I've just come home from Brooks, a town about 190 km east of Calgary. I spent a couple of days out there with my friends, Steamer and Lauren.
Steamer is my "program partner" in the Ph.D program. We both started last September, being the only two accepted into our specialization for that year. We took our time getting to know one another last fall, as we ploughed through classes and adjustments of various types.
By the time we were about halfway through the winter semester Steam had dubbed me his "school wife", but I told him that "real wife" (Lauren) might not take too kindly to that (especially considering that he was living away from her at the time, since he was doing classes with me in Calgary!) And besides... I wasn't exactly comfortable with the term and so we settled on "program partner". I can live with that.
Anyway, Steam has been begging me to go out and visit them since school ended in April. I promised I would... Somehow though, I always had something else to do... But seeing as how it is the last weekend before school started, I was reminded about my promise... and I had to make good on it.
So, I drove 2.5 hours out to Brooks, not sure quite what to expect. Well, we had a fabulous time! I got a tour of the town (about 12,000 people live there), as well as a few neighboring communities. And we mustn't forget the tour of the two trailer parks, either.
After that, we went back home, and visited, chatted, drank, and made a scrumptous paella for dinner (see photo).
For dessert we had my famous Chocolate Cabbage Cupcakes. Yes, they are delicious and no, do not ask me for the recipe. It is a secret. And anyway... you have to know where the chocolate cabbages grow in order to make it...
Steam and I had illusions of doing some school work after dinner, but somehow, that just didn't seem as appealing as visiting (and... um... enjoying some beverages). It wasn't long before we were in no shape to do work of any kind, I must say!
We did get some school work done today after breakfast, which was good. We are both working on manucripts of articles to be submitted to academic journals for publication. We reviewed and critiqued each other's work, offering suggestions for improvement and other feedback. It is good to collaborate like this as we both learn in the process. We have agreed to give each other second authorship on the articles when (if?) they are ever published. This means we will each get two articles out of the deal, which will look good on our resumes.
After working, the three of us took off in the car again for another tour. This time, we went to man-made Lake Newall, which we saw from two different points, including this one on the beach in a provincial park.
The highight of the tour was seeing the Brooks aqueduct, constructed almost 100 years ago. It is not used any more, as it has been replaced with a more modern water system, but it remains as a historical site.
Don't believe there's an aqueduct on the Western Canadian prairie? Somehow, I didn't think you would... so I got a picture:
Now do you believe me?
Anyway, I must say, it was a great weekend... I was thankful that we didn't extend the tour to the other thing Brooks is famous for... a big meat-packing plant. I drove past it on my way out of town and that was enough.
This was a part of Alberta I had not discovered before. When A. was visiting from England last year, try as I might, I just could not convince him that he needed to see the Brooks aqueduct, so we stuck to the mountains and other touristy spots. (He also decided that he could die having lived a complete life if we didn't go to Vulcan, either... So, I guess I still have at least one place in Alberta left to explore at some point!)
You don't believe there's a place called Vulcan in Alberta? Go Google it!
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this little adventure outside the city... Good times, good friends... and hey... my first ever trip to a Canadian aqueduct!