And it has nothing to do with temperature !
We have been back here in Calgary for four weeks, and (when not in the office or working on our house) we have spent the time revisiting some familiar places, learning about some new ones and checking to see which ones are no more. It has been interesting – I admit I’d forgotten just how poorly skilled (generally speaking) Alberta drivers were as compared to drivers in Europe, or how bad the roads are due to frost heaving, pot holes, the amount of loose gravel getting kicked up and cracking into the windscreen etc., etc., etc.. Its also funny to listen to people complain about the volume of traffic, after having often sat through 15 and 25 KM long traffic jams in The Netherlands and France, and even longer ones in Germany and Switzerland – perspective certainly helps ! The rate of growth, fuelled (bad pun !!) by the petro-chemicals industry here is impressive and shortly after our arrival, Calgary crested the 1 million mark and is supposedly headed for a population of 1.25 million in the next 10 years. This is putting lots of pressure on the city infrastructure – and the building of new schools, water and sewage treatment plants etc.. has not managed to keep pace – and going back to the traffic issues, the ring road to relieve some of the traffic congestion, and which was being talked about before we left for Europe in 2000 is now not expected to be completed till 2008. Most skilled trades are in very short supply, and the service industry especially is having trouble attracting staff – it would seem that it will not get better any time soon.
On the positive side, it is very nice to be back, and it is the little things you notice the most, like stopping and being aware that you can actually understand the background conversations in a restaurant for example. We miss Europe, but we like being back home also.