Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Calgary, Alberta, Canada – 10th Stop on our Trek North to Alaska

We woke up to a pleasant surprise:  a bright, sunshiny, seasonably warm day!  After chatting with a group of RVers all travelling together to Alaska, we departed Lethbridge and made our way to Bow River Campground, a full-service park in Cochrane owned and operated by the Lions and Rotary Clubs. While overlooking the Bow River, it is surrounded by housing and industrial complexes, making it a bit of a weird location for a campground.   Nevertheless, it was a nicely laid out park with amply-sized pull thrus and green grass, trees, and bushes providing privacy at each site.  It reminded me of Home Improvement when Tim and his neighbor would talk over the hedge!  And it was reasonably priced for the amenities:  $34USD/night with our Good Sam Discount.


Calgary is Alberta’s largest city.  And based on all the building construction going on, it is doing quite well economically.  Calgary is known as “The City of the Foothills” for its proximity to the Canadian Rockies.  It is also Canada’s sunniest city, averaging 333 days of sunshine per year!  Don’t let all that sunshine fool you—it can get VERY COLD here.  But the warm Chinook winds cause dramatic temperature changes in short time spans (imagine wearing a parka to work in the morning and requiring no coat at all by lunchtime).  Walking in cold weather is a non-issue for those who live/work in Calgary.  They did some great planning back in the late 1960s that resulted in the Plus 15, a pedestrian skywalk system connecting more than 100 downtown buildings. 


There’s no better way to see the City than visiting Calgary Tower, the tallest observation deck in the world.  They are doing some renovations in its base, but it didn’t stop me from having fun and “dressing up” like my stuffed friends, Bear and Beaver. Fortunately, we finished our “play time” before the school bus full of first graders entered the place!


Bear, Beaver, and Me Standing Guard at Calgary Tower!

The great weather afforded us terrific views in every direction—I was even able to see the ski jump from the 1988 Winter Olympics! 
They have one section on the Deck with a glass floor.  Claudia was a bit scared of walking on it, but Dad and Mike convinced her it was safe.  Supposedly, it can withstand the weight of two hippopotamuses!

We stopped for lunch in Calgary’s Chinatown.  Based on an informal poll Mike took among unsuspecting strangers, Ho Won Restaurant was the clear winner.  What a treat—I haven’t had authentic Chinese food since 2012!  The beef and broccoli and fried rice with pork, chicken, and shrimp were all soooo yummy!


We did a stroll along the Riverwalk--had to walk off the pounds that I just gained (I like to keep my svelte figure, you know--I still have hopes Minnie will leave Mickey for me.  LOL).

Boy, this poor Mama has her hands full!

We also visited Fort Calgary, built in 1875 at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP).  Instituted in 1873, the purpose of the NWMP was to establish Canadian sovereignty, prepare treaties with Indians, and to eradicate the whiskey traders from Montana.  How ironic that one of the very whiskey traders they were trying to stop ended up as the building foreman for the fort!


The way this Rambling RV Rat sees it, Canada may have been more diplomatic by negotiating treaties with their First Nations compared to the armed conflicts the U.S. used for acquiring land from its Native Americans.  Nevertheless, the end result was that neither Canada nor the U.S. kept their promises to the Indians.  Like the U.S., Canada established reservations in its Treaty 7, signed in 1877.  Like in the U.S., the source of all life for the Indians, the bison/buffalo, became extinct.  By 1885, the Indians in present-day Calgary were required to have “permits” in order to leave the reservation, a direct violation of the promise within Treaty 7 to allow theme continued hunting and trapping rights on lands surrendered.  I once saw a t-shirt that read, “NEVER trust your government—just ask an Indian.”  I now understand its meaning.  Nuff said!

Of course, everything changed again when the Canadian-Pacific Railroad came into the area--even for Fort Calgary.

I learned much at Fort Calgary, and enjoyed it lots more than I expected.  They had a unique, interactive way to communicate facts:  through “posts” from Buffy Bison on his “social media” page!  What a truly innovative way to teach history and retain the attention of younger (and in my case, smaller) minds.


This is Buffy Bison.  I learned after taking this pic that "Buffy" is a boy!

We topped off our evening with chocolate-peanut butter ice cream from McKay’s in downtown Cochrane.  This novelty shop has been owned and operated by the same family since 1948!


I think I took this advice too literally!

Over-indulging with all this delicious food has given me a belly ache.  Time to pop a Pepto-Bismol!












  1. Glad to see you guys aren't just blasting your way to destination Alaska, but are taking time to enjoy the journey. Great post!
    Safe travels

    1. You have a beautiful country, so much to see, do, and enjoy!

  2. We have chinese in Watson Lake the other day, if you go through that area DO NOT stop by that restaurant!

  3. Thanks for the warning! Who knows, may be another 5 years before I have Chinese food again!