Wow, we had a very dreamy night and by that I mean, our sleep was embraced by dreams.
Wendy dreamt of some former cat friends of ours (Taffy and Kitten)…of visiting her old job…and of being in a mobster film (something about a guy and a package, ‘Hey Vito, check out the package on that guy’).
My dreams were much more star studded. I hung out with Christian Bale (he’s out there but Balesy…that’s what I call him now…and I are pretty tight)…and Quentin Tarantino (didn’t really talk to him, he’s not a talker like Chris). It doesn’t really matter what we dreamt because once we wake up…we realize…it’s all an illusion (ha ha…Zen Baby)
We are heading to Calgary today so we immediately pack everything into the car. Once the campsite is clean, we drive over to the showers and clean ourselves up…bug juice is replaced by deodorant and whatever else civilized Calgarians will expect of us. Thank yous and goodbyes for our hard working hosts and we are off like a herd of turtles…Day Thirteen has begun
Our first stop is the ‘Old Grouch’s Cozy Cafe’, the Ukrainian restaurant that we wanted to go to but it was closed yesterday. As we enter, we get a big welcome from Fran and Garry (the Old Grouch himself). He is laughing at me because I can’t figure out how to shut the front door. He tells me that a mechanical engineer couldn’t do it either and Garry enjoyed the heck out of watching the guy get really frustrated. I love this guy. Fran and Garry are channeling Wendy’s mom and dad (Fran and Jack) so it’s easy for us to love these two.
The place is a riot of ‘stuff’. This IS Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I expect my chair, one of four at the table (none of which match) to talk to me…like that horse yesterday.
There is art everywhere, toys, fossils and rocks, even a flying pig. There’s a huge poster of a famous Elvis Impersonator (c’mon, you know the guy). When I go to the washroom something moos and an alarm sounds. Wendy is sitting next to a Dutch lady. They both ask me what I’ve broken (and they weren’t even talking to each other).
Hmmm…let’s see…a Bible, Harlequin romance, Danielle Steele, Joseph Wambaugh. Well now, what’s this…Louis L’Amour. A western. Maybe there’s something in this I can use while I’m out here.
The book jacket says; ‘Callaghen! This rugged, Irish-as-they-come veteran of twenty years of bloody battles and gunshots follows an underground river of gold‘…stop right there, we have a winner…’Callaghen’.
A sign says ‘pay what you can, the money goes to support STARS’ (whatever that is). I figure I’ll pay a buck. Hey, it was printed in 1972 and it probably cost twenty cents back then. C’mon Callaghen, you teach me everything you know about being a desperado and I’ll introduce you to a good looking horse I know.
Breakfast is Ukie all the way. Potato and garlic soup, non-meat cabbage rolls and potato & onion perogies. The first two are gluten and lactose free…the perogies, not a chance. The food is fantastic, worth driving across Canada for. For dessert, I have a piece of homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie, with ice cream. I lose myself in it’s warm, deep deliciousness. Wendy drools and washes it down with the rest of her cold coffee.
While we eat, Garry tells us about STARS. It’s a rescue program that operates in the three prairie provinces. Helicopters, paramedics. It’s partly funded by the government and mostly by the people of the three provinces, who seem to be very passionate about it. Fundraising for STARS, Garry had his hair dyed red…grew it out…then had it cut into a Mohawk. Together, he and Fran have raised over eighteen thousand dollars.
I tell Garry that I have selected a book from his shelf and I give him ten bucks for it (hey, it’s for a good cause…besides, Callaghen is holding a gun on me).
Leaving the restaurant and we are so pleased to have met these two. Great people, great food.
Sitting in the parking lot, we see another couple drive in. They are looking at the restaurant’s exterior (which does look a little neglected) and they both have the same look on their face that we did when we drove in…’Oh, I’m not sure about eating here honey’. You can tell they’re going to bolt. Wendy hops out of the car and corrals them.
The woman tells Wendy that everyone in town raves about this place but…well…look at it! Wendy reassures them that both food and owners are divine.
Garry has given us what he calls, “better directions to Calgary”. He tells us to drive down the road, go to the lights, turn right and go until you run out of pavement, then turn left and go until you run out of pavement and then turn right.
Wendy is driving (and hooking up a GPS route to Calgary) and she has no idea what road Garry is talking about. We decide to defy the GPS map and we just drive down the road, past the lights and turn right. The GPS lady is shouting at us to turn here and turn there but we defy her and stick to our guns. And lo and behold…we run out of pavement. We turn left.
The drive is really beautiful. Coming up out of the Badlands, the prairies regain all of their magnificent colour.
This route is relaxing and fun and it follows exactly what Garry has predicted. Soon, we hit Hwy. 2 to Calgary and within minutes, we are entering the city centre.
We call our buddy, Harpreet, and make arrangements to meet him so we can grab his apartment keys. We have to meet on the street, outside of his work. He tells us to be prepared, people will honk at us. He works in the banking section…and it’s rush hour. We see Harp in a crowd of suits (as promised he’s wearing the yellow tie). We stop right in front of him, windows open and he hands us the key…behind us someone leans on their horn. You gotta love it when a plan comes together.
Harp lives on the 26th floor of a new condo overlooking a river. The view from up here is breathtaking (and that’s from the height alone). My gawd it’s high.
Great apartment though. We put our stuff down and just sit for a moment. Then Wendy says “Hey, I betcha there’s a Starbucks and a Source nearby and, using her handy dandy iPhone, she finds both within minutes. They’re at some place called Bankers Hall. It’s about twenty minutes away. We decide to walk. It’ll give us a chance to see some of the city.
There seem to be a lot of young, fit people here. The city also seems very clean. The walk is long and hot. Finally we turn a corner and we’re at Banker’s Hall. It smells of money. Inside it looks like CIBC’s Bay Street concourse in Toronto. There are a lot of young turks strutting around in suits. The Source closes it’s doors…literally in our face (I should have worn a suit). Luckily Starbucks is open and we kick back on a cozy leather couch and sip coffee.
Around seven, Harp shows up and we go out for dinner. He takes us to a place called Earl’s. We sit outside and watch people stroll by as we munch on a really good steak. Harp pays…what a guy!
On the way home we stop at the Co-Op to buy groceries (we are really liking this Co-Op. Great service…like in Russell…fresh food and they even have their own liquor and wine store).
We spend the rest of the evening with Harp…chatting and sharing the incredible pleasure of being with great friends. For a guy who has to be up at seven to golf with clients…Harp demonstrates great endurance by staying up with us until 4am (it’s the kind of endurance that arises through sharing awesome moments with dear friends).
Geez, we have to be up at seven too…we have an appointment with the Midas man. Sorry, gotta go NOW! Goodnight
Moose and Wendle