Day 30: July 15, 2016
Stampede? Now?

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Old Strathcona is also the starting point for a vintage streetcar ride that I'd decided to work in. Unsure of exactly where I needed to be, I gave myself plenty of time and, even though I did have to do a little searching, reached the start point with just over an hour to spare. Turning to my phone, I found a nearby bagel shop and headed there for a snack. The New York Bagel Cafe turned out not to be the grab-and-go sort of place I was expecting. Instead, it was a delightful little place where I enjoyed one of the best breakfasts I've ever had.

When I returned to the boarding site, not only had the streetcar arrived, so had the passengers. So, despite my very early original arrival, I got to stand for the entire trip with great views of the backs of heads and occasional glimpses of the outside world. The Edmonton Radial Railway Society operates a number of restored streetcars on two routes. The car I rode was built in 1947 and operated in Melbourne, Australia for fifty years before moving to Edmonton. I did enjoy the ride but there is no question that I'd have enjoyed it more with a seat and a view.

Driving from Edmonton to Calgary was on expressway and uneventful so, just like those big time movies, I'm including this photo to mark the transition. It also gives me a place to reveal how oblivious to the real world I can be.

I have two stories. The first involves a text message that should have been funny but fell flat. A smartphone app called Pokemon Go has apparently taken oven much of the world and inspired numerous news reports and commentaries. I am now at least somewhat aware of it but wasn't when a friend compared something I posted to being deeply involved with Pokemon. The second is about arriving at my motel in Calgary. I had really liked the motel where I stayed on the way north so booked a room there for tonight even though the price was noticeably higher than before. When I mentioned this to the desk clerk, he explained it with a simple "It's Stampede time." The Calgary Stampede is probably the biggest and most famous event in Canada that involves neither ice nor snow and it had been going on for about a week. There's a very good chance that I was the only person in Calgary who didn't already know this and one of the few out-of-towners who wasn't there because of it.

Since my attempt to eat at the Calvary Tower had failed due to the Sky 360 restaurant being booked for a private event, I checked last night and reserved a table. This time the weather was against me and I got drenched on the walk to the tower and sat down to a view of a soggy city. Early in the rotation, one of the best views was overhead where I got a different look at the glass platform I stood on twenty-five days ago. In some cases, at least, it seems a lack of years equals a lack of fear. The meal was superb and the view even improved as the rain decreased. I previously posted a shot of Stampede Park from the tower but this time it's filled with people.

Even though I'm ignorant of its timing, I am very much aware of the Calgary Stampede's existence and it is something I more or less had to attend given this unexpected opportunity. In my own defense, I did check the schedule when it first looked like my route would pass through Calgary but much has changed since then and I didn't re-check and my memory was no help at all.

I took a cab from the base of the tower to Stampede Park and got a closer look at the Saddledome. Then I spent some time watching and listening to this rocking brass band who found a dry spot to play under an overpass. The rain more or less stopped although it frequently returned in a very light form. I had no tickets for the big shows but had a good time just walking around and going through open doors. One of those doors led to some serious boot scootin' and big time horse pulls.

At its heart, the Stampede is a rodeo and agricultural fair. With closing just a couple of days away, most of the livestock was gone but not all. Without counting thrill rides and food booths I can't say for sure how this compares with the Ohio State fair but I can say they both are really big. I know the rain reduced tonight's crowd considerably but it was still a very busy place.

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