Monday, April 22, 2013

Calgary Tower: A Family Celebration

by Anita Mae Draper

What a great weekend! As many of my Facebook friends know, the Draper family spent this past weekend in Calgary, Alberta where we attended the Convocation ceremonies of Rocky Mountain College and watched our daughter, Jessica, receive her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services.

That deserved a celebration meal - a very special meal we'd remember know, the kind that everyone reminisces about when we all get together and someone says, remember the time we...

...and so a meal in the revolving restaurant of the Calgary Tower was in order. The observation deck is 525 feet up and the Sky 360 restaurant is one level below it.

Calgary Tower, 2013

In the above image, the Calgary Tower looks innocent enough, but Saturday was near freezing point with high winds that made me a mite nervous the closer we got.

Glass Floor Portion of the Calgary Tower, 2013

In the above photo, we're still a couple blocks away, but I zoomed in to take this shot and then cropped it for the best effect. Do you see those boxy things high up on the left side just below the overhang? That's what is commonly known in Calgary as The Glass Floor. You say those 3 words and people either smile or shudder. Why? Well, come along on the adventure and see for yourself...

L to R; Nick, JJ, Jessie, and Nelson Draper

As soon as we stepped off the elevator, I walked straight to the windows and started snapping pics. I was looking for my favorite mountains, the Rockies, but it was too low cloud cover to see them. And then I found my family standing on a layer of glass with nothing but air and God's grace between them and the pavement.

Standing and taking pics of the Glass Floor

I thought it very funny that after looking at the view, they all took out their phones and starting taking pics - not at the view, but at the ground far below. At this...

The view from the 525 ft Calgary Tower Glass Floor, 2013

Until I got there, I wasn't sure if I would stand on the glass floor or not. I mean, I'm sort of an adventurous sort, but I sometimes get dizzy going down stairs and escalators. And I'm very conscious of my weight. I know the glass floor is safe, but still. So I approached slowly, trying to make up my mind, but a couple feet away I felt like I was tipping toward the glass enclosure. It was a very weird feeling - like being sucked in. When the feeling passed, I stepped to the end and snapped the image you saw above by leaning over and looking down. It was all I could manage.

Embracing the view from the Calgary Tower Glass Floor, 2013

As you can see, others embraced the glass floor, including Nick who sat there for several minutes - taking pics and texting. I can imagine it went something like... Guess where I am?  : )

Nick texting while sitting on the Glass Floor, 2013

Here's JJ checking out the spectacular view:

JJ looking at the view of Calgary from the Calgary Tower Observation Deck

On the western edge of the city - on the way to Banff - the COP ski jump stood as a lonely sentinel, reminding everyone of its role in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Yes, COP stands for Calgary Olympic Park and was the venue for the ski jump, snowboard, bobsleigh, and luge events.

Calgary Olympic Park far in the distance

I zoomed in the above shot and then cropped it until you see the image below. COP has lived up to its purpose of providing a convenient facility not only for training both amateur and professional athletes, but also  as an affordable recreational family activity. Yes, that means you can go for an exhilarating bobsleigh ride in the winter or summer if you want to feel the wind in your hair while zipping down 1.4 kilometers of track (about 1 mile) in 60 seconds while travelling at speeds of up to 120 kilometers/hour (75 mph).

Zoomed image of COP (Calgary Olympic Park), 2013

Or maybe not whipping in your hair since at those speeds you'd better be wearing a helmet. But back at the Calgary Tower located in the heart of the city, we walked down one level to the Sky 360 revolving restaurant for a dining experience we soon won't forget.

Sky 360, the revolving restaurant below the Calgary Tower Observation Deck 

Three of us ordered the Chef's special:  Triangular Penne with Clams in a White Sauce with Anti-Pesto and a serving of Cornbread. I'd never heard of penne in a triangular shape before, but I sure enjoyed eating it.

Chef's Special in the Sky 360 revolving restaurant in the Calgary Tower

Although we hadn't prepared anything speical, we had told our server that we were celebrating Jessie's college graduation as part of our greeting. The delightful girl surprised us by presenting Jessie's Creme Brulee with a lit candle and a hearty, "Congratulations!" Another memory to treasure.

Jessica Draper blowing out her candle - a gift from our Sky 360 server.

After 2 hrs and almost 3 rotations, we took the 67 second elevator ride back down to the base of the Calgary Tower. In the gift shop, I found a machine that dispensed these souvenir coins for $2 a piece. Perfect. It almost makes me want to check the view from the other great towers. Well, maybe not.

Calgary Tower souvenir coins "World Federation of Great Towers"

I didn't get to see my favorite mountains, but I'll always remember the Calgary Tower because it was the time we went to Jessie's grad and took her out to celebrate. What a memory!

What's the most memorable thing you've done to celebrate something special?


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books and Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at


  1. Good morning Anita. So glad you got to make such wonderful memories with your family. My husband and I went to a tower in Toronto that had a glass floor. My reaction was very similar to yours. Kind of hard to explain, but "knowing" it was safe didn't make the least bit of difference. I did not, could not, would not step out on the glass. Maybe if we go again, I'll be able to work up the courage!

  2. Okay, maybe I over-reacted. Just the photo of the glass floor is making me feel sick to my stomach. I went to the top of the Empire state building and stood against the wall when they kicked me off the elevator. I'm desperately afraid of heights.

    However, I went parasailing, hanging in a harness 1200 feet above the Currituck Sound in NC. The thrill of the view and the silence made up for the fact I kpet looking at the one knot that was keeping us attached. That was a celebratory event, postponed, for turning 50.

  3. In Toronto, Lisa? Then you've been to the CN Tower. That must've been a sight because of its proximity to Lake Ontario. eda

    What month did you go? Probably summer, eh.

    They didn't have the CN Tower when Toronto was my stomping grounds. Maybe if they had, I would've gone on the glass floor then.


    Thanks, Lisa.

  4. Oh dear, Debra, I burst out laughing at the thought of you plastered to the wall at the top of the Empire State Building, then had to read your comment to Nelson because he stopped reading Linda Ford's LIH long enough to look at me in question.

    How on earth did they manage to get you into a para-sailing harness?

  5. I just read my response to your comment, Lisa, and am shaking my head at that eda. I originally had another sentence tacked on there, but deleted it and can't even remember what I'd been going to say.

    Great. Looks like an eventful day of writing ahead. Haha.

  6. Anita, I'm not scared of heights and I've done some adventurous recreational activities, but...I would not have stepped out on that glass floor, either. I know that glass is secure but it LOOKS like there would be nothing between me and the ground far below. I like to see my support systems, when possible :) I'm sure there's some parallel here to walking in faith, but I'll take my floors solid and opaque!

  7. Hey there, Rick. Love the avatar!

    When I put your comment and avatar together, I can see a book in the making. But that's what you've done with Eleven Chickens in a Boat, isn't it? The only difference between water and glass is that you know one is there. In this case, however, the question, isn't only if it's there, but will it hold your weight. Is there enough support to hold you up.

    And now that I think of it, this could parallel the story of building a house on sinking sand instead of solid rock, too, since it all comes down to the foundation level.

    You said you have faith in a "solid and opaque" floor. Yet, you have no idea what the foundation is below it. How interesting.

    Kudos on Eleven Chickens in a Boat. It's the type of book that appeals to both city and rural kids, no matter where they go to church, and probably even has an impact on the adults who read the story to their kids/grandkids. I wish you all the best in your artistry and writing as you enrich lives with your gifts.

  8. Great post and pics, Antia Mae! I might have stood on the glass, for about five seconds. But no way would my husband or daughter stand on it. They hate heights.

    When I was around ten, I went up to the top of the arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Fortunately it didn't sway much in the wind. The worst part to me was the elevator, because it only held five people and was quite snug.

    What a memory you created! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  9. You're very welcome, Susie. You have a great memory there, too. I didn't go to the top of the St Louis Arch during ACFW St Louis 2011 for that very reason - not that I'm claustrophobic, after all, I did work in SAGE underground complex while in the military, but because I don't like being squeezed into anything.

    And speaking of the wind, when I told JJ that I felt like the floor was leaning, he said it was because the tower was leaning 12 cm to offset the wind. I'd heard that before, but they always say no one notices.

    And as I said in the post, it was very windy that day on the ground. While we were eating, we'd see the occasional feather or something fly by and yep, they were clipping along pretty good. No sooner had I noticed it when it was gone before I could draw attention to it.

  10. Here's a thought... both Rick, a pastor, and Susie's husband, also a pastor, supposedly don't have the faith to stand on a glass floor. I'm not singling you out, guys, remember, I didn't either, but I'm stating a fact and opening this up for discussion...

    Nelson said it proves what Jesus was talking about when He said if you only have the faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain.

    Because here are 2 spiritual leaders who have put their faith in Christ, and yet their human frailties stop them from testing that faith - in this one respect. We don't know if they've been tested beyond a normal person's endurance in another area, we only know what's been shown here.


  11. hi anita
    thanks for sharing your family memory with us. big congrats to your daughter as well. i know you and Nelson are proud parents.

    as for the glass floor thing, i'm thinking i would stand on it, albeit briefly. i've got that twinge of fear at high places, but i love looking at the view too.

    if i was on that boat in Galilee, i woulda placed one foot on the water and perhaps lifted the second leg for one tiny moment and then back into the boat to watch Peter do the walking. *heh*

  12. I haven't been in the Calgary tower but have been in the CN Tower in Toronto. I tried to step on the glass floor but just couldn't do it! I cautiously put one foot on the glass and leaning my weight on the other foot. Then I took a photo of the glass floor and my foot.

    I've been trying to think of the answer to your question -- most memorable thing done to celebrate something special. Food seems to surround almost everything special -- nice restaurants for special occasions generally!

  13. Thanks, DebH, I'll pass your congrats on to Jessie.

    About the water... I dunno, Deb, you've always reminded me of a water-baby. I think you'd float regardless. :D

  14. Elaine, you faker! LOL

    I'm sorry, but that's what I was thinking as I read your comment. And yes, I've done similar things - just not on a glass floor. You had more faith than me for that!

    I agree about food and special occasions. Do you think it's because everyone faces each other during a meal?

    Thanks for sharing, Elaine. :)

  15. ACK! My entire family (myself excluded) would have been on that glass floor in a heartbeat. Probably jumping up and down... yes, that's how things go in the Turner household. The day I found out I was pregnant with our second kiddo my hubby was off skydiving.

    For myself, I like to think I'd test out that glass floor, but I don't know for sure.

    Since I'm generally not fond of heights (no parasailing here, Deb) The closest I can get to that is the trip I took to NYC for my uncle's wedding when I was 13. We visited the Twin Towers and went all the way to the top. Good memories. Thanks for sharing your family with us, Anita!

  16. I went up the Tower In Niagara Falls, too. I went up the elevator and stayed in the middle of the gift shop... refusing to look toward the windows while everyone else ran to take in the view.

    Okay. Parasailing? I have no clue, but I wanted to do it and I loved it. Maybe it's something from childhood and wanting to fly like a bird. I took photos from up there (meaning I let go of the harness to use the camera. That was a bit frightening but I wanted to verify the view!)

    by the way, I came back because I wanted to again and officially offer my congratulations to Jessie and to you and Nelson! A proud moment for you all.
    Loved all the photos!

  17. Maybe if Jesus was standing on the glass floor with them? (answering your Pastor question, Anita!)

    ha ha. I have done a more frightening thing that the glass floor viewing and I was praying all the time!

  18. What a cool place to celebrate! I'm not sure what I would do if I had the chance to stand on that glass floor. I think I'd TRY to, but I might not be able to convince myself. But I'd love the view!

  19. Oh my! Anita! You know I love roller coaster, and I'm hoping to go parasailing one day. But I don't think I'd be able to walk out on that floir. Okay, wait. Maybe I'd walk on the floor, but you couldn't make me look down. Yikes! For that matter, was it a glass elevator going up? Cuz that would have prevented me from going up in the first place. You are so brave, and it's an awesome way to celebrate the graduation. Congratulations to Jessie, btw!

  20. You're welcome, Niki. And I know what you mean... Nelson jumps on suspension bridges - you know, the walking ones that shimmy with every movement. And then he encourages the kids to do the same so they have one parent screaming, NO, and one parent shouting, GO!

    The Twin Towers? Oh, I don't know if I'd have gone up there. That was a loooong way up. The highest I've been in a regular building is 24 floors when I worked in Ottawa. I had no problem looking out the floor to ceiling windows, but I had to build my courage to step off/on the elevator - every single time.

  21. Thank you, Debra. As for the para sailing, it reminds me of a hot air balloon. It seems unthreatening because it's quiet and relatively slow - more like floating, eh.

    And yes, Nelson and I shared a meal in the revolving restaurant atop the Niagara Falls Tower back in 1979 when we lived in Ontario. It was so long ago, I'd forgotten about it.

  22. Debra, that's like the saying, "Seeing is believing."

    But wait a minute - Peter stepped out of the boat and walked toward Jesus and yet even then, he didn't have the faith to carry through.

    So maybe, even if Jesus was standing right there, some of us wouldn't have the faith needed to step out and walk toward him.

    This reminds me of the video games, and movies like X-Men, where Magneto steps out over nothing but air and as he walks, pieces of a walkway appear beneath his feet. If that was real life, it would be a perfect example of faith, eh.

  23. DeAnna, maybe if we ever get the chance to check out something like this together, we can do it on the count of 3. You know, safety in numbers and all that jazz. :D

  24. Suzie, of all the Inkies, I would've thought you'd be the one to go out there and jump on the glass floor because you seem fearless to me.

    No, it wasn't a glass elevator in Calgary - we'll have those at ACFW in Indy this year. Inside ones.

    However, Niagara Falls had 2 glass elevators on the outside of the Tower. Totally freaked me out because I didn't realize it until we started going up and by then it was too late to get out. It was dusk when we went up and I don't remember anything about coming down except that it was dark. I can't believe Nelson had an easy time getting me back on it though. My mind has probably blocked the traumatic experience from my thoughts. LOL

  25. Probably the coolest, most memorable family dinner we've had was at the Medieval Times.

  26. Dina, the Medieval Times is an excellent family outing. Yes, that's one I'm sure you'll all remember forever because it takes 'finger food' to a whole new level. Or should that be old level?

    Good answer!


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