New Year's Tea, 2011

I gotta tell ya, kids, 2010 was a pretty wild year. I know a lot of people who keep telling me that the years “just fly by” and before you know it, another year’s gone. The year past was definitely a change for our family, in many, many ways. (And I’d like to think that most of them were for the better, so I’m not going to try and figure out the split — I prefer to remain blissfully naive on this one.)

This is our “new” tradition. Mommy and I decided it would be tradition after having such a wonderful time with my old friend Sonny, having afternoon tea. Suddenly, it seemed just perfect to have tea every New Year’s Day. The question now, of course, is where to have tea. Last year, it was at the Banff Springs Hotel. This year, mostly for simplicity, we did the same.

Next year? Well, that’s a whole 364 days of Anything-Can-Happen!

Despite the fact that Mommy and I stayed up to midnight to ring in the New Year (something we hope you’ll start doing with us in the years to come), rising this morning was … well, surprisingly painful. Somewhere along the line, I’d slept “funny” and right screwed up my right shoulder. (It still hurts, some 14 hours later.) That’s about when Mommy and I definitively decided we weren’t just going to New Year’s Tea — we were also going to the Hot Springs for a soak.

Bundled into the car, we pulled out of Calgary just before 10:30. It was a bit later than we wanted, but it still gave us time before our 13:00 tea time. Or it would have been more time, had it not been for the blowing snow…

Somewhere past Ozada, I began to notice the wind. Until today, I’d never personally come across the problem of our mostly-trusty Jetta having issues with the wind. But it was getting buffeted, not really sliding or drifting (as my Mini was sometimes prone to) so much as feeling the shoves. Added to that was the snow the wind was kicking up. It wasn’t whiteout conditions, but I quickly found myself with one eye searching for the lines on the road and the other eye on the idiots around us content to pass at what I considered unsafe speeds given the weather conditions. I think Mommy was worried enough for all of us.

The wind and snow was all gone by the time we’d passed Dead Man’s Flats, and we were soon at the Banff Park gates, getting our new annual pass. (We didn’t go into the mountains enough in 2010. That’s something Mommy and I intend to rectify this year.) Some 20 minutes later, we were unloading from the car in the Upper Hot Springs parking lot.

Now, Monkey, you and I are of the same blood — neither of us are particularly fanatic about hot water. As for you, Choo Choo, you and Mommy seem to enjoy it quite a lot. I know the water there today wasn’t hot enough for Mommy. It was only 38 degrees; Mommy prefers something around 42 degrees. But it was just right considering the outside temperature was -16 … and not counting the windchill.

The soak felt good, and we marvelled at the steam freezing to our heads. Swimming through the thick steam was sometimes like wading through a dream, having people and details seem out of reach until you get close and the details come clear.

One advantage of the hot water is that we tend not to notice the cold so much on our way back to the car. We were a few minutes late for our tea time, but the Rundle Lounge was mostly empty, only two other tables already occupied. We were seated in almost the same place we sat last year.

The service, admittedly, was not up to par for Fairmont, and I was a bit surprised. There were only two people serving about 15 tables, and they seemed pulled in too many directions. Always professional, but sometimes hard to get their attention, and it took a while to get a second pot of tea. But nothing to prevent us from going back next year.

I must say, Monkey, you made me very, very proud today. Although you were fidgety (let’s keep in mind that you are only three years old), you behaved absolutely wonderfully! You didn’t scream or whine (as you are frequent to do at home), you ate very nicely, and compared to the five year old at the table next to us, you were a perfect angel. Clearly, Mommy must be teaching you well, ‘cuz y’ain’t learning none of this from me…

We left just after 15:00, and were heading out of town before 15:30. Both of you were dead asleep before we’d even passed through downtown Banff.

Once again, it was a wonderful way to spend New Year’s Day. I hope next year is even better, since you’ll be able to try all of this stuff, too, Choo Choo. Until then, I wish you both the happiest of dreams.

And maybe let Mommy and Daddy sleep in tomorrow? Please?