|Hung-over, exhausted but well dressed, we made our way from Vegas to Calgary. With the Stampede starting the next day, Calgary was pumping and accommodation was over priced and overbooked. The only spot available was the student accommodation at the SAIT University which was being let out over the Summer holidays. We feared the worst, but as it turned out we had a lovely apartment in a quiet part of town with a free rail link into town on the doorstep - who would have thought!
We spent our first day exploring the Calgary Stampede ("The greatest outdoor show on earth") which is like a mini Royal Easter Show with more cowboy hats (and cowboys!). It's wranglers, cowboy boots and ten gallons everywhere to a soundtrack of Garth Brooks.
The next day we hired a big 4WD and drove (the long way) to the Executive Resort in Kananaskis Village in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains for Hayden and Karla's wedding. The setting was gorgeous and the hotel seemed extraordinarily luxurious after our 5 months of slumming it...mmmm.
The next day the sun shone and the wedding was stunning - set amongst the wildflowers, surrounded by the magnificent Rockies you couldn't imagine a lovelier setting. It was great to catch up with old friends from home and also to meet Karla's friends and family. It was also wonderful to wear a party frock and high heels!
Handy hint: If you're feeling down, get a Canook to day "there's a mouse in the house and I can't get it out"...bound to bring a smile to your face.
The next day Karla's family hosted a fabulous BBQ brunch at a nearby picnic spot (mmmm home made snags, pancakes and cherry sauce!) after which a group of us headed off for a spot of horse riding. A girl had been killed by a grizzly bear a few days earlier and while the scenery was stunning, we were all a little jumpy. Our guides made the most of this and regaled us with wonderfully gory stories of bear attacks (we told them about drop bears).
We met the group the next day at the Stampede. There was some very authentic looking cowboy walking going on thanks to the proceeding day's activities. All kitted out in our best cowboy outfits, we got into the swing of things with a tin of chewing tobacco, Canadian bears, an attempt at the Two-Step and mountains of smokey BBQ'd beef. We also met up with the Australian Polocross team on their world domination tour.
Hung over again the next day we went back to the Stampede to check out the famous rodeo, before heading off to the airport for the last flight of our trip - Calgary/London.