Life as a cowboy
Well we are now all settled into the cowboy/oil boom hybrid city that is Calgary.
Kel is working at the University and I have been honing my retail skills at an outdoor clothing store and teaching the wee kiddies of Calgary how to skate. By all accounts we are both enjoying it immensely – Kel is learning vast amounts that he will be able to utilize at home and I am revelling in spending my days chatting with the hoards of travelers that come through our shop on the way to the Rockies and singing “heads shoulders knees and toes” with my youngest skating class. We are flatting right near the university with a couple of students and more importantly, central heating.
Calgary is a strange wee city, but I have to admit I am really enjoying it here. The oil industry is booming here and the city is growing like crazy. At the same time there is still the remnants of the old cowboy town, not least the famous Calgary Stampede which we are gutted that we missed.
Of great delight to me is the fact that Calgarians (well Canadians in general) are absolutely mad about skating (particularly ice hockey which they follow like rugby) and there are ice rinks everywhere. There are about 5 rinks within walking distance from our house (compare that to the 2 in the whole of the North Island). The best of those, only 10 minutes walk away from us is the fantastic skating complex that is the Olympic Oval, built for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Olympic Park which held the ski jumping and luge events at the Olympics is also on the outskirts of the city and we had a fun day poking our nose around there when we first arrived. In winter this converts to a ski-field so we are looking forward to checking that out later in the year.
The Rocky Mountains are only an hour’s drive away and are utterly spectacular (I can’t help comparing this to the hours drive from Auckland which gets you to Huntly). We did a the most amazing hike in Canmore (just outside the Rockies) a couple of weekends ago and it took you right up to the snowline….I felt like Ed Hillary standing at the top. Unfortunately we have to commit the view from the top to memory as the battery went most unhelpfully flat on our camera. Canmore also holds the Nordic skiing centre so we are hoping we will get a chance to try out some snow-shoeing or cross country skiing at some stage.
As a general observation Canadians seem to be an awfully friendly and chipper bunch and tend to stick by the rules. It is impossible to come within 50 feet of a pedestrian crossing without them stopping for you. I have tried on several occasions to walk so slowly up to the crossing that they have to go in front of me, but not even that works. I have also learnt through trial and error that not all words in the Kiwi vocabulary have made it to Canada. When I call myself a “munter” they have absolutely no idea what I am talking about and roll around in fits of laughter.
We have just had Thanksgiving here which I find quite an odd celebration. The radio was full of people calling in to give thanks that they were alive, that they lived in a free country etc etc. I just don’t know if we would get into that in NZ…grumble on the radio about sport yes…but give thanks for things, probably not. I am rather jealous that they get two Christmas dinners a year though. I didn’t realize the importance of having a turkey for thanksgiving dinner until I admitted that we had tacos, you would have thought I had committed treason.
Anyway that is enough of my thoughts. A big hi to anyone who is reading this at home. We are missing everyone and are rather torn between how much we are enjoying all the new experiences in Calgary and how much we are looking forward to seeing everyone again.
Kels on duty for the next update about our recent trip into the Rockies, so stay tuned.