The 5 Easiest Ways to Ruin Any Vacation
I recently found myself in the great white North, having the privilege to attend the always-exquisite Comic and Entertainment Expo. But when those festivities were over I decided to extend my vacation to the only vacation destination that also sounds like a Batman TV show sound effect: Of course, I'm talking about Banff.
Get it now? I really shouldn't have to spell these things out for you.
Yes, beautiful Banff. One of the most sought-out skiing vacation spots in the world and only one-and-half-hours from Calgary by car! True, it was no longer really skiing season, but I don't actually ski, so it wasn't a problem. Also, I was told there were plenty of other attractions so I set out for two days of Banff's banffiest best.
And that's when everything fell apart. My mini-vacation was besieged by numerous maladies. How many? Well, five. Five maladies. That's why this is a five-entry list. Geez, I thought the Batman thing was bad. Work with me, here. So here are five things that can ruin any vacation:
Any vacation can be undone by an ill-timed malady. Getting dysentery in Mexico, getting sea-sick on a cruise, or getting third-degree douche chills from a visit to Piers Morgan's House of Pubic Hair Trimmings. My illness, however, was a bit different.
"Come for the pubes. Stay for the more-pubes."
Y'see, before heading to Banff, I had some Calgary business to attend to -- namely doing a guest set at Calgary's Yuk Yuk's on Saturday night and making Gillian Anderson fall in love with me at an X-Files panel on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, just before I got on stage, most of the corneal cells in my right eye fell off. It's kind of a lovely chronic condition I have that flares up about once a year, brought on my sleeplessness, eye strain, and dryness. In the days leading up to the trip, I'd barely slept and had been working on my laptop a lot. Also, Alberta is DRY. Super dry. Like Adam Tod Brown Prom Date dry. (Just kidding, Adam didn't go to prom.) So, yes, I went on stage (thanks to the very funny Amanda Perrin) and did my set to a bunch of Calgarians, even though my eye looked like this:
How do you like me now?!
Incidentally, I also made an ass of myself at Yuk Yuk's by complaining about my condition to headliner Darryl Lenox, unaware he was suffering far greater eye maladies. (Thank you for not beating me to death, Darryl).
By Sunday, the condition had only gotten worse. My eyes no longer lined up as revealed by this photo of me.
Due to this eye condition (and ONLY because of this condition) Gillian decided not spend the next two days with me in Banff. I mean, what else could it be? Like Duchovny, I'm an Ivy League-educated English major from the Northeast, whose slightly prominent nose only accentuates his Semetic good looks. But unlike Duchovny, I'm 10 years younger and 6 inches shorter, so Gillian wouldn't have to strain her neck during stand-up make-out sessions. Seemed like a pretty flawless pick-up plan to me. Anyway, the eye condition ruined everything, but that didn't stop me from putting a pants suit on my hotel pillow and calling it Agent Scully. So don't be too quick to call me a loser.
By Monday, my eye had improved slightly but still hurt to keep open. Nevertheless, because I have the strength of 10 men (and no legal right to remain in my Calgary hotel) I headed off to Banff. I drove the one-and-a-half-hours with my right eye closed. And even though I was already risking my life with the distractions of impaired vision and a freakish GPS that insisted on giving me directions in nonsensical "kilometers" and "meters," I was so struck by Banff's approaching beauty that I had to snap pics.
Weather, much like YouTube comments, is beyond our control (and often lame). I had all sorts of He-Man adventure plans for my Banff vacation: hiking, snow-shoeing, and exploring the sites atop cable-suspended gandolas.
But minutes after I arrived in Banff, this happened:
Either snow or one of those mythical Canadian giants came down with serious dandruff.
Yep, an unseasonable amount of snow. No one expected it. It was the start of May. Days earlier, I was wearing a T-Shirt in Calgary. Visibility was shit, and as badass I am, there was no way I could deal with one eye and a snow storm. My first day was confined to the hotel at Buffalo Mountain Lodge, which was pretty damn amazing, but the most adventurous thing I did was try to figure out how this delicious concoction could be called lasagna?
Canadians can be weird.
Now any fun vacation needs lots of proper planning. The kind of planning I don't enjoy. The kind of planning I don't do, and, of course, the kind of a planning I should have done. I packed for Canada like a New Yorker visiting some region northwest of his home. Wait. That's not really a metaphor. I packed as poorly as I just crafted that sentence. But maybe my lack of a hat, gloves, and boots wouldn't be a problem. After all, the next morning, the snow stopped, and the sun came out!
Either that or that giant changed shampoos.
I thought I'd partake in the wonderful Banffy snowshoeing in the lovely Lake Louise area. For some reason, it didn't occur to me that you'd need snow boots for that. In my mind, I guess, the snowshoe was the shoe. So I couldn't do that. Well, I could, but my guide explained that while Banff snowshoeing is a super fun experience, it's less fun when you lose most of your toes to frostbite after a three-hour walking tour.
Pictured above. Someone who can pack without mom's help.
Undaunted, I took a drive and snapped more pics, which is pretty much the same thing as hiking, right? I mean, I've always said that the automobile is nature's legs and the camera is nature's eyeballs.
My original plan was to turn Banff into a mini-family vacation. I'd fly up for Calgary Expo and then meet Wife or Wife and Kids two days later in Banff. Well after booking that first part of the trip, school, time, passports, finances, and many other things made that an impossibility. I was traveling alone.
How do you do that? When I checked into my hotel, I stumbled on the answer ...
You might be thinking the answer to being alone was writing. After all, that's a photo of a lovely blank journal, and I have been known to write. That's an excellent guess. In fact, the same thought occurred to me. But I quickly nixed it for a better one. Careful readers will notice that just off to the side of that journal is a lovely Canadian microbrew. I quickly decided the best thing to do was get drunk.
I decided to head to a bar. Specifically, the Banff Ave Brewing Company. I then proceeded to offer money in exchange for alcohol. (The Canadians are just like us when it comes to this!) First I drank this:
A beer that weighed as much as a small baby, and almost as delicious!
Then I somehow got a shot for free. Then I made friends with the whole bar, and someone bought me this:
It's vodka, Kahlua, coffee, and ice through a straw. Then I actually paid for some more beers. It was a lovely time. I've lost my point here, I think. Much like I lost the ability to control my bladder that night. Oh, wait. I think it's, if you're traveling alone, be sure to make new friends. And it's easy to make friends in Banff because, seriously, I'm not that likable.
Here is a pic with my buds, whose faces are obscured for legal reasons (they have Canadian restraining orders against me).
A Bad Attitude
Vacations are finite. Finances are finite. Bad events can ruin the whole thing, especially if you let it. That's why maintaining a good attitude is so important. With my searing corneal pain, sudden bad weather, lost traveling companion, and poor packing, it would have been really easy to have had a crappy time during my short stay in Banff. But I didn't. And not just because I was drunk the whole time, but because everywhere you looked was beautiful and everyone was really nice.
Maybe it's because half the population appeared to be Australian, and I'm HUGE in Australia. Seriously, lots and lots of Aussie. Why they decided to love skiing when their homeland is devoid of snow is beyond me, but they loved the place. Then again, back home, they hunt Jews like me for sport in the Outback, but in Banff, they poured me free beers. So, really, all bets were off with these folks.
But it wasn't just the Aussies. Everyone was super nice, and everyone was super happy just to be in Banff. It was infectious. So while I may enjoy hating on stuff as much as the next guy, it simply wasn't possible in Banff.
Come see Gladstone do stand up at NYC's Bareburger on May 22, 2013 and the Gotham Comedy Club on May 28, 2013. Also, be sure to follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.