Thursday Sept 5, 2013

Yeehaa, it’s actually HAPPENING! After days and weeks and months of eager anticipation, we’re actually DOING IT!

We departed Auckland International Airport yesterday (or was it the day before?) in our big Air New Zealand jet – arriving 13½ hours later in Vancouver (British Columbia), where we boarded a 1½-hr Air Canada flight to Calgary (Alberta). We were flying backwards, of course, through the time zones, and eventually touched down at 7:30pm last night (Wednesday) … 30 minutes before we left Auckland (believe it or not)!

After those long hours in the air, by the time we got to the Marriot Downtown Hotel our Mad Midlifers weren’t up for much – so we kept the advice to a minimum: “Grab some food (if you’re hungry) … grab some body (if you need a hug) … and grab some shut-eye (if you’re ready to sleep). It’s over to you!”

This morning, however, after a yum brekky, we headed out, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, for a look-see at the home of the famous summertime ‘Calgary Stampede’. A century ago, Calgary was a sleepy little Wild West outpost, but this ‘cowtown’ has become one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. No, we didn’t see any rednecks shooting it out in the main street, but we did see some very impressive architecture (including the Calgary Tower, with the highest observation deck in the world) … some very creative sculptures (including horses, faces and Mounted Police) … and some pretty significant landmarks (including the Stampede Centre for “the greatest outdoor show on earth”, and the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics).

Calgary promises visitors “the most fun you can have with yer boots on …” So, this afternoon, our 23 Kiwis had time to lasso a horse and go exploring on their own. One of ‘em even found a grizzly bear! (How ‘bout dat?)

PEOPLE NEWS: The first of our hotly-sought-after Midlife Madness Yellow Rubber Ducky Awards was grabbed before we’d even left Auckland:

  • The ‘Armed & Dangerous Award‘ got claimed by Barbara – who, while completing the new DIY automated check-in procedure in the Departure Zone, pressed the ‘yes’ button instead of the ‘no’ button in response to the question: “Are you carrying any dangerous goods, firearms or explosives?” – causing the tour leader a minor panic-attack. With the help of a nice lady in uniform, the error was duly (thankfully) corrected, and Barbara was spared arrest and detention – phew!

TOMORROW: We’re off to Banff, one of the most spectacular, most awe-inspiring, most scenically-overwhelming spots on our planet. So, whatever you do, stay tuned …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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