Friday, October 24, 2008

Hangin' Out: Down Day in Alberta!

Up early this morning in spite of a very late night. Do I settle in and work at this computer, or go for a run? We don’t have a show tonight, so this might be a good opportunity to get out there and do it! The house is pretty quiet, so I assume everybody is sleeping or at work. I suit up in my track gear and slip out the front door. We’re in Cochrane, AB, a town of about 13,000 people, about half an hour north of Calgary. In spite of the obvious rapid growth suburbs perched on the hills, there is open space and big sky. Hills brown and golden. Mountains in the distance.

We are staying in a ten or fifteen year old suburb, but I have a feeling I might get to the open country fairly quickly if I take the right road. I can see big spaces across the mighty valley, and I’m guessing that we are pretty close to the top of the ridge on our side. The wind is sharply cold this morning. It was minus 7 degrees last night when we drove up here, and it hasn’t warmed up too much yet. I’m glad I’ve got gloves and a good jacket. I head up the road. I’d rather climb hills now than at the end of my run.

It’s steeper than I thought, and as I clear the sleepy suburban street the wind kicks in. Cold and blowing full against me. It seems like a long way up this hill. What is it? One Km? Two? I don’t know, but I’m working harder than I thought I wanted to! I’m breathing hard. Yeah, this is good cardio, baby. Clearing the ridge at last I’m running into a gravel road posted “No Trespassing.” This is a First Nations land reserve. The road is rough gravel and it points straight ahead towards the mountains in the distance. The George Fox Trail. I carry on and run for half an hour without seeing another person, car, or animal. The wind howls and pushes, and I lean into it. Returning, it’s at my back, and the slope is downhill. Now this run is easy, and I feel good!

Back at the house I drink coffee with Michael and our host, Randy. Randy takes time to tell us of his recent arctic adventures. An amazing trip in which he pulled a sled for six weeks across the ice! The pictures are breathtaking, and it makes our little, cross-Canada trip look like a cakewalk.

Later I head out for a hike down the Bow valley with Randy and his pal Brian. I was going to stay in and work, but the river looks great, and I don’t want to miss any of it. It’s a fast, cold river. Some canoes pass us as we walk. The wind is behind them, and the current is pumping at a rockin’ rate. Neat! There are plenty of mule deer up in this part of the valley, but we don’t see any today. Maybe we’re talking too much!

Night time is dinner with Johnny V and his family at Mr. T’s BBQ in north Calgary. Great eats. If you like meat, go there. I’m not crazy about the sauces they use. But this place is a long way from Oklahoma. Only a BBQ snob would not enjoy this outing. We have a great meal and talk for a long time. After dinner we head over to Johnny’s for a coffee, a tea, some more chat, and a little guitar show and tell. Johnny shows us his National Trojan and his Gibson Army-Navy guitars.

Very cool. He plays us some very interesting stuff in “fandango” G tuning. I use this tuning all the time, so I enjoy Johnny’s take on it, and his choice of material. We all talk guitar stuff— strings, bridges, tension, necks, until it’s pretty late. A very pleasant day. Michael and I head out into the night to find the Crowsnest Trail, our way back to Cochrane.

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