When to use “Howdy”

“Howdy, can I help you with something?”

It was the first thing a Stampede staff member said to us. If one “howdy” wasn’t good enough, we were greeted by several other people, all giving us a friendly “howdy, enjoy your day!” I quickly turned to Robyn and Chris and mumbled under my breath, “I’m pretty sure this is the only place in the world where it’s normal for people to say ‘howdy.’ I wonder if I can pull it off?”

Don’t worry, I don’t greet everyone by saying “howdy” now. I did however give it a test run, busting out a cheerful “Howdy, ya’ll!” Shockingly enough, I wasn’t taken seriously.

I’ve only been to Calgary once. My visit was during the Stampede, so I don’t know if it’s always swept up in cowboy culture, but it sure was when I was there.

We stopped at an Earls (which is a popular restaurant out West,) for lunch after Robyn and Chris picked me up from the airport. We were immersed in a sea of cowboy boots, hats, and denim galore. All of the waitresses were decked out in cowgirl gear. Even the TV’s were set to the country music station — again, the ONLY place in Canada where that’s perfectly normal. Before you knew it, the three of us were chatting about where we could go to find ourselves a pair of cowboy boots.

After you count the number of cowboy hats, please note the guy in the white cut off shirt. .

When we finally got to the Stampede I was in awe of the amount of Western plaid, hats, and get this — CUT OFF tee shirts. I know it’s only clothing, but clothes represent people and cultures, and it was really neat seeing something totally different.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to check out the rodeo and see real cowboys do their thing. We did stumble upon seeing OneRepublic live though! They were playing at the outdoor stage so all you had to do was pay Stampede admission to see them play. They sounded amazing – even better than they do on their albums. Ryan Tedder’s vocals on the album do not do him justice — he had a lot more freedom live and we got to see how talented he really is.

Ryan Tedder workin the crowd.

Unfortunately my staggering 5 foot 3 inches frame didn’t quite cut it and I spent most of the time on my tiptoes trying to find an opening through the masses to catch a glimpse of the stage. There were a lot of “THERE HE IS!” moments, followed by breathtaking views of the back of someone’s head. I didn’t mind though because the band sounded amazing and it was great getting to hear them play.

The drive back home was definitely a highlight of the trip. I can’t even describe how beautiful the scenery was. I love mountains and getting to drive through the Rockies was amazing. We made a quick stop in Banff (another location I’ve added to my list of places I want to live) and we stopped to stick our feet in a beautiful river.

I got to see a lot of new things on our trip to Calgary. It was a really fun road trip!

Just leaving Calgary and approaching the Rockies

Banff! Please note the kilts behind us.

Skipping rocks

Since I didn't have my life jacket on me Robyn made sure I didn't get swept away in the river. Safety first boys and girls.

Almost home.

Note to self: refrain from saying “howdy” unless one is in Calgary during the Stampede…


Fire and Water

I got a taste of true Okanagan summer last week.

Until last week, it hadn’t really felt like summer — the weather seemed more like fall. It was still pretty cool outside and rained off and on a lot. Normally, Okanagan summers are extraordinarily dry. One of the reasons I wanted to come here for the summer was to get away from Ontario’s rainy weather (although I have come to the conclusion that it’s quite possible that the rain follows me, considering that Ontario has been dry and it’s been raining here).

Anyways, last week was sunny and really hot – we had an awesome day at the beach and everyday at work it felt like a heatwave under the layers of our uniforms.

Two days ago there was a fire really close to Armstrong. A wood plant  caught fire and on my way home from work I saw everything through a thin filter of smoke, which got more and more thick the closer I got to Armstrong. There were planes flying all around the area, trying to control the fire (you can watch a video of the fire here). It was pretty scary, because I had no idea if it was a wild forest fire or what. There was no local news on TV and the radio was playing the UK Top 40 (seriously?! I found out more about the UK than my own city that night. FYI, American artists are tearing up the charts over there, too.)

Anyways, it was a brand new experience for me because fires are not common in Ontario. I was sitting watching TV and out the front window you could see all this smoke floating around, and this is a pretty regular thing in the Okanagan.

The fire was controlled and I don’t think anyone was seriously injured. The next day the temperature cooled outside and it rained off and on all day. My drive home from work last night was a totally opposite experience from the day before — there was some sun peeking through the clouds while drops of rain splattered my windshield. To the left of me there was a beautiful, large rainbow shining.

At home, instead of seeing smoke outside the window, as I stepped outside the front door I was greeted by two beautiful rainbows. I guess everything works out in the end.