What To Do In Alberta – If You’re From There

my dad
calgary alberta 2nd birthday
I should remember the birthday cake, cuz, it’s cake, but I don’t. Me, age 2

Despite our best-laid plans,  we ran out of time to see the places in Calgary where I grew up, or as the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said, “the places that made Joe, Joe.”

It’s too bad.

Much of my early, happy life was here.

Here I had two parents. Here I had a neighbourhood full of friends. Here I played ice hockey on the icy streets, played soccer in snowy fields, and made snow tunnels so immense that the Vietcong sent me a note saying, damn, boi, that’s some tunneling. (Looking back, maybe we never had summer in Calgary for some reason).

calgary, alberta, home
My first home. I remember the sunporch and the garden.

Of my life in our first house, when I was a small child, I remember sitting in the sun on the porch with our dog, a lab named Bobby. I remember not getting supper one time because I refused to stop watching Lost in Space. I remember digging in the backyard, which I defined as gardening and not, you know, digging up the flowers.

But I recall so little of when I was that young. Most of my other ‘memories’ are no more than extensions of photos taken at that time. Funny how that is.

Of my life in our second house, I have many, many more memories. We lived on a cul-du-sac in LeDuc, and if not every house, then every other house had kids around our age. We built snow forts in the winter, and cardboard forts in the summer. We built used hot wheel car lots and stocked them with our best cars (then forced our parents to pick which one was best and even though I always made the best one, I didn’t always win.)

During those times, we ran wild and had fun, being kids in a time before iphones, youtube and stupid morons like Logan Paul. We had a street full of parents who made sure we never got into any real trouble and sent us home if we got out of hand (and God help us if that happened because, by the time we got home, mom had received a phone call detailing what we’d done!)

Calgary alberta 2018
Everyone getting ready for school. Well, not ‘everyone’ by a long shot, and yes, I played with girls.

I traded and collected hockey stamps in that neighbourhood. I threw stones at the bigger kids in that neighborhood, then spent a year hiding behind telephone poles avoiding getting beaten up by them (strangely, a lot of my childhood stories involve throwing stones at people for some reason I still can’t explain). I watched my first football game in colour at a friend’s house, played tag around the cars, and found the best places to hide for hide-and-seek in that neighbourhood.

We had street BBQs, no crime (at least anything serious), and so many kids to play with, we were never short of company.

Or at least that’s how I remember it.

I remember my dad made a skating rink in the backyard that took too long to freeze and rolled downhill, ultimately creating a very deep, but very narrow skating rink.  I remember walking the dog with my dad beside the yellow grass-way next to the highway. I remember making a lemonade stand with my mom in the summer. I don’t remember selling any, though… odds are, I drank it all myself.

I remember playing with my brother when he was my best friend in the world. I remember watching Bugs Bunny and eating hamburgers and ripple fries while my dad rolled cigarettes. I  remember being woken up one night when one of dad’s friends arrived at our house drunk and playing the bagpipes. I remember the wolf that used to hide in my closet and scare me. I remember my mom coming in and chasing it away with a broom. A whole lot of times.

So for the years that I lived there, did that place help define me?

Without question. I felt loved. I had a street full of friends. I had a small world to play in.

Only much later in life did I realize the magic of that time, of the wonder years of skinned knees and sleepovers, of living in a community, not just a house on a street.

Work dad
Work dad. Suit. Tie. Good accounting glasses.

I understand why we had to move, why my dad made the choice to move.

He hated the long hours at work, hated not being with his wife and sons, and hated that he had not found the balance between money and a quality life.

He made the choice to move so he could read to his sons, throw the ball around with them, or take them to the library. He made the choice to listen to his boys in those terrible school concerts, to coach my soccer team (being English, this was more of a deal than I ever knew), and to be there to cheer us on, wipe away tears or teach us how to be men.

my dad
My dad and me on the first day of baseball.

Did he know he had only a few years to live?

I don’t think so, but I do think he knew that being a good dad, a good husband, a good man was more important than a big paycheck.

And I get that.

He made the best move possible, but I look back on those Calgary years as some of the best in my life.

Who could not? I had nearly everything a kid could want.

 

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What To Do In Alberta – The Dinosaur Museum

dinosuars in alberta 2018
dinosuars in alberta 2018
Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. On display, a stegosaurus.

Who could not love a dinosaur museum? Well, not everyone as it turns out.

The Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller may be the most impressive dinosaur museum on the planet, certainly there are signs saying so, so it must be true, but for The-Youngest, it was a big building filled with stuff that looked like stuff he had to learn.

He took an instant dislike to the whole thing.

No matter, we dragged him through the entire museum anyway. Like a mouthful of medicine, it would be good for him.

The-Youngest’s review: Too many people. Not enough popcorn. The bathrooms smelled like poo. It was full of bones and who likes to look at bones? I was bored.

drumheller alberta 2018 royal tyrrell museum
Outside of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the boys pose like prisoners going to be shot.

(That most terrible curse that afflicts our youth, boredom, like the world must be all flashy images and stupid videos about asshats wrecking a house.)

The-Oldest’s review: Could have been worse. Much worse. Things could always be worse. Or even worse than that.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s Review: Mmmmm. Busy. 3rd visit. Not a dinosaur person, really. It’s cool, but I liked the badlands better.

My review: Lighting is amazing. Seeing the size of those ancient behemoths is humbling. Reading about life before we decided to f**k with the planet reminds me how little time we’ve actually spent on earth.

dinosuars in alberta, drumheller, royal tyrrell museum
Size matters and in the dinosaur days, we would have been a quick snack for something.

I loved the pre-dinosaur history the most. Those creatures that plied the oceans were terrifying and so very different from what we see today.

I loved looking at the apex predators of their time like the Anomalocaris or Gorgosaurus.

I hate how much life has been lost forever in history. The mastodons. The Stegosauruses. George Burns.

But such is the harsh reality of evolution. Those that can adapt, survive. Being cute doesn’t save you. Being scary doesn’t save you. Being able to make a fire and craft a pointed stick does.

There was so much to read, so much knowledge to absorb, but that would take a whole day. Maybe two. And then even that would only scratch the surface of what’s in that museum.

Despite 3 out of 4 of us not being big fans of this particular adventure, I would say see this museum if you’re in Alberta (or go to Victoria where you’ll likely see as many old fossils.)

Next up, Edmonton, which The-Youngest looked forward to like a beaver looks forward to a forest of trees.

But for more pictures, check out this link.

 

 

**********

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

If you want to support a starving writer, check out the coffee link at the top right-hand corner of the website.