Monday, September 30, 2013

A Countryside Drive - Alberta Canada

We didn’t have anything on our trip agenda for the late afternoon of the day before we left Calgary for the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.  So, as we like to do in East Tennessee…or wherever we happen to be, we just went on a drive out in the nearby countryside.

Ahhh…the bucolic ranch land of Alberta!  There is beautiful grazing land, a few trees, some terrific looking horses…and a couple of ‘mc mansions’ in the distance.

The feeling you have when driving in the countryside of Alberta is much like what we’ve experienced in Montana… It’s big sky country with vast expanses of grassland.  There was a lot of rain in this area of Alberta this year, so despite the fact that it was early August, everything was very green.

Perhaps it’s because the countryside is relatively flat…or maybe it’s the lack of any significant forests, but we were startled to note how clear the definition was between the ‘country’ and the city of Calgary.  At least on the south and southwest sides of the metropolitan area, the delineation between development and open range was obvious.  In the Chicago area…and in everywhere else we’ve ever lived, there were patches of development…new subdivisions…interspersed with undeveloped land.  This isn’t true in the areas we saw near Calgary.

This is another ‘big sky’ view of the Alberta countryside that was taken as we drove along the road…

Major Floods!  If I remember correctly, this is the Sheep River just outside of Turner Valley.  Horrendous floods struck this area of Alberta, including Calgary, right around the end of June.  There was almost no news coverage stateside.  We did see one bit on CNN.
Our drive took us down Route 2A to the town of Okotoks and then along Route 7 to Black Diamond and Turner Valley.  From Turner Valley, we headed up Route 22 to Route 22x and then back into the southern edge of Calgary. 

This is another view showing the aftermath of the flooding along the Sheep River.  The highway and the bridge over the river had to be rebuilt due to the damage.  We were impressed by the fact that the work was done by the time we drove through the area…only about 5 weeks or so after the flood!
Four people were confirmed dead as a direct result of the flooding and over 100,000 people were displaced throughout the region. Parts of the center of Calgary were devastated…including the zoo.  Some 2,200 Canadian Armed Forces troops were deployed to help in flooded areas.  Estimates suggest damage from the flood could reach or exceed $5 billion.  For more about June’s floods in Alberta, go to

One more view along the road… It was a beautiful afternoon!

This photo really shows the clear delineation between the countryside and the encroaching development of the Calgary metropolitan area.  Perhaps it’s because of some kind of zoning control designed to prevent uncontrolled sprawl…
Did you know?  As of the 2011 census, the Calgary metropolitan area had a population of 1,214,839, making it the largest city in Alberta and the fifth-largest metropolitan area in Canada.  In 2012 Calgary ranked 32nd out of 221 cities worldwide in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey.  It placed higher than any major city in the USA…

With the beginnings of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the distance, we noted this occupied Osprey nest along the road as we returned to Calgary…

We didn’t take these next 2 photos.  Based on the map of Spruce Meadows on their website, I believe that this is a photo from an event at the International Ring.  We didn’t know that this facility / attraction existed until we drove by it on Route 22x on our way back to Calgary in the late afternoon…
Spruce Meadows is a privately owned and operated facility that is committed to being the leading venue in the world for international horse sports.  Their focus is on show jumping tournaments.

Visitors to Spruce Meadows are welcome year around.  As you can see, this is a very large and impressive facility.  There are many, many show rings.  Stables can be toured unless a competition is underway.  Visitors can watch trainers exercise their horses.  There is a large Tack Shop, the grounds and gardens are open and there is an upscale playground for children.  Admission is free unless you are attending a competitive event and parking is always free.   
For more information about Spruce Meadows, its event schedule and other activities, you can go to
Just click on any of these photos in order to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave