How to Party Like a Local in Banff

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Today was another early wake-up call to hike the famous Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park.  We left Suz behind to rest her ankle and Marissa to sleep.  For the record, I got Mar up before 6 am two days in a row, a claim to fame that I’m fairly certain I share with no one.  So she get’s a break today.  Stina, Linds and I opened up the Chili’s waffle bar and then drove down the Bow Valley Parkway to the trail head.  For the record, I now can say that I’ve been both the first and last patron of the day in a Chili’s.  I probably shouldn’t advertise that too much.   Going early paid off, as there was hardly any foot traffic on the trail.  We hiked to the lower falls, the upper falls, and then decided to add on the hike to the “ink pots”.  What are ink pots you ask?  We had no fucking clue.  So why not hike a few more miles and find out?  Along the way we saw what we were pretty sure was fresh looking bear shit, but no actual bears.  Given the lack of other hikers at the early hour, we took the giant turds as a warning and yelled “loud noises” every few minutes, just in case.  Long story short, the ink pots are seven jade-green springs located in a beautiful, expansive meadow above the Johnston Canyon flanked by mountains on every side and a river running through the center.  They differ in color based on the speeds at which they fill from the underground springs.  The awesome scenery alone was well worth the extra five kilometers.  On our way back down the trail we noticed more and more tourists who had finally dragged their asses out of bed.  By the time we reached the lower falls, which is the easiest part of the hike where most people turn around, the path coming in was looking like the Canadian Trail of Tears.  Apparently if you arrive anytime after 10 am the “hike” resembles more of a line for a ride at Disneyland.  Thank you once again, Mom, for teaching me to wake my ass up early and get shit done.  We ran out of there as fast as we could.  Stina even stepped on a child on her way out.  She later said that “it” got in her way.  This is why we are friends.

Our original plan was to pick up Mar and Suz and head out to see some lakes, but the sky was looking grim and the views would have been shit.  So we pushed that to tomorrow and instead opted for a leisurely afternoon of shopping, lunching and chilling in the grotto.  We hit up Bear Street Tavern for lunch, which we fully expected to be mediocre but actually ended up surprising us all.  If you are ever in Banff, go to Bear Street Tavern for the pizza, and stay for the chili oil.  That chili oil might even beat jack-in-the-box buttermilk house sauce for condiment of choice.  But this is just race for second place, as everyone knows Taco Bell hot sauce truly has my heart.   After lunch we walked around the shops on Banff Ave., which are tourists traps but have some funny shit.   I’ll give you one guess where we went to get our chocolate fix – that’s right, Troop 638 made a beeline for the Hot Chocolate Twins of Banff.  Linds tried to ask one of them where they were going out for “locals night” tonight, but the inquiry was unsuccessful.  Never send in the married chick who’s been out of the game for a decade to do a single girl’s job.  Bless her heart for trying.

My new pill case?

By this point it was about 3 pm and we had yet to have a drink.  Being the problem solvers that we are, we headed back to the hotel and drank large plastic solo cups of wine in the grotto.  After a soak in the worlds most aggressive hotel hot tub we took a few hours to relax (I blogged) and got ready for dinner.  Apparently Sunday night is “locals night” in Banff .  I’m thinking that locals night could go one of two ways – really awesome, or really fucking weird.  But if you are drunk enough, is there even a difference?  We caught the bus back to the main drag and had about 10 minutes to kill before our dinner reservation.  What to do…what to do shot…did someone say shots!?  We hit up the bar at Elk and Oarsman for a quick round of fireball in true whooo-girl fashion.  The bartender asked us if we were on a bar crawl, at which point I immediately regretted not planning a Banff Ave. bar crawl.

One final dip in the grotto!

We headed across the street to the Balkan, the Greek restaurant in town, for dinner.   Word must have gotten around that the wicked witches of Banff were coming, because we were led to a table in the very back of the restaurant.  Fine by me, I don’t enjoy the dirty looks other restaurant patrons give me for saying “fuck” in front of their children any more than they enjoy hearing their children repeat it the next day.  I’ll gladly chill in the back on my broomstick and enjoy the freedom of adult conversion, thank you very much.  After getting the ball rolling earlier at stop #1, we ordered rounds of doubles and settled in for a leisurely dinner of drinking, eating, and talking about anything that falls within the category of inappropriate dinner conversion.  No one smashed any plates and yelled “Opa!”, so that was disappointing.  But the food and service were overall satisfactory and we left happy and appropriately sauced to crash locals night.

Our big night out started at 10 pm.  We were completely aware of the fact it was about two hours too early by Banff standards, but when you are in your thirties you get drunk on your own time frame.  And my schedule usually includes being in bed by midnight.  You all know day drinking is my sport of choice, so give me some credit for actually making it past sunset! We headed to Wild Bill’s again because I still wanted to ride that damn bull, but it was completely dead and the bull wasn’t even running.  We chatted with the bouncer a bit who informed us that Mel’s was the place to start “early” on Sunday night in Banff.  We decided to take shots before heading out, because why the hell not?  The bartender informed us that our new bouncer friend was headed down our way to burning man in a few weeks, where we would be sober all week because he doesn’t drink.  My gut told me that a bar recommendation from someone who is willing to camp for a week in the desert completely sober might not be appropro for this particular group of girls’ tastes, but we decided to give Mel’s a try anyway.  Always trust your gut…

Mel’s is short for Melissa’s Misteak.  I had heard of it as a popular breakfast place, but had no idea it turned into a bar at night.  I think the Sunday night scene at Mel’s can be more accurately described as “part-time seasonal workers who currently live locally night”.   One girl was wearing a scrunchie.  On purpose.  After 1992.  That made me want to stay for a round just see other forms of wildlife in their natural habitat.  I wonder if tourists at home think the same thing about me when they see me out in sweat pants?  Luckily I don’t give a shit.  In the end, I think we were a solid seven years too old for this particular bar on this particular night.  Every girl there looked like a young Rory circa 2005.  Zero chill, zero fashion sense and zero fucks. Trust me when I tell you, it’s a dangerous combination.  If you are an early twenty-something looking for a summer job and some easy play in beautiful surroundings – Banff and Mel’s might be the spot for you.  For us, it was a bit of a Misteak.  See what I did there?  I’m so punny.

We decided to make one final attempt and stopped at the Rose and Crown on our way home.  The bouncer informed us that tonight is live country music night.  JACKPOT.   As fun as it is watching the pre-mating rituals of horny Canadian co-eds, some live country music in an old school, wood-paneled bar was more what I had in mind for my mountain vacation.  I immediately hit the dance floor and made friends with the one man band.  The name of the one man, I cannot remember, despite doing multiple fireball shots with him.  He called us the “LA girls” and played anything we yelled at him.  In the spirit of full disclosure, we did ask for Sweet Home Alabama and sang “Sweet Home Delta Gamma” while doing the DG wave.  Troop 638 regressed into full-on sorority mode for a solid two minutes.  I’m sure the locals were amused.   One older gal was there with her husband, who wouldn’t dance with her, so we adopted her into our dance crew for the night.  I also may have thrown ice cubes at a table of Canadian boys with bad teeth.  They deserved it, I just can’t remember why.  Drunk Rory is fickle and easily annoyed.  Do not cross her.  When the one man band of unknown name took an intermission shortly after midnight, the old bitches decided to throw in the towel and head home to Chateau Chili’s.  I drunkenly ate a potato salad sandwich – which is exactly what it sounds like, potato salad on bread.  And it was fucking delicious.  Suz tried to pass of the loaf ends on me.  I may be drunk, but I’m not blind.  Ends are for peasants.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Today we fly home.  But first, we blind ourselves by staring at an eclipse and check out some lakes.  After our usual Chili’s waffle breakfast and check-out, we loaded up Bertha (our trusty Yukon) headed up to Tunnel Mountain to check out the view.  We met some nice ladies from one of the Carolina’s (does it matter?) who let us borrow their super cool solar eclipse shades so we could view the phenomenon in all its glory.  I can’t say I was terribly impressed.  At one point Mar pointed out a cloud that was the exact same shape as South America and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly more impressed with that.  The Mayans would have definitely sacrificed me for my lack of astronomical prowess.

We then made our way to Lake Minnewanka, which is a huge lake near Banff.  It’s pretty, but definitely a poor man’s Lake Louise.  We spotted some wildlife along the way – a family of what I think were Elk frolicking in a parking lot, until the parks ranger shooed them away.  Every party has a pooper.  We had about an hour to kill on our drive back to Calgary, so we stopped in Canmore for a stroll around the quaint down.  Canmore is located between Banff and Calgary and is basically like the Jan Brady of Banff National Park – less attractive and outgoing than it’s big sister, Banff, but also far less intimidating and slightly more authentic.

Lake Minnewanka

Stina and I dropped of the girls at the airport and then took one last joyride in Bertha to fill up her tank.  We dropped her off at Avis, said our goodbye’s and then settled in to the airport lounge, thanks again to Stina’s credit card benefits.  Wouldn’t you know it, the free food in the lounge included a giant vat of gravy.  Talk about a Canadian send-off!  I went a little gravy wild, but hey, vacation calories don’t count.

Bye, Bertha. You’ve been good to us!

The flight was uneventful.  I was just thrilled I my bag wasn’t gate checked.  But you didn’t think you were getting all the way through a Rory air travel story without a little drama did you?  When I boarded the plane in Calgary I noticed there was no overhead space in the middle of the plane where I was sitting, so I stowed my bag towards the front of the plane.  Upon de-boarding in LA, as I was waiting for my turn to file off when I noticed that someone had taken my fucking bag by mistake.  When I finally got a chance to side-step a few people and get to the front of the plane to alert the flight attendant, she looked at me like I was a confused little girl and said “well, are you sure about that, honey?”  As if three hours at 35,000 feet gave me amnesia.  Just as the flight attendant gave me a look that said “you’re fucked, sweetheart” a jolly Canadian man marched back onto the plane and declared he had taken the wrong bag.  But there was a solid thirty second of pure, unadulterated panic.  And I am slightly traumatized.  So some words of wisdom my friends: keep an eye on your bag at all times.  I thought that was only necessary on chicken buses in Central America, but apparently it applies to air travel now too.

That wraps up the trip.  It was an epic, action-packed five days that flew by way too fast.  If you know the girls of Troop 638, please help me to harass them endlessly until they join me on another adventure.  Now it’s time to get back to work and make some money to pay for the next one – Dubai and the Maldives here I come!  Just one month away!

The Wicked Witches of the Fairmont Banff Springs

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Today I let the girls sleep in to the leisurely hour of 8am. It was the least I could do given our trashy night out in Banff at the Dancing Sasquatch. I woke up hoping it was a dream, but no amount of fireball shots will ever erase the vision of that man oh the dance floor in the jean vest being air-spanked by his friend from my mind. Who are we kidding, I’ve see far worse. We awoke to find Suz with an ankle swollen to the size of a tennis ball. Apparently she rolled it on the walk back to our hotel last night while laughing uncontrollably about the train wreck of people up in da club. In her defense, it’s hard to concentrate on where you are walking after you’ve just shared a dance floor with Canadian equivalent of the People of Walmart. In case you are keeping track, this is the third sprained ankle of the trip. I think we can all agree that hiking boots would be a solid investment. Luckily for her, Troop 638 has an in-house physical therapist.

Linds iced and wrapped Suz’s ankle while Stina, Mar and I went down to the hotel breakfast. In Chili’s. Yes, you read that right. Our hotel has a Chili’s in the fucking lobby. A legit “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back” Chili’s. And the hotel continental breakfast is served in the Chili’s. It’s exactly as ghetto fabulous as it sounds. We have a grotto hot tub and easy access to boneless buffalo wings. The raving tripadvisor review practically writes itself. Eat your heart out, Fairmont Banff Springs hotel patrons.

Suz picked the perfect day for a limp, since we had no aggressive activities planned. When it comes to girl scouting, we are far more Troop Beverly Hills than Red Feathers. We have definitely earned a break. And yes, I purposefully planned chill day with the expectation that we would get completely shit faced while enjoying the stellar Banff nightlife. I was half right. We took the Banff public bus up to the Gondola station. Bus passes were included with our hotel and it even picks up right outside Chateau Chili’s. The gondola was actually one of the highlights of the trip. The views from the top were amazing. Made even more amazing by the fact that we brought a few bottles of champagne up to the top to have a drink with our view. We claimed a little viewing platform all to ourselves and popped bottles at the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Some rambunctious chipmunks joined in the fun and one particularly rowdy little guy, we’ll call him Alvin, spilled my cup of champagne. I proceeded to scold him aggressively, calling him a “bad boy” and telling his friend “don’t cover for him, he knows what he did”. To Alvin’s credit, he zambonied the shit out of that spilled champagne. You have to respect a chipmunk that abides by international drinking rules.

Suzanne’s long lost family of oblivious Asian tourists invaded our little slice of mountain heaven. We were out of booze anyway, so rather than fight a losing battle against the unyielding power of their selfies sticks, we made our way back down the gondola. We had a bit of a wait for the public bus, but instead stumbled upon a random empty tour bus with a jolly Canadian driver that welcomed us on and told us he would drop us anywhere we wanted to go. Canadian twelves strike again. We hopped off on the main drag in town and wondered through the tacky souvenir shops that line the street. We got Beaver tail – which is basically a flat Canadian churro that can be topped with anything your heart desires. Canadians do not fuck around when it comes to toppings. They will put gravy on their fries and a hot fudge sundae on a damn churro pancake. In addition to touristy chachki shops full of shit that no one needs, Banff has an abundance of chocolate shops. It was at this point that we discovered a Banff attraction you won’t find in any guide books. The Hot Chocolate Twins. Just to be clear, they are hot twins who make chocolate. They are actually just brothers (we asked) and only one is hot (sucks for the other guy), but Hot Chocolate Twins sounds better than “attractive man and his similar looking yet less attractive brother who smell like fudge”. What on earth could be better than a hot guy who lives in the mountains and makes chocolate? Oh right, one who makes money. But if last night taught us anything, it’s that beggars can’t be choosers in Banff. Don’t worry, we’ll stalk them…I mean see them…again later in the trip. I’m going to wait until tomorrow’s blog to tell you what kind of accent they had – although those of you who know me can probably guess correctly based on my enthusiasm.

We had lunch at the rooftop patio of the Rose and Crown. I almost ordered a “Caesar”, which is the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary, until I was informed it was made with Clamato juice…and was then informed that Clamato juice contains clam broth. What the actual fuck? Someone please explain to me the chain of of events that led to someone deciding to add clam broth to a fucking alcoholic beverage. Did the Little Mermaid have a hangover that day? When in doubt, bottle of Rose for the table. After lunch we were drunk, so we took a nap until it was time for dinner. That’s the basic agenda for today – eat, drink, sleep, repeat.

We spent the evening at the Fairmont Banff Springs, which is the sister hotel to the Fairmont Lake Louise. I know what you are all thinking: why on earth would we chose to dine in a world-class 5 star hotel on the banks of a river in the beautiful Bow Valley when we could get some fajitas and skillet queso right in our own hotel lobby? We arrived in style out the rear doors of the public bus and our jaws immediately dropped as we gazed upon the hotel, which looked more like a castle fit for a Disney princess.  Just to be clear, we are not the princess in this scenario.  We are the wicked witches who wreak havoc on the castle and eat all their food.  The beauty of being too cheap to stay in five star hotel is that you can afford to eat two dinners in one night at one.

Our first stop was Grapes wine bar, for some vino and charcuterie. We went outside our comfort zone and started with a bottle of rose. This wine bar is known for amazing and decadent cheese and charcuterie boards, crafted by the chef who stands directly behind the bar. Our board was a work of art that lasted about ten minutes until we devoured it. Don’t worry, we took a page out of our Asian tourist friends’ book and took a picture of it for you first. Our waiter was an adorable gay Canadian boy who hated everything about his work uniform other than the fact that it was a women’s medium. He also informed us that he has only actually eaten the amazing food at the wine bar once, because only the managers get a discount. We suggested he just scavenge leftover food off people’s plates, but apparently he has a rule that he only eats off plates of people who he would make out with. It may sounds like a good rule, but you haven’t have that blue cheese and house made mustard. After another bottle of wine it was time to move on to part two of our Fairmont progressive dinner. We snooped hard on a fancy wedding going on in a room next to the wine bar. The ambiance and decor was beautiful, the wedding guests, not so much. It looked like the B-team table exploded into an entire eighty person wedding. What a waste. Let the record show that if someone ever actually marries me and my Dad springs for a wedding at the Fairmont (he won’t), I would fully expect my guests to come correct, looking good enough to earn their seats. We contemplated crashing, but we would stick out like sore thumbs. Not because we were in jeans, but because we are fucking Canadian twelves.

The Waldhaus pub at the Fairmont is an adorable Bavarian-style cottage that sits at the base of the Bow river, a short hike down from the hotel. Our waiter from the Fairmont in Lake Louise, Trevor, told us we had to stop by and at least get a giant boot of beer. So we ordered Das Boot, which was about two liters of beer, and entertained the other patrons of the patio as we played the boot game – you pass the boot around the table chugging it until someone finishes, at which point the person before that looses. And the beer can’t touch the table. Stina won, and I lost. Mainly because there was no punishment for losing, so who gives a shit. We tried to order fondue, but apparently serving a flaming pot of cheese to a group of Californian fat asses poses too great of a risk to the Canadian National Parks. Fire bans are no fun. Instead, we took this opportunity to try our first poutine of the trip! Cheese fries covered in gravy that serve as indisputable proof that some food does actually taste better than being skinny feels. As if that wasn’t enough, we also split schnitzel and french onion soup. After dinner, we we deep in wine/beer/food commas and headed back to the hotel. In bed before 10 pm, because Canadian twelves need their beauty sleep after all.

The Tale of the Canadian Twelves

Friday, August 18, 2017

This was a long day. If you make it to the end, your prize will be a drunken night-out blog. You’re welcome.

It was another early morning to beat the crowds to the trails. We were up at 6 am, and breezed through our now expedited routine of making breakfast burritos and sandwiches for lunch before the sun comes up. We got to Lake Louise just after the sun had come up around 7 am and already had to fight Suzanne’s mom (read: Asian tourists obsessed with selfies) for some pictures. What are all these older Asian couples doing with the thousands of pictures they take anyway? No one reads your blog, Asian mom. Get the fuck out of the way. Canadians are far too easygoing and agreeable to tell a group of Chinese tourists where to shove their tripod, but us Americans are not. See Canada, we’re good for something.

After an obligatory jumping picture (see above), we set off on the hike to the Lake Agnes tea house, which starts at the base of Lake Louise. The house was very enjoyable, obviously because we beat all the ass holes who have zero value for their own personal time and choose to fight hoards of other tourists just to catch another hour of sleep. Marissa spent the majority of the hike asking everyone we passed “how are the bathroom’s up there? Asking for a friend” at our insistence. Maybe you had to be there. The Lake Agnes tea house is an adorable little lakeside wood cabin at the top of a mountain which serves tea and other nibbles. They have to hike in most of their provisions and get annual helicopter deliveries to supply their operation. We are probably the first people to BYOBreakfast burritos with our tea. Even the waitress wanted a bite. This isn’t 1882, I need bacon with my tea and crumpets at the end of a hike. Someone make me a shirt that says “Will Hike for Bacon”. By the time we made our way back down the trail, the hoards of basics who slept in had begun to make their way up. We passed an aggressive amount of families, many of which were hiking with babies on their backs. One dad, in particular, had a baby strapped to his back and another strapped to his chest. Super dad for the win. Let the record show if my future husband wants to take our toddlers hiking with us instead of springing for a babysitter, he can carry both of them too.

After our hike, we hauled ass out of Lake Louise and down to the town of Golden in British Columbia for our white water rafting adventure on the Kicking Horse river with Alpine rafting. If there is one thing you can always count on, it’s cute white water rafting guides. Also, beautiful scenery…but priorities. I was particularly looking forward to a hot guy yelling commands at me in a cute Canadian accent. There are very few situations in which I’ll follow directions from a man without argument, and rafting is one of them. Ok, rafting is the only one. It took us about 5 minutes to realize we did not pick the hot guide Company. We picked the chill, granola rafting guide Company. Probably for the best – I’ve been making an effort to not bite random men’s arms while in Canada and a hot rafting guide would have made that impossible. But let the record show, if I did bite a Canadian’s arm, he would probably apologize to me for getting in the way of my teeth. “Soorry, soorry, didn’t see your teeth there.”

We changed into our wet suits that made us look like members of the star fleet academy and loaded up with life jackets and helmets. Stina and I had to wait until we got to the river to get our helmets because that’s where they keep the youth sizes. Team tiny head for the win, once again. A mild mannered, unassuming family of three from Minnesota was unlucky enough to be paired with Troop 638 for the day. I hope they like class three rapids with a side of curse words because that is what they are going to get. Our rafting guide’s name was Bill (although I continue to refer to him as Tom or Tim – if your name is basic, you can’t be offended by the confusion). Bill was a super chill dude from Ontario with long dreadlocks. Dreadlocks long enough to get him fired from his last rafting job. I would think dreads would be an extra qualification for a job like rafting guide instead of a hindrance. Personally, when I see dreadlocks I think to myself, there is a guy who can pull me out of the river and teach me to live off the land should we find ourselves in a Lost situation. You know, as long as I don’t have to touch or smell the dreads while we are depending on each other for survival in the wilderness. Because, ew.

On the bus ride down the to the river, the guide asked who has experience rafting class 4 rapids. I raised my hands enthusiastically, thrilled that we were actually going to get big water this late in the season. That guide was a fucking liar. Passing these mild class 3’s off as a class 4 might work on some newbies from Minnesota, but not this bitch.  I’m not the most outdoorsy girl you’ve ever met, but I will jam through a fucking class four with a shit eating grin any day of the week.  I have an internal rating system based on how much I fear for my life, and this trip was disappointingly safe. We still had a great day on the river. Our guide got us stuck on a rock and instead of obeying his commands I decided to film him on my GoPro because it was a class three so, really, what’s the hurry?

After rafting, we were starving and ate our picnic lunch out of the back of Bertha (our Yukon, keep up). Everyone was staring at us as if we had invented the idea of food in the middle of the day. One mom commented on what a good idea it was to bring lunch. You planned at rafting trip from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and didn’t formulate a plan to feed your family? I don’t have kids, but I’m pretty sure keeping them fed is Mom 101. Does that sound judgmental? Good, because I meant it to.

We headed straight from our rafting adventure in Golden, BC to Banff, Alberta. We checked in to our two-bedroom suite at the Fox Hotel and Suites in Banff, and after an aggressive fight with the world’s worst luggage cart, we were finally cracking open a few bottles of wine. You try maneuvering five bags of luggage to the third floor on the equivalent of a rusted CVS shopping cart and see how big of a drink you need. First order of business was to head down to the hot tub grotto in our hotel and give our tired muscles a break. The grotto at our hotel looks like Hugh Hefner designed the hot tub area for the Hampton Inn.  The best mix of bougie and basic you have ever seen. After two days of non-stop hiking, driving and rafting, I would have put on bunny ears and served creepy old men cigars to sit in that thing. Thank god we got some rest because we had quite the drama ahead of us at…

SPILLGATE – BANFF, 2017

We had dinner reservations at the Park Distillery in Banff. The resaurant distills its own vodka and gin on-site and is also the only distillery in a National Park. We started the night off with a few of their vodka and gin flights – which basically consisted of six shots of flavored booze per flight. I asked if we could get our booze chilled, but was told that the bartender recommends they be tasted at room temperature, as chilling them would just water them down. This obviously begs the question as to why you don’t just keep your vodka in a fucking freezer, but I was trying to be a good sport. So I sipped room temperature vodka like a poor Russian girl at communist summer camp.  We all ordered a round of drinks with our vodka tasting, because a shot without a drink is like a hog without its sidecar – it still works, but its far less fun. Stina’s drink was bright red and called the “Beehive”. Our waitress, who had just knocked over an empty bottle of wine at the table next to us, proceeded to accidentally backhand Stina’s drink like a pimp on payday, spilling the red concoction all over Stina’s white shirt and my skinny shirt (the shirt that makes me look skinny). We all jumped up and screamed for soda water STAT. Suz and Linds tended to our wounds with more efficiency and speed than a Red Cross worker in a hurricane named after a fat chick. Suz even ran down to the drug store to get a Tide-to-go pen. After about twenty minutes of frantic maneuvering, we were finally able to return to our meal. A different red headed waitress brought a drink to Stina and told her it was on the house. ONE DRINK. I don’t know how hospitality works in Canada, but one drink does not make up for a fucking blood bath at dinner. We asked to speak to the Manager and were told that we already did – the red headed slut who brought Stina her do-over drink, yet did not introduce herself as the manager or provide any form of apology, was the actual Manager of this establishment. Her name was Micayla. She was a bitch. She came back to our table and said: “Your waitress told me you wanted to speak to me?” How she managed to pull off both condescension and ignorance in one fell swoop is beyond me, and truly a testament to her lack of tact and professionalism. Of course we want to talk you, dumb bitch, we just had a drink spilled all over us by your waitress after which we weren’t provided so much as a fucking apology and nowhere near an adequate form of remediation. I know you’re busy on your summer break from University, fucking your way through the greasy busboys while you play Assistant Manager at a restaurant in a town as big as my ass hole, but we are adults and we expect to be treated as such. Do I sound bitter? Horrid customer service does that to me. In our clumsy waitresses’ defense, she was very sweet and apologetic about it. It was an honest mistake and we had no intention of punishing her for it. She had also only been working a week – big surprise. But as the manager on duty of an overpriced restraurant, it’s your job to make things right and to treat your customers with some respect.  We eventually came to an agreement on our bill that we were happy with, after far more discussion than should have ever been necessary. I think I speak for all of Troop 638 when I say there is only one red-headed boss bitch in Banff, her name is Lindsay and she’s with us. So go fuck yourself, Micayla.

After SPILLGATE, we were determined to turn up. We had pictured nightlife in Banff to be something similar to Park City or Aspen. Upscale clientele with a zero fucks, bottle popping vacation mentality. In actuality, it’s more like National Lampoons mountain vacation. We walked into our first bar, The Devils Gap, took a shot and immediately walked the fuck out. The Devil’s Gap was more like The Tooth Gap, or The Gap Between Asses and Pants among its patrons. Strike one. We then tried Wild Bill’s because we heard there was a mechanical bull, and I’m always down to get trashy on a mechanical bull. Turns out, the bull was not running and there was a cover charge because of a “local band”. I’ve already seen the “local restaurant management” so bar for locals is low a this point. Strike 2. We turned around and tried another bar, also with a cover charge. Sure, it was only $5 per person, but as women who are fucking Twelves in Canada, paying even a minuscule amount to enter a shitty dive bar somehow seemed egregious. We may be 8’s in California, but the metric system is very kind of us tan Californian girls up here. We decided on one last try at the Dancing Sasquatch – a club that numerous guides and waiters had mentioned to us over the past few days. We show our IDs and are once again stopped by some Canadian 5s asking for a cover of $10. We laughed in their faces and turned around. The boys in line immediately started complaining to the bouncers that they were letting the only chicks leave the otherwise Canadian Bacon Fest (see what I did there?), at which point the bouncers chased us down the block and asked us to return for free. Duh.

The terrifying scene at Bar #1

First order of business in the Dancing Sasquatch – get shots. Second order of business – find the actual Dancing Sasquatch. Turns out, the Sasquatch on any given night is just the drunkest, most ridiculous boy in the bar. Took us about four seconds to spot the big guy in jeans and a denim vest dropping it like it’s hot. Sasquatch in a summertime Canadian tuxedo. The people watching was amazing, if not sometimes frightening. At one point, a fight broke out on the dance floor. A few of the bouncers swooped in to break it up. Everyone apologized to each other after which they all started dancing together like an episode of drunk Barney. Even the bouncers started dancing with the guys, I shit you not. We momentarily pondered if we were actually in a gay club, as the dance floor was all men who seemed to have zero qualms about personal space with other men. We were assured it was not. A drunk guy hit on Suzanne and Linds while simultaneously being kicked out by a bouncer for being too drunk – Suzanne assured the bouncer he was sober enough to buy them drinks and ask if he could kindly wait for their transaction to close before kicking the guy out. The bouncer obliged. Because, Canadians. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – they are the teddy bears of the world. Except, of course, that bitch Micayla.

Terrified at the Dancing Sasquatch

Around midnight, we reached the point where the drunken dancing among Canadian sevens had turned into hopefully humping. So we took our hot, level twelve, drunk asses home.

Cougar Creeks and Silver Tips in Alberta

Wednesday, August 16, 2016

Today was primarily a travel day. I met Stina at LAX and we proceeded to get drunk for free in the Alaska Airlines lounge thanks to Stina’s credit card benefits. Nothing says “vacation” like champagne before 10 am. The cunty gate agent claimed our bags were too big and gate checked us, after which we proceeded to board the plane and see copious amounts of overhead space more than large enough to accommodate our carry-ons. Bitch. After a half hour delay, a three-hour flight and another half an hour waiting for the longest baggage claim ever we were finally united with our San Francisco compatriots in the Calgary airport. We grabbed our giant rental Yukon from Avis, which we have lovingly named “Bertha” and the Troop was on our way to Lake Louise! We put Suzanne behind the wheel for our maiden voyage. Apparently putting an Asian woman behind the wheel of a monstrous vehicle garners quite a bit of attention even in Canada because we were the most popular car on highway 1.

We stopped in Canmore for some grocery shopping on our way up to Lake Louise. After exiting the freeway we found ourselves at the corner of Cougar Creek and the Silver Tip Lodge. I can only assume this entire block is owned by the same horny old Canadian man with a dirty sense of humor. Needless to say, we exhausted the double entendres utilizing “silver tip” within about a day. For efficiency purposes, I sent two girls to the liquor store and three of us went to the grocery store. Canada is one of those places where you can’t buy booze in a normal grocery store. As if having to walk across the parking lot is going to deter people from their drinking plans. After some provisioning, we were back on the road and on our way to the Lake Louise Inn.

After a quick check-in to our adorable two-bedroom suite, we downed a few bottles of wine and headed to dinner. We had reservations at the Lake Louise Station Restaurant, which is in a restored railway station. Our waiter was “Jesse from tripadvisor” who introduced us to the Canada Rockies’ version of the super size – the “mountain size” – which magically transforms your drink from a single to a double. Mountain sizes for the table, good sir! I ordered a martini with blue curaçao and wound up drinking what looked like the Canadian version of an Adios Mother Fucker. Automatic ass hole of the table. After our little happy hour back at our inn and some mountain size drinks, we were feeling quite lively and succeeded in making Jesse from TripAdvisor extremely uncomfortable every time he came to our table (hint: the phrase “silver tip” was exhausted ad nauseam). We crashed immediately after dinner to prepare for our 5:30 am wake-up call. Yup, you heard me right. No one beats the giant Chinese tour buses to a glacier by sleeping in.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

We are starting Day 1 off with a bang by driving the Icefields Parkway up to the Columbia Icefields. For those of you who don’t know, this is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Anyone who has been on vacation with me knows that I generally plan long, action packed days down to the hour. And due to my disdain for crowds of obnoxious tourists with no respect for personal space, I always start aggressively early. There is no better feeling than being the first person on a hike, on a tour, or generally in any other aspect of life. Our alarms went off at 5:30 am at which point we immediately went into prep mode. I assigned everyone tasks the night before – Stina and I on breakfast burritos and Linds and Suz on sandwiches for our picnic lunch. Marissa’s only job was to get herself to the car by 6 am in weather appropriate clothing. I should get the Basic Bitch Whisperer award for getting 5 grown women into a car with two meals packed by 6:15 am. So here’s the plan – the first snow coach tour on the Athabasca Glacier leaves at 9 am and we will be on it. A normal person would plan on getting up at a reasonable time and making that their first stop. I planned a hike to a glacial lake at 6:30 am. Because YOLO. We aren’t saying yolo anymore, are we?

Our first stop was Peyto Lake. We walked to the beautiful lookout point where we ate our homemade breakfast burritos and took selfies. You can take the Instagram sluts out of California, but you can’t take away their burritos. We then did a little hike to the Bow Valley ridge before getting back on the road. After another hour or so up the Parkway we made it to the Icefields center, which is the home of monstrous all-terrain buses that drive tourists onto the Athabasca Glacier. We made the first tour at 9am, just as planned, and boarded one of the giant snowcoaches driven by a nice Canadian boy named Patrick. It was Patrick’s last day on the job, and senioritis had definitely set in. Patrick had just quit to move back home to ass-fuck-no-where Canada and his mother thought his life was going downhill faster than the glacial winds. Apparently, Canadians really enjoy over-sharing. We learned at bit about Patrick and the skill it takes to drive a giant bus down a thirty-degree slope onto a glacier, but not a hell of a lot about the actual glacier. I’m about 90% certain the facts that he did give up were fake – which we get enough of at home, thank you very much. We later learned that all the young employees at this glacier operation live down the road in the “ice castle”, which is basically a co-ed frat house for Canadian university students working at the glacier for the summer. We therefore chalked Patrick’s lack of enthusiasm up to a hangover from his ice-castle goodbye party the night before. We’ve all been there. Give the kid a break.

They dropped us off on the glacier and gave us half an hour to walk around. Have you ever walked on a glacier without crampons? Neither have I. Because you can’t. It looked like my 10-year-old birthday party at the ice skating rink. But the people watching was fucking fantastic. The only thing better than 50 tourists fighting for the best selfie is 50 tourists who are walking like baby giraffes in a fucking wind storm on a glacier fighting for selfies. Our favorite was the Chinese woman in bedazzled jeans and a scrunchie with a fake hair extension built-in who used her husband as her personal photographer. We slyly had Suzanne pose for a picture next to her and called her Suz’s “mom” for the rest of the day. After about half an hour we piled back into our snowcoach and headed by for dry land. One of the tourists caught on to the fact that Patrick didn’t count how many people were on his bus before we left and asked if he has ever left someone on the behind. Patrick’s response: “Oh, every day. Soorry buddy, I don’t know your face”. Perhaps you had to hear it in the Canadian accent, but this has quickly become our quote of the trip. Apparently the other day a couple missed Patrick’s bus and couldn’t fit on another one for a solid two hours – stuck on a freezing ass cold glacier the entire time. Zero fucks in Canada! Patrick, you hungover bastard, you are really growing on me. Some Asian girls gave Patrick a big hug as they got off the bus, so naturally, Stina told Suz she’d buy her a drink if she gave Patrick an awkward hug. The first rule of Troop 638, never turn down a free drink. That rule actually still applies without the word “free” in it.

After the snowcoach we were shuttled onto another bus which took us to the “glacier skywalk”, which is a viewing platform over a canyon. It’s kinda stupid, but it came with our glacier adventure ticket and we saw some goats – first wildlife sighting of the trip – so we’ll call it a win. Our fourth and final driver back to the Icefields center was a mustached co-ed who was also fond of over-sharing. He informed us that the dorm is called the “ice-castle” because of all the ice princesses that live in it. Methinks someone hasn’t gotten laid at the Glacier Summer Camp for Misguided Adults. Something tells me Patrick didn’t have that problem – his glacier game was definitely on point.

Walking back into the Columbia Icefields center was like walking into a war zone refugee camp. Hoards of displaced tourists waiting in lines that seemed to go nowhere, running around trying to find the fastest way to get tickets. Who does buy tickets online before hand? Fucking amateurs, that’s who. THIS, my friends, is why you drag your ass out of bed before the sun comes up. To avoid shit like this. I mentally pat myself on the back for my superiors planning skills. We headed back down the parkway and stopped at the Parker Ridge Trail for an aggressive hike consisting of switchbacks up a mountain. The payoff at the top is supposedly amazing views overlooking another glacier, but due to the smoke in the air from the fires in nearby British Columbia, we couldn’t see shit. We renamed this “the hike to nowhere” and kept it moving. I also slightly rolled my ankle on the way down. It’s not an adventure unless Rory rolls her ankle. Not to worry, it’s fully walkable, and nothing is getting me down on this trip.

Next stop was Bow Lake, where we had a lovely picnic lunch and snapped a few pics. At this point, we had been up and fully active for over 9 hours, and it was only 3 pm. We went back to our hotel where we took some champagne and rose to the face while we sat in the hot tub. Did you think we were done for the day? Not even close. This was just the intermission. After a bit of down time (read: drinking and hot tub time), we were back out on the road for an evening visit to Lake Moraine. Here is the scoop on Lake Moraine – it’s a shit show. As one of the most famous lakes in the area (for good reason – see pics) you can really only visit before 9 am or after 6 pm because the crowds and parking are unbearable at any other time. We got there closer to 7 pm, found a parking spot, and poured ourselves some rose in plastic cups in the parking lot. Yes, we brought booze. I know you aren’t surprised. Moraine Lake was a stunning sight. The pictures look like I photoshopped myself into a Hollywood backdrop. But we all know I didn’t because that would require me to learn to use photoshop, and I can barely maneuver WordPress. It was, without a doubt, the happiest of all happy hours I have ever been a part of.

At this point, we were drunk and feeling fancy in our denim jackets so we headed down the road to the Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise for dinner. Marissa sweet talked a very nice French man at one of the restaurants into a table outside with a view of the lake. As soon as we were seated, a crazed chipmunk jumped onto Suzanne’s leg. When she screamed he quickly ran away and jumped right on to a steak on the table of our fellow restaurant patron. Not sure if it was Alvin or one of his loser friends – probably whichever one is ballsy and hungry as fuck. Probably the fat one. One by one, everyone on the patio requested to be moved to a table inside because of the “wild animals”. I honestly don’t know if they were talking about the drunk Californian girls or the chipmunks. Whatever – later, losers.

Dinner at Poppy Brasserie on Lake Louise

We had another adorable young Canadian boy as our waiter. Trevor laughed at our jokes and seemed to enjoy our presence almost as much as we enjoy ourselves. He even laughed at all our Cougar Creek and Silver Tip jokes. Trust me, there were many. Stina made good on her awkward hug bet with Suzanne from earlier in the day and bought Suz and drink. Trevor was impressed that she kept her word, because he had recently won a bet with one of his friends who then bitched out on his punishment of jumping in the lake. We told Trevor to this friend, who also worked at the restaurant, out to see us. As he walked out we called him a pussy and screamed at him to jump in the lake until he ran away with a shart in his pants. If I were a better woman I’d guess we might the only people to scream the word “Pussy” on the grounds of the Chateau Lake Louise. One small step for man, one giant leap for obnoxious drunk bitches everywhere. After a fabulous meal overlooking one of the most famous lakes in the world, it was 10 pm and we headed to bed. I’m letting the girls sleep in tomorrow. Until 6 am. I’m nothing if not generous and accommodating.

Bitches who Banff

August 16, 2017

Lets first address the elephant in the room. I ghosted on you guys last December. Ghosted hard. Ghosted mid trip. I sailed around the Belize islands for a week in a perpetual state of drunkenness and couldn’t be bothered to blog about it. Sorry I’m not sorry. Get over it. To be honest, there is very little from that trip that could be preserved for posterity on the internet in any sort of PG-13 way. Even the watered down version of reality I write about online would have been rated R at the very best. So let’s keep it moving.

I’m currently three glasses of champagne deep in an exit row on a plane to Canada. Seated directly behind me is the ONE AND ONLY STINA. My original partner-in-travel-crime, one of the founding contributors to the blog, and my forever travel soul mate has signed back on for yet another trip with me. I can already hear the sound of her adorable giggle as she proofreads my blog. I can already feel the tip of her nose on mine as we Eskimo kiss our way through the Canadian Rockies (just the tip, people – this is a classy blog).

The fun doesn’t stop there. Joining Stina and I on this trip is the majority of Troop 638. To give you some back story, I lived with all of these girls at 638 Landfair, which was our college apartment in Westwood where soberness went to die and bad decisions flourished. A place where your feet suck to the floors covered in stale beer, tenants bartered with kegs of beer like currency and Sundays were reserved for beer pong practice. If you went to UCLA about a decade ago and had any social life to speak of, you chugged a beer at the valve of my mighty beer bong at 638, while these girls screamed at you to stop being such a pussy and open your throat. But enough of reliving the glory days. Let me introduce you to the cast of characters for this trip. We will herein be referred to as “Troop 638” or “The Troop”.

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Name: Christina (aka “Stina”)
Relation: Travel soul mate and founding member of this blog as one of the Dinos Down Under. Most of you might remember her from blogs such as the double ocean kayak puke in Bryon Bay or the time we used the world’s hottest and tallest brothers as stocking stuffers for Christmas in Queenstown.
My favorite travel memory with her: When death was upon us as we hiked the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand and she somehow managed to help me retain my sanity as I begged for instantaneous death in the depths of Mordor.
What you can expect: A zero tolerance policy for stupidity at all times, stone cold efficiency and the person who will ensure my last wishes are carried out after I die on a moderate level hike.

Name: Marissa (aka “Mar-Mar” or “Mar”)
Relation: Life soul mate, forever wedding date and the only person I let spill drinks on me on a frequent basis with no repercussions. You regulars will remember her from our bizarre Maui adventure where a four day relaxing vacation turned into a five day bender of epic proportions.
My favorite travel memory with her: It’s a three-way tie between her brush with death during the great Trukee River Beat Down of 2006, the time she fell from a building in Costa Rica after trying to scale it “como un gato” in 2009, and crashing a naked beach party on Maui in 2016. Our bad decisions and absurd stories span decades.
What you can expect: She’ll be given zero early morning responsibilities other than getting herself out of bed, she’ll spill her drink on at least 3 people a day, and she will without a doubt get us invited to some random locals party. Probably in a log cabin mansion. Extra points if she finds us a helicopter ride there.

Name: Lindsay (aka “Linds” or “Mata”)
Relation: Nubber from another mother, the only person I trust enough to eat unidentified baked goods with names like “Vegas Bars” from, and my future sister wife (once we get the old ball and chain to come around to the idea of supporting two unproductive yet super fun members of society).
My favorite travel memory with her: The epic naked bachelorette pool party at our rented compound in Santa Barbara that ensued after a day of wine tasting and amateur music video making. In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, this group is not fond of clothing.
What you can expect: Linds will retail the utmost respect for the timelines set forth in my aggressive itinerary. She will be the only one who manages to retain any level of composure and rational thinking after our group drinks all the Rose in Canada before dinner. And she will probably be The Who to apologize to the random people Mar spills her drinks on.

Name: Suzanne (aka “Suz”):
Relation: Marissa’s not-so-twin sister with far better hand-eye coordination when drinking. Despite being Asian, she is still a way bigger Jew than me.
My favorite travel memory with her: Flagging down a yacht full of bachelors from the beach of the Mango Deck in Cabo San Lucas to take 12 bachelorettes on a all day booze cruise.
What you can expect: A can-drink attitude and incredible ability to say yes to every opportunity for fun. I’ll be in bed every night before this married bitch, mark my words. She will probably make friends with some old Canadian men who will buy her drinks all night – just because they like her smile.

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The only missing member of Troop 638 is Allie McDoogly-Doo, who isn’t able to make this one due to the fact that life fucking sucks sometimes. But not to worry – we have some vague plans for a 2018 trip to a destination that is potentially rampant with Zika, because ain’t no party like a baby-free party.

Lets address your next and my least favorite question of all time: why Canada? After serious discussion, we needed a Zika free destination for the married girls who may be contemplating future pregnancy (yes, planned ones, because I’m really that old), a potential party destination for the single girls, and to get the fuck out of the USA for the good of all. Upon further investigation, we discovered Banff and Lake Louise seemed to have it all. There is enough physical activity to possibly make up for the amount of booze we will consume and an aggressive amount of selfie stick worthy locations to feed everyone’s social media appetite. Given the fact that we have three Jews in our group, the lack of Neo-Nazis north of the border in the current political climate is certainly an added and unforeseen bonus. Additional consideration was given to the fact that Canada is the home to the poutine – a dish made entirely of French fries and gravy – as well as Justin Trudeau’s ass. If I end up changing the name of this blog to “This bitch be drowning in gravy and universal health care” you were warned.

The itinerary is as follows: two nights in Lake Louise which will consist of 5:30am wake-up calls, crystal blue lakes, picnics overlooking glaciers and physical activities spanning no more than three hours at most. Nothing is fun for more than three hours. lf you horn dogs that are thinking to yourself how great three hours of sex would be – as fucking if you could last three hours. And who’s got that kind of time? If god took only 6 days to make the entire world, surely he didn’t intend for me to spend more than a few hours hiking a few miles of it. At least not while sober. After Lake Louise we’ll head to Banff for three nights where my itinerary loosens a bit to account for a hangover or two. Yes, I factor hangovers into my excel-based itinerary and yes, our hangovers must coincide with a spreadsheet. We aren’t animals, after all. Last but not least, I promise to actually finish this blog – unlike the last few.