May 4, 2008


After the dinner was over, we all loaded onto a chartered bus that was taking us up to Banff.

There were two guys who were the bus drivers. One who actually drove the bus and another who was sort of the 'back-up' driver if needed.
We all got on and found a seat to claim as our own. I sat near the back across from Palindrome and settled in for the long ride (approx. 90 mins) north to Banff.
My chance for a bit of solitude and some sleep was short-lived however.
The second driver introduced himself to everyone and worked his way to the back of the bus until he got to me. Then he sat in the seat behind me and we talked (well, mostly HE talked) all the way during the trip. It was fine really, I figured better me than to try and bother everyone else during the drive and it did seem to make the time by quickly.

It was late when we started on the trip, so it was already dark and not much to see along the drive. We did see the ski jumps from the Calgary Olympics which were lit up at night, and he told me about how they are currently being used today as a training center.

We got to Canmore (just outside of Banff) and stayed at the Banff Gate Mountain Lodge & Spa.
Being past midnight when we arrived, it was pitch black outside with no idea what type of view awaited us in the morning.
We were all assigned to our rooms and then broke up to settle in and get some sleep.

I stayed up a little while longer and talked with Laurie (the wife of the promoter who brought us up to Calgary) and we discussed breakfast plans for the next morning. It got to be well after 2 a.m., and finally we could not keep our eyes open any longer so we all crashed in our seperate beds until the sun rose to a beautiful morning.

When I got up, I thought I'd take a quick peek outside the window and... WHAT A VIEW!
The Canadian Rockies were staring right back at us from across the highway.

After taking pictures I came back inside and by that time Laurie had woke up so she & I and another person headed into town to get food for breakfast for everyone.

We picked up all types of 'breakfast-y' foods to try and accomodate everyone.
We even picked up pre-cooked bacon... in Canada.

Get it? True Canadian bacon? Har har!
Yeah, anyway....

We got back to our room and everyone started milling about, so we began the great breakfast migration towards our room so we could start feeding everyone.
I took it upon myself to work kitchen duty and began making scrambled eggs and French toast, while Laurie prepared hashbrowns and another girl began microwaving the bacon.

We had two pots brewing coffee and that didn't seem to be quite enough, but everyone was having a good time so it didn't seem to matter too much.

Here's me in the kitchen:

I had made a plate for myself, but since I was still cooking I didn't get to eat it right away.
Filip (the publisher of Top Cow) asked if he could take over so I could eat, so I left the kitchen duties to him and another fellow by the name of Terry. They wrapped up feeding everyone, and then we all made plans for the rest of the day.

A cookout / BBQ was decided on so we all made seperate trips in to Canmore to pick up supplies.
Note to anyone reading this: ALWAYS have a list!
Everyone bought enough food to feed everyone else, and we ended up having W-A-Y too much food to finish during our stay there.
Filip and I saw what everyone was buying so we cut way back on getting food, and opted to buy alcohol instead, so we went to the liquor store to load up.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.
People mostly broke into groups to talk shop or get to know one another, while others played Nintendo Wii.

I spent a good portion of the day hanging out wit Stjepan and his wife. We talked about his work in the comics field, exchanged recipes, how he and his wife have enjoyed visiting Canada and the U.S.
Just having a nice relaxing time.

As evening approached, we started getting all the food ready for grilling.
Filip and myself moved all the booze into Stuart Immonen's room and set the bar up there.
Burgers, hotdogs, steaks, chicken, etc. were being grilled out in the 'common area'.
All the fixin's were in the room the the left of the bar. The gaming was taking place to the right.
It was party central!

That eveing was really laid back, and I found myself getting involved in a game called "Mafia".

Which was fun, but after a few drinks I found it difficult to keep up with and just let myself get killed.

Bedtime ended up being somewhere around 2:00 a.m. again.
Tuesday morning, there was plenty of leftovers from the night before plus breakfast food from the previous morning so everyone just got what suited their needs and we planned our rides into Banff to do some sightseeing and shopping.

Our Seattle group stuck together, along with Filip and Lynda and we all rode into town together.

First stop was the famous Banff gondola ride.
I tried to steel myself for it, but knew that I just would end up being a basket case before the ride was over, so I opted to stay at the gift shop and wait for everyone to return.

This picture was taken by Palindrome for me. What a view from up there. Thanks P!

Afterwards, we went to lunch.... at a Mexican restaraunt with British waitresses in French Canada. Who says were can't be International?
I also had a shot of Scorpion Mezcal, which I might add was quite good.

I wish I could find it locally in the States.

Then we walked around downtown and went to a candy shop. (No, we didn't lick the lollipop. Whoa!)

We also bought some exotic, handcrafted teas in a local shop.

Or at least, Filip and myself did.

Everyone else waited outside for us.

Some of the people were heading back to the airport today, so we went back to the lodge for them to pack and get their rides back to Calgary.

I spent the late afternoon hanging out with Stjepan and his wife again. He had come down with an upset stomache earlier, so he wasn't able to join us in Banff, but was feeling much better later in the day.
We sat around and watched "Karate Kid" pts. 1 & 2, and I got a nifty sketch from each of them.
(I'll have to post them later, as they are bigger than my scanner. But they are COOL!)

Another cookout dinner with everyone and I even played Wii bowling with Whilce Portacio's daughters.
The following morning, everyone that was left was heading back to the airport to go home.

We cleaned up our respective rooms and all grouped together into one room to wait for our rides back to Calgary.

Our Seattle group played a round of Magic while we waited.

Then our ride showed up and we were whisked off to the airport.

The flight home was thankfully uneventful and brief.

While we were waiting for our ride to pick us up, G-rod was coming back from Mexico that same day and met us in the baggage pick-up area.

We got to our respective vehicles and by the time I got home, it was after 9:00 p.m. but I didn't get to sleep until after 11:00p.m.
I got up for work the next day and made it until about 3:00 when my body finally said to me "Dude. Enough is enough. I'm shutting down now", and I went home early and crashed. Hard.
I've also come down with a nasty cold, but I'm hoping I can get through the worst of it before next Friday when the ECCC begins. Then I can stay home and recouperate at my leisure.

There was a lot more that happened and it was an incredibly fun week, but I'm glad to be home finally.
I look forward to doing again next year (hopefully).

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