We drove through many miles of nearly empty fields, punctuated every so often by a grain elevator marking the presence of a small town. In Alberta these elevators are the skyscrapers of the prairie. Then we came over a rise and a huge city was displayed before us. Calgary really isn't all that big, but compared to where we've been recently, it seemed enormous. The roads were six and eight lane and loaded with cars. We are camped with 23 other rigs in the parking lot of McMahon Stadium, an athletic venue on the campus of the University of Calgary where the local football team plays. A subway station across the street will get us to Stampede Park and some of the other entertainment we will enjoy the next few days at the Calgary Stampede.
Calgary is a relatively young town, first established in 1875. Oil deposits all around and the vast oil/shale fields north of here currently being worked, have infused huge sums into the economy. Between the bobbing oil pumps, huge cattle ranches also generate good income. It's no surprise that this town reminds us of Texas, albeit with much cooler temperatures. Most of the buildings downtown are connected by plus-15's, walkways fifteen feet above ground level that enable residents to move about without generating the bitter winter temperatures.
We shared a welcome dinner with the rally group at a nearby restaurant and learned a bit about the Stampede and the events we will enjoy for the next week.Ite began in 1912 as a world-class rodeo event and Wild West show that would bring the best cowboys from across the continent. The first Stampede, which drew over 100,000 spectators was the richest rodeo competition in North America with prize money totalling $20,000, and it remains one of the premier rodeo events to this day with over $1,000,000.00 in prize money being handed out to winners on the final Sunday of competition. While it sounds like the rodeo is the central event, the Stampede grounds have many other venues such as music performance stages, agricultural competition like 4-H, a village that features local Indian culture, animal demonstrations, and fun stuff for kids. When we are not at the Stampede, we will visit other tourist attractions in Calgary. A busy week lies ahead.