Not to get stuck on Canada, and specifically Alberta. But the story lines connecting this city and the two individuals in the first picture make for some compelling story lines – because of the timelines involved.
Rewind back to 2011. Prince William and Kate Middleton helped kick off the 2011 Calgary Stampede. In the days prior to their arrival, I watched the streets below where I saw local police and security forces make a dry run to prepare for the royal arrival. At the time I didn’t know what was going on – I hadn’t heard they were coming to town. It was unnerving to see so many security vehicles en-masse – I thought we were under siege.
On the day Will & Kate arrived, the security forces resurfaced to handle the masses of people lining up to catch a glimpse. My husband, mother and I made a reservation at a restaurant in the red brick building shown in the above picture. When word spread through the crowded restaurant that Will and Kate were around the corner, I ran outside, climbed up the drain pipe, and while holding on with one hand, I held up my camera in my other hand and took pictures of Will and Kate as they made their way to the stagecoach and climbed up to their western throne. It was a magical moment for all. Being witness to the newlyweds, in one of the Queen’s commonwealth countries, as they embark on a tour of the world’s largest and most well-known stampedes. Calgary as a whole turns into a western themed town for the weeks leading up to the Stampede. Windows are awash with cowboy murals; restaurants are decorated with saddles, bales of hay, and corral fencing; and bank CEO’s get duded up in jeans, western shirts and cowboy hats and boots.
Fast forward to 2013.
Calgary is hit with massive flooding.
The above pictures show the stampede grounds and the same streets depicted in the pictures of Will and Kate’s visit to the Calgary Stampede in 2011. Emotions went from celebratory in 2011 to devastation 2013. But in true Calgarian style – the show did go on. The concerts booked for the uniquely shaped Saddledome had to be moved to another location as there was water up to the 10th row. The consistently sold out rodeo and chuck-wagon races slogged their way through the muck and mire. And people dressed up in their western garb and proved the show needed to go on to help get this amazing town up and running.
In 2011, I lived on the 25th floor of the green-glass 36th-floor Arriva high-rise, which sits kitty-corner from the Stampede grounds and had allowed me the bird’s eye view of Will and Kate’s parade route. I moved out in January 2013. A week after the flood, people were still having to walk the stairs to and from their condo. When we lived there, we had two dogs. I can’t even fathom having had to take them up and down the stairs to do their business, especially when the streets below were flooded – where would I have taken them? Our cars would’ve been underwater in the four stories of underground parking.
Now a month after the 100-year plus flood, Calgary and outlying areas, reaching as far west as Banff (depicted in my previous blog) are getting back to business as usual. Part of the Trans-Canada Highway 1 was washed out by the floods on either side of Banff – making it a virtual island as there are basically no other routes. Within a day the road was reopened. It is a miracle and a marvel when human suffering can be transformed into engineering feats to put a city, a region, a province back on its feet.
A new royal is born.
As of the timing of this writing, we celebrate the birth of Will & Kate’s first baby. It’s a boy! The name is yet to be announced.
Hopefully this happy news, can give Calgarians something to smile about, when thinking about the great visit they had with Will and Kate back in 2011.
Cherish the bright moments, as life is sure to bring change in many forms!
Where we ate: La Vita e Bella, 401 12 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1A5, Canada, 1-403-264-6046. http://www.lavitabella.ca $$$ Great Italian restaurant (in the building I was hanging from for the picture of Will & Kate). More traditional fresh pasta meals that have been paired with a well thought out, albeit minimalist wine menu.