Did you hear that?
It was the sound of thousands of people descending upon Calgary. They’re bringing tacky shirts, cowboy hats, skin-tight jeans, and an inability to drive. Some of them are here to compete at the rodeo and have packed their horses, ready to cowboy up. (Yes, I said “cowboy up”. Calgary has changed me, oh yes it has.) For the most part, people arrive to spend ten days marinated in whiskey and well fed by pancakes at maybe not the largest rodeo on earth, but pretty darned big.
The first year I was here, the Stampede was a novelty. It’s massive. It’s sparkly. It’s full of good smells, people watching, games, displays, and weird talent shows. I could live on the grounds for the entire ten days if I had a) more endurance and b) more gastrointestinal power. Last year The Husband and I gleefully checked out the chuckwagon races at the actual rodeo, gorged on mini-donuts, bought big lottery tickets, entered art into the folk competitions and toured the entertainment stages. We slept for days afterward because the sheer excitement of spending morning to closing in an overstimulated state tuckered us out. This year, I’m escaping to Yellowknife (#44 on the list of 101 things) during the last bit of Stampede, and it is a Good Thing. I have lost my temper with the mass population increase, I have yelled at confused tourists that are merging across four lanes of traffic without shoulder checking, I have snorted in the direction of the drunken youth swarming on the trains… my snarkiness surfaces during the last few days of Stampede so this year, I’ll be around to be enthusiastic and westerned-up, and juuuussst as my patience starts to wane, I’ll be removed from the situation. All tourists can send their thanks in the form of wool.
It reminds me that I may be getting to a Certain Age. This past weekend, I found myself directing some “young kids” (and by young, I mean 20. Ack, I’m feeling old) to pick up their litter while we were camping. A friend next to me then warned them to be careful if they were going to ride in the back of a truck on the rough roads. I should have rounded it out and reminded them to pack a sweater in case it got chilly.
Be kind and send anti-wrinkle cream. And tequila.