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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 36 and 37: Howdy Medicine Hat, Alberta

Just as our arrival in Moose Jaw coincided with the annual Festival of Words, our arrival in Medicine Hat coincided with the opening of the city's 125th stampede. Isn't it great when you hit the 'highlight of the tourist season' jackpot without an inkling of a game plan? Luckily, a 2 night slot opened up for Carmella to slip into in the very busy campground. And faster than you can say giddy-up, a convenient stopover on the way to Writing on Stone Provincial Park in Southern Alberta turned into a two day hoedown in Gas City.

We had fun. Though the rodeo component didn't kick off until after we and our chuck wagon had pulled out of town, there was plenty going on in those stampede grounds perched high above the city to keep us entertained while we were there.

The Prairie Dogs were a tail-wagging hit - in particular a boxer whose prowess out on the course, and fashion sense off of it, caught Rona's eye. A troupe of fiddling foot-stomping sisters and their proud mama provided some rousing music to eat our lunchtime western sandwiches by...And Pioneer Village volunteers Kay and Judy in the one roomed school house, Bill in the tiny church initially built for just three families from Hilda, and vintage car enthusiast Lorel at ye olde gas pump, really made the experience complete.

Oh, and let's not forget the wonderful home crafts and horticultural hall, where local talent was proudly on display. And, of course, what would a stampede be without that one cow requiring a-milking and those three lovely llamas looking on intently...

All in all, it was a grand ole time - we clocked in about 40 kms on our bikes getting to and fro and up and down in this very hilly city; and we had a good meal at Twist, a new bistro that has just been opened up by two sisters from Quebec.

Coyotes howled through the night, making us feel like we were truly home home on the range. And we headed off for the Alberta badlands feeling like we'd earned our cowgirl credentials.