Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Calgary Stampede

So I'd always heard of this thing. But what, really, is a Calgary Stampede? Well, I had no idea before I'd been there, but Calgary is a cowboy town, as evidenced by by the people in cowboy hats and fringed leather jackets that greet you at the airport. And this time, the Stampede was in full swing, so I cowboyed up and went there.
One hitch. Summer. Summer weather the day before. Summer weather the day after. That day, hail.
In July? Seriously?
I mean cold. That's the other chief export of Calgary... misery in weather form. Once we were inside the big gates to the place, we spent most of the time running from the cold. You can't run from normal cold, but you can run from Calgary cold. You can see pockets of it, skulking around with tattoos and switchblades, freezing the slow and elderly. I still have a scar.
Inside, it's like a small town. There's food courts, markets, amusement parks. Stopped into several stores and tried on cowboy hats and fringed leather jackets. The Saddledome is a cleverly-named stadium that actually resembles a Paul Bunyan-sized saddle. Rodeos happen in there.
Problem was, it was too damn cold to do anything outside, and to do anything inside, you'd had to have bought tickets years ago. The place was lousy with country music stars, as you might expect. So we stayed outside and drank to escape the pain.
The whole experience was worth it for one thing, and it involves beignets. Being that, with Aviatrix's help, my reader base has expanded way beyond Louisiana, I'll explain that a beignet is a Cajun doughnut that's basically a small deep-fried pillow that you put powdered sugar on. If any of you not from Louisiana have heard of a place called Café Du Monde when talking about New Orleans, then yeah, that's where they make those, and of course I'm a fan. And at the Stampede, when I saw a booth selling beignets, a place outside of Louisiana (albeit in a country where Cajuns originally came from) I almost got one. I say almost, because right below BEIGNETS on the sign was OREO BEIGNETS. In anticipatory tears of joy, I asked the lady at the counter, and she said yup, there's an Oreo in 'em.
Had I died? Was this heaven?
The answer was yes. I measure food goodness in a) calories, b) preservatives, and c) how many I can eat before I throw up. An Oreo beignet is ridiculous in the first two categories, and as for the third, I could barely finish one. So there I was, being pummeled in the head with rain and ice, frozen solid except for my blood, which was by that point more than fifty percent alcohol, and reeling from a French confection-induced sugar high. YEAH go to the Calgary Stampede. I endorse it.
Now if I could just remember it...


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