18 in ’18: Funicular

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Today is the last day of my vacation. I spent a week here ↑ looking at that view. The sky was blue, no rain or smoke from the BC fires. It was relaxing and zen. I loved it. It was my third time vacationing at the Pacific Rim National Reserve. I spent time in Tofino and Ucluelet. I recommend a once in a lifetime visit or regular visits. Whichever suits you. I think it is some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. I saw bears, bald eagles, osprey, salmon, ravens, and orcas. Eight orcas to be exact and on two different days. So there’s that.

It snowed in Edmonton yesterday and honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I live in a northern-ish town and it has snowed in September and stayed…this time it’s not staying (Thank you universe!) But it IS my last day of vacation so I felt the need to do some Edmonton Touristy stuff. My parents are hobos as I have mentioned before. Soon they leave for Europe to winter and ride the rails as hobos want to do. I figured I would invite them on an adventure today to see things they haven’t seen in a long while or ever. I rarely invite people on my Edmonton Tourist adventures, only Captain my best pal as seen here:

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I picked up my parents for coffee at 10:00 am. We went to Crumb on Calgary Trail. I love their coffee and think their Pain du Chocolat is the best ever. I then asked if they had ever been on the Funicular. They hadn’t and neither had I, but it was on my 18 for 18 list so I needed to give it try.

We parked at Louise McKinney park because there is free two-hour parking if you are good at parallel parking. I am! My dad wanted to know if he should get out to direct, nope because I learned to parallel park from the best (him). Tight spot, first try, I win! I jumped out and did some She-Ra moves and flexed for everyone then I hugged my dad and said thanks for teaching me that skill.

We walked down Grierson Hill towards the Funicular. This was built and designed to make the river valley accessible to everyone unless you are entering from Grierson. Then you need to take stairs down to the valley path to catch the elevator or up the stairs to the upper deck to catch the Funicular. Dear City of Edmonton, you need a 3 stop elevator so Grierson people who park at Louise McKinney can access it. Kind of a no-brainer for an accessible feature. Perhaps you needed to include physically challenged folk to give feedback on the design.

We walked down the stairs to ride the elevator for the full effect.

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Up we went admiring the view of the valley. It is a great lookout point!

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The valley is just starting to turn colour and the snow has melted here, but not at my house. We walked over the bridge and looked at the public art. We were trying to interpret it. Is it waves? Is it a skateboard park? You decide.

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Then we finally made it to the Funicular. Pressed the button and waited a long time for it to descend.

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As we moved up, we did enjoy the view. These are my hobo parents.

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We rode up with travellers from Yellowknife. They didn’t know what they should see so I gave them a few fun free things to do and look out for and chatted with them about great lunch spots downtown. I showed everyone this.

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Take a risk, its the most Edmonton thing you can do.

I love it!

Then we walked to Churchill square to see the #HappyWall.

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There’s me. I was so happy to see the square and wall empty. So excited, I spelled it wrong because

  1. it’s harder than you think to flip a million tiles.
  2. proofreading your own work is hard.
  3. spelling is hard.
  4. I was excited

It was still there when we left our tour of downtown, so it was up for two hours. TWO HOURS! hopefully still up because it is relevant and important to our city.

We trudged through the construction (but when its all done the Arts District will be FANTASTIC!) to get to the Royal Alberta Museum or as they like to call it #NewRam. I am buying a Mammoth pass for $35 because of UNLIMITED ACCESS FOR $35! I did have to listen to how the British Museum is free, but I said talked to Rachel. It’s not RAMs fault. $35 is reasonable when a single admission is $25. Go twice and boom, worthwhile. Plus it supports culture and history. All the things that make Edmonton a great place to live.

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The countdown clock is up!

18 Days

23 Hours

53 Minutes

until grand reopening. 15000+ people were able to procure free tickets for opening weekend. I didn’t because I hate crowds and the website kept crashing on me, also work, ug.

These crates are all over the city, building excitement. It kind of reminds me of A Night in the Museum, only in Edmonton and not New York.

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We peeked in the window and saw the gift shop and a dinosaur ribcage at the admission door. He wasn’t quite finished being put together yet. We checked out the Post Office Murals that were left/donated/bought(?). This was the site of the Main Post Office in Edmonton and these murals were part of that. I love them.

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We turned around and walked back to Three Bananas for lunch because SOUP IS DELICIOUS and theirs is also good.

Then we headed back to the Funicular. We entered the Funicular and pressed the button to descend. Nothing happened for a really long time. Then the doors opened and it asked us to leave. So we walked down the stairs.

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We watched a guy run up and down carrying full water jugs. Go, Dude! You’ll be awesome at the next November Project stair climb!

When we took the elevator down, I saw a mom/granny struggling with her stroller. See City of Edmonton? You need to add another stop. So Dad and I climbed up the stairs and helped her carry the stroller down to the elevator because that’s what Edmontonians do even when the City Builders don’t.

The big takeaway from this other than having a great day with the hobos, is about what the Yellowknife tourists said to me. They couldn’t figure out how to get to the Funicular and every Edmontonian they asked couldn’t help them. Here is my advice for you Edmonton, get outside and explore your city. It is more exciting than you think it is and we are lucky to live here. We have a vibrant art and culture scene, our restaurants are amazing and our river valley parks system is some of the best parks in the world. What other cities can you see bobcats, bears, moose and deer in the downtown park? Banff and Jasper don’t count. Be present in your life, live it. Don’t let life happen to you.

Love The Edmonton Tourist. xoxox

18 for 18: Exploring Edmonton’s River Valley

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A couple of years ago, Edmonton opened the Terwillegar Foot Bridge adjacent to the Terwillegar Dog Park. I explored that park as part of my River Valley Parks series. But I didn’t cross the bridge. I have been wanting to walk this part of the valley for ages, so I put it on my list. The 18 for 18 list.

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When you cross the bridge to the north side of the river and follow the trail, it leads you to the Fort Edmonton Footbridge. This is my favourite bridge. The Fort Edmonton loop is the loveliest little 5k. One time I ran briefly with Kelly Buchburger, former Edmonton Oiler Captain. That was a thrill, he was kind and friendly, then he opened up his stride and left me like I was standing still.

I had always wanted to walk that north section of the trail but never did, so I put it on the list. My pal Captain and I decided to walk it today. When I walk with Cap, it is like walking with my brother or my Chatterbox. I walk, they run ahead, run behind, run off to the side. Basically they ran an extral mile for every mile I walked. There was so many things for him to explore and sniff.

When we crossed the bridge, I was surprised to see grassy meadows. When I walk to through the valley, I expect to be in the woods as in the case with the other parks I explore. Closer to Fort Edmonton, the path is lined with trees, so I expected the same landscape. The meadow started as short grass, but as we climbed the hill (slope? incline?) the grass became taller. Wild flowers were growing sporatically all over the field.  We saw vetch, bedstaw, clover, wild roses, dogwood, morning glories (why is morning glory growing in the river valley?) canola, and camomile. There were butterfiles everywhere! One little orange guy few along with us and booped my chin to say good bye when we entered the woods.

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The path was filled with walkers, runners and cyclists. Dogs stopped to say good morning. But one thing struck me as we strolled along, it was silent. I could hear the wind in the trees and birds singing but I did not hear traffic. It felt like I was in the middle of no where. That was the best part of the walk.

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I one point there was a giant rock cairn, not as uniform as in the Scottish Highlands, but it was the kind of mound my dad would encourage me to climb. When ever we walked past a pile of rocks, I needed to climb them, walk past water and we needed to spit in it, walk past a hill and we had to run up it. All were the rules of the walk. This time I just took a photo. Gone are my climbing days but I could imagine my ghost of walks past climbing up to the top. That was almost as satisfying.

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When we rounded the bend, I saw the familar sign indicating the Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge.

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Now I was in familar territory. The river is down once again and beaches are springing up again. This one was filled with people playing fetch with their dogs.

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I enjoyed the silence today and loved watching the butterflies, but I think I still prefer walking through the ravines. I have two new areas of the valley to still explore and they are ravines. Soon, I will visit them.

Edmonton Tourist: Government House Park

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Such a great day for a visit to a park! But because it is early spring, choosing a park that would have very little melt or muck was important to me. Government House Park is located on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River and gets direct sunshine and heat. I figured it would have minimum spring run-off.

When The Captain and I parked, I looked around and decided to take a path less take by me. I had run this park multiple times and know where the trail leads along the river, but I had never followed the path that goes north. Until now.

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The first thing we found was a big puddle, the ground is low here and the run-off pooled to create this large pond-like water feature. We walked around it.

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We quickly discovered this path went parallel with Groat Road, something I had never walked or run on before.

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We made our way towards the new bridge that spans Groat road and is part of the Edmonton Marathon route. The old bridge is the one I broke my foot on during my very first half marathon… good times.

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Once we made under the bridge we found the path to be icy, and I was not in the mood to fall so we turned backed. I might come here in the summer and walk over to Coronation Park to explore.

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What I didn’t realize in all my years living in this city, there is an upper trail – who knew? (apparently every other Edmonton Citizen but me) It takes you by the toboggan hill. Up that hill is Government house. I always fantasized about living there as a kid and having this be my toboggan hill. Canadian Dreams….

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It is steeper and higher than it looks. But could you believe it was closed?

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We kept heading west with the intention of heading to McKinnon Ravine but as the trail combined with the lower tail, the water and mud was more than I wanted to let my white dog wander through.

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We began walking East towards the parking lot and decided to sit and enjoy the sun on our face.

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We were watching a flock of mauve/grey birds flit around when a Peregrine Falcon swooped in and crashed the party.

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Also bigger than it looks.

We headed up to Government House – the actual House. It is located on the old Royal Alberta Museum grounds. Government House was originally build as the residence of the Lieutenant Governor. That did happen for long and it soon became a meeting place for caucus. I toured it once and learned it was haunted, but I always fancied myself living here and it was the backdrop to many of my imaginary adventures.

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The now empty museum is such a beautiful building, I hope they do something amazing with it.

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It was a great day for the park adventure, but the mud was more that I had hoped for. I think I will wait a few more weeks before venturing deeper into the valley. I have a few more parks to visit to complete my river valley adventure:

  • Emily Murphy
  • Hawrelak
  • Buena Vista
  • Laurier
  • Rundle
  • Hermitage
  • Riverdale
  • Victoria

I have been to 10 (11 if you could Strathcona Science Park) I am over half way now. It should be a good summer!

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Dawson Park

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With the temperatures reaching 6C/45F today, I knew I wanted to be outside with my dog. I am pretty sure I broke him. Since I have been home he has been sleeping in my room all curled up in a ball. We walked along the north shore of the river for an hour and a half today. He loved it but now he is back to napping. I, on the other hand feel great!

Dawson Park is located in Riverdale, one of my favourite communities in Edmonton. I had always made the assumption that Dawson Park was the Riverside golf course so I never made an effort come here because I don’t golf. Perhaps if there was a goalie guarding the green I may be interested but mostly I could careless about golf.

The parking lot is right in front of Dawson Park’s cook-out pavilion with an amazing views of the North Saskatchewan River and the Riverside Gold Course on the south/east side of the river.

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The shelter is built in the same design as the one at Capitano Park and Henrietta Edwards Parks, picnic tables and a fireplace with hearth are located under the shelter. Within a few feet are other tables with wood stoves ready for smokies and marshmallows!

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The river is very accessible here with catch and release signs posted along the bank. I suspect in the summer this has anglers lined up along the banks trying to catch Lake Sturgeon, an endangered species that lives in our river. With the warm temperatures we have had this week, I didn’t want to venture to close to the water. It appears froze solid but who knows? It is hard to tell where the land is and where the water and ice begin.

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We decided to venture onto the main trail, I think it is a paved multi use trail because of how wide it is, but it is well covered with packed snow.

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Along the trail are English and Braille signage describing points of interest along the way. Dawson Bridge is named for HS Dawson who owned a coal mine across the bank. Dawson Park is named for his son John who was wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge. I love that the City posts these little facts along the way. The more you know…

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We rounded the river bend and headed east. The trail was packed with dogs and their people as this is an off leash area. This beauty followed Cap and copied his every move until her person called her back.

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She obviously was crushing on my Cap, who could blame her? He is a swell guy.

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Apparently the Edmonton River Valley is home to mini Hoodoos. WHO KNEW? I certainly didn’t. Good day for learning new things about my city!

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We travelled further west until we came to stairs that tool us out of the valley and I think to Kinnaird Ravine, I may be mistaken, but the distance seemed correct. I didn’t feel like traveling all the way to Wayne Gretzky Bridge, so this was our turnaround point.

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Cap and I stepped off the main trail and walked on the trail closer to the river bank for our trip back.

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Facing East the river really bends through here, another point of interest I had no idea about. 49+ years in this City and I am still learning new things.

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We stopped on the bench to listen to the drums coming from down town, I suspect they were from the New Years Celebration coming from China Town. It was a deep thrum echoing in my chest. Cap also stopped to listen. The snow was slick from the melt so we made our way back onto the main part of the trail. I imagine this is a hot section during the summer.

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Spent a long time here obviously leaving the park and meeting up with the River Valley Trail system. I tend to avoid the Northside of the river for reasons unknown. I think this is a lovely section of the city and I am sure I will find myself here this summer when the trees are lush and the river is moving.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

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I have been house bound for days. Partly due to illness and partly do to…who are we kidding, I was sick in bed for 5 days. I was feeling slightly better by Friday and today I felt slightly better than yesterday but I then came down with a serious case of Cabin Fever.

I decided to bundle up me and my pup and head to my most favourite part of the city, Upper Mill Creek Ravine. You may recall this summer, I went to the lower creek, north of the pool. Well,my favourite spot is south of the pool in the Argyll and Hazeldean neighbourhoods.

Did I mention how cold it was? I was in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate, you know the kind made from Ghirardelli and milk on the stove? Yeah, THAT kind. So delicious. When I said to my Captain, Want to go for a walk? His head snapped back so fast you would have thought we had not done this in a while. Wait…I hadn’t been at a park with him since November at the Science Park…Sorry Cap.

We both put our jackets on because it is cold. Fahrenheit on the left Celsius on the right. The wind made it feel colder -12F and -24C, that to me is the real temperature because feeling is everything.

Mill Creek Ravine is my happy place. It is the place I go when I am sad, happy, angry, resentful, disappointed, or any other myriad of emotions. I enter and become instantly relaxed. I kind of needed that today. Lets just say I am filled with complex emotions that need sorting out, so off I went.

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The upper trail is groomed and paved. The off leash dog park is way down in the gully. That is where Cap and I were headed. Not that I can trust him to be off leash, he is independent minded so I am not really sure he would come when I call him or if he would just say, “You know what Peasant? I miss living in the woods, I am out of here.” Now I am all for independent thought but I’d rather keep him safe with a chance at a long life rather than struggling to live in the wild, so I keep him on a leash. I do let him investigate all the great mouser places and animal dens. One day I am sure he will find a skunk hallow and then I will be sorry, but until then, it makes me happy watching him be happy.

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Happily there isn’t a lot of snow so far this year. That makes trekking easier and there hasn’t been any freeze/thaw cycles so no ice. This makes it safer for me who is prone to falling.

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Mill Creek trail is built on an old railway bed, so there is a converted trestle farther north, I am not convinced that what this is, it doesn’t seem sturdy enough to hold an old steam engine, but it is built in the old tresses style and is a lovely bridge over the creek. Obviously at temps that have been sub -20C for weeks, the creek is froze solid.

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This is part of the off-leash walk. There are trash cans an dog bag bins all through here. All they are is old grocery bags for people to use. There is zero excuse to be a lazy pet owner. I bring my own eco ones attached to Cap’s leash.

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Lots of pets with their people come down here. If my Real Estate agent called me tomorrow to say he found me a house within walking distance to here, I would cry with joy. Who doesn’t want to live here? It is silent as if you are in the middle of the country but the convince to being 5 minutes to downtown Edmonton. To me it is perfect. I have been down here and have spotted deer, the occasional moose, falcons, hawks, eagles and coyotes. I have heard of a bear sighting once and know there are porcupines and skunks with the odd badger but my trusty pal looks after me.

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After wandering around for about an hour I asked myself why I wait so long to come back? It clearly the best place I can be.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Terwillegar Dog Park

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I have been meaning to go to the Terwillegar Dog Park for a while now but wanted to wait until the bridge construction connecting the south and north sides of the river was completed. That just happened. So when I woke up Saturday morning, I had that magnetic force pulling me in that direction.

Terwillegar is not easily accessible for me. It is located in the South West corner of Edmonton and I have never felt like this was where my people lived. I am more of a central located kinda of gal even though I do not live central, I play there a lot. I visit those parks, restaurants, shops and many of my pals are centrally located so I am drawn there. South West, not so much. However, I pride myself on being familiar with every corner of my city. The Captain and I hopped into my car and we headed for this park.

Terwillegar has a reputation of being a great dog park. My dog is not able to go off his lead for safety reasons. The Captain is mostly a super a friendly dog, but he demands that other dogs respect him as Alpha. This is usually fine as most dogs are smaller and automatically accept this, but every now and then a large do comes along and Captain usually says to the other animal, “Kneel before me peasant” and if that dog does not comply, a battle will ensue. I also do not trust that Captain will come when I call him. He pretty much comes when he feels like it. Being a responsible dog owner, I know I cannot control my dog off lead, so he doesn’t get to run around the park…ever. This prevents any and all unwanted lawsuits.

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When we arrived, parking was at a premium. I managed to find a spot and looked over the field to see the pack. This park was busier than other parks I visit. Captain was pretty excited to see all the dogs racing around. I admit to feeling apprehension because of his unpredictable nature – my guy was a wild dog rescued from a reservation up north. He hunted and lived within a pack but I suspect he often went rogue. He talks to coyotes and hunts small game still. The field did not hold much interest for him, other than all the sniffing that was possible, he led me off towards the river and forest.

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This place does not do well after rain and snow, lately Edmonton has had its fair share of moisture. The place was a mud bog. My white dog sported black little legs in no time. I also was covered in mud, my least favourite thing unless I am barefoot or in wellies, I was wearing neither.

Once we arrived at the river, I could see the new foot bridge to the east of where I was. It was still a fair way off, so we made our way towards it through the woods. Huge mistake.

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I am fairly well versed in bush-wacking, this was a skill I put to good use as the trails were squelchy with muck. We tried to stay off the mud path and keep to the side for several reasons, my balance lately has been very unstable, so I did not need to slide around on the path most taken. The other reason being, I had a scheduled visit in an hour with my aunt who lived close by and I did not need to look as if I had been playing in the mud pretending I was 5. The final reason being, Captain hated baths. This guy would trapes through mud puddles as if this was the best thing in the world, but put his foot in clean water and you’d think I was punishing him for no good reason.

30 minutes of hiking through the mud and water, we finally came to the paved path that led to the bridge. This road had a think layer of muck as well. There was no place that was safe.

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After the City comes back in the spring to finish the landscaping, (add grass?) I can see this being a lovely spot, but today it filled me with regret.

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As we approached the bridge I marvelled at the engineering of this structure. Apparently it is the second longest stressed ribbon bridge in Canada, although I am unable to determine the longest. News reports didn’t offer that information. Essentially it is a high tech rope bridge. I walked across it with a fair amount of people sharing the bridge ( I wait a really long time to get a photo with out people) and I am happy to report it felt solid. The over hangs remind me of wings, giving the appearance the bridge is hovering or floating above the North Saskatchewan River.

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Of all the Edmonton Parks, I must admit this is my least favourite. The mud didn’t help, but I can certainly look past it. I doubt I will ever return but I do understand why the locals enjoy it and now with the bridge, they are connected at last with the River Valley Trail system that I am deeply in love with.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Kinsmen Park

Hot day in the city and everyone thought it was a great idea to head to the valley. My first thought was to head to Emily Murphy and walk back along the river to Kinsmen but there was no parking to be found. In fact there was huge lines of traffic trying to enter the 3 major parks that surround groat bridge. So Cap and I headed east to Kinsmen to try our luck.

  
Parking was not much better but I did find a space in front of the John Walter Museum. Walter owned a brick manufacturing company and the ferry that transported people a horses across the river from Strathcona to Edmonton. Today was the 160- something birthday of Ann Walter so the museum was serving up tea and scones to celebrate!
   
   
Cap and I passed. He was more interested in finding chickens. We could hear them in the coop but I kept him away because his hunting instincts kick in and I was not up for a wrestling match against my pup and his favourite meal. So we walked along the path looking at the homestead of Walter and his two homes there after.

   
   
   
    
 
We past many actors who were polite and friendly. Many people were drinking tea on this hot day.

We made our way towards the Highlevel Bridge and walked around Husky House (the Husky Football Club) and the ball diamonds. The last time I was here was for the Run for Pie which was delicious. 

   
 
My kids always called this the Blue Park. Apparently this was because of a big blue slide. We used to come here for Friday Night Picnics, play at the “Blue Park” then head to the castle to swim before bed. 

The park has been completely refurbished since my adult children were young. I had a fleeting wish I had grandchildren to bring here. It’s now Kinpark and is bear themed. It’s reminiscent of Goldbar’s Moose Meadow complete with No Moose Allowed signs.

   
    
    
    
    

Cap pulled me along to Queen Elizabeth Pool. It used to be up the hill at Queen E Park but this is a perfect location for an outdoor pool.

   
    
   
It is located across from the Kinsmen Recreation Centre that holds a special place in heart. Lots of amazing swim memories here. 

  
As Cap and I walked  away, we saw the Street Car glide across the Highlevel Bridge. Apparently it is the highest crossing in western Canada but I didn’t fact check. 

   
    
 We also found the Alberta Legislative Building or Castle as my kids liked to call it, peeking out from across the river. 

 
As Cap and I made our way back to the Car, we noticed how the new Walterdale Bridge will dominate the skyline in the valley. I quite like it.  

 
This is still one of the best multi-use parks in the city. Come give it a visit! Next week is Canada Day, so I think I’ll cross the river and head to the ledge for the festivities and check out that park.