Alberta. Some people might not think much of it, but the fact that I spent the first 10 years of my life in Edmonton, I sort of have a special connection to the place. Since I hadn’t had a REAL vacation in 6 years (since my trip to L.A.) I really needed this one. Work was starting to get to me, and people were getting on my nerves, and the general stress level in my life had begun to climb intensely. So, I knew that going on a nice trip away from all responsibilities would be good for me.

And it was. In fact, I think this was perhaps the best vacation I ever took in my whole life. I’ve had some memorable trips and stuff I’m very proud of, but this was really an amazing trip for me in many ways.

I started the trip off on a very early Saturday morning. I had to catch a plane to Toronto at 6:30AM which was a pain because I hate getting up early. But it wasn’t so bad. The trip to Toronto is only about 2 hours so I watched a movie on the way there on the DVD player I brought. Once I got to Toronto, it was easy to find my gate as I literally walked out of the jetway and across the hall to the gate where the plane to Edmonton was waiting. The layover time was very little and went by fast anyway. The trip from Toronto to Edmonton was hell. It took way too long to get there. 3 and a half hours ain’t long but it is when you want to get somewhere fast. Eventually I landed, collected my luggage, and then started my trek into the city with the new rental car. Toyota Corolla is actually not a bad car. It drove very well for me.

The first few days were filled with me driving around and checking out all of the places I used to know. I took the local train downtown and they had this “Tastes Of Edmoton” which was in Churchill Square. It basically had all of these booths filled with different cuisines from different cultures. I didn’t do much sampling but it was pretty cool. It was very surreal to be in areas of the city that I had been in as a kid. I do remember being in Edmonton 6 years ago, but I didn’t have a whole lot of time to just take in the areas and drive around and stuff. I did go to West Edmonton Mall which was awesome. Saw the Dolphin show, and took a submarine ride, and even took in an Imax movie (Matrix Reloaded is WAY better in Imax). I didn’t get any photos of the mall because I filled an entire videotape of footage. If I ever get some captured I may add them to the photo gallery.

One thing I did get to do was go to Klondike days which I hadn’t been to in 18 years. Klondike days is a festival that happens every year in Edmonton. It sort of celebrates the fact that Edmonton was one of the major stops that people made during their trek to the big Klondike Gold digs way back when. The festival lasts for about a week and has tonnes of little booths, food, rides, concerts, and piles of other stuff. It’s basically a Bill Lynch on steroids but a HELL of a lot better.

There were a lot of cool rides including the one you see here. Basically they strap you into this little ball and stretch it out with basically massive bungee wires, and then let you fling into the air. It was a really cool ride to see but I wasn’t going to bother since just one ride was $30 and I had already been high in the air before and it was just cool to see the rides. There were other cool rides and stuff like this cool drop of fear ride that looked neat but once again, I was really just there to take in the sights.

There were a couple of buildings at Klondike days that had all of these cultural crafts and arts and stuff. A lot of different countries had booths. I bought this really cool looking skeleton thing that I didn’t even realize was an ashtray but it was neat looking and hand made in Indonesia. Very nice. I also bought mom this cool hanging dragon as her souvenir from Klondike Days. I ran into my old friend Roy Hanna there. Actually, we had lunch and then I saw him the next day at Klondike Days. He is doing quite well and him and his girlfriend just celebrated their 2 year anniversary. Congrads Roy. Roy, of all people, is doing the truck driving thing now. How odd.

The most unexpected thing came out of my Klondike days visits though. One of the little flyers that people get in the mail gave a listing of all the different events going on at the show. On stage 1, they were having concerts each day. During the day, it was usually a no-name cover band or something like that. But during the evenings, they had real performers there. Sloan, Randy Bachman, and a pile of others. One of the performers that was playing was Chantal Kreviazuk (see photo). Now, I’ve seen her on TV, and heard some of her tunes and thought they were cool. Plus, she’s hot too! So, I thought since the show is free for people at Klondike Days, why not go. So, I did. I have to say I was totally blown away. She is incredibly talented and performed her tunes amazingly live. She was extremely nice to the audience chatting with people, and making jokes, and telling stories and everything. It was truly an amazing show. I managed to get some real decent close up shots (see picture) and was so impressed by the show, I went to HMV the next day and bought her CD. Yes. It is piano music and I am normally quite into heavy stuff but the music really struck a chord with me and after reading some of the lyrics, a lot of what she says really goes with where I am in my life. Besides, you can’t truly appreciate music unless you are exposed to a lot of it. So, it was awesome! Thanks for a great show Chantal!

The next major event to happen during my vacation was my trip to Banff. A GIANT thanks goes out to RDO for getting me the awesome deal for the night at the Banff Springs Hotel. I can’t thank him enough. I was driving down the road towards the hotel and as I started to see the hotel in the distance, my heart literally skipped a beat and I almost had to stop the car. I had no idea the hotel was that nice looking and that massive. Wow!

I made good use of the valet parking and checked my ass into the room. Even for a small room, it was insanely nice. Huge bed, fireplace, chandelier, just lots of great stuff. Once I got settled, I walked around the grounds for awhile and took a pile of video and pictures. The view from the back of the hotel was absolutely stunning. I took a couple of pictures and this one here (the mountain one) was the best one. It came out REALLY well. It’s taken directly from the back lounge area of the hotel looking out onto the mountains. I think one of them is Mount Rundle but I can’t say for sure. I was just totally awestruck by the mountains everywhere. Anyone who says New Brunswick has some nice mountains has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. THESE are real mountains.

Regardless, it was shortly after doing the tour of the hotel, that I went back to my room and unwound for a little while. I had bought a wildlife tour online so I could see some of the cool wildlife in the park. They were supposed to pick me up at the hotel and after them being confused as to where I was, they found me, and all was good.

The tour wasn’t that great. I saw some animals on the roadway and in the woods which of course was cool. The shot here is of two Elk grazing in a small pond just off the side of the road. This picture wasn’t even taken during my tour but when I went for a drive on my own. The tour was somewhat ok and I did get to see some cool stuff but it was definitely not worth the $35 I paid for it. But in the end it worked out ok because I probably wouldn’t have known where to go and in fact, the tour guide told me where to go to find good shots of the wildlife and I took this photo on a trail that he recommended so I guess it was worth it in the end. Regardless, after the tour was over, I went back to the hotel and vegged out. I watched The Amazing Race and ordered some kick ass room service which costed way too much but was worth it in the end as I would probably never get the chance again. I got up the next morning and was quite happy. I took a stroll around the hotel and took some pictures and all that good stuff but then eventually did my check out and wasn’t really sure where I was going to end up.

I hopped in the car and drove through the town of Banff and then decided that since I was so close, I might as well go. I headed up to Lake Louise. I barely remembered this place from when I was there as a kid but when I got there, it was once again, breath-taking. The scenery there is amazing and the hotel on the lake is also quite nice. It was pretty wicked to see. I was happy. But once I was done at Lake Louise, it was time for me to head back. I was starting to get tired and really didn’t feel like spending a whole lot more time there. I was by myself and perhaps if someone had been with me it would be different but when I do trips by myself I tend to see the sights, and then leave.

Once I got back to Edmonton, it was mostly about vegging out and doing nothing. I went ot a couple of places in town, and did a lot of driving but it was mostly enjoying time with my dad and just vegging out. Sometimes even just doing that away from home can be super relaxing.

One thing I did do was head out to Hermitage Park which was one of the 2 parks me and mom used to spend a lot of time in when I was younger. To my surprise, I found a park full of these geese you see here. They were ALL over the place. It was pretty insane the amount of them that were just hanging out n the park.

I ended up feeding them two entire loaves of bread over the course of two days just because it was fun to do and very relaxing somehow. Going to the park and just hanging out was nice and there were very few people around and it was just someplace nice and quiet.

I would say that my trip to Alberta was awesome.

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