Zubby Newsletter – April 17, 2000

Looking back even a day later… it’s easy for me to say that I had one of the most incredible weekends of my life. It’s hard to describe it actually. I’ll do my best. If you’re looking for a short e-mail, this is not going to be the one. Get ready for an epic tale, Zub-style!

My friend Jordie had invited my on a ski trip for the weekend. He works for the Calgary Herald newspaper and they had helped set up an event in Lake Louise. I haven’t been to Lake Louise since around August of 1998 and I figured “What the hell”. So, on Tuesday, I accepted the offer.

By Thursday, I was pretty rundown from the work week and was carefully thinking of how I could weasel out of going without making Jordie angry at me. I couldn’t think of a decent excuse and realized I was stuck. Jordie had already rented a car and was going to be picking me up at work after 4:00pm on Friday. I was actually dreading it…

Driving up to Lake Louise proved it’s own adventure. The snow was coming down hard and when we stopped for a quick bite to eat, things took a turn for the worse. Upon leaving the restaurant, Jordie discovered that he couldn’t get the doors to the car unlocked. He tried both sides and even the trunk and the key just wouldn’t work! With snow pelting down on us… we both started swearing up a blue streak. And then… I realized that we had been trying to open the wrong car. Our car was two down from where we were. Embarrassed and cold, we decided to never bring this up again. Looking back now, it was too good to pass up. Sorry, Jord 🙂

I had no idea of what was to come. Pulling around the road, we pulled up to the Chateau Lake Louise. The first words out my mouth were “There’s no way THIS is where we’re staying for free this weekend”. The view from the hotel is breathtaking and the cheapest, crappiest rooms will run you at least $500 a night. The valet took our car and we were informed that YES, this is the right spot.

Chateau Lake Louise

We registered at the front desk and received a backpack full of free stuff. From gloves to a vest, sunscreen, chocolate and more. We also received a pass that we were told to wear all the time. I had no idea at the time that this pass would be the proverbial Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

The reception was held in the Victoria Room of the hotel. It’s a massive banquet hall with huge windows looking out at a postcard crippling view of the Rockies. I was in awe. Many of the people at the event had been coming to this for many years prior. I hope if I’m able to go back next year that I don’t take that view for granted. It’s unbelievable. After some prime roast beef and a beer, Jordie and I ducked out of the country music that would be playing and instead hit the Saloon downstairs.

The Glacier Saloon at Chateau Lake Louise is a bar only in the sense that they serve alcohol and have pool tables. I have never seen a bar so shiny with comfortable love seat type chairs at every table. This is roughing it for people with 6-figure salary jobs. Trying to relax, Jordie and I hit the pool table and after a few games, we were approached by some older ladies. They’d obviously been drinking and happily trash talked us into playing some pool. Then, they succeeded in mopping the floor with us. These shark women at the pool table kicked our asses two games in a row (it didn’t help that I made a disastrous last shot in the second game that cost us the win).

Having enough of the pool table, I decided to see if I could get some good music playing. A guy named Mel (I would later find out that he Dee Jay’s a Banff radio station) was spinning a weird mix of tunes. Some of the songs would cut out or fade at the strangest times. This was because Mel was well and truly drunk. A great guy, but he was having trouble spinning the music. I suggested some tunes and after a few minutes of us joking around he happily says:

“Hey, after this song…I’ll step down. You can DJ instead, okay?”

That’s how I ended up DJing the Glacier Saloon at Chateau Lake Louise for 3 hours of 80’s, Dance, Disco and Funk. The dance floor got packed, everybody went wild and by the end of the night the manager of the Saloon thanked me for my time and bought me more drinks. To clear the place at 2:30am , I cranked up some Let Your Backbone Slide by Maestro Fresh Wes instead of the expected slow song to finish off the evening. Within 6 hours, Jordie and I had already left our mark on Chateau Lake Louise. That was only Friday…

The Victoria Room

Saturday morning we woke up at 7am and headed to the Victoria Room for breakfast. It’s there I find out that the main event of the weekend is a Slalom Race with the major companies represented being split into teams. All of the proceeds are going towards Cystic Fibrosis Research. Each team would have a skiing Legend leading them. The Calgary Herald Team #1 was lead by Laurie Graham, a 7 times World Cup Champion and Bronze Medallist (I hope that’s right). I struck it off very well with the Herald people (you may notice their e-mail addresses attached to this newsletter list now). We joked and ate and agreed we’d all meet on the slopes.

I have never skied before. EVER. After some disastrous spills skating as a kid, I think I had a mental block against winter sports. But if I was ever going to ski, this weekend had to be it. Free Lift Tickets, great company and the most beautiful skiing conditions. I was so overwhelmed with the beauty and rush of trying to ski that I forgot some key things:
• Take a lesson before you head to the slopes.
• Make sure you know how to brake.

Over the next 2 hours, I shattered my body on the bunny hill. I rolled, tumbled and crashed about 20 times, twisting my legs in positions man was not meant to attempt. Unbelievably, I didn’t do permanent damage to myself. The 12 year olds skiing and snowboarding nearby got some entertainment out of it, too.

After a quick barbeque lunch, Jordie would be racing again and I wanted to see him tackle the slalom course. One of Herald ladies named Ronalda had a daughter named Ashley (about the same age as my cousin Lisa) who said she’d help me learn to ski and take me to the race spot.

From what I could see up the mountain, it looked like the chair lift would take me relatively close to the race point. I could then just tumble down a single hill and watch Jordie race. Once I got on the chair lift, my vantage point allowed me to note that it actually extended about 3 runs higher than I had anticipated. Ashley had to go ahead and get ready for her race and I turned my attention to getting down the mountain.

The first 18-20 falls were the worst. The rest just didn’t matter.

I was close to tears when my leg wrapped around into a sort of reverse cross-legged position. After that, the pain was enough that I just didn’t notice anymore. I tumbled down the hills cursing, spitting and praying that I wouldn’t wreck everyone’s weekend by needing to be hospitalized. Somehow I made it to the race spot, looking like an abominable snowman. 2 minutes later, Jordie was off and I’d made it just in time. I watched the racers and cheered them on while TSN filmed the whole thing. It was very cool, until I realized that I’d have to make my way down the rest of the mountain. We won’t go through that series of crashes…

Getting back to the Chateau, I rested in bed while my calves screamed in agony until dinnertime. Luckily, red wine was free flowing over dinner and by the time the 4th course of meal came, I didn’t feel a thing. Jordie succeeded in embarrassing me quite a bit when he brought down my sketchbook. I did some quick caricatures and tried to convince people I wasn’t a complete klutz like I appeared on the hill.

In all seriousness, the weekend’s proceeds were going towards Cystic Fibrosis and there were some emotional speeches and big cheques handed out towards the charity. A lot of fun for a great cause.

That night, it was free beer at the Glacier Saloon and a live band kicked up some awesome music. It was surreal, dancing with Olympic champs, big media types and friends all at the same time. Jordie and I hung out with some of the people we’d met and winded down the night chatting about jobs, skiing and ice cream (hard to explain).

At around 3am, Jordie and I went outside and checked out the incredible view of Lake Louise under moonlight. The fresh air, cold beer and stunning view will stick with me for a long time.

Sunday morning was another barbeque at the slopes and an awards ceremony for a race held that morning. The 40 Legends who were Team Leaders raced each other and Laurie, our champ… won in the Ladies Division. It was the perfect capper to the best weekend. Everyone was smiling and the people I met hoped that Jordie and I could come next year. If given the chance, I won’t hesitate for a second.

The drive home was a relaxing zoom along the clear roads with a startling blue sky. We finished off our rolls of film and hit the mall for some 1 hour processing.

After the difficult days I’ve had for the last few weeks, it was the perfect vacation. I’m in pain today, but I’ve still got a grin and a hell of a tan. An adventure that I won’t forget.

Thanks to everyone who’s just joined this list. You guys and gals made the weekend sparkle. To everyone else, check out the photos and start planning trips to Calgary 🙂

View From the Chateau

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