A shortish walk from the University yesterday, on my way to downtown.
Finally, a nice longish walk in the woods, after a week of frigid temperatures and a mountain of snow. We’ve had about 60cm of snow in November, and the average is 18. Supposed to be above zero today, but it never made it. Grateful for the reprieve.
Drove to north Whitemud Creek for some stairs and a walk in the woods. Somehow I neglected to remember it rained all day Wednesday. The trail was a sheet of ice. Still beautiful. Still full of birdsong and dogs. But…terribly treacherous. It’s always a few degrees cooler in the ravines, so even though ‘above ground’ it’s melty and wet, down in Whitemud it was snow, covered by a lethal layer of ice. No incidents, although there was some lovely bird action on a seed-covered fence. Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches.They didn’t seem to mind that I was shooting photographs. Surprised one didn’t land on me (which would have been OK.) The stairs nearly killed me. I’ve got to get out more…
Walked around the ‘hood yesterday with the dog. It was raining on our heads, and with all that sticky snow, we couldn’t wait to get back home and build a snowman. Come to think of it, maybe that was just me. Maggie didn’t help at all.
The hard-working folks at the Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge advocacy group have put together a comprehensive report regarding the proposed Southeast LRT expansion route into the river valley, presented to newly elected Ward 6 representative Scott McKeen, November 13th, 2013. Included in this report: an overview of the project to date, possible bylaw transgressions, misleading and missing environmental impact statements, and as I have personally observed, disingenuous public consultation forums. It concludes with recommendations for ‘five alternate routes that protect the North Saskatchewan river valley and established pedestrian/cycle corridors in the city core, and make use of an existing vehicle corridor.’
Read the full report: North Saskatchewan River Valley and LRT Expansion: Preservation and Sustainability
I have been writing about this for years in one way or another, sometimes publicly in the form of letters to the Edmonton Journal or to city councilors, but mostly it is in these posts, where I bear daily witness to the beauty of Edmonton’s river valley, ravines, and trails. My gratitude to the Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge group for coalescing our collective concerns in this report. We do not deserve this beautiful oasis in our downtown core, but deserving or not, we have it, so let’s protect it.
***There will be a rally in support for the Cloverdale footbridge and river valley preservation at Edmonton City Hall November 14th 4:30PM
Now that it’s snowed 10cm, and I’ve nearly broken my back shoveling heaps of wet snow, time to reminisce about last week’s trip to warmer climes.
Spent October 23rd to October 28th in Scottsdale, Arizona celebrating my birthday and laughing till my guts were sore and tears poured out of my eyes (and into my gin.) To say that it was fun would be an understatement. It was a blast. The six of us didn’t stop laughing the entire time. I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t looking forward to this passage into another decade, and my inclination was to keep it on the down-low. When the idea of a ‘destination birthday’ came up, I was less than enthusiastic, but thoughts of heat, palm trees, and free-flowing beverages dissolved any concerns. Also, and most importantly, the company. Such great gals! Funny, easy-going, willing to sleep on hard couches and brave unfamiliar streets in the dark to find In and Out Burger. Ready to get up early on a holiday and hit the open road in search of coffee and outlet malls. I am a lucky person. Also, an older person. Much older.
The first few hours in Scottsdale were spent stuffing six women and their luggage into a rented van, and figuring out why the Garmin kept calculating distances from Edmonton, not Scottsdale. In spite of this, we did manage to find the burger place, and after some fretting and texting, flip up the whothefuckknewitwasthere antennae on the Garmin, which suddenly came to life at the In and Out Burger somewhere near Scottsdale. A quick drive to the condo to drop off luggage, and then over to the Fry’s for groceries and alcohol. Back to the condo, into the hot tub. Minutes later, Barb got stung by a scorpion. We didn’t know it at the time. Thought she’d turned her arm in the wrong way, pinched a nerve, but then the swelling started…and the tingling. Tingling is a bad sign, or so I’ve heard. The next morning, we were in the Emergency department at a local hospital.
Funny thing about American Emergencies~they are empty. Or at least this one was, and considering how many wrinklies (with pre-existing conditions) vacation in town, this came as a surprise. Inexplicably, we all got invited back to the exam area, and spent the rest of the morning talking and joking with the medical staff, while the hot army medic failed repeatedly to get blood from Barb’s arm. The doc said her symptoms were consistent with a scorpion bite, but we never did see the little bugger (the scorpion not the doctor.) Interesting chat with the doctors and the nurse, all of whom were male and handsome, although not all were heterosexual (hence the recommendation for a local drag show.) Compared Obamacare to Canadian health care, with no consensus (on their part.) Got some good recommendations for restaurants (Houston’s) and outlet malls. The best part was when Barb asked the army guy (with the giant Mary on his bicep) what he thought of the recent government shut down. When he drawled, “Well, you really can’t blame the Republicans’, she shot up from her stretcher like an unregistered bullet through a concealed gun. “YES YOU CAN!” she yelled, her arm tubes flailing. End of political discussion. Patient much revived.
So, after our brief journey through the American medical system, a bottle of freshly dispensed Vicodin in hand, we proceeded to Anthem Outlet Mall. It was hot. Beautifully hot and sunny. Had lunch, wandered through the stores. Bought sparkly purple shoes and a t-shirt with a snowflake on the front, and then sat outside with a coffee for an hour, waiting for the others to finish. I suck at shopping (bookstores excluded), and the bushes were twittering with butterflies and birds (starlings, I think.) Nice way to spend an afternoon. Like the Emergency, the outdoor mall was mostly empty. The mass northern exodus still a few weeks away.
That evening, we went to The Melting Pot for some birthday fondue, and after some delicious dunking at the restaurant, some delicious dunking in the hot tub. Ended every day like that, in fact. Many drinks. Many laughs. Only one scorpion bite.
On Friday, we took off early for Sedona. The drive was GORGEOUS. Rolling desertscapes, and then the slow, but spectacular emergence of the famed red rocks. Appropriately, we listened to a Mexican radio station thumping out Spanish dance music. We felt like a van of Thelma and Louises (minus Brad Pitt and the suicidal leap off a cliff.)
Sedona is like a mountain town, like Jasper or Banff, but with red rocks instead of snow-capped mountains. Big fuckers, yes, but not mountains. So incredibly beautiful. Wandered around a bit. Bought a Christmas decoration (sparkly saguaro on a ball), and watched Barb and Janna play a set of outdoor marimbas. After a tear-filled trip to the psychic, where I discovered that I am at the beginning of a BIG CHANGE (which I knew) AND I’m severely depleted (I just looked that way because I wasn’t wearing mascara), we had a margaritas (which helped the depletion) and Mexican food for lunch. We toasted our dear friend Verda, and just enjoyed the heat and the easy conversation.
Toward the end of the meal, Janna ran over to the van (using the crosswalk, officer) and talked a nice policeman out of ticketing us for staying longer than three hours. Janna is very good at this sort of thing. It’s fascinating to watch. The guy even stopped traffic so we could back out! Free to leave, we ventured over to Slide Rock National Park.
At the risk of overusing the word ‘beautiful’, Slide Rock is beautiful, including the autumnal drive up to the water. It’s like a big creek, or a mini-river, and people slide down the rocks in frigid, relatively fast-moving water a short distance to where all the toochickenshittodothat people stand, point, and take pictures. High-fives to Janna and Kate for taking the plunge! Some kids even jumped off the higher rocks into what was basically a stream. While they squealed with delight, I cringed with with thoughts of broken necks. According to Grace, this place is packed in the summer. I think if it were 45C, I would jump in and stay in for weeks, but at 26C, I’m good. The surrounding rocks were stunning. In heavily regulated Canada, this entire place would be cordoned off and there would be warning signs everywhere. In Arizona, you are on your own baby, slippery rocks and all.
After an ice cream, back to the Sedona area to the Church of the Red Rocks, one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been. Not so much the church, which is nice enough, but the view from the church. Incredible, like someone had squeezed burnt sienna straight out of tube onto a blue canvas. The contrast of undiluted colours and the late afternoon sunlight sucked the breath right out of my lungs. Grace, a previous partaker of the pink buggy tour, pointed out that the colossal mansion below the church is rumoured to belong to Nicolas Cage. Impressive. (Not Nicolas Cage, the house. Cage hasn’t impressed me since Moonstruck.) After many photographs, we left for ‘home.’ That night, we wandered around Old Scottsdale (it’s bigger and blingier than I remembered), and then to Garibaldi’s for pizza. Somewhere in there we had a ride on a motorized rickshaw thing, and later, a drag show, but I didn’t go to that. Too tired.
Saturday, we went to an Oilers game at Jobing Arena outside of Phoenix. Have to say, this was one of the highlights. Don’t really care for hockey (anymore) but the atmosphere was awesome. Lots of high-fiving with fellow Oilers fans, who seemed to outnumber the Coyotes by half. Also, the comments from Grace and Janna were hilarious. Neither one gives a shit about hockey, but they played along as if they did. So funny. I think we annoyed a few Coyotes, but the Power Rangers sitting behind us were cool. I was very pleased to find a Wetzel’s Pretzels stand, so along with the free hotdog, the eatin’ was good. Also the drinkin’…at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, after the game. Kind of Vegas-like around the arena, but outside of it…a total dead zone, other than the ubiquitous outlet mall. According to my bro-in-law, the arena and surrounding businesses are massively in debt. Hmm…an overly ambitious arena project? Crazy talk.
Sunday was the ‘relaxing day’, although we still packed a lot in. Most of us, anyway…Barb had a lie in and then spent the day by the pool. The rest of us stopped at The Breakfast Club for…breakfast…and then to the Desert Botanical Garden, which was its usual lovely, peaceful self, followed by a trip to the Solari Bells Acrosanti workshop, to see some wind chimes. Beautiful. A few more malls, Costco (another inexpensive boozery), and then a long dip in the pool. As per the recommendation of the medical staff at the hospital, we went for dinner at Houston’s, which was awesome. Janna tripped on the way out, and a woman yelled, “OH MY GOD ARE YOU ALRAAAGHT?!” in a hilarious southern drawl. It became our mantra, along with Grace’s “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”
I think we were all in agreement that a few more days would have been perfect. Ah well, next time. A BIG THANKS to all my friends and family for making my birthday so ridiculously fun and memorable.
(BTW, it was around 30C the entire time)
More pics on FACEBOOK
Funny how my attitude toward snow has changed since I bought a car. I love the snow, but now…it’s complicated. My little Mazda sits outside in the cold, and I’m still scraping off the 10 cm of rain/ice/snow that fell on Saturday. Also, I’m thinking about driving on snowy roads more than walking on them, which is a huge change, and not necessarily for the better. I want stay focused on my feet and what they can do for me, not my wheels (although it’s pretty damn nice to have a car.)
I should have walked yesterday, but the gloom kept me inside. Today, so beautiful and sparkling! I couldn’t resist. The dog and I walked for 20 minutes just before noon, which is way too short. Maggie’s feet were bothered by the salt, so we went around the neighbourhood in the opposite direction, rather than take the salted sidewalk route into Whitemud. Once my car is de-iced, I’ll drive both of us to a trail. No point in troubling our paws on sidewalks when we could be prancing in the snowy woods.
Did I mention that this time last week I was sitting by a pool in 30C weather? It’s been a discombobulating week. The sun, however, is helping to bobulate my still vacationing brain cells…
First time over the Fort Edmonton Footbridge yesterday, and it is very nice indeed. In fact, the entire area is lovely. Edmonton’s trail system never fails to impress, or surprise. I’ve walked along the Fort Edmonton trail (at the end of Whitemud) many times before, but never made it as far as the bridge, which is a newish construction.
The beautiful trail on the north side of the bridge follows the river, and Maggie was able to take
advantage of the low banks with several very enthusiastic dips into the North Saskatchewan. The water must have been cold! One portion of the trail was completely eroded. A bit of graceless leaping and climbing to get to the other side (once we got past the orange caution fence) and then back again. Gorgeous fall day.
Drove over this morning to Molly’s Mill Creek vet for a refill of her many pills, and then into the woods for an hour. As mentioned a few posts ago, curiously…Mill Creek is a week or two ahead of Whitemud in its’ progression though autumn. There are virtually no leaves left on the trees. Some bushes are still red, yellow and green, but the aspens are bereft of colour. It’s quite beautiful, actually. I love the muted tones, especially on an overcast, windy morning. Very atmospheric and Halloweeny.