Ban FF!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Downtown Banff
No, no, I'm not raging against quasi-recent indie-rock media darlings Franz Ferdinand (whose debut record is well worth the heaped praise). Nor, surprisigly (and thankfully), am I making some sort of obscure geek related hex-based joke. Instead, I'm here to tell you about my recent trip to Canada's playground - Banff.

We left for the mountains around 9 or 10AM. Of course, before this, I had to sort out what was making the trip with me. So, without further ado...

Vital materials:

Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - I'd been meaning to read this for almost a decade now, and I finally did. If only Douglas Adams were still alive so I could aspire to meet him. I'm now about halfway through The Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy which is equally fun. I'm going to try to track down the original BBC radio shows someday. Maybe 10 years from now. Incidentally, they're making a movie about this starring Tim from The Office as Arthur Dent!

Captain Beefheart - A friend of mine (thanks, Andy!) from the UK sent me two Beefheart albums to - Clear Spot and The Spotlight Kid. Blues with a twist. Not sure I can get into it, but I'm gonna spin it a few more times.

Beulah - I brought along my recent Beulah acquisitions (thanks, Dutch!) to listen to in earphones. Yoko is a fantastic album, as is The Coast is Never Clear. The rest sound much better in headphones, too.

Futurama - After years of denouncing the show as unfunny, I now own all four seasons on DVD. Thanks to a DVD player in the car (how much would I have loved this as a kid?!) the drive flew by.

Raising Helen - Well, I didn't pack it, and I didn't choose to watch it, but it wasn't a bad movie, I suppose. Though the 15 year old girl needs to be strangled with a lead pipe. Somehow.

Mariah's Gameboy - The only thing better than watching TV on the road is helping her finish the dreaded world seven in Super Mario 3.

Other stuff - You know, the clothes, ski stuff, toothbrush/paste, and all the other stuff not meant for the actual trip but for the destination. Oh, and swim trunks for sitting in the hot tub/pool and/or visiting with various attractive female cohorts.

Bored Games
As you may have guessed, the trip up was relatively quick although it's still surprising how a person can get bored even with all the gadgets to play with. I don't think science will ever cure the "are we there yets". Although now that Mariah's older, she just asks "how many hours". We got into Banff around 5, checked in, shopped a bit on Banff Ave, and went for dinner at the Balkan. I don't know why we go there, the food has never been very good, though it's better than Mykonos I suppose. I forgot my wallet in the hotel and got ID'd. Yeah. In Alberta, where 18 is the legal age. In other words, I looked 17 or less to this guy. I understand where he's coming from, but come on! I guess I shouldn't have shaved. He felt bad afterwards and brought me a caraffe of Coke and then noticed my iron ring. I'd be one hell of a 17 year old to have an engineering degree. Turns out I'm just a rather ordinary 24-year old, though.

Sunny Sunshine
We skiied the first day in Sunshine, which really did live up to its name. The sky was an unspoiled blue, the temperature was a balmy -6, and the snow was actually decent as well considering the warm weathe. All said, some of the best ski conditions I've ever had. On the gondola ride up to base, a really cute girl from Sweden sat with us. She had about the coolest eyes I'd ever seen; a deep blue surrounding a brown starburst. Seemed like a very nice girl, too, I think her name was Olsa or Osla or something to that effect, probably with those little dots on the O. And spelled completely differently. I don't remember the name of her town (it started with an H, I think, and had about 500,000 people) but she told me to visit. And being the clever person I am, as well as being surrounded by family, I did not get or give any other information that would allow further contact other than that she works at the Aurora. Which I couldn't really visit on my own and certainly not with my parents. I'd hoped to run into her later on my own, but naturally everyone in my family saw her again except for me. I did, however, run into Lindsay and Jordan.

Anyway, it was Mariah's second or third time skiing, so she was in lessons and I stuck to skis in case I needed to help her. We skiied mostly green runs because that's what my family's comfortable on. I brought my camera so I'd ski ahead or them and take pictures of the beautiful scenery and so I really that bored. Dad's knee was hurting so he took the camera from me midday and I did a black run or two with Larissa, though our last black run was pretty wild. Glare ice and straight down. We came around the corner and about 10 quite advanced skiiers were stopped and looking down. Turned out to not be too bad once you got past the wall of ice, it was aptly named Waterfall. Additionally, they removed the Wawa t-bar and put in a chairlift which was nice. That used to be a long t-bar run. The end of the day came and we took the skiout, which is more or less a blue run now, except with extreme bouts of cross country. Not the end of the world except Mariah had no poles, unwaxed skis, and obviously wasn't developing the kind of speed needed to clear some of these parts. I put her between my legs and used my poles to propel us, and then on the downhill parts I'd hold her arms and we'd ski down together. That was hard on the legs as I had to keep us both slow and couldn't turn too fast or I'd run over her skis (so I had to do a really wide snowplow). It was fun though.

The hotel that we stayed at (Banff Park Lodge) was pretty nice except for the pool/hottub, which were small and rather disgusting. We met some people from Winnipeg who knew the Redls and Dave Gillespie. Such a small world. Anyway the suite was huge and really nice with granite all over and a shower with four nozzels and a really leaky door. The only complaint was that for such a large room, the TV could've been a little bigger. Or a lot bigger. We went out to Melissa's Mis-Steak where, again, the food was really so-so. But I did get a couple pints of beer without having to have my ID, so that's something.

Mom on the slopes
Lake Louise the next day, but by the time we got there, it was 11:00. I ended up skiing again, which was okay because Louise has lots of little tree paths adjacent to the green runs, and I also did quite a few blue and blacks with Larissa. The weather was again perfect, though it was pretty icy at Louise. Larissa got a little more daring today and was doing pretty well, and I also showed Mariah some turning on the mountains. She did alright, then she had a lesson and did great coming down. She really improved over those two days. We skiied the backside, which was probably my favourite trail, and stopped at the chalet for hot chocolate and a cookie. Dad didn't ski today because of his knee, but we took the Bow Valley Parkway home for him instead. It was a long drive (1 hr+) with not really great scenery in my opinion, but now I know, I guess. We ate at the hotel, which had a seafood buffet with a chocolate fountain and lots of nice fruit. I thought it'd be sketchy, but it was pretty good. Note to self: Go to gym.

We drove home on Saturday after a few hours in Calgary's Chinook Centre. I finally picked up Wilco's Summer Teeth, the Futureheads' album (I heard they're coming to Saskatoon this spring), Futurama season 2 (now my collection is complete!), Sid Meier's Pirates! (so far, hopelessly addicting), SimCity Rush Hour, and a pair of dark stretchy jeans I quite liked. Larissa looked for (and found) a grad dress, and Mariah got a build-a-bear. The ride home was rather fast, though that's largely thanks to the vital materials. Anyway, it was lots of fun and I hope to get my snowboarding down a bit more so I can do that next time.


the_dutch said...


I'll read it in detail later when I'm not procrastinating my studies. I posted some pics from my Seattle trip if you care to check out is funny! Bender rocks and it was refreshing because the Simpson's premise had gotten a little stale those years.

I must give the futureheads a listen

Dean said...

Cool, I particularly liked 1245 for some reason. I guess you have these natural 'towers' (trees) in the foreground and then manmade ones in the background. 1264 was really cool too, though what those tanks are doing in an otherwise nice lookin park is beyond me (1258). What's the name of that building in 1274 again? Smith Tower or something? I remember it from SimCity.

How were Bright Eyes? I'm not really that into them, but they're okay. I'm kinda' feeling that way about Futureheads right now, but hoping it'll grab me.

Anonymous said...

hey,dean you never said in banff when i went between your legs it was hard on the knees anyway those are great stories miss ya mariah