Arrived in Edmonton today. I like Edmonton; it has a wide-open feel to it, lots of grass, not many trees though. Not surprisingly, there is construction everywhere, along with “help wanted” signs in most businesses. There’s a computer guy from Edmonton that I sort-of know who talks about the Gold Rush going on here right now, you can make $100K a year driving a truck, etc. I told Sam he should think about coming here to score some quick cash when he’s older, but most likely it all will have changed by then, of course.
I take back what I said about the Banff campground being the worst; the Edmonton one, called Shakers Acres, was absolutely horrible. It’s funny, too, because they had a really nice web site. To top it off, they overcharged us $35 (for 7 bundles of firewood, instead of 2, I mean who uses 7 bundles of firewood?) and when I pointed it out she insinuated that I was trying to rip her off. We burned our second night here and took a chance on a place called Devon Lions Park, 20K southwest, which ended up being gorgeous. Here, we had our last fire, which is very sad (the place in Calgary doesn’t allow them). It was on the North Saskatchewan River. Very warm and wadeable.
But enough of that, the main activity of today was West Edmonton Mall. Quick facts: largest “shopping and entertainment complex” in the world, 800 stores, 3 McDonalds, 21 movie theatres. Many stores show up more than once, so the claim of 800 is not entirely truthful, depending how you look at it. THe Chapters here was crappy, but the adjacent pet store was huge, tons of neat stuff in there. There’s also a skating rink ($10.95 a person), an amusement park ($36 per person, Ben and I unwisely bit, there wasn’t enough there to really make it worthwhile, the “MindBender” is an impressive coaster but has a ridiculously high 59 inch height requirement). Overall it is not a bad little park for $10 maybe.
On our way thru the mall the three of us males decided on a whim to get our ears pierced, so now we have matching stuf earrings. I’m not sure how this will work out, but they seemed to think it was OK and are still wearing them…
The major WEM activity was the waterpark. First the negative: it is a major ripoff, $37 per person to get in, plus $5 for tubes, plus $7 for lockers (the lockers are on a high-tech touch-sensitive system that I bet screws up all the time, but didn’t for us luckily). The lineups, while not long, where incredibly slow, at least 15 minutes per. And what pisses me off most, when I was paying to get in, the very chirpy cashier told me, literally as my pen completed the “s” in “Tomkins”, “oh by the way the A and B and C and D and E rides” (five total, out of about 16 total) “are closed today”. I would have gone anyway, but it seems they train them to only tell you once you’ve finished paying. Corporate bastards!
The positive: after this trip, I consider myself a bit of an authority on water parks, and WEM’s is easily one of the best. It’s not as big as Noah’s Ark, but it is WAY bigger than Great Wolf Lodge (despite the latter’s claim to being the biggest in the world), has a good variety of rides, all of which are very fast and fun.
Have you ever seen the “extreme” slides that most water parks have, the ones that are always the highest in the park and drop at a 80 degree angle before slowly levelling to horizontal? I would NEVER have the courage to go on them. Little Ben wasn’t allowed to elsewhere (height restrictions), but he went for it at the WEM slides, the little daredevil. I felt scared for him, way way way up there by himself (I decided to wait for him in the pool at the bottom), and His eyes were pretty wide when he got to the bottom, but he did it twice more, so I guess it was OK!
I feel bad that we didn’t get into downtown Edmonton, but we are out of time, and only have enough for one major stop tomorrow on our way back to Calgary.
One final note: a few days back, at Lake Louise, we bumped into a kid from the soccer team 2 years ago. Small world, huh? Well, we bumped into him AGAIN in the showers at the WEM waterpark. REALLY small world!