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Hunting Wild Houses
Well, it's official, we're moving to Edmonton. Rachel has decided to accept the University of Alberta's Nursing School slot, so look out Santa ... here we come!
We drove to Edmonton for as house-hunting/camping trip and have booked the moving van for Jun 17th. It took us 3 driving days to get to Edmonton (camping east and west of Jasper National Park). It was a beautiful drive and along the way, we saw a bunch of deer, 9 elk, 2 bears and a moose. Unfortunately, the Oop missed out on the animals because she was strapped into her carrier, facing backwards, and either sleeping, playing with toys, or staring blankly at the roof of the automobile. She was a great traveler, happy to be out of her car-seat, but not complaining while she was strapped-in.
For those keeping score at home this move will be our second of 2004 and our sixth since January 1st, 2003!
We know very little about Alberta and Edmonton, so Scott researched both on the 'net and constructed a write-up on each. To learn more about Alberta [click here]. For more information regarding Edmonton [click here].
Rachel had been to Edmonton 3 times previously, as this was home for Patti, Rachel's friend who was battling cancer until just recently. Rachel described it as, "flat and cold." Scott wasn't really sure what to expect, this being his first time there. Maybe Innuit would be building igloos off the main drag?
We were out of the Rockies, having passed through Jasper National Park, and about 90 km from Edmonton. The terrain was quite hilly and for the most-part, covered with Aspen and Conifers. What wasn't tree-covered, was cleared for farming and the scenery was beautiful. Alfalfa-covered fields looking almost like clearings, lakes and trees as far as the eye could see. Scott asked if this is what Edmonton looked like and Rachel replied to the affirmative. (Having lived in Dallas, Scott thought flat meant FLAT, but was pleased to discover that Edmonton even has ski runs in-town - granted, they're just down a single hill, but to even have a HILL meant that it wasn't flat!)
We camped on the outskirts of town and contemplated moving campgrounds, to one inside city limits (yes, they even have campgrounds INSIDE the city. Not trailer parks, but actual campgrounds, complete with streams, hiking trails, pine trees, etc.) NICE! The only reason we didn't move, was because we found a place to live straight away, even though it was Victoria Day (the Canadian holiday that precedes the American Memorial Day holiday by a week). Actually, we ended up renting the VERY FIRST place we looked at.
It took us a day to get our bearings. Edmonton is divided in half by the (large) Saskatchewan River. The University of Alberta is located near the city center, almost on the south bank of the river. Originally, we had been told, by Patti's sisters, to concentrate on the south side of town because it would be an easier commute to campus. So that's what we did, but without much success. There are lots of high-rises and apartments very close to campus and we didn't want that, we were hoping to find a duplex or rental home. The neighborhoods near the campus looked exactly like what we wanted: older homes in various states of renovation (and decay), quiet streets, plenty of rentals, etc. The only problem was that most rented out the top floor (tenants in the basement), individual rooms, or was too expensive. We were going to look further south, but first, thought it best to find a bus-route map, because we wanted to live near to a bus-route heading to campus.
Getting the bus-route map opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities. There was a LRT (Light-Rail Transport) that opened up the northeast and a couple bus lines went to the western part of the city, all across the river. We tried calling on a number of places in these new areas and finally connected with Ron, whose wife, Laura, was just showing their rental home in the northeast. He said that he'd return our call after she returned, but he never did. Because it was the long weekend, we were having difficulty setting up appointments to see rentals. Either the owners weren't home and we had to leave messages, or we connected to management companies who were closed for the holiday. We were eager to start looking, so Scott urged Rachel to call Ron and ask if we could view their place. Rachel spoke with Laura on the second call and no, she didn't mind returning to the rental to show it to us.
Well, we found the house in less than 25 minutes (even though Edmonton is a big city, it seems to be fairly easy to move around and isn't nearly as congested as Vancouver ... perhaps because it is spread out a lot more). We viewed the house, a two-story affair which was built in 1957. It has a big back yard (complete with a swing-set for the growing Oop), and a detached, single garage (and most importantly - it's INSULATED!). The house shows it's age, the kitchen isn't the greatest and the bathroom comes complete with some horrid blue fixtures, but ... it has FOUR bedrooms (two upstairs, one on the main floor and one in the finished basement). The first floor is home to the older kitchen, with a pass-thru counter to a separate dining room, a good-sized living room, a bedroom (that we're thinking will be the "office") and the full bath (oddly situated off the kitchen). The second floor has two LARGE bedrooms and that's it. The finished basement holds another bedroom, the utility room (washer, dryer, furnace, a whole-house vacuum and a not-too-private toilet), a cold-room/storage area and a HUGE game room. To say that we 'fell in love' with the place is a bit of an over-statement, but at $800 CAD per month, we thought it was within our price range and would fit our needs nicely. It had everything we were looking for: three bedrooms, a shop, nice neighborhood, easy access to the UofA and fit within our budget. (Rachel's commute to school consists of a block and a half walk down to the main drag, a short bus-ride to the LRT and then the LRT across the river and straight onto the campus).
The best part is that we really enjoyed the landlords. We got to meet both Ron, Laura and their 9-year-old daughter (who fell in love with the Oop, babysitting her while we browsed through the house). We met up with them again, the next day, to give them the damage deposit and have a second look at the place (mentally figuring out where we'd put our various belongings). We headed straight back to Vancouver, driving straight through and are now busy trying to get our affairs organized so we can move on June 17th. On the long return trip, we saw lots of deer, some Big Horn sheep, elk and evidence of beaver, but no bear.
What timing! After our return, Rachel was accepted to the University of Calgary. (The University of British Columbia hasn't even really BEGUN their application review and we probably won't know about Rachel's standing with them till the end of JULY! By that time, we will be settled into our Edmonton home, ready for the start of the semester in early September). We're happy with our choice. The cost of living in Edmonton is much less than in B.C. and while the thought of living closer to the mountains (Calgary) appealed to us, it's doubtful with Rachel going to school full-time and year-round, that we'd get as much time to enjoy them as we'd like.
We don't have any pictures from inside the house (we were too busy looking around). You'll just have to come up and visit! (With four bedrooms ... we actually have a guest room now, unless Scott commandeers that room too, for some project or another.)
So ... we're off to Edmonton, Alberta.