Calgary Part 2 plus Health Insurance

Looking West up the Bow River

With family commitments winding down, we had more time to visit a few sights around the city, catch up with friends and take one or two trips outside the city.  The best way to explore the city center is by bicycle, following the bike paths along the river valleys offers up some stunning scenery.  An interesting spot we came upon was “The Wave” near the 10 Street Bridge.  This is a section of the Bow River where a continuous wave is created by the water flow allowing surfers to ride the “river wave”.  We first saw people doing this a few years ago but now it has become an official wave riding site with a billboard outlining safety guidelines and etiquette.  Who knew this was such a popular activity, especially considering how cold the Bow River is.

River wave surfing on the Bow River

Further East along the Bow River, past the Zoo we came upon a man made diversion of the river creating a kayak race course.  There are small rapids and hanging gates which can be moved into various positions along the waterway creating a slalom course.

Kayak slalom course

In the center of Calgary is Prince’s Island Park, a beautiful highly used park sitting in the middle of the Bow River just north of the downtown core.  Developed in the 1950’s the island is 20 hectares in size and hosts numerous concerts and festivals during the year, as well as creating a wetland environment for Canada geese and mallard ducks.

Prince’s Island Park

Costing over 1.4 billion dollars to build, The Bow, a 58 story crescent shaped skyscraper, is the most recognizable building in the Calgary skyline.  It is at least for now, the tallest building outside of Toronto and can be seen from almost anywhere in Calgary.  All pictures and postcards of the Calgary skyline had to be updated once the Bow was completed in 2012….. it is that impressive!!

The Bow

In front of The Bow is a giant 12 meter tall head sculpture made of bent wire, called “Wonderland”, by the renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.  When it was unveiled in 2013 it added to the draw of the building as a tourist attraction.  Talking to a security guard in front of the sculpture, he told us many wedding photos are taken with couples standing inside the sculpture…interesting!!

The Wonderland sculpture

The SS Moyie has been cruising the Glenmore Reservoir since arriving in Calgary in 1965.  Heritage Park commissioned the building of the boat as a half-size replica of an 1898 built paddlewheeler with the same name. The original SS Moyie was used by Canadian Pacific Railway on Kootenay Lake to move passengers from its Kootenay Landing rail terminal to Nelson, B.C.  When retired in 1957, that original Moyie was North America’s oldest sternwheeler still in service.  I remember taking a number of trips around the reservoir on the SS Moyie as a child 🙂

The SS Moyie

The Calgary Stampede, billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, is a ten day event held every July in Calgary since 1923.  Over the years it has become the richest prize money rodeo event in the world with $1,000,000 in prize money given out on the final day alone.  Surpassing 1 million visitors over the 10 day show it has become a major attraction to the city.  A few decades ago when the rodeo was much smaller I used to attend every year.  These days tickets can be very expensive if you want to get anywhere close to the action so a good alternative is to attend one of the smaller rodeos outside the city.  The Strathmore Stampede is held every August long weekend, and ranked as the 3rd largest outdoor rodeo in Canada.  Tickets are more affordable and you are seated much closer to the infield.  Strathmore is an hour East of Calgary so off we headed with my sister and brother-in-law for a day at the rodeo!!  What a fantastic day 🙂  Seated only 11 rows up from the rodeo events it brought me back to the early days at the Calgary Stampede.  The first event of the day were the chuckwagon races, probably one of the most exciting events in the rodeo.  Here is a link with a brief explanation of what a race entails.

Strathmore Chuckwagon Race

Following the chuckwagon racing was ladies barrel racing, calf roping, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding, saddleback bronc riding and always saved to the very end, the bull riding event.  Every rodeo saves the bull riding event to the end because it is the most dangerous, exciting event to watch and aptly named “the most dangerous 8 seconds in sports”.  A good friend of Blair’s many years ago was the Canadian National Bull Riding champion, so we knew first hand what kind of danger these cowboys faced.  In the ring during the bull riding event are two “bullfighters” or “rodeo clowns” who put their lives at risk placing themselves between the bull and the cowboy when he is thrown off or jumps off after completing the 8 second ride.  Growing up in Calgary, rodeos were a highlight of the summer and it was such fun to have this experience again after so long… does that song go “I should’a been a cowgirl”  🙂  Here is a short video from our afternoon at the rodeo.

Bull riding excitement

An hour West of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is the town of Canmore.  Loraine, a former co-worker and friend for over 30 years, and her husband, own a gorgeous 5 bedroom “chalet” up the mountain from town with spectacular views of the Bow Valley and surrounding mountains.  We have been fortunate to spend time at their mountain home in the past.

Clouds hanging low in the valley

One weekend we were invited for dinner and a sleepover, jumping at the opportunity to spend time with friends and enjoy the mountain atmosphere of Canmore.  Loraine invited a few Canmore friends for dinner in addition to ourselves and we had a fun evening filled with lively conversation.  The weather was not conducive to mountain biking or boating on the lakes but we did squeeze in a short walk up the mountain to Quarry Lake, before the rain started.  Hopefully we can make it back there once more before we leave to enjoy the outdoor activities that Canmore is famous for.

Cloudy morning at Quarry Lake

During our time in Calgary the health insurance issue reared it’s head again.  The one year policy we bought last year expired in July and we were once again on the hunt for appropriate coverage.  Last year we went with World Nomads however they no longer offer policies to residents of the Cayman Islands and using Canada as our home country makes their coverage pretty much useless.  Reading the fine print of their policy, unless we have health insurance in our home country of Canada, they limit their coverage to $40,000 which will not pay for much at all.  We are ineligible for health care in Canada because we would be required to live here for more than 6 months a year to qualify, and that is not happening for a while 🙂  I determined that we can purchase “visitors” insurance for the 2 or 3 months we are in Canada but nothing beyond that.  Looking back at our research blog from last year we revisited those alternatives once again.  After contacting Patriot/IMG they suggested their Global Medical Insurance was best suited to our needs.  It offers worldwide coverage, including our home country of Canada, which a travel insurance policy would not.  We don’t know if we will be returning to Canada in the next year, but why not have coverage just in case!!  Another benefit of the Global Medical Insurance policy is the ability to renew annually until the age of 75 years,  longer than many other options we have considered!  So, for one more year we are covered for any unexpected health issues or accidents while traveling…..



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