Tag Archives: Edmonton

Peak Spring…and Summer?

This week, we hit peak spring, colour-wise. But it’s also been VERY hot, and it will continue to be hot for the next week (the first week of my holidays), including several days at 30C or higher. It’s like we had no spring at all. Just winter, and then summer.

Yesterday (Saturday), Tom and I went for a long walk in the Glenora area at 4:00 pm. Not our usual walking time, but we wanted to beat the mosquitoes, which we totally did. It was a stunningly beautiful walk. Not too warm, with a strong breeze and an absolutely cloudless sky. Gorgeous.

I shall let the photos speak for themselves.

4:00 – 6:00ish/22C

Not My River Valley

Where you at, Cloverdale Footbridge?

For the first time in months – many months – I walked in Mill Creek Ravine (on Monday, after work). I totally neglected it during the winter, and most of autumn. Sorry Mill Creek. You know you are still my favourite ravine.

Hello I love you, Mill Creek Ravine

Since the last time I was down there, many things have changed, and not for the better. First surprise, Wild Earth Bakery is closed, and so is Wild Earth Foods (formerly IGA), my grocery store for two decades. How very sad. I feel like I dodged a bullet by choosing not to move back into that area, but I feel very sorry for those who still live in this beautiful, walkable neighbourhood two blocks from Mill Creek. Although the bakery had many incarnations over the years (it was a pharmacy in 1990 when I moved there, and then a video store), it became a real meeting spot for locals in the ten years of its existence. I have many fond and delicious memories of the trail mix cookies that I would often treat myself to after long walks in Mill Creek. Developers are building a couple of high-rise towers on that lot, so the small businesses are not wanted on that inevitable voyage.

After that shock, I carried on through the familiar houses on 89th, but did not see Godzilla in his pot, where he should be this late in spring. Did his owners move too? Jesus Christ.

Mill Creek Ravine (south) is thankfully the same, as far as I can tell. Still beautiful. Still deeply familiar. Also, very dry. There are lots of tiny green things that will become big green things once we get some more rain. The creek is not too low, so we’re not in a drought, but the dominant colour is still brown.

From the bridge, facing south

From the bridge, facing north

Once I crossed the pedestrian bridge over Connor’s Road, that’s when things started to change BIG TIME.

Lots of trees cut down on both sides of Connor’s Hill, and there is already some sort of structure below the hill beside the Muttart, probably the LRT station. No more running down, or up that hill. And so the only path left is around the ski club, through the Muttart parking lot, and up the pedestrian bridge over 98th. But only so far. The path has been narrowed and curved, so instead of walking into a canopy of green at Henrietta Muir Park and the Cloverdale bridge, it’s a construction site leading commuters back onto 98th.

It was jarring to see the site. I won’t go into what a devastating loss I feel looking over at all that ugliness, but suffice to say it was pretty awful. And in my mind, and many other minds, completely unnecessary. But, it is done.

Instead of a canopy of trees, what now greets pedestrians at the north end of the 98th street footbridge

After that, I dove back into the woods at the River Queen entrance, walking along the lightly verdant trail until I reached the Low Level Bridge. At this point, I had been walking for more than an hour and I was tired, hot and deflated, so I decided to treat myself to my first ever ride on the Funicular.

The Funicular is another thing that didn’t need to happen, but I enjoyed the ride and especially the views. As it only goes half way up (or down, depending on your orientation) I’m not sure it achieves the true accessibility to the river valley trails that was its original purpose. And, the elevator to the funicular wasn’t working, so in the end, I still walked up a bunch of stairs, but only half as many as I would have walked if this fancy escalator didn’t exist.

Walking up to the funicular

Funicularing

I miss my old river valley. Thankfully, it’s a long river, with many points of interest. But this area was really special to me. I knew it well. And now it’s gone.

A River Revealed

Monday, April 23

Thursday, April 19

Wednesday, April 4

And suddenly, the river is open! Suddenly, in terms of what amounts to a weekend. Not suddenly, when you realize spring arrived on March 20, notable only for its absence. Still, I am grateful for the beautiful day and weekend we had, which consisted of rain (but not snow) on Saturday and hurricane-force winds (but sunny!) on Sunday. I was going to take Stella for a walk on Sunday, but she was limping and I was working, so we played in the backyard instead.

Today, for my 40 minute walk home – gorgeous, warm and calm. I took the Groat Bridge route to see what this first day of a three-year construction project would like, and it was no problem. The pedestrian path is not yet affected, but it will be. As for the traffic, it’s one lane each way. This won’t be a fun rehabilitation, but hopefully, this route will be accessible in some form for the duration. I will be taking other routes for the rest of summer.

5:05-5:45/13C

 

New Walk

Emily Murphy

These photos were taken on two separate days, one bluer than the other. My iPhone camera died for some inexplicable reason half way through my first official river valley walk home in the new ‘hood last week. I think it was just too damn cold. Today, I walked the same route and my camera was warm and compliant.

A frozen April river

I have to say, it’s not a great commute but it’s a commute, on foot, and that’s what matters. The problem is that it’s mostly in traffic. Down Saskatchewan Drive, over the Groat Bridge, up Victoria trail and then a set of stairs to 121st. It takes 40 minutes and less than 10,000 steps. This, I think, will be a walk I take in the winter and when I need a good, but not a great walk home. Once the river valley trails melt, I’ll take the woods. I also need a new pair of running shoes. I used a really old pair today because I threw out my shoes from two years ago that developed toe holes and were basically unwearable (or so my toes tell me). I usually try to get a new pair of running shoes every year, but I just didn’t last year.

I am not sure I feel settled. I haven’t landed yet in my new place, if that makes any sense. It feels like a home, and a nice home, but not my home. I don’t know why. I think I need to walk around more, get acquainted with the access points to the river valley. I kinda know them, but further east (Strathcona) and further west (in Glenora), not Oliver. I think it will come. I hope it will come.

A view from Oliver

The weather in April and most of March has been horrendous. Until today. It was above zero for the first time since the beginning of the month. I haven’t walked much, or really, at all. This weekend, I think the book dust from the boxes set off some sort of reaction and I was woozy all day Sunday. I walked to the grocery store, and the blue sky and warmth-averse sunshine felt great, but I had to make it short. This is worrisome. Am I just dead dog tired of packing and unpacking boxes (yes); am I really allergic to dust (probably not); or am I having some sort of psychological reaction to my acquisitive book habits that seem less of a good thing now that I’m having to sort, shelve, recycle and possibly re-home them? I feel overwhelmed, and strangely antagonistic to my horde.

But I digress.

I feel much better today. I hope this is the beginning of…or the return of…a new walking phase in my life. And possibly fewer books.

5C/4:53-5:40ish

Oliver!

Shoescape from my very first blog post in April, 2010

Well, I finally launched myself out of my sister’s basement (hoisted might be a better word) and moved back into a walkable neighbourhood. It took six years, most of them very happy but largely unwalkable (from a commuter standpoint). I’m not going to belly gaze too much on that one. I already know I’m prone to inertia when it comes to major life changes, and the location in south Edmonton with my family – furry and non-furry alike – was just comfortable enough, and my career, at times, too precarious to make any sudden moves.

And so, six years later…

Instead of moving back into my familiar haunt in Old Strathcona, however, I’ve opted for downtown, in Oliver. It’s even more walkable, but alas, it is not two blocks from my beloved Mill Creek Ravine or ten minutes from my (also beloved) Whitemud Ravine. But, what it lacks in immediate ravine access it more than makes up for in walkability to work, amenities and the river valley. I just moved in last week, so between a spare room half-filled with boxes (mostly books), and building new bookcases for said books, I’ve not had much time to explore the ‘hood, although I am vaguely familiar with it.

I walked home once last week, and it was great. Not through the river valley, but across the High Level Bridge and then along the path that snakes around the edge of downtown above the river. It took about 45 minutes. Eventually, I will take the various river valley routes home, but it’s just been too busy. I don’t feel that relaxed at the moment. Far from it. There’s always a thousand things to do, in the evening, at work, and especially at home. I need a week off to get everything sorted.

It’s strange to be on my own again, which sounds crazy coming from a person who has done just that for most of my adult life. I am only about a 20 minute walk (or five minute drive) from Tom, and my sisters are short(ish) drives away, but when I come home, it’s just me. No Molly. No Maggie, or Stella, or Wanda. I might have to cat up. It’s awfully quiet.

I am looking forward to some actual leisure time that’s not about opening boxes or frowning at the visible consequences of my acquisitive book habits. Wandering in the neighbourhood. Walking instead of driving to stores. Walking to Tom’s. Walking in the river valley. Discovering new routes and pathways. Being in nature every day. Watching the river. Watching the seasons. Ending my work days in the woods, not underground waiting for the train.

Of course, there have been hundreds of walks since I moved in with my sister, and many of them have been in the company of either Maggie, or Stella, which has been a wonderful gift. I’ve learned the intricacies and intimacies of Whitemud Ravine, a total joy. And even with Tom, I’ve “discovered” the beautiful trails in and around Glenora. What I haven’t done, and what I’ve missed terribly, is my commute at the end of the day, on foot. It’s taken a big toll on my life, mentally and physically. Yeah, I periodically managed to find a way, but nothing sustainable over six years.

Oliver is my doorway back into the thing that dramatically changed my life for the better almost 25 years ago. Walking.

Walking home.

Walking with goats

No, I didn’t run across wild goats on a hike. The City of Edmonton has brought in a herd of 200 goats to munch on weeds in city parks. Love the idea! Who doesn’t like a nice goat? Except, of course the Canadian thistle and other “noxious” weeds that are apparently high on the list of goat-approved snacks.

We travelled on a windy Saturday morning to Rundle Park to the Meet & Bleat, and it was surprisingly awesome. I mean, they’re just goats, but the idea is obviously popular with Edmontonians judging by the size of the meandering crowds making their way around the gated area. You’re not supposed to touch the goats, but many were, including myself and my sister Joanne – a devoted petting zoo enthusiast.

Jeanette Hall, informative goat woman and chief shepherd

Jeanette Hall, the goat shepherd(!), was on hand, telling us about the process of getting such a large and unique operation approved, with some additional goat show and tell. This is happy stuff, for sure. Such an environmentally positive step for Edmonton, and an entirely positive experience for Edmontonians. Hopefully the goats are enjoying it too.

Oh hello!

I am woefully unfamiliar with this part of the river valley. Rundle Park, Goldbar Park, all beautiful areas of the city that have largely escaped my footsteps. I should really make an effort. The view was spectacular, and not just because of the goatscapes.

Over that hill, goats!

Yodeling goat.

Later that day, I walked with Tom around Glenora for a little over an hour. A nice, cool evening, but the sun is definitely buggering off earlier. We arrived home in the dusk.

Glenora, later that day

Noon-1:00pm (goats), 7:30-9:00 (Glenora). About 20C