Monday July 11, 2016

Yeehaa, it’s actually HAPPENING! After days and weeks and months of AAA (Absolute Alaskan Anticipation), we’re actually DOING IT!

We departed Auckland aboard an Air New Zealand jet two days ago (or was it three? I’ve already lost track) – arriving 13 hours later in Vancouver (British Columbia), where, a couple of hours later, we added a 1½-hr Air Canada flight to Calgary (Alberta). We were flying BACKWARDS, of course, through the time zones, and eventually touched down at 7:50pm Saturday … 15 minutes (believe it or not) BEFORE WE LEFT AUCKLAND!

After those long hours in the air, by the time we got to the Calgary Arts Hotel our Mad Midlifers weren’t up for much – so we kept the advice to a minimum: “Grab some food (if you’re hungry) … grab some body (if you need a hug) … and grab some shut-eye (if you’re ready to sleep). It’s over to you!”

A century ago, Calgary was a sleepy little Wild West outpost, but this Canadian ‘cowtown’ has become one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. No, we didn’t see any outlaws shootin’ up the sheriff in a rundown saloon, but we did see some significant landmarks: architecture, sculptures, the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, etc.

The truth is, however, our attention was focused elsewhere: on the legendary once-a-year Calgary Stampede – a 10-day rodeo, horse-show, festival and showtime-extravaganza that promises visitors “the most fun you can have with yer boots on …”

We just happened to be there on Day #3 … and we just happened to have admission tickets. So Sunday morning, after downing our weetbix and toast, we Kiwis did as instructed – “Saddle yer horses, strap on yer jodhpurs, polish yer spurs …” and we galloped off for a day of fun, food and entertainment with the Stetson-clad, corndog-chompin’ crowds!

All one-hundred-and-forty-five-THOUSAND of them!

STILL TO COME: Leaving the vast flat plains of Alberta … we head for thumping great mountains, fast-flowing rivers, tumbling icy glaciers, dazzling turquoise lakes, and the winter-resort town of Banff. Whatever you do, stay tuned!

PEOPLE-NEWS: Three of our ever-popular Yellow Ducks have already quacked their way into new hands …

  • Rob (Hungerford) claimed our Thievin’ Varmints’ Award – for losing his nice black jacket, just a day into the tour. We all suspect he absent-mindedly left it somewhere – in a toilet, on the plane, in a coach, at a restaurant – but Rob’s convinced some dirty, low-down critter nicked it while he was busy trying to put his six-gun back into the holster!
  • Beth earned herself our frequently won Abandon Ship’ Award (despite the fact that we’re not yet on a ship). Very simply, Beth was spotted making a determined effort to join a different group by getting on their coach instead of ours.
  • Frankie sneaked off with our Unoccupied’ Award – for standing patiently at the door of an outside loo for at least 10 minutes, waiting for the-man-she-knew-was-inside to finish his business. Can you imagine how embarrassed Frankie looked when another of our Kiwi blokes finally pulled the door open to discover … nothing! Nobody was there! It was empty, unoccupied, and had been all along! Frankie’s conclusion? “He must’ve escaped out some secret back door!”

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Kia ora Mad Midlifers who are clearly having a marvellous time, We have had a quick whanau hui (family meeting) here in Aotearoa, and there is unanimous agreement that Rob (aka Dad/Poppa) DID absent-mindedly leave the jacket somewhere (as opposed to the alternative “thief theory”) as this is by far the most logical explanation based on a perusal of the facts and analysis of past behaviour. Signed, Rob’s favourite daughter and grand-daughters xxxx (to paraphrase Hunt for the Wilderpeople (aka best movie ever) – “he’ll know who we are”)!!

    • You have created real problems for me!! Didn’t you know that others can read this blog. Now I am the laughing stock of the group and I will suffer for the rest of the trip!!! Luv you

      • Everyone can read it, eh? Who knew? … You are now the laughing stock? – Well, all I can say is “if the jacket fits … ” … oh that’s right your jacket was ‘stolen’ wasn’t it? xx

  2. Message for Irene Campbell. No doubt having a great time, wish I could be there. Thought you would want to know achieved tertiary NHQ. Missing your friendly face and conversation. Wendy.

  3. We agree wth Ruth and if that’s all Rob loses on the trip it will be amazing. From brother Vic, cruising with Val on the Coral Sea

    • Now now!! I thought of other things I could lose but she wouldn’t go!! Hope you are having a great time. Unfortunately the clouds decided to obscure the mountain tops but Douglas fir was there to compensate. Great train great service. Back on the train today, destiny Vancouver. There for a couple of days.

    • I rest my case. The extended whanau have also concurred with my analysis. No surprises there. I’m amazed that you are able to leave replies, Rob – obviously no one has ‘stolen’ your ipad yet. 🙂

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