|Alberta Bound with Mike Fisher||
Oh the prairie lights are burning bright
— “Alberta Bound” by Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot is one of Canada's most honoured and evocative singer-composers. His music and lyrics paint portraits of Canadian destinations that — for those of us of a certain age especially — create deep feelings of a sense of place, and a sense of what it is like to travel across this land.
His song “Alberta Bound” pays tribute to this Canadian province while expressing a sense of longing and belonging for which Albertans are well known. He is a modern-day troubadour.
Mike Fisher is also of the troubadour genre of storytellers.
A Calgary-based writer, his wide-eyed take on Alberta is fed by his “ignominious past” as a born and downtown-bred Torontonian. (According to Mike, an Albertan would say “boring.”)
While “on sabbatical” from Alberta, he spent three years living in the village of Ajijic, Mexico, jacked into the busy world with a VOIP phone, broadband cable and satellite TV, while his next door neighbor pushed a horse-led plough to till a corn field.
Having recently returned to Calgary, Mike writes travel stories about Alberta destinations and edits website publications including what is best described as Travel Alberta's portal to skiing the Canadian Rockies and the snowboarder's equivalent dream page.
Mike’s been a staff columnist for the Calgary Sun, a stringer for the Globe and Mail, and has written travel for national publications such as Flare magazine. His rich, lyrical use of language, idiosyncratic style, and easy-going approach to travel give his readers an up-close-and-personal, multi-layered sense of his home province.
But it is Alberta’s Wild West mix of prairies, oil-and-gas business towers, mountains and blue-sky living that keep him consistently and pleasantly awed.
You can pay a virtual visit to Alberta and experience some of the highlights that Mike personally recommends in his stories below.
To access the story, click on the hyperlinked title.
It’s fascinating and beautiful and daunting and a mind-blowing blast. It’s green and white and yellow and mauve and sometimes crimson. If I boasted that it’s bigger than a Spielberg movie and better than the top five best things you can count on your right hand, well, you might be suspicious. But you can see for yourself. Just head to Alberta’s North.
Every plate is a crime scene, ripe for analysis by seasoned food critics who approach restaurant tables with CSI scrutiny. Consider me a Columbo of the palate, less the sharp insight. I am so disassociated from my inner gourmand that I have to look up the term in the dictionary. Peppered slices of meat sandwiched between grain-specked bread, occasional flame-seared steaks and salmon, infrequent vegetables that languish disregarded at the plate’s edge — these familiar foods provide me with some comfort.
It's soft, it's warm and it's all yours. No, it's not any part of your body, but it is something you'll appreciate with all your senses: perfect lodging. Everyone has their own idea of what makes a great place to stay during a ski vacation. Some prefer proximity to the hill, while others favor amenities such as spas. Well, good news: in Alberta, you can have it all.
In this article, not only does Mike share his beginner's lessons in casino “play”(at the world famous West Edmonton Mall) but he also shows casino fans where the gaming is happening in Alberta.
Snowshoeing is growing by leaps and bounds as a winter activity in Alberta because it’s so easy to do and it’s relatively inexpensive. Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, as well as Kananaskis Country, are just a few of the winter playgrounds that you can visit to enjoy this type of winter hiking. Find out how to get outfitted for snowshoeing and where you can go for Alberta snowshoeing fun.
How do you live with winter? You celebrate it. In Alberta, winter festivals in glorious settings like Banff and Lake Louise do just that.
When you travel, the view is calibrated to your inner map. Vistas pull you toward emotional landscapes that reside inside. Whether you seek tranquility or excitement, places that calm or sharpen your breath, sooner or later the locations you visit settle somewhere in your heart. If you love them, they shift snugly into place. Here are memorable views that show you how travel in Alberta inspires.
Navigating the city by foot enables you to enter other worlds harbored within walls, some of them dark and infused with night energy and others alive and kicking with the fresh start of another morning. The Old Strathcona Farmers Market is a primarily a.m. destination that beckons drowsy, late-night refugees looking for a caffeine kick in the pants, as well as bird-chirpy moms with bright strollers seeking marked-down, home grown, organic produce. As befits any market worth attending, there is something for everyone, and this venerable landmark attracts all kinds on Saturday mornings, including first-time visitors like me.
I have to get this out of the way right off the bat: it’s more of a girl thing. Yes, I know the various kings of England and royalty the world over and footmen and cabbies and likely a cowboy or two and even I enjoy the odd cup of tea. But really, all considerations for tradition in (insert country of your choice) must take a second seat to the fact that in Alberta, most tea houses appear to be set up and enjoyed primarily by women. You will find women at tables in whatever tea house you visit. You will not find a gaggle of guys calling for more tea.
Mike is a pretty tough guy — but not too tough to enjoy a soothing Albertan Spa.
Maybe it’s because my fingers curl like talons when that harsh winter breath blows from the muscular North. Or it might be the snow that pelts my face with its spiteful reminders that summer’s a long ways away. Then again, maybe I, like so many other people, simply seek a state of mind that every now and again provides shelter from the relentless storm of getting things done while dodging the cold. Regardless of your reasons for seeking solace in the city, here are two oases in Edmonton and Calgary where you can easily unwind in lush landscapes. READ MORE
It started with the howling and jumping and straining. That’s what got me going. You put 42 let’s-get-this-show-on-the-road sled dogs together on a Canadian Rockies mountainside, poised to do what they do best – run with snow flying from their heels as they tow sleds loaded with awe-struck people – and you feel the collective yearning of their urge to pull as it rises in a wild, keening whine. It’s nature’s jet engine churning raw fuel, kicked up and revving to go. READ MORE
You can get hooked on ice fishing by following a few simple rules and learning easy tips and tricks offered by top Alberta guides. Find out how you can break on through to the other side. READ MORE
Travel Alberta's content-rich and interactive website is a virtual tour of the province
Gordon Lightfoot's official website is a good introduction to this Canadian artist.
Photographs courtesy of Travel Alberta
About Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher is a writer with Travel Alberta. He is also Executive Director of his own company, verbMedia, and can be reached at the coordinates below: