Thursday, July 28, 2016

Leduc in Leduc

I've heard that the most enticing tourist attraction in Edmonton is the West Edmonton Mall. I wouldn't know, as even though Mindy and I landed in the Edmonton International Airport earlier today, we didn't bother going into Edmonton. Instead, we've stayed in Leduc, Alberta. It's almost as though I was meant to be here; as though it was named after me! (Actually, I understand that it was a different line of Leducs altogether who made their way to western Canada, but let's ignore that.)

When we landed in Leduc and I tuned my cell phone on, text messages started pouring in from Paul Zwama, my Dutch friend who is here to explore Alberta with us. He and Stella, his girlfriend, were bored. Very bored.  They had been sitting at a car rental place near the airport for hours, waiting for us. You see, neither of them have a credit card, and they didn't realise that one needs a credit card to rent a least here in Canada. They subsequently promised they wouldn't ask for any more rescuing tomorrow...and then they recanted. I suppose they didn't want to make themselves into liars, too!

We're here in Alberta to run the Canadian Death Race. This coming Saturday, Mindy is tackling the inaugural Near Death Marathon, and I am testing myself against the Canadian Death Race - "the course from hell". We're climbing mountains in the midst of a running race.  This all seemed like a better idea back in January when we registered. Actually, it didn't seem like such a great idea then, either.  My heart was racing and my hands shook as I completed my registration. You only live once! (We may not live as long as some if we keep this up!)

Anyway, I'm making myself nervous by focusing on the race, so let's return to boring Leduc.  No, I'm not talking about myself.  I was not expecting to be impressed by this city on the outskirts of Edmonton, but I was pleasantly surprised.

First, there's the hotel where we are staying.  It's a Days Inn. Whoop-dee-doo. It even has construction outside.  On the inside, though, it's all brand new (2015 renovation) and impeccably clean. Apparently the breakfast (included with the room) is great, too - we will know tomorrow.

Hungry and tired, we set out from our Days Inn for something easy for dinner. Google maps had surprisingly good reviews of Basha Donair and Mediterranean, so we decided to go Lebanese for the evening.  On the drive over, we joked that the reviewer of the restaurant was probably the owner. (Though he didn't even give himself a perfect score.) Who raves over fast food?

It was incredibly delicious. Freshly cooked falafels are so crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!  House-made pickles! I can't believe I am the one raving over fast food. (I just posted a review on Trip Advisor.) The owner - we think - was there serving us, with a friendly, welcoming demeanor and humour. If you're ever in Leduc, stop by Basha Donair. We're thinking of getting another falafel for the road as we head out tomorrow.

After dinner, we found a Co-op grocery to stock up on food for Saturday's race. We also bumped into friendly local Vern in the parking lot, who jokingly suggested we tell people around here that we're from Dryden rather than Toronto. Sorry, "Toronah". Inside the store, perhaps the greatest simple step toward better eating habits for kids:

Beats munching on cookies while sitting in the grocery cart!

Back at the hotel, we learned that not all Canadian license plates are rectangles.

If I had any interest in the Barkley Marathon, I would seek out a bear-shaped license plate from the Northwest Territories for my entry. I never thought that NWT would make me feel inferior as an Ontarian, but it appears I've been proven wrong again.

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