Reflecting back on our last holiday season spent in the cold, I’m glad we’re back and even happier that the sweltering tropical heat is merely months away. Having spent one week in Edmonton, Diane’s home town, and one week in Calgary, our home for six years, visiting with family was cold but fun. Experiencing relatively average or even above average Canadian winter temperatures while most of America was sweltering in a brown Christmas, the real cold came in for the last few days and reminded us how much the cold sucks.
As the photographer for our blog, Diane brought her new camera which hasn’t seen much use other than sitting on one of the many pieces of furniture marked for sale due to our upcoming move. Although many people in Canada spends much of the holiday season indoors due to the cold, we always find time to walk along the River Valley Trail. Edmonton’s premier (and only) scenic attraction, winter walks along the frozen North Saskatchewan River always reveal something beautiful and this trip was no different. With only 88 days until we file for the MM2H visa and less than that until our house is up for sale, this is no doubt the last time I reminisce about cold for some time.
Although Montana is officially known as “Big Sky Country”, Alberta skies are equally beautiful, especially in winter. Below is a typical winter cloud formation akin to the standard Windows screen saver. Maybe the photographer was Canadian. (Probably not).
The North Saskatchewan River cuts through the middle of Edmonton. During summer the river valley comes alive with festivals almost every weekend. Winter affords a quieter yet scenic view of the city. Almost always frozen solid after the season’s first snowfall, the river glistens and the ice looks inviting enough to skate on but with so many other frozen ponds, nobody ever attempts it. (Perhaps it’s dangerous)
Offering many views of downtown, our preferred trail starts in a small park, parallels the river for a while and then meanders through a quiet forested oasis in the middle of the city. Filled with woodpeckers, chickadees, magpies and crows, the sounds of the wildlife drown out any city noises and since I was so bundled up even though it was only about -6 Celsius, my brain went to a special winter place unlike any other.
Having been out of the cold for seven years, my feet and fingers begin to get cold at the halfway mark no matter what I wear. Owning only one pair of thin thermal underwear, it’s obvious I used to be acclimatized and walking in the cold weather was easy but it seems age has softened me. Stopping for more pictures, Diane played with the settings of our camera, anticipating great demand (from me) for our upcoming posts from Southeast Asia where she will be in charge of sharing the sights with you.
Visiting the Hotel Mom and Dad gets old after about a week owing to the lack of technology that forces us to hit Starbucks or the mall to connect with the world. Pathetically, we both found it difficult staying somewhere with no wi-fi even though we don’t consider ourselves internet addicts. Plowing through two 400 page books in just a week, I resorted to brick and mortar style entertainment (actual books) and found myself mildly amused trying to understand the silly Chinese soap operas that Diane’s parents watch almost daily.
Fortunately it was time to head south to Calgary. Known as the Stampede City, Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics and puts on The Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival every July. Stuck in the back seat of Diane’s sister’s minivan, she passed the time looking for good photos on the rather boring 300 kilometer drive along “The QE2”, otherwise known as Provincial Highway Number 2. Proving that patience is a virtue, Diane snapped some pictures of a winter rainbow and some trees set among a field that I felt was post-worthy
Completely different from Edmonton,. Calgary usually has warmer temperatures due to its proximity to the Canadian Rockies. Known as Chinooks, strange west winds that can warm temperatures as much as 40 degrees in only a few hours often blow across the foothills region and melt all the snow. From a photographic point of view, however, bizarre weather phenomenons are helpful for capturing frost and icicles not often seen in the Northern part of the province
One thing anyone would miss when leaving Calgary is the mountain views. Conveniently located about an hour and 15 minutes west of Banff, Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies, it’s definitely the premier selling point but as someone who can’t ski and ice skates like a tropical island native, we limited winter trips to an occasional run to the hot springs at the Banff Springs Hotel (a phenomenal experience in winter if you’re looking for something fun but not physical.)
Canada will always be home to me regardless of the crappy cold weather !!
Since becoming a house husband over a year ago, the transition to early retirement is not as easy as some might think. Boring at times, the trip was a welcome respite from waiting for the magical 50th birthday so we can finally get on with the namesake of the blog but now that I’m back the anxious feeling of ditching everything and heading to a different world overwhelms me at times. Maintaining the blog helps me feel connected to the global community and I thank anyone that’s made it to the 1,000th word of this post. Inspired by the picture on the right showing Southeast Asians entering an ice skating competition, maybe I can still enjoy some winter sports along with my Penang Laksa.
Coming Next Week:
Why flavoring everything with jalapeno does not make America a “multi-cultural nation”.