Though we’ve climbed Mt. Fuji and the Great Wall of China, cruised Vietnam’s spectacular Halong Bay and swum in the Grotto on the island of Saipan, there are plenty of things right here in Edmonton, the city closest to our home, that we haven’t done. When we come to the city, it’s usually a day trip filled with mundane activities like medical appointments and shopping, but this time is different.
This time we’re in Edmonton from Monday to Friday for six weeks in a row while I undergo radiation treatment. Most days, we’re in and out of the clinic in less than an hour. That leaves lots of time to do and see the things that we haven’t taken time for in the past. Essentially, we’re playing tourist close to home.
The North Saskatchewan River, one of Canada’s most historic waterways, winds its way through Edmonton on its journey from the Columbia Icefield, high in the Rocky Mountains, to the Hudson Bay. Edmonton’s river valley comprises over 20 major parks and attractions and forms the largest expanse of urban parkland in North America. With over 150 km of well-maintained trails, the river valley provides a unique opportunity for city dwellers and visitors to escape the city without ever leaving it.
After today’s treatment, we spent about an hour walking in the river valley, something we had never done before. Though we started off near a high traffic area, the further we walked, the more the noise of the city faded into the background. It was soon replaced by birdsong and the chatter of squirrels like this little fellow who protested loudly when we came too close.
Further along the trail, we heard an unfamiliar sound; the huff and puff of Fort Edmonton’s steam train! Though we couldn’t see it through the trees, we were passing by Canada’s largest living history museum, just one of the many attractions found in the river valley.
I’ve always admired cities with well developed and accessible green spaces and I’m glad we finally took the time to explore a bit of Edmonton’s!