Exceptional Edmonton

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Saturday, June 16, 2012

Howdy folks,

Having survived the hail storm, rain, thunder and lightning that Drumheller threw at as, we got up early on Thursday to have a quick breakfast. As we were ready by 8am, we departed before schedule and drove north through the Alberta wheat farmlands through Stettler to Camrose. We stopped there to stretch our legs and grab a drink and managed to find an AMA office to get our replacement CAA card. Continuing through the mostly empty country roads, we eventually rejoined the highway at Leduc which is where oil was first discovered in Alberta. A short time later we rolled into the info centre on the outskirts of Edmonton.

We gathered our brochures and had a bite to eat before hitting the West Ed Mall to kill a few hours. Edmonton looks a lot different in the summer compared to when we were there in January. Everything is green and there are golden patches of wild canola next to the highway. After an enjoyable game of mini golf, (which I won because I am the best) we walked around the mall and gathered some groceries at an Asian market including the biggest carrots you have seen in your life.

Around 4pm, we drove to our couch surfing hosts place Daryl and Charlotte. They have an adopted son called Bailey whom they treat as their own and were very kind to host us for 3 nights in their spare bedroom. They even went as far as making breakfast and dinner for us which was very generous. Steffie really enjoyed playing with their 3 cats Jennie, Sebastian and the slightly demented Sophie.

In the morning, we decided to go to the Royal Alberta Museum which is on a high riverbank on the north side of Edmonton. I expected the museum to be bigger because it was the capital, but it was quite a bit different than your ordinary one. It had large scale moth prints, exhibits full of creepy crawleys and an interesting display on how the west was colonised. We then drove to the Alberta Aviation museum which was located in an old hangar, small and quite frankly uninspiring.

We returned to home base for lunch before Daryl drove us out to Elk Island where we went canoeing on a very unstable watercraft. The whole thing seemed to be wobbly and a little unnerving, so we didn't go out for long. But I was still happy because I saw my first two bison, which galloped away from me before I had a chance to take a photo. Man those things are big. That night we went over to the neighbours’ house, Peggy-Sue and Terry for some red wine and cheese which was absolutely delightful.

On Saturday, we visited Fort Edmonton Park which is a recreated historical village in the heart of Edmonton. There are 4 areas separated into different time periods including a fort for 1828 and 3 streets for 1885, 1905 and 1920. Each part had actors in period costumes with quite detailed houses and rooms for the period. Obviously some of the houses weren’t exactly in the time period, but they did a pretty good job with it. I was very impressed and I especially liked riding on the steam train to get out to the other side of the park. There were even gift shops, cinema, cafes and a functional 1920s hotel spread throughout the park which was great.

In the afternoon, we drove into downtown to have lunch and meet Daryl at a bike festival, but he had already left. After eating, we drove back across the river to go to the Muttart Conservatory which is a collection of 4 glass pyramids housing different climates such as arid, temperate and tropical. There was even a wedding ceremony going on although they must have been hot wearing suits. Steffie and I had a competition where we took photos of flowers to see who had the better shot. She easily won because she has a decent digital SLR unlike my point and click. On the way back to home base, we took a drive down Old Strathcona which wasn’t so interesting and stopped at the Alberta Legislature to take the usual tourist photo. It was quite warm so kids were swimming in the reflection pools. That night we had a great dinner, went for a walk around the neighbourhood and played some music and Catan.

Edmonton has been a really great stay here for us and our hosts have been amazing. I really enjoyed meeting them and becoming part of their lives, even for such a short time. It made our experience here really great. Thanks Daryl, Charlotte and Bailey!
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