Blame Canada

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Signs I am not a nature girl:

1-One summer I had a mosquito bite on my forehead swell so vehemently, I was able to use it as a shelf to rest my soda can.

2-I’ve had to go to the ER for an allergic reaction to a down pillow.  Twice.

3-The last time I got on a horse it walked into a tree to knock me off.

I envy those blonde, sporty girls who can hop on a surf board or  horse’s back, perfectly at ease as they maneuver over nature’s hurdles. I feel more comfortable with both feet on the ground wearing something with sequins plus an albuterol inhaler/epi pen combo by my side.

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look at this toughie at the Calgary Stampede.  she’s just letting this big guy know what’s what.  

With Sydney approaching, I have that old outdoorsy anxiety I would get when I knew it was kickball day at school and there was no way I could get out of it again unless I faked a severe injury. I know Sydney is a metropolis, but it has produced the likes of Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett and Crocodile Dundee (if I may date myself).  And let’s not forget about Nicole Kidman who wrestled the force of nature known as ‘Scientology’ to the ground without even a pair of high heels on.

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Jackman and Kidman on the set of Australia—telegraph.co.uk

So to assuage my fears and ease my way into the Outback, enter Calgary, or rather, the entire Province of Alberta. The Rocky Mountains end (or begin) up here on the border of British Columbia and Alberta where a wild west vibe requires its visitors to get in canoes, wear cowboy hats and even look mountain goats right in the eye.

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he stood on the edge of the road just outside our car window in Banff

We eased ourselves into nature slowly with a visit first to the sleek and proper Spruce Meadows, the largest show jumping, horse facility in North America.

Mail Attachment copyIn a very civilized manor we donned our requisite collared shirts while we sipped Pimms cups, which I am not allergic to, and watched Olympic athletes calmly jump their horses over a series of difficult jumps.

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Everyone lightly clapped before a royal calvary rode out to present an award to the winner.

IMG_5253Things got a little more Western-ish when we hit Heritage Village, a recreated western settlement town/amusement park.

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it had lots vintage rides like this Ferris Wheel
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a Gasoline Museum
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another train?? I know. can you believe it?

This is also the place where we received an early glimpse of G’s fearlessness in regards to amusement park rides (another thing I simply just tell people I’m allergic to).

IMG_5658Just an hour north of all this is Banff, the Canadian National Park.  This is the place for hikers and bikers, but luckily, you can enjoy the drive to Banff from the safety and comfort of your own motor vehicle.

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so much nature!
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we love this one!!  through the glass window he can’t make me sneeze.

A little further north of Banff is Lake Louise.  The lake is filled by snow as it melts and rolls down the side of this mountain.

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how fake does this look? it is for real, y’all!
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uncle.  we all had to canoe on that! come on.

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ca4186cf03428bb8cf1985464a441040At this point we were now primed for all the action and adventure of Calgary’s greatest attraction—their annual Stampede.  Every summer a 2 week stampede replete with rodeo, poutine (french fries covered in gravy and topped with giant cheese curds—damn you Canada), and many amusement park rides, takes place downtown.  This year, due to inclement weather the whole of downtown Calgary flooded (3 days before we arrived, but that story is for another time) including the stampede grounds.  Calgarians responded by making these T-Shirts (left <—–).  So with this mentality, how could we not put on a cowboy hat,

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send the boys down the Euro slide (don’t be fooled by the look on G’s face, as soon as he got to the bottom he asked to go again),

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or allow G to jump on a trampoline connected to bunjee cords?

IMG_6576So thanks to Canada I’m feeling a bit more confident about tackling Australia.  I even got the courage up to get back in the saddle again.  Take that Hugh Jackman.

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Our next stops were Edmonton—>Regina—>Winnipeg—>Minneapolis

3 comments

  • if there should ever be a prize given for the family that has seen every tourist spot in the USA and Canada etc, etc, etc,I can just see the O’Donnell name as Top Contender.I feel I have wtched Gray grow from a tiny babe to a handsome little Boy at this moment in time, It has been a pleasure and a joy to witness the transformation. I might add it has been an education for me on the wonders of this world we live in and will never be able to see. Thanks to the Great parents for sharing,can hardly wait to see “Down Under” as you get “on Top of things” there. Hugs, GG

  • Wow! How fun! What a beautiful place! Wish I was with you! I’ll write later. I have to tell you about this wonderful Traverse City Film Fest. The films have all been excellent. Especially Much To Do About Nothing…. A modern version.
    Love You All…..Auntie Linda

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