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What little we knew about Alberta completely outstripped ANYTHING we knew about Edmonton. I swear, about the only thing I knew about Edmonton was that it was home to a hockey team (Edmonton Oilers) and that Rachel's friend, Patti, grew up there. That's it. (Oh yeah, and that it's WAY further north than I thought I'd EVER live!!)
Now we're headed there. Go figure. What can I tell you about Edmonton?
Well, for starters, it's the capital city of Alberta! It straddles the great Saskatchewan River and sits on the central prairie, about 400 kilometers east of the Rocky Mountains (and Jasper National Park). The city sits at about 50°30' north latitude (about the same latitude as Hamburg, Germany; Liverpool, England; or Kiev, Russia), at an elevation of 2,200 feet. It's the most northerly of Canada's major cities and the sixth largest. Edmonton proper holds about 700,000 people (and the greater metropolitan area is home to some 1 million, fully 1/3 of the population of the whole province).
On the plus side, Edmonton has the longest stretch of urban parkland in all of North America (about 22 times larger than New York's Central Park and 8 times larger than Vancouver's Stanley Park). Hey, if you like golfing, you'll like Edmonton because there are over 70 golf courses here (of course, the water obtacles become geese runways in the fall, ice-skating rinks in the winter, duck landing spots during the spring). If you like to shop, you'll likely be attracted by the fact that Edmonton is home to the World's largest shopping center, the West Edmonton Mall, home to over 800 stores and 5 World-class attractions.
Like most cities, Edmonton has a "sister" city. Edmonton's is in the U.S.A. and is Nashville, Tennessee (the tie was created in 1990).
TEMPS: Summers are very pleasant with daytime high temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F) and overnight lows around 10°C (50°F). Occasionally the daytime high surpasses 30°C (86°F). Due to the low humidity, the heat is dry and seldom oppressive.
Normally the first frost appears sometime near the end of September. Most trees change color in late September and shed their leaves in early October. This is a very pretty time of year. Daytime highs are usually around 15°C (59°F), but evenings require a jacket or sweater. The first permanent snowfall usually occurs in early November, although this may vary by a week or two.
The first real taste of the colder winter temperatures usually occurs in November. January and early February are the coldest months of the year, and the overnight lows can reach as much as -40°C (-40°F). Temperatures can vary considerably in winter, depending if the climate comes from the Pacific Ocean or Alaska. Daytime highs during these months can range from -30°C (-22°F) on the coldest days to above 0°C (30°F). Usually a cold spell lasts a week or so and then there is relief. Most of the colder days are usually sunny.
Spring can be quite unpredictable, although most of the winter snow has usually melted by the beginning of April. The leaves reappear on most trees near the middle of May.
The hottest day in Edmonton's history was 37.3°C (98.6°F) on June 28th, 1937.
The coldest day ever recorded was -40°C (-40°F) on January 19th, 1886.
SUN: Visitors are assured of plenty of sun and beautiful blue skies during their visit, regardless of the season. The city averages 12.32 hours of sunshine each day, more than any other major Canadian city!
During the summer months of June and much of July, daylight lasts about 17 hours. The sun rises around 5 am and sets around 10 pm.
In most of December and early January the days are short. The sun rises around 8:30 am and sets around 4:30 pm.
MOISTURE: Rainfall and snowfall combined, accounts for an average of 19 inches of precipitation per year. Rainfall averages 13 inches and snow makes up the rest, with a moderate average annual snowfall total of about 51 inches (equalling about 6 inches of meltwater). Because of low temperatures and humidity, the snow is usually very light and powdery. Rarely does Edmonton receive large dumps of snow. It might be a week or so between snowfalls and they're usually only a couple of inches at a time. There is about 121 days per year where Edmonton has a snow cover of an inch or more.
NIGHTTIME: During certain nights of the year, it is likely that you'll catch a glimpse of the spectacular northern lights (Aurora Borealis).
Edmonton myths debunked:
Edmontonians do NOT live in igloos. (The nearest igloo is probably several thousand miles north, though Santa has been spotted hanging out at a couple local bars).
Edmonton does NOT have snow all year round. There is usually snow on the ground from mid-November to mid-March (4 months), but it's rarely very deep. (The person writing this, observed that the daytime temperature on Jan 14th was 43°F, under bright sun. There was about 6 inches of old snow on their yard and it was melting rapidly.) The 70 golf courses in Edmonton are busy from mid-May to mid-October.
Edmonton police are NOT Mounties, dressed in red uniforms. Canada DOES have Mounties, but they only wear red for ceremonial occasions. Edmonton has its own police force, and they look and sound like cops in most American cities (only they say "eh" a lot). The Mounties (RCMP) have a limited presence in Edmonton and they are more active in rural areas . . . minus the red uniforms.
Edmontonians do NOT speak French. People in Quebec speak French, but in Alberta everyone speaks English. (Well, there is a tiny minority that speak French, but most of them speak English also.)
Alberta became a province on September 1st, 1905, which means that we'll be there for the centennial celebration in 2005. (It was all part of our 'master plan' ... ha ha).
The province is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), who was the fourth daughter of England's Queen Victoria. (She's also the namesake for Banff's famous "Lake Louise"). On the right is a snappy photo of the Princess. She traveled to the North-West Territories in 1881, one year BEFORE the territories were ceded to Canada by the Hudson's Bay Company and divided into 4 districts: Assiniboia (an Inuit name meaning 'Ass in the Bush'!), Athabasca, Saskatchewan & Alberta.
Alberta is the fourth largest province of Canada (661,190 square kilometers) and is 50% larger than California (with about 1/10th the population). About 10% of Canada's 30 million people live in the province.
Alberta is home to five National Parks (Banff, Elk Island, Jasper, Waterton Lakes and Wood Buffalo). Together, these Parks encompass some 63,045 square kilometers, the largest of any Canadian Province.
Alberta is also the sunniest province in Canada, averaging 2,264 hours of sunlight per year. (This will warm the cockles of your heart: Even on the coldest winter days, there is often bright sunshine.) During the summer solstice, there is up to 17 hours of daylight.
Alberta's claim to fame ...
Canada's largest National Park (Wood Buffalo)
Canada's largest mountain National Park (Jasper)
Canada's first National Park (Banff)
World's largest Shopping Mall (West Edmonton Mall)
Canada's largest ski area (Lake Louise)
World's largest Tyrannosaurus Rex (Drumheller)
World's largest herd of free-roaming buffalo (Wood Buffalo)
World's largest buffalo 'jump-site' ("Head-Smashed-In" Buffalo Jump)
World's largest oil sand development (Fort McMurry)
Canada's only city contained within two provinces (Lloydminster)
World's tallest teepee (Medicine Hat)
World's first (and only) UFO landing pad (St. Paul)
We can't say that the "Oop" had a great time on our trip to Edmonton, but she did survive. It's tough to ride in a car-seat for 1,159 kilometers, but (as usual) she was a trooper.
She had a difficult time adjusting to the tent-trailer that we borrowed from Rachel's parents, however. The first night, we tried to put her to sleep, by herself, on one side of the trailer. But she just howled! She ended up sleeping with Mom, which helped settle her down and dad ended up sleeping on the other side.
At home, Alex is now consuming more and more solid food. She's drinking from her sippy cup (but not by herself yet, because she keeps insisting that the bottom tasts better than the top (which dumps the liquid out of the sippy cup all over everything).
She is just starting to learn to crawl, getting her knees up under herself in a very unsteady fashion. She's knows what "kittycat" means, and looks for one of two cats every time we say the word. She absolutely SQUEALS with delight when the cats come near, as she loves to pull their tails (they don't come near very often, either one!) It doesn't seem to dampen her enthusiasm for cats, however.
Rachel spotted a used bike trailer in one of the local 'bargain classified ads' that come to the door. We drove out to have a look and it seemed to be in pretty good condition and fairly well constructed, so we bought it. Of course, we had to test it out, so we took it out for an inagural ride around the seawall at Stanley park. It's a two-seater and Alex is still pretty small, so we ended up having to prop her up with blakets and pillows, so she would stay upright. In true "Oop" form, she slept most of the ride away. She did have fun at the park, where we stopped for a bit, had a snack and let her play in a field full of daisies. It was a gorgeous day.
In unrelated news, Scott has been working at a handyman painting job, left over from the tail end of the last "painting season". He is eager to be finished, as he says, "The only thing less exciting than painting is watching the paint dry!" It's been raining some lately (which is why you're able to read this journal entry). Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and he can finish prior to June 17th, our move date.
Well, it's official, we're moving to Edmonton. Rachel has decided to accept the University of Alberta's Nursing School slot, so look out Santa ... here we come!
We drove to Edmonton for as house-hunting/camping trip and have booked the moving van for Jun 17th. It took us 3 driving days to get to Edmonton (camping east and west of Jasper National Park). It was a beautiful drive and along the way, we saw a bunch of deer, 9 elk, 2 bears and a moose. Unfortunately, the Oop missed out on the animals because she was strapped into her carrier, facing backwards, and either sleeping, playing with toys, or staring blankly at the roof of the automobile. She was a great traveler, happy to be out of her car-seat, but not complaining while she was strapped-in.
For those keeping score at home this move will be our second of 2004 and our sixth since January 1st, 2003!
We know very little about Alberta and Edmonton, so Scott researched both on the 'net and constructed a write-up on each. To learn more about Alberta [click here]. For more information regarding Edmonton [click here].
Rachel had been to Edmonton 3 times previously, as this was home for Patti, Rachel's friend who was battling cancer until just recently. Rachel described it as, "flat and cold." Scott wasn't really sure what to expect, this being his first time there. Maybe Innuit would be building igloos off the main drag?
We were out of the Rockies, having passed through Jasper National Park, and about 90 km from Edmonton. The terrain was quite hilly and for the most-part, covered with Aspen and Conifers. What wasn't tree-covered, was cleared for farming and the scenery was beautiful. Alfalfa-covered fields looking almost like clearings, lakes and trees as far as the eye could see. Scott asked if this is what Edmonton looked like and Rachel replied to the affirmative. (Having lived in Dallas, Scott thought flat meant FLAT, but was pleased to discover that Edmonton even has ski runs in-town - granted, they're just down a single hill, but to even have a HILL meant that it wasn't flat!)
We camped on the outskirts of town and contemplated moving campgrounds, to one inside city limits (yes, they even have campgrounds INSIDE the city. Not trailer parks, but actual campgrounds, complete with streams, hiking trails, pine trees, etc.) NICE! The only reason we didn't move, was because we found a place to live straight away, even though it was Victoria Day (the Canadian holiday that precedes the American Memorial Day holiday by a week). Actually, we ended up renting the VERY FIRST place we looked at.
It took us a day to get our bearings. Edmonton is divided in half by the (large) Saskatchewan River. The University of Alberta is located near the city center, almost on the south bank of the river. Originally, we had been told, by Patti's sisters, to concentrate on the south side of town because it would be an easier commute to campus. So that's what we did, but without much success. There are lots of high-rises and apartments very close to campus and we didn't want that, we were hoping to find a duplex or rental home. The neighborhoods near the campus looked exactly like what we wanted: older homes in various states of renovation (and decay), quiet streets, plenty of rentals, etc. The only problem was that most rented out the top floor (tenants in the basement), individual rooms, or was too expensive. We were going to look further south, but first, thought it best to find a bus-route map, because we wanted to live near to a bus-route heading to campus.
Getting the bus-route map opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities. There was a LRT (Light-Rail Transport) that opened up the northeast and a couple bus lines went to the western part of the city, all across the river. We tried calling on a number of places in these new areas and finally connected with Ron, whose wife, Laura, was just showing their rental home in the northeast. He said that he'd return our call after she returned, but he never did. Because it was the long weekend, we were having difficulty setting up appointments to see rentals. Either the owners weren't home and we had to leave messages, or we connected to management companies who were closed for the holiday. We were eager to start looking, so Scott urged Rachel to call Ron and ask if we could view their place. Rachel spoke with Laura on the second call and no, she didn't mind returning to the rental to show it to us.
Well, we found the house in less than 25 minutes (even though Edmonton is a big city, it seems to be fairly easy to move around and isn't nearly as congested as Vancouver ... perhaps because it is spread out a lot more). We viewed the house, a two-story affair which was built in 1957. It has a big back yard (complete with a swing-set for the growing Oop), and a detached, single garage (and most importantly - it's INSULATED!). The house shows it's age, the kitchen isn't the greatest and the bathroom comes complete with some horrid blue fixtures, but ... it has FOUR bedrooms (two upstairs, one on the main floor and one in the finished basement). The first floor is home to the older kitchen, with a pass-thru counter to a separate dining room, a good-sized living room, a bedroom (that we're thinking will be the "office") and the full bath (oddly situated off the kitchen). The second floor has two LARGE bedrooms and that's it. The finished basement holds another bedroom, the utility room (washer, dryer, furnace, a whole-house vacuum and a not-too-private toilet), a cold-room/storage area and a HUGE game room. To say that we 'fell in love' with the place is a bit of an over-statement, but at $800 CAD per month, we thought it was within our price range and would fit our needs nicely. It had everything we were looking for: three bedrooms, a shop, nice neighborhood, easy access to the UofA and fit within our budget. (Rachel's commute to school consists of a block and a half walk down to the main drag, a short bus-ride to the LRT and then the LRT across the river and straight onto the campus).
The best part is that we really enjoyed the landlords. We got to meet both Ron, Laura and their 9-year-old daughter (who fell in love with the Oop, babysitting her while we browsed through the house). We met up with them again, the next day, to give them the damage deposit and have a second look at the place (mentally figuring out where we'd put our various belongings). We headed straight back to Vancouver, driving straight through and are now busy trying to get our affairs organized so we can move on June 17th. On the long return trip, we saw lots of deer, some Big Horn sheep, elk and evidence of beaver, but no bear.
What timing! After our return, Rachel was accepted to the University of Calgary. (The University of British Columbia hasn't even really BEGUN their application review and we probably won't know about Rachel's standing with them till the end of JULY! By that time, we will be settled into our Edmonton home, ready for the start of the semester in early September). We're happy with our choice. The cost of living in Edmonton is much less than in B.C. and while the thought of living closer to the mountains (Calgary) appealed to us, it's doubtful with Rachel going to school full-time and year-round, that we'd get as much time to enjoy them as we'd like.
We don't have any pictures from inside the house (we were too busy looking around). You'll just have to come up and visit! (With four bedrooms ... we actually have a guest room now, unless Scott commandeers that room too, for some project or another.)
So ... we're off to Edmonton, Alberta.
Family News (Short Version)
New Abode: It's our first move of 2004, but our fifth since Jan 1st, 2003! We've moved out of our little coach-house, boxed our belongings, left out only what is necessary, stored the rest, and are (once again) house-sitting the Pilley residence while they are away to England. It won't be for 5 months, this go-round, but only for a month or two. We've said it before and we'll say it again, "Moving sucks!" (but house-sitting is easy on the old wallet)! We think that Scott fractured his right thumb during the move (what a klutz)! We're now ensconced in the main house and busy updating our site from the 3rd floor office.
Trip to CA: Before we began boxing, hauling, stacking and carting ... we took a 1,200-mile trip down to northern California to visit Scott's folks at their ranch. It was a long trip, especially for tiny Alex. We left at 3:30 in the morning (so Oop could sleep). We crossed the border with nary a problem and drove and drove and drove and drove. (Okay, we stopped for breakfast at a Denny's and lunch at a Burger King ... Alex needed to get out of her car seat and Mom needed a fried potato fix). She was quite the little trooper (not one tear shed). We had a wonderful time at the R2 ranch. Grandma and Grandpa Kimler fell in love with their little granddaughter. What's NOT to love? She's such a happy baby, such an EASY baby! Below are some snaps from that visit.
Alex rode a swing for the first time, at the Pilley house, only day's before we left for California. She enjoyed swinging SO much, that at the last minute, we tossed the Pilley toddler swing in the back of the van. We're glad we brought it along, as she just had a ball, swinging under the patio at the R2 ranch. (We're a tad concerned that if she likes swinging at this young age, that Alex might grow up to be an 'adrenalin junkie').
While at the R2 ranch, Alex was introduced to a variety of farm animals. While she can growl like a bear, she hasn't learned the fine art of mooing like a cow. She got plenty of instruction from the big beef cows on the ranch, who - despite their size - were far more afraid of Alex, than she was of them.
Tricky Tranny: As easy as the drive down to California was, the drive back was even easier ... that is, until we got to Seattle. We stopped to spend the night with our Big Ride friend Dave (and his super girlfriend, Karen). The next morning, when we got into our van to come home ... NO POWER in ANY GEAR! Tranny GONE! We had to have the vehicle towed (thanks Dave, for having the premium AAA membership) to a garage across town. We hopped on a bus to Vancouver and managed to get home around 7pm. It was a looooonnngg day and (AGAIN) the Oop was terrific. (Even managed to make friends with several of the bus passengers with her quick smile and perky demeanor). Our van, on the other hand, is on our #%@#-list. Cost of repair? $2,675.00 So much for our "bargain" used car!! (A reminder to ourselves: NEVER, NEVER-EVER buy a used car off a lot.)
Moving Again: Oop's Canadian tour is now on hold. Van isn't powerful enough to tow the old fold-up camper. Neither Mom nor Dad can imagine car-camping for that length of time. Plans are up in the air. Rachel has not yet heard from the University of Calgary, but expects an acceptance letter any day now. We're leaning toward the University of Alberta (Edmonton) anyway. Perhaps we'll take a drive out to look for a new place, so that we can get settled before the term starts in early September.
Oop @ 7 Months: Hard to believe that our little girl is now 7 months young. Dad baked her a 1/2 birthday cake on her 6th-month "birthday". (It was a double-layer, half-circle vanilla-chocolate cake. It was quite cute and admired by all). Oop had her first taste of 'cake' and decided it was PRETTY GOOD! In fact, Alex liked it so much that she thought every fork-full should end up in HER mouth. None for the commoners, only the princess!
She's now gotten the hang of "solid" food and her repertoire includes: (pureed) peas, apples, bananas, carrots, rice cereal, oatmeal cereal, and various tidbits gleaned from the plate when mom and dad aren't looking! Oh yes, and CAKE! The BIG news for little Alex is, however, that she's MOBILE! We can't claim "crawling" yet, but it's a squirmy, rolling, pushing and pulling bundle of energy that knows no bounds. She's had a couple of disasters (pulling things down on top of herself), which result in tearful crying fits, but they don't dampen her spirit of adventure (5 minutes later she's off and into new things). We've now got our HANDS FULL!!
Gran Pilley gave Alex a "jolly jumper" for her half-birthday. What a wonderful gift (for BOTH Alex and her parents)! "Thanks, Gran," Alex says, bouncing between the door of the bathroom and the kitchen (darn near the only place in the house the bloody thing hangs from, because of the way the doorways are constructed). She growls, bounces and coos ... keeping herself happy and entertained for long periods of time. A great baby-sitter.