Hittin’ the Road and Headin’ West

My sister Tracy and I figure it must have been around 1980 when we attended our first Calgary Stampede. I had just bought my first car – a little Mazda 626, and it had rarely ever seen pavement because all the driving that I had ever done was on the country roads, from our farm in Snowflake, Manitoba to town. For some reason, we decided that we were going to take a road trip and thought that the Calgary Stampede would be a great place to go.

We got out our map and headed west. When we finally hit the outskirts of Calgary it occurred to us that we had no idea where the Stampede actually was – just somewhere in Calgary. We drove all over the city, stopping at gas stations to ask for directions and doing our best not to get ourselves lost. When we finally caught site of our destination we started cowgirl whooping!

By this time it was almost dark and we hadn't yet figured out where we were staying. I was a new driver and not at all familiar with Calgary, so I naively told Tracy that we had to find a hotel within walking distance of the Stampede.

And would you believe it – with Calgary hotel rooms generally sold out months in advance during Stampede, we actually found a hotel with a vacancy in the third or fourth place that we pulled into – and it was within walking distance to Stampede Park! It was not exactly four-star, in fact it would be a stretch to say that it could live up to one star, but we thought it was perfect.

Tracy and I went on to have the time of our lives. We rode the bucking bull, partied with strangers that were soon to be friends, ate midway food until we were stuffed and stayed out until the Stampede gates were closed.

We were so exhausted at the end of our two days of Stampeding that we didn't know how we'd manage to drive all those miles back to Snowflake. There was no choice but to go; however, because we couldn't afford another night in the hotel, as well as the gas to get us home. 

It was a great time to share with my beloved sister. Who knew that all these years later, that I would have the privilege to work for The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! I still love being at Calgary Stampede!

The photo attached is my sister Tracy Wheeler on the Stampede Bull

Lori Wheeler

Agriculture Centennial Coordinator