Burning Gas-Calgary

For many years the Calgary Stampede has stewed in the back of my mind. As a young man I dreamed of attending the event. It has not happened yet, and probably never will. My vision of Calgary has been of the Stampede. A small town with a big rodeo stadium and a large field campground is what I see when I think of Calgary.

Grandma Peggy and I drove west out of Yellowstone Park into Idaho. We followed US-191 northward. The road is a narrow two lane highway which winds through the mountains bordering Wyoming and Idaho into Montana.  The locals have a practice of placing a cross on the site of any accident that results in death. White crosses fill the shoulders of both sides of the pavement. I lost count at fifty-five crosses. The most was seven at one site. As scenic as this road is, I wanted to get off as quickly as possible. The odds of an accident on this stretch were too high for me.

We finally pulled into Belgrade, Montana to spend the night. Our plan was to drive to Banff, Alberta, Canada the next day. I checked our reservations for the hotel and realized that I missed two days during planning. In addition to that, I under estimated the drive; the distance between Belgrade and Banff was further than I could drive in daylight.  The plan changed and we decided to spend some time in Calgary. Luckily, I found a hotel in downtown Calgary, and reserved two nights. I still envisioned Calgary as a small town with a motel on each end of town.

Chuckwagon racing at the 2009 Calgary Stampede.

Image via Wikipedia

Peggy and I arrived in Calgary the following evening as the sun set. The scope and beauty of the city amazed me. It rivals Chicago in the size of its central business district. There is a huge difference, however, the buildings in Chicago are much taller.

We walked to the historic area from our hotel. What we found was totally charming. The town has mixed the old with contemporary architecture, and created a walking mall out of the street passing through the shopping district. The mall has banks, municipal buildings, shops, monuments, and sidewalk cafe’s. Intermixed between are small parks filled with beautiful flowers, and many life-size sculptures.

The Calgary Stampede is a huge event, but is held in a special arena the size of a fairground. People from all over the world attend the event. Thankfully, the Stampede passed before we arrived. Had we coincided, getting a hotel would have been impossible.

After visiting Calgary, I want to attend the Stampede more than ever before.

My photos of the city tour are below:

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