My closing thoughts…

Now that it has been a few months since this trip took place, I think it has given me ample time to think about our time soaking in the experience that was the 2010 Winter Olympics.

From the time the Games were announced that they would be held in Vancouver, I had this inner desire to attend. This desire was kept to myself for quite awhile. When ticketing information was announced I got a little more excited and brought my idea up with my parents and brother. They liked the idea and said to keep them posted. As the ticketing lottery deadline approached, we had several family meetings to decide what packages and events to try to get. We submitted and waited… we got 4 pairs of tickets; it was official, we were going to the Olympics! However, 4 pairs didn’t seem like enough for such an international event. So, in June I picked up 4 more pairs via the online ticketing system. That seemed perfect! As time ticked away and the Games grew closer, our excitement mounted exponentially too!

Once there, we became glued to the TV watching the coverage or were visiting with family or taking in the electric buzz that permeated through Vancouver or were experiencing world-class athletes compete live.

Not enough can be said about the feelings and emotion the Olympics brings to an individual. Words will never do it justice and must be felt first hand to truly understand. If anyone ever has the opportunity to experience the Olympics, Winter or Summer, do not pass this up.

The hospitality we were shown by our family and friends made this trip even better, thanks!

People have asked me “how was it?” countless times since I’ve been back and my answer I give them is “trip of a lifetime”. This is the answer that I think sums up my emotions best. Will there be another “trip of a lifetime”? Possibly. This will be hard to beat, but if the Olympics are in North America again, I’ll probably be there to cheer Canada on wearing the red and white. That’s a promise.

I put together a video that showcases our trip put to music by Vince Vaccaro, a local BC musician, and Foo Fighters, my favourite band.

Until next time, its been great sharing my stories with you, thanks again, so long…

Gold Medal Hockey Day!

Entering the final day of competition at the 21st Winter Olympics, Canada had 13 Gold medals, a tie for the most by not only the host nation, but by a country ever at a Winter Olympics. Canada would surpass this mark and set records this day, and do it in style!

This day was like many others when Team Canada played hockey, we settled into our spot at the local watering hole in Coquitlam, the John B Neighbourhood Pub. Joining me for this exciting and memorable day was my dad, my brother, my cousin Ken, my cousin Monique and her boyfriend Jeff, her dad Albert, and her grandpa (my grand uncle Johnny). A good crowd if I do say so myself! The pub was packed with everyone in their Canada gear.

Once the game started at just after noon, everyone was on pins and needles waiting to see if our boys in red and white could bring it home (I guess technically it was “keep it here”). Boy, those guys sure made us tense! As millions across Canada watched, we all had a united “ohhhhh…” as those pesky Americans scored to tie the game at 2 with 24 seconds remaining in the game to force overtime. The 20 minute wait between the 3rd and Overtime was very stressful. Overtime begins, here we go, all on the line now boys. Here’s the setup: Canada comes out guns a blazin’, about 7 minutes into Overtime Canada makes a rush into the Americans’ end, they get it deep and start to cycle the puck, Iginla gets the puck, feeds it to the golden boy Sidney Crosby who fires a shot immediately through Ryan Miller into the net. CANADA WINS, CANADA WINS, CANADA WINS!

Could there really be a better ending to this, almost scripted?

The pub erupted and went absolutely nuts! High fives all around, spontaneous singing of O’ Canada, beer being chugged in true Canadian fashion!

Now back when we got the tickets, I made a promise. The promise was: if Canada wins the Gold medal in Men’s Hockey, I will drink beer. Well, Canada won, so here’s the moment many of you have waited to see for years…

That’s all I drank. Was kind of disgusting. However, it was a free pint of Canadian courtesy of the pub because Canada won Gold. I’ll try beer again, just not Canadian draught.

We then awaited the Closing Ceremonies that evening to conclude the past 17 days.

Speed Skating (Feb 27) – GOLD!

Let me start off by saying WOW!

I went to this event with Chris and it was so awesome to experience it with him. We had fantastic seats once again, mere feet from the track. This venue, the Richmond Olympic Oval, is truly a beautiful structure!

This day was the Finals for the Team Pursuit in both Men’s and Women’s. First off were the ladies.  Unfortunately, the Canadians weren’t in contention for a medal, but raced their hearts out to place 5th out of 8 teams. The Germans won gold over the Japanese by 2/100ths of a second!

The Canadian men had the crowd on their feet this day! The men were favoured to win this event, and that’s just what they did! As the men got ready and began to warmup for the race of their lives, the energy from the spectators grew, you could feel it. As they took to the starting line for the final race of the day against the Americans to determine who would emerge victorious, the crowd went crazy. From start to finish, chants of “Canada!” and “Let’s Go Canada!” could be heard to give our boys the strength and energy to bring home the gold!

To see our flag raised above the rest, with O’ Canada playing, brought this great feeling of national pride over me (along with chills, and I’ll admit it, a tear or two). At this exact moment, I think I found the feeling I’d been searching for for the entire Games, that feeling that words won’t do justice too, a feeling where inside you’re so overwhelmed with pride and happiness that you feel you’ll explode. I found it. What I didn’t know was that I’d have the same feeling the very next day.

Roadtrip #2 – Days 5-9 (March 8-12)

Yes, I’ve taken a long time to do this post…

We left Great Falls on the morning of March 8th heading eastward to Rapid City, South Dakota. Boy, that was a maze getting out of there! We decided to take a shorter route that took us off the main Interstate, Highway 15. This showed us rural Montana taking us through winding hills and small towns. In fact, one of the small towns we stopped in for a rest was called Ryegate. The funny thing about this little town was the sign they had at the local bar, or saloon as they probably call it. Here is a picture of the sign:

Testicle Festival

For those of you that can’t read it, the sign says “25th Annual –  Testicle Festival – Sat June 13 – ‘Nuttin But Fun'”. Funny to me at least. This is obviously from 2009 as 2010 doesn’t have a Saturday June 13, yet I’m sure it’ll happen this year too, so you can still go!

After leaving Ryegate we returned to the Interstate and made our way through Billings, Montana and settling in Sheridan, Wyoming for the night. We had a fantastic pizza that night from an establishment that’s been there for 38 years called Ole’s Pizza & Spaghetti House. If you’re in Sheridan ever, check it out, its on the main drag and sells spaghetti and pizza.

Day 6 began by leaving Sheridan, heading for Rapid City, South Dakota. We went through the town of Sturgis, South Dakota which is renown for their annual motorcycle rally. We stopped at a rest area along the way and as we were entering the area on the ramp there was a sign that caught us off guard and for that we unfortunately don’t have a picture of it. The sign said “No Hunting”. This ultimately begs only one question, what kind of person hunts at a rest area? Once making it to Rapid City, we figured we could make it to Sioux Falls for the night. However, what we didn’t know was that we’d be driving into a blizzard. The weather got pretty bad and visibility was low. As we approached the town of Murdo, South Dakota we decided we better find a place to stay for the night and wait the weather out. Our venue of choice was a Days Inn parking lot.

The snow stopped overnight and we left Murdo in the morning. The weather was not completely optimal, having to drive through some fog while we made our way to Sioux Falls. We cut south down to I-80 which took us to our end destination for the day in West Des Moines, Iowa. A pretty good day driving-wise.

Day 8 saw us traveling through 4 states, leaving Des Moines, Iowa in the morning, crossing into Illinois at Davenport, driving south around Chicago and into Indiana, finally stopping in Kalamazoo, Michigan for our final night on the road. The rain became quite heavy around Chicago and increased its intesity as we approached Kalamazoo. Just outside Chicago there was a billboard along the highway for the gentleman’s club Club390, which read “All the liquor. None of the clothes.”. Only in America!

Illinois state sign

Indiana state sign

The final day of our 39 day adventure began with our approach to the border at Port Huron/Sarnia. On our way to the border we passed through the lovely and bustling metropolis known as Flint, Michigan… ya, right! The border crossing went just fine with minimal questions. After we crossed, we drove to Wardsville, Ontario which is just outside London, for a short visit with old friend Frank Csenki. Here we dropped off our navigator Mike Murphy. So with a man down, it was left to Dad and I to get this rig back to Toronto. As we got closer to Toronto the rain started, and boy did it pour! Fortunately, the rain broke as we got into Scarborough, allowing us to unload without getting soaked.

Oh ya, my bed felt absolutely amazing!

Roadtrip #2 – Days 1-4 (Mar 4-7)

Our trip back to Toronto got delayed by one day due to me coming down with a bit of a bug, so instead of leaving on March 3rd, we left March 4th.  Day one started out leaving our residence for the past 3 weeks at Albert & Michelle’s, my dad’s cousin, at about 10:30 am.  Our drive took us to Revelstoke, BC where we met up with my dad’s friends Robert and Julia.

Day 2 was spent in Revelstoke getting a guided tour by Robert.  We drove up to Revelstoke Mountain Resort where my Dad and Uncle Mike took the gondola to 5000ft.  Unfortunately, the terrain was not accessible, so I had to stay back and get a full report upon their return.  Other places we visited were a few local highlights such as the Revelstoke Dam, the second largest dam in North America after the Hoover Dam.  We spent the night there and prepared to leave in the morning.

Revelstoke - Mount Mackenzie view

Revelstoke scenery

Day 3 was a shorter drive to Banff, Alberta where we met up with Jon Whelan, a long time friend of my dad and Uncle Mike back from their days working at Chateau Lake Louise in the 1970’s.  En route to Banff we stopped at Lake Louise, where once again I had to miss out on the great, great vista due to the icy terrain.  This does however mean that I must come back to both Revelstoke and Lake Louise at a later date.

Rogers Pass

Lake Louise 1

Lake Louise 2

Chateau Lake Louise

Lake Louise - Ice sculptures

Day 4 started at about 8:30am and made our way out of Banff to just outside Canmore where we had breakfast.  From there we made our way through Calgary, down to Lethbridge, and crossed into Montana, without trouble, where we have settled for the night in Great Falls, Montana.  Tomorrow’s goal is make it to Rapid City, South Dakota.  More to come later…

Three Sisters - Canmore, AB

Alberta

Montana sunset

Ice Hockey – CAN-USA (Feb 21)

Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect and come down off the natural high I experienced on Sunday, I can fill you in on the magic. As soon as my dad and I were dropped off about a block away from Canada Hockey Place, you could instantly feel the energy. There were Canada jerseys in every direction you looked. It was a beautiful day in downtown Vancouver with the sun shining and not a cloud in sight. Walking to the venue, there were chants of “CAN-A-DA” and people spontaneously singing O’ Canada. The feeling that I had is nearly impossible to explain.

Once inside, we made our way to our seats. Our seats were in the USA zone for the 1st and 3rd periods, in the first row of the upper level. We watched the Canadians and Americans warm up. The energy only began to build at this point.

The time we had been so eagerly awaiting had finally arrived! As the Canadians came out of the tunnel and stepped on the ice, the sea of red and white erupted. Wow!

Unfortunately, the Americans scored in the first minute and from then on, the Canadians never got the lead. For me and my dad it was about the experience more than anything (not to say a win wouldn’t have been appreciated). For the entire duration of the game the crowd was electric and it just intensified. The Canadians did end up losing 5-3, but it was a hell of a game that I’ll never forget. It was such a pleasure to be able to experience this event with my dad.

After the crowds cleared a bit, we made our way to the SkyTrain to get back to Coquitlam.

What a day!

Speed Skating (Feb 20)

My dad and I experienced the Men’s 1500m Speed Skating event on Saturday at the Richmond Oval. What a beautiful venue! For such a large and cavernous building, there is remarkably no echo. The roof is made from the wood salvaged from the Pine Beetle infestation.

Unfortunately, we didn’t witness a Canadian win a medal. Nonetheless, Speed Skating is quite interesting and VERY fast. During the ice resurfacing a traditional Dutch band played, called Kleintje Pils.

There were 19 races with the Netherlands capturing the gold. Even though Canada didn’t win a medal, whenever they raced the crowd went nuts.

My 1st Event – Short Track

I just got home from the Pacific Coliseum from watching Short Track Speed Skating with my dad, our first event at the Olympics. I think only one word can explain what I just experienced: AWESOME! The crowd was alive and energetic the entire time. I truly felt a sense of passion and patriotism. Whenever a Canadian was announced and raced, the crowd was deafening. We were fortunate enough to witness a Canadian, Marianne St-Gelais, win a Silver medal this evening in the Ladies’ 500m. I can’t wait for more!

Medals, Dallas Green, and disappointment

Canada wins a GOLD! We got our very first gold medal on home soil on Sunday by Alex Bilodeau in Men’s Moguls. The monkey is off our back now, time to get some more. We also recieved a Silver in Women’s Moguls and Men’s Snowboard Cross, and a Bronze in Women’s Speed Skating.

Last night’s concert Chris & I went to was great. We saw City and Colour, otherwise known as Dallas Green. The concert was part of the Cultural Olympiad. The opener was a band called The Rural Alberta Advantage. Both of us quite enjoyed them.

Unfortunately, due to weather, the event Mom & Chris were supposed to go to on Thursday, they’re seats have been cancelled. It was Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe. The standing room area is very beat up and not safe enough for spectators. It is quite a bummer, but we shall prevail and overcome.

My first event is tomorrow at the Pacific Coliseum at 5pm for Short Track Speed Skating. Should be fun!

Dinner Delayed

After leaving Coquitlam around 4pm en route to my grandparents’ place for dinner yesterday, we got news there was a bombscare at Lonsdale Quay on a SeaBus, right where my grandparents live. There was Police everywhere! They wouldn’t allow anyone down the hill by car or foot. So, we sat and waited for nearly an hour until they cleared the area as safe. Turns out they blew up a package left by someone on one of the SeaBuses. An inconvienience, but glad they are taking the proper measures to ensure public safety at all times.