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In July 2012 Fiona embarked on a once in a life time trip with a difference…
As a junior member of the Hereford Cattle Society I was sponsored with 2 other young members to go to the World Hereford Conference being held in Calgary and Olds, Alberta, Canada.
We were up and raring to go at 4am! The flight was 8hrs45 and with Alberta being 6 hours behind the UK we arrived at 13.00 the same day. Naturally being in Canada we decided it would be rude not to have steak and chips for lunch, and then we checked into our rooms to find that we each had queen sized beds. We were so tired from travelling we went to sleep at 4pm.
On our first full day in Calgary we were up at 6am, and after a rather large breakfast we walked from the hotel to the Sunridge Mall for a little bit of retail therapy. This mall is considered small in Canada but would have been much larger than an average English shopping centre. On our way back to the Sheraton Cavalier Hotel we had lunch our first fast food at Wendy’s, on this one avenue there was over 10 fast food restaurants in about 200 yards which were all drive through… even Starbucks! McDonalds had a queue 0f 22 cars in their drive through at 11am! In the evening we had a pizza party in the hotel for all the junior representatives from around the world and we also went to the World Hereford Conference Reception.
Today we were up at 6.30am and looking forward to a great day at the 100th Calgary Stampede. Firstly we attended the opening of the World Hereford Conference where I carried the British flag into along with 20 other juniors. We stayed at the opening for speeches by the world secretary, Canadian government members and Randy Radua the Canadian Hereford President. After this we went to enjoy the stampede, it is the biggest outdoor show on earth and lives up to its reputation. There is lots to see and do… including plenty of shopping and activities. There is also a huge fair and plenty of options for eating. Later after we had eaten we went to the Chuck wagon Racing and Grandstand Show, the chuck wagon’s are extremely fast and look very scary! The show which followed was fantastic with dancing, singing and acrobatics from all ages, the closing of the show had a huge fireworks display.
Today we went to Olds for the first time to meet the people who were kindly lending us their cattle for the show, and to spend the afternoon learning the different methods used in preparation and in the show ring. We were shocked to find that having spent hours getting the cattle clean and ready for the ring, they then tie them up outside at night in the rain!
The Junior Bonanza show took place today; all the international and Canadian juniors had to show their cattle. We were judged in age classes and for our handling skills. Unfortunately none of us placed, but that was to be expected because they show so differently to what we are used to in the UK.
We spent most of today getting to know the Irish, Australian, Norwegian, and New Zealand juniors, it was a really great way to learn about other methods of Agriculture.
Today James overslept and missed our yellow School bus to Olds. Hannah and I had a lovely day as we watched some of the cattle being shown, and then we walked into the town of Olds. We did a little bit of shopping and I bought a pair of cowboy boots, I even got discount for being English! We had a lovely lunch before we walked back to cow palace at a leisurely speed in the glorious sunshine.
Today James managed to catch the bus with us but he had a very bad hangover. Instead of going straight to Olds the bus took us to the Bass Pro shopping centre. This was no ordinary mall, it was absolutely massive! There were entire walls filled with cowboy boots from floor or ceiling, and massive displays of sports equipment.
When we arrived at Olds we watched the rancher day classes of Herefords which were judged from horse back. Then Hannah and I took James and Ciaran into Olds to our local café for some hand-made lemonade. We found a nice spot in an open memorial park to sit and enjoy the sunshine and peace and quiet.
We returned to the Hereford show for the closing ceremony of the conference, where I had to make a speech about juniors in the UK. There were around 250 people in the cow palace and I was absolutely petrified!
Today we had to leave the hotel and move to our rented condo in Cochrane. We collected the rental car and found that I had to drive because James didn’t have a credit card for the deposit! I drove us out of Calgary and to Cochrane, which is a stunning small town not far from the east side of the Rockies. We found our condo and it was lovely, set in a quiet and pretty residential area. After we had stocked up on way too much food we had a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine on our balcony.
For the first day on our own we travelled to Calgary zoo, the zoo is set up nicely with different areas to mimic the Rockies, Africa and Europe etc.
When we got home we decided that for the evening we would get a taxi into the centre of Cochrane, we went to a few bars and then to a bowling alley. We ended up spending the evening with a group of English soldiers who were training in the Rockies!
Today we went to see a worldwide famous herd of Herefords at the Harvie ranch.
On the way home we were advised to stop at a huge tack shop called Irvines, the shop itself was unbelievable and absolutely crammed with gorgeous equine and cow boy items. They also had a ranch rodeo in which teams compete at carrying out ranch duties.
We were very excited about our trip today as we decided to head towards the Rockies and Banff. On the way we stopped off at Cascade ponds, and it was beautiful; very peaceful and untouched. This was the start of stunning scenery that just improved throughout the day.
We had planned to visit Lake Louise, but it was so busy that we gave up and headed for Lake Moraine. We decided we would see the surrounding mountains best if we hired a canoe, so we spent the afternoon sunning ourselves out on the lake and taking lots of stunning pictures. After this we had an ice cream by the lake side and decided this had been a much better idea.
Remittal West Ranch was our main destination today to see Herefords on a larger scale.
On the way home it rained, and I have never seen rain quite like this! I couldn’t see the white lines on the highway let along the end of the bonnet, and even the exit slipway had become a river.
When we were in the Rockies, Hannah picked up a leaflet advertising a day of fun which included white water rafting and western riding around the edge of the Rockies, as well as a steak lunch. We booked this package, near Canmore, for today’s adventures. The riding was stunning, if a little scary on the very steep rocky slopes!
After lunch we travelled for 25 minutes to the white water rafting. After all this we were very tired and glad of the hot chocolate and cookies on offer to aid recovery.
We were disappointed to be leaving Cochrane today, and to be leaving Canada! All of the people we met were very welcoming and more than happy to help or just have a chat. Before our long flight home, Hannah and I had a massage in Calgary airport as well as our last steak and chips!Please note, Holidaysafe's online prices automatically include a 15% discount against our Customer Service Centre prices.
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