A farewell to the good life: Part 3


Calgary skyline So today was my second and final full day in Calgary. And I'll be honest; outside of stampede season, there really isn't too much to do in Calgary. Apart from go to the bars of course. But I didn't want to leave Calgary having seen nothing more than the inside of a few pubs. I had, though, pretty much done everything in Calgary already, that I wanted to do. So today, I decided to do something that I didn't want to do.

Calgary has a well-known zoo. It was a Tuesday in the 3rd week of January. Who the fuck would be there? I hate touristy places. It's so busy, and there's so many happy people that it just brings me down. But I figure that at this time of year, it would be pretty quiet, so why not? Plus I got a voucher from the hostel that gave me entry for half-price.

Hippo at Calgary zoo Now I've always had a big problem, with the concept of a zoo. I just don't think it's ethically right, to take a wild animal, and cage it just to be ogled at. To entertain some spoilt little brat children. I don't care how much a zoo can claim that they care for the animals. And gives them nice living conditions etc. Is putting a tiger in a 50² foot cage, really better living conditions than leaving it in Africa? Don't think so. So I've always had a big, big, problem with the concept of a zoo. Yet to the best of my memory, I've never actually been to one. I may have possibly been to London zoo when I was too young to remember it. But nothing in my memory tells me that I've been to a zoo before. And I don't really think that it's right to protest something unless you've experienced it first hand. So this trip to the zoo, really wasn't for enjoyment by any stretch of the imagination. More than anything, it was for my own peace of mind. To see whether or not those grievances that I've eternally had with zoo's, were justified or not. Or are the animals really better off, out of the wild and spending their lives in a cage?

Elephants at Calgary zoo Well you know what, I was right. It was disgusting. I spent my whole time there, with a big lump in the back of my throat, because I just felt bad for being there. I'm normally pretty emotionless, but this place honestly sickened me. How can you honestly justify, taking a golden eagle: A creature renowed for it's gracious flight, and place it in a roofed cage? How can you justify that. Taking the nature of flight away from this bird, just to entertain some stupid kids. The whole place just disgusted me I'll be honest. The limited confines that elephants had to live in. It was horrible. And this is supposed to be one of the better zoos. This definitely wasn't a fun trip for me. But at least now I know. At least now I know that all the protests I've had against zoos, and the concept of zoos, are justified. There's no logical argument that anyone could give to me as to how this is ethical practice. But like everything in a capitalist world, if it makes you money, then who cares about the consequences right? Afterall, that's why we can't do anything to curb global warming. There's a few oil barons out there who'd take a hit in the pocket if we cut emissions. So instead, the whole planet turns to shit so their bank statement can read 9 billion dollars instead of 8. The same thing here. A zoo is absolutely A caged tiger at Calgary zoo unethical practice. But if it makes someone a millionaire, then who cares right? How many African's could these oil barons provide clean drinking water for? Probably all of them. But then they wouldn't be able to buy that 60-ft yacht. And which is more important? And zoos fall into the exact same capitalist glitch. And it pisses me off. I just felt bad for every single animal that I saw. Taken out of it's natural environment, sentenced to a life, merely as a spectacle. It was horrible.

After that cheery start to the day, I headed back to the hostel. I was at the zoo a while, so was already thinking about my evening plans. And I didn't really want another night spending the money to sit in a bar drinking all night, so I was thinking cinema again. As well as Gran Torino, I kind of wanted to see a film called Slumdog Millionaire, so I was thinking of that. So back at the hostel, I get on my laptop and look up show times. And I'm pretty much set to be going back to the Eau Claire market... again. But I have a little time, so why not see what else is happening in Calgary, so I flick onto the ticketmaster website. Tuesday, January 20th, Calgary Hitmen vs Edmonton Oil Kings. $20. Have you ever heard of the Calgary Hitmen? Nope. Me neither. Didn't even know what sport it was. They play in the WHL. Ever heard of the WHL? Nope. Me neither. After a bit more reseach, it's some kind of hockey game on in Calgary tonight. I've already been to the cinema once, so I decide to go for a bit of hockey instead. 4 times before, I've been to live hockey games, including an NHL game back in '06. And every single time, I've come to the same conclusion. Hockey is fucking shit. It's such a boring sport. But it's something different, so why not give it a go tonight? And seeing as Calgary and Edmonton are the 2 big cities in Alberta, maybe it'll be something of a rivalry game. So maybe it'll get a little tasty.

It was about this time that I started thinking of something. And that is a phrase you never really want to read, because it means I'm going to ramble on for a while about some realisation that I've had. And it does here as well.

Back on my first night in Calgary, after I'd had a few beers, I got out my laptop, and went online for a bit. Not doing anything especially important. Just checking emails, Facebook, that kind of thing. And I was on Facebook, and for some reason I don't remember, a girl called Sagan, that I knew from studying in Halifax in '06-'07 appears on my news feed. She's hot. And I'm drunk. So I click onto her profile with no intention other than to see if she's put up any good photos recently that I can perv over. That's just what I do. Somehow in that process, I scroll down to her "favourite quotes" section. And I see this quote, which, in my sobrely-challenged state, seems really inspirational. Something I could add to the flashing quotes on the homepage. (Currently only flashing if using Firefox. Internet Explorer doesn't currently support the CSS I've used to make that happen. However I may be changing the code soon so that it's effective in all browsers. This is an irrelevant point to what I'm trying to say.) This quote was:

"Live like you'll die tomorrow. Learn like you'll live forever."
Like I said, at the time, this quote seemed to make so much sense. I guess seeing it after drinking, it took a little longer to seep into my brain properly. Because it kept on coming back into my mind. But it took 2 days before it really sunk in. And it was at about this time that I was finding out about the Calgary Hitmen, that I started to realise something.

The "Learn like you'll live forever" bit. Something just didn't add up here. What I started to think, is if you're going to live forever, why would you bother to learn anything? If you have eternal life, you have no need to educate yourself. Afterall, everything we do, is to make our lives better, and prolong them. If you're going to live forever, why bother learning? And also, if you have an eternity to do something, it will never get done. Because you can always do it later. And it made me realise, that everything we do in life, is because we're all on a timer. We have to do things, as quickly as possible, because every, single, one of us is deteriorating. I am travelling now, when I'm young, because I won't be able to do some of the things I can do now, twenty years from now. If I was never to grow old, I could travel at anytime. But because I'm on this timer, I have to do it now. It's essentially my motivation for travelling now, rather than later. And what is the final stage of the deterioration of your body? It's death. You're at the point you've deteriorated to the point that you cannot perform any task any longer. The point I really want you to realise from here, is that if we lived forever, would we ever get anything done? I don't think so. Because being on a limitless timer, there's just no need to do anything. If you have an eternity to do something, why do it at all? Why do you get deadlines to pay your phone bill? Because if you had an unlimited time to pay the bill, you never would. You wouldn't have to. Beings only function achievable tasks, because everything we do, is on a time-limit. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And we have to do, whatever it is we have to do, before we reach that light.

Now I want you to think about the intentions of people. Drugs, medicines, better sanitary conditions, heathier foods. All we do in life, has one intention. We want to live a healthier life. We want to live, for as long as possible. Essentially, every action that a person makes, is with the sole intention of extending their life, for as long as possible. Why do we work? For money. Why do we want money? For food and shelter. Why do we want food and shelter? Because without them, our health deteriorates, and we die. Baring this in mind, the ultimate goal of the evolved human species, is to achieve eternal life. If you take every action that we make, they are all with the intention of living for as long as possible. And the ultimate achievement of these actions, would be eternal life. Considering what I've just said, though, eternal life, in essence, is death. Because to live for eternity, you lose any purpose. You lose any reason to do anything whatsover. So what I'm thinking here, is that every action we make, is to avoid death. To prolong life for as long as possible, with the ultimate goal, of eternal life. But what people, as a species, have neglected to realise, is that to achieve eternal life, you are in essence, dead anyway. Because your purpose has been removed. Do you see what I'm trying to say here? The solitary goal that people have, is to live as long as possible. But in achieving greater status, your net worth decreases, because with an increased time-limit, your productivity decreases. The ultimate example of this being that eternal life, is in fact no different from death, because you no longer have purpose.

That was just something that popped into my head whilst I was in Calgary. You might not agree with it, but I thought I'd put it in. All because I got drunk and did some Facebook stalking. It just kind of made me think about why we do what we do. Don't butterflies live for a day? Some insect does, I know that. What they fit into a day, has all the importance of what we do in 80 years. Because of their shortened time, every action that they take, takes on huge significance. I guess that's why the quote also says "Live like you'll die tomorrow." The problem is that that's an impossibility. You can't live like you'll die tomorrow, when you assume it won't be for years for now. I couldn't. My life is planned over a 50 or so year period. My travel plans take up 5 of those for fucks sake. How could I live like I'll die tomorrow. I'd have no money left in case I lived to the next day.

Calgary Hitmen vs Edmonton Oil Kings Anyway that's enough about that. Back to Calgary. So, yeah, I decided to go to this Hitmen game. Needed dinner first, so went to this weird little place in downtown; The Falafel King I think it was called. Something like that anyway. Posh restaurant decor, but serving food from a counter in take-away wrappings, regardless of if you're eating in or not. Gordon Ramsey would have a damn fit. Imagine serving the food from your local kebab shop, in a posh restaurant, with relaxing music... it was weird. Quite nice mind. And from there, I walked to Pengrowth Saddledome, where the game was being played.

I won't bore you with the details of the game. There was no fights, which pretty much eliminates the point of going to a hockey game. Because damn! It's a boring sport to watch otherwise. And every single thing that happened on the ice, was sponsered by somebody. It was just one big arena to advertise to you. "This power-play is brought to you by... That goal was sponsered by..." It was ridiculous. One sponser that they did Calgary Hitmen have however: If the Hitmen score 5 goals in the game, everyone in the arena gets a free Wendy burger. And they did it as well. The game finished 7-1. So on the way out of the stadium, everyone picked up a voucher for a free Wendy burger. Really was a one-sided game though. Edmonton really are shit.

That right there, was how I spent my final night in Calgary. Even though hockey is boring, it was still fun to be in a big crowd, cheering for some team I'd never heard of until 2 hours before the game. Again, just doing something that I could never do back in Invermere. I walked straight back to the hostel after this. And again watched a bit of TV without talking to anyone. Anti-social bastards.

On my final day, the bus didn't leave until 17:15. I had pretty much exhauted anything that I wanted to do in Calgary already, so today, I simply had 2 aims. I wanted my free Wendy burger. And I wanted to go to Original Joe's again for lunch. Because I knew from experience that they give decent sized meals. And I was going to be stuck on a bus for a few hours, so I wanted something fairly substancial. It was a good little place, so why not? In terms of Calgary, although I had fun, apart from the bars, I wouldn't really recommend it as a place to visit. For a city of this size, there really is fuck-all to do.

Wendy's voucher HI Calgary City Centre So anyway, I had this voucher. It was free stuff, so I was determined to use it. I checked out of the hostel, at a guess, at around 09:30. And my plan, was to go to Wendy's, and use this voucher to get a burger for breakfast. The only problem, was that I had no idea where there was a Wendy burger. The way I saw it though, how hard could it be to locate one? It's like McDonalds. They're everywhere that you'd expect to find people. Like in downtown areas and in shopping centres. I'd been to downtown a lot, and I hadn't seen one anywhere. So my plan of attack was to go to every shopping centre food court, until I came across a Wendy burger. Shouldn't take too long, right?

How wrong could I be? I walked around for hours! I went to 5, 6, 7... maybe even 8 different shopping centres. I couldn't find a Wendy's anywhere. It got to a point, after maybe an hour and a half of walking, that I needed some help. I hadn't had any breakfast for fucks sake. I might not have been working out regularly recently. But damn, I still eat like I am doing. I still get through 6, 7, sometimes 8 meals in a day. For me to go this length of time in the morning without food; it's unheard of. So to help me, I enlisted the help of a fat woman that I found in the bottom of the Calgary Tower. If anyone was going to know where a Wendy burger was, she would.

You know, this gave me a real insight into how the obese think. I ask her if there's a Wendy burger nearby. And when she tells me no, it's like she's telling a child that both their parents have died in a car crash. "Oh! I'm so sorry..." I mean it was a tough time for me. I had this voucher for free food. Yet I had no way of expending it. And I guess that to me, money is like a burger to a fat cunt. It was hard to take; not being able to use this voucher. But she really expected me to take it hard. Even listed every other fast-food location within about a 10-block radius. I think she probably has loyalty cards to all of them. I was hurt though. All that walking, and I didn't even get to use my free-burger voucher.

Every other fast-food place you could think of was situated in Calgary's downtown. McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Quiznos, KFC. All the classy places that we don't get, back in Invermere. God I've missed Quiznos. I got through 2 of them on this trip to Calgary. This time, though, unable to get a free Wendy burger, for some reason, I went for Taco Bell. The last fast-food meal I'll allow myself to eat for a long time, and I go to fucking Taco Bell. Bad choice or what! The whole Wendy burger saga was hard to take. Free food, and I didn't even get it. Sometimes I just feel like God's playing with me.

With the Wendy burger part of my day a no-go, the only other thing I had on my list, was to get back to Original Joe's for lunch. So to kill time before then, I did a bit of shopping.

I hate shopping. I hate spending money, and I find walking around 3 shops more tiring than running 10 miles. So when I say I went shopping, I walked into a shopping centre, sat on the comfy leather chairs, and stayed there for around 40 minutes. I did though go into Winners. The Canadian TK Maxx if you don't know what Winners is. I was vaguely looking for a new hoody. Something I could workout in. And I found, possibly the greatest garment, ever made. It didn't quite fit me, so I didn't buy it. But how great is this...

Rocky hoodie

A Rocky Hoodie!!! How awesome would that have been down the gym? I was so pissed it didn't fit me. And only $26 as well. It was so good, that I actually felt the need to take a photo of it. That's how amazing it was. Ah! It was a good day!

So I went back to Original Joe's for my final meal in Calgary. And obviously they recognised me in there. It's not like I'm an easy person to forget. And they were even showing NFL highlights. They must have seen me coming. Somehow the manager even knew that I was working at Pano. And that I was just down in Calgary because I had 4 days off. I heard him telling one of the waitresses that. I guess I must have told him that the other night. Don't remember doing so. This waitress used to work up at Pano for a few years. So she came and sat next to me at the bar for a while to talk Pano. It wasn't busy in there or anything. The one problem with this bar: People just don't appreciate the 'no talking when football is on rule.' It's standard stuff. Man, she really wanted to talk Pano though. And although the replay was of the Ravens - Steelers game, which I'd seen in full already, it was still football. And you don't talk to me during football. I let it slide though. Just this once.

That for me, was my last memory of Calgary. After a good lunch in Joe's (recommended), it was back to the hostel to pick up my bag. A little bit of Internet quickly as I was there, and then off to the bus station. The same way that I'd been when I got here. On the C-train, and then walking for 10 or 15 minutes to the bus stop.

As I arrived, I had an hour or so before my bus left. Unlike the way here, it was getting dark by the time the bus left. So no mystical views or anything on the way back. Instead, I took this hour in the bus station, and the first couple of hours on the bus; until we arrived in Banff, to pick up my pen and paper, and do some writing. It was during this time, that I wrote 'A farewell to the good life: Part 1'. Just in case you were wondering. Unlike going to Calgary, this bus was really quiet. So I actually came up with a way to sleep, taking up 4 double seats. This 4½ ish hour journey, really flew by considering I was writing and sleeping the whole way. And you know where the driver dropped me off? Back in Invermere. At the agreed dirt outside the snowboard shop. Do buses still stop in Invermere? I still have no idea. Everyone seems to think that they don't anymore. Everyone apart from the bus drivers that is. They all seem to have missed the memo, saying don't go to Invermere anymore. But I wasn't complaining. It probably would have taken an hour or more to walk back from Windermere. I don't know. I've never actually been there. But I got dropped in Invermere, so I was happy.

And that was it. That was my farewell to the easy life. To the good life. I haven't yet fully installed the improved, post-Calgary lifestyle yet. Apart from anything else, I've spent time I should have been at the gym, getting this Calgary blog written up. But for a start, my diet has been vastly improved in the 4 days since I've been back (it feels a lot more than 4 days!). This was my goodbye to fun. And now I'm back in my small town. Where you see the same people at work, at the pub, in the supermarket, just about everywhere. I think maybe that's why I'm struggling in a small town a little bit. I'm not someone who really likes to get close to anyone. I like a good distance between people. Seeing the same people everywhere; I just think it gets to me a bit. Because I get closer to people than I feel comfortable doing. Who knows?

That was Calgary. For all the negativity I might have said, it was worth every penny. I spent about a weeks wages in total. $300 on travel, accom., and all spending money, including eating out for every meal. Well, well, worth it. Getting away from Invermere for a few days. Away from Pano. Just to clear my head. Worth every penny of $300. If I happen to get 4 days off again this season, don't be surprised if I up and leave to go somewhere all over again.


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