Id always wanted to go to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but when I never got the call from Wayne Gretzky to be the fourth string goalie I had to make other plans.
It wasnt until after the Games had already begun that my brother Jim, his friend Keith Reynolds and I finally decided to go for it fly to Utah with absolutely no accommodation, no tickets, and no transportation arranged. We were going to completely wing it, in very fine Whistler fashion.
Our goal was singular: to see Canada win gold in mens hockey. Leaving when we did, as Canada struggled mightily through the preliminary round, this did not seem a likely scenario.
The day we left was hectic. Jim and I worked, then played hockey that evening. I even squeezed in half a gig at Garfs, before we packed up the car at 11.30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19 and headed down the highway of the unknown. We picked up Keith in Vancouver and motored down to Seattle for our 6 a.m. flight.
We arrived in Salt Lake City at 9 a.m., groggy and just awaking to the reality that we had nowhere to go and no way to get there. We discovered, as expected, there wasnt a hotel room to be had. But after about a hundred phone calls we finally stumbled upon Mrs. Greens Bed and Breakfast. The planets seemed to be aligned favourably because shortly afterward, to our surprise, we scored a cheap rental car that had just become available.
In our new wheels we followed Mr Green, an 80-year-old Mormon, through the streets of Salt Lake City, noting the lack of traffic congestion along the way. We wound up in a sprawling, homogenous suburb on the south side of town. But when we walked through the front door of Mrs. Greens Bed and Breakfast, I thought wed entered the twilight zone.
The front room was densely packed with an incredible array of dolls, dwarfs, figurines and just about every other cheeseball item you can get on the Home Shopping Network. There were even five manger scenes and a huge white synthetic Christmas tree. There were so many electrical plug-in statues and fountains it would have taken all the power from the Hoover Dam to have them all up and running at once. But I digress.
We dropped off our bags and headed straight downtown. Main Street in Salt Lake City was where all the action was, and it was where we found Canada House a home-away-from-home haven for all Canucks to hang out and drink free beer.