Ontario is packed-full of hidden gems and The Blue Mountains are no exception. Every year, the boys and I plan a trip to the bump to get pissy-pants drunk and insult one another. It’s a formula for disaster but one that has provided many memories. Some good, some bad.
This year, we spent a little more money and booked a hotel closer to the action. We are the definition of “ballin’ on a budget” so we took our time and found a good deal. Shout out to my friend Peter for making that happen.
Our trip started off slow. We strapped our snowboards to the roof of our rental and made it five minutes down the road before we started to feel insecure about their stability. We had to stop twice before we felt confident that they would make the three-hour trip without coming loose. Does anyone know a good knot?
We departed from the east of London Ontario. We took the back roads to avoid the hell that is known as Toronto rush hour traffic. Although not the fastest route, the back roads provide a few scenic landscapes and a chance to see small town Ontario. We drove through a plethora of tiny communities but one stands out amongst the others.
Stratford, Ontario is a small community of about 31,500. It’s located on the banks of the Avon River and might be the best-kept secret in southwestern Ontario. As we pass through, I find myself asking questions like “How did they build that?” or “I wonder how long that place took to complete?” The architecture speaks for itself and it’s a welcome escape from cookie-cutter neighbourhoods and commercial strip malls that London is known for. As a writer (I’m a writer now) it would be irresponsible of me NOT to mention that Justin Bieber is from Stratford, even though you may be aware of this already.
We miss our turn because our driver is absent-minded. He was distracted by savage insults being hurled at him like javelins from the back seat because he’s getting married. None of us have a problem with the marriage. It’s just what we do – hurl insults at each other. It’s a sign of endearment, really. “Did you ask your wife if you’re allowed out?” or “is it mandatory to be boring after you get married?” Things of that nature. I’ll admit, the banter is my favourite part of trips like these.
We pile into our hotel room around 8 pm. The debauchery begins. We crush beers and play cards. “Thirteen” is our game of choice. Before we know it we are a complete shit-show. A parade of drunken maniacs in search of a good time. One of us is covered in gravy. Another has blood stains on his shirt and broken glass in his hands. The details of how that happened are a bit blurry but I’m pretty sure it involved riding a tiger down Main Street. There’s no way to know for sure.
Its daybreak and none of us are happy about it. The community bonfire is lit and the smell lingers throughout our room, (I love that smell). The Village is alive with skiers and snowboarders. I can hear their excitement as they walk beneath our balcony on their way to the chair lift. The restaurant across the way is playing music and people are already lining up to find a seat. Some guy is on the speaker, like a carnie bidding for your money, announcing an aerobics class being offered in the middle of town. I mildly consider it.
“Gooood Morning Blue Mountain!” I scream like an asshole from the balcony. You see, it’s 2 pm, so it’s funny. It’s time to hit the slopes. There’s not much to report about going up and down the mountain other than….it’s fun. So I’ll skip right to the part that pisses me off.
The restaurant I mentioned earlier (Rusty’s) is a stone’s throw from our hotel. It transforms into a nightclub. Naturally, that’s the place we target to show off our dance moves, (I have just one move. I put my hands up in the air and kind of just bob up and down. This move has carried me through my younger bar-hopping years and I can always count on it).
We walk inside the bar and the bass is bumpin.’ This always gets me hyped. We are asked to pay a cover charge which includes a MANDATORY coat check. I check my coat and away we go. Hands up, just bobbin away.
At some point, I lose my coat check ticket. I was really tearing up the dance floor I guess. Upon requesting my coat at the end of the night I’m told someone has taken it. Some asshole took my ticket and stole my coat. The employees at the bar shrug their shoulders and say “there’s nothing we can do.”
Let me get this straight. You made me check my coat against my will. I trade you my 300 dollar coat for a piece of paper. I lose the paper and you guys give my coat away? There’s nothing you can do!?! How about buying me another fucking coat? This wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t make me check it, assholes. They know I’m right but they don’t care. The coat is gone and that’s that.
I was enjoying Blue Mountain, I really was. Now I’m tired and cold and it starts to rain, and not just rain, it’s freezing rain. It doesn’t take long to become miserable when you’re walking around with a two-day hangover in this weather. My mood has completely shifted.
Anger takes over. I aggressively cram poutine into my fat face and wash it down with a beer. Who needs a coat when you have fries, gravy, and cheese curds? Although delicious, my poutine was over-priced and it only twists the screws further. Fuck you Blue Mountain.
Vendors make a pretty penny off the tourists at Blue Mountain. Capitalistic ventures have a way of ruining the natural beauty of the mountain-scape because I now somehow blame the mountains for my misfortune. It’s well-oiled money making machine and I’m just a walking, talking dollar bill. Or at least that’s how it feels.
After I’ve pouted and complained for a few hours, we are set to head home. I’m driving because other people’s driving scares me. No matter who it is. I can see the Georgian Bay in my rear-view mirror and the sight alone makes me reflect on how glad I am that I came. Regardless of the bullshit. “The journey is the destination,” they say. That was true for this trip. The time spent with friends, the banter, the scenic views I don’t have the privilege of seeing every day. These are all things I love about road trips and I have The Blue Mountains to thank for it all.