Calgary Tower
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Acrophobia in Cowtown
The dictionary definition of the word acrophobia reads, "Extreme and irrational fear of heights." I didn't think it applied to me until I went to Calgary last fall. The city is nicknamed "Cowtown" thanks to the famous Calgary Stampede (the world's largest rodeo), but I was surprised to find Calgary has a cosmopolitan side too, with public art and parks, excellent restaurants (Ox and Angela), food trucks, and a buzzing cocktail scene at places like Hotel Arts' Raw Bar, where summer pool parties are as popular as winter hockey. I'm drawn to superlatives, so I was naturally attracted by the Calgary Tower, "home to the highest 360° observation deck in the world." I paid the $15.24 (yes, 24 cents) and was whisked up 191 meters above the urban core of Calgary. The views are impressive of downtown, the Saddledome (Stampede grounds), and the Bow River. There's also a plexiglass floor, about 10-feet wide, that people can step out on and stare straight down to the street below. And people did. They took photos with arms wide open; they laid down on it and took self-portraits; they jumped up and down on it and asked me to take photos. I stood on safe, carpeted ground 12 inches away, and I was sweating. I couldn't step on the plexiglass. For 15 minutes I tried to recruit the courage. I finally mustered enough to put my toes over the 'edge.' I had to take my own picture. Here it is. I left ASAP. It was irrational. It was extreme. It was acrophobia.
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