Friday, April 30, 2010

10 quirky places to visit in Alberta!

The following are 10 of our favourite quirky places to visit in Alberta (in no particular order):

1. The Town of Vulcan
The town of Vulcan is located one hour south of Calgary and an hour north of Lethbridge on Highway 23. A surveyor named the town Vulcan in 1920, after the roman God of Fire and Forge because it was to rest on the highest elevation point. The town has since taken advantage of its unforgettable name by creating a fun and unique Star Trek related identity.

2. The Torrington Gopher Hole Museum
Located 160km north east of Calgary, the museum contains about 40 dioramas set in neatly constructed wooden boxes, each to represent a gopher hole. Inside the holes are taxidermied gophers, dressed in costumes and carrying on anthropomorphic (human) activities. You can see such scenes as a gopher yard sale, a gopher hairdresser, a gopher Mountie etc. An entertaining spot to visit!

3. The Lacombe Corn Maze
Located 3km west of Lacombe, the 15-acre maze is made up of 9 feet high corn divided into 3 phases.

4. Em-Te Town
Em-Te Town is a privately built authentic western frontier ghost town complete with Hogs Breath Saloon, jail house, harness shop, log buildings, livery stable, bank, church, emporium, and restaurant. Visitors can enjoy numerous activities at the facility, and visit for the day or stay overnight in the motel, in a cabin or in a tepee.

5. Zombie Walk
Takes place in Edmonton, on the second Friday in October, hundreds of otherwise geeky, normal people don zombie clothing and makeup and drag themselves through the city streets. The site is amazing, creepy yet fun and the group collect for the food bank too!

6. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Worth a mention in no small part because of the name! Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is known around the world as a remarkable testimony of prehistoric life. This UNESCO World Heritage Site bears witness to a custom practiced by native people of the North American plains for nearly 6000 years. Thanks to their excellent understanding of topography and of bison behaviour, they killed bison by chasing them over a precipice and subsequently carving up the carcasses in the camp below.

7. Lloydminster
Lloydminster is located in the Central Parkland Region on both the Saskatchewan and Alberta side. It is Canada's only "border city", with the provincial border running through the centre of the city, creating a
truly unique municipality! As a resident of Lloydminster, you either live in Alberta or Saskatchewan, depending on your address!

8. Saumer Time Alpaca Ranch
Visit this farm in Onoway, for a warm and fuzzy Alpaca hands on experience! The farm tour includes unique, relaxing and informative experience as you learn about these charming camelids of South America. You can even purchase an Alpaca of your very own!

9. Evansburg – Home of the Grouch
Originally a coal mining town, Evansburg has a population of 603 people, 29 dogs, 41 cats, and one Town Grouch. The first "Grouch" contest was held by the Royal Canadian Legion in 1979, conjunction with the Village's 25th anniversary. It's now an annual event, a part of the Pembina Valley Family Daze festival. The winner is licensed to pester, harass, antagonize, criticize, complain and grumble without fear of reprisal for the whole next year.

10. Oversized roadside attractions are a plenty in the province of Alberta and there are way too many to mention here. These attractions include: A bull and bull rider (Brownvale), a beaver (Castor), a T-Rex (Drumheller), a corn stalk (Taber), a starship (Vulcan) and a piggy bank (Coleman).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jasper Yoga Escape tour - deemed a success!

The weather was fantastic in Jasper during the first Urban Insight Yoga SoleWalk Tour.
13 participants boarded a 24 seater minibus and travelled from Edmonton out to Jasper on Friday afternoon, arriving in good time to check in and then head downtown for supper.

During the next two days the group enjoyed early morning yoga with instructor Angie Ackerman, followed by a guided hike of Maligne Canyon on Saturday and Beaver Lake on Sunday.

With good food, great company and amazing weather this tour proved to be a great success!

The next SoleWalk yoga tour will be held in the fall.  Join our Facebook page to stay updated.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring hiking at Cooking Lake-Blackfoot

The day dawned with a chilly breeze and light grey sky, but the temperature was warm for late March. Hiking is an activity you can do in almost any weather and today was a great day to start the season!

A friend and I decided to hike in Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, a spot I had visited previously in the height of summer and snowshoed in during the winter.

Covering an area of 97 square kilometres, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot is located adjacent to Elk Island National Park, approximately 40 minutes east of Edmonton.

The area supports a variety of activities including agriculture, wildlife management, natural gas extraction and outdoor recreation.

During the summer, there are numerous activities available including hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Cross country skiing is the main activity during the winter and the area is host to the annual Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival.

With over 85kms of hiking trails originating from 4 staging areas, there is plenty of choice for hikers of most abilities and there are even some shelters and privies en route!

This day, boots with grip were needed as some of the trails were still icy. Those that escaped the ice were fairly sloppy, but not deep enough to lose your footwear!

There are also 85kms of equestrian trails in the area, so it can become a busy spot during the summer. We started our hike early at 10am, and were leaving when most of the horse trailers arrived nearly 3 hours later.

Cooking Lake-Blackfoot is known for its active wildlife, with management programs in effect that have created a wide range of habitats supporting numerous wildlife species. This time round we saw plenty of squirrels, a few birds and one fairly amicable young moose!

This was spring hiking at its best!