Monday, July 25, 2011

Care for some gopher? *

The hot, dry air was stifling and we were thankful for the refuge of the air conditioned car as we gleefully navigated our way to the hamlet of Torrington, Alberta - home of the Torrington Inn, Torrington Pizza and the infamous Gopher Hole Museum.

Visitors from all over the world pilgrimage down the number 2 highway towards Olds, keeping keen eyes out for the faded sign that promotes the small museum that is filled with the snared and stuffed Richardson Ground Squirrels (often called Gophers) set up in various dioramas, portraying Torrington daily life.

The museum is no bigger than a double-wide trailer and there are approximately 30 different dioramas hung on the walls. Depictions of conversations taking place at the dinner table, the beauty parlor and other places around town are done both artfully and with wit. Speech bubbles over the dressed up Gophers had many patrons of the museum giggling and chuckling with friends and strangers.

Entrance into this one-of-a-kind attraction costs ONLY a twoonie per person and it is well worth the approximate 130km trek from Calgary. Pack a lunch, bring some cold drinks and enjoy Sundays the way they were meant to be enjoyed – exploring Alberta with a mini road trip off the beaten trail.

*2 points if you know what movie this quote is from

Monday, July 11, 2011


The fabulous Jennifer Huard and I started our day of Stampeding by taking the traditional mode of transportation down to the Grounds – ye ol’ chuckwagon aka the C-train. My first observation (and Jenn’s voiced one) was how awesome it is that for ten days, this city comes together for a costume party that every one in the world is invited to. There are many cynics who state this tradition is silly and make it seem to the world that this is the way Calgarians dress 365 days a year. I guess if this is true, Germans must always wear Lederhosen and those from New Orleans must only wear beads. I love the ten days that bring this city together for flapjacks and line-dancing. It was one of the reasons I was super excited to be offered the job of an ENMAX roaming reporter at the Rodeo.

There is nothing better then being greeted with sunshine on your planned day to Stampede. Most of these events are “rain or shine”, so when the world decides to shine, you can’t help but feeling more ecstatic about your days adventures. Our first stop was the BMO centre where the hustle and bustle of the latest gadgets, gizmos and doodads filled the air with an excited buzz. We found the ENMAX IceShow photobooth just in the Corral and posed for our pictures. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well explained to us that our two pictures would be made into one hologram picture so our poses didn’t quite work. Mental note for next time is to choose my poses carefully!

After our photo session, we went back outside to satisfy our craving for Poutine and fresh-squeezed Lemonade. Carb-loaded and ready to go, we hit up the Rodeo – where the origination of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth came from.

There are 6 major events in the rodeo: The Saddle Bronc, Bareback, Tie-down roping, Steer Wrestling, Barrel Racing and Bull Riding. Watching these cowboys (and cowgirls) compete in these events not wearing any protective gear was mind-boggling. Think about how much padding hockey players and football players wear under their uniform and here we have events where one is literally bucked off of a horse or bull, and the cowboy is wearing a cowboy hat and some chaps. Not that I am complaining. They look mighty fine in their uniforms. ;-)

After our afternoon cheering on the boys (and girls) and laughing at the antics of the Rodeo clown, we made our way to the ENMAX Ice Show. If there is one thing anyone must do this Stampede is watch that show. Live music, acrobats, figure skating and Jamie Sale and David Pelltier make the best 44 minutes EVER! They give the Super Dogs a run for their money for sure. We had amazing seats courtesy of ENMAX (so follow them on Twitter - @ENMAXEnergy as they give away VIP seats through out the day) and receiving a high five from a figure skater during the show was awesome!

I think the best part of being an ENMAX Roaming Reporter was how much more in tune and observant I was during the afternoon. This opportunity had me realize even more just how lucky I am to live in a city where, for ten days, we are all living in the Wild West. Old Western theme songs have been running through my head all week and I love every minute of it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mental Floss

Good habits are worth being fanatical about - John Irving

I'll confess. I haven't always regularly flossed my teeth. I would sporadically run the waxed ribbon between the spaces in my smile down to the gum and usually it would be right around the time I had a check-up coming up at the dentist. And without fail, every visit I would be asked if I was making sure to floss regularly as my defenseless gums lost the battle with the medieval weapons the hygienist used against plaque and tartar. I would become defensive -- of course I flossed and what's the definition of "regularly" anyway? And the only logical reason my gums were being drained of blood was because they had been attacked with a sharp hooked pick by someone who was obviously a sadist, choosing a profession in which sharp pain was wielded against an innocent bystander in the name of preventing cavities.

I hated the feeling of shame inflicted upon me 3 times a year as I lay back in that chair, mouth open, unable to spew a full sentence with a tiny mirror and a small vacuum hose jammed in my mouth. And I decided to conduct an experiment. I see my dentist every 4 months. I was going to floss EVERY SINGLE DAY in between visits to prove that it wasn't a lack of regular flossing that had my gums weeping. I meticulously made a point of writing in my day book every day after I flossed so that I could show the dentist my records.

The thing experiment back fired in a sense. At first, my gums howled and were angry that I was continuing the undeserved punishment in the privacy of my bathroom. And then they seemed to subside, give up, allow me to continue the daily ritual. After a few weeks, it was like we had both forgotten that this was an experiment and it became habitual. And, to my dentist's dismay (I am sure), at the next check up, my gums didn't scream silently in fear. And the hygienist seemed surprised that she wasn't causing a possible need for blood transfusions.

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us" John Dryden

One hears all of the time about breaking habits -- vices that one needs to rid one's self of in order to live a better, fuller life. Earlier this week I was at my regular check-up, being told that everything was looking fantastic in my mouth and I was still cavity free (29 years and counting!). While perusing the motivational posters that my dentist has decorated his ceiling with, I realized that my defensive and stubborn attitude allowed me to create a habit in my life that may possibly have added a few years on and definitely creates less blood shed during the war on gingivitis. I also thought about how this one little habit I created takes no time out of my day at all and began brainstorming about other little habits I could start implementing.

Flossing every day really can change your life. I took control of one little thing years ago, and now feel like I have the power to shape and control more and more in my life.

What's one little habit you have implemented that has created the same feelings in you?