Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 5: Mid-Vacation Blues

Canadian Olympic Moments:

- Cheryl Bernard , captain of curling team: Atractive, fit, age-appropriate, good with a broom.

- Jon Montgomery: After winning a gold medal, he is walking through a group of fans. Instead of throwing flowers, a young woman hands him a pitcher of beer. He takes it, and starts swilling. Of the experience, he said: "It was the sweetest beer I ever tasted and, to boot, it was free." Man after my own heart.

- Popular joke about French Canadians: They prefer doggie-style, so they can both watch the hockey game.

Sunday morning, after Rod and Gun club shindig, my mouth tastes like the inside of a dirty goldfish bowl. My head has a mysterious Gorbachev-style skin rash.

Outside it's overcast. Inside it's overcast.

My knees make a strange crunching noise when I walk.

I meet Erik at the bus stop.

"No new snow?" I say.

"No new snow," he says.

We board the ski bus in silence.

Did we over do it last night with moose satay? No, we have contracted the mid-vacation blues.

Treatment options:

- sit with it and let the feelings pass like a snow-less, overcast sky.

- switch from light beer to dark beer

- if all else fails, one remaining course of action, but I hear it's very strong.

At the mountain, we head to the North Bowl. We ski to the entry of one trail. A skier is perched on a ledge above us. He watches as we peer over the edge and waiver. Then he snaps two quick turns and lands on a ledge 10-feet below us.

He looks at us again, then jumps, spins in the othe direction, and skis off leaving a roostertail of snow in his wake.

The last time I saw a move like that was in a Warren Miller extreme skiing movie.

I don't want to be in a Warren Miller movie or an episode of E.R.

We traverse across the top of the North Bowl to an easier entry point between the cliffs. Erik enters a chute called Sweet Spot. The chute is around a narrow bend. Erik sideslips around the bend, points his skis down, and takes off. He shrieks, but doesn't fall.

I sideslip down. I can't see; fog covers Erik's path, the only path down.

My skis won't move.

Erik takes off his backpack.

My legs won't move.

Erik takes out a bottle of Coke.

My skis still won't move.

Erik takes out his lunch.

My legs still won't move.

Erik takes out a book.

Ten seconds later, the mid-vacation blues have lifted.

Day 4: Rods, Guns, Beaver

Town of Revelstoke at a Glance:
1) Population:

- about 6,000 year-round, jumps to 8,000 during winter

- ethnic mix: none; lots of colorful locals, few locals of color.

- foreign minorities imported to perform scutt work: Australians (about 300).

2) Best places to meet women

- Curling rink (gives free lessons on Friday, have yet to verify.)

- All-you-can-eat buffet. (struck out.)

- Happy hour spot on mountain. (struck out there as well.)

- Match.com: A search on Revelstoke, yielded only six age-appropriate women. An expanded search that included age-inappropriate, younger women and those in nearby towns of Salmon Arm and Kamloops yielded 164 women. (Didn't see waitress from all-you-can-eat place.)

3) Cost of living index

- Exchange rate: even; a U.S. dollar gets you a Canadian dollar.

- Medium-sized bottle of Tobasco sauce: $7

- Six pack of local Kokanee beer: $13

- Seasonal rentals with utilities and Internet: 1 bedroom apartment $900, 2 bedroom $1000.

- Low-cost housing option: An Australian lived under a resident's porch without the resident knowing for most of the winter.

4) Snowbanks:
- typical season, six to nine feet high in town.
- this season: no snow banks, worst snow season in years.

Rod and Gun Club party

- Tickets: $30 a piece, purchased at Johnny's, a local bait and tackle shop on Victoria Road.
- Format: Drinks at 4:30
- Buffet dinner at 5:45
- Dancing at 9:00

Erik and I arrive at 5:30 and take seats at a long table near the exit, just in case. We buy four Budweiser cans at the bar and sit down.

The event is in the community center, which looks like a VFW hall filled with folding buffet tables.

Halfway through beer number one, I notice the skulls. The horns and skulls of moose, elk, buffalo, deer, and more are displayed on one wall. I'm guessing the carcasses of the animals are simmering in the chafing dishes in the middle of the room.

In the middle of the table is a little diorama of a bear. The woman next to picks it up and shows it to me.

"This is the one thing, I won't eat," she says.

What about beaver?

The woman is probably in her forties, very attractive, and seated with her husband.

Then the room becomes silent. The M.C. says grace:

"I want to give thanks for all we are about to receive, this bounty, and all our good friends and community who are gathered here tonight. I'd also like to bless our sponsors: The Sandman hotel, Begbie Glass Company, Skalicky's Plumbing and Gas --"

The MC eventually calls our table to the buffet line. Each chafing dish is labled:
- Moose meatballs.
- Moose stuffed cabbage.
- Moose satay on a stick.
- Two types of sliced goose, regular and Canadian
- Sliced bear, elk, and bison.
- Salmon
- beef lasagne, chicken and other domestic foods.
- vegetables.

I take a little of everything and buy a can of Kokanee beer before sitting down.

The moose on a stick initially tastes like beef, but has a skunky, rubbery after-taste, kind of like an old bicycle tire.

I cut a small slice of bear meat. It isn't red, it's kind of purple. I take a small bite. It doesn't taste like beef, it tastes like something that was recently shot in the head or hit by a car.

"Erik, you want the rest of my bear?" I ask.

The woman next to me looks over the growing pile of beer cans in front of me and nods.

"Don't wave that stuff in front me," she points to the little bear diorama in front of her.

I stick with the beef lasagne for the rest of the meal.

"So what do the guys from Boston think of the dinner?" she asks loud enough to get the attention of her husband and the couple sitting across from them.

"Anyone want the rest of my bison or a slice of elk?" I ask the group.

They all have small plates of uneaten animals in front of them.

"Actually," I say. " If we were in Boston, we probably wouldn't be talking to each other. We'd all be staring straight ahead, complaining about the food, the service, or the color of the hand towels in the bathroom."

One of the husbands joins the conversation. "We're a pretty friendly bunch," he says. "There are some real plusses to small town life."

Day 3: Will you marry me?

After skiing and happy hour, Erik and I go for dinner at a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The waitress approaches. She has firm biceps shaped like little moguls and wears long black slacks. She looks about 25.

Erik orders a gin and tonic.

"Want to make that a double?" she asks.

I ask about the buffet. "Is it really all you can eat?"

"Yup," she says.

"Can I go back five times?" I ask

"You can go back thirty times."

She returns with our drinks as I'm returning from the buffet.

"Do you ski?" I ask.

"Snowboard," she says.

I take a closer look at her: she has a tiny nose stud, skinny black glasses, and two hoops in one ear.

"Are you the one who has been running around erasing the 's' on all the Revelstoke signs?" I ask.

"Not me, I already have a job. But you be careful, the toke is very strong around here. Stoners hit the buffet and have to be carried out."

Sense of humor? Check.

We take out a trail map and ask her to recommend some trails. She points to the North Bowl.

Fit? Check.

"You going to the Rod and Gun club wild-game barbeque?" I ask her.

"I would, but I have to work. I hear there's lots of beaver."

Warped sense of humor? Check.

We chit chat some more. She owns a house, has two kids, and mentions something about a roomate -- not a husband, not a live-in boyfriend, but a male roomate. She could be in her early thirties.

Age appropriate? Maybe.

An hour later, I return to the buffet for thirds. The food has been put away. I stand there, my eyes wet with tears.

"Why so sad?" our waitress asks on her way to serve another table.

I point to the empty buffet.

"I'm so sorry," she says. "I put everything away. I spaced out."

"I was wrong about you," I say. "You're a really mean person."

"You poor underfed American. Wait here, I'm going to take care of you."

She delivers some drinks -- doubles no doubt -- to another tab le, and races into the kitchen. She emerges with another waitress; their arms are filled with chafing dishes, bowls, and silverware.

Thirty minutes later, I cross silverware on my empty plate in an act of surrender.

Erik is also finished. The waitress reaches for his empty plate.

"Erik, are you done?" I ask. "Have to keep an eye on her, she's got a reputation for removing food quickly. How do you think she got those arms?"

She turns to me. "You poor dear, did I traumatize you?"

In ways you'll never understand.

She hands me the check and approaches another table.

"You boys want to make that a double?" she says to her new customers.

Guess our time together was just business as usual.