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On Sunday when I posted 10 Questions For When You’re Stuck, some of you commented with wonderful suggestions for getting unstuck.

Including Van over at vanbytheriver who suggested:

When I can, I get away, usually alone, where I can assess things more clearly. I always come back with a fresh perspective, after a few days, or even several hours.

It sounded good to me, so early on Sunday afternoon, I got into my recently repaired car with the intention of going to Bowness Park. Somewhere along the way I took a wrong turn and ended up on the Trans Canada Highway heading west toward the mountains. Providence perhaps?

So I went with the flow and decided to go to Cochrane.

Cochrane, Alberta is nestled in a valley, surrounded by Rocky View County, 36 km west of Calgary and about 100 km east of Banff. It is the second largest town in Alberta – with a population of 17,580.

I go there often during the summer – it’s so close – and once I even co-hosted a folk festival there!

Upon exiting my car, I heard music and wondered if the town of Cochrane had installed speakers along the main street. I soon discovered that a group of young violinists were entertaining the locals.


They were amazing!

While watching the girls perform, a local woman chatted me up – I love that about towns!

We talked about how amazing these young musicians were, the different cities and provinces we’d both visited in our lives and how we both loved it out west.

We parted ways, she to run errands, and me to cross the street for an ice cream cone at MacKay’s – you can read about their amazing family business history here. Their reputation for good homemade ice cream is known across Alberta!

Unfortunately, the line to get ice cream was stretching outside the store and down the block. Not wanting to wait in line, I walked on and discovered the Cochrane Coffee Traders shop. How had I missed this place after all these years?

I ordered a Cappuccino to go and found a bench on the main street from which to do some people-watching. It was a gorgeous day and the street was buzzing with activity. Most folks had MacKay’s ice cream in hand!

The street seems to have been built to facilitate community. Comfortable benches are present at each corner and are positioned in such a way as to encourage conversation, or as I’ve heard it called in Calgary – loitering.

Cochrane convinces me that I am definitely pro-loitering!

That’s the big draw of towns for me; the sense of community, the openness of strangers, their unique businesses and wares, and the architecture of their buildings.

Did this trip help me get unstuck or give me a fresh perspective on things, you ask?

Maybe not in the way I had hoped for, but in all the ways that are truly important – Thanks for the idea Van!


What’s your favourite close-to-you town to visit? What do you like best about it?