nav and found that the road was completely blocked by roadworks. We tried to find another way in but to no avail until we stopped and asked someone working on their car. It was a long way around but eventually as we drove up the hill the Mr said “this is where we stayed in 2010!” “oh yes…you’re right” says I, which was a really odd thing to happen, as Kate found this place for us on Airbnb. Sure enough, the apartment is 100 metres from where we were before and the restaurant is right across the carpark. Cushty!
We unpacked, looked in all the cupboards, opened the hot tub …yes…it’s hot! Checked the Wi-Fi and logged in, although as I said, it’s not very reliable and the data signal is practically zilch. We tried out the log fire. On exploring the veranda outside there is a gas barbecue and we have everything we could wish for and more for this 2-day stopover.
Dinner tonight was Pub-Grub, Fish and Chips for the Mr and a Sirloin with veg and rice for me
So it’s Goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him. TTFN – Granny 😊