Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coupe Grey 2008

The Canadian Football League is playing their "Super Bowl" today, called the Grey Cup. It's come down to the Calgary Stampeders vs. Montreal Alouettes, being played in Montreal. It's starting at 4:30 CT on Versus, home of obscure sports.

I went to my first Grey Cup in 2000 in Calgary, one of my favorite cities... Alberta's like a Canadian Texas, so I dig the people and the terrain quite a lot. I even have a fondness for the Flames since I went to my first NHL game on that same trip (where they boo'd the US national anthem). Wikipedia tells me it was the BC Lions vs. Montreal in that game. I don't remember it. I just remember being quite cold and walking around the University of Calgary before the game, enjoying crunching snow underfoot.

We went the next year to the Grey Cup in Montreal and, while Montreal is a magnificent city that I've come to appreciate the history of as part of becoming a hockey fan, I was surprised by how French it really was. Now coming from Texas, I know enough Spanish to not feel completely hopeless when surrounded by the language, but French? Nary a drop of French do I know. I was intimidated and didn't enjoy it like I should have. However, we did go to a Canadiens game where they cheered the US national anthem (post 9/11). Funny how things change.

Our last Grey Cup game was 2002 in Edmonton, but it was quite a bit more eventful than the others. We never just went up for the games. We'd go up for a week or so and drive around whatever part of the country we were in. For this trip, we had a genius idea to drive up from Calgary to Yellowknife, NWT and try to see the aurora borealis. I know. Dumb. But whatever.

Anyway, we get up there, which was an event unto itself, and find out there's a big storm coming later the day we were leaving, so we figure we better get the hell out of there as early as possible. We head out at 4 a.m. and all is well. We get about 100 miles north of High Level, AB and hit a patch of black ice, our Ford Explorer flips a couple of times into a ditch, fortunately landing jelly side up. The other fortunate thing is that there's a Greyhound bus with a satellite phone stopped at the top of the hill ahead of us and sees it all unfold.

He very kindly calls for help. We're generally okay but my shoulder is in a lot of pain from slamming into the door. We have glass in our hair and cuts here and there and our stuff is all out in the snow. The top of the truck is squished.

Some other truckers stop and I'm feeling woozy from shock and one lets me sit on his jacket so I'm not sitting on the cold ground. The rest help Mr. Conduct get our stuff out of the truck while we wait for the police and an ambulance. The sand truck comes by as I'm sitting there on the road. I flip him the bird for being an hour late to sand this patch of icy road.

The police come and let me sit in their warm truck next to a very big gun. Then the ambulance comes and they strap me down to a board with a neck brace and we take a scary, painful ride south to High Level and the nearest hospital. On the way up to Yellowknife, we'd been laughing about how they were all excited on the High Level radio station about new x-ray equipment at the hospital. Well, guess who ended up needing it. Yeah.

So, they x-ray me and nothing is broken but there's a ton of pain so it's rotator cuff or something. They give me Tylenol 3 and we take a cab to the hotel for the night and are absolutely GIDDY with joy over being alive. I mean, crazy happy, crying and laughing. I'm in huge pain and the T-3 isn't touching it. But we order pizza and figure out the rest of the trip.

We decide to take the bus to Edmonton for the Grey Cup. We get to the hotel in Edmonton and they take pity on me and my arm in an immobilizing sling and give us a suite because it's the only room with a king bed and I need room to sleep where I won't get jostled. The game was pretty fun. It was cold but I was still just happy to be alive and okay. Then we took the bus back to Calgary and flew home.

It was a high drama trip but I look back on it with strange fondness. My shoulder still isn't quite right, and I haven't been back to Canada or any other place with wintry weather. I had a lot of issues with driving after that, panic attacks and stuff, but I'm aces now and jonesing to get back to Canada, eat at The Keg (OMG I love that place), maybe hit the Boston Pizza, which is our go-to place up there, get laughed at for our southern accents, etc. I just love Canada, the people, the terrain. It's fantastic. And of course, the hockey.

Rumor has it that the 2010 Grey Cup is going to be in Hamilton, ON. And since I've never been to Toronto or the HHOF, I'm thinking we'll have to go up for that one.

Anyway, just a little rambling on my Canadian résumé for a Grey Cup Sunday. Go Stamps!

1 comments:

hipcheck  November 23, 2008 at 7:15 PM  

Wow, that is quite the tale! I too have panic attacks in bad weather because of black ice, so I totally know the feeling. The last winter I lived in WI, I made my dad drive me anytime it was rain, ice or snow cuz otherwise I'd have panic attacks.

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