Well, it’s the second day of our BC by Rail trip, and we’re waking in Calgary.
We found breakfast at a Tim Horton’s just a half a block down from our hotel, the Weston.
We had a beautiful room, with two king-sized beds. Unfortunately, I could only sleep five hours again, before having to rise and shine. Still, the day feels a bit better.
I found a bottle of Pepsi for $1.50 plus a ham and Swiss sub, that really hit the spot. We boarded the bus, and found that the front seat with the best view should be held for a former Belpre teacher and her mother who were having just a little trouble walking as briskly as the rest of us. I was happy to hold their seat for them to arrive, and then rejoined my wife for the city tour of Calgary.
Calgary is a beautiful city of over 1.4 million. It has a sizable Chinese and Vietnamese population, but we also saw a fair number of Indian taxi drivers awaiting fares at the airport. The city is trying to go green, and has invested a lot in alternative energy and mass transit. Light Rail (LCR) exists in the downtown core, as our bus driver/tour guide calls it. It appears that the cars are smaller and newer here, with gas selling for about $3.50/gallon…even though it is by litter (.99/litter).
Everything is on the metric scale here. Temperatures have been mild to warm, about 29 in the city, and 27 C outside. To convert, a short hand method is to double the Celsius value, and add 30 degrees. That’s off a little, but it’s close. What you find is
0C=32F 10C=50F 20C=68F 25C=77F 30C=86F 35C=95F 40C=104F
Fortunately, we start our day around 20C ( 68F) and warm to a pleasant DRY value in the low 80s F.
Now, when we visited the site of the 1988 Olympics, the view was great and the temp was down just enough to make it enjoyable. We took photos and posed in front of the judging blocks (The winner’s platform) and mugged in the photo of the jumping skier. Even though one of the two main ski jumps is converted over to zip line now, there are still luge, bobsled, mountain bikes, and lots of other training going on in the former Winter Olympic facility. None of this existed before the Olympics was selected to come here for 1988… and now that Whistler is gearing up for the next round… well, I hope the 104 degree days that the interior of BC has been experiencing won’t impact our trip.
We spent the afternoon driving into the Canadian Rockies… the striation and dramatic rockfalls are impressive! It would appear that some of my pictures will not turn out due to a technical problem, but I’ll attempt to forward some.
We took a cruise on Lake Menewalka, just outside Banff, and all enjoyed the wildlife sightings (bear, coyote, mountain goat, hawk, black tail squirrel, jack rabbit, etc) while on the lake. After almost an hour, the rain started sprinkling but couldn't’t break our spirits.
We do find that the multicultural aspect of this part of Canada is very refreshing, and we wish that all were as accepted back in the US. The respect for the First Nations peoples, the Eskimos, or original Indians, is very much a part of the Canadian culture here. And though much commercialism is present in the gift shops , tee shirts, and souvenirs, there is still a healthy respect for them at the core.
Our second day in Banff continues tomorrow, with visits to Lake Louise for lunch and a walk on a Colombian Icefield Glacier at 7000 feet! I can hardly wait.
And if I didn’t say it already, the weather is sunny, mainly blue skies, except for an occasional cloud, and increasingly pleasant conditions. The local weathermen wear open-throated casual shirts without ties here, and a diversity of accents is welcomed on the air. I am watching three things in the weather for our trip: Forest Fires in BC next door that bring a haze into the air. A low pressure system threatens possibly strong storms overnight but is keeping east of Calgary and out of our way… and a ridge of High pressure that is over the American Rockies, and pumping dry hot air up into BC… a very, very unusual weather pattern that I pray breaks before we get too far west in British Columbia… but I’ll keep you posted.