Posts Tagged ‘Banff’

Canadian-Maple-Leaf-Flag

I blame Canada for our first two fights as a married couple.

The first fight occurred at the base of the Canadian Rockies when my brand new husband decided that yes, even I, a born and raised flat lander from Chicago, could tackle the “bunny hill” at the Banff ski resort we had just arrived at. Let me put this in proper perspective: we had to take a 25-minute gondola ride up to the base of the mountain just to get to said bunny hill, which we had to take another ten-minute rope tow up to in order to ski back down. Gravity, thou art a wicked bitch.

But this post isn’t about my fight against gravity. This post is about what happened the very last night of our Canadian honeymoon. Our first BIG fight as a married couple. It involves Lord Stanley, several Royal Canadian Mounties, a N.A.T.O. meeting (yes, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), heavy snow and a near-shooting from an M-16. I kid you not.

When my husband and I decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, everything we did from that point to actually getting married took place in reverse order: we planned our honeymoon destination first (Canada), then decided on the best time of year to go (May), then reserved our wedding reception location, then the church, then we got engaged. It seems strange, I know, but at the time my husband-to-be was being transferred from Chicago to Tucson. Our lives were so up in the air and unpredictable that we had to keep our plans open and flexible. We both knew, however, we wanted a Canadian honeymoon. Hence, we started from there and worked backwards with the plans as everything started to come together. It worked out well that way.

banff

Our First Honeymoon Spot: The Banff Springs Hotel

We began our honeymoon in Banff, which was beautiful, but had the ski resort I mentioned earlier. After two days in Banff, we spent a day or two in Lake Louise, then headed up to Jasper for a night. Then, for our final night, ended up in Kananaskis. And that’s when things got weird.

Being the lovey dovey, oblivious newlyweds we were, we didn’t really notice all the national flags lining our hotel’s entrance when we pulled up in our rental car. Nor did we think much about it when the bell hop comes running out to our car, waving his arms and screaming, “Stop! Who are you? What are you doing here?” I just figured that was how Canadians greeted their guests: friendly, but suspicious. Still basking in the afterglow of a romantic honeymoon, we get out of the car and begin to unload our luggage for the final night of love and romance. Hah.

Kananaskis_yes_noThe bell hop, however, put aside his friendly greeting and, upon rushing up to greet us face to face, asked again, “Who are you? What are you doing here? How were you able to get in here?” My husband and I looked at each other, a little perplexed, a little pissed off and said, “Um, we have reservations, we’re on our honeymoon…?” The bell hop relaxed a little bit (because we’re newlyweds, after all) and added one final statement that should have clued us in as to what we had just drove into: “Well, hi, but I’m just really shocked the hotel is allowing you two civilians to stay here”. What the hell? I know we’re not Canadians, but did he have to refer to us as “civilians”?

The reason for the bell hop’s somewhat rude behavior became abundantly clear when, upon walking through the hotel lobby’s door, we saw military personnel. Everywhere. And not just Canadian military, but Russian, Polish, German too (we could only surmise this by the snippets of dialogues that were going on throughout the main floor of the hotel.) It looked like the place had just been invaded by…every country.

We approached the hotel clerk and, somewhat tentatively, announced who we were and that we had a reservation. Her response was just as unnerving, “Welcome. You’re the last two civilians we’re allowing to stay here. The rest of the hotel has been taken over by NATO, so we’re going to have to ask you to go right to your room, and do not, under any circumstances, go onto the second floor. It has been secured for military operations only.” Whoa -we just wanted a quiet, romantic night in a hotel overlooking beautiful mountain scenery. Somehow, we ended up at the very same hotel, during the very same week, that NATO scheduled their annual meeting. Ironically, they chose that location for the same purpose we did -because it has limited access in and out, and its pretty well hidden in the Canadian mountains. Plus, it was a Howard Johnson’s, so…there’s that.

Over 10 NATO members oppose Syria war

As if ending up in a hotel with thirteen defense ministers from around the world wasn’t weird enough, things got much weirder that evening. My husband and I went downstairs for a bite to eat and a drink in the bar. And, as I had mentioned earlier in this post, a chance to watch one of the hockey games on TV. Let’s think about this for a second: it was May. In Canada. What major sporting event takes place every year around this time, which turns Canadians into rabid sports freaks? Yeah, the fight for Lord Stanley’s cup. And it appeared to be taking place right there in the bar as two Canadian teams were in the finals and two rival groups of fans were in the bar, eyes glued to the set. My husband, not Canadian, just fell right into place, plopped his ass down on an empty bar stool, and was “good to go” for the night. I, however, was feeling amorous and headed back to our hotel room. I asked him to come join me in about fifteen minutes. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

What happened next is still something we argue about — almost twenty-five years later. About four hours later–and by now I’m steaming mad–my new husband comes stumbling into the hotel room, drunk off his ass and giggling uncontrollably. Of course he wakes me up, and the fight begins. However, it’s really hard to fight with a drunken idiot, who is too busy laughing at everything that had happened in those last four hours. So, I just kept quiet and let him ramble on until he passed out on the bed.

Apparently, after I had gone to the hotel room, he was invited to join a big group of men sitting at a large table to watch the hockey game with them. It turned out they were all off-duty Royal Canadian mounted police officers, enjoying some down time before their next security shift started. And boy could they drink. A lot. He had lost count of how many shots of whiskey they had bought him but, as international relations requires, he felt it was his American duty to drink every shot they bought him. Plus, he really likes hockey.

But, his story continued into the night and the clear, Canadian air and snow. After stumbling out of the bar around 11:00, he decided to go for a walk in the freshly fallen, sparkling snow. Knowing we were heading back to the Arizona desert the following day, I could understand how he wanted to spend one last night in the cold and snow. Who knew when we’d see it next.

images (2)As he walked along a freshly cleared path of beautiful, sparkling snow, right around midnight, he turned onto a pathway and was immediately met by a military guard brandishing an M-16, which he was pointing directly at my husband’s face. “HALT! Who goes there? Who are you? Where’s your hotel security badge?” the guard started peppering him with questions. My husband, still somewhat drunk and wobbly, just threw his hands up in the air as best he could, and muttered something about being “just married” and “honeymoon” and “angry new wife” and “please don’t shoot me in the face”. Apparently, the guard understood “drunkenese” and lowered his rifle, then told my husband to turn around and “get back to your wife”. A quick glance over the guard’s shoulder showed a huge lot filled with all sorts of military choppers and vehicles. He had wandered into the secured area where all the transportation vehicles had been parked.

And that was the last night of the first half of our honeymoon. The second half was to take place in Las Vegas three days later. Nothing too exciting happened there, unless you count the time I was caught sneaking out of our hotel room at 3 am to go shoot some craps.

Because, it isn’t a true adventure until somebody or something gets shot.

craps-table

Advertisements