Edmonton Tourist: Café bicyclette

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I went out to breakfast Saturday. Breakfast has become my favourite meal of the day. If you knew me when….you must be laughing you head off. Why? Well, how many ways can you make eggs taste good? Seriously?  As I learned more about nutrition and understood how a really good breakfast made me feel in the morning and how it set the tone for the day ( yes I am a mom that is why I sound like one) I found a great breakfast to be so enjoyable!

I set out to Café bicyclette. I had only been once before and really enjoyed myself. I have a memory of their coffee being the best I have tasted so far. I decided to go back and see if my memory was correct or was it just the company that I was with.

This time, I went with the hubs. Last I went with a college pal. Different company, both charming.

Café Bicyclette is located in Edmonton’s French Quarter, small but charming, nestled next to the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean. I had been here previously for BYOV Fringe plays and had pals who talked about how much they liked it. So I went for breakfast.

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Breakfast is not table dining, that occurs for dinner. This was counter service. They have their regular menu – although it is written in chalk so I suspect it changes, and there is the special.

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I saw the pâtisserie counter and considered just sweets for breakfast.

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BUT I love Croque Monsieur ever since Madam told my daughter about it in French class. We made it, we ate it and now we love it. So I like to try different variations. This was was unexpected from my norm, but so tasty. I could eat it like a regular sandwich rather than with utensils, also unusual from the dish I had else where – like Be Our Guest Restaurant in Walk Disney World…that was also great.

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Le pain tasted like it was baked in-house. The sauce was tangy and of course dripped on my sweater having me smell fantastic all morning long. It was served with a side of cold dill potatoes. This was fine, but didn’t rock my taste buds. I am used to a cheese sauce poured over the sandwich, however, this was delicious. As I looked at the Hub’s breakfast I did experience a wee bit of regret. His Oeufs Benedictine had crispy potatoes. I had that last time and loved every bite.

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What I wished I had on my plate was that ruby red grapefruit grilled and sprinkled with brown sugar. He had bacon instead of ham and his hollandaise sauce was perfection.

But the star of the show? The café latté hands down my favourite coffee in Edmonton that I have tasted. Clearly I need to visit the best coffee houses so I can give an accurate judgement.

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The decor is charming with little bicycles scattered around and black and white bicycle prints along the back wall. There is a floor to ceiling wall of light that adds a sunny atmosphere to this café. They also have a winter patio complete with throws and fireplaces so you can enjoy your Chai or Latté snuggled up. Edmontonians are a hardy bunch. Patios are not just for summer anymore.

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The preperations for the Flying Canoe Festival have begun and this is one festival that I have not participated in yet. So I booked my calendar and I am ready to roll. It is a French Canadian/ Métis festival that happens in my favourite creek. I am really looking forward to that and will come back to you with a full report because after all, I am the Edmonton Tourist.

Canada 150: Elk Island Park

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Canada turns 150 this year and Parks Canada has opened up its gates to give visitors free access to all the national parks across Canada. When I say ‘free’ I mean I paid for it with my taxes but not out of my wallet.

I ordered my Park Pass in December and it never came – or hasn’t yet but the temperatures were so lovely to day (-2C) that I decided to get up early and head 45km east to Elk Island National Park. I went to the gate and it directed me to the Visitor Pavilion where I went in to get my pass. I was asked a few questions:

  • How many people will be using this pass?
  • What is your postal code?
  • Have you ever been to Elk Island National Park before?

Have I ever been? Sure I had! I like to bring visitors from out of country here. EIP is a nature preserve and is filled with Bison, both Wood and Great Pains. So for someone who had never seen one before, coming here is pretty spectacular. It isn’t a zoo though. It’s not like you can go to the Bison enclosure and take a look at them. It is wilderness so you might see one or you might not. I had been here when I was younger and saw herds of them and I had been and only saw a single one. Today I was hoping to see a few. The park is also filled with elk, deer, moose, wolves, coyotes and birds.

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So I hung my pass on my mirror and away I went! I didn’t have snow shoes and if I am coming back here, I think I need to either rent a pair at the Visitor Pavilion or buy a pair. The snow was deep and walking was not easy. I looked at the map and decided to head to Astotin Lake. It is the only lake where you don’t have to hike to, the parking lot is right by the beach. So that was my destination. But first I was going to circle the Bison Loop Road to see if anyone was out in the paddock today.

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That was a negative. There were lots of animal tracks but none around. What I did see was the Red Chair. These Red Chairs are set up all over Parks Canada and are located in special view point spots. These beauties were overlooking the paddock on Bison Loop Road. I saw two earlier at the Visitor Pavilion. Now I want to see all of them in Alberta.

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After I left the loop I drove north to Astotin Lake. We (me and Cap) came to the parking lot and I saw a single bison munching on grass in the distance. I rolled down my window to take a photo and my pup was over my shoulder barking, snarling and growling at the bison – who was unaffected and just ate. Bison are a lot like cattle. They seem docile and only concerned about eating. This was was no different, although I am smart enough to know to keep my dog away and not to approach these large creatures. They are after all, wild animals.

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We left the beach parking and I headed up to the golf course because I just didn’t want to fight with Cap. I knew there was a nice little 6k loop around the lake and thought it would be a nice diversion.

We got out of the car and I noticed the silence. I didn’t even hear birds which was weird for a park that has 250 bird species.

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My goal was to head out to the next set of Red Chairs. Cap found all kinds of new smells. As a former wild dog who has now retired to a cushy city life, he was sniffing and digging in search of all kinds of old familiar scents.

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We hiked through a foot of snow towards the bison gate.

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I was happy I decided to wear snow boots instead of my trail shoes.

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Once we made it to the gate, Cap was a little reluctant to go any further. He stopped dead still and listened. I heard nothing, but being deaf I wasn’t all that surprised. Still, the silence was so peaceful. We were the only two city people out and I was the only human except for the park ranger. Early morning does that, people are still in bed.

We made it around the bend before Captain stopped and would not go any further. He sniffed the ground and looked further down the trail. He sniffed again at a very large paw print. it was 3 times the size of his. The he turned around and began pulling me back towards the gate. I have a sled dog. This fellow can pull me up a hill without much effort. He is about 75lbs and is a big boy. Pulling me is something we fight about. He is not allowed to do that, but he sensed danger so we needed to get out and fast. I had never seen such urgency in him before.

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I think the track was wolf. Likely more as they run in packs. The difference between a coyote and wolf track is the size and the claws at the end of the toe prints. This thing was huge. Captain wanted nothing to do with this smell. He was going so fast and so hard he pulled the leash right out of my hands and he ran for the car. Stopping every now and again to look over his should to see if the wolves were coming. Once he got to the car, he sat and waited. I swear he was tapping his foot say ‘COME ON HUMAN – HURRY UP!’

As soon as I opened the door he was in – he usually goes through the back hatch, but he jumped into the front seat and then made his way into the back where he sits. He was not getting out of the car again.

I drove back to the beach and the bison was far off in the distance. I wanted to get out but Cap would not leave the car.

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I got out and took some photos but it was less fun without my pal, so we left for the drive back.

I am definitely coming back. I will rent snowshoes and bring a picnic lunch. Skating round the island opens up in February so that might be fun and this is the perfect spot to set up the telescope at night. With my handy pass and the park being only a 30 minute drive from my doorstep, I can see me here a lot this year. I am also not coming without my pal, clearly he is the watch dog I need. Who knows what might have happened if I snuck up on a pack?

I am so very thankful I live here. Thanks Parks Canada!

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Edmonton Tourist: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

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I have been house bound for days. Partly due to illness and partly do to…who are we kidding, I was sick in bed for 5 days. I was feeling slightly better by Friday and today I felt slightly better than yesterday but I then came down with a serious case of Cabin Fever.

I decided to bundle up me and my pup and head to my most favourite part of the city, Upper Mill Creek Ravine. You may recall this summer, I went to the lower creek, north of the pool. Well,my favourite spot is south of the pool in the Argyll and Hazeldean neighbourhoods.

Did I mention how cold it was? I was in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate, you know the kind made from Ghirardelli and milk on the stove? Yeah, THAT kind. So delicious. When I said to my Captain, Want to go for a walk? His head snapped back so fast you would have thought we had not done this in a while. Wait…I hadn’t been at a park with him since November at the Science Park…Sorry Cap.

We both put our jackets on because it is cold. Fahrenheit on the left Celsius on the right. The wind made it feel colder -12F and -24C, that to me is the real temperature because feeling is everything.

Mill Creek Ravine is my happy place. It is the place I go when I am sad, happy, angry, resentful, disappointed, or any other myriad of emotions. I enter and become instantly relaxed. I kind of needed that today. Lets just say I am filled with complex emotions that need sorting out, so off I went.

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The upper trail is groomed and paved. The off leash dog park is way down in the gully. That is where Cap and I were headed. Not that I can trust him to be off leash, he is independent minded so I am not really sure he would come when I call him or if he would just say, “You know what Peasant? I miss living in the woods, I am out of here.” Now I am all for independent thought but I’d rather keep him safe with a chance at a long life rather than struggling to live in the wild, so I keep him on a leash. I do let him investigate all the great mouser places and animal dens. One day I am sure he will find a skunk hallow and then I will be sorry, but until then, it makes me happy watching him be happy.

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Happily there isn’t a lot of snow so far this year. That makes trekking easier and there hasn’t been any freeze/thaw cycles so no ice. This makes it safer for me who is prone to falling.

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Mill Creek trail is built on an old railway bed, so there is a converted trestle farther north, I am not convinced that what this is, it doesn’t seem sturdy enough to hold an old steam engine, but it is built in the old tresses style and is a lovely bridge over the creek. Obviously at temps that have been sub -20C for weeks, the creek is froze solid.

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This is part of the off-leash walk. There are trash cans an dog bag bins all through here. All they are is old grocery bags for people to use. There is zero excuse to be a lazy pet owner. I bring my own eco ones attached to Cap’s leash.

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Lots of pets with their people come down here. If my Real Estate agent called me tomorrow to say he found me a house within walking distance to here, I would cry with joy. Who doesn’t want to live here? It is silent as if you are in the middle of the country but the convince to being 5 minutes to downtown Edmonton. To me it is perfect. I have been down here and have spotted deer, the occasional moose, falcons, hawks, eagles and coyotes. I have heard of a bear sighting once and know there are porcupines and skunks with the odd badger but my trusty pal looks after me.

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After wandering around for about an hour I asked myself why I wait so long to come back? It clearly the best place I can be.

 

A Year in Books: Love Warrior

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Love Warrior: A Memoir

Glenn Doyle-Melton

Available at Indigo, Chapters and Amazon

Yes I read it. I didn’t want to at first. It seemed so – Mommy Blogger. Clearly I am a book snob. It is also an Oprah Book Club selection. I usually do not read her book club books. That’s not true, I have read some either because I read it first as was the case with Tara Road by Maeve Binchy or because it interested me. I will not read a book because the American Nation is reading it. It has to appeal to me. This book did not appeal to me. Then I watched her on Super Soul Sunday – that I watch usually every week because I think these people offer great insight to evolving their spirit and their world. I think it is important to want to be more and not drift through life. Super Soul helps me discover people who are on the same journey as myself.

After hearing Glennon Doyle-Melton’s story, I thought, she is a lot like me and went through a lot of the same discoveries. Okay – I was not bulimic but I have an eating disorder. I was not the party girl/sex girl she was but I did have the same ideas and thoughts about men verses women and how society has boxes for both. It was hard climbing out of those stereotypes – and still is. She made sense to me.

I think everyone between the ages of 40-60 should read the first 69 pages of her book. In those first pages you can clearly see how society defines gender roles and the harm it does. My children’s generation is better at knocking them down, once the old boys club is gone from the work place, I have tremendous hope for the future of humanity…but that is a topic for another day.

It isn’t great literature, it is a memoir. It is raw and honest and very familiar like it is your own story. I found it validating with sections of wisdom I wanted to write down. It belongs on my special bookshelf that holds Eat,Love, Pray and Wild. If you are like me and not willing to accept status quo and want more from your life, then is is a worthwhile read.

Its a New Day

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Everyone has been talking about resolutions. When I started the Edmonton Tourist Project, I gave up resolutions because they set me up for failure and that was a never ending nightmare I wanted to escape from. I always looked at resolutions as the societal pressure to conform into something the same as everyone else. The yardstick (or meter stick) that people expected youth be measured with.

Yeah….about that conform nonsense…

I won’t do that any more.

I have also spent the last 7 years deflecting comments from people about what I should write and what I shouldn’t.

Also….about that….

I don’t care what you think I should do.

I have spent a lifetime trying to be what everyone thinks I should be. 7 years ago I started exploring what I wanted to be, explored who I am and what I like and let me tell you – not one of those things that I am is anything remotely what you think I should be. So now that we have covered that – I think we can move forward.

But before we do, I just want to mention  those people who actually called me into their office, or called me on the phone or sent me a private message about what I was learning about me – their lives have spiralled into a sad abyss. They are not the people that should mentor others or give advice. But isn’t that always the case? The people who need the most help are the ones deflecting away from themselves. Pretty concerned about me but not so much about them.

Thanks, I’m good. I muddle along daily just fine. I make mistakes and screw up big time but that is when I have my greatest learning lesson. Its a pretty important step for me. Thanks, but, I’ll land on my feet. Everything is always okay in the end, if its not okay – then you are not at the end yet.

Back to resolutions. I don’t make them but I do set goals for myself. I found that goals are a healthy way to stay focused, live in mindful moments and feel success. I have set a few new goals for myself this year.

  • Write more! That sounds vague. I write weekly, every Sunday I set time aside to write my book(s). When an outside obligation comes up – Hello Christmas – that annoyed me. It shouldn’t but it did. I felt like I gave up an important part of who I am. What I should have done was reschedule that time. I will next time. I also want to blog more. Now that I know the difference between writing and blogging – its subtle but it is different – I think I can manage both. The more I write, the better I get at it. Just like anything I suppose. Practice makes perfect, or at least practice means I am not perfect and need work, so keep practicing.

 

  • Read every day. I read a lot. I will go through 50 books a year, that is almost 1 book a week. Its a lot. I have changed my goal on GoodReads to be 35 books this year. Also a lot but when I set up a goal I work really hard to complete it. So I will read anything. I don’t want to read just anything any more. I want to read great meaningful books. My favourite book last year was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. You cannot become a great writer if you don’t read. Ask Stephen King. He said you want to be a writer? Read a book. Its true. The more I read, the more I write, the better I am getting. So my goal this year is to read great books and review them here. Likely Mondays. Got a great book I should read? Tell me about it. I am finding as I move forward people suggest books and I often say “read it, read it, read it” Hopefully I will find new and great reads this year. I have 5 on my night stand waiting for me. January 1st and I have finished my first book of the year. Easy to do when you are sick in bed.

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  • Explore Edmonton! I am after all the Edmonton Tourist so its a good fit. Canada turns 150 July first. I turn 50 August 16. Between us, we have had some great adventures. I am going to explore some of the Canada 150 events this year and I will tell you about them. I ordered my National Park Pass and plan to do some great National Park Day trips – I live super close to Elk Island National Park – where the Buffalo Roam and the Deer and the Antelope play… Well…Bison and deer play as well as some coyotes and wolves. So Cap and I will be exploring that more. I also see some Jasper National Park visits and likely a trip or two to Banff. Why Not? I live so close and its a world class destination! If you see me and Cap, stop and say hey!

Get ready – I am looking forward to a great year.

 

5 year olds and 50 year olds both like cookies

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2016 was  ROUGH RIDE! I know I am not the only one who felt this way. Seriously world, we need to get our act together!

I had a tough go the last bit of 2015 and moving into 2016 the bottom fell out. By August I had just about gone completely grey. Happily my hairdresser is a genius and she helped me appear put together on the outside while on the inside I was a sobbing disaster.

Everyone died this year, and quite frankly I am surprised there are still people left. I lost a favourite author a while ago, Maeve Binchy, and the lack of new reads by her was a huge loss to my library. If Carrie Fisher decides to leave, I will be down another favourite author. So I decided to write my own books. I finished 2 novels this year. When I say finish, I mean I completed the narrative but still need to edit and polish etc… I have great hopes for 2017 for becoming published. Keep your fingers crossed for me please.

I have zero plans for travel 2017, New York was on my bucket list for my 50th birthday – I turn 50 in 2017 which astounds me because I often still feel like I have the decision making skills of a 5 year old, the only difference is I do it with authority instead of trepidation. I do not hear New York calling me right now. Too much has changed or rather too much became real. I think if I get anywhere for my 50th it will be Canada’s Maritimes and maybe visit my Little Gram’s old childhood haunts. I really feel like embracing my Canadian side since the US is a disaster right now and I am just tired of fighting the good fight, I feel like I need my Country. There is a comfort I am feeling being Canadian. Its that same feeling when you are 5 and your Little Gram cuddles you while she tells you a story. It feels like home.

5 and 50 look a lot a like.

  • I choose comfort over fashion
  • I pick friends who are kind and fun
  • I don’t play well with my enemies
  • cookies are still my favourite
  • naps are awesome
  • books are the best way to end the day
  • laughing is the best
  • Muppets are still my favourite

I made some serious changes to my lifestyle and I am feeling surprisingly great both on the inside and out! I still say yes more than no but I can tell people no and mean it. Walking away and owning my confidence is the best feeling ever.

Oprah was right, as you near 50 you really have things figured out if you put the work in. Damn, I put in some serious work and I really like who this me is. I couldn’t say that in 2010 when I started this project. Seriously  – I became the Edmonton Tourist in 2010! What a journey it has been.

As I move into my 50th year I reflect on the state of the world and it isn’t pretty. All I can do is fix my corner of the world so I am kind, tolerant and compassionate. I accept differences and embrace change. I help where I can and give what helps. Thats all I can do and that is all I expect anyone to do. A surprisingly amount of people are doing this just like me – there are those who are shockingly disappointing but I accept that they have their reasons for this and only step on if the under dog needs defending.

The Tao of Pooh made a big impact on me when I turned 21. I read it again this year when I turned 49. It reminded me of all the kindest people I knew in my life and reminded me to find my way back. So this is me.

I have finally reached that place where I can say I like me. I liked me when I was 5. I shall like me when I am 50.

I wish you the best of the season no matter what you celebrate. Enjoy it and be kind.

Edmonton Tourist: Strathcona Science Park

I don’t know about you, but I have had a tough week. I have faced disappointment, heartbreak, painful memories and helplessness. In an effort to keep from raging I decided to visit a park that I had not been for 30 years. Truthfully it was a place where a lot of my demons live and I thought I should lay them to rest one and for all.

I packed up my pup and headed straight north from my home to Strathcona Science Park. Its not an Edmonton River Valley park, but I am counting it as one. It is within driving distance of the city , it is situated directly east of Rundle Park an the east bank of the North Saskatchewan River. But this park is a Provincial Park.

The irony of my laying my demons to rest is this place is already dead. It has been all but abandoned by the Province in an effort to push the economy forwarded. So 28 years it has been a derelict site with the exception of the mowed grassy paths. An odd juxtaposition with the cracked and damaged paved paths. I was not in the head space to really research what happened or what is was or event what its future was supposed to look like, but the Globe and Mail did and you can read about it here.

I was here to find a way to live in the moment, forget about my future and let the past go. I am getting quicker at it than I used to, focusing on the now has become a tool I use to live a stress free existence. I am not pro level but I would say I have moderate success with the now.

Cap and I pulled into the park at 3:00 pm and it felt like the sun was beginning to set. Well, it felt that way because it IS beginning to set now at the time. We are one month away from the shortest day of the year and darkness is beginning to seep into all the nooks and crannies. The sign has not changed since I worked here at the ski hill in 1985.

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Cap and I drove to the left of the sign and found parking near the abandoned pavilion. He was super excited to be somewhere with new smells and deep grass to explore.

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There was a real bald prairie feel to this park. Granted, the trees have sprouted up since I was last here, I remember this place feeling hot and oppressive under the blazing sun when I would ride my bike from Sherwood Park, this place would be part of my journey to connect with the river valley trail system where I would cycle all day on a Sunday.

The Downtown core seemed far off and remote. I know from running experience that I am about 18-20km away from City Hall. I’ve run it and find the valley the very best part of being an Edmontonian.

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As we came closer to the edge of the ridge, the North Saskatchewan River came into view.

We turned south and headed towards what appeared to be paved paths the circled the pavilion.

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This is one of the coal mines sites from the clover bar coal seam. Signage let me know I might be able to find remnant from the mines, in the 80’s there were 5 archaeological digs happening here. I have no idea what they found.

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I was standing at #10 Milner and Shoeman. My journey took me all the way to the end of the path at the loop along the river bend.

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I remember this being grassy prairie in 1986, it looks like it was left to naturalize over time with the aid of planting in 1999.

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This guy became tired of mousing and does what he does best – survey his land. All of it is his in case you did not know. Across the river is Rundle Park and to the left is Goldbar and Goldstick parks where my journey began earlier this spring. I still have 4 parks left to visit before my goal is complete. I will save those and pick them on sunny days.

The walk back to the car really showcases the prairies. Alberta is as diverse in its landscape as it is beautiful.

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It looks peaceful but the sounds from the surrounding industrial was loud and obnoxious. It was strategic on my part to not to photograph the refineries.

Will I be back? Doubtful. It no longer holds the demons I expected. Clearly I did indeed let those go. As I neared my car, the anger and rage I was feeling towards my week subsided. Nature does that for me. As the song goes, I have that peaceful easy feeling.

Edmonton Tourist: Terwillegar Dog Park

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I have been meaning to go to the Terwillegar Dog Park for a while now but wanted to wait until the bridge construction connecting the south and north sides of the river was completed. That just happened. So when I woke up Saturday morning, I had that magnetic force pulling me in that direction.

Terwillegar is not easily accessible for me. It is located in the South West corner of Edmonton and I have never felt like this was where my people lived. I am more of a central located kinda of gal even though I do not live central, I play there a lot. I visit those parks, restaurants, shops and many of my pals are centrally located so I am drawn there. South West, not so much. However, I pride myself on being familiar with every corner of my city. The Captain and I hopped into my car and we headed for this park.

Terwillegar has a reputation of being a great dog park. My dog is not able to go off his lead for safety reasons. The Captain is mostly a super a friendly dog, but he demands that other dogs respect him as Alpha. This is usually fine as most dogs are smaller and automatically accept this, but every now and then a large do comes along and Captain usually says to the other animal, “Kneel before me peasant” and if that dog does not comply, a battle will ensue. I also do not trust that Captain will come when I call him. He pretty much comes when he feels like it. Being a responsible dog owner, I know I cannot control my dog off lead, so he doesn’t get to run around the park…ever. This prevents any and all unwanted lawsuits.

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When we arrived, parking was at a premium. I managed to find a spot and looked over the field to see the pack. This park was busier than other parks I visit. Captain was pretty excited to see all the dogs racing around. I admit to feeling apprehension because of his unpredictable nature – my guy was a wild dog rescued from a reservation up north. He hunted and lived within a pack but I suspect he often went rogue. He talks to coyotes and hunts small game still. The field did not hold much interest for him, other than all the sniffing that was possible, he led me off towards the river and forest.

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This place does not do well after rain and snow, lately Edmonton has had its fair share of moisture. The place was a mud bog. My white dog sported black little legs in no time. I also was covered in mud, my least favourite thing unless I am barefoot or in wellies, I was wearing neither.

Once we arrived at the river, I could see the new foot bridge to the east of where I was. It was still a fair way off, so we made our way towards it through the woods. Huge mistake.

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I am fairly well versed in bush-wacking, this was a skill I put to good use as the trails were squelchy with muck. We tried to stay off the mud path and keep to the side for several reasons, my balance lately has been very unstable, so I did not need to slide around on the path most taken. The other reason being, I had a scheduled visit in an hour with my aunt who lived close by and I did not need to look as if I had been playing in the mud pretending I was 5. The final reason being, Captain hated baths. This guy would trapes through mud puddles as if this was the best thing in the world, but put his foot in clean water and you’d think I was punishing him for no good reason.

30 minutes of hiking through the mud and water, we finally came to the paved path that led to the bridge. This road had a think layer of muck as well. There was no place that was safe.

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After the City comes back in the spring to finish the landscaping, (add grass?) I can see this being a lovely spot, but today it filled me with regret.

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As we approached the bridge I marvelled at the engineering of this structure. Apparently it is the second longest stressed ribbon bridge in Canada, although I am unable to determine the longest. News reports didn’t offer that information. Essentially it is a high tech rope bridge. I walked across it with a fair amount of people sharing the bridge ( I wait a really long time to get a photo with out people) and I am happy to report it felt solid. The over hangs remind me of wings, giving the appearance the bridge is hovering or floating above the North Saskatchewan River.

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Of all the Edmonton Parks, I must admit this is my least favourite. The mud didn’t help, but I can certainly look past it. I doubt I will ever return but I do understand why the locals enjoy it and now with the bridge, they are connected at last with the River Valley Trail system that I am deeply in love with.

 

Then They Came for Me

Listening to everyone, you would think the world is on fire.

It is not and we are all going to be okay.

I was listening to a Scott Hamilton video this morning. He is facing his 3rd regrowth of a Brain Tumour. Do you know what he said?

“You set the tone.”

Every now and then I hear words that knock me off my feet. This was one of them. Recently – well since January –  I gave up behaviours because I lost track of my direction, sense of self and most importantly, my values.

Values encompass who I am. When I participate in activities that stray from my values I feel lost.

I value kindness. This means finding humour in someone’s misfortune is not kind. I had friends  people I knew where this was their hourly fun. I didn’t agree with it but I passively stood by. I have deep regret over this.

There is a meme traveling around the inter webs  about passively standing by.

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This is very relevant today because of the hate being spewed by people. This isn’t new, we experience this in every decade, genocide to cleanse the earth and create superior beings.

I can absolutely relate. I stood passively by and January 16, 2016 they came for me. Granted it wasn’t a world-wide catastrophe. But I do believe the world relies on individuals standing up for right. I failed to do that for for 2 years. I stood passively by and then they turned on me.

I think this is why Scott Hamilton’s words ring so powerfully to me.

“You set the tone.”

Yes I do. I used to long before then and for some reason I did not. But this too is a learning lesson. I learned what happens when you dangerously think, not me.

My entire life I was taught to champion the underdog. It does not make you popular and perhaps that is what I wanted to experience. I wanted to know what that felt light. All I can say is for me it felt like a lie. It was stressful and hurtful and it removed me from my values.

I was 9 when the doorbell rang. A girl I didn’t know very well was standing at the door and wanted to hang out. By being her friend I knew I would give myself the reputation of undesirable. There was nothing wrong with her, but this is how the kids at school marginalized her. I turned her away. My dad called me over to him and gave me a powerful lesson in empathy. How do I think she feels right at this moment? How would you feel? What could you have done to improve this situation?

I put my shoes on and went after her. All I could do was apologize and invite her back.

She did the right thing and threw it back into my face. I deserved that and it stuck with me. It was one of my greatest learning lessons. I went back to my dad and he said, “Well, what did you think would happen?” I thought an apology would fix everything. I  learned that day it does not. That was the second greatest learning lesson of my life.

I eventually learned to balance the need for empathy and kindness between others and myself. It is easy to lose yourself. It is just as important to be kind to yourself as it is to be kind to others. I can forgive others but have a harder time forgiving myself. My passive behaviour of not standing up against bullies over the past two years taught me many things.

The most important thing it taught me was be yourself. Listen to that inner voice and follow that inner compass. It lets you know who you can trust and who you can’t. It tells you to stand up for those who don’t have a voice.

I am now that person who annoys people because I speak up when tears are streaming down the faces of others. I say things that are not popular but defend the weak and vulnerable. I cannot change the World but I can change my corner and in the end, that is all I need because that is where I live. I have lost friends people but I only want to be around people who are nice, kind, compassionate and empathetic. I encounter enough people who are not and don’t need that during my personal time.

You set the tone.