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: Government House Park

FullSizeRender 51

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.

FullSizeRender 38

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.

FullSizeRender 39

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

FullSizeRender 61

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.

FullSizeRender 27

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.

FullSizeRender 26

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….

FullSizeRender 35

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

FullSizeRender 23

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.

FullSizeRender 12

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

FullSizeRender 60

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

FullSizeRender 48

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.

FullSizeRender 62

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

FullSizeRender 49

FullSizeRender 46

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

img_5732

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.

img_5745

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!

img_5739

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.

img_5747

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.

img_5735

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…

img_5740

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.

img_5746

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

img_5742

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!

img_5728

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.

img_5738

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

img_5748

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.

img_5744

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.

img_5743

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

fullsizerender-5

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.

fullsizerender-10

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.

fullsizerender-11

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.

fullsizerender-6

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.

fullsizerender-7

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.

fullsizerender-12

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.

fullsizerender-13

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: Strathcona Science Park

I don’t know about you, but I have had a tough week. I have faced disappointment, heartbreak, painful memories and helplessness. In an effort to keep from raging I decided to visit a park that I had not been for 30 years. Truthfully it was a place where a lot of my demons live and I thought I should lay them to rest one and for all.

I packed up my pup and headed straight north from my home to Strathcona Science Park. Its not an Edmonton River Valley park, but I am counting it as one. It is within driving distance of the city , it is situated directly east of Rundle Park an the east bank of the North Saskatchewan River. But this park is a Provincial Park.

The irony of my laying my demons to rest is this place is already dead. It has been all but abandoned by the Province in an effort to push the economy forwarded. So 28 years it has been a derelict site with the exception of the mowed grassy paths. An odd juxtaposition with the cracked and damaged paved paths. I was not in the head space to really research what happened or what is was or event what its future was supposed to look like, but the Globe and Mail did and you can read about it here.

I was here to find a way to live in the moment, forget about my future and let the past go. I am getting quicker at it than I used to, focusing on the now has become a tool I use to live a stress free existence. I am not pro level but I would say I have moderate success with the now.

Cap and I pulled into the park at 3:00 pm and it felt like the sun was beginning to set. Well, it felt that way because it IS beginning to set now at the time. We are one month away from the shortest day of the year and darkness is beginning to seep into all the nooks and crannies. The sign has not changed since I worked here at the ski hill in 1985.

img_5186

Cap and I drove to the left of the sign and found parking near the abandoned pavilion. He was super excited to be somewhere with new smells and deep grass to explore.

img_5187

There was a real bald prairie feel to this park. Granted, the trees have sprouted up since I was last here, I remember this place feeling hot and oppressive under the blazing sun when I would ride my bike from Sherwood Park, this place would be part of my journey to connect with the river valley trail system where I would cycle all day on a Sunday.

The Downtown core seemed far off and remote. I know from running experience that I am about 18-20km away from City Hall. I’ve run it and find the valley the very best part of being an Edmontonian.

img_5191

As we came closer to the edge of the ridge, the North Saskatchewan River came into view.

We turned south and headed towards what appeared to be paved paths the circled the pavilion.

img_5189

This is one of the coal mines sites from the clover bar coal seam. Signage let me know I might be able to find remnant from the mines, in the 80’s there were 5 archaeological digs happening here. I have no idea what they found.

img_5182

I was standing at #10 Milner and Shoeman. My journey took me all the way to the end of the path at the loop along the river bend.

img_5184

I remember this being grassy prairie in 1986, it looks like it was left to naturalize over time with the aid of planting in 1999.

img_5199

This guy became tired of mousing and does what he does best – survey his land. All of it is his in case you did not know. Across the river is Rundle Park and to the left is Goldbar and Goldstick parks where my journey began earlier this spring. I still have 4 parks left to visit before my goal is complete. I will save those and pick them on sunny days.

The walk back to the car really showcases the prairies. Alberta is as diverse in its landscape as it is beautiful.

img_5192

It looks peaceful but the sounds from the surrounding industrial was loud and obnoxious. It was strategic on my part to not to photograph the refineries.

Will I be back? Doubtful. It no longer holds the demons I expected. Clearly I did indeed let those go. As I neared my car, the anger and rage I was feeling towards my week subsided. Nature does that for me. As the song goes, I have that peaceful easy feeling.

Edmonton Tourist: Terwillegar Dog Park

img_5065

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.

img_5052

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.

img_5055

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.

img_5057

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.

img_5058

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.

img_5059

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.

img_5060

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: Louise McKinney Park


It was an effort finding a park that had parking space today. Anything in close proximity to the Heritage Days Festival was filled to the brim. After trying my luck at 3 different parks, Captain and I found ourselves over at Louise McKinney, another Famous 5 park.

We ran into some friends just as we climbed out of the car. They also tried to find space in other parks. It seemed everyone was wanting some green onion cakes and gelato found down at Hawrelak Park. We bid them well and made our way along the river front path.


The first thing we noticed was lovely poetry on the light posts. 


We stopped to see some rock piles and over grown grass.


It was Turtle Rock Effigy, an old Art Works festival creation from 2010. Not much to see anymore but the Pokéstop had a great photo of it.

We met several displaced men sitting on benches, all wanting to pet Cap and tell me how handsome he was. We had a lovely visit with them and wished everyone a great day. 

The trails surrounding the park were closed while LRT construction begins over at the bridge. I had visited that area earlier this year when we went to Henrietta Muirs park.

We climbed up to the Chinese Garden. Such a lovely oasis downtown. 


The park was used as a bike corridor for so many cyclists populated the park today.

I made my way to the Shumka Stage. An odd mix of Chinese and Ukrainian culture. 


And called it a day. Next week I’ll been in Calgary’s Glenmore park so perhaps I’ll explore a yyc park inset was.

Edmonton Tourist: Nellie McClung Park

IMG_2953

It was a very blustery day in the city. Brush fires popping up in Edmonton (People, there is a fire ban, this means No Candles, Fireworks, wood stoves, fireplaces or campfires of any kind. Alberta is BURNING. Stop and give your head a shake because I will report you in a heart beat.).I was at Run Club this morning and had intended to walk over to Nellie McClung to explore before I went home. But I didn’t have The Captain with me and the guilt I felt was intense. So I went home, ate breakfast, had a nap and then asked my pup if he wanted to join me. He of course said yes.

Park # 6 on my quest to visit every River Valley Park in Edmonton this summer. Nellie McClung was one of the Famous 5. The women who spearheaded the Person’s Act, ensuring women would be considered people under the law. I often have to remind my bank this, especially when I wanted to withdraw money from my American Savings Account. I made an epic scene and reminded them that is had been 100 years since I was a declared a person under the law and HOW DARE they suggest I need the hubs permission to do ANYTHING….but I digress…

Nellie McClung is a tiny park located on 99 Street on the south side of the river. Sandwiched between Cloverdale park ( not listed as a River Valley Park – weird) and Queen Elizabeth Park. I pulled into the Old Timer’s Cabin and parked. The first thing that struck me is the non-traditional park experience. There was no picnic tables and and no wood stoves for picnics. I only found 1 bench and it was occupied by a friendly fellow who was clearly living off the land and spoke to his invisible friends but still managed to smile and say hello.

I use this trail a lot ever since that day I got lost and added an extra 6km to my route. Construction of the Walterdale Bridge made things complicated that day but I found a beautiful and peaceful trail as my reward. Since then, I prefer this route back to Run Club rather than the loud and noisy 99 Street.

Cap and I new if we turned north, we would be out of the park, so that doesn’t count as visiting. We headed south west towards Skunks Hollow and Queen Elizabeth Park.

IMG_2961

I stepped off the path to get a closer glimpse of the North Saskatchewan River. It was a beautiful green today, it looked as though it was filled with Glacier Flour, the silt that makes water green.

5 minutes later, and we were at Skunks Hollow. Well, that was the shortest walk ever.

IMG_2963

This is where I would move if I had my pick of anywhere in the city. It is perfect. Overlooking the river valley and has 2 parks in the backyard. Perfection. Plus, I really don’t think there are a lot of people who know it is even here.

Cap and I turned back in search of the road less traveled. After visiting 5 other parks, I have learned walkers have access to places that runners never visit. Little hidden gems that are nestled out of view. Nellie McClung did not disapoint.

IMG_2962

IMG_2967

I decided on the road more travelled than the less traveled but still less travelled than the paved main path. Much safer for me because when Cap gets excited, he will drag me to my doom. I didn’t feel like swimming today so I stuck to the less precarious path.

IMG_2968

I was thinking about how every other park had a little gem tucked away when I came to this scene. A civilized tea set waiting for someone’s tea party. It was lovely and again I was thankful that my kids are not that thoughtful, I did not want to traverse down the steep embankment.

IMG_2969

We kept traveling along the path and found another path I wanted to explore but Cap was on full alert. Ears up, head still and then in crouch mode. He was ready to protect. It is a different stance from one of attack. So I trusted his instincts and we avoided that path. I will never know what he was saving me from, but I trust him enough to listen to him.

IMG_2987

By avoiding the potential peril, we were treated to beautiful river views.

IMG_2970

IMG_2972

IMG_2971

I have to admit, I live in a very beautiful city.

Eventually we intersected with the main path and we turned south to head back to the car.

Nellie McClung is lovely for exploring the river, great for runs, walks and bikes. It’s mostly a transitional park to either river crossing but it is a quiet lovely spot.

Next week, my second favourite park, Queen Elizabeth Park.

 

What am I going to use that Klondike Dollar for now?

Dressed and ready for the Klondike Promenade

Today is the last day of my summer vacation. No one cares? That is okay, I am well rested and excited about heading back to work. This summer I set a goal for myself. Happily I achieved it! It was my intent that I would attend as many Edmonton Festivals as possible. Edmonton has a bit of a reputation for being Festival City. All year-long, right here in River City, there are many fantastic festivals and some that are just meh. This Summer I was able to attend 9. That meant heading out every weekend and trying something new. I went with family and friends, or brought my children and I even went solo on occasion.

It was an import goal for me because I didn’t want to waste my summer. In years past, I have over planned my vacation, enjoyed every minute during the usual 10 days away, then came home a floated in the pool. It sounds much more glamorous than it really is. My pool is a 32″ deep wadding pool. Just big enough for me to float on an air mattress, have my standard issue beverage with paper umbrella perched on the side, and read one book or more a week. Last summer it was 15 books. This summer it was 2.

Now if you have read my past blogs dear reader, then you know that I don’t consider reading to be a waste of time. But I always felt I could do more with my days other than clean and organize my linen closet. Don’t get me wrong, I did that too, but I wanted to explore this great city I live in. And I did that.

When I was small, Edmonton didn’t have as many festivals, but the ones we had were so amazing! The biggest and Best was called Klondike Days. I know you are thinking – the Klondike was in the Yukon not Edmonton! True. Edmonton was known as the “gateway to the Klondike” the Alaska highway is just down the road and for the longest time Edmonton was the last major city to get supplies before heading north. So that’s how we called it Klondike Days.

Klondike Days had 10 days of bizarre and fun activities as well as a midway. There was everything from Bathtub races down Jasper Avenue to the Sourdough Raft races on the North Saskatchewan River. Sunday was the Promenade. Jasper Avenue would close down for the afternoon and people would dress up in their Klondike finery and stroll dawn the street parading around like peacocks with feathers in the lady’s hair and straw hats on the gents heads. Thinking about it now seems unbelievable that people would take the time and effort to do this. Shop owners would paint their store windows with Klondike themed pictures, the city would use Klondike dollars for currency during the 10 days.

The year I was 4, my mom made matching pink Klondike dresses and hand bags for me, her sister and herself. I felt like a princess! We went downtown and walked with the hundreds of other people in their Klondike attire. Stopping to look at booths set up for the street fair. People would stop and compliment us on our gowns. I loved every minute of it! If you weren’t dressed up there was a chance that you would be thrown into the Klondike jail and would have to be bailed out. That terrified  me, so I was secretly glad we had the pretty pink dresses.

I couldn’t be bothered with all of that costuming now, and I am sure no one else can either, which is largely the reason for the festival to be changed in the first place. Now it is just Capital Ex. A non descriptive midway carnival with not a lot of other things going on during that week. Thankfully there are other festivals with flair and flash that make festival season here fun.

I am thankful that my mom thought it was important to get out and explore the world where you live. It has brought a richer sense of community into my life and I appreciate home after traveling. It makes me feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, “There’s No Place Like Home”. I am trying to bring that sense to my children and hope they carry fun and crazy memories with them into their adult lives.

This summer I learned that to be a tourist in your own life, you really need to take the time to get to explore and discover your surroundings in order to better understand your personal journey.