Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 191: Sea A Little Blue

Living in BC for nearly six years left me with at least one empty spot in my heart. There is this one spot that has been there since I was a very small child. This spot cannot be filled with generic good times with friends. It cannot be filled with love. It cannot be filled with family. No, there is nothing that can fill this hot-as-hades-cowboy-boots-wearing-parade-watching-Budweiser-drinking-mini-donuts-eating-hole quite like the Calgary Stampede.

In honour of the Calgary Stampede which starts at the end of this week, I thought I would share some of my favourite memories of Stampede with you:

- Riding the rides, before I realized how truly terrifying it is that they set them up for 12 days, then move them somewhere else. I steer clear now, but when I was young, rides were amazing.

- The Ferris Wheel. Yes, this technically counts as a ride. However, there is nothing that makes me long for the movie, The Notebook, more than a ferris wheel does.

- Teaming up with a friend and singing karaoke. I imagine it was terrible. We were around the age of 14.

- My first time in the beer gardens at 18. The only choices were Smirnoff Ice, Budweiser, and Bud Light. I hope they have more this year than they did back then. I remember thinking, "That's it? Those are my only choices? And why do people pay $8 or some such ridiculous price for these insanely crappy tasting drinks?" What I said out loud was, "Alright, I'll have a Bud Light." -- and a Stampede monster was born.

- Inside jokes with Kate about a hot tub and being silly and slightly bordering on exhibitionism. Oh, to be a teenager once again.

- Flash hail storms/snow storms/thunderstorms/sweltering heat. You never know what weather you'll get on any given day at the Stampede. On a good day you get two of the four. On a great day you get all four.

- Wranglers. God's gift to men's butts.

- Music. So much free music. The Coca Cola Stage. Nashville North. It's just ridiculous how much free music you can see at the Stampede. This year, I'm really excited for Mariana's Trench. In years past, the Backstreet Boys tribute band and The Moffatts. All my 13-year-old dreams came true one Stampede day when I was picked out of the crowd by a TV station to meet The Moffatts backstage. Well, technically "backstage" was under the Coca Cola Stage. I have the horribly embarrassing photos to prove this venture happened. I even have the video of them singing "Girl of My Dreams" to me while I sat there awkwardly half smiling and trying so hard to look like a pretty girl when I looked like a boy with long hair in an oversized sweater. Parents of the world: when your daughters are going to concerts, ALWAYS make sure they look their prettiest. You never know when they'll meet their favourite band.

- Two words: mini donuts. There is no mini donut on Earth that compares to "Those Little Donuts" from the Calgary Stampede. Don't even try to argue with me on this one. You will not win.

- Pancake Breakfasts. They are EVERYWHERE during Stampede. And they are usually free. And let's be honest, I've never heard of a fight or a stabbing or a shooting happening at a pancake breakfast. Ever. Because that's how Calgary rolls. We put down our weapons for banjos, hay bails and flapjacks.

- The little kid cowboy hats with the whistles. I still wore mine for years after it was acceptable for me to be wearing it. I'm disappointed to say that I don't think it's still in my closet. Shame. I would totally wear it again this year.

There are many, many, other reasons why I love the Stampede. This is just a highlight reel. I can't wait to experience this all over again.

The Stampede is truly magical. If you haven't been: GO.


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