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A TRIP TO REMEMBER

A number of years ago shortly after we’d taken custody of our 1st Great Dane – Justus , we embarked on a weekend journey that will forever be etched in our minds as a trip to remember.

For a lighter look at life – take a wander through:

*A TRIP TO REMEMBER*

Every time our neighbors used to see us heading out the door with an overnight bag, the snide remarks would commence – “ Off to Mexico for the weekend are ya?” “Wassamatter – can’t handle Winter?”


Thought it’s true we’ve experienced our fair share of globetrotting in the past- we’d decided on this particular occasion that a quick weekend getaway to Banff was what we needed.

Armed with a carry on and a 140 lb. Great Dane, we bailed out of the old homestead just before lunchtime planning on a 2 Pm arrival at destination.

“Let’s take the backroad” my lovely bride suggested.

I’ve been in therapy ever since.

Somewhere between Bragg Creek and Lesser Slave Lake a tire with less than 3000 km to it’s credit decided to pack it in.

Okay – how difficult can it be to change a tire?

Not difficult at all- just hit the Satcom/GPS/Roadside Assist button on the dash.

While waiting for some fella named Henry to locate us through a relay from the International Space Station, we decide to take the dog for a nature break.

3 cars stop – not to help us mind you – but to snap photos of a dog significantly larger than the Korean import they’re driving.

Henry finally arrives at the scene of the crime, and from a distance takes one look at the vehicle and another at monster dog and asks, “flat?”.

“Only on the bottom Henry!”

An hour’s worth of grunting, groaning and muttering obscenities directed towards the engineering team of MBA’s that designed the housing for spares on the vehicle, Henry gets most of the job complete with a stern recommendation that we stop in at his brother’s garage in the next town to finish things off.

Heeding his advice we head in to Gomer Pyle’s “Eat Here -Get Gas – Tire Repair” where a couple of hours later, we’re qualified under minimum Canada Safety Standards to head back out.

Arriving into Banff at around 7PM ( remember – we left Okotoks at noon) the lodge is indeed a welcome sight.

Entering the lobby with Marmaduke in tow, a celebratory wedding party comes to a grinding halt with shrieks of OMIGAWD as their eyes focus on a 4 legger standing taller than the check in counter and most of the guests.

It had been a long day and rather than do something simple like order rooms service, some type of Dial A Meal program linked to local gastronomic outlets caught the lovely Arlene’s eye .

“Let’s try THAT” now falls into the same category of wisdom as “Let’s take the back road”.

An hour and $75 later a couple of pieces of dry chicken and some form of organic bread roll mixed with gluten free pine needles are delivered to the room.

Even the dog who’d been none to inhale the contents of commercial dumpsters, took a pass.

The following day we harness up the big guy for a stroll through the main streets of Banff .

Now one would think that a town which has Elk and Grizzlies regularly free roam down Banff Avenue would take this in stride?

But No!

Instant celebrity status.

Somewhere in the Tokyo Free Press a day or so later appeared the story with photos of a tour group’s encounter with Sasquatch on a leash.

That evening with a still fresh memory of the previous evening’s meal in our minds, we opt to try the lodge’s dining room.

Although the property accepts pets, they do ask that you not leave said beast in the room unattended and as asking them to set a 3rd place at the table seemed inappropriate, we decided to do what seemed like a good idea at the time.

Put him in the rear compartment of the extended cab complete with cushions, pillow, blankets and toys to enjoy a snooze.

The extended cab of a brand spanking new vehicle.

The one with fine Corinthian leather seats.

Halfway through an outstanding meal we check in on the big guy who’s blissfully snoozing delightfully dreaming of not having partaken in the previous night’s gourmet delight.

About twenty minutes later after having completed our repast – Arlene heads out to the truck to collect Sleeping Beauty.

Entering the lobby she casually (and quickly) remarked “he chewed on the seatbelt” and headed to the room.

Dogs will be dogs I though to myself but headed out to the vehicle to get a first hand look.

From that moment on I came to grips with the fact that my lovely bride is a gold medal winner in the Olympic sport of *understatement*.

Yep – chewed on the seatbelt .

Multiple seatbelts actually.

As well as the seats – one of which went down to the bare metal frame.

Did I make mention of the brand spanking new vehicle with fine Corinthian leather seats?

At that point I wanted to order “Gone in 60 Seconds” as a personalized vehicle plate.

As paramedics were administering heart paddles to me in the lobby, I have vague recollections of the desk clerk commenting that this kind of thing has happened before.

“Yeah – we get wild animals wandering through the parking lot all the time and it sort of spooks dogs!”

Couldn’t have mentioned THAT little tidbit perhaps an hour earlier?

It was an “interesting” trip back home the following day.

Monster Dog and Arlene in the back seat due to a lack of restraint systems in the front.

Yours truly behind the wheel precariously perched on a half padded – half metal protruding frame.

A quick stop to pick up coffee and by avoiding “short cuts” we’re back home in 77 minutes.

All’s well that ends well right?

After quickly stowing our weekend gear at the house, we head up to the dealership to evaluate the carnage.

Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, they attempt to console my by saying they’ve seen worse.

Although not for years!

On arrival back to the office I discover my wallet’s missing and by mentally retracing my movements I come to the conclusion I must have left it at the coffee shop outside of Banff a couple of hours earlier.

“Nope” they tell me over the phone- “no one’s turned in a wallet.”

The only thing worse than realizing your dog has completely eaten the interior of your vehicle is the feeling you have after cancelling all your credit cards that your wallet was in the OTHER pocket and that you were too stupid to check before making the calls.

The next time I head out the door with an overnight bag and neighbors ask “going to Mexico for the weekend?” – I’m just gonna say yes.

And then I’m gonna ask – “wanna mind the dog?”

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Pace Setter Travel & Tours (1995) Inc.

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Okotoks, Alberta, Canada  T1S 1A7

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