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Thursday, 24 October 2013

(Mis)Adventures in Online Dating

Against my will, my better judgement and my self-righteous protestations ('I will fall in love with the dreamy man sitting next to me on my next international flight!' and, 'I want romance!  I want to share a beautiful story about how we met!'  and, 'Hello, I meet new people all the time anyway!') I joined an online dating site this past spring.  I did it because my female roommates did.  We would sit on couches in our living room.  I would watch while they checked their profiles for messages and catalogue-shopped for men.  I felt left out.  It was peer pressure really.  And the fact that I was left at home three nights a week while they gallivanted about town on various fun dates.

Catalogue-shopping for our next date.

The site I joined was called OkCupid.  I suppose that means something to the effect of, 'Okay Cupid!  I'm ready!  Take aim now with your cyber arrows and computer clicks...'  Anyhow, my roomies helped me to sign up.  Within an hour I had heard from someone.  A man.  'Oooh!  This is so exciting!'  I squealed.  Except that...it wasn't...The very first man to reach out to me was a very kind person I already knew.  He has chased after me at our local folk festival for the past five years calling out, 'Freckles!' and asking me on dates.  I have spent the past five folk festivals studiously avoiding contact.  I expect that he is an amazing person, but I am most definitely not interested.  Clearly, I've run into online dating pitfall #1:  you make yourself very available to others.  I suppose that's the point.  But maybe you don't want to be found so easily by everyone...

I woke up early the next morning and the first thought that crossed my mind was, 'I wonder if anyone has sent me a message through OkCupid today??'  I reached for my iPad while still in bed.  And abruptly sat up.  'Uh oh...'  I realized that I was already addicted.  I had to quit before this went any further.  And so I disconnected and removed my profile before ever actually communicating with anyone or going out on a date.



My family and friends kept surreptitiously prodding when it came to the topic of my love life...'Well...have you considered dating online?'  I referred to the aforementioned 'Freckles!' example and then to appease them I'd say, 'Well...if I don't meet somebody awesome this summer, I suppose I'll give online dating a try in the fall'.

And then the fall rolled around.  I was committed.  So I took a peek at Match.com.  I hated it.  It 'matched' me as a 91% perfect fit with someone who had broken my heart in the spring.  Oh, and 'Freckles!' appeared again almost instantly.  So I quit.  I looked at eHarmony.  It is prettier than the other dating sites.  It asks more relevant questions.  'Freckles!' is here as well but heck, I've gotten used to him by now.  Seeing him here just feels like bumping into an old friend. 

There is a saying in the online dating world that certain sites are for folks seeking marriage and others are for people with a much shorter timeline in mind.  They say that eHarmony fits under the former.  I clicked around, reading about various men.  Much to my dismay, I could not view any photos or communicate with people unless I paid 3 simple installments of only $19.99 a month.  I mean, "WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!?!?"  This process is so painful already....and now I have to PAY for it?!!!  You've got to be kidding me.  I should be PAID to share my most intimate personal details here in this way!  Disgruntled, I took the very cheap approach and began to use the one free function of the site.  The 'I might like you' winky face.  I sent winky faces to numerous men at random (you may notice from my blog that I do like the winky face...)  In any case, I heard back from some of these men.  They began to sound interesting.  I shared this with my sisters while home visiting for Thanksgiving.  They insisted that we pay to explore this further and that at the very least, it would be worth it for a night of entertainment. 

So I very unwillingly pulled out my credit card.  And I paid the bare minimum - which in this case was $60.  My sister wisely suggested that if I get one or two $60 dinners out of the deal it will provide a decent return on investment.  I'm not sure about that logic as I tend to pay for myself (and often my date as well)  but I clicked 'confirm' nonetheless.  We poured some Prosecco and began perusing the catalogue.  It was fun for me for the first five minutes.  It was fun for my sister all night.  Below, for what it's worth, I will share my insights.

I expect this picture may make you think I found the love of my life.  No.  It simply represents my sister and I drinking champagne.  The post is too plain without images, ok?

First, I have determined that men who date online do not have any female friends.  Or sisters.  Or mothers...but wait, that's not possible.  They all have belly-buttons (or at least I hope they do...)  I digress.  In any case, if these men DID have sisters, or females of some form in their lives, they would not be allowed to post the profile pictures that they do.  In no particular order, here are the photos that men choose to post to their online dating profiles:


The requisite 'bad mirror selfie' shot


The 'me and my siiick tattoo' shot
The 'me & my buddies love drinking' shot
The 'I spend most of my time with my muscle car' shot

 
 
The 'I can't quite cut out my ex-girlfriend' shot
 
 
I realize that I am being mean and judgemental.  My own profile could use some work.  But boys, I'm just trying to help!  Please allow me to instruct you as to what a girl wants to see (read: what I want to see)  Your face.  Smiling.  You doing what you love (is it really just drinking beer with your buddies??)  You and your mom.  I imagine us gals have terrible photos and ridiculous profiles too.  I haven't looked.  Though at this rate, I may have to, as I've burned through all my male 'matches' and haven't felt interested yet.  
 
All the kind people who met their partners at parties ten years ago, in college or (lucky you!) in highschool sweetly assure me that they know tons of people who are using, 'Oh, what is it called...."Lots of Fish in the Sea"?'  And that they even went to a wedding last summer where the couple had met online.  I can't help but find this patronizing and painful.  I consider myself to be a normal, awesome person - a 'catch' if you will.  I believe that I shouldn't 'have' to date online and I don't want to.  Well, let me tell you something.  We all think that.  The reality is, if you're single today, you are probably dating online.  Most of us are.  In fact, Stanford University conducted research that shows that one in three relationships now start online.  (Ummm...what?  Stanford is studying dating?  Don't we still have to cure cancer?)  Anyhow, apparently if current trends hold, come 2015 online dating will be the most common way for somebody to enter into a new relationship or meet their future spouse.
 
I have hated the process so far.  My distaste for meeting a man through a computer screen biases my writing - and I apologize for all the offensive things I have written.  The truth is, though I have an online profile, I am unqualified to comment on the whole thing.  I have yet to actually meet a single man in person - and that's where it may all change for me.  After all - it's people that I love.  Not computer screens.  I can't seem to feel any attraction to an image.  Nor excitement over an 'about me' paragraph.  I still can't shake the stigma.  Nor can I shake the romantic dreams of love at first sight, 'the one' and having a dreamy man write a guitar song for me.  But the truth remains:  behind each of those profile images lies a unique being who, just like me, is waiting to fall in love.
 
I commend all of you beautiful and bold people who are posting profiles online.  You are asking for what you want and reaching out to connect with others.  It takes courage and a lot of patience.  It seems that this is the way of our times.  Initial contact may be slightly different from bumping into someone at a cocktail party, but I am convinced that if you can make it past the screen, that falling in love will still feel the same.
 

P.S.

Oh!  A very important post-script:

Quite frankly, my mom is THRILLED by the idea of online dating (most people who aren't doing it for themselves are)  Anyhow, back to my case and my mother.  I think she's champing at the bit to log in and find my future husband.  It's the closest access she's yet had to an arranged marriage.  She and her friends jokingly plan arranged marriages between their progeny during their dinner parties.  I find this appalling (and...ok, somewhat hilarious).  But in truth, for modern times, eHarmony, etc. are the accessible and appropriate (?? I'm still dubious) way for a WASPy Canadian mother to plan her daughter's arranged marriage.  In fact, Mom actually gave me a book a few years ago (after a particularly bad boyfriend choice) entitled, 'First Comes Marriage'.  I, obviously, abhor the whole idea.  But Mom, yes, I hear your point.  And yes you can have the login information for my eHarmony account.


Thanks Mom.




Friday, 4 October 2013

Whitehorse: Quintessentially Canadian

If moose, float planes and the CBC are what it takes to be Canadian, then Whitehorse is Canadian through and through.

In fact, upon arrival, I stepped into the airport shuttle and was greeted by a familiar and very Canadian voice.  Stuart McLean's comforting and lilting stories about Morley and Dave flowed forth from the radio on the Vinyl Cafe.  The following morning, I headed to the CBC building myself for an interview on the Radical Reels show that brought me to Whitehorse.  And the CBC opened their doors to the public that day as part of Doors Open Yukon - a fabulous French concept providing the public with access to buildings they may not normally enter.

Chatting about Radical Reels with Sandi Coleman on CBC North's 'A New Day'

I'd love to wander through Whitehorse wearing a webcam. People would likely look at me oddly - but that's nothing new for me, as a redhead prone to getting into awkward scrapes (I actually meant to name this blog Little Misadventure). With my webcam mounted on my carrot top, I could easily transmit the beauty I am seeing to the world: the golden leaves, the low-lying western frontier stores on the main street (aptly named, 'Main Street') and the mighty river that flows through it all.

My new friend Jenny let me know that there are two moose here for each person.  She brought me to the colourful, stunning sights of Fish Lake, Miles Canyon and the Yukon river.  People here are immersed in a landscape that is still wild.  And what I have seen reinforces what I just learned in Alaska.  That life is different here.  Out of necessity, people are resilient, resourceful and in some way READY for what life may bring. 

Whitehorse and the mighty Yukon River

But there is one thing I have to expose.  There's a sort of seniority here in these northern climes.  If I were to move here, I'd be considered a 'cheechako' - a Chinook word for a 'newcomer' or 'tenderfoot'.  I may outgrow the moniker if I were to make it through a winter here and prove myself.  I might even earn the honour of becoming a 'sourdough'!  This term comes from the gold rush days when sourdough starter was used to get bread to rise in the absence of baker's yeast or eggs.  It's used now to define an Alaska or Yukon old-timer.  It's fair.  It takes grit to live here.  Or to borrow a line I love, a little grit and a lot of grace.

The northern strength of character (which can make for some real characters! See 'The Colourful Five Per Cent') is their entry fee.  In return for this price of admission, locals earn unparallelled access to a world that is wild and real.  As my new friend Nancy Oakley of The Yukon Historical & Museums Association so aptly noted,

'[The People's] life patterns are more connected to the land up here'



It's moose hunting season at the moment.  People speak of Salmon runs.  And locals are thrilled about the bountiful Highbush Cranberry haul this year, supported by a long, wet, warm summer.  It reminds me of my friend Celina Harpe, a Cree-Chipewyan elder from Ft McKay -another northerner- who lit up as she spoke of her cranberry harvest this year from Moose Lake.

In fact, as I write this post, I am overhearing a conversation in the hotel lobby.
'Have you been out there picking cranberries?'
'Yes!!  Who hasn't?'
It's the most natural thing in the world here.  Scratch that.  It's the most natural thing in the world.  Why aren't we all doing it?

A float plan resting quietly on Schwatka Lake at dusk

Float planes bask in the setting sun on Schwatka lake and I can't hear anything but my own breathing.  I just found the perfect quote to capture what I'm feeling.  I borrow this from the beautiful website of local filmmaker Marten Berkman - whose stunning film '2004 Yukon Quest' toured the world with The Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2005.  Incidentally, Marten was the first friendly stranger I met when I disembarked from the plane.

'The civilized people have lost the aptitude of stillness, and must take lessons in silence from the wild.' ~Isak Dinesen



There is a stillness here, an expansiveness, a sense of SPACE.  Is it possible that we humans are somehow...more HUMAN when there are less of us per square foot?  I bet there is some optimal density of human bodies that creates the conditions for the most adaptive, resilient individuals and communities.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it's been studied.  Actually, I know it has been - I remember now that I came across the concept Dunbar's Number when I was helping to form a cohousing community in Calgary.  The point is, getting the right number of people into a place, and just the right number, can increase group members' sense of satisfaction.  And I postulate that they've nailed it here.  It makes me feel resistant to heading home to the relative bustle of Banff...(or as locals here might say, as I head back 'Outside').

Finally - it's worth mentioning, that those romantic ideals I held of The Yukon were right.  I think that most of us harbour some similar romantic notion of 'The North'.  It IS romantic here.  For goodness' sake, it is home to The Klondike, fourteen First Nations and the cabin in which Robert Service penned, The Cremation of Sam McGee!  It helps that attractive men are in such abundance here.  That always serves to up the romantic ante for me.

Oh, and did I mention - my hotel actually organizes wake-up calls for guests to see the Northern Lights!  Now THAT's romantic!

And beneath the romance lies something very real - an aliveness, a lust for life and a very deep sense of connection to place.

This small and delicious, gamy taste of the north has simply whet my appetite.  Next I've gotta get me to Dawson.  And drive The Dempster.  Any takers?


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

I Left my Heart in Kodiak

Kodiak, Alaska will forever now be known as the emerald isle that broke open my heart.

Here's how it happened.

I have had the great good fortune in my life to travel.  A lot.  To very special places. 
Both personally and professionally, whether as an Inflight-Safety-Professional (read: flight attendant), international active travel guide or film festival emcee, I have experienced some of the most exciting, gorgeous places on earth.  And along the way I have met wonderful, gracious, fascinating people.

But Alaskans are a different breed. 
I would go so far as to say a better breed.

(Easy, people!  I love you all!  It's just that as a whole,
Alaskans are somehow...better )

Perhaps it's due to the sometimes harsh conditions in which they live.  Maybe it's their isolation.  Or most likely, it's their immersion in wilderness.  After all, Walt Whitman did say, and I agree, that:

"Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air,
and to eat and sleep with the earth."

An excerpt from Song of the Open Road, published in 1856

Whatever the cause, my experience with the people of Alaska was with uniformly capable, self-reliant and kind beings.  Top this with the hospitality and generosity gene they carry that far exceeds anything I've seen in my adventures thus far.  Did I mention that they're also all ridiculously good-looking? 

(My new age hippie home friends would approve of the number of bearded men in America's largest state - are you reading this Paula?)

I touched down in Anchorage.  I was picked up from my hotel by Mike, an avid naturalist, writer and lover of life.  He reads Terry Tempest Williams and runs folk music shows.  We are clearly kindred spirits. We drove toward Seward along the blue fringes of Turnagain arm, home to the second highest tides in the world next to the Bay of Fundy. Within an hour I had seen a pod of Belugas, a flock of Dall Sheep and a moose. The place is wild.

I spent the evening with an enthusiastic crowd of adventure film junkies and emerged to a gorgeous moon outlined in the cold sky.  There was a full size image of it in the paper the following morning, and the headlines read:

"Harvest Moon Rises Over Anchorage"

and,

"Scientists Report Advancing Glaciers"


Now THAT is my kind of news.  THIS is my kind of place.

I took off from Anchorage as the sun rose over Denali.

Denali Sunrise


We approached Kodiak.
Whew.  I need to catch my breath.
Kodiak is like NOWHERE I HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.



Surfers' Beach, Kodiak Alaska

It's like Hawaii.  Or paradise.  Or something.  The wildness and rugged beauty are like nothing else.
And again, its people are what put it over the top.

It seemed that we came up to the short runway very quickly, our Dash 8 bucking and lurching as we approached.  It was the most exciting landing I've ever experienced (and as you may note by the aforementioned 'Inflight-Safety-Professional' line - I have experienced many landings in my lifetime).

Now here's where it gets good. 
I was met at the airport by my local host (and new Alaska best friend) Sara.
I learned later that it's a Kodiak custom to never let anyone land in or leave their airport unaccompanied.  After years of landing lonely in new places after dark, this completely warms my heart.  This custom alone is enough to make me move to the place.  Sara didn't stop there.  She warmly welcomed me to the mystical, cloud-shrouded island and took me out for a coffee.  We ordered Brevés which, for the uninitiated, involve cream rather than milk and are essentially liquid heaven. 

And as if that weren't enough, we then drove up Pillar Mountain to look over rugged beauty of Kodiak.  Spinning wind turbines decorate the summit like giant pinwheels.  The place is powered by hydro and wind - 95% renewable energy. Hello, Heaven!

Kodiak is powered by 95% renewable energy - hydro & wind, the perfect pairing

































 

    
Shortly after arrival I looked at a map of the island and noticed Erskine Mountain.  That's my maternal grandmother's maiden name.  No wonder I feel so at home here.  I'm practically from the place!

Clearly, my ancestors in the Erskine family had been here before

I spent the rest of the day bathing in the generosity of strangers.  Strangers who fast became friends.  We ate giant cookies, went to the beach, got up high and with real curiosity, got to know one another.  I learned some of the local lingo - like 'termination dust' - the first snow on the peaks that indicates the end of summer.  And I even tried out a buoy swing with my sweet and creative new friend Abbey.


Abbey teaches me the finer points of buoy swinging

I slept at Cliff House B&B - but that in no way describes my experience.
In truth, I was welcomed into the home of Marty and Marion - and nourished with kindness, great conversation and cookies fresh from the oven.  I felt completely held and at home.

Now here's what I've noticed about this place.  I feel different here.  People make time.  For all those little acts that make a person feel connected, cared for and human.  From sharing a fresh carrot from the garden to offering their help and to really listening.  This strikes a particular chord with me given my recent contemplative pilgrimage to Alberta's tar sands and my work to quiet my mind.  This quiet is alive in Kodiak, and the people who shared their island with me are doing all those things that make the difference.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the special organization that invited me to the island in the first place.  They are the Island Trails Network - hellooooooo! Could they be any more INCREDIBLE? This tiny and committed organization is one of the most efficient, well-managed and aspirational non-profits I've seen (and working with the grants program of The Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, I've been fortunate to see many phenomenal non-profit groups in action).  This team works from dawn til dusk building and restoring trails to encourage active engagement in the magical landscape of their islands.  They connect community members through events and opportunities for outdoor activity and they clear the beaches of tons of marine debris each year (much of it from Japan).  They do all this with a vigor, a passion and an energy that exceeds that of even the most youthful Jack Russell Terrier.  Their superstar team smiles while they work hard and they make it look fun.  Most remarkable of all, they are universally liked on the island.  And you and I both know (especially if you live in Alberta!) that this is not always the case for environmental groups.  Island Trails and their champions are truly making a positive difference to the people, places and other sentient beings on their small slice of earth.  And the ripple effect they're creating is more like a tsunami.  Now that's what I call good work.


Island Trails' youngest team member taking a snack break.  Notice his Alaska uniform: Carharrt coveralls and plaid flannel

My personal take on the people I met in Alaska is that for the most part, the folks that crossed my path actually choose to live there.  Many have come from far away to be there.  They pay attention to how beautiful it is every day.  And what broke my heart wide open was the true caring and kindness that everyone showed me.  From the man sitting next to me on the plane, to my local hosts who I now joyfully consider friends, people gave freely of themselves, their home and their time.  .  Nobody is a stranger.   I have been touched.  And I don't think I'll ever be the same.  I now walk home from the wild.  With an open heart.


Kodiak Sunrise Photo Credit: Sara Mooers

“Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break....I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

It's a Party up Here! (and We're Gonna Have one Hell of a Hangover in a Hundred Years...)

Wow.
I barely know where to start.
Except to say that I find myself in Ft McMurray, and it hasn't stopped buzzing since I arrived.
Boys and their shiny toys have been cruising the streets day and night.  Most of these boys are driving shiny new Ford 350s.  Most of them are 31 years old, the average age in this city.  Most of them are probably making $177,000 a year, the average annual income in this city. 

Now some of you may be thinking, 'Fantastic!  Maybe she'll finally meet her man!"  Well, to you I have to say, 'Not bloody likely...'  For this is one of those towns where, as the saying goes, 'the odds are good, but the goods are...odd'.  (My apologies to any sweet Fort Mac boys who may be reading this post!  It's just that I fear we may be ideologically opposed, but if that's not the case or you're open to converting :) let's talk.)

As far as the place itself goes, it's certainly a party.  A sausage-fest to be more precise. But I won't be moving here anytime soon.  I'm more inclined to think along the same lines as Neil Young, who in Washington DC this past Monday declared Fort McMurray's oilsands a 'wasteland'.  In response, a local Fort McMurray station decided to pull Young's music from their playlist.  My response to them, is to play his music as loud as I can.  Here's one of my (particularly relevant) faves:

 
Now, as for Ft Mac, someone had better call the cops to shut down this 'party' that's going on, because it's bringing down our house.  Literally.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Who KNEW you could have so much fun with a bunch of nuns???

 
Until Tuesday, my only experience with sisters was with my own.  My sweet siblings who double as confidantes, best friends, giggle partners and touchstones to bring me back into line when I go off sideways (it's been known to happen).  And the only habits I knew were bad ones - like eating chocolate before bed.  And I'm not religious.  Except for the way I religiously crave chocolate (note the aforementioned).

But this week, I've set out on a journey along the length of the Athabasca River with a bunch of nuns.  Okay, that's not quite true.  Amongst us are three 'Sisters of Earth', part of a network of women working to heal the ecological and spiritual crises of our times.  Two amongst them belong to formal communities of sisters and are what I would have until now referred to as 'nuns'.  The third is a long time social justice activist.  The final team on our journey are Theo - a man of great courage to engage in this two week voyage with a gaggle of gals, and his partner Terry, a writer and Buddhist.

A road trip with nuns is nothing like I might have expected it to be.  Picture less convent, more 'Sister Act'. I find myself in the presence of some of the most progressive thinkers I've ever met.  We dress in jeans and sweatshirts and spend our days sharing both our love and deep concerns for the world.  We talk about politics, dreams, ideals and ideologies.  We sip wine at night, speak candidly of beauty and of darkness, periodically say, 'Oh my God!' and giggle into the evenings.  As for what we giggle about, well, that's nun of your business ;)

For a less irreverent take on the trip, visit our blog at: riverpilgrims.net

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

If you're getting rad and there's nobody there to see it, are you really getting rad?*

*title and most of content stolen directly from G.N.A.R. (Get used to it. I plan to steal the rest of my life from G.N.A.R.)  For those of you unfamiliar with this ski sensation, get familiar with it!


G.N.A.R. - movie trailer from UnofficialNetworks.com on Vimeo.

I just spent 10 days with 10 people in 2 RVs (Again, stealing from the movie/movement because it's way cooler, we nicknamed our motor homes The GnaRVs).  We drank 5 cups of coffee per day, slept for 3 hours less than we should have and shot off 2 roman candles each night. 

For a full run-down on snow, conditions and galleries of hot photos - see www.snow-reports.ca (my new fave website!).  Our trip stories are there for Castle, Whitewater and Red Mountain.  It is very helpful to have a new friend who can not only forecast weather (and make a killer cup of coffee!), but who pays attention to the lifts we ride and the direction we turn when we get off the chair (and then writes it all down for us!)  I actually only ever care about people, and about what I'm experiencing in any given moment.  (This may be why I am lost most of my life, feel shocked everytime I land in an unsavoury situation and am perpetually having to think on my feet).  Hopefully the above reporting will help to make sense of the garble below for anyone who doesn't think the way I do.

If someone from another planet happened to drop onto the Powder Highway** and directly into our GnaRVs this past week, they would have discovered that the most commonly used words in Canadian english are (in order):
Rad, and bro. 
Oh, and gnar.
This interplanetary interloper would also discover that:
60% of people are engineers.
Events only really matter if they're captured on camera (ideally video).
The best way to communicate is through 2-way radio. 
And avoiding face to face communication is key to maintaining good relations.

Now, back to the title of this post.  It's not what you do.  It's who you do it with.  (Or who's there to see you do it.)  I just experienced one of the most amazing trips of my life.  The mountains beckoned, the snow was deep and the food was taste (thanks Mikey F! You've seriously upgraded my vocab this week).  What made the trip sensational were my travelling companions.  They kept their eyes out for me as we skied between tight trees.  We laughed from the moment we opened our eyes in the morning until we fell exhausted into our bunks at night.  We skied and rode as hard and as fast as anyone I've ever met, and on our one rainy day, we rolled out onto the hill (literally) and pulled all our park tricks out of the bag.  

Here is the crew, one by one.  The new wolfpack.  I'd go with them anywhere.  But only in a GnaRV.


K Sesh Freaky Fresh
Trip organizer, rad rider, and...alpha male of our wolf pack?  Debata-bro! Likelihood of visibility on the slopes behind him = zero %  (You'll be buried alive in his powder slash)  Luckily, he's very fast and nobody can keep up with the guy anyway.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick!
 
K-Tron 

Alpha female of the aforementioned wolfpack?  Awooooooo! Skis with perfect form at all times and can rattle off a retort or debate on any topic.  Even mid-line.  Just try her on The Spanish Inquisition.

K-Tron, doubled over laughing.  As usual.
 
Mikey F
 

King of the hill.  Grows the best 'stache west of Moosejaw.  Spits rhymes like a genius. Fond of the gratuitous use of 2-way radios, huge air, bathroom breaks and the word gratuitous.  See:

gra·tu·i·tous

[gruh-too-i-tuhs, -tyoo-]

adjective 
 
1. being without apparent reason, cause, or justification: a gratuitous face shot.


Yet another gratuitous sponsor shot by Mikey F

 



J Chip
Breaker, breaker.
J Chip, one of two Turner siblings to rock the GnaRVs.  Their ability to shred the gnar on snowboards one day and huck trees on skis the next labelled them the 'AmbiTurners'. Why does J Chip get more photos than anybody else?  Obviously because I like her the best.  Get over it.

J Chip on a ski day.


AmbiTurning


Ghost?  Nope.  Just one of the AmbiTurners....Big B getting rad.  Again.
Big B being kind and hanging out with his weird cousin.
So Big B can not only shred anything, huck anything and ride anything, he can also build whatever he wants to ride (ie. Skis, snowboards, skateboards, wooden horses...).  Also, he's nice.  See above.  I love the guy.  But then again, I'm biased.  He's family. 

C-Tine
The nicest gal you'll ever meet on skis.  Check it out.  She's even smiling mid-photo.  Getting rad with a smile.  And she teaches yoga.  Siiiiiick!

 
True love.  Ski hill style.


 
Up there is M.Ski.B.  He's too cool for a caption.  I mean look at the guy! I almost hate him.  But he has that same super power that all the ridiculously talented people have - the epically nice gene that keeps them alive.  He's the sickest skier I've ever seen. He built my fave website (have I mentioned?? www.snow-reports.ca??)  I could go on.  But I can't stand it.



K Tine
Then there's K Tine.  She gets rad (see above).  I'd add in another photo here.  And I really, really want to....but then she'd have to explain it to her parents.  You can thank me later K Tine.


Lil B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I left Lil B til last.  That guy is up for ANYTHING!  He's the champion of the face shot (see above).  He also penguin slides like no other.  And that guy can FLY!  I can't include another shot of him.  You'll all just be too jealous.
 
This is me.  I like to get rad.
 

Posse out!
 **Powder Highway = Highway #3 as it winds through interior British Columbia, flanked by amazing resorts and some of the dreamiest skiing you'll experience in a lifetime.  Sometimes (like this past week) very deep snow falls in the area.  Hence the term 'powder' in Powder Highway.  Sometimes the temperature heats up (like this past week).  Hence the terms 'rain' and 'snow-like-hardening-concrete' in Powder Highway (the terms 'rain' and 'snow-like-hardening-concrete' are silent)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Crickets! Crrrrikey!

So...there is a cricket in my house.
Which is not really my house, given that I am living in my car.
But that's another story.

Cricket. In house. In winter. Not ok.
The cricket made itself known last night.
(Oh - and if you're wondering, NO! I am not one of those people that keep scary pets that eat live crickets.  There was no chance of escapees in this case. This was a completely random cricketing.)
I was alone in the house trying to eat dinner.  'Chirp!' came the sound, high-pitched and irritating.  I ate a bite of my sandwich, hoping it was a one-time, random chirping. 
'Chirp!'
I had to leave the house. 

Hours later I returned.
This time I was with Paula.  We'd been in the house mere moments when the cricket made itself known.  I set about making a snack.  Paula, on the other hand, could do NOTHING but seek out the insect.  Against my will, I was drawn into the hunt.  Two hours later, after unplugging the microwave, fridge, stove, modem, smoke detector, doorbell and every other remotely electrical device in our home, we still had not found him.  We opened every bag of grain, flour and carb-product and Paula didn't even stop at the coffee beans.  I turned off my phone.  The cricket went silent.  For a moment.  Paula shot daggers at me with her eyes.
And then, 'chirp'!



Exhausted and emotionally drained, we lay down on the kitchen floor.  For some reason Paula looked up.  She noticed something under the counter.  We got close to it, and heard the offending noise:


I sighed with relief and said, 'Oh, it's a carbon monoxide detector'. Paula backed away from the thing as though terrified. She said, 'I've never seen that thing before'. And then she did the strangest thing.  She put her mouth close to the small machine and said, 'Chris, are you listening?'  She was clearly convinced that our house had been bugged.  By our own room-mate!  Honestly, who would go so far as to do that?  I told Paula she was crazy. Chris was out of the house at the time.  He's always out of the house.  He's here from Germany doing medical research and the mice in his lab must be tended to every four hours.  He's so often out of the house in fact that he has had to purchase this in order to sleep in his lab:

Chris' Ostrich Sleeping Pillow

Anyway, I digress. Given our difference of opinion on the device, Paula and I figured that it was time to call in expert help. A one am phone call to our favourite instrumentation specialist assured us that we were not likely in immiment danger.  Still, to be safe, we opened all the windows and crawled into bed together (better to die together than alone, I always say).

After a fitful sleep, I stumbled into the kitchen.  I found Chris there making coffee. I regaled him with the cricket episode.  He brought his hand to his face and began to giggle. 
'WHAT????????????!!!' I screamed, waking Paula and all the neigbourhood cats. 'It worked exactly like the testimonials said it would,' gasped Chris, now doubled over in the kitchen.  As he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes, he reached under the counter for the offending device.  Tucking it into the box he pulled from his pocket he said, 'Have a nice day!' and headed back to his lab.

Chris likes to emphasize that he purchased not just the Annoy-a-Tron, but the Annoy-a-Tron 2.0

Epilogue:
I giggled all day long.  Something about this premeditated prank by my 26 or 27 year old (he's not sure) self-appointed younger brother makes me feel loved.  (I mean he was thoughtful enough to order the thing online for goodness' sake!)  For Paula two different things have happened.  One:  Chris is now to be known as 'The Annoy-a-Tron'.  And Two: we are busily plotting revenge....

Monday, 11 February 2013

Lifts of Love: High Speed Quad to the Heart!




All photo credits to Max Losee

So...it started with an innocent little idea. 
I was just riding the chairlift with a friend.  We began to laugh about the 'Singles' line at the base of the chair.  And, oh, if only it were that easy in life....Wait a second....YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! And thus, Lifts of Love was born.  Speed-dating at a ski hill.  Each lift ride up is a speed date with some other eligible snow rider.  And if you don't like how it goes, well, you schuss off into the distance.


By the next day, Cupid (aka Jeff Siddle) was on the slopes of Mt Norquay for his photo shoot.
 
A couple weeks later, 100 singles were lined up to ski and shred for the evening.  Connections were made, numbers were exchanged.  And the rest, as they say, is sweet ski hill history.  Until the next Lifts of Love event, that is!
Lifts of Love - Ride the High Speed Quad to the Heart!

Thanks to CJSW's Charmer's Almanac and Mountain FM for radio interviews, and a host of others (including but not limited to the Canmore Leader, Rocky Mountain Outlook, Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Virgin Radio) for great stories and coverage!
Footnote:  The added hilarity here is that I grew up skiing at a very small, intimate ski hill. When skiing alone, at the base of the hill you were to raise a pole in the air, tilt your head back and belt out a mighty 'SIIIIINGLE!'  I always thought this was how one should operate in pubs and such.  Finally, I now have an outlet.  And for those of you who are thinking that I launched this entire event as a  campaign to uncover my next mountain man.  Well....so what if I did???