Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Another year has all but passed and we wanted to wish all who know us, either in the flesh or via this blog, a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous 2009. Here's a couple of seasonal shots from Lake Louise. In fact, this first shot was on the way to Lake Louise and shows something of a Chinook Arch over the mountains.This is an ice sculpture bench outside the Chateau Lake Louise.Meet "Sonny", Director Pet Relations at the Chateau Lake Louise. His motto is that he "turns moments into memories, one wag of the tail at a time!"Here's the sleigh ride horses, ready to pull the next set of riders around the lake.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Okotoks: A Little Bit About The Town

We've been asked by a number of people coming to Calgary and surrounds to create and publish a series of guides to areas that people may consider as their future home. The logical starting point for this task was our home town of Okotoks. We're going to tackle Okotoks in a number of parts and to begin with, here's some key facts and information regarding the town.

Okotoks is a town situated on the Sheep River. We've covered Sheep River before on some of our blog items:
January 2008 - Walk Along Sheep River
Autumn 2008 - Sheep River
Wikipedia gives an overview of the source and flow of what is, the lifeblood of the town...
Wikipedia - Sheep River

By Eurpopean standards, the town is very young. It was only incorporated in 1904. Okotoks has been and is still undergoing a significant growth in its population. As recently as the year 2000, the population was less than 10,000. Today, (and contrary to the population figure on the picture above), it is about to push through the 20,000 mark. Demographically it is a young town: 83 per cent of the town is under 45 years of age, with 30 per cent under the age of 19.

Despite its growth, Okotoks retains a friendly and small-town feel and there remains a strong sense of community pride and spirit. If you like your facts, you'll like this publication by Okotoks Town Council.
Okotoks Fact File 2008.pdf

Okotoks lies about 18km (11 miles) south of the southern edge of Calgary, Alberta. Okotoks to Central Calgary is approximately 46.7 km (30 miles). How long that would take you to drive is a subject of some debate. It depends on a number of factors, such as whether you were trying to get to downtown Calgary in the rush hour, whether you were driving legally and what the road and weather conditions were like. In the very best case, you would probably budget about 35 mins to drive from Okotoks to downtown Calgary and add time accordingly to reflect rush hour and poor conditions. You can be fairly predictable in estimating that it takes about 17 minutes to drive from the northern reaches of Okotoks to the southern reaches of Calgary in good road conditions.

There isn't any public transport to speak of, however, Southland, the people that run the school buses around here, do operate a morning and evening shuttle coach service to and from downtown Calgary. You can get the details here.

There is a live debate about the provision of a commuter bus service to Calgary in 2009 and longer term discussion about a rail link but it would be foolhardy to envisage the latter arriving any time soon.

Okotoks prides itself on its sustainability and even has areas (Drake Landing) with sustainable housing.
Sustainable Okotoks

More on areas to live, schools, recreation and more will follow.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

The First Winter Snow Fall

We got our first substantial snow of the winter today. It started to snow at around 9am this morning and continued to snow until around 5pm, leaving us with about 6inches of snow on the ground. Daily weather updates can be found at: Jan & Eam's Weather Watch

The snow ploughs/gritters did manage to clear and grit the main routes by around mid afternoon. However, when we were out at midday, the roads were fairly slippery and overall conditions and visibility weren’t good, but with a little caution we could still get around.

We found some useful "driving in the snow" tips at the following web address. Some of the tips could be a little over cautious, but with a bit of common sense, getting around shouldn't cause too many difficulties: Winter Driving Tips
This is a picture of one of the more frequently used roads, where track marks were quite visibleOne of the less frequently used roads where track marks are not so visibleSnow plough churning out snow to the sideThe upside to the snow falling on a fairly mild day, is that once you get safely home, you can play in snow and behave like a kid again!J&E

Kenny Rogers

Everyone has to see a country legend at some point in their lives. For us it was Kenny Rogers who put on a Hits & Christmas Concert at the Saddledome in late November. We feared that the Christmas part of the show might be on the cheesy side but it was very well done and a really good fun night. Enjoy some of the photos and a video from the evening.
Apart from the time he spends hiding behind the lamp-post, this clip is quite amusing:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

In Canada, Remembrance Day is a holiday for federal government employees, for private business, provincial governments, and schools, its status varies by province: Western Canada and Atlantic Canada, it is a general holiday; in Ontario and Quebec, it is not. The poppies here are a little different to those we were used to in the UK.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Monster Trucks - The Video

We posted some photos of the Monster Trucks some weeks ago. We promised video footage and as we keep our promises, here it is. This comes with a serious warning - DO NOT TRY THIS WITH YOUR CARS AND BIKES AT HOME!

Monster Trucks

Motor Bikes

Quad Bikes - not sure we ever figured out what was going on here!

Small Cars - The white car demonstrates exactly how NOT to do it!!

Great fun. Hope you enjoyed the footage.

Okotoks Town Square

The new Town Square in Downtown Okotoks was completed yesterday. It looks quite smart. We just hope they decorate that tree at Christmas!J&E

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Red Shafted Flicker

We spotted this bird in our back garden (sorry, back yard!) back in early October. Our research tells us it is a Red Shafted Flicker (part of the Woodpecker family) and it feeds on Ants and other insects, which, to us, makes him a very welcome visitor indeed!J&E

Okotoks Heritage House Museum

Okotoks Heritage House Museum...isn't the world's largest by any stretch of the imagination, but what a fascinating visit it is and the staff there are absolutely excellent. If Okotoks is, or may be, your home, it is well worth taking the time out to go along. Despite its size, it has a number of exhibits covering things like how Okotoks got its name, how it has changed over the years, early industry, old street maps, etc.The Museum buiding was the home of GA Welch, the Okotoks Mayor between 1918-21 and 1923-26.Whilst there, you can pick up a map outlining the Okotoks Historic Downtown Walking Tour It gives a write up of what the old high street buildings were originally used for. This building, Sheep Creek Post Office, was constructed in 1882. It was moved to its present location in 1887 and continued to serve as a post office until the 1930s. Although it looks like stone, it is actually a pressed tin siding. The building is currently a French Restaruant (and if you click on the picture to enlarge it, yes, that is a black squirrel running across the road!)J&E

Johnny Reid

Toby's fantastic performance (see post below) was followed by Johnny Reid a few nights later. This time, the location was the 1000 seat Chrome Room of the Deerfoot Inn & Casino. Johnny is originally from Scotland and has a strong Scottish accent. During the show, he did a segment where he essentially told jokes for 15 minutes. We were surprised that the Canadian audience could understand him, but to their credit, they managed to hang in there although there was a smattering of "what did he say?" comments and consequently delayed laughing, going on in the row behind us!

As a performer, like Toby, he is absolutely excellent - a very talented man!

If you'd like to hear one of Johnny's hits, click on the play symbol in the picture below

Toby Keith - What a Performer

A few weeks ago, we went to see Toby Keith in concert at the Pengrowth Saddledome. We have only just got around to adding some footage and some photos. We saw him once before, some years ago, in Florida and so knew we would enjoy ourselves. All we can say is, he is a fantastic entertainer and if you like his music, his is a show that should definitely not be missed!If you don't know his music, maybe you'd like to hear some of what he sang at the concert...

Like that? How about this one...

Although, on both occasions we have seen Toby live, we have left a little deafened, (temporarily of course!), it is well worth it!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween

News reports say that this was the warmest Halloween in 50 years. This brought the kids out in force. This was our second Halloween in Canada but our first year of giving out candy. We thought that nearly 300 pieces would be plenty. We will know better next year!

These are our porch decorations and pumkins which we were very pleased with. We were most proud when we saw one of our neighbours taking a photo of our efforts.
These are some of our neighbours' decorations - we think we still have a fair way to go to keep up with these guys. You might want to click on some of these photos to enlarge them to better appreciate them.J&E

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy Canniversary To Us!

Today, October 11th, is the first anniversary of our arrival in Canada. We can't believe how quickly it has flown by, nor how much we have packed in to this first year. We feel proud of our achievements so far and are so grateful for the tremendous support we have received from our families and friends. We are very excited about the possibilities and challenges that living here offers. We hope you will continue to follow and support us on our journey.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Lake Louise, Peyto Lake & Bow Valley Parkway

Readers of the post below will know that we spent the past weekend at Lake Louise with Jan's parents, who are visiting us from the UK. We've stopped at Chateau Lake Louise three times now, always with a lake view from our room, but never one quite like this...Down at lake level, the scene was perfect...A trip up onto the Icefields Parkway never disappoints and even in the relatively gloomy weather, Peyto Lake remained a breathtaking view...Heading down to Banff, we thought we would get off the main road and onto the quieter Bow Valley Parkway...You know how frustrating it is when you need dental floss and there is none around...At this point in proceedings, we don't think we will ever tire of having the Rockies on our doorstep.