Explore Edmonton: Telus World of Science

When I was a kid, my grandma used to take me and my brother to the Queen Elizabeth planetarium.

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Of course, it no longer looks as spiffy as this, but I rather remember it this way than the rundown version it has become. The mosaics are still super cool though. I loved sitting in the tiny theatre staring at the stars and learning about the constellations. It was one of my favourite memories as a child.

About two months ago I did some volunteer work and was gifted two tickets for the Telus World of Science. I was excited because there are two new exhibits, Dinosaurs and Terry Fox, that I wanted to see.

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The centre first opened in 1984, as a replacement for the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium that had operated as Edmonton’s Planetarium since 1960 but had become limited by its seating capacity of 65. The City of Edmonton selected the Edmonton Space Sciences Centre as the City’s flagship project commemorating the Province of Alberta’s 75th Anniversary. The original building was designed by architect Douglas J. Cardinal. It was the most unusual building I had seen go up in Edmonton. There was a definite space quality about it. The grounds and building have changed over the years, they keep adding to it. Apparently, two new galleries are going in and a complete revamp of the star theatre. This meant the Margaret Ziegler Theatre was CLOSED. My heart broke a little bit. But there was an inflatable star dome so I was happy I could see the night sky show. What they failed to mention was the star dome was for people under four feet who wanted to sit on the floor. That’s not me, so I left disappointed with a side of excitement for the new star theatre to open one day in the future. Imagine my surprise when I heard the Zeidler Dome opens this weekend!

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We went to the Dinosaur gallery. These were animatronics with sound and FEATHERS. First Pluto isn’t a planet and now dinosaurs have feathers. Science is forcing me to unlearn ‘facts’ from science class in the 70’s.

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If I was five I would have been all over this exhibit. Dinosaurs just don’t do it for me. I did learn a fun fact though, Dinosaurs suffered from skull fractures. They were clumsy, bullied and beaten by other dinosaurs. So that was interesting. I walked through the exhibit and took video of the moving creatures. You can find that video on my Edmonton Tourist page on facebook. It would have been WAY COOL if I was five, at 50 it was fine.

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We wandered through the other galleries, not much has changed since my kids were small and we had a seasons pass. The Terry Fox Gallery was worth the trip. I thought I knew all there was to know about Terry Fox and then I saw this water jug. He filled it in the Atlantic Ocean, intending to empty it into the Pacific Ocean. It was sobering.

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His van was on display.

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And his prosthetic leg.

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I had held this before. I had met Darryl Fox, his brother, at an event and he had this prosthetic with him. The weight is unimaginable. That famous blue Adidas shoe had me choked up a bit. His shirts were lined up – the days when everyone ran in cotton.

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And the Companion to the Order of Canada. This is something only amazing Canadians get the honour of wearing. He is the youngest Canadian to ever receive it.

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This was a moving exhibit.

We left the building and walked towards the observatoryIMG_0452.

Next, to the star theatre, this is my favourite place. The dome was open and we looked at the sun – with a special filter, you could pick out the textured surface and sunspots. Then we looked at Venus. Not something you can normally see mid-day. I often spot Venus at sunset.

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If you haven’t been to Telus World of Science lately, give it a go and say hi to Terry. Support science, encourage your daughters to enter into STEM fields. Take time to learn and respect facts. Science is always evolving (- hello? FEATHERS!!! and PLUTO!!!) because we are constantly learning more. I can only imagine what will be uncovered for my grandchildren. Go learn something. 

18 in ’18: Small Town Road Trippin’

Give me an open road and the promise of a Farmer’s Market and I am putty in your hands. I’m a sucker for a road trip. Some of the greatest trips I have taken involve a vehicle, cooler for of snacks, a destination and all the time in the world.

My fondest road trip memory was somewhere around my 12th or 14th birthday, so it was in August. We drove to Montana and stopped at a creek. It had a snag hanging over the water. It was perfect for sitting on and dipping your toes in the water or using it as a jumping point for diving into the icy creek below. I was there with my parents, my siblings and my foster sister. I am pretty sure we rented a caravan, but the details were sketchy – I may have been 16 but that part doesn’t matter. We saw cool things.

Another time I had just started my new life and drove to Prince Rupert. The crab boats had just came in and a couple of fishermen shared their bounty with us. We had a crab boil on the deck of our B & B. We were up early the next morning to catch the ferry to Port Hardy, a 15 hour trip through the inside passage. We saw marine wildlife and took it all in.

My family road tripped in Europe and we stumbled upon Vimy Ridge and saw churches riddled with bullet holes. I drove along the Great Ocean Road in Australia and saw the 12 Apostles and wallabies in strange places. I drove east to Regina taking photos of big things like kubasa, coffee pots, and a giant moose or the time we drove to Washington  DC and saw fire hydrants all painted like Uncle Sam, or patriotic dogs, that was a weird patriotic time in 1976. More recently I drove Big Sur and all its curvy winding road and saw elephant seals and whale pods.

My point is that a road trip allows you to stop and explore and always yields something amazing. Every single time. It is for those who want to live in the moment and look at what is in front of you. Road trips have allowed me to dip my toe into four oceans, 5 seas, 4 Great Lakes, 3 bays, countless lakes, rivers and creeks some fed by glaciers and some saturated with salt. I’ve walked below sea level and walked on mountain summits. I looked at the weird and wacky and stood before history.  If you don’t compare things and accept they are the best version of what they are, you will enjoy everything.

I took a Friday off to visit Lacombe, Alberta because I heard it was charming and there was a great Italian Bakery. A friend of mine told me to eat at the Cilantro and Chai. Except, my hubs hates cilantro and I wanted to go to the Italian Bakery. I have given up carbonated beverages so Blindman’s Brewery was out. This was part of my 18 in 18 adventure: visit 3 small towns around Edmonton. Technically 13,000 people makes Lacombe a city but, it feels like a small town.

We drove directly to McMahon’s Field for the farmer’s market. I love a small town Farmer’s Market! I was at one at Obernai in France and the church bells pealed to welcome everyone to the opening. I also went to a market in Watsonville, California where you could buy bags of avocados for $.99!!! The common thread of all these markets were the interesting people I met.

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Lacombe’s market was filled with people saying good morning and chatting about their wares. I met a man who made rings from coins, but not Canadian coins because that would be criminal activity. I had wanted a ring made from the 1967 Canadian animal collection. But no luck, he won’t break the law no matter how charming you think you are, however, he did showed me some really cool rings made from Australian coins with their animals on it.

I also learned about whipped honey vs clear honey. I bought $7 worth of whipped honey to support bee keepers in Alberta, but honestly, the truth is I love honey and it helps to keep my allergies under control. Bonus reason: it is the choice food of Winnie the Pooh, so it was a staple in our home while my son was growing up.

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After the market we ventured to the main street. It is the home to several Edwardian structures that have been restored and loving looked after. At the Denike Block a dispersant sale was on. A couple was selling off all his mother’s items now that she had passed. The mother wanted all her children and grandchildren to keep these things, but they were so worn and not useable any longer and I am sure not the to the taste of the grandchildren. The Daughter-in-Law was determined to take everything to the dump. All I could think of was how things only hold meaning for the owner. I have downsize by truckful and continue to give things away to people who are looking for items. The last thing I want is for someone to have to deal with my suff. I wished the sellers well and continued on my journey.

We found a back alley full of murals that were beautifully painted and it played mind tricks on me. The perspective was well done, it seemed as if there was actual corners and streets in the images.

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We stopped for lunch at the Italian Bakery, Sweet Capone’s . Best known for its cannolis. I have a friend who turned me onto the wonders of mortadella and I saw a sandwich made with that, provolone and aioli. It was fantastic. I paired it with a lavender steamer and salted caramel cannoli. It was a beautiful lunch.

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Sweet Capon’e was rocking with people lined up for cannolis. It was a Friday afternoon and you could tell this was the hot spot. It is definitely a bakery I would drive to again. The samples were huge, so I tried one. It was the best thing I had ever put in my mouth.

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It was easy to decided what flavour, salted caramel was the only choice for me. I briefly considered vanilla because I love vanilla, the most underrated flavour on the planet! My hubs had chocolate. We shared a bit with each other to taste test who had the better flavour. I obviously did, although he disagreed, I don’t love chocolate anything except Cadbury chocolate bars. Perhaps I wasn’t the best judge of the chocolate cannoli.

My lavender steamer or Lavendeto di Assisi translated via google says washing of Assisi. I think it should be Lavender of Assisi and think google is wrong. I suspect it is culinary lavender from the garden and not from Assisi, but it was delicate and lovely no matter what the translation or location.

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After lunch we explored a little further and found a working Black Smith shop, two museums and a park with a ping pong table. Lacombe is worth the drive from Edmonton for a little visit or as a stop for lunch instead of Red Deer’s Gasoline Ally when you are on your way to or from Calgary. It is a charming little city.

THE EDMONTON TOURIST’S PRAIRIE ADVENTURE PART 2: Lethbridge

Part 1 

Road trips have become my most favourite way to travel. I love getting to the destination but exploring on the way is part of the fun for me. I never used to be this way. I preferred to get there in a hurry, so I didn’t waste any vacation days. I never saw the trip as part of the vacation. Now I do, and some of my most memorable adventures happened unplanned and by accident. That is how I saw Vimy Ridge, we tripped over it, so we went to see it. It was the single most amazing place I have ever visited. All because we accidentallyVimy drove by.

 

Having never been to this part of the province, I was eager to see new things. To the south of us, we saw a massive rock. I assumed it was a mountain but it was not anywhere near the Rocky Mountain Range. We were perplexed. Turns out it was a butte in Montana. MONTANA! It was 100km away from where we were. I had no idea you could see that far in the distance. I often joked we could see dolphins jumping in the Gulf of Mexico because it was so flat, but knew it wasn’t possible. I saw Montana from the vantage point of Taber Alberta. Cool.

Rolling into Lethbridge we went to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. Closed for the season but I peeked over the fence.

While looking through the fence, I thought about my Grandfather. During World War II he was here guarding prisoners of war, Japanese, Germans and Italians. I thought about the internment camps located here and in Medicine Hat. I didn’t research to see if there was anything left, but I did find this information when I came home. I am surprised to see the stories my grandfather told me are in line with what I read. If you knew my Grandpa’s gift for storytelling, you would also be surprised they match!

We left the gardens and made our way to Indian War Park at Fort Woop-Up. It has been years since I have heard First Nations People be referred to Indians. It left me feeling cold.

However, the park is wonderful! It is located in the coulees on the shores of Oldman River. The Lethbridge Viaduct was built by Canadian Pacific Railway. The CPR steel trestle is 5,331 ft. (1,624 m) long; 314′ (95.7 m) high; 12 trains a day still cross it.

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After leaving Indian War Park I had a little time left to visit Popson Park. It is a beautiful spot along the coulees and Oldman River located to the south of Lethbridge.

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Sunset over the prairies at 4:00 pm in the middle of January. We saw a Pheasant and his hens take off across from these two beauties:

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They watched us carefully and didn’t move. We stared at each other for a few minutes before I moved on.

The prairies are a beautiful place for a short visit. I recommend taking the time to stop and look before you drive on through to your destination.

 

The Edmonton Tourist’s Prairie Adventure Part 1: Medicine Hat

When I was a kid, my parents packed up my siblings and me for a road trip across the Canadian Prairies: Destination Washington DC. We drove across Canada to Toronto, Hamilton and Niagra Falls, then south to DC for the United States of America’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.

I was 9, and I remember Arlington Cemetary, the White House, the Liberty Bell was in DC for the celebration, all the fire hydrants were painted like Uncle Sam (I always thought Uncle Sam was Sam the Eagle from the Muppets), and the Lincoln Monument. I remember the traffic of DC, New York and Chicago. I remember the spray of the Niagra Falls, eating fish and chips at Hutches on the beach of Lake Ontario. I remember understanding the vastness of Lake Superior. The Canadian shield brought back memories of living in Yellowknife, NWT and I went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The trip from Edmonton to Winnipeg was flat and what I called boring. Nothing to see except count the red barns that grandpa asked me to. For every red barn I saw, I would get 10 cents, paid in full upon my return. I think I saw 15.

I remember endless fields of grain and blue sky.

Nothing to look at because I liked looking at mountains. I’d rather travel west than east. I knew for certain the Rocky Mountains were the best in the world because I had witnessed it for myself.

Experience and perspective change a person.

I know understand that The Rocky Mountains are not trying to be the Cascade Mountains. Neither is better or worse. They are the best version of themselves.

The Canadian Prairies are not trying to be mountains. Prairies are flat and treeless. They are the birthplace of grain and other farm-grown goodness. They are the birthplace of endless sunsets and wide open sky that can be bluer than any other sky or filled with a billion stars and showcase the Aurora Borealis.

It took me a long time to stop being competitive with other places and love everything for what it is.

I now have a job where I get to travel to the southern parts of Alberta. Places I had not been before. I didn’t stock up on things to distract me from the drive, I made an effort to appreciate the scenery for what it was.

I drive to Calgary on a frequent basis,  medical reasons for family, for job-related trips and for a vacation side stop on my way to Banff. I always turn right. Last Friday I turned left for the first time in all my 50 years. I hopped on the Stony bypass and followed the signs to Medicine Hat, Alberta. The weather was crazy, +6C in Calgary and -13 in Brooks, an inversion layer made me think the sky was falling. The blue sky was endless and the fields were dotted with oil pumpjacks. Alberta is Oil Country after all. IMG_8467

Trees are a scarcity where you find farmland and sometimes its hard to see where the land ends and the sky begins.

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After work, I did some exploring and discovered the coulees lurking below the flats. They pour into the South Saskatchewan River. In Edmonton, we call it the valley, here it is the Coulees.

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Down in the coulees, you find trees and scrub. Beautiful too but all so different from what I experienced before.

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I was searching for the World’s largest Teepee. The Saamis Teepee was originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Designer Steve Illes had the teepee painted “white for purity, red for the rising and setting sun, and blue for flowing waters”. It stood in Calgary’s McMahon Stadium, where it housed the Olympic Flame during the opening and closing ceremonies

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It was perched high above the river on the flats beside the Trans Canada Hwy.

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The wind was brutal and bit into my face. But I walked, read and learned about the plains people. Soon after we were back on the road heading west for Lethbridge. I am surprised I could not see how beautiful the prairies are when I was a kid. I am happy I can see it now. Next week I will post part 2 of my prairie adventure.

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Edmonton Tourist: Market Day

Summer officially starts in Edmonton after the May Long weekend. This usually means the chance of snow is almost over. I say almost because I have seen snow in May, June and August. The outdoor farmer’s markets often start the May long weekend as well. I had family obligations for most of the month of May, but yesterday my Mama Bear and I decided to spend the morning exploring the markets and enjoying the beautiful weather Edmonton had to offer. First stop was the City Market Downtown.

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The Market is located on 104 Street between Jasper and 103rd Avenues. I haven’t been to all the Farmer’s markets in Edmonton, but I rank this as my favourite amongst the ones I have visited.

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We parked on 104th Street by the Neon Museum and walked the short half block south. The city closed the roads for vendors and this just adds to the atmosphere. There is something decadent and forbidden about strolling on the road. There isn’t the same feeling when this happens in a park or town square. It reminded me of the market I visited in Obernai France, the only thing missing would be the church bells that singled Market opening in France.

The Market is open Saturdays between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. I like to go early so there is still lots of choices and varieties.

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The streetmosphere just adds to the flavour, Mama Bear and I like to stroll at a leisurely pace to explore the details of each booth.

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We left the market about 10:30 having purchased Moonshine donuts and Irish Moss. I have deep regret over not buying rhubarb. I will make note to get some next weekend when I explore other markets.

We left downtown and drove straight to the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. I like this market in the winter because it is inside, in the summer, I prefer the outdoor markets. I did learn that many vendors had stalls here and the City Market. So now I can rest easy that my favourites are located downtown. Moonshine and Jack Horner, I am looking at you.

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The Strathcona Market also have great atmosphere with the musical stylings of these people, the Straw Flowers. Thanks for smiling Mandolin man.

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A notable difference between the two markets is there are artisans actually working on their craft in the old Bus Barns, that was fun to see.

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This sewing machine belonged to her Mama Bear.

We explored all the aisles and came away with pesto and pasta, so there was dinner taken care of. I just added chicken breasts and fresh veg. It was delicious. Enough sundries tomato pesto to add to my potatoes tonight!

Around 11 am we decided to head to the French Quarter to see the farmer’s market there. I had never been to that one in the summer, only during the Flying Canoe Festival.

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When we arrived, we learned Market day is Sunday. I heard a giant Wa Wa… in my head because I was severely disappointed. But this is the site of my favourite cafe so we decided to have lunch here. There is a rumour the best poutine is served here sand Mama Bear disclosed she had never tried poutine before. I looked shockingly at her and called her the worst Canadian ever.

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I am going to agree, Cafe Bicyclette does serve the best poutine I have ever had in Edmonton and perhaps the best I have tried anywhere. Please note that I have never had it in Quebec, I should think it might be better there but being served by French Canadians in the French Quarter of Edmonton is amazlingly  delicious. Pair it with one of the best lattes in the city and you have yourself a decadent meal.

Next week I will visit the French Market, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Top of the Bank Trail

I had an errand to run in Wolf Willow today. I saw signs for the Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge, my pal the dog was with me so I decided to explore the river valley from the west end. Let’s be clear, I never get out this way unless I have a specific task. The west end is just not a destination for me. Mostly because it’s far from my home. 

This morning I learned I ‘won’ the giveaway. I belong to a friend group who give stuff we no longer want, away to people who want it. I’ve been lucky enough to win beautiful art, a stunning chandlelier, a brand new kitchenaid mandolin, wooden hangars and today, 3 unopened boxes of Twinning Earl Grey Tea. EARL GREY TEA PEOPLE!!! Obviously I won. I have given away oak tables, books, office supplies and appliances that I no longer use. It a wonderful pay-it-forward group. The tea was in Wolf Willow, a neighbourhood that backs on the Edmonton Golf and Country Club. I think I’ve been here once, but I’m not sure. I think I face painted one Christmas at the club. I always feel like I won the lottery when I am gifted new things.

 If I win the lottery in real time, I always think about what I would change about my life. Pay my mortgage off, leave my job, write every morning and definitely go back to school. I would enroll in some sort of English writing classes at the University of Alberta. 


I parked my car beside the golf course and walked towards to river bank. I followed the signs that said Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge. I have run many times across that bridge because it was part of the Fort Edmonton 5k loop. My most favourite loop in the valley. So I’ve seen that side plenty but had never gone farther than the bottom of the 205 staircase. 

I’ve lived in and around the city for close 50 years. This was the first time I had been here. 


When we got to the entrance to the valley, we were given the choice to walk to the bridge or take the upper bank trail. I just had flip flops and the trail was soft. I had never explored the upper bank before so we took the path less traveled. 


The homes here are monstrous. Stunning floor to ceiling multi storied homes looking south east over the river. It also made me think about what to spend lottery winnings on. As someone who is obsessed with the tiny home movement, these homes had little appeal for me. I have become more minimalist as I age and I care less about things and stuff. But I do think about things. I give myself thinking prompts like what would it be like to live here? I imagine myself and a rich spouse (usually Mark Ruffalo) enjoying breakfast on the upper terrace. Then that fades and I begin to think about composing paragraphs for pieces I am writing. Thinking about context, situations and how to make it a story rather than an event. These adventures of mine are part of building experience to write. I’ve enrolled in an University writing class that begins Thursday. It fulfills my wish to continue on with school and take a class that is meaningful to me. I’ve never enrolled in something I was passionate about, just something that I was capable of and could use to advance my career. I regret that I never explored what I wanted, I just did what was suggested to me. I’m fixing that starting Thursday. First Day of class. 

Walking along the bank, I thought about how people get where they are. What do these folks do to afford this lifestyle? I find it interesting that the more money someone seemingly has, the less time they spend enjoying it. I never saw a single person walking along the bank. Not one. No one was in their yard, no one was on the sidewalks. It was as if The Captain and I were walking through a ghost town. An experience to file away for a story in my future. 

The Upper Bank Trail would be a firecracker hot place to be on a sunny day. But the blue sky would be worth the effort. As Cap and I ended our loop, I noticed the Mayday blossoms beginning to open. I’ve watch cherry blossoms bloom in photos from other cities weeks ago when we still lived under a blanket of snow. Now it’s our turn. The blossoms are beginning to open and releasing their fragrance. It was a beautiful day to win the lottery and explore the bank in silence. 


Edmonton Tourist: Art Gallery of Alberta

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When I was a University student I had an annual pass to the Art Gallery of Alberta or AGA as it is fondly called around these parts.  It isn’t like a yearly membership is expensive but I have been on a quest to find fun and free things to do in Edmonton. I get that somethings cost money to participate but not everything has to. The last Thursday of every month, AGA opens it’s doors to the public. I went right after work and arrived downtown at 5:00 pm. It was relatively quite, but by 6:30 it was getting busier. People, like me, taking advantage of this amazing oppourtunity.

I started on the main floor of the gallery walked to a photography exhibit. The smell of developer transported me back to my darkroom days of my Grandfather’s Print shop. Meandering around the room looking at prints was restful. I had forgotten the peace I feel when I come to this building. It had to be 4 years since I darkened the doors.

Moving to wards the next gallery, I wasn’t certain it was open because it was dark. I witnessed people walking in so I also entered. It was a movie of a Rube Goldburg, a complicated series of steps to blow out a candle. It was 30 minutes long and the hand held camera made me incredibly dizzy but I couldn’t stop watching. I was met with delight at unexpected ways to propel the movement forward, flames, wind, foam, water…I was fascinated.

I didn’t take photos of my time in each gallery because it makes me uncomfortable unless the item is for sale. I like to respect the artist’s work.

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The Looking Glass exhibit was the opposite. It was an installation of portraits and part of it was interactive intending to post on social media. These were called Selfie Spots.

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I took a few. You can find them at #AGALookingGlass

What struck me was the difference in mediums used and yet the pieces were able to capture the essence of the person in the portrait. The photo on the right is me posing with an Andy Warhol. I am a big fan of his eccentricity and medium choice. I enjoy pop art. What I didn’t know was near the end of his life, 1984, he painted Wayne Gretzky. Given the current excitement in the city with the Oilers in the playoffs and Wayne being a team partner, this was sure to appeal to a hockey fan like me.

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I turned the corner and discovered the Evan Penny pieces including his self portrait.

These were AMAZING. The detail was exquisite! Tiny little chin hairs. I was fascinated with both pieces. Larger than life.

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There was a selfie spot on the floor indicating I could photograph this. Granted I should have been in it but I was mesmorized.

I moved upstairs to the Survivor exhibit and found a lot of works depicting surviving in the wild, including movies of Inuit life and hunting. That brought back memories of living in Canada’s Arctic and heading to the Caribou Carnival for fishing and igloo making events. The clothing was an amazing memory, I had an authentic parka. A necessity for warmth when walking the long hike to school because it was too cold for the car to start.

On the upper level of the gallery you can go out on the patio to enjoy the view. This is my favourite addition to the art in the city.

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“Take a Risk. It is the most Edmonton thing you can do.” ~ Amen to that!

When I told people I was coming to AGA I heard responses like, “I don’t get art”

There is nothing to ‘get’ You look at it and you feel a response. There is no right or wrong. Take the risk, visit AGA.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Under the Big Wheel

Winter is still going strong here in Edmonton. I am not going to lie, it is bringing me down. Six months of winter is more than enough. Thanks Old Man Winter, you can stop now. Happily I haven’t removed my winter tires.

As far as second winters goes, this one isn’t all that cold but I still find myself wanting hot coffee. Today I had a date with a great University chum who tells it like it is and asks the great questions that make me think about things from a different perspective. Today we chatted about friendship problems we both have, parallel to the point that loyalty is an issue for both of us. We are loyal and hope for a reciprocal arrangement. It didn’t happen for either of us and then she said, “What did you want to happen?”

That simple question knocked my socks off because I  have been looking at it from the perspective of ‘This happened and I need to do this because I am loyal and the friendship is important to me so I need to forgive.’

Her question made me pause and think. I love that quality in this friend, she makes me think.  Then the server came and asked what we wanted to order.

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Right…breakfast! We decided to go to Old Strathcona and have brunch at Under the Big Wheel. A farm fresh organic kind of place with a really large Penny Farthing bicycle hanging on the wall. I am assuming that was the big wheel, not the red plastic kind of my sister’s childhood.

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We both ordered coffee, she had a mocha and I had a latte because I am on a quest for the best one in the city – side bar: It was good, really good but I place it third on my list.

It was served in a very unconventional way – as was the entire experience – Unconventional.

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It came in a tall highball glass or something you would have cold chocolate milk in. It was hot on the hands but felt nice on my cold fingers after walking here in the wet snow. Because it was in glass, the coffee didn’t stay hot for long. That would be the biggest reason it is only third on my list. I like coffee hot and to stay hot. But it was good enough to have two. I rarely do that.

So where was I? Right! What did I want to happen? I wanted my friend to stick up for me, not be neutral. She agreed. Her friend was neutral too. We both would have been okay with “What you did was really crappy and I don’t like it.” but still be their friend…because it isn’t high school. Or if you thought I was being crappy – say so! I respect that!  She also agreed that would have been a better solution for her as well. So meanwhile here we are sharing similar experiences and our Server comes back – can I just say, our server’s lipstick was on point? It was the perfect shade of red for her alabaster skin. I digress… Our Server comes back and asks if we had decided. Of course not, we were catching up! We quickly glance down at the menu and she says, ” have you been here before?” Nope, first time. “My personal favourite is the waffle, our Belgium waffles are amazing” There was a gal behind us at a different table shouting out, “OMG THE WAFFLES ARE AMAZING” I enjoy that kind of enthusiasm and recommendation, so I had the eggs benny on a waffle – it was called The Savoury Waffle. I had a choice of smoked salmon, sausage bacon or cooked spinach (who wants to eat that? Cooked greens just taste like Chlorophyll to me. Too green. I prefer my greens uncooked with the exception of Beet Leaf (not Cabbage) Rolls and baby bok choy in soup. I picked bacon because, well, bacon. My friend chose the Traditional Breakfast, it was very conventional.

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Both were tasty. The hollandaise sauce was not the usual and I couldn’t put my finger on it, what made it taste different? It was good, but different than the norm. The waffles were light and fluffy, the gal behind me did not lie.

Where were we? Right…. loyalty. I also disclosed that I was thinking about words that had been said to me and playing them over in my mind. She agreed that she does the too. Only I don’t think about where the person was coming from when they said them, it was more of a how those words affected me and caused me to behave in certain way or do things maybe I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been so hurt and how could I have reacted better?. These were traumatic experiences I kept reliving and then looking at how I could have done things better/different. We agreed this wasn’t helpful to moving forward. But yet we still did it. I suspect most people do this.  Some people can just let it go easier than others.

We also talked about how awesome our dogs are. Hers are new to her family an mine is celebrating his 3rd adoption day with us on the 27th. I call it his birthday because he didn’t have to be a wild dog any more and hunt for his food. He found out very quickly he prefers being retired and living a spoiled life.

The best part of this breakfast was the server let us visit and chat as long as we needed. She kept coming back to see if we needed something more – just salt for the eggs and another latte, but it was really restful. I really did enjoy this spot for brunch, the food was great.

I have visited a few other spots around town to test out their coffee. I went to Anvil, a new spot in Ottwell. Decent but over priced. It tasted fine but didn’t wow me.

I also visited Wild Earth Bakery, cookies were good coffee was fine, also didn’t wow me.

If you decide to come to Edmonton for coffee and want to meet, let me know, I would love to experience coffee with you!

My list of favourites so far in order:

  1. Mandolin
  2. Cafe Bicyclette
  3. Under the Big Wheel
  4. Little Brick
  5. Anvil
  6. Wild Earth

Where do you like to go for your favourite coffee?

Edmonton Tourist: Mandolin Books and Coffee Company

The sun was out and spring felt like it was here. After being in a stadium for 5 days with 7000 kids, I was happy to get out in the fresh air and explore a little of my city. Plus, I wanted a coffee, a really great cup of coffee. To me great coffee comes in the form of a Café Latte. Hot, creamy with a strong coffee flavour. My favourites in the city are Café Bicyclette, Block 1912, Transcend, and now Mandolin.

I had heard about this place from some people at work. They knew I am a hard core book lover and was serious about my coffee so they thought the combination would be right up my ally. I headed to highlands on 112 Avenue. I used to live in this neighbourhood about 25 years ago and all that was here a a restaurant and wool shop. The 2 block street has undergone some heritage sprucing up, new lamp posts, some cool signage to let you know what used to be in that spot and a mural. This little trip had all the things a nice exploration includes:

  • Points of interest
  • nifty shops
  • pretty neighbourhood
  • coffee

It felt like an afternoon vacation.

My Companion and I walked along the south side of the street first, in search of the coffee, I was charmed by the signage.

I bet that was a great Hardware store! I love old timey hardware shops, Steveston BC and Entwistle AB have some of the best I have ever been to. Highland Hardware is now the Apple Box, a crafty paint shop that has milk paint, I need to remember to head back there when I pain my bench – I want it to be a rusty red.

Continuing along the street we found La Boheme. I always wanted to sign and dance on the tables there like in Rent, but have only eaten there and went to the wine cellar for a tour before I even knew anything about wine. Man, I wish I could go back in time and appreciate it more.

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Then came Mandolin Books and Coffee Company.

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The place had a great selection of used books and antiquarian. I found a Rudyard Kipling book of poems dated 1922. On the front cover was a swastika – pre-nazi Germany swastika meaning ‘lucky’ or ‘auspicious’. This was what it symbolized for 11,000 and now its an ugly symbol of hate. This book was in perfect condition as were so many of the books in this place. But first, COFFEE!.

The coffee here is Catfish Coffee, and I have to say, it is now my favourite coffee in the city. I really enjoy the flavour.

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We went to the counter and ordered 2 lattes, a lemon square and a blondie because this was a vacation and we needed sustenance.

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The baked goods tasted homemade (WIN!) but the coffee was smooth, creamy and strong – everything I look for in my favourite cup.

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It had been a long time since I enjoyed a coffee this much.

We poked around this shop and found some other great finds, like blind dates,

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we found a guy playing scrabble in the back and a mama reading to her offspring.

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There is also a patio out back.

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Once we found books we had to buy, it is a book store after all and I buy books because that is who I am, I ventured back outside and explored the other side of the street.

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We went into this great little candy shop and found vintage candy and poked around the antique store.

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It was the perfect afternoon in a great neighbourhood of Edmonton.