Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Canadia eh? Part 1

You might have noticed that I'd fallen off the face of the earth last week. Well, it was because i was in Canada (or Canadia as it's called in my head). So now you ask, what the heck was i doing in Canada? Who GOES there??? My family I guess. This was our annual Kuo Family summer vacation. My sister and i voted to go to Hawaii and my dad voted for the Canadian Rockies. So to the Canadian Rockies we went! It's okay, he's been wanting to go for many years and what's Canada got that Hawaii doesn't besides warm oceans and gorgeous women... i mean beaches?

Anyways, all that really matters is that it turned to be one the best vacations i've had in a long time.

We flew into Calgary and it took me forever to figure out that we were somewhere north of Montana. WOW, Calgary is the most loaded ($$$) little city i've ever seen. There were plasma displays every 10 feet in the airport. It made more sense after i remembered that the 1988 Olympics were here. Absolutely amazing.

In the grand tradition of Canadian cities i've been to, Calgary really appealed to me. Small enough not to feel squashed in a giant metropolis, yet large enough to actually have a downtown district. It was, however, unnerving that despite being the middle of the day and there were almost no people or cars on the street.

The first thing we did was go up the Calgary Tower (a teensy version of the CN Tower). It looks like a thumbtack stuck in among sky scrapers. The view up there was okay. Not much to see but the river and lots of green below. After that, we went to China Town and had a good laugh because it turned out to be a block-long glorified strip mall. Not many asians in Calgary eh?

Apparently it gets cold in Canada (i'm so smart!). Our next stop was this indoor garden which basically doubled as a Central Park for Calgary. Inside were fountains, streams, ponds, sculptures, grass, flowers, trees, and a dance floor. What was amusing were the many white flower-laced arches scattered all throughout the garden. I imagined five weddings taking place simultaneously within 50 feet of each other and was glad i lived in California.

The place we went to after that, Heritage Park, blew my mind. I guess it's a place you might consider corny, but me being overly susceptible to these things really enjoyed it. The whole place was basically an entire 19th century town transplanted onto an entire peninsula complete with a town hall, hotel, saloon, schools, Victorian residences, horse-drawn carts, steam engine, tents, stables, horse show ring, bank, trading post/fort, newspaper, and shops. Every building was a vintage 19th century building moved from the vicinity to be preserved and they had people dressed in period costume actually running them. For example, a trader in the trading post was explaining how things were traded with beaver pelts and how they were made, school teachers taught lessons in the school, and a printer demonstrated how newspapers were printed using a vintage printing press. They even went as far as to stage a continuing series of scenes from daily life in the 19th century throughout the day, things you might read out of a jane austen novel. It was total immersion for four hours. By the end of the day, i was thinking it would be such a nice life to sit under one of the aspens on the green grass and eat an apple whit my horse grazing beside me. Anyways, you see that i'm a) easily amused and b) have no shame.

Then it was on to the Rockies! We stayed in Canmore which is just south of Banff (where the really pretty mountains are). The first day we were there we went horseback riding. My sister and i have independently picked up this rather expensive and random hobby. In my opinion, i'm surprised we didn't do it sooner considering we grew up surrounded by horses for 15 years. It got to the point where we both called the smell of horse manure the sweet perfume of home. Anyways, the thing that worried me most about the whole affair of trail riding was my mom (she doesn't do ANYTHING athletic). I thought she was going to hate it and that the horse would run off with her. To my surprise, nothing of the sort happened. In fact, she controlled her horse better than most on the trail and had a wonderful time riding by the rivers and through the woods. I guess i should've known that the woman who learned to ride a bike the first time she got on at the age of 45 wouldn't have trouble with a silly old beast. My sister and i had a decent time. We couldn't run, or even jog, but being on horseback is soothing nonetheless. It was a good time to enjoy the azure water and green meadows.

I've decided to break this into parts because it's honestly too much work for one night of a working man so stayed tuned for the next installment of Albert's Vacation Adventure! And if you're wondering about pictures, those will be back Friday so hopefully i'll be able to have them up in the up-till-now-abandoned Pictures section.. Okay, seriously pompom, i'm tired, i go sleep.