So after an entertaining train journey from Winnipeg, during which i met a retired rocket scientist (satellite communications), found out that siberian cats make good pets for a canadian winter, passed through Canada's smallest city (Melville, pop circa 4000), and discovered that a bag of baby carrots makes a great snacking option, i arrived in Edmonton.
From the station i shared a taxi with some other young travellers heading to the hostel, although they were on work visas -an irish carpenter and an australian lass going to an interview for what she thought was probably a hotel receptionist job!
I spent the rest of the day napping, and listening to oil workers discuss (fairly candidly) how Canada is the most resource rich, sparsely populated country in the world, and is attracting loads of immigrant workers.
Also how all the oil rig workers are on crack because it doesn't show up in drug tests!
This is not the town to criticise oil in. well, would be brave to dare to! the whole place grew and depends on the industry.
just look at the sports teams - oilers, oil kings, oil barons etc
Next day i walked around the town centre - the first thing i come to is a book shop open till midnight so this already seems a more interesting place than Winnipeg. The city also has an international film festival, and since i missed out in Toronto i went to a couple of lunchtime collections of short films, with mixed results, but free sandwiches.
It's a very green city, perched around a river valley.
There are even more indoor, aerial and underground pedestrian walkways (pedways) than in Winnipeg but they make sense now!
(because its cold and insanely windy) you drive and park, and then don't need to go outside in the minus forty and wind
Edmonton has the biggest mall north america or something... it envelops an ice rink, water park, rollercoasters and sealion show. And a freaking pirate boat.
They really made it a day out destination.
I went nuts in the outdoor shop buying sleeping bags and headtorch.
After the first night in the hostel i couchsurfed with a narcissistic anarchist named Michael, in a nice downtown loft apartment.
He had to go to out to a stag party - a lame sounding one at the guys house, with fiance present. we agree that bachelor parties should be about getting things out of your system and going a bit wild before embracing married life.
Anyway, because of that i went out to a couchsurfing meet up in a nearby cafe
But the most interesting thing about Edmonton was meeting Harry and Doris Pinchin (Stuart from Kingston's uncle and aunt)
Harry is a (retired) professional and award winning conductor and trumpet player in orchestras and all types of bands, particularly jazz...
He played in/conducted the house band on a TV show called Celebrity Revue in the 70's, broadcast all over north america, where famous pop singers would come on and perform with them, including (that i'd heard of!) Tina Turner and Henry Mancini!
Unfortunately their family tree knowledge hit a dead end with a great grandfather who emigrated to Canada in approx 1850's, but we shall persevere!
So on friday i hired a car to drive to Fort McMurray and the tar sands...