I feel like I lived a whole week in the span of just a few days over this past weekend. I did and saw so much, and slept very little.
It started off with hitting the highway with Don on Friday afternoon. We grabbed some Peters' Drive-In for our hosts and ourselves, and then turned around quickly to the Stampede grounds.
It was my first Calgary Stampede!
I always imagined the Stampede was a cheesy affair. And, although there is no denying the proliferation of short shorts, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats, the whole thing surprisingly works. The cowboy regalia instigates a dress code on the whole affair, making the whole thing believable and kind of cool. Can you tell how surprised I am at how much fun I had?
I watched my first chuck wagon race, and it turns out that betting on the wagons that have the cutest designs really doesn't get you results. Also, I had my photo taken with a giant horse mascot.
The next day, Don and I had the powerful and humbling experience of volunteering in High River. I'll have to write a separate post about the experience later, as it deserves more than a few sentences and I'm still decompressing.
I think I'll stick to making two comments for now. The first is that my day spent in a dark basement, shovelling out bucket after bucket of sludge and basement demo for hours and hours, is the most intense physical labour I have ever experienced (aside from giving birth, which is a different kind of work).
The second, is that was one of the best things I have ever done. We worked with our homeowner for the whole day, and a team of other helpers and volunteers. It was a pretty galvanizing experience for a bunch of strangers to have - We're all friends now.
One last thing on the volunteering. YOU SHOULD GO. You arrive at the mustering point (there are signs) where Mennonite Disaster Service takes you in, puts you in a team, provides tons of tools and supplies, and then gives you a work order for your job that day. It was incredibly organized and well-managed.
After decontaminating ourselves to the best of our ability, we headed back to Calgary for the longest shower of our lives. Let me also add that having a long shower is something we all take for granted.
Fast forward - We took our hosts out to Model Milk for dinner, to thank them for their hospitality and also help stimulate the local economy.
Then we went on a tour of some of the flooded neighbourhoods, checked out the river bank, and also looked at the new bike lanes!
We ended the evening at Poppy Plaza, and strolled through the lovely space, along the river, and over the Peace Bridge.
It was a weekend that hit both ends of my emotional spectrum. On the one hand I had so much fun and partied at the Stampede with my friends. On the other, I helped somebody who had lost his home and most of his belongings.
Our homeowner was really inspiring. When talking about his flooded home, he said that the important thing was that his family was safe, and that the stuff is just stuff. He has three children aged 4, 2, and 1.
This week, I have my stiff muscles to remind me of the day I spent in High River. After those aches are gone, I will continue to remember that experience which has left an imprint on my heart. It was the day that I showed up with love for, and received love from, a stranger.
For me, this tweet says it all.
@andrewmcintyre @LizaSunley @doniveson, that is good work. you think you're going to help them, and you are, but you are helped more.
— Glenn Kubish (@Kub64) July 14, 2013