This evening I did my last training run on the Hotel MacDonald staircase before they are destroyed tomorrow to make way for a funicular in seventeen months. 202 wooden steps that I have loved and hated with equal passion. An appropriate blanket of fog descended over them as I pushed my way up, a fitting end for this monument. They were convenient for me to get to, and they were hard to do. And that is the key thing about them that I think the city is missing.
The Edmonton Journal had an article where Councillor Ben Henderson was saying this will be “a win for the city”. And I can see the advantage; to allow people with disabilities to use the river valley. Plus free money from the federal government will help create jobs. But I think they have the wrong attitude.
“All of the entryways from downtown to get into the river valley right now are extremely steep. I have tried, literally, every single one from downtown and they are somewhat scary to get down at the grade that they are at right now.”
– Erin Jackson, Committee Member, Accessibility Advisory Committee.
We need those stairs because they are hard. There are certain things that shouldn’t be made easy. The accomplishment comes from adversity. There should not be an escalator to the top of a mountain. And Edmonton is thick with runners who like to push themselves. If you have ever looked at the Glenora staircase, it is usually filled with runners after work. These are my people and we are being marginalized.
Now, all that said, I am being selfish here. I want to keep this staircase because it works for me. I just wish they could have picked a different location, maybe east of the Shaw conference centre. And in seventeen months, there will be a new staircase for me to use, but it probably won’t be as steep as I like. The delay will disrupt my training and I will have to find a different way to do my anaerobic training.
Goodbye Hotel MacDonald Staircase.
I like to think I’m reasonably healthy. This lets me do things that I may take for granted. For example, I can, without doing any planning, go for a 32km run. Which I did today.
We parked in the north part of “George Bush Park” (They don’t specify which president they named the park for.) From there, I ran east while Catalina rode a bicycle. Eventually we got to Terry Hershey Hike and Bike park which gave a ten kilometer path besides a creek. I suppose it is the local equivalent of the Edmonton River valley. Then we turned around and headed back.
Of course I took an opportunity to take a slightly different route on the return which caused us to get somewhat lost. Which wasn’t too bad, because it meant we were near a highway after the sun had set instead of a pitch dark wilderness area.
I kept a good pace, but it did take a bit out of me. So when we got home, I chugged some literally freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. It had come off the tree this morning. I added some grenadine to soften the blow, but I still dumped a large amount of acid into my stomach. I didn’t eat much at dinner.
Thankfully, Catalina has an unheated pool. So I stood in that for ten minutes to calm my muscles. Cold helps sore muscles.
Last year, when I was in Houston, we went on the Level 9 tour at NASA. For $3 more you could get a year long membership. So, since I’m back here, I should make the most out of that and use it before it expires.
They still have the big airplane carrying a shuttle on its back, cluttering up the lawn like some advanced redneck. Only this time, you can actually go in. But it is a classic bait and switch. Only after you go in do you find out that it isn’t a real space shuttle, but an advanced facsimile. The real ones are too radioactive to let people near. It is the real plane, so you can see cool stuff there. They have even left some of the ballast that they needed to help keep the front of the plane heavier for an even flight. That really makes you wonder about overweight baggage fees. (Sorry. Old joke. Couldn’t help myself.)
They had a lot of other cool exhibits. We saw an IMAX movie about “Journey to Space”. They had the actual shuttlecraft Galileo from the original Star Trek. I geeked out a bit with that. They also had some of the original capsules from early missions in beautiful displays.
There were also a lot of games. In a way it was like the Telus World of Science. Probably with a bigger budget. There was one game where you try to control some blimps to go through a hoop. Unfortunately I think the air conditioning was too strong so the blimps just huddled in a corner, no matter how much engine power you used. Another display let you compare upright and recumbent bicycles. I couldn’t tell the difference, because the bicycles were sized for little kids.
But overall it was very cool. I saw amazing things that are a great part of human history. There was fun stuff to do. The train routing game was a hoot. The hover chair was easy to abuse. I am terrible at landing a space shuttle on a runway. Crew capsules are cramped. And they have an evil gift shop. I don’t want to talk about that last one.