Nick and Mary on the Trail at Canmore, Alberta

When Nick said he would be in Calgary on business January 11, we arranged to meet him at nearby Canmore, the closest Nordic skiing we could find to Calgary.  We had never heard of Canmore and knew nothing about it.  Imagine our delight when we arrived and learned that the Nordic course at Canmore was the sight of the Nordic events for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games (nominally, the Calgary Winter Olympics.)

Canmore and nearby Banff are set in a valley flanked on both sides by the most stupendous mountains I have ever seen.  They look like fists that have been thrust in the air, punched through the Earth’s more mundane surface and reaching to the sky.  Breathtaking!!!  We arrived in the afternoon on a clear day and the changing illumination of the setting sun on the mountain tops was a sight to behold.

Mary and I skied the Olympic course on Saturday, though not quite up to Olympic standards.  Temperatures were in the single digits with a headwind that froze our faces into immobility.  I don’t know if we gradually acclimated to the cold or the temperature actually climbed but we got used to it. Nick arrived late in the day and took us to dinner at a Canadian Mexican restaurant:


The demanding task of choosing one’s dinner.

where picky eater Lief had to pick the un-requested mushrooms out of his tacos – YECH!!!  (I hate mushrooms.)

After dinner we drove to Banff to see  The Revenant, a just-released movie about an epic tale of survival starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  The director did a masterful job of portraying the griminess of 19th century life.  It is hard to imagine DiCaprio winning the Oscar for his role, however, since he loses the ability to speak early in the movie when he is mauled by a grizzly bear and spends the next two hours on screen grunting and howling.  I give it four stars out of five because DiCaprio faces so many ordeals in this movie that just watching them becomes an ordeal for the audience.  (Nick actually missed the last twenty minutes because he fell asleep!)

The next day, Sunday, we three went back up to the course.

Nick, who has large backcountry skies not well suited to track skiing, wanted to take off through the woods.  Mary wanted to stick to the lower trails.  So Nick, with me in tow, tried some off-the-beaten-track stuff but found the underbrush too entangling so we dropped back down to a roller coaster-like trail that circumnavigated the course.  By 2PM there was little rambunctioussness left in Nick or me when we rejoined Mary in front of the fireplace in the lodge.  Nick had to head back to Calgary that evening for a meeting with the Canadians on Monday morning.

Mary and I have watched better skiers with considerable envy on this trip and we considered taking a lesson at Canmore.  The $120/hr fee, however, was too much to swallow so we loaded up the Honda Element and headed south this morning.  The highlight of the trip south to Whitefish, Montana for me was the world’s largest truck which we saw in the little town of Sparwood, BC:


See Mary by the front wheel?

We are now lounging at the Pine Lodge in Whitefish where we got a fantastic deal ($57) on a swanky (Mom’s word) room with a balcony overlooking the river.  We’re doubly impressed by this deal because we stayed in this very hotel when we rode the Great Divide this summer and a lesser room cost us $150 on that occasion.  Supply and demand.