Oops, it’s been a whole week since I’ve updated! It’s been a bit crazy, but I’m currently in Vancouver and have slowed down for a minute to write.
Last week on the 11th, I took the bus from Brooks back to Calgary, where I was staying with my family friend Patti. I’d really enjoyed my time in Calgary a few days before, so I was looking forward to getting back!
After an evening of relaxation, I hit up the Calgary Zoo on the 12th. Until this point, I hadn’t really done any actual solo excursions, so I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it or not, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was really nice to cruise through at my own pace and stop whenever and where ever I liked. I didn’t feel as weird and out of place as I’d expected to surrounded by people in groups. The Calgary Zoo isn’t as big as the Toronto Zoo, but it was fun! They had a butterfly exhibit that allowed you to walk into the butterfly garden and be surrounded by hundreds of tropical butterflies, my personal favourite aspect of the zoo. I spent the evening shamelessly watching six episodes of Game of Thrones and I have 0 regrets.
Thursday the 13th was Stampede Round 2! Patti got us tickets for the chuckwagon races and evening show, which was perfect as I hadn’t seen these events when I’d been with Laura and Braedon. We arrived early and walked the grounds and checked out the art exhibits, trade show, and wine garden. I could have spent hours walking through that trade show, it was outrageous. The wine garden was a relaxing little oasis of alcohol which was thankfully indoors and out of the sun where I enjoyed two glasses of wine and felt very adult and sophisticated.
We made our way to our seats for the chuckwagon races. My mother had told me this was the highlight of the Stampede so I had high expectations, which were not let down! The races are very quick, about a minute and thirteen seconds on average, so if you’re not paying attention you can easily miss them. They’re very high energy and you can really feel how powerful the horses are as you hear them thundering across the downs.
After the races, the Stampede puts on an evening show with dancing, music, and fireworks. It was hosted by Jann Arden and I was so pumped to see her in person. The nostalgia was heavy as she sang ‘Insensitive’ and ‘Good Mother’ and I flashed back to playing my mom’s Jann Arden cd’s and dancing around my living room. Jann Arden was amazing live and very funny! Besides Jann, the show was a collection of dance routines and musical numbers by the Young Canadians, which was pretty cute! It was topped off by an incredible fireworks display, which were possibly the best I’ve seen (though I’ve only seen Cobourg’s Canada Day fireworks, so I’m not sure the bar is set very high). After the show, Patti and I wandered the midway, which is beautiful at night.
After a brief few days in Calgary, I was on the road again! I took the bus back to Edmonton where I was staying for two nights. I hadn’t left the train station in Edmonton previously, so I was looking forward to seeing what the city had to offer, though truthfully I didn’t think there was very much. I knew I definitely needed to see the West Edmonton Mall but apart from that, I expected to be catching up on my shows in my hotel (I just started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and I am OBSESSED).
Luckily for me, I gained a personal tour guide! When I’d been at the Stampede with L & B, we’d struck up a conversation in line for ribs with Eric. Eric lives in Edmonton and promised to show me around the city. I was mostly just proud that I’d finally made a travel friend (yay for introverted me!). So, on the 14th, after a couple of hours settling in my hotel room, Eric picked me up and we headed to Edmonton’s Street Performer Festival. It was pretty interesting to walk around and check out the various acts and stands. We made our way to a cute little bar and I drank potentially the fanciest drink. It had egg whites, which I was very unsure of. Fortunately, it just tasted like meringue which is my absolute jam, so all was well. We made our way to an old-timey movie theatre and watched an indie film, which was unexpectedly depressing but didn’t put a damper on the evening! Afterwards, we commenced a very thorough driving tour of the city. Eric showed me all of the points of interest of the city and I realized that Edmonton is a lot more than the mall. If you ever get the chance for a tour by a local, take it, it’s by far and away the best tour you could receive. Travelling alone is awesome as well, but sometimes it’s fun to have a bud along for the ride.
My time in Edmonton was off to a great start! Saturday was my mall day. The West Edmonton Mall is the biggest mall in North America and definitely puts Cobourg’s mall to absolute shame. It’s massive. I think I noticed that some stores had multiple locations in just this one mall. It has a waterpark, theme park, movie theatre, sea lion exhibit, and two dedicated hotels. It was fun to just walk around and take it all in. I saw the sea lion exhibit first, which also has a pirate ship nearby. I didn’t go in the waterpark, but creeped it from a viewing area, and it’s decently big. I did go in the theme park and rode the roller coaster, mostly just to challenge myself and say that I did it.
I had a veryyy early morning train the next day, so I cozied up in my hotel for the evening with McDonald’s and RuPaul’s Drag Race, an excellent combination.
Sunday the 16th was train day. I was anxious to get to Vancouver, but not to be on the train again! Edmonton to Vancouver is a little over 24 hours, so I faced another sleep on the train. The sleeping part was just as bad as I remembered, perhaps worse because when I woke up there was a different person sleeping in my seat mates chair, which was unsettling to say the least. However, the scenery makes up for it. It was so much better to travel through the mountains. If you ever consider taking the train to see Canada, this is the stretch to do it.
We had a brief stop in Jasper so I had an hour to wander the tiny little town. The main street area is super cute, all of the buildings are made of wood and it really does look like an old European town. I wish I’d had more time in Jasper, but I can tell it would be a wonderful place to spend a weekend for skiing or hiking. It was a little hazy due to the forest fires, which I actually did see from the train that night (terrifying).
Finally free of the train, I arrived in Vancouver. I’m staying with an old high-school friend, Beka. I’ve now been in Vancouver for two days and am really enjoying it! It’s amazing to see mountains in the backdrop and it feels like everywhere you turn, there’s hiking trails. We’ve already been on two little hikes and I’ve really loved being in the woods and feeling so close to nature!
We also went and saw a Vancouver Canadian’s baseball game which was a good time. I’ve noticed two things about Vancouver: there’s a lot of pet stores and there’s a lot of sushi places. At the baseball stadium alongside regular fare such as hotdogs and popcorn, they had a dedicated sushi bar, which was surprising to see. I love sushi, so this I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some ASAP.
Tonight, I’m making the trek to Victoria to visit my long-lost love, Teresa. I only see Teresa sporadically when she makes her way down to Ontario so I can’t wait to see her soon! I’ll be in B.C. until the 25th, so I have lots of adventures coming up, and this time I’ll update more frequently! Please enjoy some of the photos from the past week (although I was neglectful and didn’t take as many as I should have).