Days 30 and 31 – Allan’s Business Visits in Interesting Places

Thursday September 4 (Muriel)

Last night’s introduction to Calgary was unimpressive:  flat terrain after the glories of the Canadian Rockies and driving through only semi-seedy areas.

However, today I got some idea of why Allan, who has been here before, thinks this is an exciting and well functioning city.  We had picked a visit to the Calgary Tower as our one must-do here.  The desk clerk suggested that we take the train rather than driving.  It was a brilliant suggestion allowing us to better see a lot of the city with less stress.  We walked a couple of blocks to the Banff Trail train station and caught a train.  As it approached Calgary’s huge centre (see, I’m learning Canadian), it converted from light rail to trolley.  We disembarked at Centre Street and walked to the tower, where we paid and took an elevator up 525 feet to the circular indoor viewing deck.


The sky was blue with scattered clouds, and we could see at least 100 miles in all directions.  We looked down at the Bow River which we had followed from the Icefields in Banff NP.  To the west were the gorgeous snow and glacier topped Rocky Mountains, and much lower rolling foothills.  The terrain was flat to the distant horizon in all other directions.  The city skyline was hardly flat.  In the huge urban center, the buildings ranged from rather tall to tall to stratospheric.  We saw many, many of what Allan identified as the City Bird of Calgary, the Construction Crane.  According to an article I read in this morning’s Globe and Mail, Calgary is growing fast and attracting many immigrants.  The average family income of immigrants living in Calgary is around $133K per year!

Back at street level we walked the length of the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall, past the performing arts center and its park, many restaurants, the Hudson Bay Department Store, and a small farmer’s market, passing three small cowboy bands.  We walked under a few enclosed pedestrian walkways 15 feet above street level that enable Calgarians to walk from building to building without having to brave the severe winter weather here. The mix of fellow pedestrians was quite diverse racially and well dressed, with a few probably homeless people mixed in.  We eventually selected Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro where we lunched on cheeses with bread and wonderful green bean tempura with a glass of red wine.  (Note:  our favorite cheese was Brittania 5 year Cheddar (Ontario, Canada).)


Walking back to the train station, we encountered a First Nation man who muttered drunkenly but pleasantly at us.  Passing him, we had to dodge another First Nation man who was weaving unsteadily from one side of the sidewalk to the next.  For the entire train ride back to our stop, we listened to another who was a few seats behind us loudly announce over and over “I need you to help me.”  When he apparently got no help, his language became repetitively abusive.  Apparently there are many lost souls in Calgary like elsewhere.

Soon after we returned to our hotel, Dan Van Leeuwen, a business friend of Allan’s picked him up to look at a potential project, while I relaxed.  He returned two hours later.  Allan’s friend took us and his partner and partner’s wife to dinner across from Divino’s to the Tribune.  It turned out Divino’s is the friend’s favorite restaurant, so we went to his next favorite instead.  We had an excellent dinner with interesting conversation in a beautiful restored stone building dating back to the late 19th century.

Friday September 5 (Muriel)

We got up early, had breakfast, packed and headed to Flathead, Montana from Calgary where Allan had an afternoon business appointment.  Not so fast….  The main drag we needed to take to the freeway was closed to 2 of its 3 lanes for construction.  Briefly it was closed to 1 lane.  This was rush hour.  It took almost an hour to go 2 or 3 miles.  However, once we passed the construction work, we quickly got to the freeway and drove through Calgary.  It’s a very big city.

We took a series of minor highways south once we left Calgary, so as to enter Montana west of Glacier National Park.  At first the terrain was almost flat, with the Rockies in the distance to the west.  We drove through grasslands, hayfields, and prosperous looking farms with a few horses and cattle in the fields.  Then the terrain became hillier, there were areas of sagebrush, and we were driving toward Rockies to the South.  Eventually we drove through relatively low mountains on a very scenic highway.

Around midday we crossed the border into Montana.  Immediately the landscape was less forested, the roads were less well maintained, the buildings more forlorn, and we had the option of visiting about half a dozen casinos.  After an hour the landscape became more forested, the road better and the buildings were more prosperous.  We headed for the community and recreational area of Flathead Lake.  There Allan spent the rest of the afternoon in a meeting while I sipped coffee at a restaurant and read the news on the Kindle.  We had an early dinner and headed to the nearby town of Kalispell for the night.  We are looking forward to spending the next four nights in nearby Glacier National Park.


1 Response to “Days 30 and 31 – Allan’s Business Visits in Interesting Places”

  1. 1 Thousand Oaks Kotins September 10, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Hi There,

    I’m glad to hear you’re learning to speak/spell Canadian because you’ll be tested on it when you return. Of course, by then you’ll have moved on to y’all and fixin’ to. Love the pictures!!

    Love from Kathy, Steve, Emily and Alex xoxox

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