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Super fun at the Calgary Stampede Midway

My children and I went down to the Calgary Stampede on Friday for a day on the grounds.  We ended up staying for 10 hours and they spent most of that riding, sliding, dropping, stopping and flying around, over, through and across the midway.

We rode on the Skyride which takes you over the middle of the fairgrounds and affords a great view and an opportunity to map out the order of rides, games and food.

It was hot, by Calgary standards – around 32°C, so the misting and water stations were important oasis stops for us throughout the day.

One of those water bottle refill spots was in the Agrium building.  The cool air and really interesting agricultural kiosks and interactive centres kept the kids interested and allowed us to lose some heat!  Kezia loved feeding the chickens in particular while Kian enjoyed watching the day old chicks waddle around their pen.

Ice cream after lunch and slushies in the afternoon were necessary – at least to us!

But, this was a day of rides and we did that with very few other breaks.  It was the first time the kids have come down to the Stampede and I am really happy that they loved it.  I’ve always had a lot of fun down here – on the midway, at the rodeo, watching the chuckwagons and the grandstand show, etc.  I’m excited to share more of the fun that the Stampede has to offer with them.

They hit the Euro Slide early in the day and later in the afternoon.  The sun was behind them for the afternoon rides which allowed for a cool look by over-exposing the shots.  I definitely had a lot of fun playing while photographing these cool cats!

The Outlaw Roller Coaster was one of Kian’s two favourite rides.  He made a couple of runs solo on that after going with his sister the first time.  He didn’t mind having the front seat all to himself – and it worked well for the photographs too!  My favourite is the riding philosopher as he finished his last ride on this one.

And then there was the Starship 4000!  It was the consensus favourite and they both rode it A LOT.  Kian went 13 times and Kezia rode 16 times – in a row!  Dad was a bystander while they racked up their circular miles inside the spaceship.  It spun around pasting the riders against the wall but still allowing them to move around a bit.  I didn’t go on this one but I have been told by both kids it was AWESOME!

We didn’t even get into the games that line the midway alongside the rides.  Kian definitely liked this pink monkey so he’s looking forward to trying for one of them next year.

We finished the day off with a couple of flights on the hang gliding ride called the Cliff Hanger.  I liked flying like Superman – the kids did that and enjoyed making faces and having a blast as they spun around.

A great day at the Stampede – we’ll be back next year!

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May Aurora Borealis at Lake Minnewanka

The aurora storms in May were beautiful.  This is one photograph from May 20th in Banff National Park along the Lake Minnewanka shoreline.  There is a good chance of more displays this weekend.  I’ll be looking up and hopefully the ribbons of red, green and purple will be dancing above.

Calgary Stampede Rodeo – Day 1 Barrel Racing

The Barrel Racing on the first day of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo was exciting as it always is.  The speed the women turn their horses through the course is awesome.  I think there should be more women’s events at the Stampede but I’m happy there is at least this one to showcase just how great the cowgirls are!



 

 

A White-tailed doe and her little fawn

I found this beautiful doe and her fawn in Kananaskis Country – they were kind enough to stay for a minute and let me take a family portrait in the forest.

Calgary Stampede Rodeo – Day 1 Bareback

I was fortunate to be able to join a great group in the infield for the first day of the 2017 Calgary Stampede Rodeo (thanks Todd!).  It’s been a couple of years since I had a good opportunity to photograph down there.  Our seats were at the top of the infield which afforded a great view from above the chutes.  The bareback event was foreshadowed by the novice bareback riders and they had exciting rides.  Below, Lane Ferguson from Granum, Alberta rode Xotic Departure to the day win in the novice bareback event.

A little while later, the professional bareback riding got started.  Caleb Bennett and Up Ur Alley put up an 85.50 on the first ride.

Cole Goodine on Soap Bubbles went the full time as well but fell a little short of Caleb’s opening mark.


I’m always amazed watching both the cowboys and the horses – balance, power and speed on both sides of the contest.  All are world class and they did more than their share to help the Stampede to live up to its name as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Richie Champion astride Twin Cherry won the Day 1 money with a score of 89.00.  The first image in this set shows Richie set up well on the horse during the winning ride.  Below, the pair explode out of their gate – setting the tone for a great ride.

Grizzlies spring foraging in Kananaskis

The first grizzly bear I saw this year was along the Kananaskis River in May.  I was watching ground squirrels playing around the field in the Opal picnic area.  Then they started standing up alert and chirping to one another.

Looking towards the river, I couldn’t see anything.  Then from out of the forest first one, then a second bear arrived.

They hadn’t noticed me, or maybe more likely, they had but did not have any interest in me.   Happily, they padded across the parking lot behind my car and continued on to cross Highway 40.

Their interest was in foraging on the hillside and I watched them for a few minutes until they slipped back into the woods.






A spring in the step


White-tailed deer are a bit flighty so when I came across this doe munching on some flowers (another dandelion hunter as it turns out), it was no surprise that the tail came up and she took a few quick steps away.  She quickly returned to grazing so I wasn’t too much of a threat – or the flowers were too good to walk away from.

 

Dandelion hunting in Banff National Park

In Banff National Park’s Bow Valley, the dandelions are among the first flowers to come into bloom in large patches.  This draws the bears as it has to taste delicious compared to the other vegetarian items on their spring menu.  I spied this young grizzly bear mowing through one of these patches that was along the train tracks.  I always worry about the trains rolling through the park as they continue to have wildlife impacts. But during the short time I watched this bear grazing, no trains came by and no other distractions interrupted this bear’s snack.

Eventually she strode up the little hill, along the rails for a minute, gave me a quick look and then continued down the other side and into the woods.

 

Incoming

I found a small marsh as the day moved towards evening.  There were a few blackbirds, shovelers and other ducks swimming around the pools between the tall grass.  This mallard circled overhead twice and then surprised me by landing in the middle of the grass.  I expected the water would be preferred but I don’t know enough about these birds to pretend to know anything at all.  I was very happy to be surprised and she looked amazing as she flared her wings to land.

A window of sunlight

As a storm cleared out of the Bow Valley, the clouds rose off the floor and climbed over the Massive Range.  Here, the sun lit up one of the Brett Mountain’s ridges for a moment.

Pollination in Kreuzberg

Last summer when I was in Berlin I visited the Kreuzberg district several times to enjoy the street art, graffiti and just the vibrant atmosphere in general.  At one point, I stopped to look at these wonderful flowers that smelled amazing.  This little bee thought they tasted just as good!

An old bull’s stare down

I found this Highland bull on a fold west of the Springbank airport.  He was scratching an itch along the broken planks in the corral when I stopped.  He raised the horns, huffed and stared at me from under his dishevelled mop.  Seemed like he was the master of his domain and he wasn’t particularly interested in my intrusion into it.  A good character to photograph and then part ways with.

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