Friday, August 12, 2016

Medicine Hat, Alberta

August 5 - 7, 2016:

For a change, it was a clear weather driving day from Brooks to Medicine Hat, Alberta.  It is all prairie as far as the sky can see with not much in between.  We arrive at Caven Lake campground about 15 miles east of Medicine Hat about noon.  It is a first come first served campground and there are many open sites with electric.

Cavan Lake Campground

The cows come to the lake too

Back in Brooks, after getting propane, my debit card was declined, so another call is made to my Credit Union.  This time it’s suspicious charges that are from a Target Store in Georgia, which are not mine, which means the card must be closed out.  Luckily, I have a couple of others to use, as I won’t have a replacement for two weeks and then a few more days will be lost to get a mail delivery from South Dakota.  This card has been a nightmare all month here in Canada.  

We take a ride to downtown Medicine Hat and find our way to the Medalta Potteries which once supplied approximately 75% of the pottery made in Canada.  This facility was in ruins, about to be demolished when a couple young guys discovered it and started a campaign to save it.  The Canadian government eventually stepped in and turned it into a historical site and museum.  They have done an amazing job of saving this piece of history  which now is a vibrant attraction in the city of Medicine Hat.  It’s a beautiful thing !

These guys started it all

View from the railroad siding

Beautifully restored Kilns

Inside the Kiln

Everything was left or made to look as original as possible

Popular Mexican Hat ashtrays

Medicine Hat calls itself the “Gas City” as it was one of the place where the gas Industry first started.  It’s also another railroad town with a large fright yard and is huge in ranching, grain and hay.  There are many giant grain elevators around town.  There are at least a couple of versions of how the name Medicine Hat came to be, both involving long involved Indian legends.  

We then do a short walking tour of an old section of downtown and stop for a couple of beers.  I’m primed for a good photo outing on Saturday while Twinkles is primed to clean and sew, I do wonder about her ?

Not sure what that means ?

The Monarch Theater is still in operation

Beautiful building and sign, but kind of
looks like a welfare hotel up close

Back at the campground the neighbors on the right have a smoky fire going and are playing country music loudly, On the other side, we have a shirtless guy with a big fat belly sitting by another smokey fire with a 12 pack of Old Milwaukee Beer.  The camp host came over and must have said something about the music as it suddenly quieted down. 

Saturday I return to Medicine Hat, check out the World’s Tallest Teepee, the Saamis Teepee,originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympic games in Calgary.  Next was the area around the Train Station, built in 1905, no longer used for a train station, but housing railroad operations.  The tunnel under the train tracks were especially colorful covered with most interesting graffiti.  I then stop at a Tim Horton for a cheap quick lunch, big mistake, all sorts of low life characters are in front and inside and the place is disgustingly dirty.  It’s then a walk around the immense City Hall and over the beautiful iron bridge across the Southern Saskatchewan River to see St. Patricks Church built in 1912 with its 170 foot gothic towers.  I saw a notice for a blues player, Studebaker John, performing at a local restaurant / bar called  Whiskey Creek and had to find the place, it turned out to be difficult without working WiFi or GPS, but easy to get to once I knew it’s location.

Impressive when you stand under it

The paintings and interpretive panels were excellent

The nearby Ranchman Motel

Gas station is now a cafe

Cowboys riding into the sunset

A nice plant shop in a vacant lot.  This wonderful old sign was exposed
when the former building was torn down

The 1905 Great Northern Train Station

Corona Street Tavern with int's interesting paintings
in the windows

I feel that way sometimes

So true !

To some it's creepy, but I see beauty

They spent mega bucks on this City Hall, was it necessary ?

Across the river is the beautiful St. Patricks Church

Canadian Pacific seems to have saved many of their old
locomotives and donated them to parks

This Dutch Canadian friendship garden doesn't look very friendly ?

I have been learning much about the Canadian Indian tribes and read a book about Sam Steele of the Canadian North West Mounted Police.  I am impressed that the Canadian government created the Mounted Police primarily to stem the illegal booze trade that was creating havoc with the Indian tribes and much criminal activity in the mining towns.  

I also learned that the early explorers, trappers and adventurers commonly took indian wives, as it was good for their life expectancy.  The Indian women knew how to cook using the local ingredients, make clothing from animals, knew the local terrain, could act as an interpreter, teach you the language and the tribe would accept you as someone to be trusted.  Man has always benefited from a good woman ?

Marry a native woman and be happy

At the Medicine Hat information Center on Saturday, a events board on the wall mentioned Studebaker John playing at the Whiskey Creek.  It rang a bell, I have heard of this guy, he’s sort of a legendary bluesman.  I ended up at the Whiskey at 9 PM in a big room with a few people listening to Studebaker John and the Hawks.  The typical scene when you go to a blues show, an amazing musician playing to a small crowd of middle aged people.  He was as great a player as anticipated, but not much in the way of personality, it was song after song with no talk, no stage banter, no stories, just solid playing.  I can relate to that style, but it was a bit awkward.  I also noticed the Drummer, who was exceptional and after reading the CD jacket found that he, Earl Howell, was Studebaker Johns best drummer who had recently come back to the band after a 10 year absence.  It was a treat to see Studebaker John, truly one of the best.

Studebaker John Poster

He still rocks

Lastly, We had a great lunch at the Inspire Cafe in downtown Medicine Hat.

Inspire Cafe is highly recommended, best Tomato soup ever !!!

After about five weeks in Canada, we are heading back to the US, the next stop is Havre, Montana,

Twinkles and Slick

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