|Thanks, Pat, for the wonderful photo!|
So that’s it. Along with the Summer of 2017, 17x17x17 is about to become history.
It reminds me of when I was younger, when it meant no more lazy days at the beach, no more bike rides to the ends of the earth, no more late rainy mornings watching tv, no more butterfly catching or fireflies or cicadas (no more mosquito bites either). It also meant new fall clothes (sometimes from the Sears catalogue, sometimes from the mall up the island), seeing friends I’d missed all summer, lunchboxes and baloney sandwiches and getting back to school—a place I didn’t hate. It was bittersweet.
I know I said I my goal was to hit 17 dining places on 17th Avenue, SW over the course of the summer of 2017; while it’s true I did that and never strayed from the Red Mile, I did visit more than 17 places, and some of those weren’t exactly full-meal, sit down stops. But I think you got the point of what I was trying to do.
What was I trying to do?
I was trying to keep myself busy; I know that. A separation and a divorce takes a little getting used to, and although I had plenty of time to spend alone or with friends when I was married…I’ve learned that it’s different when you’re single.
I pushed myself out there. I invited people to join me at first and, before I knew it, people were getting in touch with me—how wonderful that was.
My timing was good too, not just for me, but for this quest in general. 17th is in the process of being completely torn up and re-worked, and it’s just gotten underway. Please remember that all the businesses will remain open during this massive reconstruction, which is going to go on for a long time, and there’s parking on either side of the Avenue. They’re counting on you to keep coming back. I know I’ll be there for sure.
I also want to send a shout out to all the people who give these places their personalities—the wait staff, the cooks, the bartenders and the managers—you’re all just great, and it was a real treat to meet so many of you.
So here are some final numbers:
Number of restaurants, bars, coffee spots, take out places on the quest: 46
In that number:
Number of coffee shops: 2
Number of take out places and bars or pubs (including the shisha bar): 9
Number of killer ice cream stops: 2
Total number of friends who became part of the quest: 34, several who repeated (so the actual number of diners is more like 40 or 42
Favourite place? No idea. So many great places to stop and relax, enjoy a great meal and the most important company a person could ask for. I’ll let you try them out and decide for yourself.
Place I’d come back to? Quite a few, but I won’t say which—again, you’ll have to discover that for yourselves.
Visits to the blog, as of this posting 6:30 am, Labour Day Monday: 5869. Holy shit (excuse me)—who are you people?? I mean, I know I’ve re-read my own stuff a few times, but not that much….Seriously, is this a real number? By the time this is done, this blog will have surpassed six thousand (6000) hits in just over two months.
While in Mt Royal, I gave some serious thought to locating down here, in the middle of everything, in the middle of where I began my life in Calgary. In the end, I opted for a return to the ‘burbs.
Reasons not live on 17th:
I’m too old and settled in my ways to do this every night…plus I love to cook (that said, it was a hell of a lot of fun).
It’s generally too noisy, too distracting; here are some examples:
July 1: Firecrackers at 1 am. Or maybe they were gunshots. In the alley;
July 4, 11:32 pm: someone pushing a shopping cart up the sidewalk and down the alley—filled with empty cans;
July 11, 1:57 am: crazy loud lightning and thunderstorm. Nobody’s fault, although I am sure the taller buildings all around me made excellent conductors for the lightning;
July 14, ‘round about 1:30 am (the last Thursday of Stampede): the bars let out and everyone was on the street, in various states of inebriation (note: street conversations were a common occurrence, as were smaller, extra happy parties on the terraces and balconies of neighbouring buildings at many times of the day and night);
July 29, 7:40 am: a moving truck, backing up/stuck in reverse on the side street (beep-beep-beep-beep). This was a Saturday morning.
EVERY morning at exactly 4:20 am: somebody’s sprinkler system kicking in;
Low flying helicopters;
Sirens—ambulance, fire and police. A lot—almost as much as New York;
Motorcycles—many, and often. And loud. It was like a daily contest to see who could be the loudest. Oh, wait…maybe it was?
Those are just a few things that come to mind.
But there are a few others too:
Regular elevator greetings—beyond the how’s-the-weather pleasantries;
Church bells, on a Sunday morning;
Birds of all kinds—not just magpies;
Children—laughing, crying, screeching. Children.
People of all ages, laughing, yelling, talking, greeting each other…smiling, nodding as they pass, the reaction to recognizing a “local” on their faces (yay!);
The not-too-distant sound of the freight trains passing through the city late at night, just a few blocks from the Red Mile;
The smells: bread, garlic, coffee, roasting meat; flowers, perfumes; exhaust, smoke.
Beautiful sunlit mornings, the light hitting the small red barn/garage in the back alley of my building—a barn, in the middle of the city;
Incredible old houses, amazing estates nearby on “American Hill”; interesting and fascinating architecture. Always something to see.
So it’s with a bit of mixed emotion that I step away from 17th for now…the good news is that I can come back. Of course, just as we swap out our wardrobes for the season to come, so will the Red Mile. The profile will change, some shops will close and new ones will take their places, but the underlying vibe of the street will still be there—you just have to root around for it sometimes.
This whole experience—the eating, the conversations and the writing, has been wonderful. I hope to return to the web in a month or two with something slightly different, and I hope you’ll follow that too. The best thing you can do to know when the new blog has launched is subscribe to the 17x17x17 blog (it’s on the right hand side of the page) and I will update and provide new info once I am ready. I’ll also post on the 17x17x17 and my personal FB pages, as well as Instagram and Twitter (17x17x17yyc). If you liked this blog, I think you’ll like the next one—at least I hope you will.
My final thought…I wrote it down a few weeks ago and saved it, because I knew it would sum things up:
Food is what brought us together. Wine and beer--and coffee (and kickass ice cream) are what kept us talking (and talking)….and real friendship is what made it all work.
See you soon--and thanks again!