Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blood, Sweat and Tears at the Calgary Stampede

It would be fun! It would be relaxing! It would be a spectacular bird’s eye view of the Calgary Stampede midway!…and my sister Nancy had three free passes for the SkyTram ride that would carry my young daughter Mary, my mom and me over the fair. After observing too many gravity-defying roller coasters filled with screaming adolescents, we felt comfortable with Nancy’s offer. The chairlift would transport us gently and slowly overhead so we could enjoy the sights and sounds of the stampede.

As we boarded the ride, we carefully sat little Mary between us to keep her secure, and held on to the bar placed across our laps. The seat slowly moved forward and we began our ascent. As our feet left the security of the wooden platform, our hands tightened around the bar. As we reached a seemingly dizzying height…20…30…perhaps 40 or 50 feet above the fairgrounds, we panicked! The blood drained from our heads and white-knuckled hands, straight down to our dangling feet, from which we would surely lose our shoes onto the unsuspecting crowds below! The sweat began to run down our faces and mixed with the hysterical tears gushing from our eyes. Mom was so drenched that her glasses began to slip and slide down her nose but her grip on the safety bar was so tight that she was unable to adjust them. We prayed that she would not lose them along with our shoes! We frantically tried to reassure Mary that it would all be over soon, and she looked at us strangely and explained that she was enjoying the ride and why were we laughing and crying all at the same time???

Well, we made it across without seeing one interesting item other than each other. As we slowly descended onto the platform, we breathed a huge sigh of relief. The attendant lifted the life-saving bar from our laps and pried our fingers off, looking rather quizzically at us. This was, after all, the Safeway SkyTram, not the Drop of Doom. Our wobbly legs carried us back to Nancy, who was eagerly awaiting our reaction to the ride. As we shivered, shook, and dried our tears, we assured her that NEVER AGAIN would we attempt such an adventure. For some reason, she just didn’t understand, and she and Mary just shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads.

But Mom and I will never forget the shared terror of the Stampede SkyTram.

(A funny memory from the mid 90's!)

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