Tuesday, 21 July 2009

04/07/2009 - 13/07/2009 - Calgary, Alberta

04/07/2009 13/07/2009. We arrived in Calgary to have Stubbie outfitted with a new fuse box (which contains a small arsenal of relays and fuses) which was the permanent fix from our breakdown in the Yukon. It is time for the Calgary Stampede billed as the biggest outdoor Show on Earth. It was a good thing that we booked our RV park a couple of months in advance as Calgary was full of visitors from all over the world. So it's time to put on your ten gallon hat and a belt buckle the size of a dinner plate. (Riding boots are optional as real cowboys don't wear riding boots unless they are riding, as they are very uncomfortable.)

04/07/2009 - Calgary Stampede Day 1. At the campgrounds we were staying, they had buses organised to transport people to and from the Stampede Grounds. Our first day at the Stampede we spent having a look around, watching the cattle penning and a few other events, and of course we went to the Rodeo and the Chuck Wagon races. The ticket prices for the Rodeo and the Chuck Wagons ranged from around $12.00 to $140.00. Of course we knew if we purchased the expensive tickets that we wouldn't have any money left for food or drink. So of course we opted for the cheaper tickets and had a few beverages. One of the big surprises was that a. there was a Casino in the grounds and b. there was gambling happening in side show alley - what a bonus. Of course the winnings do go to charity so we did do the right thing and donated a few dollars. Australia was represented by an Australian marching band, a couple of cowboys plus yours truly.

Well one thing we have learnt is that we now understand why Pete's hockey team doesn't seem to be able to perform. We went to the famous Pengrowth Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames and we as a non hockey nation could provide advice on how to improve their game. First thing they should do is get rid of all the horses and steer and then put some fresh ice down. Pete - You should probably show them how to put down some white ice as well. That brown stuff makes it a bit hard to pick up the puck. On another note we learnt in the following week - that Peter's latest scan was all clear - what fantastic news.

Even though we encountered a fair bit of rain we had a great night and caught the mid night bus home. Well this was another experience in itself. First of all we were heading down a road that had signs posted everywhere that there was a bridge up ahead with a height restriction of 8 feet, well I'm no expert but Stubbie is over 11 feet and I'm pretty sure that the bus we are travelling in is also well over 8 feet. The bus driver seemed completely oblivious to all the signs that we were passing. It wasn't long before we had reached that bridge and yes he did eventually stop about 20 metres prior to reaching it. Of course now we needed to reverse up and make a U Turn - unfortunately there was traffic everywhere, it was raining and the driver couldn't see out of his mirrors, so he asked someone to get out and help guide him around. Of course this job went to the Big Fella, at least the driver should be able to pick him out (what a great way to start his birthday). The bus is finally headed in the right direction and everyone yells out not to forget the guy outside. After a few more wrong turns and a very rough ride we eventually arrive at the campgrounds. The driver later tells us that it was his first night and for a metric country the height of the bridge was in feet which added to his confustion - Really.

My best description of the Stampede is to take the RNA show in Brisbane, add a big rodeo and Chuck Wagon racing each day, with the finals held on the last day. Also each night there is a fireworks display along with what they called the Big Show which had every child in Calgary in it, a bit like a combined Cirque De Soleil and an Eistefford. Included in side show alley you have many bands and performances i.e. high diving, extreme moto cross etc, plus the gambling. And of course there would be no Stampede without alcohol in copious amounts.

05/07/2009 - The Big Head's Birthday. Well the Big Fella's had breakfast in bed actually he's been in bed so long he also has lunch in bed. I've promised to take him to Red Lobster for dinner. So we have a few drinks and a few more and then I call a Taxi. We arrive at Red Lobster and take a seat at the bar, and of course we order another beverage. We are then escorted to our table and of course we order another drink - the Big Fella orders a Mango Cocktail - mmm that'll mix nicely with the beer he has been having. We have a great night and catch a Taxi home. I think it was just as well we got home at a reasonable hour, because we both started to get our hang over just as we were going to bed.

06/07/2009 - Today we decided to catch the bus into down town and have a look around. We get into town and start having a look around, unfortunately it starts pouring with rain. So we keep indoors and have a look around at the shops, we purchase a new knapsack for the Big Fella - Happy Birthday. We have really come to appreciate the cheap rain coats that you can buy for around a $1.00. Calgary seems to have a nice down town area.

08/07/2009 - 09/07/2009. Yee Haw let the fun begin - the Howards have arrived. After we have a quick catch up over a beverage we decide to head into the Stampede. Of course about 2 minutes after we had entered the grounds the skies opened up and not only did the rain come down it was then followed by hail and then more hail, once again those rain coats came in handy. We went and saw some of the live stock (one of the horses was 19 hands tall - I must admit it was one of the largest horses I have ever seen), we watched a bit of the cutting and had a good look around. I'm not sure if Bobby and Brant, had got a lot of sleep while they were here, unfortunately for them the bed in Stubbie kept deflating. I woke up their first morning with us and looked at the bed there was hardly any air left in the mattress. Lucky for Bobbie that she is so light, that when Brant was in the bed, she hardly noticed that the mattress had deflated. Poor Brant didn't have a good nights sleep and the silly man didn't wake anyone to find out how to inflate the mattress (you only need to flick a switch at the back). The next day we headed back into the Stampede and went to the Rodeo. After the Rodeo we were able to catch-up with Jono and Jill for a few drinks, we then headed to the airport to pick up Lisa and Peter.

10/07/2009 - 11/07/2009. So the gangs all here. Lisa has been able to score some great tickets from her old boss for a Rodeo Session and also for a Chuck Wagon race. So whilst we try to find a car park, we drop Lisa and Peter off to go and get the tickets from her old boss. Well, not only has she been able to score some great tickets, she has also been able to score some great hats for us all, plus she has got us booked into the Dining Room for dinner - you gotta love this girl (Pete - you're not too bad either). So after we have a quick look around we go to find our seats, ohh did I mention they were in the Platinum section, we have a great time watching the Rodeo. After the Rodeo is finished, Lisa is also able to score us an entry into the back area, so we have a look around and we meet one of the Chuck Wagon Drivers (Wayne Knight) that Lisa's old work used to sponsor. From here it is off to the dining room for dinner. Well let me start off by saying that this was certainly not what I had expected. After we arrived and were seated ex-presidents came around to take our drink orders. From here we were told that it was a buffet style dinner service. Well this was certainly one of the best meals that Dave and I had had for a while, we were able to make a few trips and get our moneys worth - oh that's right we didn't have to pay for it - we had an absolutely fantastic day. The next day we have tickets for the Chucks, but first we need to do a bit more shopping, for Brant, he has his heart set on a vest that he saw at the Stampede a few days ago, but unfortunately we have shopped and shopped and we still haven't been able to find one in his size. So for a day there he was wearing one of Dave's Snow Boarding Jackets - it was only a little bit big - but hey he was warm, if not loaded down with the weight of it. Before we get to the Chuck's we meet up with Enid (a cousin of Bobby's) for a quick bite to eat and a catch-up, of course at Earl's - you may remember this is another one of Dave's favourite restaurants. I think it's more so because of the very attractive waitress's rather than the food, but hey I love the food so I'm happy. Unfortunately, Dave wasn't too happy this day, we were waited on by a male waiter (there was only a couple in the whole restaurant). We had another fantastic night at the Chuck Wagon races and we really enjoyed the Big Show afterwards. The next morning we have a big cook up breakfast before the Howard's and the Navin's head off (of course Pete has a doggy bag to go =The amount Pete eats should make him as big as Matt.....). As usual it was really great to spend some time with them all.

So to sum it all up when Lisa and Peter arrived we were treated like show royalty. Until they got here we had to slum it and mingle with the rest of the crowd eating corn dogs and bison burgers. The Corn Dogs are similar to our Dagwood Dogs - but the batter is much sweeter, I think the fact that I didn't like the sweetness in the batter saved me many a pound.
Once again we can blame Bobbie and Brant for our current weight problem. I put on 6lbs for the week and the big fella added another 10lbs. You would think that there is a limit to how much you can eat and drink for a week. We are happy to say that they are still intending to come to Australia early next year.

We did enjoy the whole week however we were running out of puff by the end.

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