There were two bad points, alas. The credit card theft (which I still need to finish dealing with now that I'm home), and that my cellular phone seems to have broken. It can take INCOMING calls just fine, but outgoing only work over the headset. Ah, well. I'll deal with it soon.
Left Seattle after work and a book signing on Tuesday the 6th. Got to Chilliwack that night, and got some sleep.
Next day, we left pretty early. It was cold and grey, but that burned off quickly enough and turned rather hot. Not wanting to get lost, we took the Trans-Canada the whole way... which took us on a long, long, winding route through the Fraser Canyon. It took us quite a while just to reach Kamloops! But we made it to Golden by that night, and got a hotel room.
The next morning, we got back onto the road. Since we'd made it to Golden, it really wasn't terribly far to reach Calgary.
It started out grey and cold, but that burned off and then it was hot by the time we reached the foothills. We took a few pictures along the way, though ran the battery of the camera down.
My first impression of Calgary was that it was flat, brown, and filled with tract housing. The tract housing proved only to apply to the outskirts, but I still found it sort of visually unpleasant. And both FJ and I have decided that whoever laid out Calgary cannot count. (Streets do not change numbers when they curve, so there are places where you have 8th, then 16th, then 12th, as the three successive cross-streets.)
On the other hand, folks there were wonderfully friendly. And we found what both FJ and I agree is perhaps one of the best Indian restaurants we've ever been to. The samosas were /superb/, and the food was astonishing. Alas, it's a bit of a drive.
Calgary proved to be pretty hot the day we arrived. So we did some errands (finding a new battery charger for the camera), checked into our hotel, did dinner at the aforementioned excellent Indian restaurant, and then settled in to watch TV and generally relax.
The next morning dawned grey and cold, but we figured that would burn off. We were wrong. We watched a competition in the All-Canada Ring, then wandered the Pavilion of Nations to find food and so on. We wandered through the gift shops, and then settled in to watch the ATCO Cup (and the six-bar competition afterwards). It was raining a bit, and had started to get really cold. I ran back to the Pavilion of Nations during the break and found a small lap-quilt at the Austria booth. We laid this across our legs to stay somewhat warm, but we were still immensely glad to get into the car after the competitions! Still, we saw some incredible riding... especially Rodrigo Pessoa's ride during the jump-off, which brought him first prize.
And Nick Skelton tried to break the height record for a jump that night, too. He didn't manage, but he came really close... and it was still incredible to watch.
The next day, we dressed more warmly... but soon we had freezing rain and horrendous wind coming down. We watched the morning competition from the general, free bleachers. I started figuring out a little more of how to take horse action pictures (though, alas, still didn't quite get the hang of it this day), and then we watched the Nations Cup. But at the halfway mark, the field had turned into a swamp. For everyone's sake -- the freezing audience, the horses and riders who were risking severe injury in those conditions -- they cancelled the second half of the Cup. This was a nearly unheard-of thing, and the Southern family (the founders/owners/managers of Spruce Meadows) were incredibly apologetic.
The final day was actually warmer, and they didn't charge admissions (to make up for the day before). There was still a ton of mud around (the parking lot, a big grassy field, nearly ate FJ and I), and plenty of puddles, but the fields had somewhat dried up and it wasn't pouring rain anymore. We watched the grand prix -- and some of the performances, especially in the second round, were astonishing. Nick Skelton (UK rider) and Beezie Madden (US rider) got double clears, and it looked /right/ up until the end like Eric Lamaze (Canada rider) was going to do the same... and then at the end of a phenomenal ride, he clipped the top bar of the final jump, earning four faults. So the jump-off was just Skelton and Madden.
Amusingly, one of the Southerns who had been announcing still had her mike on, and didn't realize it. So after Eric Lamaze's ride when Canada was thrown out of the finals, we got this sudden, thunderous, "SHIT!!" Pause, laughter throughout the arena. Realizing what she did, she continues, "Sorry! But... I mean, wasn't that just awful? Such a great ride, and then right at the end..."
The jump-off between Nick Skelton and Beezie Madden was incredible; Nick Skelton rode brilliantly, and it looked like no one would be able to touch his score... and then Beezie Madden just blew everyone away.
After that, we went off to the Equi-fair to visit horses again. FJ finally filled me in on the history and traits of the Canadian (the breed of horse, 'Canadian Horse,' not like Canadian people). Sounds like they actually have most of the traits I particularly admire in my beloved Iberians, since they have Iberian blood, but also have a more even-tempered demeanor, a longer lifespan, and are sturdy as all hell. I actually will have to look more into this breed, I admit. I also spent more time with Sockeye, the Curly Horse who I had been visiting back on our first day. Every time I tried to go look at something else, Sockeye would very politely but firmly reach out, take my sleeve in his teeth and pull me back to his stall.
Once the parking lot had cleared a bit, we took off out of Calgary. Unfortunately, traffic was bad and our 'shortcut' proved to be confusing (due to the aforementioned Weird Numbering, and a map lacking in detail). We did finally make it out, but then due to road construction we hit the Canadian Rockies right around sunset. We made it further in, but the road was unsettling in the dark -- narrow, windy, and with little memorial crosses for fatal accidents everywhere. When we reached Golden, we decided to stop for the night.
Today, got up and got on the road (after our by-now traditional breakfast of coffee and a toasted bagel from Tim Horton's). Made really good time, and shortcutted back along the toll highway from Kamloops to Hope. Reached Chilliwack, dropped FJ off, drove home... and collapsed. It was a great trip, and I really needed the vacation (though I still did about six beta builds and releases of the Trillian stuff I'm working on, in the hotel rooms in the evenings).
There is a friends-locked post with a link to the Photo Album Of Doom right after this.
But I do NOT want to drive anywhere for a while.
At any rate, tonight I'll sleep (after finishing laundry and stuff). Tomorrow, work... and getting down to sorting out the card and cell phone stuff. I'll also be doing Victory Music with my dad (though alas, I suspect we'll arrive about half an hour or so after the start), for the first time in about two months. Will be nice. (bluerain, are you going to be there? If not, no worries. If so, lemme know!)
Must change over laundry.