Quite a bit happened during our first day in Fernie, but it started with the realization that we were entirely snowed in. An honest foot of snow had fallen overnight leaving us stuck with chores and happy to do so after chugging lots of coffee, but bummed that we weren’t going to be skiing because the work was easy due to the fact that the snow was the fluffiest of powder. We made the best of the mistake of sleeping in and tasted the offerings of the yearly festival going on called “Griz Days.”
The plan was to go watch the baby races but after driving to the community center we realized that we didn’t have three Canadian dollars to enter and wasted time doing things that Canadians do. Around noon the decision was made and final: I would enter into the bacon eating contest regardless of the fact that we were unsure whether it was three pounds cooked or uncooked weight. I knew I could do three pounds of pre-cooked weight, but three pounds of cooked bacon is really a lot of bacon.
Jean was totally my Don King for the day. Honestly, I know it is stupid, unhealthy and a little bit gross to eat that much bacon, but it was fun and Jean supports me so I honestly don’t care. She did make sure we went to the pharmacy to check my blood pressure, which I told her was just fine. When we found out it was three-pounds after cooking, she was all like “pfffff…”
Three others competed against me: another Dave about whom I have nothing to say either positive or negative; Damien, who was a definite Damien, with a Mohawk-ish haircut going on and a shirt that said “I LOVE BACON; and a Brad who was 40-50 and on some no-carb diet that allowed for him to eat as much bacon as he wants so paying $5 for lunch and being able to skip dinner simply made economical sense. Dave had had three rum and ginger ales and Brad was on his fifth beer.
Long story short, the bacon was severely undercooked and Damien turned out to have a very strong desire to win and ultimately did. Out of the gate I went for a single handed mouthful that backfired pretty quickly and left me choking. Shortly after recovering from choking, Jean—who was sitting across from me—let me know that the guy next to me, Damien, was “a machine” and that I needed to “hurry up.” I stole a glance and saw that he was pinching the bacon into his mouth with both hands similar to the way a squirrel holds a nut in his mouth and was aggressively chewing it out of his fingers. A bulging vein serpentined down his temple towards his crazed eyes. His water cup, essentially there for lubrication, was full of grease and bacon remnants and was one of the most awful sights I have ever seen. His three, young children eventually gathered around and cheered him on saying shit like “you can do it, daddy!” After seeing this horror show unfold, I knew that second place was all I wanted because I, along with the other two, were playing a very different game and decided to call it quits after Damien won.
But I am claiming second place because I’m needy like that. Everyone knows the story of me eating four pounds of lasagna and not a single person is impressed and just need a trophy to get some modicum of recognition and then I will shut up. Well, ultimately, it was one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life but I regret nothing.
After that whole thing, we recuperated in the Vixen for a while and nothing of note happened except that Jean invited strangers inside and offered them Cheez Itz and beer. We have to deal with a lot of people looking at us and generally just treat it like an experience and let it run its course. There’s almost always something remarkable about the encounters, i.e. today when we talked to a girl with face tattoos who was positively gushing over how much she liked the “van” and her partner who smoked a ciggarette while pumping gas but our conversation was interrupted when a prairie dog popped up and everyone got really excited. I digress.
We continued waiting and eating cheez its until the parade started, which we were very pumped up about because I love parades and Jean obviously likes parades. Here’s an incomplete list of the gems that the parade featured:
- A float with a hot tub full of children wearing swim caps and goggles submerged up to their necks awkwardly making eye contact with viewers.
- Three actual cowgirls.
- Tiny ponies.
- A gigantic diorama explaining the creation of coal in chronological fashion. Only detail I remember were dinosaurs on the front of it.
- A small pride contingent with a very smart Honda generator powering their shitty dance music.
- A float of hairy, bearded men wearing flannel or shirtless with Robin Williams’ levels of hair. Not entirely sure what they were representing because it was too weird to take in.
- A couple riding in a big Ford truck with “FORD OF FERNIE” on the sides. They kept the windows rolled up and ignored the proletariat like the true ballers they are.
The final floats were all businesses of some sort that were firing off tee-shirt cannons. Jean apparently goes nuts for tee-shirt cannons and is both athletic and highly theatrical in her attempts to get a shirt. She attracted the attention of a man nearby who commented to his bud that next time she would probably knock a kid over trying to get a shirt and they both laughed their goofy laughs and fell to heckling her. I really like Canada. But earlier in the day we almost won a “Snapple” tee, and Jean accepted her defeat graciously saying “close only counts in hand grenades….” She can be pretty funny, sometimes.
[insert video of Jean knocking a kid over when I can figure out how. It’s really funny. Come back later.]
Next, we came across a lumberjack show, which is a little bit like a Canadian circus. There was a red team and a green team resplendent in their lumberjack flannels and canvas bibs. Red’s captain was, as Jean said, “older than dirt,” but he was a full on badass. Turns out his name is Norm because of course it is and the green team is captained by Gerald, Norm’s son. There’s an emcee who fucking hates Gerald and makes a point of calling him out for everything and, at one point, said that he “always cheats” and shot daggers at Gerald. Saucy girl. But Gerald was a boss and couldn’t even fit his sweater over his Popeye arms, so he chopped the sleeves off with an axe. The show featured: axe throwing at targets, two-man hand-saw race, chainsaw race, chainsaw carving, and the finale was the thing where they cut notches in the tree with their axe, jam a platform in and hop up on that, then cut another notch, and so on until they get to the top and have to chop the top off of this thing. Gerald let Norm and made it clear that was what was really going on. I really liked Gerald until that stunt. Grow up, Gerald.
We skipped the fireworks show and went to park and sleep for the night in the parking lot of the ski resort (free) and wake up the next day to ski the chewed up powder, but lucky ducks we are, half the mountain closed all day Saturday because ski patrol was all scared of avalanches which left us rewarded with around 36 inches of sweet, soft, dry powder. It was an absolutely wonderful day of skiing and Jean skied way harder terrain than she has ever done before (double blacks) and did so really well. Fernie is a great mountain.
So lots of other stuff happened but the Vixen is running great and we are taking to this life like a fish to water. We’re both happy and I’m enjoying this more than I had anticipated. And, bonus, being in Canada we are eating a buttload of poutine and learning a little bit of French. Jean has learned “croquant” from the Cheetos bag and I learned “embrassez moi, je suis Thai” from a thai food napkin in a food court in a mall in Calgary. Look out world, here we come!