Horses, more horses and then..some more horses.

Howdy People!I realize my blog is becoming more and more like a travel blog or a picture blog, but I hope you are being entertained by my posts.I have been doing quite a bit of travelling lately and the things I see are too good to miss letting you guys know about it.Tomorrow hubby and I are going boating 🙂 . Us doing all these activities, comes as a surprise to even us, cause neither me nor hubby are outdoor people.But, hey! make hay while the sunshine.Umm.. I mean it quite literally cause in Calgary, the sun shines only or 4 months is a year.so, HEEEEE HAWWWWWW!!!!(This gal is going country today 🙂 )

Calgary hosts a 10 day event every year called the Calgary Stampede.It’s a celebration of the wild west.There are gonna be a lot of events happening in the city for the next 10 days including rodeo stuff,  derby etc etc. I can’t give you the full details yet cause I have no idea what all this means.We’ve got tickets for a couple of events.. Will keep you guys updated with pictures, so you feel like you are a part of Calgary Stampede 2011. YAAAHOOOO! (That’s pretty much what I have been screaming since morning.)

You can check out the official website of the Stampede here. Go ahead, check it out to really know what I am talking about.And oh, oh oh… Did I mention that the royal couple William and Kate were also here. I caught a glimpse of Kate waving from inside the car but they passed even before my brain could process what my eyes saw. So, forget about pictures of the royal couple in my post.

Us camping out...

To kick off the Stampede, there was a parade this morning. 2 hours before the parade could start, me and couple of my friends camped on the roadside. It was fun. Of all the days, today saw the temperature drop to somewhere around 10-15 (my guess) cause it was soooooooo cold and very very very windy.The Stampede is all about horses and cowboy/cowgirl. So we saw a lot of horses. Beautiful, beautiful horses. So huge and magnificient.Lately, I’ve been watching a serial called Heartland which  is all about horses and guess what? I am in love with horses.

Since, today was very windy, there were hats flying everywhere.All the performers wore hats and it was funny to watch them running after the hats in the middle of their performance. The wind actually played spoil sport today.There were a couple of girls performing with guns. You know, throwing the guns in the air and catching them and swirling them and so on.Once, all of them in unison threw the guns in the air and there was a gush of wind and all guns dropped to the ground.Oh, I don’t even want to imagine how it was for the performers on stills. Couple of times, the horses kind of dashed against each other because of the wind.

Overall, it was so much fun today and I saw a lot of horses. Felt like I was in a dreamland of horses.So, here are today’s pictures for you to enjoy..

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Niagara- As seen from my eyes….

Just back from my trip to Toronto, Canada and my mind is fresh with with many breath-taking scenes and sights.So, this is me, trying to make you see what I saw.

Toronto, Ontorio

Toronto as a city, reminded me so much of India.Lots of Indian restaurants (my hubby was one happy guy there :)),lots of Asians and amazing places to visit. The city is quite a bit of a tourist hub and can get really crowded on weekends.Navigating is a lot easier with a GPS. After spending 3 days in the city, I’ve kinda realized that people there are not very honest. Could be just that it is a tourist spot and hence it is easy to take people for a ride or maybe it was just our experiance but I think you need to watch out for yourself.(Hey! Sorry to offend Toronto guys out there).Quite a big city surrounded by water on every side.Looks beautiful.

Niagara Falls

Niagara is an hour’s journey away from the downtown , Toronto. But on crowded days, the journey can take up to 3 hours. So be warned. But, what ever be the crowd, Niagara is well worth the countless hours of traffic on the road.You can read all about it and see for yourself here.Niagara is on the Canadian-US border. The falls itself is on the US side but Canada definitely boasts of a better view and experience of the falls.

The falls is the US side and I am standing on the Canadian side

Niagara itself has two main falls. The smaller one called the Bridal Veil and the huge one called the Horse shoe Falls. Bridal veil actually is huge but smaller compared to the Horse shoe falls.The falls reminded me so much of the power that water has.Reminded me of how small I was compared to this huge natural fall.Reminded me of how creative God must be. The whole time we were there, we could see the rainbow over the HorseShoe falls and I couldn’t help but think, that God was displaying his creation at his best just for me to see.

The Bigger Horshoe Falls

The Bridal Veil... More rocky than the other

Couple of must do things at the Niagara are the Maid of the Mist ride and the Journey behind the falls walk.Maid of the mist is a boat ride that takes you right up to the foot of the falls so you an actually feel the height and the force of the falls. Journey behind the falls is a walk through a tunnel that takes your right up to the falls midway.You can hear the water gushing all around you. An amazing experience I say.Maid of the mist is available on both canadian and US side but the journey behind the falls is available in the canadian side.

Maid of the mist boat ride that takes us right to the falls.

Journey behind the falls walk that takes us right besides the Horse shoe Falls.

I must warn you about the various tours being offered around Niagara. Beware of information centers. As usual, Arun and I stepped into an information center first and we were told that everything around the city is very expensive. We were told that every place that we wanted to visit were far off and that each included a parking fee of 30 dollars etc etc. And for an amount of 100 dollars per person, they would take us on  a tour. Since it was very crowded that day, we almost took it up. But thankfully, the moment we stepped out on our own, we realized what a bunch of liars they were. We ended up paying 10 dollars for parking the whole day and almost every place was walk-able.See what I mean by people were not quite honest there?

Niagara is too good an opportunity to miss and I am glad that I had a chance to see this magnificent scenic beauty. So, I present to you, THE NIAGARA…

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Planning a trip?? Take note…

I am just back from a trip that we have been planing for close to 3 months and we learnt a lot about planning trips in this trip.Hence this post.

Things to consider.

  1. If you are planning a trip to a well known tourist spot on a long weekend, stop right there.DON”T plan further.We were in Toronto on Canada day weekend and so was rest of the world.Our plan was to visit at least close to 8 places on 3 days but we ended up visiting just 3 places. More than the time we spent enjoying the sights we spent time waiting in line to get to places. Our journey to the Niagara was supposedly an hour and 15 minutes ride. But it took us 4 hours just to get there and 3 hrs to get back.Such was the crowd.Entry to the CN tower took us 2 hours of wait in the line.Not fun I say.
  2. If you are planning on driving around yourself in a new place, GPS is a life saver.A print out of Google maps are not quite enough. Once highways are jammed, you will be diverted into some exits and you are lost.Then comes GPS to the rescue. We were so glad that we rented out one.
  3. You might want to consider staying at a not so star hotel. Atleast, they provide you with a free parking space. Star hotels charge you for everything.Except breathing.
  4. If you badly want a get away on a long weekend, then try a resort or something like that. Dot not plan popular sight seeing places.There are just people everywhere.
Just to give you an idea of the crowd that I am taking about, let me share a few pics with you…

On the way to Niagara

Crowded Niagara

Okotoks… A silent whisperer of History.

What started as a thought for a pleasure drive to kill the two hours we had in hand, soon turned out to be a drive down the history lane and a chance to see the country side.

Hubby and I, along with another couple wanted to go out and explore the place a little bit and we found ourselves in a small town called Okatoks, just outside of Calgary.Right from trying to pronounce the name of the town to its historic tales, it proved to be an unique experience for me.This is the closest, I have ever been to the countryside.

Let me warn you upfront that my memory is not that great, so I may not have all the facts, figures and names correct. 🙂 But, the stories… you bet, I got it right….

The town of Okatoks

Okatoks is located 18 kms south of Calgary along the Sheep River Valley and resembles to what I call, a country life. The town itself is small and amazingly beautiful. There are no high rise buildings and residents are super friendly.The city streets are not multi-laned(except a few) and the town itself is quiet.There are a lot of ranches around and horses just grazing along the fields.

Okatoks had a population of just 1000 in 1960 but currently stands at around 24000 (according to a resident).Before the arrival of trains, they had something called as the bull train where bulls were used to carry in the supplies and other materials.These bull trains were close to 400 mts long  and they travelled at a speed of 18 kms per day. That means what took us 40 mins to travel by car had taken them close to 3 days.

Some interesting tales of the town.

  • There had been floods in the town, the latest huge one being in 2005 where the entire town was flooded.
  • There had been a couple of accidental  fires in this town that had burnt down buildings every now and then.One notable fire was when some arsonist set fire to couple of buildings before he was caught.
  • The teacher for the first school lived some 30 kms away and traveled by a horse to teach at the school.And during winter, she just camped nearby.
  • When the town was beginning to come alive, the government offered free land to lure people into coming there.

The Station Cultural Center

The station Cultural Centre, Okotoks, Alberta which was once a Canadian Pacific Railway station

The station Cultural Centre, Okotoks, Alberta which was once a Canadian Pacific Railway station

The cultural center holds many themed exhibitions and at the time we visited, it was the ‘Egyptian’ themed exhibits.The exhibit had many jewellery , utensils and other stuff from the ancient times with many models of things like Mummies.Proved to be an interesting read and view.

The Building itself has a history behind it. It had been the Okatoks Railway Station with Canadian Pacific sending its last train sometime in the 70’s.The station still has the railway lines and resemble scenes out of movies.A lovely place with huge trees around it.

Okatoks Museum

An amazing two floored structure that told us the history of Okatoks. Stories of the first people to land in Okatoks. Pictures of various important events in the town. The olden day household articles are displayed with a story of the respective owners. An amazing leather vest that was hand made for a nurse, the bag in which sugar was sold and the earlier washing ways are just  few of the items displayed.The things in the museum were all simple, but what made them priceless was the story behind every picture.
The museum building that was moved from one land to another

The museum building that was moved from one land to another

The museum itself has an interesting story behind it. In olden days, the museum had been a house to many a people before it came to be what it is today. In 2000, the government wanted to bring the structure down as it was in the way of their road plans. But the community decided that this building was too priceless to be torn down. The whole town pitched in the amount and the entire house was moved from the old location to its current location. And they have pictures of the move with people cheering and celebrating.

The Big Rock

The town got its name from a big piece of rock (called the Big Rock.No creativity there) that has supposedly travelled 415 km some 10,000 years ago.Big Rock is a piece of glacial erratic rock. As the official website of Okotoks says, ‘Erratics are rocks that are not native to the area where they are found, but were transported in the ice of a glacier during the ice age. Big Rock comes from the Wisconsin glacier (Jasper area).‘. Some sites also claim that Big Rock is the largest erractics in the present world.

The Big Rock is located some 10 kms southwest of Okotoks.It is a huge piece of rock that stands out in the open grounds. The beauty of it is because no other rock can be found in the surrounding areas.

The Blackfoot Legend of the Big Rock

Big Rock, Okotoks, Alberta

Big Rock, Okotoks, Alberta

On a hot summer day,a guy called  Napi, wanted to rest on a rock. He spread his robe on the rock, telling the rock to keep the robe in return for letting him rest there. Suddenly, the weather changed and Napi became cold as the wind whistled and the rain fell. Napi asked the rock to return his robe, but the rock refused. Napi got mad and just took the clothing. As he strolled away, he heard a loud noise and turning, he saw the rock was rolling after him. Napi ran for his life. The deer, the bison and the pronghorn were Napi’s friends, and they tried to stop the rock by running in front of it. The rock rolled over them. Napi’s last chance was to call on the bats for help. Fortunately, they did better than their hoofed neighbours, and by diving at the rock and colliding with it, one of them finally hit the rock just right and it broke into two pieces.   Not only does this story explain why the rock is in two pieces, but also why bats have squashed-looking faces. The tale provides helpful caution against taking back what you have given away.

                                                                                                          – The official website of Okotoks.

I am kinda sure this tale is not true, but one thing is sure.The climate can change in a second. It is supposedly summer here, but at the Big Rock,when I visited, it was so windy and freezing cold.

So, here are few pictures of Okotoks for you.

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Kissing. And not on the cheeks

So, I’ve been here in the ‘foreign’ land for about a month and a half now. I encounter new things every day. Things that I expect, things that I don’t expect. So everything is kind of a fascination to me right now. One thing that I was kind of looking to see was, if people really kissed on the roads like how they show in the movies. OK, I grew up watching a lot of Hollywood movies and almost every movie showed a couple kissing. On the road. And I always wondered if this was true.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re not an Indian, you would probably be wondering right now, why is this, a big deal to me? Let me tell you something about India. In our country, we don’t kiss. Not openly for anybody to see that is.Even if we are married, we still don’t kiss in the open. Married people don’t even hold hands on the roads.Now things are changing in places like Bangalore, but in places like Coimbatore which is a part of Southern India, we still don’t.And Oh! , we conveniently skip the ‘You may now kiss the bride’ part in our weddings. TRUE STORY!.

So back to my fascination, you can now see why I wanted to know if people do kiss on the roads.If you are an Indian, who has not travelled anywhere abroad, then probably you have the same question. The answer is yes and no.Yes, I’ve seen couples kissing but No, not like how they show in the movies. 🙂  Hubby n Me attended a marriage seminar in church and one part of it was to kiss our spouse. I’m not even gonna try mentioning what hubby and I did but we did see a lot of couples kissing.  🙂  (That should tell you what we did).

On a lighter note, found this picture as an ad on my FB page. Had to capture it . 🙂

And Oh, we did catch one of our Indian couple friends stealing a kiss outdoors 🙂

Banff… A glimpse of beauty.

Yow know how some times, when we see something very beautiful or hear something very lovely, we tend to used the term, ‘most beautiful ______ in the world’ (though we know that more beautiful things do exist in this world) to describe it? Well, this is NOT one of those times. Banff IS in fact one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I know that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. But every beholder seems to agree that Banff, Canada is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Try googling for the most beautiful places in the world and Banff is sure to show up in the list under names like Banff or Canada Rockies or the Gondolas.The only thing that the Beholders can’t seem to agree upon is how top on their list of ‘Top 10 beautiful places in the world’ should Banff, be placed.

Banff is known for its Rocky Mountains and lakes. The view from the top of the Sulphur Mountains was amazing. We traveled in the Gondola . A visit to the Lake Loiuse proved amazing.I have never seen anything so beautiful my entire life so far.It really left me speechless.

So, here’s little bit of Banff for you.

Snow Covered

One of the many frozen lake along the way from Cagary to Banff

Frozen melting Ice

Streets of Banff

A view from the Gondola

The wind was making the fallen snow fly. Causing snow gusts.

Bus that can travel on ice.

That's my dude and me.My heart leapt with Joy on seeing my Indian Flag. Had I traveled in that direction for 11,000 kilometers, I would have reached India

I'm not sure what I was trying to do, but found this funny. 🙂

Lake Loiuse

On top the Frozen Lake.

In memory of 100 years of CPR

One of the many Ice Sculptures in Lake Loiuse

Highlights of the trip :

  • My first fall on ice. Not painful but Cold 🙂
  • Saw lots and lots of snow
  • ‘Operation Banana’ as my friend called it. That story will make up for a blog post itself. Someday.
  • Understood what the word ‘speechless’ meant.
  • Was awed by the Lord’s creative mind.

Exploring the land

I love staring. At pretty much anything. I can stare for hours at the water, the stars, the road, the snow, the houses, the trees. You name anything pretty. I can stare at it. My hubby cannot. So yesterday, a couple of us sent our hubbies to work and took off to see the land as I call it.Between getting lost and not knowing it, we managed to walk quite a bit around the city and clicking pictures to my heart’s content.

So, here’s little bit of Calgary for you.

This is a Telus science museum where they have different themed exhibits.

A view of the Downtown

After getting lost around a bit... we finally found it

Prince's Island Park

managed to get a clear sky for the shot.

 

a guy passing by told us that this gateway was built as a memorial for the first hospital in Calgary

Was fascinated by the small structure next to huge ones

 

Found this guy running around us

I think this is the Bow River, which runs just outside Calgary

Found the last standing leaf

Not sure what shrub this is, but I'm pretty sure that this is the first red stem I've seen in my life

Found them hanging all around the park

A pretty bird