Bow River in Winter

January 29, 2010

The Bow River, which passes by downtown Calgary, freezes over solid in the winter at times, and has a channel of open running water at others.  We pass over the river twice a day during the week, to work and home again over the bridge pictured.  On Tuesdays I like to walk over from downtown to Kensington for our Knit Night at the Gratitude Cafe, on the pedestrian walk-way under the bridge.  On much colder weeks the river is a mass of ice, some smooth with snow, some slabs piled up on top of the other.  On warmer weeks small rivers within the river open up in the ice, and running water can be seen moving swiftly by a deep grey blue colour.  As always I take a moment on the bridge to lean over, listen, and watch.  It may be a folk tale about bad spirits not being able to cross a moving stream, but I always feel better after crossing the river.

At times the water cannot find an open channel through the ice, but instead pushes up through a hole, and runs across the top of the ice, making patterns as it goes.  This also makes me wish my little point and shoot took better photos in low light!  Mr. J and I have been excitedly looking at the sunrise on the train in the morning.  This is exciting as until this week we watched the sunrise from the office.  We also went home in daylight , which is a lovely change.  The long days are coming back quickly, soon we will have light until blissful 11 pm once again.  In the meantime I am still enjoying our frozen landscape, but this always wears off in February, for me the most dreary month of the year.  March is full of lovely plans, trips, birthdays, and visits.  Once February is over, made speedier I’m sure by the Olympics, March will be here and spring not too far behind.  Okay, it may be two more months away after that, but for myself it feels like we’re home-free.  I can just smell that first sweet warm breeze now.

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Most nice sunny summer days, like today, Mr. J and I head outside and wander down Stephen Avenue in Calgary.  Its closed to traffic, and is a bustling place in the summer, deserted in the winter (picture icicles, howling winds, people running to get inside, so bundled up you can barely see a face, a city of bank robbers).  On Thursdays there is a farmers market set up, in Olympic Plaza there is currently an art installation (a sculptor is chiseling out a lady in stone over the week), a few ambulances, construction workers, bankers, homeless people, such a melange.

Stephen Avenue

Today, as we are extremely charitable people, we decided to support the Make a Wish foundation and buy some things from their bakesale, because that is the type of good, selfless, giving, generous people we are:

We're so charitable

That was one frigging awesome chocolate cupcake, and yes, I now have a tummy ache.

Unless you are the one drinking the tequila, watching the bike races that is:

Tequila and bikes

I can’t really think of a better way to spend Sunday afternoon on the long weekend in Calgary then to head down to Bowness, find a table at the one decent Mexican restaurant here, order a pitcher of margaritas, and watch the crit races fly on by.  The restaurant was doling out shots of tequila to the lucky patrons in honour of the bike races, which made me double glad that we had toodled down here on our cruiser bikes.  We definitely sloshed our way home after!  The bike races are so much fun with the whole pack of elite male racers flying by every minute!  Whooosh!  Luckily there was only one crash in the final race, and he got up again and went back to the race minus much of the right side of his uniform and a good layer of skin.  It was very exciting. 

We rode home just as it was getting dark and the storm crowds were coming in:

Storm Clouds

Those pretty clouds brought horrible gusts of wind, hail, torrential rain, and incredible amounts of lightening and thunder.  One cat huddled close by, the other crazy cat (the boy) got up on the window to see the rain, hail, and flashes of lightening better.  I was busy huddling under the covers hoping the house did not blow down, and that the fire trucks driving by would keep on going, not stopping anywhere near the neighbourhood.  Mr. J. went back to sleep.  Boys!!

Adventure Week: Day 2

July 21, 2009

This past weekend we had an adventure in biking up the Jumping Pound Ridge Cox Hill Trail.  The trail description could go as thus:

Head straight up to Jumping Pound Ridge, around a few switchbacks thrown in to fool you that you aren’t going straight up.  After 1 minute of this, watch your heartrate race past “high” to “way too high” and finally accept that it may explode at any time, and its time to get off your bike and push.  The only other alternative is to collapse at the side of the trail in a heap, and that ain’t getting you up to the top any faster even if it does sound rather nice.  Once on Jumping Pound Ridge, head along semi-flat trail for a little bit, think you are doing well.  Then notice the huge  climb up to Cox Hill, and realize you had better grow new heart, legs, and and lungs fast.  The once source of pride from the day is that I did smoke that group of hikers, approximate ages 70-90.  Left them in the dust baby!!

Once at the top, if you survive, the view is rather nice if you can remember to pick yourself up from your face plant and look around:

Anne and Julian on Cox Hill

Jumping Pound Ridge can be seen over our shoulders.  And in a scene repeated on many trails across many countries, it takes this many people to fix a bike:

Bike Repair

The fun of riding my bike home from work on a beautiful sunny day is that I can take side streets, and find new ways home.  My new favorite way takes me through a pretty section of Bowness by the river, and over the pedestrian Bowmont bridge.  In many cultures, crossing over running water is a way to shake off evil spirits, even in the Lord of the Rings the bad guys can’t follow the good guys into running water.  Standing over  the Bow River, which is still running glacier clear, but getting more full each day, as the spring run off approaches, for me is almost therapeutic.  The sound of the river, the smell of it, all that water rushing by washing all the evil spirits away.

Taken on this bridge, last night, as I leisurely pedalled my way home.

May 28 002

On June 14th I’m going to be participating in the MSRide just north of Calgary for one day, 78 km.  I am then hopping on a plane to San Diego that night (for THE Water Conference), obviously because I believe in self torture, but that is another story.  Ride 78 km, drive to airport, get on plane, fall asleep, great plan!  But I digress.  In order to raise some money for the Calgary MS Association, I hit upon the plan to hold a yard sale, and give all the proceeds to the charity.  Mr. J. and I don’t particularly like asking people for money, and this way people could donate items that they would normally just be taking to Goodwill, or the Salvation Army anyways, except we would get rid of it for them and save them a trip.  I’ve gone through my house to look for items, and I’m happy to say friends have been coming through and already dropped some items off!  I’ve been knitting hats on the weekends, I’m trying to make two a week:

Charity Hats

The yellow fuzzy one still needs some ears I think.  I’ve been using up odds and ends I’ve found in my rubbermaid tub, the fuzzy yarn was purchased years ago to make some fuzzy stuffed animals that were adorable, and long ago gifted to babies.  With two more weeks until the sale on June 5th, I  hope to crank out another 4-5 hats.  I sure hope people buy them now.  My Mum was also busy making some extremely useful shopping bags of cotton:

Charity shopping bags

She has made more that are currently on the way as well!!  If anyone in Calgary is interested in attending the sale on June 6th (the saturday!!  Why do I keep putting in 5th?),  leave a comment and I’ll let you know my address, I’m in the NW.  Or if anyone has anything that we may be able to sell, leave a comment (my neighbourhood is full of kids, I think that stuff will sell well).  Anything we don’t sell we may try and sell at my brothers house on Signal Hill at a later date, or we will take to Goodwill, nothing will be wasted.  Absolutely everythingwe make will go to the MSRide fund. 

If anyone is feeling extremely generous on this sunny Friday, donations can also be made at:

https://msofs.mssociety.ca/2009Bike/Sponsor.aspx?&PID=1131068&L=2

Have a great weekend everyone, and for those of you in the Land of the Free, hope it doesn’t snow and have freezing rain on your holiday Monday like it did on ours!!!!

Which is today!  And I did!  I have to mention first off, that yesterday I proclaimed it the first day with no snow in five days, and it promptly snowed on me most of the way home last night.  It literally started 3 seconds after I got on my bike and headed out.  In two blocks I had to pull over and layer up, and was still pretty chilly by the time I got home and hopped in my beloved bathtub. 

The joys of riding a bike to work are many, but there are logistical problems to overcome.  I thought as part of my little promotion of biking to work I would explain a few of the things I do to enable me to choose this mode of transportation!  Much of this is directly specifically to the conditions we have here in Calgary.  This city has wonderful bike paths, and my route takes me from the T-hood in the west of the city, down the Bow River, and into downtown.  It is estimated that around 5000 bike to work here in the summer months.  I am on the road a very short distance, most of my way is right by the river on the bike path, it takes me one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes.  My views look like this:

bow-river-in-the-morning

Which to me is much preferrable to the views from the bus!  I ride my old hard tail mountain bike, as parts of the bike trail are a bit broken up, and every once in awhile I need to hop a curb.  This bike is around 8 years old now, and for a cost of $600 originally, it has taken me very far.  I took off the bigger tires and put skinnier ones on, but they still have a bit of tread for traction.  I’ve got a platform on the back of the bike over my tire, to which I strap my backpack.  Its nice to ride without having to carry it on your back, but to have the bike take the load. 

Proper clothing is really important here, as even in the summer it is chilly.  I have a wind breaker jacket which keeps a lot of chill out, arm warmers, leg warmers and some great tights that are windproof.  On cold days like this morning I wore two layers of tights and leg warmers.  I have a fleece headband to keep my ears warm, and a wonderful face mask with holes for my nose and mouth to make breathing easy.  Also important are booties to keep the feet warm, and a good pair of gloves.  As the temperature can literally go up 10-15 degrees celcius during the day here, I ride home with just a base layer of bike shorts, jersey, arm warmers and my thin gloves. 

I have long hair which I braid, and then comb out once I get to work, I’ve never been much of a hair do person.  At work I have deodorant, make up, and spare underwear in case I forget to pack it!  I ride in with my work clothes in my backpack,  I’ve got a few pairs of shoes that I leave in the office year round.  As its cooler in the morning, and I’m riding to a moderate heart rate (slow enough to elevate the heart rate, but low enough that I can easily talk) I don’t tend to get too sweaty, and it hasn’t been a problem.  Wrinkle free office clothes are a necessity however as I tend to just stuff them in my backpack. 

I always have a pump, spare tube, lights, cell phone, water, all the good stuff.  I’m usually riding during daylight hours, and I feel my route is very safe (Hi Dad!).  I’ll probably stop riding to work this year when it gets too dark in the morning again.  I also have a lovely bell on my commuter bike as per by-law regulations. Ting, ting, ting!

After a winter of sitting on the bus, and waiting for them when they don’t bother to show up, the freedom of just hopping on the bike again is wonderful.  I’d like to ride every day of the week, but that is a lot of wear and tear on the body, which means I need to work slowly up to that, adding a bit each week.  My new diet is helping me give the energy I need to do this however, I already feel much better and its only Day #5. 

Happy Riding everyone!

I do hope nothing is wrong with my camera, perhaps when I zoom into the distance its losing its focus.  This vista is so pretty, on the way out of Gravelbourg:

april-6-008

The lonely church, white spire pointing resolutely to the sky (or heaven if you lean that way), wide open prairie, lonely rememants of snow.  Just imagine the church is in focus, and the rest of it. 

Also, to the snow still left around here: it would have been nice it if had worked out.  I mean it was fun for a long time, but now I’m so over you and I’m ready to see the ground again.  The good news is that I think you’ll be gone by the end of the week.  The Bow river is open again, and running strong but still clear, the glacier blue colour evident.  The muddy brown, the light brown of silt isn’t in there yet, which means no melting in the mountains as of yet.  The level hasn’t risen very much either, but it will soon.  Ah spring, bring it on.

april-6-010

We have a very good view of the new skylight they are building over the downtown mall here in Calgary:

new-skylight

You can see the old, obviously too small skylight that will eventually be removed when the new one is ready to go.  I’m afraid I don’t understand the marketing behind this construction, and why someone signed off on tearing up a perfectly good mall to put this in.  I just don’t know how its going to inspire more people to go into downtown Calgary to shop.  Now I’ve seen the “World’s Largest Fountain (Singapore)”, the “World’s Largest Mall (again Singapore)”, and even the “World’s Largest Indoor Manmade Waterfall (Hong Kong)”.  Am I just jaded with all these other wonders I have seen?  Am I too cynical to shop under the “World’s Largest Skylight”.  Was I naive as I also shopped under the old, obviously now too small skylight?  What do you think?  I do think its kind of cool however, especially how they are constructing it.

I am finally starting to come out of my extended grumpiness that began last weekend.  Believe it or not the grumpiness was brought on by the fact that we’re leaving for Moab Utah tomorrow after work.  Stressed by work I haven’t done, projects undone, the fact that everything always explodes while you are gone, and how horrible things seem when you get back to work due to the aforementioned explosion.  Now that I’m almost packed, have done some damage control on projects, I’m starting to get excited about going.  We’ve been trying to train for the bike rides, and my bike and I are so, so excited to get out of my living room for awhile.  I know its going to be some painful rides, long, and made worse by my out of shapness, but its going to hurt good.  I know there are other people out there who love that achy body feeling brought on by a really good work out.  Right?  Piper has recently emerged as my personal coach extraordinare:

piper-in-training

“Get ur bootee back on this bike young lady!”  Yes ma’am!  I’m planning to make it to Blazing Needles on Thursday March 19, and hopefully breakfast at Silver Lake Lodge on Saturday March 21 before we leave for home.  (Mental note to bring chains for the car.)  I hope I get to see some of my friends in Salt Lake!  I have also decided to break the yarn diet, but only for local stuff I can’t get anywhere else!!  Desert Threads in Moab, Sleeping Dragon in SLC, I’m coming for you!  Yeehaw!  One more day to go!

On Sunday we leave January and enter February, which for me is the hardest month.  I’m busy getting excited about the approaching spring, but still mired down in sub zero temperatures, mounds of snow, and frost bitten cheeks.  I miss my skirts, sandals, my pretty tank tops, running out the door without taking 5 minutes to layer up.  The world seems colourless as the snow melts, becomes brown and grey, but nothing green can be found.  I can feel a big binge of spring cleaning coming on as I peer into my closet, wondering what I haven’t worn in forever and can be donated.  I need, I must shed the past year, the cold winter, and get ready for the spring. 

I love the idea of knitting brightly coloured items to cheer up my wintery house.  I love the idea of making green things in honour of this time of year.  Bright, vibrant green the colour of new grass, crocus stalks, tulips peeking through.  At times it seems our world has been frozen solid, and will never unfreeze.  I can’t imagine living in a world such as make-believe Narnia where winter lasted for 100 years.  I would like to meet a Centaur however.

This morning a Chinook blew through, and its currently 8 oC outside, which is extremely warm when you are used to -25 oC.  But its hard to enjoy it when I’m sure we’ll have another one or two deep freezes to endure before the end, before spring.  In order to get through February, expect to see me posting cheerful photos of warmth, spring, and green things.  I hope that ()&*($@ groundhog tells us its only six more weeks of winter! 

bow-river-running-fast