Hey Canada, Let's Do This Thing

On Thursday morning, Sean and I are going to Banff. I don't know how much you know about Banff, but this is about how much I know: it is in CANADA and it is COLD.

I am very excited about the Canada part, I'll tell you that much. Why wouldn't I be, when all the Canadian people I've ever met---like her and her and her and her---have all been the sort of people you'd want, say, trapped with you in an elevator or nursing you back to health on your deathbed? Let us also not forget the wonderful time Sean and I had in Vancouver a couple of years ago, as well as the city's very thoughtful decision to (almost) name a boat after me. Thirdly, may I remind you that Canada sells a plethora of English candy, the likes of which I am hardly ever able to get in San Francisco, at least not without sacrificing a kidney? Because I have been thinking about that candy, you mark my words. I have even been dreaming about it, lovely technicolor dreams filled with dancing Wine Gums and crumbly Flakes.

So yes, the Canada part I am very much looking forward to, but the cold part? I'm a little scared about that.

I haven't been cold in quite a while, see. In fact, the coldest I've been recently was walking home from work this evening without gloves, and even then it was only---hmm, let me consult Weather.com---around 45 degrees. In Banff, it's going to drop down to SIX degrees while I'm there, which is a whole 39 degrees colder than how cold I was tonight, so I'm guessing I'm going to need to do a little more than remember to bring my gloves, huh?

Which is sort of where we run into another problem: I basically own two sweaters.

Well, two warm sweaters that is: two sweaters made from wool, only one of which is a turtleneck. I did actually manage to bring the Grand Sweater Total up to three sweaters this weekend when I mentioned my sad state of sweaterlessness to my mother and she popped open her suitcase to reveal a brand new, tags-still-on, beige turtleneck which she was willing to lend me and which happened to be from J. Crew (score!) But still, three sweaters doesn't seem to be that many sweaters for a person about to spend four days in six-degree weather, much of it skiing and ice-skating and snowball-fashioning, does it?

Lack of sweaters aside---worry not, I have at least borrowed a warm ski jacket from my lovely friend Kristin, who assures me she wore it when it was ten below outside and lived to tell the tale---I'm positively beside myself with excitement about this trip. It is, you see, a sponsored trip, organized by BlogHer and the Canadian Tourism Commission, who are very kindly sending me and Sean to Banff to experience its wonders firsthand. I'll be blogging every day---and possibly even vlogging, although that's a word that kind of makes me want to drive a sharp stake into my eyeballs---and you should definitely also expect lots of pictures of all the stuff we're doing, which will likely (on my part at least) include falling off ski lifts and being pulled out of snowdrifts by chain gangs of ten-year-old girls. Because that is how I roll on mountains. Like, literally. I roll.

Internet, how awesome is this? It's pretty awesome, right? I'm super excited. I'm also slightly worried that I'm going to need to wear ALL MY CLOTHES AT ONCE to keep warm, but you just know there are people in Minnesota and Maine and Michigan reading this right now, all "Six degrees, you pansy? Six degrees is a sauna! Six degrees is a solarium on a tropical beach in the Caribbean! COME OVER HERE AND I'LL SHOW YOU COLD! Now go buy another sweater."

Camels & Chocolate
Jan 27, 2009

Buy the hand warmers and stick them in your gloves and boots first thing! And have an EXCELLENT time! Seriously, Banff ranks up there on my personal list of Best! Things! Ever!

Jan 28, 2009

Layers, it's all about layers. And extremities - socks, gloves and a hat. You'll be fine - just watch out for the bears! (When I was there the waitress told me she'd been chased down the main street by one on her way home from work one night. It may have just been her standard thrill-the-tourists story - but later we did see a brown bear ourselves out beside the highway.)

Jan 28, 2009

Pam's right - it's all about the layers. Thank goodness I don't have to deal with that anymore living in New Zealand (well ok I miss it every second week)! Anyways, my basic ultra-cold winter gear was some nice thermal underwear like ultra-fine merino, then my inside clothes, then a good heavy polarfleece jacket, and then a very windproof gortex jacket. It sounds like a lot but it's actually quite trim. Legs can be a bit more problematic, but long johns under jeans is usually enough for just hanging out (not skiing or anything) because if your torso is warm then your legs will generally be ok. Hats are a must, to cover your ears especially. Woolen scarf because it's still warm even if it's frosty/wet. And mittens. Mittens are sooo much warmer than gloves.

Bears - don't run away. Either play dead or run like heck at them waving your arms and screaming. Black bears can climb so don't bother with trees. When you see Banff though, you'll know the story of a bear on the main street was just a story, it's not the small town it used to be when I was a kid! It's a magical place and don't miss the Banff Springs Hotel and the hot springs.

Jan 28, 2009

I love Canada, it's my favourite place - wish I was going on a sponsored trip! I survived a year there by wearing long johns and those mittens with the flip top part and the separate finger bits underneath. When you're from England, minus 27 plus wind chill comes as a nasty shock, but the long johns definitely helped me through it. Oh, and eat some poutine - the combination of cheese curds, starchy chips and warm gravy really helps when it's cold. It's more a Quebecois thing but you should be able to get it in Banff.

Jan 28, 2009

I live in Chicago (transplanted from sunny Texas) and I can tell you, you will be just fine! Layers are essential. You don't need to go purchase long johns, tights under your pants will do (and they are slimming). I think the most important thing is mittens, not gloves, and a hat that COVERS your ears entirely. A good thick scarf will be important too. Carry a tissue because in the cold weather, your nose will run constantly. Have fun!

Jan 28, 2009

What they said - layer, layer, layer!

I have to second the recommendation for glittens - gloves with the mitten top that pops on and off. Yes, mittens do keep you warmer, by FAR, but the removable top lets you do things like unlock a door without the keys slipping out of your hands, check your phone (my blackberry storm does NOT recognize when I touch it with a gloved hand), etc. Highly recommend.

Also, some kind of waterproof boots... I find that regular old Uggs do the trick quite nicely, but anything that will keep your feet DRY is essential.

Have a great time!!

Jan 28, 2009

Yay Canada! I'm in Ottawa, but on behalf of all of us, welcome. :-) Layers are very good (this from the city that hits -40 at some point every winter). You will survive. ;-)

Jan 28, 2009

You don't need another sweater, Holly. What you need is a hip flask of Peppermint Schnapps. It goes with everything... and might help with the bears, too.

Jan 28, 2009

HA! Too right Holly, I'm sitting here reading from MN right now and weather.com says it's -3. :) You'll survive, and even better, you'll have a fantastic time. Can't wait to hear all about it.

Jan 28, 2009

Sounds like a lovely trip! I lived in Banff for about four months once, and I made the mistake of choosing to climb up Sulphur mountain (the one with the gondola) while it was -30 degrees outside. I survived (surprisingly), so I'm sure you'll be just fine. My recommendations are: Sunshine for skiing, Tunnel mountain for hiking, Sulphur mountain (by gondola!) for the view, and Evelyn's Cafe on main street for the best avocado sandwich you will ever have. Have fun!

Jan 28, 2009

Layers, yes. Tights especially. Along the lines "I'll show you cold"...Saturday night I wore a mini, tights, and my perfect biker boots to the company Christmas party. It was -7, plus a wicked wind chill. I was warm, thanks to Captain Morgan. So, tights, and booze. Bring a flask and all will be well.

Jan 28, 2009

As someone from the city you will be flying into (Calgary), let me tell you that Banff is gorgeous. Just beautiful, even in winter.

And don't worry, it's a dry cold. ;)

Jan 28, 2009

Oh man, this is so exciting to me! Banff (or rather, the nearby Canmore) is my home town. I know it's absurd to get excited every time someone mentions visiting, because it's a HUGE tourist area, but still! It's, you know, my place, and I'm homesick on the opposite side of the country. I look forward to your stories and photos. :)

Jan 28, 2009

Tights! Long johns! Polar fleece!

I am imaging you in a snow suit unable to put your arms down ala A Christmas Story for some reason, I'm sorry.

Have a great time!

Jan 28, 2009

Ditto on the layers. Also remember sunscreen for your face. You can never be too careful. Even though it's cold, the sun will be bright. Have a wonderful time!

Jan 28, 2009

Ooh! can I recommend the best socks ever to appear on the feet of a cold person (they have the warmth of wool minus the itchy-scratchy)... if you don't already own at least a couple pair of these, buy them and take them with you: https://www.smartwool.com/default.cfm#/Womens/Socks/ViewAll/. Though I am a huge fan of the Layers and of Wool Sweater, all the sweaters in the world won't keep you from the misery that is cold feet (I spent the first twenty-two years of my life in the windy snowy plains of Iowa, so I know cold feet!). These socks will make your feet warm, and warm feet will keep the rest of you happy. Enjoy Banff! It's on my list-of-places-to-go-someday, so I'm looking forward to reading about your visit!

the sassy kathy
Jan 28, 2009

ohh jealousy! so i saw this documentary on the travel channel or discovery or something a couple of years ago about banff and i SO want to go there! it looks gorgeous! so out of the way and untouched by the technological metallic hands of humans and such. have a fabulous time! and good luck staying warm.

(ps i've never been to canada at ALL. however, i have a very long list of places there which i would like to visit asap. once i get, you know, a job, disposable income, etc.) :)

Neo Geek Girl
Jan 28, 2009

I also live in Alberta and Banff IS amazing :) Have a wonderful time, don't pet the wildlife and dress in layers. And post many many pics.

Miss Pickle
Jan 28, 2009

So exciting! I'm from Calgary, so Banff is about an hour drive from home. It's absolutely gorgeous, especially this time of year. If you want all the English candy that your heart desires, check out the candy shop on Main Street...it's got EVERYTHING...Flake and every other British chocolate bar, dolly mixture, jelly babies. Mmmm...now I might have to make a trip.

Also, there was an ice carving festival at Lake Louise last weekend, if you get a chance check it out, the sculptures are beautiful!!

Enjoy your visit!!

Jan 28, 2009

I agree with the above people. Layer, layer, layer and more layers with your clothes. Don't forget lip balm so your lips don't get wind burned!!!!

Jan 28, 2009

Layers. Also, I am quite jealous. Have fun!

Jan 28, 2009

Holly - I'm a short 40 minute trip to Banff from Calgary and I can happily say that we're in the midst of a chinook. You picked a lovely time to arrive since five days ago it was -30C (-22F) with the windchill. Lastly, yes layer, but most importantly bring a toque!

Jan 28, 2009

Like Cate above, I too am in Calgary. And she's right - we're in the middle of a Chinook. Chinooks are really the ONLY reason I'm able to survive the HORRID winters here. But it's nicer than living 8 months under dreary grey rain in Vancouver (I've also lived there).
Enjoy your time in Banff. If you can, check out the hot springs, the gondola (if you're not scared of heights), the Sunday brunch at Banff Springs AND (AND!) the delicious candy store on Banff Ave. My best friend's husband is from Scotland and he SWEARS by the Banff Ave candy store because of all the Ensligh candy.

Jan 28, 2009

Cate is right, the chinook will make it much warmer! Banff in gorgeous, as is Lake Louise. Someone above mentioned the ice carving contest happened there (Lake Louise) recently, and you should go and see it!
Enjoy and keep warm!

Jan 28, 2009

I'm going to be honest here and admit that I stopped reading at "Sean and I are going to Banff", because Banff is on my Top 5 Places I MUST See list. So I had to stop reading while I turned green with envy, and I may have also thrown a temper tantrum for a few minutes, but I'm not going to be that honest with you. But all this is to say that Sean better bring his camera with him, and I expect to see a million photos when you return. Please?

Jan 28, 2009

Wow, I am learning Canadian words already! Chinook and toque: must remember to work those into everyday conversation somehow.

Also, I'm very excited to know that lots of you live in the Calgary/Banff area! Who knew?

Jan 28, 2009

You can totally wear a sweater more than once between washings. Just saying.

I laugh at you. Today it was -3 when I checked the Weather Channel before I left for work. I said, without sarcasm, "wow! it's almost balmy today."

Yes, layers. Go to Target or Marshall's and get some of the relatively inexpensive long underwear if you're super concerned about the cold!! Have fun on your trip!!

Jan 28, 2009

i'm a canadian and i HATE cold, but i must say that banff is most beautiful in the cold & snow.
have fun!

Jan 28, 2009

From a born and raised Canadian, trust me when I say it's all about the layering. Shirt + sweater + ski jacket + scarf and you should be fine. But if you're the type of person who doesn't do so well in the cold, then go and get some thermal shirts (and possibly pants) to wear under your clothes. If it's windy there you'll be so glad you did!
And have fun. Banff is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been!

Jan 28, 2009

Oooh...lucky, lucky you. I live in Vancouver and haven't been to Banff in years. It is beautiful, one of the best places ever (shh..don't tell the locals but I think it's better than Whistler).
Definitely layers. I just checked the weather to see what the forecast is for the weekend in Celsius(-1 to -4)- you won't be very cold at all. You are going to have such a great time. Enjoy.

Jan 28, 2009

It might not be as cold as you'd think, as Alberta has a dry-cold and you're used to the Wet Coast kind of cold. Trust me, I used to live in Calgary and was used to the -30C winters, but when I moved to Vancouver I became a HUGE SUCK about the cold because it's wet here as well as cold, so minus 5 puts me in a bad mood.

Also, enjoy the plethora of candy stores in Banff that offer not only every kind of candy from Canada and England that you can imagine, but who also specialize in handmade sponge toffee and jawbreakers as big as your head!

...and if you're going to get to go skiing at Sunshine or Lake Louise, lucky you...it's some of the best skiing there is.

Jan 28, 2009

If you do need to wear more than one sweater at once, you should just rotate how you layer them so that we THINK you're wearing something different from day to day.

Kind of like how some people might turn their underwear inside out. Though, God, I'm assuming you will be bringing more than three pairs of THOSE.

If you're like me, you'll be bringing about ten pairs for four days of vacationing. Because you just never know how many you'll need, and it's always better to be prepared, right?

Yes, indeed.

Jan 28, 2009

oh canada!

layers! warm boots! and a HAT! and scarves!

and get thee to lombardi's or sports basement for some long underwear which breathe which can be super helpful.

Jan 28, 2009

Layers, layers, layers! Most importantly, layers of NOT COTTON!! I suppose it's too late in the game to direct you to Patagonia and their customer support staff (who, I've proven, can be badgered repeatedly with ridiculous questions - even about which color would be most flattering - without showing the slightest sign of annoyance...)

Anyway, have a wonderful time! I'll be down here in the desert, seething with jealousy. :)

Jan 28, 2009

I grew up in Chicago. Wasn't phased by winter. (Probably because I was lazy and never went outside.) And then I moved to AZ. And then to CA. And now I'm back in Chicago and this is my third full winter here and I still complain and SIX DEGREES IS COLD! But you deal with it.

It helps to move around too. Just standing willl chill you to the bones, but skiing and moving, you'll be fine! And you'll be having a good time you'll forget all about how cold it is! Right?

Jan 28, 2009

Feel free to stop by my apartment on the way to Banff (assuming you are flying into Calgary) and borrow some warm clothing. Since I live here I have all sorts of stuff: snow pants, various toques (I believe that's "beanie" to Americans) and a whole lot of long underwear. Don't under estimate the comfort power of long underwear! Trust me on that one. Also - whatever socks you think are going to be warm enough aren't, not unless you have real winter boots (and why would you?) so buy some warm socks as soon as you get there. :)

Jan 28, 2009

You, the travel-bug! Is there anywhere you haven't been yet? LOL

Anyhoo, my boss and his wife went to Banff last year and stayed at a resort hotel at Lake Alberta. I used one of their pictures to design our Winter Greetings business cards. It was cold but they had a great time skiing, snow shoeing, and going on a sleigh ride.

Jan 28, 2009

You Pansy...
Just kidding...sorta.. You are right here in Michigan, Cold is old hat.( and gloves,and coat,and long johns, and.....) I wouldn't worry too much... you always have LOVE to keep you warm...
Have Fun...

Rachael W
Jan 28, 2009

I went to Banff about 10 years ago, and it was BEAUTIFUL, but it was also in the summer, so I was able to take it in good-naturedly and without the threat of death by frostbite. I mean, six degrees? I can't even fathom what that must feel like. I try to avoid climates that have temperatures that go below 40. (It could be worse, though; my brother informs me that it's below zero in Connecticut right now.)

Jan 28, 2009

Ooh! So jealous. I've always wanted to go to Banff. I have no advice, just wishes for a safe and fun trip, involving both vlogging and copious amounts of English candy being ingested. :)

Jan 28, 2009

hey Holly, greetings from Nanning, China (I'm waiting for my overnight train to Hanoi to depart). haven't been to that specific part of Canada but as a lifelong skier I second all the recommendations for multiple layers and the product-specific recos for smartwool socks (you can buy them at REI) and long johns. they make a HUGE difference. have fun, I can't wait to hear about your trip!

Gail at Large
Jan 29, 2009

I lived for a year in Banff when I was 18 years old, and my thought is that you'll be too swept away by the scenery to take much notice of the cold. It's quite majestic. But I'm also assuming you're going to take everyone's advice and layer... soft wool is the best, and lightest.

Also, go with the first recommendation about the hand warmers. You can also get them as footwarmers and they're cheap ($2?). It'll be the best $2 you'll ever spend -- after the candy, that is.

Jan 29, 2009

I've always lived in the midwest and since moving to Chicago (sans car) have fought the elements often. I cannot stress enough keeping your feet, hands and head warm. You can layer all you want but if they are cold you will be miserable. I ditto everyone elses' recommendations of smartwool socks. I have six pairs.

I can't wait to hear your take on Banff. My boyfriend went there last March for a bachelor party. He loved it, but according to him Banff is more suited to romance than a gaggle of drunk dudes. I'm glad you're bringing Sean.

Jan 29, 2009

Ah yes, being cold in Banff. I remember it well. We went camping two summers ago in Banff. Summer, the warm season. The first night pitching the tent took an hour as we had to drive the stakes in between wind gusts and then lay on the tent to hold it in place, waiting on a break in the wind to put in the next stake. I contemplated sleeping in the rental car. Nights 2,3,4 were in the backcountry. Day #5 we were waiting for the shuttle in a cafe miles from civilization and I said to my husband "if I am to have fond memories of this trip, we need to stay in a hotel with heat tonight". We did. The rest of the trip we did day hikes and spent the evenings in the HOT SPRINGS. Fabulous views of the sunset. And warm.