Woohoo, I’m back home on the peaceful Isle — from almost a month in metropolitan Calgary — yahoo!
What an adventure — helping my youngest sister move from an ailing rental in the S.W. to her own home in one of the newest [& furthest] districts in the N.W. — a drive of at least 45 minutes, ranging to an hour in rush hour traffic.
I was continually amazed at the growth of the city — especially in the N.W. area where I grew up. [Calgary is split into quadrants marked by Centre Street [East/West] & Centre Avenue [North/South] — N.W., N.E., S.E., S.W.]
With somewhere around 1.3 to 1.4 MILLION people, Calgary is about FIVE times larger than when I was growing up & DOUBLE what it was in the 1980s, when I moved my children to the smaller Town of Strathmore, east along the #1 Highway — “because the city was too big”.
New neighbourhoods, filled with houses of the-same-drab-colour-schemes, stretch over acres of foothills where cows & horses used to graze a few short years ago. “So-and-so’s parents sold their ranch,” my sister would remark, “it was in there somewhere.”
With all those people come cars & trucks — mega trucks hauling everything from processed sugar beets to live cattle. And, of course, this means highways — which means high speeds. Or Trails, as Albertans like to call them — trails, where speed limits average over 100 kilometres [65 miles] per hour. Yes, throughout the city & around communities — like octopus arms ever-extending for more food.
If we were travelling around noon, or rarely, the later evening, smart li’l sis would take the fast-moving Deerfoot Trail. Otherwise, to avoid long, slow-moving, rush-hour traffic [anywhere around 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.], she would take the more-familiar-to-me route of Glenmore & Sarcee Trails — but then turn onto the new Stoney Trail that took us well past the formerly-end-of-the-city-landmark Olympic Park.
OMG !! As children living in the 1960s Town of Bowness, & early 70s as the furthest-west district annexed in the big City of Calgary, we knew that as Paskapoo Ski Hill. We learned to ski there — when there was only a tow rope & one chairlift to carry the experts to its ragged top. Well, I didn’t so much learn how to ski, as how to slide down on my bum — right throught the snow fence at the bottom for the parking lot!
The magnificent tower that was the centre of attention for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games & rose above all else for years later, was now dwarfed by a large tented exhibition & other assorted goodies that go with the new overpass for Stoney Trail — bypassing our old stomping grounds to reach new districts like Country Hills & Hidden Valley. I liked Stoney Trail — built among huge hills of grass, some patches of trees, with a glimpse of the Bow River.
A little nervous sometimes on Stoney, I was perpetually scared of Deerfoot Trail. OMG, this monstrous highway has at least 4 lanes for each direction [yeah, that’s 8-10 lanes of continuous traffic] with a huge, Alberta-style, grass meridan between them. Of course, that does not include the 2- & 3-lane off-shoots of traffic — racing for their turn-off on their hour-long journey to their designated patch of suburbia.
Do you know that ‘slow-moving’ traffic is NOT ALLOWED on Deerfoot Trail — where the speed limit is up to 110 km/hr or 70 miles/hr? That in this case, ‘slow-moving’ means doing UNDER 80 km or 50 miles per hr??
After landing at the Victoria Airport, outside Sidney, there’s a 30-or-so-min drive along the same highway the ferry traffic is speeding along in their rush to get to Victoria — with a maximum of 90 km or 55 miles per hr. The highest speed on the whole of Vancouver Island is 90 km! Man, what a difference.
After stopping at the small city of Langston for a Tim’s, I relished the beautiful 45-min drive to Sooke along the curving 2-lane highway — where the speed limit is 60 km or only 35 miles per hr. Except where the ‘big city’ traffic thins out on a 4-lane strip reaching a max of 80 [km/hr], the homes are spaced like farmsteads & there’s definitely no shopping malls !! Simply trees & ocean.
The trip was so enjoyable that I was surprised when it was over. “So soon? The same length of trip seemed to take forever in Calgary!” Oh yes, give me the country any day.
No, the peaks are roof tops, not the Rockies — like when we were younger. And no, they’re not trees — like when I drive home on Vancouver Island.
But yes, they still pale among the often-shining sun, & fast-moving clouds of the gorgeous Alberta sky. In the winter, the stunning colours of the Northern Lights are added to the sky.
All-in-all, I wouldn’t have missed helping my sister & visiting her wonderful new home for anything — such a well-deserved happiness for her. I experienced so much & learned even more — memories to revisit here, as fast as my fingers can fly.