Sunday, May 31, 2009

Street Art Sunday - Hopeful Hands

Street Art Sunday #7
This shot shows one half of a giant mural in downtown Calgary... I posted the dove that is flying from these hands back in March. The mural is painted on the side of the CUPS building. Calgary Urban Projects (CUPS) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending individual and family poverty and their message is one of hope.

They deal with people living life on the margins of do the Calgary police who's vans also feature in this shot.

And spot the crane! Like I said in an earlier post, these days it's hard to get a picture of Calgary that doesn't include a crane!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Banff

So on Wednesday I told you I went to the Banff Hot Springs after hiking up Sulphur I thought that today I'd better show a couple of shots of the hike.
The first picture shows the lower part of the switchback trail which was snow-free. The upper stretches of the trail were much more for snowball fights! On a switch-back trail if you hurry ahead it's easy to throw snowballs down on your friends still toiling up the trail below!
The second shot shows the Gondola...which is the easy way to get up the mountain! We took the Gondola down. This used to be free (a reward for the effort you put in to hike up) but not any more. :(
At least the view is still free!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ski Jump Skyline

Maybe this is not the world's most exciting shot...but it does show Canada Olympic Park with the ski jump tower that featured last week rising on the skyline. This photo was taken about three weeks ago. The park always has snow earlier and later than the rest of the city because they use snowblowers to make snow all winter long. The half-pipe for snowboarders needs tonnes of the white stuff!
The snow has gone from the slopes now and soon the trails that lie beneath the snow will be open for mountain bikers to ride.
And that red grass in the foreground is not camera flare...or a photoshop effect. It really was that colour!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Working Wednesday - A job with a view!

Working Wednesday #6
This gentleman has a job I would love to the summer at least.
Heinz is one of the lifeguards at the Banff Hot Springs Pool and he has a job that comes with the most amazing view. From the lifeguard's chair the vista of Rundle Mountain is spectacular in any season.
I went to the Hot Springs this past weekend on one of the first really warm days we have had this Spring. It was great to loll in the warm water after my hike up Sulphur Mountain but really winter is the best time to visit the Springs. The water is kept at a constant temperature of around 40c and on a -30c, clear winters night with the stars above and the mountains covered in snow it's a wonderful place to keep warm, marvel at the steam rising from the water and fashion your hair into amazing frozen spikes! I don't think the lifeguards job is would be quite so much fun in winter though!
Heinz told me he enjoys his gives him time to get in a couple of hours skiing each morning in February, March and April before coming to work for the day. He chooses to work seasonally and in winter takes long vacations in warmer countries in the winter months....makes me want to go out and get my Bronze Medallion!

If you want to find out more about the Hot Springs... especially their fascinating history ...then visit :

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lawnmowers chatting we finally have warm temperatures! 20c today! YEEHAW!

I met these two lawnmowers chatting by the side of the road today. They've finally emerged from their winter hibernation, blinking a little in the bright sunlight. They've timed their arrival well...we have green grass at last in Calgary after a few day of sunshine and rain.
Now there's work for these machines to do. This is how you know it really is spring in Calgary...the lawn mowers begin to roar!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Night Train At Edworthy

I love the trains in Canada.
I love the way they go on for ever so that you can wait for fifteen minutes at a crossing while one-hundred and thirty cars (yes I've often counted!) go rumbling by. I love that they are red and huge. I love that the drivers sometimes wave.
But most of all I love hearing their mournful horns echoing down the Bow River Valley at night. That sound is right up there with the call of the loons on a summer morning or the silence of a heavy snowfall for me. It says all you need to know about Canada - spacious, empty and waiting to be discovered.
P.S. I don't mean to sound like a travel brochure!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Street Art Sunday - Zebra

Street Art Sunday #6

This zebra is just one critter in a whole parade of animals at the entrance to the Calgary Zoo. They stand about nine feet high and extend about fifty feet and cast the most wonderful shadows on the sidewalk when it's sunny.
Kids love to climb on them too.
The artist was Lucy Curtis and the piece was comissioned in memory of a long time benefactor of the zoo, Mona Libin. They reminded me of those curled paper cards that you sometimes find at craft fairs but I loved the scale and ruggedness of the weathered metal they were made from.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Day Hike From Calgary

Well we had a little snow again this week...and I got to thinking wistfully of summer and warmer days and then I started looking through old photos.
This shot was taken in September last year and shows a view on the Wenkchemna Pass hike in the Rocky Mountains. This was a day hike. We drove out from Calgary, hiked all day and were home tucked in our own beds that same night.
I am itching to get hiking again but it's been a cold spring and only the lower valley hikes are open. The rest are listed as icy or impassable or subject to avalanches.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fork off

I found this graffiti on a park bench by the Bow River and it made me smile.
I like word plays even though this one is a little obvious! just made me smile!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Triangle gallery

This shot was taken one lunch time at a great little art gallery attached to City Hall. It's a light-filled building squeezed into a tiny triangle of space at the far end of City Hall (hence the name) and it always has interesting displays. This one was of two Alberta ceramic artists, both very different but each responding to the landscape of this province.
I just loved the space. I could have stayed there a long time...but I only had a lunch hour!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Working Wednesday - How many?!?

Working Wednesday #5
Now I admit that it doesn't look like anyone is working in this shot...but see the orange on the left-hand side of the picture?...well that's the individual who was sure earning his pay as a professional dog-walker!
I spotted the car near a local park and the reason I noticed it was because there many dogs inside? I couldn't get them all in the picture but I think there were nine dogs in total!
Nine dogs having just a fabulous time romping a bunch of excited kids! The guy told me he loved his job because the dogs were so happy all the time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How did he get there?

This somewhat surreal picture was taken at the entrance to the Calgary Zoo.
It wasn't an easy shot to get...the elephant wouldn't stand still! That's because this the elephant was etched on sliding glass doors at the underpass entrance and folk were coming through every few seconds and it took me about six shots beforeI got this one.
It's a while since I've visited the zoo and I was pleasantly surprised at the changes that have been made. They have some really cool artwork that I'll feature in another post and have done their best to upgrade the animal exhibits to make them happier, more stimulating environments. There were lots of babies at the zoo: five baby peccaries, a baby gorilla, a baby colobus, a baby giraffe and a baby lemur that I saw so they must be doing something right.
But I'm still not sure about zoos.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Canada Olympic Ski Jump Tower

This is a shot from the ground looking up at the 90 metre ski jump tower built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. It's showing it's age a little but it's still in use. From the top you get panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains...and a scary view of what life is like for a ski jumper. You have no idea how steep that slope down is and just how far down 90 metres is! They start kids ski jumping here as young as six years old...but not off the 90 meter jump!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Street Art Sunday

Street Art Sunday #5

This is sponsored grafitii. It's on the side of Art Central in downtown Calgary which is one of my favourite places to go at the weekend because there's always something interesting to look at..artwork inside and artwork outside.
So this is graffiti...but not...I think it raises an interesting question. Can true graffiti be sponsored? Isn't the whole point about graffiti that it's supposed to be anarchic?
This particular piece is probably someone famous...a rapper maybe. Unfortunately I am hopeless with famous faces and names so I have no clue. Perhaps someone out there knows. I just like the energy of the piece...and at the entrance to a dull downtown back alley it makes a statement.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hacky Sack Game

I met this bunch of guys hanging out and playing hacky sack in a local can tell they are Canadian because they're wearing shorts and t-shirts despite the fact that we still have snow in our forecast!
The exciting thing about this shot is that you can see the grass is beginning to turn a little bit if only the temperatures would warm up then we might be able to say that spring was really's May after all!

Friday, May 15, 2009

King Kong is in Calgary!

I was surprised to see that King Kong is alive and well and apparantly living in Calgary!
I came across him climbing the side of a video rental store on 16th Avenue (the TransCanada Highway) just down the street from that little violin store I posted a photo of earlier this week. King Kong is about about 10 feet in height...somehow not as big as he seemed from the movies. Not as scary either, he seems to have gotten slower in his old age - I watched him for ten minutes and he never moved!
If you want to see the real Empire State Building check out Paz's New York Minute here for a great shot :

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Galaxie Diner at night

This is one of Calgary's few remaining old-fashioned diners and on weekend mornings it's always packed. It does great all-day-breakfasts and you sit in old-fashioned leather banquettes and watch the world come and go. We have a lot of great breakfast places in Calgary...perhaps I should sample them more systematically!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Working Wednesday - Bubble teas

Working Wednesday #4
This tiny basement store in downtown Calgary was doing a roaring trade the day I wandered past...the line-up was out the door, up the stairs and onto the street. They were making bubble teas...obviously good ones...and the women behind the counter were working flat out to meet the demand.
I've never tried bubble tea which is all the rage in Calgary right now. I like my tea the old-fashioned way, hot and so strong you can dissolve spoons in it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who came to the 1988 Winter Olympics?

If you want to know the answer to that question, then you can check out the flags flying on the plaza outside the lodge at Canada Olympic Park. They are the legacy of the 1988 Winter Games which are fondly remembered by Calgarians...they were the games of Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsled team.
These flags gather in a semi-circle round one of the Olympic flames used in the '88 and represent every nation that competed. I can identify Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden France and Germany and Jamaica amongst others. It's amazing to think how much the political landscape has shifted in 21 years. I wonder which flags will be flying in the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Violin's repaired! Who knew?!

I drive past this old store every day on my way to work. It looks deserted, abandoned, a candidate for demolition...and each time I drive past I wonder when exactly was the last time there was so much demand for violin repair and restoration in Calgary that it merited a whole store dedicated to these activities?
Imagine my surprise when I finished work early one afternoon this week and stopped off on my way home to take a photo of the store and saw that the "open" sign in the window was illuminated! This store is a going concern!
Gough's violin restorer's is situated on the Trans-Canada Highway which runs the breadth of Canada from St. Johns Newfoundland in the East to Victoria British Columbia in the West.....all 7,821km of it. It's the world's longest national highway and as it passes through the north of Calgary it's known as 16th Avenue.
Either folk are prepared to drive a very long way to get their violins repaired of there are a lot of violinists in Calgary! Who knew?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Street Art Sunday

Street Art Sunday #4
This old horse is one of my faviourite pieces of street art in downtown Calgary. He's been there as long can remember though these days he's looking a little sad. He has somehow ended up on a shadowed street corner ( hence the contrast in this picture) where no one really notices him much.
He's made from scrap metal; old pitchforks, tractor seats, engine parts that I'm not qualified to identify and stands about 9 feet tall (too high to climb on his back for a ride.)
And in the background is Calgary's most distinctive landmark...the Tower.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Your appointment is at Tooth Hurty!

This sign graces the side of a building in China Town...I'm not sure that I'd want to visit this particular dentist though!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cool Spring Evenings

It's a week of firsts now that the snow has finally melted. Last night we had our first firepit in the back yard. This is one of my favourite things to do in Spring and Fall.
Because Calgary is so close to the Rocky Mountains (to the west) and the Prairies (to the east) we lie on the boundary of two weather systems. This means that we get warm prairie days but cool mountain nights. It's wonderful in summer when our days are baking hot and our evenings pleasantly cool, but in spring the nights can be downright chilly (it's often a few degrees below zero at night until the end of May).
What better way to unwind for the weekend than to gaze into a warm glowing fire and sip a beer!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dogs just wanna have fun!

I walked down by the Bow River this weekend. Everyone-and-his-dog had the same idea - it was too nice to stay indoors - it was a beautiful blue sky day, warm enough for Canadians to wear shorts.
We stopped where this old rail bridge crosses the Bow River to watch a pack of off-leash dogs having a fine old time in the water splashing and playfighting and chasing sticks. When we were done watching we carried on along the river path to Bowness Park for an ice-cream - our first of the year.
By the way, these pictures are straight from the camera...the sky is really this blue in Alberta.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Working Wednesday - Spring Renovations

Working Wednesday #3
I spotted these guys in a back alley downtown this week. they were busy refurbishing their office furniture. I guess it's just that time of year...when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of varnish!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bookworm's Paradise

This week the CBC (Calgary Broadcasting Corporation) in Calgary had their enormous annual book sale.The book sale is a fundraiser for a Calgary charity that helps struggling readers aiming to give them a boost in the early grades and help them acheive literacy as adults.
There are always thousands of books for sale and many, many customers. The sale ran all weekend and on Friday night alone 1200 people attended. The sale is held in a community ice-hockey arena although the ice is no longer there because hockey has finished for the summer now.
It's always fun to go and pick up some gems. I found a fabulous 1970's book an how to make macrame hats and another on landing light aircraft in severe weather. I don't know when either of those skills are going to come in useful...but you never know!

Monday, May 4, 2009


We have a somwhat schizophrenic city hall in Calgary. There is the old original Victorian City Hall and stuck onto the side of it, a huge 1970's 0r 1980's modern blue glass, stepped building...large and monstrous in a dull sort of way. But because the modern building is tiered it chops and changes the reflections of the city in interesting ways. In this shot you can see the old city reflected in the new city hall building.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Street Art Sunday

Street Art Sunday #3
This statue is on the University of Calgary campus. It is one of six bronze figures holding up an enormous arch made of sheet metal of some kind. I have no idea what this enigmatic arch and the six bearers are meant to represent or even what the title is...I did try to find out but information was sadly lacking!
The androgynous figures are beautifully sculpted though.
On the day I was there, two young girls were enjoying clambering on them and then jumping off.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Treasure Hunting

On my way to the bread store today I met this gentleman. He was standing alone in the middle of a field absorbed in his work...treasure hunting! We chatted for a while and the whole time he was busy listening to the sounds in his head phones and bending down to check out what he had detected. In the ten minutes we were talking he found a dollar in quarters and a metal zipper pull.
His most interesting finds in Canada were a 1898 coin and a NorthWest Mounted Police uniform button. The most valuable items he finds are lost rings. He tries his best to reunite the rings with the owners but many have lain in the ground for years and older rings have few official marks to identify them. He also told me that he sometimes gets asked to help trace items like discarded weapons in unlikely locations...but today he was just out enjoying the warm sunshine!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Steaming Along

Yes it's a traction engine!
And the wheels make great shadows!
This is another shot from Heritage Park...that outdoor museum in the south of Calgary. One of the neat things about this museum is that they often have working vehicles of various kinds operating. The building in the background is the station...where the steam train pulls in and just below the station is the working paddle steamer in which you can take a short trip on the Glenmore Reservoir.