There’s no place like Dorothy

“Dorothy is a hamlet in southern Alberta, Canada within Special Area No. 2. It is located approximately 21 kilometres (13 mi) east Highway 56 and 85 kilometres (53 mi) northwest of Brooks.”

That’s all you’ll read about Dorothy on its Wikipedia page.

Now make the two-hour trip from Calgary and stand in the short distance between the Catholic and United churches.

Listen to the wind whistle through the hills behind you.

Gaze at the vast blue sky above you.

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Rustic reality

There’s something so very quaint about Rowley, Alberta.

It’s the rustic charm that remains in this little ghost town 20 minutes north of Drumheller.

Some of the area residents work hard to keep the buildings standing and presentable and they want to do more.

They’d like to turn Rowley into a tourism destination, a place to go and learn about the history of Alberta, a place to spend money, a place to do more than camp and drink beer and eat pizza.

Here’s my selfish side: I like it just the way it is.

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Clearing my head

Sometimes, I just need to get away.

Sometimes, I just need to get out of the city and visit the mountains.

We have scenery like nowhere else in the world, just a 45-minute drive away. We don’t even have to go to Banff to grab a piece of heaven.

We need only head to Bragg Creek and slightly beyond to stand in the shadow of the breathtaking majesty of the Rockies.

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Flyin' BWAt Calgary Stampede


Let’s go to the hop

The scent of flame-broiling meat hits us from a block away.

“Mmmm, I smell barbecue,” I say to my copilot for a day of exploring on Alberta’s Cowboy Trail.

“It’s coming from up ahead,” he says, pointing in the direction of the smoke flooding out of one of the old Western-style facades on Centre Avenue in Black Diamond.

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Exploring in the city

There are so many reasons to love Calgary.

From its bustling urban attitude to its refusal to lose that small-town feel, the city didn’t take long to grow on me. In fact, I’d known I was born to live here since I was 14 and saw pictures of my brother’s exchange trip here.

It wasn’t until Shep came into my life, though, that I realized so much of what Calgary has to offer. Renowned as a pet-friendly city, it’s home to 138 off-leash dog parks and a large network of other pathed parks where we can roam on-leash.

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Big Valley keeps its history alive

The trains don’t clickety-clack into Big Valley anymore.

The chirping of the frogs is occasionally interrupted by the roar of Harleys, though … Harleys driven by touring bikers looking to wet their dusty dry whistles at the old saloon.

Big Valley went through every boon of the 20th century — ranching, rail, coal and oil.

And some families have stuck through every transition, never giving up on their little town just south of Stettler. Not like others in Scollard or Retlaw who packed up and left for new, more promising lives.

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Fading away in Scollard, Alberta

The cattle are lowing in the distance.

There’s not much more activity along Scollard Road, aside from the city girl poking around the neighbourhood.

Flanked by two small and very much lived-in houses, the Scollard United Church stands as a testament to another time.

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Ne’shau, Leonard Nimoy

Dif-tor heh smusma.

I was one of several hundred today who learned how to say ‘live long and prosper’ in the language of Vulcan.

It may have been more fitting to teach us ‘ne’shau’ or ‘welcome.’

The folks of Vulcan, Alta., welcomed Leonard Nimoy to their town, plastering signs of ‘welcome home’ hither and yon. Even the Vulcan Funeral Home played along, their windows emblazoned with pictures of Spock and welcome signs.

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Family forever … in Retlaw

We land in Retlaw on a day the streets are bustling with life.

About 20 cars are parked outside the Retlaw Hall, a community meeting place on the main drag.

It’s Easter weekend and the Culver family converges here, just as it does two or three times a year. They’re scattered — 11 children and 22 grandchildren — through southern Alberta, from Calgary to Taber to Lethbridge.

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