Edmonton: It’s amazing what 3000 kms and 3 provinces will do for changing the landscape…..
And I don’t mean just the physical landscape. Although if you’ve seen the Rocky Mountains you needn’t go any further to know that you’re in a drastically different place.
What I’m talking about are the small subtle differences between Toronto (or Ontario for that matter) and Edmonton (or Alberta from what I’ve seen of it). The differences that nobody tells you about, but which add up to a substantial amount of change.
Here are just a few differences, good and otherwise:
ALBERTA IS BIG SKY COUNTRY.
I didn’t give that one much credence when I came out here. “What do you mean, the sky is bigger? It’s the same sky everywhere. Maybe it’s big when you’re in the Prairies you notice the sky for lack of anything else to look at, but around Edmonton? No way,” I said callously.
Well, I can’t explain it, but the sky does actually seem bigger. Even sitting in our back yard, which looks like any backyard across Canada, I am enveloped by a huge limitless….big sky. It is truly beautiful.
I would post a picture of the sky, but it’s just too darn big for my camera.
THE DAYS ARE WAY LONGER.
Currently, the sun rises at 5:24am, and sets at 9:37pm. In Toronto, it rises at 5:47am and sets at 8:42pm. That alone is an extra hour and a half of sunlight every day. And it actually feels even longer, since it is currently 10pm and there is still plenty of light – something I’m not used to even during the longest days in Toronto.
And speaking of the longest days, here in Edmonton, the sun only really sets for about 4 hours once late June rolls around. This can make for some tricky sleep planning, and miserable star gazing, but I’ll take the sunlight over darkness any day.
THE CLUBS PLAY ALL SORTS OF MUSIC, INCLUDING…
Yup. You guessed it. Country music. One minute your toes are tapping to the latest hits and the dance floor is crowded, and the next minute, you’re being berated by country tunes. Amazingly, the dance floor stays crowded.
THERE ARE BIG TRUCKS EVERYWHERE.
The competition isn’t as much how small, compact, and fast your vehicle is. Rather, the competition is how big, overt, fixed up with chrome, and completely inappropriate for city driving it is. The sheer amount of pick up trucks out here is amazing. I don’t get it. Many of these trucks don’t ever see the city limits, much less the hard work they’re built for.
THEY USE SAND INSTEAD OF SALT IN THE WINTER.
This could be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. By not using salt, cars on the road are less prone to significant rusting, as in Ontario. However the sand does nothing for melting the ice, and it leaves one heck of a mess on the roads when the snow melts. Now a mess is a mess, which should only bother an obsessive compulsive clean freak (which arguably I am not).
But when the sand is also comprised of some bigger pebbles and stones, and you are driving behind some of the gazillions of trucks here (see above for my feeling on that one), your windshield is more likely to have a crack in it than not. Every vehicle I have had the chance to ride in so far has either a large crack or at least a number of significant chips in the windshield.
THERE ARE BIG POTHOLES EVERYWHERE.
Wait a minute. This isn’t really different from Ontario at all. It’s just surprising seeing as how stupidly rich this province is.
YOU GET TO EAT COWBOY SUSHI.
Okay. You have to go south towards Calgary to see a greater influx of cowboys, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the sushi. The sushi here is huge! One simple futomaki roll (which admittedly is big to begin with) will fill you up for days. Who knew cowboys liked sushi.
Yay! Need I say more?
THERE ARE PARKS EVERYWHERE.
Not only are there parks dotted throughout the city, but the North Saskatchewan river runs right through Edmonton, bringing along with it a beautifully preserved river valley, complete with quite a lengthy trail system.
And if you’re not close to the river valley, don’t despair: every community has foot paths winding through them which provide handy shortcuts, along with some nicer scenery than the alternative – being just a concrete sidewalk along a busy street.
THE LAND OF OIL.
Until I came out here, thoughts of oil pumps conjured up images of south-western desert, with fields upon fields of oil pumps working away into the sunset. They even had a sort of evil air to them in my mind – I don’t know why. Here, they are quite a common sight. Many open fields in the outskirts of town (and even some places in town) have the odd little pump working away, and of course you see ocassional large congregations of them too. The locals call them “dog legs” because they look like…..well…
EDMONTON IS HOME TO THE WORLD’S LARGEST COWBOY BOOT.
Strangely when I saw it, I didn’t take a picture. I guess I was just stunned at the time.
VIDEO LOTTERY TERMINALS.
Maybe I lived a sheltered life in Ontario, but I don’t remember just about every bar featuring Video Lottery Terminals. Basically this is just a euphemism for slot machines. And sadly, people sit in front of them for hours upon hours upon hours. Great for bartenders serving drinks, bad for the wallet.
AND THE GRAND FINALE…..
EVEN THE EGGS ARE DIFFERENT (AND MUCH BETTER).
This came as one of the biggest surprises for me, and also one of the most delightful. I simply can’t get enough of the eggs out here! The yolks are a paler yellow, as opposed to the nuclear orange yolks I am so used to from Ontario. The consistency is a bit different, as is the taste. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but suffice to say I LOVE the eggs here. Love them. I’m hungry just thinking about them.