Biggest Rodeo In The North


July, ’80

After leaving the hostel in the morning, and after only two hours of bicycling, I had to look for shelter once again. Just before the downpour, I went into a tavern at Lake Louis. After the rain subsided, I was back on the highway and headed for the largest tourist town in the Canadian Rockies. However, the beauty of Banff was more than worth the hassle. Upon arrival, when I asked for directions from some guys about to enter a tavern, I was invited to join the fellows for a couple of beers. Later, the same fellows treated me to a “welcome to Banff reefer” just outside the tavern. When I finally did get to the Banff hostel, I took the shower that was long overdue and called it a night. My last shower was on Vancouver Island.

After heading due east on the following day, and sixty miles later, I was no longer in the Canadian Rockies; I was rubbing shoulders with cowboys and cowgirls in the town of Calgary. I biked right into the middle of the Stampede, the biggest rodeo in the northern hemisphere. At that hostel, I had to stand in a long line. I was lucky to get a bed. The only thing that saved me was that hostel members got to go in ahead of non-members and I was a member. Outside, a whole city block full of hostel kids was left standing with no place to go.

After I stowed my gear, I went exploring. The streets were crowded. It was like New Orleans at carnival time, except I wasn’t on Bourbon St. and, “aw shucks, it was just me and a whole bunch of bandanna-ed cowboys being happy together.” After getting a taste of the streets, I ambled into a rodeo bar and got myself a beer. The ear blasting country band was playing lariat music. After all the bicycling solitude, I wasn’t up for that kind of noise, so I decided to pack it in early.

Back at the hostel, in my corner seat, in between writing down sentences in my journal, I sat back and watched the activity going on around me. There were lots of people. I had a great place to sit, between the kitchen and dorms. I was having so much fun “people watching” that I didn’t even go outside to watch the fireworks.

Tomorrow, I’m off on a different kind of bicycle trip, hopefully on a flat, dry, surface, under sunny skies, with little or no competing traffic. I can dream, can’t I!


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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2 Responses to Biggest Rodeo In The North

  1. I have some great memories of staying in hostels in Canada. Lake Banff is on my list of places to go. Another good journal entry . . .

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      My memories of staying in hostels are also great. Most of the time, though, I spent my time spying out places to put up my tent and those memories are somewhat mixed. Everybody should experience the Canadian Rockies if they can. Lake Louise, north of Banff, is considered one of (if not the most) beautiful lakes in the world because of the seven glaciers that surround the lake (I think there were seven, but I’m sure today there are far fewer). Thanks for the nice comment. Take care.

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