A couple of months ago Glen eagerly organised for us, Julian, Bec, Alastair, Royden and Peter to go to the Ontario Gay Ski Weekend up at Blue Mountain from 9-11 January. When it was booked it seemed so far away, but there we were, just a week after going to Puerto Rico, on our way to Blue Mountain.
Glen and I left the condo on Friday evening at about 5:30 to catch the train to Royal York subway station. Julian finished work at six and it was easier to go from his work than to have him come all the way back downtown. I’d loaded his car up with all our luggage that morning. You wouldn’t think you’d have much to take just for one weekend, but the accommodation Glen booked came with a kitchen so we thought we’d bypass as much of the overpriced food in the ski village and do some proper cooking.
As a result, we each had a carry-on suitcase, our ski boots bags, a couple of bags of groceries and the Thermomix. I also brought a backpack (as there were a few things I couldn’t give Julian in the morning) and then there was whatever else Julian brought too.
When we got to Julian, we didn’t leave immediately. We went for dinner at a local Thai restaurant and had some ok food (and nearly a red curry flavoured daiquiri. Glen asked what flavour the daiquiri was and the waiter misheard and thought he’d asked what flavour the duck curry was. Red curry was the answer.) and then started to drive, until about ten minutes down the road when I said I needed to pee.
Luckily we were close to Julian’s parents’ place so we stopped in there. We had a bit of a chat to his parents and left with some clementines, a couple of blankets, and Julian’s brother, George, who we dropped at the train station. By 8pm we were finally on our way.
It took about two hours to get to Blue Mountain. Glen navigated, which suited me fine as I sat in the back going through some work. It was also a welcome distraction from watching the roads which were being whipped with snow. It looked very harrowing and kudos to Julian for getting us there in one piece and in reasonable time. I think I would have crawled the whole way.
We checked into the Mosaic lodge at Blue Mountain, room number 300, and the others, who’d come up in Pete and Royden’s car, were in 301 next door. They were there when we arrived and had only been there for about half an hour.
The accommodation was excellent. Each one had two rooms, one with ensuite and the other with access off the room to the bathroom. There was a meals area, a living area and a fully stocked kitchen with pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, and salt and pepper. We unpacked and then hung out with the others for a little while before heading off to bed. We were toying with the idea of going to the Friday night party but by midnight we were a bit tired and ready for bed.
A late start to the day. Julian and Glen wanted coffee from Starbucks so we got that first, then stopped in at the little supermarket for some eggs, bacon, home fries, juice and milk. We also picked up our gay ski weekend packs which came with a bunch of freebies like drinks, chips, discounts and a tshirt, as well as our passes for free entry to the events.
Back at the apartment, I made breakfast for the three of us and then we got ready for skiing. It was probably about 11 by the time we went to rent our skis. It was very handy having our own boots, particularly from a comfort perspective, but we still had to queue with everyone else renting things. We got skis and poles (we might buy poles as they’re about $15 to hire), Julian got boots as well, then we queued up for our first run of the day with Bec and Al. (Pete and a Royden had a more relaxing weekend and didn’t ski.)
It was pretty cold out there. Temperature ranged between -12 and -10 but was colder with the wind chill. I’d bought new ski mitts on Thursday which did the trick and kept my hands warm for most of the day. My goggles didn’t freeze this time, which was a relief.
We started off with a few green runs before moving onto blues and ranged from one side of the mountain to another. I was a bit bad in that I usually just zoomed off down the hill and left every behind, but goddamn it was fun to speed.
We stopped for lunch, faffed around for a bit and then went out again. You can’t get ready quickly when you go skiing. Boots take forever to put on, then there’s all the other gear – balaclava, helmet, goggles, gloves – and then picking up the skis from valet and then joining the queue for the chairlift. You’re lucky if you can get from the accommodation to the top of the hill in under 30 minutes.
Anyway, more skiing in the afternoon until about 4pm when it started getting dark and our legs started to tire. At that stage I’d just point my skis downhill and zoom as fast as I could to the bottom, even though that did put extra strain on my quads. Fun though.
Back at the apartment, all of us headed off to the outdoor hot tub to warm up. There was a bit of chilly moment when you exit the building to go outside, disrobe, and then walk over icy bricks to plunge into the hot tub (which could have been a bit hotter really). It was a big one so there were plenty of other people in there, quite a few — including us — who had brought alcohol disguised in plastic containers.
We stayed for a while, evilly putting ice on each other’s exposed backs. Our hair froze. It was lovely. Then we got out, returned to the apartments, and started preparing our evening meal. I made a chicken and leek risotto in the Thermomix which was really easy to do and turned out nicely. Bec had prepared a veg soup, and Pete made Caesar salad. We had quite the feast. It reminded me of family trips when Mum would bring so much food to cook and eat for the trip. Like then, it came out at a fraction of the cost if we’d eaten in the Village, and tasted better too.
After dinner, Glen, Julian and I went to do one run down a slope as Glen and I had never been night skiing before. It was very icy, and a little cold. After our one run, we returned our skis and went back to the apartment for drinks, chocolate and a game of Ticket to Ride.
At midnight, Glen, Julian and I went to the White Party as part of the gay ski weekend festivities. We didn’t know it was white themed until we got to Blue Mountain so Julian created togas for us out of bedsheets. We then ran outside (Glen the only smart one to bring his jacket; Julian and I were in pants and not much else. It was cold.) and ran around in the snow until we found an open door to the venue.
We were the only ones dressed all in white. A few people wore white tshirts but we were the extent of the white in white party. If nothing else, people came and talked to us. The crowd grew soon afterwards. Music from the DJ was a bit meh (even with a live saxophone performance) and the other bits of entertainment were sort of plonked into the evening so it was all a bit bitsy. Anyway, we talked to people. We had fun. We left at two.
I didn’t wake up feeling the best. I had a headache. I’m not sure why. I also didn’t wake up until 9am, much later than the ‘early morning skiing’ we’d intentioned. Glen and I lounged in bed for a little while, before getting out of bed and joining the others next door for a big breakfast. Pete cooked eggs, potatoes and bacon; another feat.
Once again, it took a while to get out to the slopes. We hired skis, waited around a little bit, and then went up on the chair lift. It was a lot busier today, which made things even slower. There were also a lot of small kids having lessons so the chair lift had to stop frequently as one or two slid off the chairs (only at the start, not while high in the air).
On our first run – a green called Happy Valley – Glen’s shins started to ache. He’d said they were sore before we started but he decided to see how it would go. After this first run, the verdict was not good. He and I took a different route on the next run to go back to the village, but as we started to go down a steep blue and stopped halfway down, he said his shins weren’t hurting any more so we went back up and joined the others. It was a relief as it would have been an expensive exercise if he’d only done two hills.
We did a few more hills, then Bec went inside. The boys then did one or two more (I even went down a black which wasn’t really a black, just icy and narrow), and then Glen and Al went off, and Julian and I did a couple more before heading back. Glen and Al had got separated at some point because Alastair was the last one to return to the accommodation.
Glen went off to the hot tub for a bit, Julian joined him. I packed up the apartment. We were supposed to check out at 11 but for only $50 more we could stay until 7pm. That seemed too good to pass up. The boys came back. We packed up, loaded the car, then went for a quick (late) lunch before driving home. Julian did a great job of getting us home safely; I was falling asleep in the back seat.
It was a great weekend away, and it was only two hours north of Toronto. Going to miss this.