Stuck in Banff (an ash tale)


HTR’s Sarah on her never ending holiday

Oh no – looks like my moment of suspended animation has come to an end. On my way to write this blog in the park our tour rep told us the ‘good’ news. A plane is leaving Calgary at 5.00 tomorrow and I have a seat on it.

My daughter wanted to hug the rep – I’m not too sure. The last few days have been some of the most relaxed and peaceful I have ever spent. For three days nothing was expected of me. I could do nothing. Just be. And wait.

After two weeks of terrifying myself by hurtling off mountains, strapped to five foot of snowboard. Hauling myself out of my normally sedentary middle-aged lifestyle into the adrenalin-fuelled obsession of an adolescent, I finally got to have a nice sit down!

It was last Thursday when we came back from riding Sunshine Village that my husband got an email from his mum telling us about a volcano in Iceland. I didn’t pay much attention to this news and his subsequent dream about Arthur’s Seat erupting in Edinburgh threw me off track too.

But when I returned from defying gravity on the men’s downhill (three times I’ll have you know) at Lake Louise on Friday, the news had changed. All planes were grounded and we wouldn’t be flying the next day. Indeed the original estimate of a 24 hour delay had now turned into ‘maybe Sunday …’

Now I love holidays and I never want to go home – I always want to stay and for the holiday to last forever. So finally, all my dreams came true. The holiday wasn’t over and I could stay in Banff – one of my most happy places.

We’ve been bringing the kids – Katy and Joe – here for about ten years now. We love it. Everyone is here for the snow – everyone lives and breathes it. Dudes skate down main street, weaving in and out of the big muscle trucks.

Where else can you see Elk hanging out in the swing park after you’ve been for a steak dinner (with salad bar) at Bumpers? Rude Boys is a legendary retail experience all of its own, Delirium Dive is for the clinically insane, the girl in Gap will tell you the best runs at Kicking Horse.

The whole town is geared to living and playing outdoors. And the scenery – Scotland on steroids – jaw dropping everywhere you look.

So, the clock stopped on Friday and for three days we lived life in a parallel universe where we cycled around vermillion lakes, saw a bald eagle and raced a chipmunk on bikes. We had lunch with gophers and hiked to see the hoodoos. We did a fast food safari to Subway and McDonalds and picked a picnic from Nesters ‘where the locals shop’.

We scoured the internet for news and I did wonder what it would be like if that volcano kept belching out ash. When would we get home? How would we get home? It felt surreal, as if we were truly floating in limbo.

And of course now it is all over and it looks like we will be going home tomorrow. Today is Monday and I should have been back at work – so reality set in early. I skyped the office – dealt with emails – caught up with events of the last two weeks – and made plans to keep life in Edinburgh moving forward.

I have loved the last three days – magic days stolen from the real world. I know we can’t stay forever but I wish just one more day … pretty please …

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