Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stoney Nakota Casino and Calgary, Alberta

August 1 - 4, 2016:

It’s a short hour ride from Tunnel Mountain campground in Banff to the Stoney Nakoda Hotel and Casino about 18 miles east of Canmore, Alberta.  It’s very informal, you just park anywhere, there doesn’t seem to be any rules, it’s totally free, I like that.  As I sit in a comfortable chair in the Lobby, I am being amused by a constant stream of motorcycle riders coming in.  It’s a large organized tour group, a mix of men and women with one thing in common, all are Harley riders and wearing nothing but Harley gear.  One side of me is thinking that would be a cool thing to do, my other side (the radical side) is thinking anything that organized and structured is not ?  I’m also thinking why am I sitting in this Hotel Lobby catching up on this blog when I could be losing money in the Casino. 

Free is good !

The outside could use some landscaping

We are in dire need of doing laundry, so a trip back to Canmore is in order.  Canmore is very crowded as there is a folk festival and there are many tourists.  Canmore is trying hard to be an upscale, outdoors mecca center and there is much development going on around town.  It is in a beautiful setting amidst the mountains, but this development bothers me.  Why do we allow these developers to come in and destroy the beautiful places.  While Twinkles does the laundry, I find the new “Elevation Center” which is a huge multi million dollar complex housing a library, a gym, a huge wall climbing area, an art art gallery, a community room and a cafe.  The climbing wall is covered with people of all ages, was quite impressive, this is taken seriously here. 

A recreation Center with a view

Extreme climbing walls here

It’s about a smooth 45 minute ride on the Trans-Canadian Highway from the Casino to Calgary.  Calgary is a not to be missed big city in this area. It’s going to be a only a day trip for us.  We drive to the Kensington Village area, park and then walk across the Peace Bridge to the Stephen Avenue (8th Ave) area that is closed off to cars and lined with restaurants, bars, cafes and various shops.  The buildings in this area are very impressive, lots of great architecture.  There is a stage on the end with a young Led Zeppelin wanna be band performing who sound pretty good.  We have good lunch at the Unicorn, Calgary's Super Pub, the best fish and chips I can remember. 

Walking over the Peace Bridge

Past the massive Hudson Bay Company store

Looking up at the Calgary Tower

These young guys could rock

Great buildings such as this all around

Many impressive bank buildings

On August 3rd we are a little slow to arise as our sleep was interrupted by periods of heavy rain, thunder and lightning.  I kept thinking about my temporary roof patches which have been getting the ultimate test during the last month.  We hook the Jeep up to the RV quickly during a lull in the morning rain and get on the road at 9 AM.  As soon as we head out the rain starts again which continues for most of the 170 miles to Brooks, Alberta.  At Calgary, we follow a sign for a Route 1 bypass thinking it will take us on a better route around the city.  It was a mistake, we made a wrong turn, hard to get turned around to get back on track, the traffic and visibility were horrible, the road signs were poor and I’m quite sure we would have been better going straight through Calgary. 

We are now riding away from the mountains and into a rolling prairie land with many farms and ranches.  As we get closer to Brooks we are seeing hundreds of oil and gas wells dotting the landscape.

The Kiwanis Campground administered by the adjacent Brooks and District Museum has several full hookup campsites open and Twinkles needs one badly.  We have been dry camping for 23 straight days and Twinkles says she is tired of being dirty and disgusting ? 

Brooks is another railroad town with a farming and ranching heritage, that has been somewhat over shadowed by the oil and gas industry in recent years.  They also have a huge meat processing plant.  This has spurred a population growth over the past decade.  In the past year this area and Alberta in general is suffering the affects of the global oil downturn.  It has the usual decaying old historic downtown area, with all the business moved to the strip malls radiating 

Oil Wells are welcome in Brooks

The Alley Cat Lounge's really has a alley entrance

Great historic mural in Brooks

Local newspaper family dynasty

The Hotel Newell is vacant these days

Oil industry mural

History Murals at the Museum

We are glad to be away from the tourist area, the tour busses, the European and Asia tourists, the selfie sticks and rental RV’s.  Hopefully we will now see the “real” Canada.  Everywhere I go in town I’m seeing lots of people from India dressed in traditional garb, something to do with oil and gas ?

The Brooks and District Museum is right next to the campground with much historical information and artifacts on the local area.

John Ware was a local hero

The start of the oil industry

The North West Mounted Police

Mrs. King had the good stuff for New Years Eve

Early photo of the Brooks Newspaper

Lots of farm equipment at the museum

The biggest attraction here is the Brooks Aqueduct which was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1915 as a part of an irrigation project to attract settlers to the area and customers for the railway. They say it is the longest Aqueduct of its kind in the world.  It remained in service until 1975.

The Brooks Aqueduct

The cement Aqueduct was replaced with a dug canal

Another interesting thing here is that the 4th Duke of Sutherland bought land in Brooks from the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900's, moved here with family and developed his own farming empire.  He enticed many farmers to come here from Scotland to work his land.  

Next stop is Medicine Hat, Alberta,
Twinkles and Slick

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