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March 25th 2008
Published: March 25th 2008
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More road trips!

The view from our office....The view from our office....The view from our office....

The Rocky Mountain Range in all it's glory. Canada to the left, USA to the right.

Yep, we passed!

Ok, so how exciting is that, we both passed our Level 1’s! Yay! First exam done, one more to go.

So, 2 months since the last blog. I know rubbish, but believe me this riding every day is exhausting. It really is! You try the equivalent of 7 hours a day in the gym and see if you can stay awake past 9pm, I certainly can’t! Ok so no real excuse but we truly have been busy.

In fact busy doing so much other stuff I’m going to have to skim through everything just so I can keep this shorter then a thesis!

Right, in no particular order:

Ski-dooing: Awesome. Now remember we are in North America here. None of this pathetic ‘follow the leader around the piste’ business from France. We got given an enormous machine each and after one very brief trial run around their track we got let loose out in the back country. We did have to follow the ski-doo paths, but our guide built us up faster and faster and we were tearing around the corners. And the scenery was beautiful as well. The trails were around a
Ski-doo da looSki-doo da looSki-doo da loo

Rich and his mean machine.
privately owned property called Island Lake Lodge Stunning.

Dog sledding: Mush! If you ever want a workout for the arms, try this. The dogs are insane. They leap and howl and yap and bicker and fawn like wild things! It’s chaos. And then there you are, balancing on the very fragile skis of the sled, with a piece of rubber with nails in it as your brake. You can’t lean on the sleigh, you need to hold on and lean right back so that you don’t going flying over the top. You basically have to hop from ski to ski while braking constantly. Oh and cling for dear life. If you tip over, which happens a LOT, the dogs DO NOT stop. No, instead you get dragged along until you can get your feet back under you and then you have to start running as you jump back on to the narrow ski’s and brake. Yep, exactly! Talk about hectic!

The sleigh ride was much more relaxing. You get all rugged up in the sleigh while a professional guide does all the hard work. You just get a lovely view of the dogs bums as the drag you careering through

This is the oldest of the gang. Doesn't do much pulling these days, he does the smoozing now instead!
the snow! Some how this is actually really pleasant, despite the pooing! But man the dogs are lovely. They were all such characters and a great way to wake up on a Sunday morning

Cat skiing : Wow. All the beauty of back country skiing with out the hiking. Being away from the resort and out in the wilderness was a real treat. No queues, lifts or screaming kids. Woop woop! We were unlucky in that we went on the last day of a 2 weeks snow drought so the conditions were some of the worst. But if that was a bad day, I can’t even imagine what a good day would be like! We had the most amazing time. The excitement of barrelling through the untouched trees and down hidden gullies was phenomenal. The runs were shortish but as you arrived breathless back at the cat you needed the drive back up to rest! And 9 runs later they didn’t feel short at all.

Kimberley : So, I don’t know if we told you but the first attempt at visiting Kimberley didn’t go so well when a logging truck kindly removed our buses wing mirror at 70 miles an hour.
Cat camCat camCat cam

It's like a desert of snow. Did you know that you can die of dehydration in the snow? You actually use more water melting the snow in your mouth then you will actually gain from it. Fact!
So second time around we were all in a pretty good mood about just arriving! As for the resort, it was nice enough. The best bit was the spectacular views. From the front side you can overlook the Rocky Mountain Range as it stretches from Canada all the way to the USA. It had some nice runs and the snow was good, but after Fernie it all seemed pretty flat and tame!

Red : Hello luxury! NonStop promised first class accommodation and boy did they deliver. Our condo with its outdoor hot tub was heaven sent. And it even puked down 20cm’s of snow (don’t blame me, that’s the official term out here) so the resort was freshly prepared for our arrival. And what a great resort. The aptly named Paradise side was my favourite with some fantastic open groomers covered in fresh powder. More importantly some super fun tree runs which were just like a perfect soft winter playground. The hill is skiable 360 degrees so there were some mental steep and deep tree runs on the other side. Much more extreme and tired me right out. I can see why only advanced riders are recommended to take the

Sweet view.
course out here; I could only just keep up now after 10 weeks so wouldn’t have had a hope when we first arrived.

The excitement carried on during the trip home. As we left the brakes on our bus failed and we had a nerve racking rundown the mountain pass into the town of Trail. We stayed upright and on the road but my heart was in my mouth at some hairy points. But after a bonus night at a hotel in Rossland, we arrived home unscathed but perhaps a little less fond of busses.

Big Mountain, Whitefish, Montana, USA : Another road trip! Only 2 hours driving this time but into another country albeit USA. The boarder crossing was a farce, all pomp and pretentiousness. They stood around feeling important and I stood around pissed off because they called me Honeybunch. But fingerprints taken we were all allowed in, lucky us!

Big Mountain (well named by the way) was another fantastic resort. As with Red and Kimberley, you get a lift right to the top of the mountain. This gives it a very open and fresh feeling to it and being based in the Glacier National Park means the views are
Ready to rip @ RedReady to rip @ RedReady to rip @ Red

Rich and Andy ready to ride.
stunning. It’s chilly up the top and the ‘Snow ghosts’ are a testament to that. Rich said he’d always wanted to see white trees and these beat Fernie's hands down. We loved the Hell’s basin area with its long steep and deep tree runs. Oh, and the bonus of not another soul to be seen. It’s a tough life, powder run, lift to the top, a little snooze in the sun and a magnificent view to boot!

We spent the night in Whitefish, basically a little tourist town for the hill but pleasant, and very American. Dinner was at a bar called the Bulldog and was deep fried. The beer was cheap, the toilets had porn. Sums it up really. As much as we were dying to stay out and enjoy the wonders of the nightlife we somehow managed to drag ourselves away for an earlyish night. Had to, we had a date with the park!

And it was fun. It was so nice pootelling about for a day. Rich did all the scary stuff and I got to just gently scoot about with the camera. Perfect!

I’m exhausted all over again!

See how much we’ve
The view from our other office!The view from our other office!The view from our other office!

Ardouin on Big Mountain with Flathead lake in the back ground.
done! And all of that is just in our SPARE time! The lessons themselves are full on.

Monday to Thursday we ride from 9am until last lifts, 4pm. With 1 hour for lunch it is non-stop. And man do they make you work. None of this lazily skiing down a gentle slope with a bit of a rest at the bottom. Oh no. The only sitting down is on the lifts, and even then it’s an ‘opportunity’ to practise your detect and correct techniques. There is not a muscle in our bodies that doesn’t ache. We are ravenous all the time trying to fill our bodies with enough fuel. Our night life consists of dinner, and then bed.

And you know what? We are happy. So happy. Every day we feel lucky to be here. Every day we get on that hill and get a thrill from the ride. I don’t know how to describe the feeling. You get to the end of the day and your bones are aching and you are grinning from ear to ear. As my friend Laura put it, everything tingles and you feel like your going to burst out of your skin
Island Lake LodgeIsland Lake LodgeIsland Lake Lodge

Ski-dooing in a privately owned wonderland. They do Cat Skiing on the mountains in the background of this pic. They look like some incredible runs.
with excitement.

So on that note, we’ll be off. We have a week more of lessons then the big Level 2 starts. Wish us luck and talk again soon!

Additional photos below
Photos: 48, Displayed: 28



And pose.......
Ardouin & LauraArdouin & Laura
Ardouin & Laura

Enjoying the view from the ski-doos
'tis me'tis me
'tis me

Hard not to smile!

So the ski-doos chase away pretty much every other living thing in the nearby vacinity but we were lucky enough to see a real live wild moose. From a distance. For a brief moment.
BBQ canada styleBBQ canada style
BBQ canada style

Some how sausages and a cup of hot choclate was the best meal ever when we stop for lunch on the ski-do trip. Oh, and I do still have legs, it's just the snow was a little deep!

Yay, so much fun!
Bouncing doggiesBouncing doggies
Bouncing doggies

You would think that they would take the chance to lie down and rest but no, even when they get a break they are ounding all over the place!
Feels goooodFeels gooood
Feels gooood

Every dog loves a good scratch
Ready to runReady to run
Ready to run

See they look all cute and lovely but trust me, they show no mercy. Fall over while driving these guys and they'l just keep on running!
A cat and IA cat and I
A cat and I

All excited!
Cat viewsCat views
Cat views

Every where you look the scenery is incredible.
More cat viewsMore cat views
More cat views

Can never get enough
Land unfoldingLand unfolding
Land unfolding

The Mountains really do look like a blanket folded and ruffled into peaks and valleys.

25th March 2008

The best move of your life!
Ard How spooky is that, I was only thinking about you yesterday and wondering how you were getting on, and the answer is you have never looked better or happier. You truely look like you are in your eliment. The scenery looks amazing and it sounds like you are getting everything out of the experience that you wanted. Life here the same, how borring is that, ha, ha, what did you really expect! Will send a private email later in the weeek, just wanted to say a quick hello. Regards to Rich who I haven't met but he looks equally ecstatic with the experience. Take Care Donna xxx
26th March 2008

Living the dream
Well aren't you two living the dream!!!! it looks amazing I am so jealous. Just wondering what's happening to Rich though he looks like he's been on the streets for a few months get a razor you slob!!!!!!!!!!!. Just shown Maya the blog and she was bowled over she had no idea that snow could be like that she wants to come and ski with you both. Well enjoy don't crash and burn........ take care xxx
1st May 2008

I offically hate you guys!
Wow, what can i say? Every picture looks liek a postcard! As Jack says - living the dream! Looking forward to seeing you in chelts soon xx
5th June 2008

Hey hon. Sorry we didn't get to see you properly when we were in Chelt, It all went so quick. You look gorgeous as over though, and thoroughly happy! Yeah, we are loving it. Happy days. See you in November maybe...:)

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