Friday, July 07, 2006

wild things: stampede

Ed tells me: do you know we will be traveling for twelve hours just to get to Calgary?

Oh yes. We are frugal travelers and so we will indeed (within minutes, if I can tear myself away from blogging) sit on a bus for four hours to get to Midway Airport in Chicago and then fly south to Denver to pick up the flight there to Calagary. Why? Because Frontier Airlines requires fewer frequent flyer miles for free tickets and that is the route Frontier takes.

Besides, I think it is fitting to travel on Air France when I go to France and on an airline called Frontier when I head for the wild west.

I have no doubt that Calgary is part of the wild west – or at least that it likes to, for one week in July, view itself as such. We are hitting it during stampede week. This is what one guide says about the town we are to ramble around in tomorrow morning:

Every July, Calgary's perennial rough-and-ready Cowtown image is thrust to the forefront when a fever known as Stampede hits town. For 10 days, Calgarians let their hair down--business leaders don Stetsons, bankers wear boots, half the town walks around in too-tight denim outfits, and the rate of serious crime drops. For most Calgarians, it is known simply as The Week (always capitalized). It is a celebration of the city's past--of endless sunny days when life was broncos, bulls, and steers, of cowboys riding through the streets, and saloons on every corner. But it is not just about the past. It's the Cowtown image Calgarians cherish and the frontier image that visitors expect. On downtown streets, everyone is your neighbor. Flapjacks and bacon are served free of charge around the city; normally staid citizens shout "Ya-HOO!" for no particular reason; Indians ride up and down the streets on horseback; and there's drinking and dancing until dawn every night.

I am as certain as there are bears in the mountains that Ed will shy away from placing himself in the midst of crowds of people shouting Ya-HOO at each other. Me, I’m up for it. I got an email from an Ocean reader this morning, a Calgarian, who writes that this week may be somewhat of an exaggeration of what the townfolk are really like.

Personally, I am happy to be going at a time when people are out and about having a good time. Come on: encounters with savage bears in the wilderness, or bulls and steers and wild cows in a rodeo ring – which is more appealing?

It says a lot that Ed would pick the former and I the latter. But he did promise that, true to what the hiking books advise, first stop will be at a Walmarts (I kid you not) where bear mace is the rage.