A Travellerspoint blog

Our final days of work for Kimberley Alpine Resort

Farewell students, farewell Inghams, farewell landlords, farewell Eric - Eric we said goodbye!

Wednesday 25th March - hard ground

As the season is drawing to an end we are finding ourselves starting to say more and more goodbyes. Today Christian taught his home school student for the last time and as a tip got 3 bags of Beef Jerky. I think this is likely to be the most memorable and most Canadian tip either of us recieve. Apparently the kid's dad is a jerky exporter and so now Christian can try out a variety of different flavours: teriyaki, peppered and honey something. Good job he's found he likes jerky!

Thursday 26th March - cool and icy

Today I had my last lesson with TM Roberts, my favourite school to teach. All of the kids are about 10 and I was lucky enough to be given the good riders. I have a class of up to 13 kids who rock around the hill with me improving their riding and hitting jumps. Most of them are on their school holidays at the moment but 2 of the lads, both called David, have been coming in for holiday camp lessons. I taught them on Tuesday too and seeing as they are both called David, thought it would be a good idea to give them nicknames. So I asked what their favourite food was and used that. So off I went with my new students Watermelon and Chocolate. All good fun to them, but it was not easy riding down the hill past guests yelling "Nice one chocolate!" to your only black student. So today their nicknames changed to their worst food instead, carrots and brussel sprouts (thank God it wasn't black pudding!)!

Friday 27th March - milder

After work today we went climbing again and Christian got me playing a game of make-shift 5's against the hall wall. We had a good time and Jackie was able to climb this time too. We tried a few different walls and scared ourselves climbing face out up a shaft. Vaughan was looking very confident until he looked down! After we were finished at about 10pm we drove straight back to Kimberley and to Charlotte and Mireya's (the Inghams reps) goodbye party. It didn't seem to matter that we were a bit sweaty and chalky. Most of the invitees were far too drunk to notice. There was karaoke going at the far end of the room and people swarming around free food and beers in the kitchen.

We got chatting and met a whole load of people from the season. It wasn't long before we were dragged over to the karaoke and Vaughan seemed pretty keen to get up there. His secret exhibitionist side is getting less secret by the day. Vaughan sung a couple of tunes with a good reception, and then a bunch of us did a rendition of Ghostbusters. Everyone loved this, though probably not for the singing quality, and got up to dance. Christian and I eventually plucked up the courage to sing a number but the mic was poached by one of the other guys who did his own little stand-up routine, ignoring the song completely. It would appear that karaoke brings out the competitive streak in the wanna-be stars among us. We were glad to get back to our safe spot on the sofa and watch the others slog it out.

Saturday 28th March - nice weather for a hot tub

Tonight we had been invited to dinner with the Jacson 8, seeing as we probably won't see them all again before the end of the season. Sarah is walking really confidently now and can say mama and dada, it's crazy how much she has grown up since we met her in December. We had the usual BBQ steaks, which were very tasty. Both of the boys are now skiing all over the hill (and apparently scaring Paul on the tree runs) having started the season on the bunny hill. Even Laura has progressed, getting poles for Christmas and mastering the parallel turn. The adults on the other hand have been far less successful and I am yet to see the girls on the hill. Poor Cat has missed her second season as a result of pregnancy and a damaged knee. Susan on the other hand has no excuse "Strap on a snowboard Susan!". After the meal we all hopped in their even posher hot tub with a beer or a wine and chatted until it was time for sleeps.

Sunday 29th March - chilly in the air, around 0

On the walk
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Today we drove to Fort Steele to take a walk in the nearby ghost town left after the gold rush. We found out that Eric is leaving in 3 days, so the gang is going to be 1 man short before long. There were lots of signs along the walk to tell us about the history of the place, we saw a Chinese graveyard (barely keeping Vaughan out of the open graves), the site of the shooting of an annoying guy in town, an old apple orchard and the fireplace of the former post office. The walk was pretty fun still and we found lots of things to climb on, our preferred passtime. We stopped half way to eat our packed picnics before carrying on down the path.

Having our picnic
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We took a bit of a detour off the historical track to venture down to the river. Eric found a lamppost coming out of a tree in a small clearing. No roads or houses in miles so who knows what that was for, maybe if we'd hung around long enough a faun would have come out of the woods and made us all Kings and Queens of Narnia.

Walking up a frozen waterfall
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Down by the river we saw an adjoining stream that was still frozen over and so climbed up the gentle waterfall. You could hear the water flowing rapidly under the ice we were walking on and at one point Jackies foot went through our precarious pathway. Our self-made route was much more fun than the original planned one and we found lots of old wooden cabins falling down in amongst the woodland. Eric even found their recycling depot with a mountain of rusty cans and apparently a jar of old peanut butter, but I wasn't going anywhere near it.

An abandoned house we found
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As we climbed back down the side of a rather sheer and slippy ravine to get back on track, Vaughan grabbed a tree for support. Before we could say anything the tree had come up by the roots and left Vaughan sliding further down the steep rocks with a 12ft sapling in his hand.

Another break for cookies by the waters edge and then we scrambled back up the other bank to rejoin the trail. Once we finished we drove home for dinner at Jackies and 2 movies!! One was PS I love you, which I thought was excellent.

Monday 30th March - cool still

We are currently building an oil super tanker in the basement at work. I would love to leave it at that and give no further explanation but I guess I ought to. During Spring Splash, the last weekend of the season, there are a variety of events held, including the dummy downhill - where you push dummys down a hill and over a jump to see which one has the best landing / crash. The ski school always enter a dummy based on some current affair from the year and this year we had gone for a super tanker hijacked by Somalian pirates.

Christian is making one of the many Somalian pirates and his design is slightly more true to life than many of the others, which would be better placed in Pirates of the Caribbean or better still a nursary school craft lesson. Christian's artistic talents have also resulted him in being commissioned to build the anchors and draw the flag. So covered in newspaper and flour paste we played our parts in constructing this ski school behemoth.

The tanker starting to take shape
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We also got in a bit of riding for the first time in ages today. The ground is still hard but it didn't stop us having fun. After the exam and the recent poor conditions, it is nice to find the joy in just riding again. I think it will help Christian with his retake to remember that this is after all just for fun. Come on the Spring slush!

Tonight Jackie had arranged a goodbye dinner for Eric at hers and her mum cooked sticky ribs. The boys ate a disgusting amount of food and we all said our goodbyes to Mr Jesperson before he heads back to the farm.

Tuesday 31st March

More work was done on the ship today and Christian finished his pirate.

Christian's Somalian Pirate
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In the evening we went to the cinema again to see Monsters vs Aliens. It was very funny and much more my cup of tea than the Watchmen.

Wednesday 1st April - warm with fresh powder

Today was my last home school lesson with Dillon and as promised I took him over to Boundary to show him all the jumps and to jib the little Christmas tree. We had so much fun together and it was great to think that when he became my student at the beginning of the season he had never been on a board. If I leave but one legacy from my seasons instructing, it will be him.

This evening was the red coat competition, ski school vs ski patrol in a variety of sports day type events. Lisa and I kicked off with blindfolded skiing, which we unfortunately did abysmally in. Next were the wheelbarrow races followed up by a line of crazy carpets. Everything was meant to be done through slalom gates, but on the harder activites, they just went by the wayside.

Ski-barrow races
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There were also tandem skis that had been made specially by Steve in the repair shop and a three legged race on skis. Jackie participated in the only game she was able to compete in, the donut tube race. Phil dragged her down the hill in an inflateable ring. But he obviously had no concern for her injury, because when the ski patrol competitors crashed right in front of Phil, he avoided them, letting go of Jackie and sending her right into the pile up.

Tube Race
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After the races we had snacks and a BBQ in the ski patrol hut. Christian sat himself in one of the wheelchairs and spent the rest of the evening teaching himself how to do wheelies. The evening continued with music and dancing, which we watched until we felt it was time for bed.

Christian throwing wheelies in a wheelchair
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Thursday 2nd April overcast

I ended up holding the fort at work today and took all of the lessons, including a 1hr private over my lunch break. Dan and Trevor had gone out playing together on the hill and couldn't get back in time to pick up one of the lessons.
Christian on the other hand was up to his elbows in pirates, getting stuck in to completing our super tanker. Ski instructors started painting the ship and Christian drew up the flag.

The paint job begins
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Christian's flag
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My private was a family of rather large people who had never snowboarded before and by the end of the lesson I was exhausted from having to pick them all up. So at 2 o'clock we went home.

Friday 3rd April - getting sunnier

Today was our last day of work. The tanker was finally finished and looked fabulous, every last pirate had been given their place onboard, including a parrot in the crowsnest and a lady at the bow with her arms outstretched. There was little work to be done today but we had plans to go to the thrift store and pick up some groovy retro gear for spring splash and we were at last going to cook our Christmas dinner tonight.

The finished tanker
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An instructor being made to walk the plank
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We were thankfully out of work at 2pm and so jumped in our truck down to the thrift store to pick up outfits. There was so much stuff in there, including some rather sexy onesies and we ended up spending quite a lot of time trying things on. When we at last came to pay, we were surprised to find out that they only wanted $4 for all the stuff we were buying. Having spent longer than expected in the thrift store we hurried down to Overweightea to grab the essentials for dinner. Christian went straight home to get the oven on and then we started prepping, sausagemeat balls, bacon rolls, roast potatoes and carrots, peas and gravy. We knew Jackie was coming but were surprised to get a call to say that Eric was back in town and wanted to come along. It was great to see him again and the food went down well with everyone.

Vaughan had stayed at home for a last family dinner before he leaves too. But, he came over to join the rest of us watching the movie Freedomland.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 10:50 Archived in Canada Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

In Canada there's definitely such thing as a free dinner

The beginning of the end

all seasons in one day

Wednesday 18th March - sunny

Seeing as we worked for a full week, then taken our level 2 and had been thrown headlong into another full working week (not to mention we've had guests staying for the past 2 weeks) we were beginning to feel quite tired from having no days off. It was feeling a bit of a chore rather than pleasure, and the crappy bulletproof conditions weren't helping us enjoy it any more.

No rest for us though. Jackie had been missing us after all these guests and exams. It was also her turn to have a visitor and she wanted us to join her and Ben on their activities for the rest of the week. So the fun started with a
downhill decent that evening. As the clocks have gone back, the days are now longer and so we jumped on the last chair with Eric in tow for a sunny stroll (and slide) back down the hill.

We started off with a visit to the windpit, which has gather plenty of the recent snowfall, and then walked along the Kootenay connector before leaping off it into the powdery slopes, which we tried to slide down on our snowshoes (quite unsuccessfully). We then cut backover to Buckhorn to hit the steeps on our bums.

Donned in sexy green binbags we slid our way down much of the slope, testing out various techniques. The Superman (front down face first) has always worked well for me,but I found it is less comfortable with keys and a camera in your pocket. Eric took to this position very well and rocketted down the first few slopes.

The binbag brigade
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We stopped for a bit to show Ben the old mine shafts and tunnels and then carried on down, this time on my bottom. Jackie was adopting a very feminine sidesaddle position to keep her bad knee out of harms way.I'm sure that sliding down mountains on a binbag is a great way to fix tendon damage! I on the other hand had found a much faster, but considerably less feminine way to slide. Riding on your lower back is the fastest place to slide, but you need to keep your snowshoes out of the way and so I hitched both my legs up at the knees. It looked a bit like a birthing position of some sort, but you could whizz down the hill at 100 miles an hour.

Swooooooooooooooooooooooosh
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A face full of snow
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We finished the run with a contest of a particularly steep drop to see who could get the furthest. Ben won with an astonishing distance, and we hadn't even been watching his technique, dark horse! At the bottom of the hill we were all starting to feel starving and were excited to find out that Jackie's mum was cooking us all Indian tacos. We had no idea what they were, but it was food, it had to be good.

Indian tacos at Jackies
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The tacos were deep fried bread dough with beef mince and salsa etc. on top, delish! Stuffed to exploding we waddled back to the car and went home to bed.

Thursday 19th March - Hard as ice

Conditions are still poor, but a few good lessons to break up the day. The lack of rest was taking it's toll on some of us and poor Christian fell asleep in the lunch room. Still no time for early nights, tonight I was driving the gang to the White Swan Hot Springs.

One tired little man after a hard day's work
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Now that it is still light the hot springs were quite a different experience. For starters the drive there was far less icy and frightening, although you can see all the boulders in the road from the rock slides and the cliff edge at the side of the road as we drove past the ravine. Once we got there it was a lot more comfortable weather for changing and we could actually see all the pools down to the river.

White Swan Hot Springs
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Getting ready to hop in
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In the water we chatted away with the other visitors and Jackie and I were brave (or mad) enough to even dip in the river. It takes your breath away it is that cold, at the moment it is all melting snow run off so probably not much over freezing.

Out and dry, we started the drive home only to find after 10 minutes that the fuel light went on. With 80km still to drive and no gas stations open at this hour it was a hairy journey back. But it miraculously worked out and we even dropped all the guys back to their homes and got up the driveway.

Friday 20th March - sunny, but we're too sleepy to notice

Jackie borrowed the truck this morning to get Ben back to Cranbrook for his bus, and that meant filling it up! She got as far as the golf club down the road and it died completely, lucky we live at the top of a hill. She coasted right into the Husky station and all was good, what a star!

After work tonight, we had all been invited over to Erics aunt and uncles for dinner. They are a lovely, kind couple. Ione is a typical proud housewife, cooking marvellous food and wanting us all to enjoy ourselves and Lyle was the man of the house inviting us in and keeping us well watered and in good conversation until dinner was served. He worked nights, monitoring and rehabilitating young offenders. There were 7 of us that came over for dinner, in addition to Eric's family and Leo their lodger (and captain of the Dynamiters). The table was laden with delicious food, including roast beef and yorkshire puddings, and after Grace we all tucked in. The most unusual of the dishes was a concoction of peach, pineapple, banana and marshmallow, that you were meant to eat with your main course. It tasted great but I ate it on its own.

Dinner at Eric's aunt and uncle's house
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After dinner was over and we'd helped with the dishes, most of us went over to Darrell's house. He took his level 1 at the beginning of the season and has been joining in sessions with us, and today was his birthday.

At Darrell's party
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We met a variety of people from town at the party and they were all very friendly. One guy looked just like Richard Branson. The less social of the group found an entirely different way to entertain themselves but throwing coasters at each other. Thankfully the coasters were made of felt and it kept them entertained for hours. Any mums looking for a way to keep your children quiet when visiting others I would advise a sneeky pack of felt coasters for your handbag.

Throwing coasters
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Home to bed, with the huge satisfaction that there was no reason to get up in the morning!!

Saturday 21st March - who cares, bed was too appealing

Rest at last! We got up very late and did surprisingly little. Christian started looking into universities in Australia and I looked into Visas and it started to become a reality that we might actually make it out there.

Adrian had kindly invited us over for a dinner of posh fish and chips, beer-battered salmon and scallops. It was very yummy. Kathy came along too and we prepared the food together and ate it over a few episodes of South Park. After dinner we spoke with Jackie and the boys and arranged a plan to go riding in Whitefish tomorrow.

Sunday 22nd March - overcast and then sunny and slushy

Up early again! Ready to leave by 6am. The gang arrived at ours and we started the drive to Whitefish. Crossing the border was much easier than expected. They asked us a few questions about how much citrus fruit and soil we had brought with us, which we thankfully passed with flying colours. Apparently Jackies group breakfast of rice pudding and strawberries was more than welcome to take a brief sojourn to the US. When he demanded why we were going to America and I answered "to go snowboarding" he happily believed us. It may have had something to do with the 5 people in woolly hats and low pants and a flat bed full of snowboards.

I was exhausted from yet another early start and the thought of hitting jumps immediately was really unappealing, so Jackie (who's injured knee needed keeping away from the jumps), Christian and I went up the main chair, had a coffee in the mountain cafe and then checked out some of the resorts runs. They were super; big wide runs with lots of natural hits, sidewalls and gullys. So, revived by caffine and a run, we headed back over to the jumps.

The guys on the park chair
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Initially the jumps all looked a bit big and scary and so we took a ride down to check them out. They were pretty big and scary, about 15 and 25 ft. But at the bottom there was a kids park with two 5 ft jumps and a variety of boxes and rails. Vaughan and Eric were already hitting the big ones and so it wasn't long before we were stepping it up and trying them out. It took a lot of air just to clear the flat knuckle and land on the steep run out, and a couple of times I landed short and felt my knee joints shudder as they disappeared up under my armpits. Christian was experiencing the same problems with his cautious air, but before long we were giving it more oomph and making the landing more often than not.

Christian was throwing big melons off the jumps by the end of the day and even I had gone for a few grabs. We'd got spins in on the smaller jumps and even naughty Jackie was hitting up the rainbow rail they had. Vaughan went for a 5 off one of the big jumps and scared himself a bit but he pulled it off and did some other pretty sexy grabs. And talking of 540's Christian got his first ever 5 off one of the smaller jumps and was very happy!

We only stopped briefly for lunch and by the end of the day were feeling pretty confident with our park riding. If only there was one in Kimberley. Christian and I finished the day with some shopping. The local shop had a sale on and we couldn't help ourselves but buy some bargain snowboard gear. I got some Bonfire pants for $50 and a Volcom Jacket for $150. Christian, who has been after a black jacket all season to go with his crazy (sorry awesome apparently) pants got a nice, Four Square one for $100. All in all a successful shop.

The long drive home started but thankfully it was no longer my turn to drive so I sat in the back and dozed as we lumbered home to Kimberley.

Monday 23rd March -

Today was pretty boring lessonswise. Vaughan and Eric have been given the boot by the ski school, which means a bit more work for us. We were surprised to see this happen, but they are part time staff and as the number of lessons is going down all of the time they were the first to go. I hope this lack of money doesn't result in them going home early, it'll be bad enough splitting up our little 5-some at the end of the season.

Tuesday 24th March

After work tonight, Liana had invited the entire snowboard school round for dinner. So at 5:30pm, Chris, Mark, Eric J, Jackie, Vaughan, Hannah, Eric Blair, Trevor and Chelsea turned up to join Liana and Anali for a delicious dinner of cheesy hash browns and roast beef in sauce followed up with choc mousse for dessert. It was really yummy and worth the sacrifice of having bought Lindor chocolates and not being able to eat them myself. We then all went down to the cinema to see the Watchmen. Unlike most of the superhero movies it was a bit too violent for me and there was a bit too much nudity for poor prudish Eric (even though it was mainly just a blue nuclear man).

Dinner for the masses at Liana's
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The other end of the table
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Posted by HOODnDIGS 17:02 Archived in Canada Tagged food Comments (0)

Exam nerves and unwanted powder

Taking our level 2

snow

Saturday 14th March - cold and cloudy

It had finally arrived. After months of preparation the first day of our level two instructors exam was upon us. We got up even earlier than normal to register at 8 o'clock, saying our goodbyes to Claire on the way out as we would now not see her again. We had organised for Jackie to pick Claire up and take her to the bus stop to catch her Greyhound back to Calgary. And judging by her lack of prescence upon our return, it clearly worked.

The exam is split into two main parts: riding and teaching. As such the first two days of the exam are spent getting used to all of the riding techniques we have to demonstrate, whilst similtaneously learning how to teach them to others. The third day is for practicing our teaching and being given feedback on it. The final day is our evaluated teaching day where we do two lessons which our end result is based off.

As today was basically a walkthrough of the easier techniques we need to know, it was quite laid back. I think we were all a little suprised to find how much fun we were having. But then again, snowboarding around in our own clothes with six of our friends, what of that sounds bad?

Waiting to get our feedback at the end of each day
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So when we returned home we had a very elated and relaxed evening with the knowledge that tomorrow would be a little bit harder lingering in the back of our minds.

Sunday 15th March - OH MY GOD!!!!

Sunday brought with it over a foot of powder! Yes, for any of you following closely this is the most powder we have had all season. And it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Snow! In buckets!
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All snowboarders love powder - fact. All snowboarders that is, except for those trying to do advanced carving and sliding turns on that day. Not only was that thick snow making our exam more dificult but it was also taunting us, just laying there all fluffy willing us to come play. Crafty snow.

It may have been because of the snow or merely because we were trying harder techniques now, but as the day wore on it quickly became apparent that this was quite a challenging exam. And now we were getting nervous. One poor turn after another and the fear began to set in.

It also didn't help that this was the first time that Cam had taken a level two exam on his own. It wasn't that he was a bad instructor at all, just very serious. This wasn't being at all beneficial in making us feeling relaxed and positive about the exam. However, as the powder began to get flattened out in places, our riding picked up and we ended the day feeling that all was not lost. We could do this. We could ride and teach and pass... as long as it didn't snow again.

Monday 16th March - Sunny

"YES, LOOK AT THAT GROOMED RUN!" Something none of us thought we would ever hear ourselves say or even think, but that was the case today. It was the first day of us doing our practice teaching and we knew that groomed conditions were a must. Luckily for us the Kimberley cat drivers had given us exactly what we wanted to start our day positively.

We were given the choice to do intermediate or advanced techniques first, and deciding that we wanted it out of the way, picked advanced. The positive attitude that started with seeing groomed runs, continued with getting a sucessful practice teach under our belts, and by lunch time the elated feeling had returned. Both Sarah and I had been given good feedback on our lessons with some minor things to improve, and in all, we were feeling pretty good about our teaching.

Riding, however, was a different matter. Our riding has been evaluated throughout the entire course and we were constantly being given feedback on what we still needed to do. It started off okay but as we improved one thing another got worse or still needed work. The stress was returning, we couldn't deal with all this up and down. So we drove to New Mexico and robbed a bank, quite easily actually, with a gun. Using the $100million we got away with, we bought a boat and converted it into a spaceship, which we used to fly to the moon to hang out with Abe Lincoln. He's a dude.

Sometimes we were feeling that the riding was going well, sometimes not. So as the third day came to a close we weren't sure what to think. Cam is very good at telling you when things need work to help you improve, but isn't great at communicating when you have done what is needed. That, or Sarah and I never did what was needed.

Cam showing Trev how to snowboard, but it looked more like a dance
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Tuesday 17th March - St. Patricks Day

Today was the day. It had all come down to this. The final day of our level two had come and our nerves were shattered. Today we would be given two lessons to teach, one intermediate one advanced, that would decide whether we passed the teaching portion of our exam. Our riding would also be watched throughout the day which could lead to us passing that too. So no pressure then.

The day begun with Sarah having to teach first. It was nice to know that she would be done nice and fast but the problem was she would have to teach her other lesson last. Way to reduce the stress. However her teaching was really good and although we didn't get any feedback today we felt positive that it had gone well.

I was to teach fourth, slap bang in the middle of the group. Well at least I wouldn't have to wait too long to be completely finished. I also felt good about it and depite hearing myself stumble over my words and making one little mistake felt positive.

The day went on and we soon realised that the teaching was going fine and that the riding was the real area to get nervous about. Luckily Cam was telling us things to try and do throughout the day and each time we did we felt a little closer to achieveing what we needed to.

So with Sarah wrapping up the day in a similar manner to how she had started, very well, we ended the final day of the course. Cam disappeared off to do secret CASI things and we were given an hour to get changed and then get our results. We all went up to the Stemwinder to grab a drink and start of the celebrations or commiserations. Either way, it being St Paddys day we were going to be drinking alot. The bar had decided to put green food colouring in the beer and so with colourful drinks in hand we settled in fo the nervous wait.

Some hacky sack to calm the nerves whilst waiting for our results
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I'm not going to keep you in the dark any longer as im sure the tension already has you on the edge of your seat. Sarah passed both her riding and teaching and got above standard for her teaching just like she did for her level one. Aparently shes very good at instructing. I passed my teaching as well although only at standard but did not make it for the riding. Cam said I was doing everything right, I just needed to tie it altogether, but I was very close. He also highly recommended that I go for a retest in Fernie in a few weeks.

The snowboard team - Level 2 students, supervisors and supporters
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And so the drinking began. Liana said that as a celebration she was going to take all of the snowboard school to the Sullivan for dinner and drinks on her. So we quickly headed home to shower and change and then were out again to go partake in more green Kokanee. The dinner was excellent and nice to spend an evening with all of our friends, especially the ones brought closer together by the exam.

Dinner at the Sully
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But the party couldn't stop there. After the dinner was done we headed onto the Edge where there was karaoke. Not expecting any of our group to get up and sing I was very suprised to find myself, Eric, Vaughan, Sarah and Trev standing up on stage singing 'Low'. It has been our theme tune all season so by now we all knew the chorus very well, the verses however, not so good. It also didn't help us any that its a very fast, hard to understand rap. Oh well safety in numbers at least.

Team karaoke to Low
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I was wrong again, before the end of the night Eric had got up on his own, Vaughan had rapped along with Vanilla ice and Sarah had been pulled up on stage to sing along to the spice girls. Karaoke is apparently infectious although I dont see it.

Dancing at the Edge
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So with spirits high by energy levels low we sloped off back home ready for another day of work tomorrow, with probably the most qualified snow school Kimberley has ever had.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 17:53 Archived in Canada Tagged educational Comments (0)

Experiencing "North" America

Claire comes to stay

snow -16 °C

Sunday 8th March - clear

Seeing as Claire's body seems to have an intolerance for food in general, it seemed like a good idea to start off with a food shop. Nothing exciting to mention except that you can get almond milk in Canada and it is quite tasty (oh and don't ask Claire to buy you mustard).

We had eased Miss North into the holiday quite gently so far, with a lazy morning and so we thought she would be alive enough to handle an afternoon outing. We jumped in the car and drove to meet up with Adrenaline Dog Tours. We were going dog sledding not far from Kimberley.

First of all we got to meet all the dogs. It was a family company and so the wife introduced us to all the dogs whilst her husband set up the sleds. They were all Siberian Huskies but all had their own distinct personalities. Tundra, a young male seemed to have ADD, constantly running about and jumping up. Smiley Ruby was more mellow and loved nothing more than a cuddle in the arms of her owner. Hot lips, named after her finger-sucking habits as a pup, was far more professional and greeted us all with style. Big Bruno was an old timer and didn't need to show off his strength, his size did that all by itself. One of the bitches had just had pups that were 8 days old, they looked more like bear cubs with their lack of muzzle and their eyes were still closed.

An 8-day old pup
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Assuming that all the hard work would be done for us we were surprised to find that they wanted us to handle the dogs and get them set up on the sleds ourselves. We were passed a dog each and had to lead them, on their hind legs, over to the sleds (except for friendly Ruby who wanted to be carried). Next we had to put their harnesses on, which involved sliding it over their heads and round their front paws and Fox was having none of it. The others were so well behaved, but this one wriggled and squirmed in every way to avoid putting it on.

Christian leading Bruno out to the sleds
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Lovable Ruby preferred being carried
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To start off with Christian rode one of the sleds and us girls were passengers. He did an admirable job of keeping the dogs in place and stopping them running into my sled, which seemed like where they wanted to be. He also successfully got the sled through a bit of an obstacle course. Always game for the most exciting route, I was convincing the guy up front that he should take us on a difficult path. When he agreed, we got taken through the trees and over a log. Us girls had to push branches out of our way and Christian was ducking trees and pushing the sled to get it up the snow etc.

Christian mushing for Claire
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Both our sleds going through the snow
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At a halfway point, we swapped and Claire and I rode the sleds home.

Sarah leading the dogs
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Back at the yard we put the dogs away and fed them. They were starving and munched away on the food. It made it even harder to remove their harnesses when they are straining for their dinner. Christian had made a new friend in Bruno and the 2 of them were still together when we had fnished putting all the other dogs away.

Christian and Bruno
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Claire saying goodbye to her husky friends
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We finished our adventure in the best way: around a campfire with a hot chocolate and a jammy dodger.

Monday 9th March - sunny but chilly

Today I took a double lesson with Claire on her snowboard. She is a very serious learner and like Bex and Estelle wanted to absorb every piece of information I had to give her. It would seem that my friends and I are all very similar and over analyse the way we ride to make sure everything is just perfect. Unlike the boys who just lob themselves off things and go fast until they break something and then go "OK so that way is wrong". At one point Claire took a bit of a tumble and banged her tailbone but apart from that progressed very well to heel and toe zig zags.

First lesson
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In the evening we went climbing in Cranbrook. We have been trying to do this all season so were impressed to make it at last. Claire and Vaughan decided that they were too sleepy to climb but sat on the crash mats and watched and chatted instead. Christian and I tried out a few of the walls and got achey arm muscles, but it was lots of fun and we want to do it again.

Sarah and Christian climbing
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The others chilling out on the crash mat
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Tuesday 10th March - cold and overcast -15

Glad this mornings session was held indoors as it has got pretty chilly again. We found out that Cam Griffin is taking our level 2. He is the same guy that took my level 1, so lets hope that is a good thing. I had a single lesson with Claire today and she learned heel and toe falling leaf, developing some really good speed control. She even made it up the t-bar and only on her second attempt! That gave her some more interesting terrain to be practicing on for the rest of the day. Though I think she was most excited about the view up there.

Riding on the t-bar
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Some of the instructors went out for a ride together to do some practice for the level 2 exam. I taught a mini lesson and then we played a game of poser. This is where one person does a trick and everyone else has to do it too, if you don't pull it off you get one of the letters in POSER and the first with all 5 letters loses. We did a load of grabs and then some horrible 180 nose grab thing that none of us could do except Vaughan.

I rode back down to give Claire a few tips and see how she was getting on, but she was not there?! When we got home we found Claire with a split lip. She had been in a fight with the t-bar and the t-bar had won!

In the evening, we went to watch the ice hockey play offs Kimberley vs Fernie. On the way, we had our first proper slide on the ice but I was surprised and impressed at how calm I was, no worries. There was quite a gang of us there to watch the match and we had taken our flasks of peach cider to keep us warm at the chilly rink. Kimberley lost 5-0 so bit of a poor game to end their season on. But we found out that 1 of the players is Vaughan's cousin and the captain is a guy we know who works in the rental store, so we cheered for them all game.

Wednesday 11th March - sunny again

After all her dedicated practice and endurance, despite falls and violent attacks from resort machinery, Claire got to the point where she could start turns today. One turn got pretty slick looking, but the other turn was going to be more of a challenge. Claire got lots of practice in and had to take a few moments to go off and have a word with herself. But all in all it was looking promising!

In the evening we celebrated with a visit to the Edge. We arrived early after dinner and started the drinking with shots. They were intriguing colours with even more intriguing names and tasted pretty yummy too. After a chat with a load of the other ski school girls, we made our way over to the pool table. We played a couple of games before changing sports and starting a game of darts.

Claire and Sarah at the Edge
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A few drinks later
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The darts went down well and most of us found that we were even worse at darts than we were at pool. Lisa made several holes in the wall, whilst Jackie managed a couple of hits to the floor!! To revive our weary arm muscles, we set up a massage train, between shots, which was very relaxing. We might all be rubbish at pub sports, but ski school seem to have a secret talent for massage.

The Kimberley Alpine Resort darts team
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The massage train
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The night was lots of fun and we were impressed (as was Jackie and Liana) to find that we were still out partying at 2 in the morning. We are getting crazy!!

Thursday 12th March - pleasant

Claire the snowboarder
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This morning Christian and I practiced teaching level 2 tactics with each other on the t-bar, whilst Claire praticed her turns. Both of us seem to know all of the material, I just hope all of my demonstrations are up to standard!

The day was a mellow one after our late night on Wednesday and in the evening we were not up for more partying, but were very happy that we had a table booked at the Bauernhaus as relaxing over some good food was the perfect remedy for our tired bodies.

Dinner at the Bauernhaus
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Nothing has changed in the past week and the food here is still amazing! Claire tried the special (pork and apple and pork stuffed with salami) as it was refreshingly low on all of her no go food types. I went for beef tenderloin with cambazola - mmmmmm and wow, no more need be said. Christian went for the chicken weinerschnitzle again. In the friendly, informal Canadian way that we are growing to love we managed to get chatting to a couple from Saskatchewan on the table over from us about the season. A guy we'd met in the Edge the night before popped over and said hello. I swear if you lived here all your life you could have no secrets from anyone.

Christian's usual excitement at dessert
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Friday 13th March - (another Friday 13th and still nothing happened) clear and sunny

It looks like lessons are starting to come back again after a long period of not a lot. It is the first time we've taken a lesson that wasn't a school in ages. At 11:30am Christian took a lesson and I went up with Dan, Darrell and Jackie for a session. Jackie was going up to test out her knee and find out if she'll be able to do the exam at the weekend. The verdict was not good. With the recent snow we've had you need to really work your knees to balance in the choppy powder and that was just too much for her recovering knee. Jackie sadly decided for sure that she is not going to take the exam. Now Eric is up with a chance to do it and I think he'll take it.

As her last day on the hill and almost the end of another great visit it seemed only right to take Claire up the chair on her board to see the real mountain. The sun was shining and I was so impressed to see Claire linking her turns down main run. I think there may be another person converted to the dark side, go Claire!

At the top of the chairlift
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When we got back from the hill, Claire and I drove into town to sort some chores and then had a look around the Cominco gardens. They would be tiny if you were expecting anything from them, but seeing as we fell upon them quite by accident, we enjoyed walking through the snow looking for a view over town.

Vaughan came over for a curry dinner and then we all had an early night as tomorrow brings a long journey for Claire and the Level 2 exam for the rest of us.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 21:36 Archived in Canada Tagged transportation Comments (0)

The "Love Couple's" latest guests

Bex and Estelle come to stay

-2 °C

Saturday 28th Feb - Sunny

The morning started with a video session. Just Chris, me and young Dan were there. We practiced our level 2 riding and watched the video for useful feedback. As the session finished, the day outside was getting more and more pleasant and so we went off to chuck on our home clothes and get out there to play.

It was a fab day for riding. It was super sunny on the hill and there is powder again for the first time in ages and so we spent most of the day there. Out with Vaughan and Eric for a change, we were all hitting the jumps well and having lots of fun together. I landed a couple of 360's to prove to myself that they are not one off-flukes and to top the day off, as we rode down the boundary run towards the end of the day, we spotted a bald eagle flying overhead. A great end to some awesome riding.

The girls arrived in the evening at Cranbrook airport and so as a treat and an outing we took the crippled Jackie with us to pick them up. I was very excited to be having guests of mine to stay and I couldn't wait for them to get off the plane. I was up and down, looking out of the window when the tiny aircraft landed and wanted each person getting off to be them. Typically, they were almost last off (out of the at least 16 people that fit on the plane) but I was relieved to see them there and surprised to be greeting old uni mates with a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

We all squidged in the car and headed back to ours for dinner and bed. Bex and Estelle, both avid readers of the blog, have chastised our near continuous mention of food. So after all the mickey taking, I will try and mention it less. But not before I have shown them what an important role food plays on our lives here in Kimberley!!

Sunday 1st March (March! where did that come from) - Overcast and snowy

This morning, with jet-lag helping with the early rise, I worked at getting the girls organised for riding. Boy, do they take a long time to get ready! Having washed and brushed and primped and moisturised and then put on the jumpers, fleeces, jackets, hats, coats and gloves necessary to protect their feeble British bodies from the Canadian minus degrees, we managed to leave the house.

Apparently some friends we had met at Bex and Estelle's hen do gave us a nickname based on our affection for one another and so we are being referred to as the Love Couple this week! The girls really enjoyed their first day out skiing and we managed to show them quite a bit of the hill including the sunpit, which has been improved with an archway entrance. We tried to show off our silky skills, but they were not as good as yesterday.

The sunpit with recent improvements
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At lunchtime the plan was to pick up a delicious burger from the outdoor BBQ, but we missed them by a few minutes. Not to be disappointed, we got lunch from the canteen and I think Bex and Estelle munched on their pizza for the rest of the week. I also got them to try the chocolate brownies. Both faces lit up as they tasted them. Maybe now they are beginning to understand our obsession with food. By the time we came down our last run both Bex and Estelle were feeling the ski ache in their legs and other places. Bex and I had a stretch out on the stairs and it fell oh so good!

Lunges
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After our day on the hill, Estelle insisted we stop at the Stemwinder for a beverage. Of course, having a Viper (university rugby girl) over here was bound to mean drinking. Perhaps a little disappointed to see how much my drinking ability has slowed down in my old age, Estelle contented herself with a beer and a chat. Bex and I went for the more traditional apres-ski, Gluhwein. After drinks, we took a stroll home in the snow, some of which was considerably deeper than we had expected. In rugby girl style, the old tackles were coming out and more than one person ended up in the snow. But worst off were my goggles that got buried under Christian and I.

Not really much of a shortcut
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Bex was keen on using the hot tub to relieve the achy muscles from a day on skis, so we all jumped in for a quick soak before dinner.

Monday 2nd March - variable

Today we organised a ski lesson for the girls with our resident ski supervisor and all-round "nice guy" Sam. Bex and Estelle were both very pleased with their improvement and Sam's awesome skiing. Whilst we had been teaching, they had been all over the hill with Sam and have even been down Notre Dame, a run on the far side of the hill that neither Christian or I had been on.

The ski girls
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We went into town after work to get a food shop done and the girls were amused to see that our local supermarket is called "Overwaitea". We then popped into the Sully for a drink (or 5 if you are Bex) and to plan all the things that could be done in the coming days. Home for dinner and an evening of reminiscing about Bordeaux and Aston (Christian looked thrilled by it, or not so much).

Tuesday 3rd March - still kinda overcast, +2

I have been keeping the girls ski's in my work locker and putting them out on the rack in the morning for them to go out riding and I had been noticing as the days went by, that the skis were staying on the rack a little longer each day. Somebody was either growing accustomed to the Canadian time zone or they were becoming even worse at getting through their morning routine!

I went up and rode with the girls in the afternoon as Christian had a lesson to teach. With a couple of days skiing behind them and a lesson with an awesome instructor, I thought they would be comfortable with some slightly more challenging runs. And so we went down Rosa and off onto some thicker snow and bumpier terrain. Unfortunately for us, all the heavy snowfall and then mild temperatures had turned the snow into something between quicksand and glue. We each took our turn in falling down and getting stuck. Bex had to be dug out by Estelle when her ski wedged into a sticky bank and she fell over, getting all twisted up. Estelle then took a tumble into some more gluey pow, loosing her arms completely and finding it almost impossible to get up. Bex and I of course did the noble thing by taking a photograph and then sniggering quite a lot.

Estelle loses her arms in the sticky powder
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In the evening we had a bunch of the ski school over, including Liana. It seemed like an opportune moment to open the bottle of Winter Pimms that we had Bex and Estelle had kindly brought over from the UK. We heated it up with apple juice and made a nice toddy for playing drinking games with. Vaughan taught the group his rules to 'ring of fire' and we played a game. Liana cunningly made me drink all her forfeits somehow (I hope she doesn't expectme to be bright and breezy at work tomorrow). Along with the drinks we had the usual snackage and found that Bex likes peanut butter M&Ms too (good job!). Eric, ever the non-drinker, had to do push ups for his forfeits instead of drinking. We thought this was a more fitting punushment than last time when he got away with just eating salsa and chips.

Wednesday 3rd March - still mild and cloudy about -3

So after their success with Sam, Bex and Estelle were ready for another day with an amazing instructor. Only this time they chose me!! They had (foolishly) decided that having a friend who is a snowboard instructor is a good excuse to learn snowboarding and so took a 2-hour lesson with me. Estelle had admitted that her balance was not that brilliant and with the ground being as hard as a rock I was a bit worried that the 2 of them may end up having less fun than they had anticipated!

But I was to be surprised. I took them through the progression of exercises and they picked each one up very quickly. They got their balance on their first attempt and, apart from the odd desperate grab from Estelle, were going pretty much solo down the beginner hill on heels and toes. It was all looking so promising, something had to go wrong, and it did. First Estelle landed on her bum hard and I winced with sympathy and then she crashed down on her knees. On the hard icy bunny hill we had that day, any tumble was going to hurt, but when Bex fell backwards and hit her head it must have been the most painful of the lot. It sounds like they were a bit of a disaster area, but in truth only 3 tumbles between them in 2 hours was very good going. It would just appear that when they choose to go down, these girls do it with gusto!

Determined and fearless the girls carried on and got to turns by the end of the lesson. It was great fun teaching them and though they won't be leaving their preferred 2 sticks for the 1 board any time soon, I think they enjoyed the experience of trying out something new.

Christian and Sarah in uniform
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Whilst Christian, Bex and Estelle enjoyed a relaxed evening in watching snowboard movies, I had promised Vaughan that I would help him out with some songs of his that he's recording by doing some backing vocals. It was the first time I had been to a recording studio and I was a bit scared.

When I turned up no one seemed to be in, so I took my shoes off at the back door and walked inside the guys home. I still couldn't find any people, just a very large dog that looked unimpressed at finding an intruder in the front room. Half expecting to be eaten by this perturbed wolf-beast, I decided I should go and look down in the basement (why you may ask? what was happening to me? was I in a horror movie?). Fortunately for me I did not find a psychopath and meet a grizzly end, I just found a soundproof room, Vaughan and a christian youth worker with a penchant for recording equipment. The "studio" was the size of a small bathroom and was full of computers, mics, musical instruments and now 3 people. It was interesting to see how the recording works, as Vaughan played the final bars to a tune on his ukulele and then layered over the lyrics after.

I was up and felt like I had suddenly found myself in a school assembly in my pyjamas. "So how much professional singing have you done?" I was asked, none being my reply. "So have you ever sung live and used a mic?" well I was in my school choir about 12 years ago but no mics. As you can image this line of questioning had put me in a particularly confident mood. It got even better when we went for a first take and the (seemingly less and less christian) youth worker asked "Are you trying to sing really quietly or is that your normal voice?". Thankfully it got better from this point onwards and I got to wear the cool big headphones. Vaughan was really happy with the end results and I got a CD of the final recording. Mentally and vocally exhausted I headed home with Vaughan for a well deserved alcoholic beverage.

Thursday 4th March - more pleasant

Not many lessons today, so Christian and I went out for a ride over the back side this morning. We went down Jackpot and played in the deep powder that is there. We wanted to make the most of a chance to play, just the 2 of us and it was lots of fun. As the season goes on, you can sometimes get caught up working and having fun off the hill and forget to just go out and enjoy riding. As we started descending the moguls, I turned around one of them and a icy lump sticking out, smacked me on the knee, HARD! Was this retribution for beating up Estelle's knees yesterday? It hurt, but I wasn't going to let it spoil my fun and so Chris and I had a race down the moguls. He won, but only just.

Today the girls only made it to the hill in the afternoon (possibly as a result of amount of punishment I had put their bodies through yesterday). But this meant that they had plenty of energy to ride with us in the afternoon and so Christian, Vaughan, Eric and I accompanied them down Notre Dame.

They had missed out in the morning though, as Sam was practicing for a racing course he is going on and had been spotted around the resort in his garishly coloured unitard!

Sam in his racing unitard - sexy!?
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This evening was the night for convincing the girls that food is a great thing to obsess over and so we took them to the Bauernhaus. We had a fabulous evening with spectacular food and a 'hauntingly good' wine with a particularly interesting label on the bottle. We tried 2 different schnitzels between us and I personally think Bex and I made the best choice with pear and melted brie over ours, though the others had very tender chicken.

Ms's Bentall-Lynch
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Bex enjoying the lovely wine
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Proving that Kimberley is a small town, we met both Lesley from ski school and Nick from ski patrol sat at nearby tables. The desserts were also really good and I had a giant ice cream sundae with hot raspberries and sauce, called Hot Love! I probably shouldn't have though as my body was already bursting with Bavarian savouries. When we eventually got round to walking home (we were the last to leave) I could feel a 'Fred baby' of fatty foods in my tummy. The extra weight wasn't helping my now sore, brusied knee.

The four of us
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Friday 5th March

In practice for our level 2 exam, Dan took a load of us out for a session this morning and filmed us riding on various terrain. We went through some steep powder and with the combination of an unfamiliar thickness of snow, the pressure of friends watching and a camera being on me, I managed to bail spectacularly onto my face. Later on Dan got us straightlining a steep icy section of the Boundary run. He sure gets me pushing myself each time he runs a session, even if the technical benefits aren't instantly obvious! He also got us hitting up the park and I tried a newly installed side-on wall ride. It didn't quite work out and I ended up landing on my bum. Great, that is 2 of the 3 injuries inflicted on Bex and Estelle that I have now suffered from. By the way, my knee is now looking beautiful!

My beautiful knee
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Another trip to the Stemwinder but this time with the whole gang. A load of the ski school were there and as we listened to the live band play we decided to tap along, Christian on the glasses, me and Lisa on our mobile phones and Naomi with a slice of orange (it's the thought that counts). We decided that cooking was too much of a hassle and another meal out would be fun, and so we booked a table at the Green Phoenix for 6: us lot plus Vaughan and Lisa.

Seeing as the walk was such a success last night, we walked to dinner again. This time down into town. And I wanted to find the shortcut behind the Bauernhaus. After looking everywhere and then asking inside the restaurant, we headed in the dusk, down a steep, unlit, icy path through thick woodland with little idea of where we would be coming out. Somehow it worked, and Bex and Estelle only looked a little displeased at their friends latest attempts to injure them.

Everyone
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We were surprised to see Lesley again, second night running, looks like she eats out a lot. There were 3 others from the hill at other tables and a friend of Lisa's was playing guitar. Food was tapas and was very nice, we were more restrained than the night before and shared a selection of tapas between us and having not over eaten for a change, felt like we deserved dessert. Bex, trying to take it easy on the food intake chose baklava, thinking it would be little mouth-sized tasters. She was therefore very surprised when she was served up a slab of honey glued pastry the size of a hefty novel. Despite sharing it out amongst everyone, Bex still found herself weighed down with food twins (Fiona and Felicity) and manically shaking and grinning from her sugar overdose by the time we grabbed a cab home.

The Love Couple at the Green Phoenix
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Saturday 6th March - sunny

Today is Bex and Estelle's final day in Kimberley and Claire's first. Christian and I started our day with an indoor session, watching a video of our riding with Dan from yesterday. Then we went back home where Bex and Estelle were packing. We took them to the airport, and then headed to Jackie and Chris's place in Wasa to play around on the lake.

Wasa lake in the sunshine
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At the lake we tried to get quads and a ski-doo running, but to no avail. Instead we found an old dirt bike, a GT racer and a sled and so took them out onto the lake instead. The day was bright and sunny as we dragged each other about on the ice. I gave the bike a go and skidded it over, bashing up my other knee. Well, it had at least evened up my hobble. Christian did a much better job on the bike and could even pull the rest of us about behind him on the sleds, going so far as to drag other Chris over a small kicker we'd made.

Riding the dirt bike
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Christian giving sled rides
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Off the lake, we decided to take our truck out for a spin and test the 4 wheel drive. I wasn't really prepared for what this meant, but the "road" they wanted me to drive down resembled nothing more than a very snowy field. Fired from my drivers role, Eric jumped in the front seat and from my vantage point, cowering in the flatbed I could see the snow being kicked up as we bounced over the ground. Jackie didn't seem to mind that her knee was injured and was first to volunteer to be pulled back down the deadly path on the plastic sled (mental Canadians!).

Our snowman
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Cookin' Smokies
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Back home we got into some more civilised activities building a snowman and cooking smokies on an open fire. The food was great and re-energised us for a good session building Lego (Sarah -a house, Christian-a railway, Jackie-a pyramid Eric-a spaceship and Chris-far to mature for that nonsense). We finished our evening learning how to play dice, which was surprisingly addictive and then headed back to Kimberley to pick up a rather sleepy Miss North after her epic journey by plane and bus.

Playing dice
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Posted by HOODnDIGS 19:09 Archived in Canada Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

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