IT’S Monday, June 19, 2017…the evening before the official first day of summer. It’s just after 9 pm, and it’s warm in Calgary.
I’m in for the evening, and I’ve opened the sliding glass door onto the terrace of my rental apartment to let in the breeze.
Dusk is coming to 17th Avenue SW; the birds are quieting down, and the constant din that is the rumble of traffic and the running of buildings is pretty much all I can hear (a motorcycle just ripped down the alley; the wind has shifted and I can smell the exhaust). The exception to the sounds of the city is the low volume coming from one of the three channels I’m able to get on the TV—tonight’s selection includes American Ninja Warrior, some murder mystery that’s already underway (so I know who did it), and the 700 Club.
Ninjas rule in this house tonight.
The lamps are on as the shadows of evening move across Lower Mount Royal, my ‘hood for the next two months.
I’m here because my marriage of 30 years is just about to come to an end. And that’s ok. It was time.
We’ll hand the keys to the house we shared for 20 years over to the new owners in 10 days’ time. I hope they have more time to enjoy it than we did. And we’ll go our separate ways…well, we’ve already done that. Probably a lot longer ago than either of us realized. I wish I felt sad, but I don't. Tired, you bet. But sad or sorry, not yet. I'm sure that will come and go, but for now there's too much to do.
I’ve chosen to rent for a time-to make a break before a fresh start, and in an odd twist, I’ve come back to close to where I began my life in this city.
It’s a bit different now. When I came here from New York 32 (ouch) years ago, the city had a population of about 400-thousand people; today there are more than 1.2 million. There are dozens of new neighbourhoods, and the city has sprawled out in all directions. I've often said the new communities resemble lava flows, spreading out in the valleys to the east and north of the city proper.
But it still feels, in a way, like a small town.
And I’ve plunked myself down in one of the busiest people areas of the city.
17th Avenue SW, also known as the Red Mile for its wild celebrations during hockey playoffs—that is, in years where the Flames stood a chance of winning. It’s been a while—maybe next year?
There’s always next year.
When I first came to Calgary, I lived over on the east side of 17th...between 2nd and 4th streets on an avenue a couple of blocks north (where is 3rd? I don't know, but it wasn't on my block). Then we moved together further west, closer to where I am now. Next stop, and my homes for the next three decades: the suburbs.
The old neighborhoods are different; so far the only places that are the same are a couple of fast food joints and a small convenience store.
But I’m not looking for a quick bite, and I’m certainly not looking for convenience.
I’m hungrier than that.
And so I’ve decided to set out on an adventure I’m calling 17x17x17: 17 Restaurants on 17th Avenue SW in the summer of 2017. The rules are pretty straightforward:
- The restaurants/pubs should be dine in, not part of a chain, and the more unique the better;
- They must be on 17th Avenue, SW from MacLeod Trail to 14th Street—sorry, no side streets (there are plenty on the main drag);
- I'll go to at least 17, maybe more;
- Anyone is welcome to join me. But not to worry; I'm fine on my own.
I'm setting out on this quest to celebrate all this little strip of the city has to offer before I retreat to the ‘burbs again—or head someplace else. I’m looking to celebrate friendship and fellowship. And I’m looking for some good eats.
So I’m open to suggestions, and I’m open to company. If you want to tell me about your favorite place and its best dish or if you’d like to tag along, send me an email or drop me a comment on the posts below.
And—true confession—this is my first time blogging. I didn't even really look at other blogs to see if this was the way to do it, because, I figure, there's not really a wrong way or a right way to go about it--it's whatever you want to make it. So, if the email link doesn't work, or if I'm too wordy or boring, or if I flip between Canadian and American spellings, or if you happen to see a stray bullet or a dangling participle (yikes!) please excuse me, and bear with me.
17 restaurants, 17th Avenue SW, Summer 2017. Here we go!
First stop: TUBBY DOG. Tomorrow or Thursday. Let me know if you'll come along.