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What a beautiful city Calgary is. It is a relatively new city, so it just works and looks good. You don't get the feeling that you are in a big city as there are lovely natural "veld" patches between the housing. We stayed at a campsite west of the city, just near the big Winter Olympic (1988) ski jumps and bobsleigh.. (now that is really the Cool Runnings exact location...!) that ski jump is HIGH..... And at night it is lit up and looks awesome.
We took the C Train into town.Wish that we had an effective transport system in SA. It is so useful. They have an honour system of buying tickets - no-one checks. Well no one certainly did on our trip, but I suppose there are random checks. One guy on the station didn't have change for the ticket machine, and the people that he asked for change didn't have..
Stephen Avenue Walk is an area something like St George's Street in CT, that is shut off for vehicles. It is just full of life with street vendors (we bought a delicious hot dog for lunch), buskers, tourists, businessmen and women, and other locals all mingling around. I can imagine that this part of town at night is just bustling. At the centre is the Calgary Tower, a huge landmark at 191metres tall. Andy went up and loved looking through the glass floor at the streets down below. I'm not so keen on heights, so just window shopped...much better! Went into a big shopping mall (you couldn't even see from the street entrance that it actually was a mall). Andy then found 2 pairs of shoes.....! He only tried on one shoe of each pair and refused to walk with both or see them on in the mirror. The sales lady says that 90% of men do it this way..... Comments? Andy has visited Calgary before with Alex Robertson when they were looking at stadiums while planning the building of the Sports Science Institute. Bruce remembers him buying good shoes then, so it must be something in this air, as usually he won't buy anything to do with clothing or shops!! Oh, except he loves the Dollar Shop!!
The Carillon (a electronic musical instrument housed in the Calgary Tower) was presented to the city by the local Dutch community in 1975. It has beautiful chimes every hour, and then at midday each day it plays bell music tunes. Guest carilloneurs are invited to play the instrument - something like a giant organ -I am told. We were lucky enough to be just there at midday. Rich music just echoes out across the middle of the city...
From Calgary we went across the Canadian border into Montana. Think that this is my favourite State....the "Big Sky Country". Such beautiful terrain... Real ranches, with high plains and healthy livestock. So we stopped at Great Falls on the Missouri River ( Lewis and Clark territory again....!) Great Falls is called "Electric City" because of the power generated by the Falls there. We had a few things to fix on the camper while there. One of the clips that holds down our pop up section just gave up, and we were flagged down en-route by a trucker who had seen part of our tent flying in the strong wind. (Lucky for us, as I think that the force of the wind would have eventually ripped the whole top off). We had to stop and rope it up. Andy's farming skills "boer maak 'n plan" came to the fore! After trying all around town in sweltering conditions, we eventually found the appropriate part and Andy fixed it up. We stayed at a really nice campsite and, being Andy's birthday, made a braai and treated ourselves to a good steak. Afterwards we went to a Bluegrass music evening. Love the fiddles and banjos in their music. The campsite had lots of the cutest little rabbits hopping about, and we had lambs baa-ing, and horses whinnying in the camp behind us... Kind of familiar....
We left today and are now in Dillon, Montana, close to the border of Idaho. After watching the storm clouds gather and then burst over the foothills of the Rockies, it has become another scorching day. But the pool (full of kids) is right here
From here we go to Lava Hot Springs, and then on Sunday, to Salt Lake City. Am looking forward to a real bed.... ! We fly out of LAX on the 29th. We still need to sort out things for either shipping our vehicle to Guayaquil, in Ecuador, South America, or for leaving it in Salt Lake and then continuing by road through Mexico. Brazil seems to be far too difficult a destination in which to ship the vehicle/ their red tape is too complicated and uncertain. Pity because it would have been useful for Bruce and Nani to use - plus no storage costs for us - until we continue with our trip. So we might still have to drive from Salt Lake to San Diego, to leave the vehicle with Stuart, OR leave the vehicle with the Lownds in Salt Lake.... Family do come in useful!!.... But we have to get the car serviced/ cleaned up and sorted out, and fix up our broken windscreen ( stone....).
So this is probably going to be my last blog of the trip... From now on it will be just finishing off stuff.. Can't wait to now get back to my house, family and friends......
Thanks to all of you who have followed this "conversation blog...." It was nice "talkin' to y'all"....