That was just one of many surprises that Edmonton, a city of one million people, held. The place is so far north that Calgary, that stampeding cowboy town, is to the south of it. Missoula, Montana is nearly 700 miles away due south, and Salt Lake City may as well be Miami to Edmontonians. Downtown, with skyscrapers that you can see for miles away on the flat prairie, is a bustling place of office buildings and malls and hotels with doormen. The blue-green Saskatchewan River cuts through the city.
Edmonton feels prosperous, thanks to the oil money that is putting it at the top end of a boom-and-bust cycle. Old Strathcona, the Old Town section of the city, was packed with street performers and a farmer's market and young people attending the Edmonton Fringe Festival. People like to say things like Edmonton has the second-largest fringe festival in the world (next to Scotland's Edinburgh), the world's largest mall and 72 golf courses, but you have to pry it out of them that the place gets to 40-below in the winter, and can stay that way for weeks.
So I bundled up and played golf at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Northern Bear course and The Ranch Golf and Country Club, which has wicked, tight fairways and a cut out of a steer's head that you try to hit on the driving range. I went to the biggest mall in the world and ate doughnuts at Tim Hortons. Nice town, and if I can figure out when they have summer, I'll happily go back to it.