Where did you go on holiday, Steve?

I went to Alberta.

I took a lot of photos while on holiday. I haven't yet put any of them on my Web page; when I do, I will provide links from here. Any other links you find on this page are probably links to maps of where I went, or to attractions that I visited.


Saturday 17 July: I flew from Toronto to Calgary. On the way, I flew over Whitefish Point and saw a ship below. I thought of the Edmund Fitzgerald ...

That evening, I had a steak for dinner. After all, Alberta is prime cattle country. This was the last day of the Calgary Stampede. I'm not big on fairs, don't care for horses, and hate country music, so I didn't go. But I paid for it, because all hotel rooms in and around Calgary cost more when the stampede is on.

Sunday 18 July: The weather was poor - gray and rainy - so I did indoor things. I visited the Aerospace Museum, the Naval Museum (yes, it's a silly idea to have a naval museum in a landlocked city whose nearest major body of water is on the other side of a large mountain range, but it's not a bad museum), Museum of the Regiments, and the Calgary Science Centre.

Monday 19 July: It was a beautiful sunny day so I went to Drumheller area. I visited the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is fascinating. I also went on the Dinosaur Trail, which runs through the Drumheller area. Unfortunately, part of the trail consists of the Blériot cable ferry across the Red Deer River, and that ferry wasn't operational at the time. Do you think they put signs at the start of the trail? No. They didn't put signs up until just before the ferry, which is at the half-way point. So you drive all the way out, only to find you have to turn around and come back (the next bridge along the way is farther out of the way than simply turning around and going back).

The Rosebud Suspension Bridge is a curious bridge. It was originally put up to enable coal miners to cross the Red Deer River from their homes on one side to the mines on the other. At that time, it had no sides - just the decking! It's since had sides added. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was there.

I also visited the Atlas Coal Mine just as it was closing at 6 pm. The girl working the gate let me wander around for free, but I didn't get a tour.

Tuesday 20 July: I like to visit zoos, and today I went to the Calgary Zoo. This is a cool zoo because they have snow leopards. I love snow leopards. Snow leopards are cool. I also saw a two-day-old moose at the zoo.

In the afternoon, I met up with my friend Lisa, who used to work with me in Toronto and had moved to Calgary. She's a beautiful blonde (sorry guys - she's married), smart, and nice. We went to see "A Comedy of Errors" in the park - like many cities, Calgary has a theater troupe that puts on Shakespeare plays in a park during the summer.

Wednesday 21 July: I started out at the Grain Academy, which is an interesting little museum about grain farming and the history of grain farming. Best things there: a working model of a grain elevator (complete with a cutaway section so you can see the grain as it moves from one area to another), and an automated model railway showing much of the actual path grain takes on its way from Alberta, through the Rockies, to the docks in Vancouver.

I went to Fort Calgary Historic Park. Don't follow in my footsteps. It's a waste of time. The fort is not built yet; so far, all they have is a fence and a couple of buildings that you can't go into. Incidentally, when I got home and told my parents this, they laughed and said it was the same way the last time we went to Alberta - in the early 1980s.

I dropped by Canada Olympic Park, had a look around, interacted with an interactive exhibit on what qualities are required in an Olympic athlete, rode around on a chair lift, and went to the top of a ski jump. I didn't go on the luge run (not yet ...)

Thursday 22 July: I drove to Edmonton and went straight to Fort Edmonton Park. Fort Edmonton blows Fort Calgary away. First off, they actually have a finished reconstruction of a fort there, complete with interpreters. They also have areas that show what Edmonton looked like in 1885, 1905, and 1920 - including several buildings that you can wander through. And they have a steam train to get from the entrance to the fort! I think Old Fort William in Thunder Bay (see my trip to Northern Ontario) is a bit better, but Fort Edmonton was very enjoyable.

Friday 23 July: Today was a railroad day. I visited the C&W (1891) Railway Museum, which is in an old station building. Then I went to Stettler to ride on the Alberta Prairie Railway. Today's trip featured old CN locomotive 6060, which used to run tourist trips between Toronto and Niagara Falls when I was a kid (and I'd been on one of those), and was a round trip from Stettler to Big Valley. At Big Valley, they rearranged the train and I got some photos, and there was a dinner put on by the community in the community hall. On the way back to Stettler, there was a hailstorm, and water was jumping out of the ponds along the way!

Saturday 24 July: Today was a museum day. I visited the Alberta Aviation Museum, Alberta Railway Museum, and Edmonton Space & Science Centre, where some of the exhibits needed to be rebooted (but for obvious reasons they didn't let the visitors have access to the keyboards) and the lightning strike detector was claiming that the most recent lightning strike was always about an hour in the future. But really, it's a good place to visit and I had fun there.

Since I was playing tourist, I visited West Edmonton Mall. There was one ride I wanted to go on but it would have cost something like eight bucks. Forget that! But I did have some fun; I went to Hooters! It's always fun to go to Hooters, whether you're travelling or not.

When I got back to the hotel room from dinner, there was a message to call back to Ontario, because my sister-in-law Julie had just given birth to my first nephew, Matthew! You can find pictures of both of them on my Friends and Family page.

Sunday 25 July: Today I drove west, away from the cities and towards Alberta's beautiful mountain parks for the second half of my vacation. I entered Jasper National Park. Jasper is a nice little tourist town. Sure, it's full of tourists, but not to the degree where it becomes obnoxious. Today's major sights were Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake (where I took my favourite photo from the whole trip), and Maligne Lake. At the end of the day I drove back out of the park, partway towards the smelly pulp and paper town of Hinton, because the lodge where I'd made reservations was just outside the park boundaries. Fortunately, it didn't smell. And it was a lovely lodge, too - it would be a great place to take your sweetie for a romantic getaway. (Why did I stay outside the park? Simple. Staying in the park is way more expensive than staying a 30-40 minute drive away.)

Monday 26 July: I went on the Jasper Tramway, which ascends Whistlers Mountain. After that, I visited Mount Edith Cavell, where I wandered around on the snow at the base, taking pictures, and on my way back out noticed a sign saying not to go any closer due to the danger of avalanches. Of course, I took a picture of the sign! After that, I went to Athabasca Falls, then returned to the lodge for the evening.

Tuesday 27 July: I headed south towards Lake Louise. Along the way, I visited Sunwapta Falls, Columbia Icefields, crossed into Banff National Park, visited Mistaya Canyon, Peyto Lake, and looked at the Crowfoot Glacier.

Wednesday 28 July: I took a ride on the Lake Louise Gondola; get there early enough in the morning and you get a buffet breakfast at a really good price. I went to the lake itself (which is a few kilometers from the townsite); it's lovely. After that, I visited Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. This is a must; it's gorgeous. I continued south towards Banff, stopping to hike at Johnston Canyon. I didn't actually stay in Banff, for the same reason I didn't actually stay in Jasper. Instead, I stayed in Canmore, just outside the park. Besides which, Banff is not anywhere near as nice as Jasper - it's way, way, way too overrun with tourists.

Thursday 29 July: Today I visited several areas around Banff. Bankhead is a former colliery inside the park. Some of the road signs around Bankhead are missing, and some are wrong. As I was driving around Bankhead, a bear casually strolled across the road in front of me. I visited the Banff Park Museum, the Administration Building (where lots of newlyweds have their pictures taken; in fact, one Japanese couple was there, having their photos taken, while I was visiting), and took the Sulphur Mountain Gondola.

Friday 30 July: I was back in Calgary today, and visited Canada Olympic Park again. This time, I rode the luge ride! Now, they don't let you ride the whole length of it, but it's pretty cool anyway. I mean, how many people have been for a ride on an Olympic luge track (or any luge track, for that matter)?

Miscellaneous Observations

The Letter of Stephen to his Friends

While I was on holiday, I sent email to some of my friends. But I've lost my copy of it. Sorry.