On July 6th we left Banff and headed towards Calgary. We started our Calgary visit by stopping at Olympic Park which happened to be on the way from the Banff and is where events from the 1988 Olympics in Calgary took place. The park was quite interesting with lots of fun Olympics inspired activities to satisfy a whole family. We opted to visit the Sports Hall of Fame since it would have been challenging to do any other activity such as Zip-lining, luging etc with two young children. The highlight from the Hall of Fame was when Ben spotted a gold medal in diving from the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games won by his mother’s cousin!
Next we drove all the way to the opposite end of town to visit Calgary Fort. More like a museum than a fort, the place had many interesting exhibits showing life in Alberta in the early days of the20th century. Zaid enjoyed two things in particular; playing with antique toys from in the interactive children’s area, and painting a buffalo to put on the Alberta map in an activity called “reherding Alberta”. He also loved watching the horses in the barn right outside the Fort.
By the time we were finished with the Fort it was time to head to my friend’s place. Joanne lived in a very nice community in south west Calgary. After a brief period of being lost we found ourselves at her front door.
Our stay with Joanne was fantastic. She was a most generous and gracious host, who adore children in general and who loved Zaid and Own. Within a few minutes of our arrival Joanne managed to become Zaid’s newest best buddies. Acting just as you might expect a great aunt to, she had all of his favorite things; snacks, toys, tv shows, books and other activities. When Zaid was done exploring all of the toys and books, he moved on to explore every nook and cranny of the house, including all of the kitchen cupboards. Faced with all of her pots and pans spread on the kitchen floor, my friend did not bat an eye, instead she happily joked that she’s been meaning to clean up her kitchen for a while and now she has the chance to do so! Zaid an amazing time with his new friend Joanne and was quite sad to leave a couple of days later. Even now a few days after we have left he still asks every now and then to go back to Joanne's house.
Our second day in Calgary started with a quick breakfast at home and then a trip to the Ismaili Community Stampede Pancake Breakfast. Pancake breakfast seems to be the thing to do and have during the Calgary stampede and it sounded like everything community and organization in town was putting on one. In fact there was a list in the newspaper of the locations of all breakfasts staking place during every day of the stampede . And they were all free! We were enticed by the Ismaili breakfast when Joanne mentioned that they serve pancakes, scrambled eggs, curry and chai. The meal did not disappoint and somehow these very different foods and flavors seemed to all go well together, especially washed down with a super strong and creamy chai. After filling up with yummy food we joined an organized tour of the Ismaili temple. The temple was so beautiful and filled us all with a sense of tranquility and peace. I am not sure if it was the calmness of the place, the symmetrical architecture, or the special windows allowing for a perfect balance of light and shade, but I believe it was all of these elements combined to create that perfect environment for worship and contemplation.
Following a trip back to Joanne’s house for some rest we headed out in the afternoon to the Calgary Zoo. The Zoo was disappointed due to two things. First the very hot weather meant that most of the animals were hiding in the comfort of their den’s and difficult to see. And secondly it was the fact that the Zoo was so big and required a lot of walking to get around and see all the animals. The walking combined with heat and a cranky and tired Zaid did not make for a fun time. In spite of that though there were still some great moments spent there. For me, it was seeing the Elephants who luckily happened to be outside their home and so close to the fences surrounding their area you could almost reach out and touch them. We also all enjoyed watching the grizzly bear pacing back and forth across the hill in his enclosed area. The grizzly seemed agitated or perhaps hungry but in any case not too happy and we were sure glad there was a fence between us and him. It was so amazing to watch him and we did stand there mesmerized for a few minutes before we could peel our eyes away and on to the next animal.
Zaid’s favorite part about the Zoo was the butterfly garden. Earlier in the day when we told him that we were going to the zoo and asked him what animal he wanted to see the most, his reply was “lions and butterflies”. We assured him that we will most certainly see a lion but that we were not sure that the Zoo will have butterflies. But Joanne informed us that this particular Zoo does indeed have butterflies and Zaid was very excited to see them. The butterfly garden was small but very pretty and there were indeed many beautiful and lively butterflies zooming around the place not at all scarred by all the people around. Zaid was having an amazing time until two butterflies decided to land on him, at which point he decided that he had enough and urged Joanne to push his stroller out and away.
The next day our visit to Calgary was coming to an end. We had a lovely breakfast with Joanne and after saying goodbye we got into our car and drove to our next destination: Drumhheller and a campground just outside of it called Bleriot Ferry Park. I will leave it to Ben to tell you all about this part of the trip but it is sufficient to say for now that the campground was awful and the dinosaurs were awesome!
I am writing this tonight from our last stop in Alberta. Next is Saskatchewan, and our next post will be coming to you from Regina!