Posts filed under ‘Alberta’

Photo Post: Edmonton

One of the few splashes of colour on a grey day in downtown Edmonton — First Presbyterian Church

Just a visual example of why I didn’t care so much for downtown Edmonton…

The Alberta Legislature was easily the most handsome building in Edmonton. Many thanks for the folks at the visitor centre for telling me to go!

And if “The Leg” was the most handsome building, then the Art Gallery was the most interesting!

Example #2 of why I found Edmonton unattractive: the downtown library

And of course the railway hotels never disappoint. Edmonton’s is the Hotel MacDonald, which is now run by Fairmont.


July 3, 2010 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

Photo Post: Rainy Day in the Rockies

Before venturing out in the rain, I got ready for the day in Erin & Kyle’s apartment in Calgary, with company provided by their adorable kitty.

First stop: Canmore. I’m sure it’s cuter in the sunshine.

The rain slowed to a fine mist, so I walked down to the river, hoping for a view of the mountains. Um, how about a nice view of the river in fog instead?

There’s supposed to be a fabulous view outside of town, but the road was gravely and it was raining pretty hard at this point, so I didn’t make it too far past the Canmore Nordic Centre, home to the nordic events during the 1988 Olympics.

Next stop: Banff. I was hoping the rain would clear up as I drove west, but no such luck.

Mountain view in the national park, just outside of Banff

Lake Minnewanka, outside of Banff

Two Jack Lake, outside of Banff

July 3, 2010 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

Photo Post: Mostly Alberta

To get to Alberta, I had to drive through the rest of BC first. Here’s Three Valley Lake, a spot so gorgeous that I had to backtrack after I originally passed the turnoff.

Rogers Pass, in Glacier National Park in BC. Glaciers above me, and I was wearing short sleeves!

Quick stop in Field, BC.

BC snacks: roasted seaweed (delish, I had no idea!), dried apples, and Tori’s chocolate chip cookies

Welcome to Calgary! It’s a bit rainy, but Stephen St. is picturesque.

When it’s finished, this building will be the tallest building in Western Canada at 58 stories.

The Calgary Tower

Palisser Hotel detail

Remember when I said that I found a hill to climb for skyline photos in Calgary? Here’s one of the results.

June 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm 1 comment

Alberta Disappointments

Well, I knew that my entire trip wouldn’t be perfect. I knew that I would run into bad weather some days, and I knew that some places wouldn’t live up to my expectations. However, I wasn’t expecting Alberta to be the first big downer—I had pegged the prairies for that.

In Alberta’s defense, it wasn’t all Alberta’s fault. The southern part of the province has been getting unseasonably high rainfalls this spring. When I got to Calgary, it had apparently already been raining for about a week. Everyone was sick of it, not just me. So I did my best. I went ahead with my plan to explore the Rockies on Wednesday, despite the bad weather. I put on a smile and a sweatshirt, and tucked an umbrella into my bag. I brought a plastic bag and a towel to keep my camera dry. I was determined to have a good time.

I did not anticipate that I would not actually be able to see the mountains, due to fog. Rainy, sticky, wet, grey fog.

So I tried to shoot artsy, mysterious photos with the fog, and I bought postcards featuring what the mountains looked like on sunny days with blue skies. I found a coffee shop in Canmore that brewed Illy coffee, my absolute favourite espresso, and sipped out of giant ceramic mug while I wrote in my travel journal. A cheery woman in a souvenir shop gave me a sample of her fudge, and then I bought some for Erin & Kyle, my Calgary hosts. I followed a twisty mountain road up to the park where the cross-country skiing events were held during the 1988 Calgary Olympics. It was a decent day.

Then I got to Banff, which was more touristy and commercialized than I had anticipated. I wandered Main Street for a bit, but the Lululemon and the designer shops caught me off-guard. The light, misty rain turned into a steady shower. A friend of mine had recommended Evelyn’s Coffee in Banff, so I found one of the shops on Main and tried to enjoy a latte while I wrote, but a sour young British couple sitting at the counter next to me kept complaining about the friendly Australian girl working the counter. I waited for the rain to stop, but it didn’t, and I waited for my disappointment to fade, but it didn’t. I went back to my car and checked my GPS. Lake Louise was an hour away, and then it would be two hours back to Calgary. I sighed, erased Lake Louise from my GPS, and set it to take me back to Erin’s in Calgary. Lake Louise would have to wait for another trip. I didn’t want to ruin my experience of it with dismal weather.

And it rained all the way back to Calgary.

On Thursday, I got up early and left for Edmonton at the same time that Erin & Kyle left for work. Well, I left for Edmonton via a stop at Second Cup. The Second Cup that I picked on my GPS just happened to be near the Stampede Grounds, and I drove right by the Saddledome on Thursday morning.

Hello, bright spot. For those readers that aren’t part of my skating family, here’s a brief explanation: I love figure skating. I currently work in skating media as a photographer and writer, but I loved skating for a long time before I got involved with it. Although my first concrete memories of falling in love with skating are tied to the 1992 Olympics, I like to think that I vaguely remember watching some of the skating during the ’88 Olympics with my mom. The figure skating at the ’88 Olympics was in the Saddledome. In 2000, one of my favourite pair teams won their first national title in the Saddledome. That same year, my two favourite dance teams both qualified for their first World Championships in the Saddledome. And in 2006, one of those favourite dance teams stood on the World podium in the Saddledome. It’s been a good rink to me, and I’ve never been inside it, but just driving by it cheered me up considerably.

So I turned north from Calgary, stopped in Red Deer for a visit to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and pressed on toward Edmonton. Sometime between Red Deer and Edmonton, the rain stopped. I spotted a bright section of the clouds…could it have been the sun? The people in the tourist information hut just south of Edmonton were friendly and funny. They gave me some tips on where to go in the city for scenic photos, and I was excited about Alberta again. That is, until I actually got downtown.

I expected another city like Calgary. I wanted to feel at home again, but Edmonton seems to be a much younger city. The Legislature building is stately and historic, but it’s separate from the rest of the downtown core. Downtown, I was disappointed by the drab beige colour and awkward 1960’s architecture. I guess Edmonton, although it’s the capital, really started growing a lot more recently than Calgary, so it doesn’t have the same grand feeling. It felt faded and dated, more like shag carpeting than Van Der Rohe sleek or Victorian charm.

I stayed near the West Edmonton Mall, so I went to the mall in the evening, expecting to be wowed, but I felt let down again. The mall was big, clearly, since it is the largest in the world, but it didn’t feel as large as the Mall of America in Minneapolis, and it wasn’t nearly as busy, even for a weeknight. Since the amusement park and the water park are in their own wings, separate from the shopping corridors, it didn’t have the same hysteric quality as Mall of America, with Camp Snoopy in a central four-story atrium.

Overall, I realize that I probably need to give Alberta another chance, hopefully with better weather involved, but I think I’d rather spend more time in Calgary and the mountains than in Edmonton. We’ll see, though—both cities have skating history, so I expect to have reasons to visit both places again in the future.

June 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

Introduction to Calgary

On Tuesday, I drove from Kelowna to Calgary, again through mountains, quite obviously. I really enjoyed my drive through the Rockies, since the weather was nice through much of it and I wasn’t as scared of driving in the mountains anymore.

While looking for a gas station, I accidentally took a scenic detour to the waterfront in Sicamous, BC. I was told that this is the houseboating capital of the world, but I didn’t see any houseboats yet…perhaps a bit early in the summer for it, since it was fairly chilly when I got out of the car for a few quick photo ops. I also pulled over for photos at Three Valley Lake, west of Revelstoke, BC, near the “ghost town.” I didn’t stop there, as it looked like a cheesy tourist trap, but I did turn around in their parking lot so I could go back to the scenic lookout. Next stop was at the top of Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park, 1330 metres above sea level! The weather was perfect up there, so my photos turned out fantastically well; I can’t wait to post them!

By the time I got to Field, BC, near the Alberta border, the perfect weather had turned to drizzle, but it still wasn’t too bad. I went in and out of mist through the Alberta Rockies and the valley west of Calgary, but I made it to Calgary before it really started raining too much and got settled at Erin & Kyle’s place. Erin had a ballet class, so I drove her and she gave me a brief tour of Calgary on the way, and then I headed downtown to walk around and take some photos. Even though it was about 9 on a weeknight and downtown was pretty quiet, I really liked the city. It’s hard to explain, but something about it just felt familiar. I suppose I always feel most at home in big cities. Vancouver is wonderful, but it’s not possible to get lost downtown. No matter where you look, you’re always reminded that you’re in Vancouver. With Calgary, though, for a few seconds, it was easy to forget where I was. I could have been in any city. I could have been at home. So far, it’s been the only place that has felt like that to me, so I liked it.

Even if the Calgary “Tower” is shorter than some of the surrounding office buildings.

I had a stroke of luck when I made my way back to the neighbourhood where Erin was taking her ballet class. I had a few minutes before I was due to pick her up, and I drove past a big hill. I wasn’t sure what kind of view I would get from it, but I parked my car around the corner and hiked up it. I was treated to a fabulous dusky view of the entire skyline. What a great photographic moment!

June 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

The Suggestion Box: Alberta

This is a bit late, since I’m crossing into Alberta tomorrow, but if you have any ideas for places I should see in Alberta, drop your comments here!

I was already planning to visit Banff, Lake Louise, Calgary, and Edmonton, and my Kelowna area hosts have also suggested a stop in Canmore. The planned route is to drive from Kelowna to Calgary tomorrow (with a possible stop in Canmore), then to hit Banff & Lake Louise (& Canmore if I don’t see it tomorrow) on Wednesday, then from Calgary to Edmonton on Thursday. Stops along the way are much appreciated, as are suggestions for sights to see (and great eats) at each location.

June 15, 2010 at 2:11 am 3 comments


A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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