6.10.2012

Alaska Road Trip: Day 3

The one thing I wanted to see in Calgary before we continued north was the newly opened and highly controversial Calgary Peace Bridge. The bridge, which crosses the Bow River, was built to accommodate the increasing number of pedestrians and cyclists who commute to work and recreate downtown. The bridge provoked some heated debates due to its extravagant cost ($25 million) and because of the red, unusual helix design that some people have likened to a Chinese finger trap. 

I think it looks compelling. And the bridge very effectively connects the community of Sunnyside to downtown Calgary. We parked in front of some houses and walked right across the street to the bridge. 


Making peace signs on the Peace Bridge:


Adam and Kaleigh wanted to pose for a picture too: 


Adam could have stayed and thrown rocks into the river all day, but we pried him away and reminded him where we were going next. . . 

THE LARGEST INDOOR WATER PARK IN THE WORLD!

We later found out that the claim is not actually true. At 225,000 square feet, World Waterpark inside of the West Edmonton Mall is only the second-largest indoor water park in the world. It pales in comparison to Tropical Islands in Germany, boasting an amazing 710,000 square feet. Further research taught us that there are three separate indoor water parks in Wisconsin Dells called the Wilderness that combine for 250,000 square feet, but they are housed in different buildings and are excluded from the claim because they are not under one roof. The Las Vegas Wet Indoor Water Park, scheduled to open in 2013, will measure in at 350,000 square feet, making it the largest in North America and the second largest in the world. 

World Waterpark in Edmonton was not part of our original itinerary. But a few hours after we left Ogden, I got a text message from my friend, Sherry. "Isn't there a really cool mall in Edmonton?" I looked it up on wikipedia and read that the West Edmonton Mall is the largest mall in North America and the fifth largest mall in the world. (I didn't ever investigate these claims, so wouldn't count on their accuracy.)

I tried to convince Steve that we needed to go check out the mall, but he just laughed and told me no. He had absolutely no interest in changing our route to go to a mall and especially not the largest mall in North America. (At that point, we were planning to drive through Banff National Park and Jasper, bypassing Edmonton altogether.) 

But as soon as I found out that the West Edmonton Mall housed World Waterpark, I knew we needed to go. Ever since Adam missed out on our trip to Disneyland last December, he has been begging to go to a water park. When we started saving our change for Alaska, he very adamantly declared that he was saving money to go to "Waterland", not Alaska. A couple of months ago, I finally told Adam that we had saved enough money for "Waterland" and that we would find one on the way home from Alaska or go right when we came back. Adam wasn't the least bit excited about our trip to Alaska; all he cared about was going to "Waterland". 

I reminded Steve about his son's determination to earn money for "Waterland". I read him the descriptions of the new thrill slides. And I pointed out how much better it would be to make another trip back up Banff when our kids are better hikers. . . and when it was warmer.  By the time we reached Glacier National Park, I had convinced Steve that we were headed to Edmonton to go to World Waterpark!


The most popular attraction at World Waterpark is the Blue Thunder Wavepool, supposedly the world's largest indoor wave pool. (The Waterpark is also home to the world's tallest indoor bungee jump tower, the only one over water.  We saw two people bungee jumping and it was pretty cool. . . the guy got dipped right into the pool!) The wave pool generated five to six feet waves and it was really cool. Rachel and Lucy got right out in the middle of all of the big waves, and Adam hung out over on the shallower side. This boy was so happy, he couldn't have stopped smiling if you paid him. (He didn't even notice that he was missing his preschool graduation.)


Kaleigh was really funny to watch. She finally got brave enough to play with Adam at the Caribbean Cove, but she walked backwards everywhere she went to keep the water from getting sprayed in her face. She spent a lot of time in the wave pool as well, mostly just walking around without a tube. I had to stay right close to her because she wasn't as worried about those waves as she should have been.  


I talked Lucy into going on this ride called the Thunderbolt with me. As soon it was my turn, and I was staring down the suddenly-much-steeper-than-it-looked-from-below slide, I felt a little bad for pressuring her to go. But luckily she skimmed right across the pool at the end and avoided wiping out.



This is Lucy on another ride, the Tropical Typhoon. It starts with a short tunnel:


And then you are deposited into a large bowl, nicknamed the "Toilet Bowl", where you swirl around and around until. . .


You plop right out:


She says it hurts to come out headfirst.

Lucy was so undaunted by those slides that I persuaded her to go ride the Cyclone (one of the new thrill rides) with me. You start by entering a transparent capsule with a vertical trap door. The floor drops out, sending you straight down and then you go upside down in a loop before being shot out of the bottom. Disappointingly, when we got to the top, they weighed her and said she was just barely underweight. (If you don't weigh enough, you won't build up enough speed to make it up and around the loop.)

I don't have many pictures of Rachel because she spent most of her time in the deep end of the wave pool and riding the slides with Steve. I'm also sad that I didn't have my camera with me to get pictures at the end of the day of Adam and Kaleigh on the Caribbean Cruiser. We were down to one hour before the park closed; Rachel and Lucy wanted to go back to the wave pool again, and Steve went to go finish riding all of the rides by himself. Adam rode the Caribbean Cruiser, a little beginner slide, once and then tried to talk Kaleigh into going with him. She got to the top of the stairs and chickened out. Adam was squealing as he ran back up the stairs to go a third time, so Kaleigh followed him up again. She was about to turn around and come back down again, but the boy running the slide offered to let them go down together.

Up and down those two little kids went over and over again, without ever taking a break. (They were the only kids on the slide, so there was no line.) I sat there and counted. . . they ran up the three flights of stairs and rode down the Caribbean Cruiser forty-three times! They came splashing out the bottom with the biggest grins on their faces every single time. I wished that Steve or the girls would come by so I could send them to get my camera, but I couldn't leave Adam and Kaleigh and certainly didn't want to stop their fun. And then, finally, after the forty-third time down together, Adam stood up and nonchalantly said that he was tired of that ride now.

And then it was time to go. We walked through the mall, mostly to find the food court. It was massive in size, but nothing special as far as decor or design. In fact, I would say that it could use some updating. (Rachel thought it was cool because it was old. . . but think along the lines of dim lighting with chrome handrails along the sides of everything--that's the impression it left on me.)

I wanted to go check out the Sea Life Caverns and the Ice Palace, which are both located within the mall, but both were closed. And by the time we ate dinner from various restaurants in the food court, (Saffron Indian and Freshii were the two best, also fun to try New York Fries) the kids were exhausted and I could barely walk.

Tired kids was exactly what we were going for because we were ready to drive through the night.

And then I completely forgot to drive by Edmonton's City Hall. It has a really unique design. . . so if you ever find yourself in Edmonton, go check it out.

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