Jun 26

Ukrainans All Around!

Luzan Grocery

Today my friend Carol and I went to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. The Village is about a 40 minute drive North East of Edmonton. Now, I am not of Ukrainian ancestry, but, Alberta was a very popular place for Ukrainian settlers to emigrate to. It’s pretty hard to go anywhere in central Alberta and not be affected by some sort of Ukrainian heritage. One thing that I learned over the past few months was that Ukrainian men had the GREATEST MOUSTACHES EVER. I am surprised! Perhaps Eastern European men are a fan of amazing moustaches and great hats….and maybe I need to go to Eastern Europe a bit more often when I move back to Europe.

So, the Ukrainian Village is a historic village that is basically set in 1920’s Alberta. I always find it strange to hear about people learning to be Canadian citizens since I was born here. When they were in school in the 1920’s the most important class they took was English, and the second most important was learning how to be a Canadian citizen. So strange! Ukrainian Village is full of buildings that have been restored to look as they did back when Ukrainian settlers lived in them. To make everything more authentic they have a lot of historical actors that stay in their Ukrainian characters the entire time you talk to them. It’s fantastic! I mean, generally, I will try and ask them a lot of modern questions and see how they react. Basically, I am a jerk. However, this visit I wasn’t really in the mood to hassle the actors and I just listened to their Ukrainian accents and the way they explained what everything was to me like a normal guest.

Ukrainian Village is actually quite a large place with tons of farm houses and farm animals. It’s ALMOST like stepping back in time but in a Canada filled with Ukrainians. I, sadly, only saw one male actor whom didn’t have a moustache. All of the female actors were wearing head scarfs which made them look like they were Baba’s (Ukrainian Grandma’s). I highly recommend visiting the Ukrainian Village on a special events day as they are full of all sorts of events and tons of volunteers!  And if you aren’t familiar with Ukrainians or their heritage you need to try perogies. They are my favourite amoung the Ukrainians culinary delights and I cannot get enough of them. I cannot wait to go back to Ukrainian Village with my friend Christina! Little does she know…she will join me in September.

Church Horse Ride! WAGON! Pigs Horse Inside grocery store!

Don’t forget to click the above pictures for a larger view.


Jun 25

Awkwardness and Sheep in Fort Saskatchewan

Sheep!

So, I decided to go to the Fort Saskatchewan Museum an hour before they closed on a Saturday afternoon on my own. When I went into the main museum building (which is known as the Wardens House) this girl came down the stairs asking if she could help me. I questioned if this was the museum or not and she said yes, and asked if I would like a tour. I said yes and the next 40 minutes of my life was incredibly awkward.

Fort Saskatchewan museum is very small so you can only go inside the buildings if on a tour. It’s much like Fort Edmonton Park in the sense that all the buildings were reconstructed to look as they did back when they were being used. In one house, they had these sock and glove shaped hangers that they would use to help dry their socks and gloves so they wouldn’t shrink. It was very creepy.

So this tour was incredibly awkward as I was alone….and the tour guide was about my age…it was just the two of us in the entire museum and historic site, uncomfortable. We were walking around the museum while she told me about each of the buildings and rooms we were in while I stood there awkwardly listening and sometimes taking photos. I mean the tour was good and she was very knowledgeable about the history of Fort Saskatchewan, but, holy crap never again.

Fort Saskatchewan is also home to sheep that just walk around Legacy Park grazing on the grass with their faces. Greenest form of lawn cutting? Yes! I really like visiting the sheep as they will be your best friend if you have leaves. I felt like the coolest person in sheep world when I had leaves. I was their KING. Until they ate all the leaves and left me….go visit them and feel like you are number one, temporarily.

Feeding Sheep  Court House  Castle School  Inside the school  Black Smith   

Please click the pictures above to see larger versions!


Apr 23

Prairie Gardens and the EVIL EASTER BUNNY

Prospectors Cabin

I went to Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm in Bon Accord today. It was Easter weekend so they had their “Hop! Easter Fest” which included egg painting, an egg hunt and a terrifying Easter Bunny. The Prairie Gardens is more geared toward children, sadly, but it was still a lot of fun. I think the best time to visit Prairie Farm would be around Halloween and Autumn as they have a lot of scary and harvest time activities, like a haunted house a CORN MAZE!!!!!! I will have to visit again this October.

When we first arrived we were presented with what looked like a tiny little town with things such as a Prospector’s Cabin, a Lost Lemon Gem Mine, and a Petting Zoo! The Petting Zoo had baby goats…and I don’t think there are many things in life that are more enjoyable than baby goats. We also stumbled upon a band (The male singer is Keith Rempel) that played songs by Raffi while playing the melodica!!!! The only thing that would have made this better was if they had also played a ukulele….but life can’t be perfect.

So, because Christina and I went on Easter weekend I realized one of my biggest fears are the Easter Bunny costumes. I first noticed this terrifying discovery at West Edmonton Mall when the Easter Bunny was there to greet children. The Easter Bunny at Prairie Gardens was a little less terrifying…but it still had the same soulless eyes and gaped open mouth. You know it’s up to no good. This is of no fault to Prairie Gardens, of course, as the evil Easter Bunny is lurking in places you least suspect.

I recommend you make a trip to Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm as it’s a super fun day out with the family! If you go in the spring, make sure you wear your rubber boots as it’s quite muddy.

I hope you enjoy the video that I made of our visit at Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm:

Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm Video

Prairie Gardens Goat! A creepy statue our Easter eggs


Apr 01

Grain Elevators of St. Albert

St. Albert Grain Elevator

Christina and I went to St. Albert as Christina wanted to go on the Art Walk, but, sadly we got there too late to visit the actual art gallery. We did wander through a bit of St. Albert that is home to many little art galleries and unique shops. St. Albert is actually a really pretty city…I was kind of surprised since I have lived so close to it for so long and I never really bothered to pay attention!

Anyway, the most important part of this trip was our epic quest to find the GRAIN ELEVATORS!!!!! Yes, St. Albert is famous (I suppose) for it’s super cool Grain Elevators. Unfortunately, when we visited them (they have a red one and a silver one) they were covered in scaffolding, which made them hard to view. Grain Elevators are one of the most beautiful, strangely enough, figures that is present in the Prairie Provinces- which includes Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Grain Elevators are an integral part of our history and I really appreciate them. In fact, I have a miniature grain elevator on my farm! It lives in the barn and is covered in mouse poop. So instead of being called a Grain Elevator, I have dubbed it the POOP ELEVATOR!!! Which is also an important elevator.

We will certainly be revisiting St. Albert at some point this summer to get a better look at the Grain Elevators, as well as exploring more of St. Albert….it has a lot more to offer than just Grain Elevators…even though they are not something to miss!

A tantalizing pig Grain Elevator Stained Glass window The elusive Poop Elevator Silver Grain Elevator


Mar 20

Giant slides consume my life….AGA.

AGA

I visited the brand new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton’s city centre yesterday with my friend Thea and her friend Steph. I like the new design, except I think it would be better if it was also a slide for adults. I can’t really remember what the old gallery in Edmonton was like…so I can’t really compare the two and decide if this new gallery is better. I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of any of the exhibits, sadly, but there were two paintings by the artist Emily Carr that scared the crap out of me. The first one was called Totem Motherhood and it literally made me pee my pants with fear. The second painting was called Zunoqua of the Cat Village…which showed me several frighting cat eyes….every where I looked. Scary! Make sure you click on the names of the paintings to be taken to images of them! As I couldn’t take pictures, I cannot show you myself. 

On the top floor there were designs by Brian Jungen called Shapeshifter made out of lawn chairs…..it was strange. Brian also made, what I would like to think, a giant fort made of garbage and recycle bins! I think that if I had numerous bins to get rid of I would probably make an awesome fort too….except I would make my fort impenetrable! It was a little too easy to get in and out of Brian Jungen’s fort.

They also had Haida art which was interesting….they had a lot of masks, one of a puffin that I kind of wish was a hat. I love fancy hats…but who doesn’t? This trip to the Alberta Art Gallery made me realize I don’t have enough Totem pole sightings in my life….I think perhaps the next Alberta adventure will have to involve a totem pole!

 Shape Shift Shape Shift THE FORT Upclose fort


Feb 21

Silver Skate Festival

One thing the Silver Skate Festival had, was a lot of human heads. Sure, the human heads were gigantic and carved out of snow…but if you were visiting Hawrelak Park from another planet…you might think we liked to kill and freeze our giants! Which….we do…..but shhh, that’s Earth’s little secret. I actually got a chance to see people carving their snow sculptures and it really made me respect their form of art. Probably a good chunk of my respect was due to the fact that on Friday it was -24°C with a windchill that made it feel like -38°C. INSANE!

Christina, her boyfriend Adam, and myself dressed up in so many layers we could barely move and made our way to the festival. I had more fun than I could have ever fathomed standing outside in the frigged temperatures for hours on end. A good chunk of the festival happens outside on the ice covered terrain of Hawrelak Park in Edmonton and it’s nothing but fun! It has so many events that I didn’t have enough time to participate in even half of them! I would have visited the festival over the 3 days it was running….but I was, sadly, busy with other things.

First there are people walking around on stilts…stilts in the snow….crazy. I had brief moments of remembering when I was in Norway and discovered a pair of stilts…I couldn’t even stand for 1 second on them without falling…and these people were walking on ICE. Impressive, to say the least! They also had a crapload of free events, such as skating, snowshoeing, horse drawn sleigh rides and various other events that I didn’t have time to partake in. It was extremely awesome to see the snow sculptures being created, and to see their sculptures take form as the day goes on. Hawrelak Park is also home to a permanent Teepee- and during the festival there were First Nations people inside speaking about their heritage. Inside they also had animal pelts, such as a black bear, a bison and a beaver. I felt them all, as it’s not very often you get to touch a black bear. The beaver pelt was by far the softest and it won my patented “softest wild animal fur” award.

Christina and I spent a good portion of our day waiting in line to get our faces painted. When the opportunity to get your face painted arises you do not step down! I got my face painted like a cute little chipmunk and Christina got her face painted as a scary cheetah….with sparkles. We also made our own maple taffy by hitting sticks into maple syrup covered snow…and it was surprisingly delicious! We also made bannock which reminds me of roasting marshmallows…but instead of marshmallows it tastes like sweet bread. It was loads of fun and to end our day at the festival we saw a Bald Eagle flying over the park into the nearby woods, very awesome.

Make sure you visit the Silver Skate festival next year…it’s a lot of fun and it’s completely free. It doesn’t get much better than free fun….just make sure you wear at least 4 pairs of socks!

Make sure you click above to see the Silver Skate youtube video!

 


Feb 12

Giant food?

The elusive egg

Sometimes I wonder if I am in the Ukraine but then I remember that I am in Alberta. I have actually never been to the Ukraine so I have no idea what it is like…but in Alberta we have a ton of Ukrainian immigrants and they brought over all the best things from the Ukraine! Today was a mini “big things” tour which included seeing a giant kubasa (Ukrainian sausage) in Mundare and the worlds biggest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg) in Vegreville. I kind of felt like I had accidentally come across a shrinking ray or everything else in the world became gigantic.

On our way to Mundare Christina and I passed through a village called Chipman. We then proceeded to have an intensive conversation about a man made from chips or a chip shaped man or a man shaped chip. It was pretty amazing and I probably laughed more than I should have at the thought of a giant chip shaped man. We also saw a llama…which is like a unicorn….and is therefore magical.

We ended up in the ever mystical town of Mundare and immediately found the giant kubasa. Christina and I probably had the most fun at the giant kubasa than anyone in the history of the world. There was so much snow, which had become hard from all the freezing rain we’ve been having lately, and was extremely hard to walk on. We were trying to take a timed picture of the two of us with the ever lovely (and extremely disgusting looking) sausage….but running in that hard snow to try to make it to the sausage before the timer on the camera went off caused some trouble. I ended up getting my leg trapped and fell face first into a huge pile of snow…which was both hilarious and happened at the exact same time the camera took the photo. Hilarious and very cold! It was such an amazingly fun time! I won’t lie to you…the sausage was all bumpy and veiny and looked gross…but I might be biased as I am a vegetarian and find meat unappealing….even a 12.8 metre (42 feet) fibreglass sausage.

After the sausage sighting, Christina and I headed towards Vegreville! The town of Vegreville is famous for it’s worlds biggest pysanka…which is 5000 pounds. I wish I knew how much it weighed before I stood underneath it. I don’t really know what to say about seeing the giant egg. It was exciting but not nearly as exciting about the giant sausage…I think because the egg had plowed sidewalk so it was less of a challenge to reach it. I also kind of wish the egg was covered in paintings of matryoshka dolls. If only matryoshka doll’s were Ukrainian instead of Russian….that would make the egg even more amazing.

Click here to be taken to the Youtube video!

Make sure you check out the video I made about Mundare and Vegreville!

So many more Ukrainian-Albertan adventures to come.


Inside the sausage A Ukrainian buffalo The egg! Mundare! A scary Elk statue

Make sure you click the images so see the larger versions, yo.


Jan 22

Ice on Whyte

HIGH FIVE!!!!

The other night, I went to an ice carving festival in Edmonton, called Ice on Whyte, which is located just off of Whyte (82nd) Avenue. To start the night off, Christina and I walked around Whyte Avenue attempting to locate a bank machine, as it cost $5 to enter the ice carving festivities. We shortly discovered that Whyte Avenue doesn’t have many banks or bank machines. We eventually stumbled on one of those “$2.20 service charges” ATM’s conveniently placed inside of an English themed pub. Inside the pub Christina spotted a SEE Magazine newspaper with a handsome photo of one of the greatest men in the world on the cover….Bob Saget. Bob Saget is performing TONIGHT in Edmonton and it was sold out. So, being completely disappointed that I will be missing out on seeing the admirable Bob Saget, we made our way to the magical Ice on Whyte.

Apparently, a few ice carvers from Harbin, China came to Edmonton to carve for this festival! As well as Russia and the Netherlands. Just past the festival gates you are completely bombarded with Chinese themed ice carvings, including an insane dragon slide that I was to much of a chicken to slide down. Plus, if a terrifying ice slide wasn’t enough, there was a mini ice version of the Great Wall of China. Christina and I later entered a heated tent, which we deemed a circus tent which boasted exact copies of styrofoam snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. In this un-unique snow flake tent they were serving free hot chocolate! However, the hot chocolate and the snowflakes weren’t what caught my eye inside this tent of wonders. What I noticed is that Edmontonians love animal themed toques! Even I, a former Edmontonian, have numerous animal themed hats. Christina and my particular favourites were a serious looking couple sitting at a nearby table wearing a skunk hat and a moose hat. It was spectacular. They looked so unamused and silly at the exact same time.

So, I guess the Ice on Whyte was alright. I am not as impressed with ice art as I should be…but, I mean, it melts away! I am impressed and perplexed with people who carve sculptures though…whether it’s marble or ice….it’s weird and I don’t understand it. Still, very beautiful sculptures! It ends on the 23rd of January though…so if you missed out on the festival this year and are feeling as down as I am about missing Bob Saget…you need not worry…Ice on Whyte will be back again in 2012.

Make sure you check out the video I made while at Ice on Whyte!

  Ice building! ICE CRUSH!!!!! Ice Jack in the Box!


Jan 16

Discovering Elk Island National Park

A sign within Elk Island

Onward to Elk Island! So what if it was -26 Celsius and snowing so much I could barely see 2 metres in front of me? This is Alberta and the travel must go on.  I put on 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, and a few sweaters. I felt like if I was pushed over I wouldn’t feel a thing. I was in an impenetrable bundle of clothes that would battle cold and fight any possible harm if I fell down a flight of stairs (which happens a lot.) The roads were terrifying and we saw a few cars and trucks that managed to make it into the ditch, even one car that was flipped over onto it’s roof. Frightening! However, we made it safe and sound and were well on our way to see some Bison!

When myself and my best friend Christina got to Elk Island National Park we met up with an overly friendly Parks Canada employee who was surprised and super happy that we had a Parks Canada Pass. Since the snow was so thick we were lucky Christina’s van didn’t get stuck! Thank god for large vehicles in Alberta winters! Elk Island was, needless to say, very deserted as no one was as foolish as us. Before you ask, we didn’t see any Elk….but we did see many a bison! Elk Island is renowned (I assume) for it’s mass amounts of bison. It contains both Wood Bison and Prairie Bison on either side of the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16). We opted for the Praire Bison as they are usually easier to find since they like open fields rather than lingering in the woods.

Whilst we were driving through the piles of snow we both spotted a Bison in a field….or was it a rock…..? We drove closer around the bend and both decided it wasn’t a bison at all, but a giant bush! We drove a bit closer and then we spotted it…it was definitely a rock……a rock that moved…and turned out to be a Bison that I now deem is named Bob.

We also managed to see a snow plow guy who was very good at driving exceedingly fast! Luckily we were on a side road both times he passed us so we didn’t have to worry about him plowing us down. When he was first passing us he looked over, wearing his cool shades and his handlebar moustache. I knew deep down that we were making eye contact. I felt frightened. I knew he was the type of man who didn’t take crap from anyone and would be totally okay with wearing a denim jacket and denim jeans at the same time. He was bad-ass…but then again all snow plow drivers are probably bad-ass.

After my trip to Elk Island National Park, I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. Not only is it beautiful, it’s full of Bison! You will not go to Elk Island and NOT see a Bison…so it’s a guarenteed animal sighting place! You might also run into various birds, elk, beavers, moose, coyotes or deer. It is also home to the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, which I assume has many astrophysicists who are also beavers. Basically, over Elk Island the skies are very dark and you will be able to see the night sky a lot clearer. I’ll make sure I bring my torso sized telescope when I visit Elk Island this spring.

Click here to be taken to the Youtube video!

Make sure you watch the video I made of our journey to Elk Island!!

We spotted the elusive Bison! Bison Bob eating! Bison Bob looking at me

Remember to click the images above to see larger versions! Also, check back soon for more discovering of Alberta. It’s like Oregon Trail without the dysentery. I hope.


Jan 03

Edmonton River Valley WINTER STYLE!

Crystal and Christina in the River Valley

So, I kind of went to Edmonton already and it was before 2011…but I am just going to count it anyway. My best friend Christina and I had planned to frolic in the snow but instead we went for a very chilly walk in the ever lovely River Valley. We went to my personal favourite part of the River Valley that always sort of ends when I get to the bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River and enters into China…or at least some sort of China town park. I just assume it’s a hole in the spacetime continuum and it leads you to China…or however that works…I am not a scientist. I mean our walk always ends there…the River Valley branches out to other areas but usually I have the fear of getting too far away from my car and having to pee. What would I do if I was far away from a bathroom with the sudden urge of needing to use one? It’s a fear I might have to get over someday.

It’s actually quite peaceful having the River Valley right in the middle of a city. The only scary wild animals you have to worry about are the chipping robotic squirrels that like to follow you. I haven’t been to the River Valley in any season other than winter in 2 years so I look forward to seeing more of the River Valley than just my usual route this spring, summer and autumn. If you are ever in Edmonton make sure you visit the River Valley. The River Valley is one thing about Edmonton that makes it great! It makes the an atmospheric walk in the wilderness easily accessible! You don’t even have to leave the city!

I think I might visit Elk Island National Park next or something somewhere…I shall see where I can sucker my friends into going with me! Quality friend time! IN ALBERTA. I will be visiting Edmonton many more times throughout the year as I live nearby….so PREPARE.

View of downtown Edmonton River Valley trail Christina showing her love for Edmonton

Click the images to see larger versions….full of AWESOME.