I’ve been seeing different people’s posts on FaceBook this past week about the Calgary Stampede and it brought back a memory of my first trip up there. Very memorable to say the least. I was 19 and about the biggest town I’d ever seen was Amarillo. Well, Calgarys’ just a tad bigger’n Amarillo, if you know what I mean. And the Stampede…..there’s nothing like it. If you’ve never been, you oughta go at least once. It’s more like a Worlds Fair; It’s the biggest thing that happens in Canada, for sure. And, while I was going there for the rodeo, which is one of the biggest on the planet, there’s tons of other things going on besides the rodeo.
It was me and Barney Brehmer and Doug Shipe. We hit the Canadian border about 4 pm the day before I was to ride at the Stampede. When we went in to the border crossing office Clyde Bullard, a calf roper from Comanche, Oklahoma had the border boys as mad as they could possibly be. I mean he had ’em stirred up! They weren’t letting him across for dang sure and maybe not anyone else, for that matter. Well, their argument went on for a while and the crowd of rodeo people was building all the time of people trying to get to Calgary.
We started our drive through the checkpoint and when they stopped us they told us we had to have at least $50 cash each. Well, this is the truth, we had about $50 amongst all three of us. We’re big-time rodeo hands, you understand! lol So they’re not letting us cross the border which is a problem because I’m up in the bull riding the next day. Another carload of veteran cowboys were in the same shape that we’re in and they’re not letting them across either. Barney borrowed some money from somebody and went ahead across the line. Well, about an hour after he’s crossed I realize that he also took my only set of pickup keys! So now, not only are we stranded at the Canadian border…but now with no keys! Quite the little dilemma….and the clock’s tickin’!
About midnight Rusty Riddle and Clyde Vamvoras showed up. Clyde hot-wired my pickup so it was drivable and the plan was for me to borrow enough cash to have that $50 they required and I’d head out to Calgary. First thing the next morning I fired my hot-wired pickup up, got me $50 cash from a couple of buddies and went on my way to Calgary by myself. At the border they didn’t ask me one thing about how much cash I had….they just waved me on through. I guess the border boys got over their mad spell!
I hit Calgary about 1 pm. My ‘ol hot-wired pickup made it just fine. It was bumper to bumper traffic, I had no idea where I was going and to top it all off it started coming a ‘monsoon’. I mean, the bottom fell plumb out! That’s when I learned that my hot-wired pickup windshield wipers wouldn’t work. So, I’ve got my drivers side window down getting completely soaked. I’ve got a t-shirt with my left hand and I’m hanging out the window trying to wipe my windshield so I can see through the flood.
I finally found my way to the Calgary Stampede. To this day I can’t remember what bull I had or what I did on him….(must not’ve been too memorable!) but I’ll never forget the trip up there as long as I live!