A brief stop in Edmonton at the delightful International Youth Hostel, headed down to Calgary (south 150kms or so) via luxury transportation courtesy of Greyhound. A riveting journey indeed with highlights being passing a goods train and a particulary satisfying grassy knoll, woo hoo. Needless to say I was overjoyed when the city skyline of Calgary appeared in the distance.
Calgary has ballooned in size since my last visit in 1996. To illustrate the airport was built approx 15kms from downtown, the idea being it would be far out of the way with plenty of space for city growth. Now a seemingly endless sprawl of wooden housing districts with island shopping malls, marts and and fast food joints has sprung up to supply the masses. Where all these people have come from or what they do for work is a mystery, seemingly not employed in timber or building industry as a shortage in supply of both commodities has stunted growth for now, perhaps a good thing. Still, a beautiful vibrant city with a backdrop of the foothills of the Rockies (slightly obscured at times by the rush hour smog).
My honary guest in Calgary are cousins Deborah (now married as Jassman) and Theresa - relatives from my mum's side of the family. Luck would have it that my Aunt Joy and Uncle Peter were in town for the festive season so a great family re-union ensued. Fantastic hosts they were indeed!
On the first night in Calgary I was treated to a fine display of womens 5-aside soccer, much the same as PowerLeague in the UK and no less physical. My cousins team, the somewhat dubiously named 'Mirage' - dubious as the scars and bruises inflicted on the opposition were very real. Outstanding performance from Deb (defence) and Rease (goal) helped the team stgorm thru to a 4-1 victory. Undoubtedly victory was inspired by my Uncle's managerial talent on his suprise return testimonial and thought provoking pre-game build up with an analogy of a lost dog returning home (explanation available on request). Womens soccer on the whole has exploded in Canada, it was the fastest growing sport in the country until last year. And a very good standard they are too.
Accomodation for Calgary courtesy of cousin Deb's new home in North Calgary, sharing with Rease, Carlson (husband) and a rather psychotic dog named Cassie who I thought I'd befriended but alas no as she practically removed my finger on departure (perhaps because I accidentally tossed her favourite toy in her pee mop bucket, ha ha).
Debs house was great, a nice porch for 40's and blunts and a huge basement that could be a bar (nice on Carlson ;o) or a hot tub, either a winner.
It was great to meet the family again after such a long time. Uncle has since moved from Calgary, out to Gabriola Island off Vancouver Island which sound like paradise - hopefully a visit there will feature later in this tale. After only a couple of days stay it was time to head off to the mountains to begin the winter for real. Loaded up on the last afternoon with a stack of snowboard kit (new snowboard - K2 Zeplin, yay!!) Next destination is Banff in the Canadian Rockies - joining me for this section of the trip is my trusty compadre Andy. Next stop Rocky Mountains and snowboard mecca.