Monday, July 03, 2006

Tuesday, 6.27.06

We capped off Tuesday afternoon with a stop in the Canadian Badlands of Drumheller, an area whose landscape is just a little less dramatic than the badlands of South Dakota that I described here two years ago. We paid a visit to the Royal Tyrrell museum, which boasts some of the coolest reassembled dinosaurs in the world. We also made a compulsory tourist stop at the Hoo Doos, strange-lookin', partially eroded towers of sandstone that look almost anthropomorphic. Denser rock on top of the column fails to erode as the pillar of support wears thinner and thinner.

We also stopped at the World's Largest Dinosaur, a 150-foot replica of the ferocious Albertosaurus. But it was after 5 and the observation deck in the mouth had closed.

Then, onto what will surely prove the biggest disappointment of our trip: Calgary. This city of almost 900,000 is universally praised as a center of commerce and education, 21st century urban planning, arts, humanities, and livability.

It is a fucking shithole. The Trans-Canada "Highway," at the city limit, cuts across farmland (bad sign). Almost immediately thereafter, it's a stoplighted sprawl strip, with nothing but Home Depots and Denny's as far as the eye can see. You can't really see downtown, but it's there. There are a few tall buildings. One says Husky on it (oil co.); one says HP.

After we were rudely and unprofessionally checked into our room at the U of Calgary, we set out to explore. After walking 15 minutes to the "C-Train" (not trolley, light rail, subway, or just train), we each paid $2.25 for tickets that were not collected. We hopped off the train at downtown death alley, a street where trolleys are the only vehicles allowed, and shaggy, homeless, and crazy people are the only ones around. We walked and walked, starving, hoping for dinner. We checked out an entire district that was supposedly cool at one time, yet found only yuppie furniture stores and a bar full of teenage girls. We then hopped a train that went exactly 80 feet to the end of the downtown street trackage and promptly went out of service. We hopped out onto a narrow operator's platform that had no stairs or exit, just a way for the operator to get from one end of the train to the other. The train operator ignored us and made no eye contact whatsoever. Crazy, long haired meth people seethed and hissed among the shuttered storefronts, begging for loonies.

Then we crossed a bridge into what was supposedly another hip supertrendy eating and dining area. Only one restaurant had its lights on at 11:30, but its doors were locked. We took a cab back to the U of C. The cab passed a fried chicken shack, but we opted to eat the bag of bad bbq potato chips stashed in the momivan. We vowed never to return to Calgary again. In the morning we wasted an hour driving around, only to find out that it was actually as bad as it seemed. Insta-suburbs radiated out from downtown, blocks from downtown, and continued forever. In an hour's driving, we spotted maybe two bars. We ate a huge breakfast at a Smitty's, where we were asked if we worked for "the oil company" (see mini-post on this).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty bitter for a 26 year old.

Somerville Mass's finest ambassador.

Grow up.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Do you have a point?

3:35 PM  

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