Entries in Canada (2)


O Canada: Thanks and a question...

Dear Canada,

First and foremost, I want to thank you for your magnificence and your hospitality. We've been visiting from Montana for a few days now and have had a wonderful time. It's been cooler here than recent temperatures in Bozeman, and yet much warmer and drier than on previous visits we've made to Alberta and BC. Everyone has been friendly and helpful, including the wildlife. On our first night near Sunwapta Falls, we had a chance to watch a mountain goat perform one of their usual daredevil acts. It took my son (7) quite awhile to figure out where we were pointing but eventually even he achieved a solid viewing through binoculars. Just tonight we had two separate black bear sightings, one of which was a mother and cub. The second sighting, a lone bear near the roadside, included a once-in-a-lifetime view of the bear, balancing on his/her rear, hind feet up in the air arranged just right to get a good, extended and solid belly scratch.

Now, for my question, and, honestly, I'm not trying to be confrontational in any way. I'm mostly just perplexed and looking for assistance from those of you that are more experienced at life in Canada. So, here goes: How exactly am I supposed to interpret your speed limit signs? We've covered many kilometers here in Alberta, everything from Calgary's main roadways to the nooks and crannies of Jasper National Park. I've tried driving 5 over the speed limit, 10 over, even 15 over but I still find myself going 20-30 km/hr slower than just about everyone on the roads. Our 1995 4Runner gets pretty squirrelly at speeds beyond 110 km/hr, and literally cannot even get to those speeds on a grade. So, even if it's common practice to drive 120-130 km/hr around here, we just can't maintain that pace. Even so, I'm just curious. Do people here in Canada ever get speeding tickets? Is there some understood fudge factor to the speed limit? A lot of money went into producing and installing all those speed limit signs (70, 90, 110) and it seems a shame that they can all be that off the mark. Or, maybe they're meant to be interpreted as miles per hour? That'd definitely be closer to the speeds we've experienced during this trip...

So, once again, thank you, Canada, for making us feel so welcome and for a great family vacation. Thank you for welcoming Iron Maiden to the Saddledome, giving us the incentive to schedule this road trip. And, if you can spare a moment, please help me understand the practicalities of your speed limits. I'd appreciate some experienced insights.

Sincerely, David


Maiden Canada

I've mentioned previously that both of my kids are big metal fans and I've mentioned that Bozeman is a lousy place to keep up with metal tours. That's one of my bigger disappointments for all of us in Bozeman, and I'm sensitive to the fact that my kids will not be able to spend their teens hanging out at local all ages shows, checking out the bands like The Squares(Night) RangerMetallicaTestamentExodus and Y&T before they make it big. The first couple of years in Bozeman we just lumped it, streamed concert videos and complained a lot.

This year is different. I already wrote about our trip to Finland and Sweden, centered around seeing Amaranthe in Göteborg. For us serious metalheads, though, one show a summer really isn't enough and as a parent of two kids that love metal, there are certain experiences that it's essential I share with them. Thanks to Iron Maiden's North American Tour - 2012, our other big show for the summer was obvious. It wasn't a question of whether we'd go, just a question of where. The obvious choice is Salt Lake City in terms of a road trip, with Denver and Seattle being close seconds for short hop plane trips. But, for a summer trip and the chance to pass through Glacier National Park on the way, Calgary really was a no brainer.

Nancy and I think it's incredibly important to expose our kids to a variety of experiences. They have been to Yosemite, we make regular trips to Yellowstone and have a long list of national parks and monuments yet to visit. I have similar feelings about making sure they experience certain bands. Sadly, they will never get to see Queen but thanks to videos and documentaries, they've got a good understanding for how magical Queen's live performances were. On the metal side, there are only a few bands that sum up the genre as effectively as Iron Maiden. We're talking about a band that covers all the bases: a scary mascot, comic book like and bigger than life, fast tempos, soaring vocals, songs about stalkers, mythology and warfare. Plus, like Queen, they put on an amazing show.

Bruce Dickinson is a master of getting the crowd involved. Maiden shows involve every single audience member. Admittedly there are times that you simply can't hear Bruce, even when he is singing, because the crowd is singing so loudly. And, somehow, Iron Maiden manages to capture that energy across the entire globe. This isn't a national band, this is a global one. They've honed their chops and their show over decades and they're the perfect band to show our kids where metal came from and why it still lives on despite a complete lack of coverage in the mainstream press.

We've got about a week before the show, and less than that before the road trip begins. I can't wait to share an evening with my kids and enjoy one of the bands that really got me started on this crazy metal ride. I look forward to seeing the stage lights glowing in their eyes, and the periodic jaw-dropping looks of disbelief that I know will grace their faces that night. I want to see them as they watch Steve Harris' crazy dancing spider fingers. Maybe they will wonder, as I did, "How does he play all those great galloping bass lines like that." I've never quite figured it out, to this day.

It really just boils down to a show that can't be missed. Sometimes you just gotta make the effort and go out of your way for the sake of the experience and opportunity. We look forward to traveling through beautiful Alberta and sharing an evening in Calgary with our northern neighbors, enjoying one of the best metal bands ever. Hope to see some of you there!