Sunday, August 26, 2012

Riding in Style to the Fringe and Old Strathcona

My favorite festival in the City of Edmonton is also it's largest - The International Fringe Theatre Festival. Even when I used to live in Saskatoon I would occasionally drive the 5 hours to come and hang out. Way back then that was pretty much all I would do though - hang out,  people watch, bar hop, and suck in the ambiance. It wasn't till only a few years ago that I actually started going to shows. This year Chrissy and I were pretty busy during the festival and only took in one show - House of Dopes. It was entertaining, filled with mexicola rock and some weird one liners.

For the last weekend of the festival Chrissy and I headed down to Whyte Ave from the downtown on the trolley car to take in the sights and sounds of the Festival.

Our ride to the site was on the Hannover #601 (vintage 1970) 

For big weekends like the Fringe the Edmonton Radial Railway Society operates two trolley cars on the same line. To avoid pesky little problems like collisions they have a series of procedures in place like the baton system. When the two trolleys meet in locations where the track can accommodate two cars (like the South Side of the High Level Bridge) they pass coloured batons indicating direction of travel. Below you can see the pass off.
Our trolley driver is passing on the blue baton indicating that he has travelled across the bridge and is receiving the yellow baton. If for some reason we return to the bridge before meeting the other trolley we won't cross it as we are in possession of the yellow baton. Only if you have the blue baton can you cross the bridge.

Disembarking in Old Strathcona
First stop - The Farmers Market. For the last couple of years I have been scouring the local farmers markets and greenhouses and harassing the producers looking for white turnips (not purple topped -yuck!). This year I had given up the cause and actually took to growing them in our garden to middling success. Upon entering the market this overcast afternoon I was drawn to a table along the East wall where I spotted the most beautiful white turnips. It was a moment of pure bliss and to commemorate the occasion the lovely lady of August Organics posed for a picture with me.
We wandered around the Fringe site for a while and checked out the discount ticket booth for an impromptu show.  We couldn't decided on anything so we continued to wander coming across this great mural in the alley behind the Wee Book Inn.
After all the walking we needed to re-hydrate so I angled towards the beer gardens across from the Market where we could watch the street performers. After the usual 5-10 minute set-up and build to gather a crowd our performer got to the serious entertainment.

He put on a good show and his helper from the crowd had some great animation in her face enhancing the whole bit. Christina had to look away every once in awhile though as he would pop his shoulder in and out to get through the hoops - at that point the real entertainment is watching Chrissy's face.

Nearing the end of the afternoon we hitched a ride back on the Trolley this time taking the restored Edmonton #33 (vintage 1912) 
I loved the little touches like the visible filaments in the new lights and the old advertisements adorning the interior.

Baton switch - we are getting the blue baton to cross the river.
View from on top of the High Level Bridge.
Arriving at our destination after a 'fruitful' (or vegeful) day.
For me the end of the Fringe marks the end of Summer. But for residents and visitors of Edmonton there is one more week to ride the old trolley cars before they are put away for the winter. If you haven't already done so this year; labour day weekend is your last opportunity. Jump on the trolley while you still can.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alberta Beach

Continuing our summer of daytrips and small towns around Edmonton, Christina and I found ourselves at Alberta Beach.  The whole 40 minute ride out there I kept on singing that it was "far away in time" but the reference was lost on Chrissy.  Kids! pffft.

Th beach was ok but no sign of Martha or her Muffins.

Wherever we travel we like to get a bit of the local colour so we headed to Jungles Bar and Grill as it had a deck overlooking the beach. It was a busy place with motorbikers and their 'old ladies' so I surmised that they may serve Old Vienna.  Success!
Christina ordered chicken fingers and fries and we settled in enjoying the sun, beer and the people around us.
However, after about 50 minutes we started getting agitated that our lunch that we pre-purchased hadn't arrived.
Eventually, about 80 minutes later, lunch arrived.
It was pretty average but it soothed the savage beast within.

So in summary, the beach is ok but not worthy of dedicating a 1980's rock song to and don't bother going to Jungles for grub, only beer. I think I got this town figured out now. Maybe I'll check back in a decade or two.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big Yellow Bus

Last week Mom was in Edmonton for the Canadian Catholic Womens League annual conference.  Between Monica and I (mostly Monica) we were her chauffeur during the conference shuttling her back between Grandma duties and the Shaw Conference/Westin.

On one particular drop-off a picture worthy experience came up and Christina was quick with the camera to capture the moment.

Finally after all of these years I got to make mom to the big yellow school bus.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Edmonton Cariwest Festival

For a guy who doesn't like parades, I sure go to a lot of them.

Last week in Edmonton was the Cariwest Festival celebrating Caribbean Arts. Its a fun little event with great food (jerk chicken & roti) and cheerful people.

The celebration of the Islands actually exposes a pretty weird little dichotomy in the city. You have two competing events literally right across the river from each other that are laser focused in their individual demographics; Cariwest with people of African descent celebrating together to raucous music and Edmonton Folk Music Festival where people mostly of European descent hang out swaying together on a hill.  Its a chessboard in the city of Edmonton.

Nearing noon on Saturday (the parade never starts on time) Chrissy and I settled in along 102ave to watch the parade and snap some pictures.

Jamaica, who are celebrating 50 years of independence, where front and center in the Parade.

 They were followed by Trinidad and Tobago who were also celebrating a golden anniversary. After the two countries paraded through it seemed to break up into random dance crews.  
 Definitely the highlight for me is the costumes and the giant personal floats/costumes.

They even got their pets involved this year.

I'm not sure if it was just me but the parade seemed to be a little thinner than previous years. However, it was still pretty great and got my seal of approval

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rock & Roll Edmonton

A couple weeks back through a hook-up a couple of buddies offered me a free ticket to go see Iron Maiden. I've never been a big fan but they are pretty legendary so I took up the offer.
Bruce was in fine vocal and active form putting on a good performance. That being said - my general impression was that Maiden was kind of lame. Maiden is non-ironic Spinal Tap. 
Good thing their pyro and lights were a lot better.

Slightly disappointed we went out on a search for a real rock and roll experience. That search lead us to the Historical Edmonton Landmark, the Transit Hotel. Just look at these reviews from

 "This is the dirtiest, sleaziest, scummiest place I have ever been to.  I felt so out of place because I was young, not into drugs, and I shower on a regular basis. Seriously, I was terrified of this place.   Do not go into this hotel!  Do not go into the bar.  STAY AWAY!!!!!!!!" 

 "I agree that place is a total dump. It stinks with spilled brews, totally unclean and serves too many risky patrons"

Just look at all those exclamation marks on the first review. It is actually daring me to do the exact opposite. Couple all of that with the fact that they serve OV - Outstanding!
Saskatoon High Tea
One of the worst bands I have ever seen. Not even so bad they are good. Just bad.
The night descending into a blur.

The Transit was a fun time and honestly it gets a bad rap. There were lots of regular folk in there that maybe don't always have the fanciest clothes or the coolest haircuts but are not that different from anybody else. Just out and about looking for a good time. I'll be back there again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Trip to Maligne Lake

Final stop on the Jasper field trip (more here and here) was a visit to Maligne Lake.  I had never been there before but have of course seen the near iconic photo of  Spirit Island  many times. Chrissy had visited previously but couldn't quite remembered when she had last - needless to say, it had been a while.

The first thing that struck us was the high water levels. Even the Curly Phillips Boathouse, originally built in 1928, was temporarily out of service as it was flooded out. I wonder how many times its been flooded out like this and how much of the building has been replaced due to this type of wear and tear?

Funny enough the boathouse isn't even where the tour boats are docked. As we are both poor and or cheap, we declined taking the boats to Spirit Island. It will have to wait for another trip.
 Instead we decided to walk around and explore the trails and other buildings.

It is a good thing we decided to visit when we did as just a week or so after we left the road to the Lake was shut down with a mudslide. It's something I could definitely see after witnessing just how high the water was.

On the way back from Maligne Lake we stopped at Jasper Park Lodge for a quick drink and upon exiting the resort we witnessed a momma bear and a couple of cubs walking between the road and forest.

Also on the way back to William A Switzer Park we came across this monster along the side of the road.

Overall, it was a great camping trip and I am glad to say that Chrissy and I are still together after the trip.