Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stampede is over for another year....

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.... The tourists have either gone home or to Banff. I feel almost agoraphobic. No more vehicles blocking traffic while the driver figures out where he's going, no more yielding in a merge lane (well, not much, anyway), no more people trying to merge onto Crowchild 30 km/hr below the speed limit (except for the usual geriatric drivers), no more getting cut off by Texan drivers (well, there was that one Texan on the way in to work this morning).

I do enjoy the Stampede, the one time I go. The rest of the time I just stay the heck away from downtown Calgary. This year in the 10 days of the Stampede there were over 1.1 million visits to the grounds. The temperature in Calgary for most of the week was quite hot, in the mid-30s, but on the Stampede Grounds, where it's mostly asphalt, the thermometer read The bars are overflowing all Stampede Week, so I avoid those as well. It's just crazy. And while the mayor is unsuccessfully trying to get money from the Province of Alberta to shore up the infrastructure of the city, our illustrious premier gives $40 million to the Stampede for future expansion. I agree that the Stampede brings in a huge amount of cash to the city, but I never see any benefit from it. People here are not too pleased with the situation.

In all the times that I have been to the Stampede I have never been to the Rodeo. I'm going to have to do that next year. I have, however, seen the chuckwagon races. In one of the last races of this year's competition, a serious accident (which resulted in killing one horse outright, and two others had to be put down on the spot) caused a wagon to lose its driver. One of the outriders had to jump from his horse onto the wagon a la Hollywood to keep things from getting worse.

This is also the first year that I didn't do any of the rides on the midway. Been there, done them. It's a lot of fun, but my darling wife gets motion sickness easily. I was impressed that she went on some of them with me last year as it was. I went last Friday mainly because the Payola$ were playing. It was a really good set, taking me a long ways back. A new EP is being released next week with some pretty good material. I especially like the song 'Bomb', a politically charged piece about suicide bombers. Some of the old songs had the instruments reworked a bit and I thought improved certain songs like 'China Boys'. The one tune I didn't like redone was 'Never Said I Loved You', since (as Paul Hyde lamented) Carole Pope wasn't there to sing the female role of the duet.

But the main reason I go every year is to see the doodads in the Roundup Center. I like seeing all the latest kitchen gadgets, etc., and I usually fork out $150 for something, but there wasn't all that much that was new this year. Along with the usual fudge and mini donut stands there was a place that sold cheesecake-on-a-stick. The cheesecake could be dipped in one of several coatings. But I did end up forking out $100 this year not for a doodad (at least, not one I could take home), but for a salon-style teeth whitening procedure. I have never understood why it is that for the longest time you had to go to the dentist for this service, resulting in paying several hundred dollars. The conditions on this have relaxed and you can go to the local Safeway and pick up a kit, but then it takes 2 weeks to do it. The whole length of the procedure at the Stampede was 12 minutes. The light in the photo is not UV, but approximates daylight (similar to the lights used to treat seasonally-affected disorder). Considering that one of those kits from Safeway costs about $50, the $100 fee for a few minutes as opposed to two weeks was a good deal. The company is planning to open salons in malls across Canada.

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