Our last two days of vacation were spent at the Calgary Stampede with Lisa, my very bestest, and her cowboy lover Mackenzie.
Mackenzie is actually a real, legit cowboy. It is difficult to distinguish the real cowboys from the impostors during the Stampede, since everyone is dressed as a cowboy (seriously, the entire city of Calgary), but Kenz is the real deal.
Kenz grew up on a cattle ranch outside of the city, and I believe that is his future. So he wears his hat and his buckles and his boots all year round, and he was telling us that people on the street sometimes yell “Hey buddy, STAMPEDE’S OVER!!!!!” weeks after the Stampede and he’s all “Dude, but I’m a cowboy!” Cowboy problems, right?
Evan is all about embracing his nerdy-McNerdiness (and I so love him for being that and owning it), but I love themes of any kind, and I know Lisa does too, so we were in our cowgirl attire.
Well, we got our hats later, but you know. I was western-ish, at least. And I do have to say that Evan did look quite lovely in a cowboy hat when he was trying them on…
For not living in Calgary I had some serious hookups. You may remember back in February I met a new friend Nicole, who works at the Calgary Stampede, at an event through my work. Emily and I hit it off with her immediately.
She gave me that awesome hat I’m wearing (which I didn’t bring to Stampede because I didn’t want to ruin it) and she also gave me a beautiful gold and silver western bracelet as a thank you for hosting her organization (which I did wear). She told me to let her know when we got to the Stampede grounds and she would come out and give us tickets to get in. And heeeere she is!
She not only gave us free tickets to get into the Stampede, but she brought us bottled water (like $3 a bottle, so that’s like gold), escorted us past the one-hour line-up, and chauffeured us into the grounds. It was the nicest gesture and we all felt eternally grateful. She is one of those people who genuinely, in the very deepest parts of their soul, are just the sweetest and the absolute nicest. I am so glad that I met her. I just want to give her a bear hug.
She was working so couldn’t hang with us, so we bid her farewell shortly after, and then…STAMPEDE TIME!!!
Cowfolk for the day! (except Mackenzie, cowfolk all the time.) Actually, I am not an avid cowboy boot wearer (and I was only wearing cowboy “booties” so not official or anything), but you know what I like about them? You can walk absolutely anywhere and not worry about what you’re stepping in, or who is stepping on you. They are so practical. It is a freedom that I do not feel with flipflops.
Our first stop of the day was Nashville North, the band/party tent.
We went there first because we really wanted Evan to experience it, and last time Lisa and I were there we waited in line to get in for at least two hours. We did not want to spend our entire day in line, so we got that out of the way and had a few drinks to start off our afternoon.
The best part about Nashville North was that we saw the top 10 Calgary Stampede Talent Search performers (like American Idol but country), and they were really, really good. Really good. One dude (dude!) sang Jesus Take The Wheel by Carrie Underwood and he sounded EXACTLY like Carrie Underwood. I cannot stress this enough to you. I thought it was her. I closed my eyes and I swore that Carrie Underwood was serenading me, and then I opened them and it’s this (fairly big) guy. And I looked around the crowd and everyone was just agog as all the gogs. It was super impressive.
(I initially wrote Jesus Take The Wheel by Kelly Clarkson accidentally…anyone catch that? whoops)
Lis and I had a good time on the dance floor.
And Lisa and Mackenzie had a good time two-stepping around.
Evan and I did as well. Unfortunately during my two-step adventure I lost my sunglasses. Once I realized they were missing I went back to find them, and JUST as I spotted them on the floor I saw a girl excitedly do the hugest and most dramatic STOMP on them.
My poor sunnies. So I immediately walked up and said “Those were my glasses!” and I could tell that they were already broken before she did that, so it wasn’t a big deal at all and I kind of just wanted to joke around with her a little bit. But she felt soo bad and she apologized about a million times, so we hugged it out (literally, we hugged) and all was well. They were cheapies from Target anyway.
So, Nashville North was great. Big fan of that tent. And for 2 o’clock in the afternoon, it was jumpin’.
We eventually got out of the tent and back into the sunshine, Lisa and I picked up hats, I got new sunglasses, and then we walked the grounds.
I need to tell you, I ate a lot. Like deep friend everything. I ate so much, in fact, that it is going to have to be a separate post or this is going to go on for a million years. But I ate fun things so it has to be profiled. Not trying to drag this out, just trying to prolong the fun (I’ve been back for almost two weeks now, so the fun is being seriously prolonged here).
Anyway, we walked the grounds, and things happened. Like this:
Evan and Mackenzie somehow got roped into this horse pulling thing… To see what their horse power is, I guess. I don’t even know what the results were, but they’re beasts so I’m guessing pretty decent. It was free, and it was funny.
And it ended with this:
It was really hot out. That horse must be just dying under there.
We played some games. Lisa and I tried to play this weird game that I have never seen before, where you have to try to stand up a glass bottle with a loop on the end of a string…
We both lost.
Mackenzie won some other weird game and won a Ninja Turtle backpack. Raphael is cool, but rude!
People were just dying over the Raphael Ninja Turtle backpack. Kenz had strangers coming up behind him and sneakily taking pictures of it all day long. It was hilarious.
Evan won a Bob Marley banana.
Which I kind of love.
We rode the ferris wheel!
And I do mean bulls, plural. Two duelling bulls. One person on each bull, and whoever stayed on the longest won the duel. Had I not been wearing a dress I would have been allllll over it, but there were men controlling the bulls, and when there was a lady on the bull the men were making the bulls “twerk”. So, no thanks. I don’t get down like that. Not in a dress.
So we spend the evening at the Three B’s, because it had everything we needed (entertainment + beer + food, and we got a table/barrel right by the bulls so that was a score). I had the best time there.
I think my favourite was the group line dancing.
Or maybe just dancing in general.
People are always throwing around that “Dance like nobody’s watching” quote, and you know what I have realized? I ALWAYS dance like nobody’s watching. Who cares who is watching? No good can come of concerning yourself with what other people think. Do you think Evan and Lisa care what anyone thinks of them in that above photo? No. They don’t. They are just doing their thing. If you want to look like a fool, you do it, and you own it. Because who cares.
It was a very fun day with my sister from another mister and our lovers.
The next day, our last day in Calgary, we were back at the grounds. Only we had Crystal and friends with us this time.
We did the ol’ grounds thing with them again, and then, for our GRAND VACATION FINALE, the last event of Evan and Evanoff’s Excellent Adventure…(drumroll)…we went to the chuck wagon races.
It was my first Stampede event ever. And it was great. I really have to thank Crystal for organizing it for all of us, because there were about 16 of us in attendance and getting all the tickets together for that would have given me a serious headache.
Crystal’s birthday was the next day, but we were celebrating that evening and Lisa and I had picked her up a bunch of stuff (props) from the Dollar Store for the occasion…including this silly straw that Mackenzie borrowed.
Ain’t no party like a beer straw party.
So the chuck wagons were pretty cool.
I really enjoyed watching that and got pretty into it. After the chucks were over, they dragged a big stage over…
And it turned into this interesting/hilarious Calgary Stampede variety show.
And the whole thing had a big America’s Got Talent feel to it, so it was very entertaining and impressive.
We had to leave a bit early as Evan and I had to leave from there to go straight to the airport to come home, so sadly we missed the fireworks. But it was still a good time. So glad that was the grand finale. It was the BEST, the absolute best, way to end our trip. We really squeezed everything in, and finishing with this just left me with a warm, fuzzy, good feeling.
And as we were leaving, it poured rain. Stampede ponchos for the win (thank you Mackenzie!)
What a frickin’ time.