Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bad Ass Cowgirls- Part 1

The summer I graduated high school, I was invited by my best friend to make a 16 hour drive from the West coast of British Columbia to a small town 2 hours east of Edmonton, Alberta where a branch of her family lived in a small agricultural town. We were both really excited about the visit, especially when we learned that a local rodeo and fair would be on during the course of our stay. With bull riding, barrel racing, and chuck wagoners, we were sure to have a good time but what we were really looking forward to was finally getting in to the elusive rodeo beer gardens! The legal drinking age in my home province was nineteen but in Alberta it was a year less! It was a time old British Colombian tradition to make a pilgrimage westward at the age of eighteen! I was not a drinker myself but had always loved the social aspect of bars, the high energy and especially the dancing. I had been sneaking into the local bars for a few years already but had never managed to talk my way into the dances or saloons of our local rodeos and fairs. I could only dream at the excitement inside! I had always imagined them to be like the rough and rowdy country bars I had seen in the movies, with line dancing, two stepping, and maybe even mechanical bull riding! Obviously, I had seen Urban Cowboy one to many times! So when we set off one summer evening in Ash's white mustang, we knew that we were headed for the trip of a lifetime! Little did I know how many misadventures would follow!

The first of which happened within hours of arriving. Having driven through the night, we were both exhilarated to have finally arrived and exhausted by the long drive. We had come into Edmonton via Calgary. For those of you that don't know, Calgary is NOT on your way from BC to Edmonton but apparently at some point we had taken an early turn west and were blissfully unaware of our blunder until we pulled into the outskirts of Calgary some 5 hours later.

We were scheduled to spend the night at her cousins house before continuing onward to Vermilion the next morning. Having turned off the highway, we found ourselves in a maze of suburban sprawl. Each street and house we passed seemed nearly identical to the next. The world had been swallowed up by a sea of small ranchers with double garages and flower lined driveways! Endless twist and turns later, we finally reached her cousins house. I doubt I would have been able to find my way back to the highway with anything short of a GPS.

I had never been to the prairies before and found the lack of mountains disorienting. The sky was almost intimidating it was so huge and unbroken. I hadn't gotten my barrings yet so after dinner I ventured outside alone for a breath of fresh air and to acclimate myself with this new land. I walked out into the middle of the cul-de-sac and stopped to watch the dark and stormy sky as it moved and rolled like some gloomy lava lamp. The lighting flashed as the wind pulled at my clothes. The static filled air, laced with the rich scent of ozone, lifted my hair and lay it in whips across my face. Entranced, I watched as the clouds began to swirl and fall towards the earth in a twisting spout. I became increasingly alarmed as it grew in size, looming above the roof tops and slashing back and forth. I dashed back towards the house, ran through the front door and stood panting in living room, where the family was sprawled around the television. I madly pointing behind me in a frantic motion, shaking with excitement and sputtering while trying to get the words out...."I saw..., there is, outside...the sky....a spout....THERE IS A TORNADO!!!" They said nothing but stared at me in awe. A split second later I came to my senses enough to realize that there was something odd about the living room I stood in and that these were not familiar faces, staring at me with a wide eyed and perplexed expressions. I stood frozen in my track, confused. I felt my face flush with blood and my breath caught in my throat as I turned on my heel and walked out of the house. Crossing the lawn and walking by my friends parked car, I walked calmly and numbly into the house where we were staying. I had run into the neighbors house! Right then, the prospect of being whisked away by a tornado didn't seem quite so bad afterall. I wished for nothing more than a pair of glittering magic red shoes to take me straight home.

But, being the trooper that I am, I decided to stick around for a little while longer and see how much more of an ass I could make of myself. Tune in tomorrow for more of our misadventures.

*****The photo at the top of the post was taken the next day at the West Edmonton Mall, huge complex with amusements parks, water slides and all sorts of entertainment. It was there that we found a kindly old man, dressed up in a top hat and suspenders, offering these classic old time portraits. We were excited at the prospect of getting all dressed up but had our own idea for a theme in mind. He showed us a few of his favorite big frilly dresses, with bonnets and muffs to match and pretended to be horrified when we insisted on the tight corseted, harlet inspired get-ups we found in the back of his closet. When it came time for props, he suggested satin umbrellas. We asked for guns. In an attempt to compromise, he handed us two lady-like, pearl lined hand guns but quickly gave in with a sigh when we asked for the shotgun and riffle. Exasperated, he didn't even try to argue when he asked for a smile and got nothing but our best bad ass expressions in return. See above photo for the result! (I am on the left).


  1. I have driven from Ak to the lower 48, and I do fine with out a map untill I get close to Edmonton, I have been lost there a time or two!

  2. I usually get lost in Edmonton but this last time, (driving by myself!) I only got lost once. AND that was due to lack of streets signs in a construction zone. I am very directionally challenged so I was very proud of myself that trip. :)

    I was wondering what was up when you said "Calgary on the way to Edmonton" lmao

    OMG that must have been SOOOO embarassing, busting into the wrong house!!! :o

    I've always wanted to do one of those old-timey photos but the prospect of wearing something that who knows how many other people have kinda skeeves me out. lol

  3. What a great description of your trip! Running into the neighbor's house - what a scream! And i love the photo - a couple of bad-ass saloon girls! Have you seen the movie "Bad Girls"? you should.

  4. I loved the picture of you and your friend. That will be special when you are as old as me!maybe even more than now.

  5. Chelsi asked me why I never comment on her here I go.....she has to remember that computers along with the bf's, sf's, lol, lmao, btw, etc, etc, is another language all on it's own. Along with the fact that the raging hormones that are playing havoc with my life right now don't allow me the patience to contend with the fact that I can't remember which password is for which site, and why the bloody hell you need one for every "damn" thing you do these days is beyond me. All I can say is "assholes!!!!".

    I am truely blessed with 3 very original children, and as Chelsi has commented in the past, I have always called her "my shopping cart with the wonky wheel" always choosing her own path, sometimes accepting a little bit of guidance. Her temperament has calmed down a little over the years but the old "my way or the highway" hung true for her in her youth.

    I love the way she writes and expresses herself, and especially love that she cries now when humans die, vs when she was in her teens it was only the animals that she would let her tears fall for.

    I also admire her art and anyone who has not gone into her complete profile is missing some incredible drawings. The way she captures the true essence of the creatures she is drawing, allowing the eyes to express their feelings to tell the onlooker something about what that particular animal was. It is truely a gift.

    So, as to the blogs, I look forward to reading them daily and am always disappointed if she misses a day. She feels that she is blessed by the people in her life, but we know, that those who are blessed are almost always that way because they surround themselves with people like themselves.

    I have laughed, cried and giggled my way through many of her blogs and have also enjoyed going to other sites and reading those too. It is wonderful what computers have done, to have people in Germany reading and commenting and blogging to others, people in AK, Ohio, etc. Although I curse the computer they have opened up the world to such wonderful people as yourselves and allowed you to meet others and share, create friendships, learn and in some cases grow to love.

    Now, I am sure that Chelsi won't be asking me again, "why I never leave a comment", lol.....Sorry you tons and always, always, proud.....


  6. Chelsi's Mom - Don't feel bad, sometimes I have to help my mom "get" all this abbreviated talk as well! :)

  7. Chelsi's mom~ fabulous comment! You sound as charming as your daughter! And I love the "shopping cart with a wonky wheel" description! ;)
    Great story Horse Crazy....I laughed out loud at running into the wrong house. But I really want to know is was there really a tornado???

  8. My first visit here...and you had me rolling with laughter imaging you in your panicked stae barging into the neighbor's house.

    Did the neighbors see you again after that? Did you get teased. That is just so funny :)

    Laughing Orca Ranch
    New Mexico