After waiting for a taxi that arrived twenty minutes later than it was scheduled to, Michael W. and I finally caught a ride down to Edmonton's Hawrelak Park. (I suppose that, for this trip anyway, I should rename my blog to Michaels' Meanderings.) The roads were bad. Instead of getting the freezing rain that had been predicted, the city was getting coated in a thick layer of fat and slushy snow. Which is better than freezing rain, of course.
Down at the park, we met up with a few of the carvers and waited for the rest to arrive. Most of the carvers were from Saskatchewan and Alberta, but there was also a team from Bulgaria. I guess that makes this an international snow carving competition!
After a few more arrivals, we drew numbers for our snow blocks. We got block number 3, which is the first block you see as you enter the snow carving area - a premium piece of snow sculpture real-estate.
The snow block was hard, having been packed and set in -20oC weather. Only being allowed to use the snow within our roped-off carving space, we needed to cut our 4'x4'x8' block of snow down so that we could use the snow for other parts of the carving. We got started.
It was warm and getting warmer. We were lucky that the sun stayed behind the clouds, but around 11:00, the snow started to get as soft as warm butter. Then, the sun started to make brief appearances. We watched as a little gnome that someone had carved before we arrived started rotting in the heat.
And that was it for carving for the day. We decided it was better to stop and resume in the morning when the weather is cooler. At 13:00 we stopped roughing things in, had lunch, and watched in wonder as other carvers started adding in their details. We realised that, if we had tried to add any detail, it would have been gone by tomorrow afternoon, which is when the judging happens. And it's supposed to go above freezing again tomorrow.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the them of the Silver Skate Festival is "River Valley Reverie". In keeping with the theme, we're carving "Ol' Man River". It's just roughed-in now; it'll look better when it's done...