Australia Day forty below zero

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
Trip End Jul 14, 2004

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Flag of Canada  ,
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

You know it's REALLY cold when even the Canadians complain about how cold it is. Yesterday it was -42 degrees Celsius. Have you ever been so cold that your nose hairs freeze on contact with the air, so when you try to inhale it feels like someone is poking toothpicks up your nostrils? Then, when you revert to breathing through your mouth, you cough because the air is so cold your lungs seize up? Do you like the idea of feeling your cheeks freeze, go numb and then start burning with cold within fifteen seconds of exposure? Come to Calgary! It's f*cking freezing! Luckily a Chinook is due later in the week, bringing us back up to liveable conditions. If -11 can be considered liveable.

Luckily I didn't suffer alone, as yesterday was Australia Day. I joined the fifty or so Australian expatriates currently living in this fine Winter city at the Flying Emu, for yabby races, Aussie music and home brewed beer. I dragged my Canadian friend Jen along so we had someone to appreciate our Aussieness. The other UofC Aussie students were due at about nine when we arrived, so we got into conversation with two slaughterhouse workers from NSW, who unfortunately typify the ocker traveller ideally. They gave me shit for quaffing wine and being a prim and proper non-convict descendent, while I reassured Jen that all Aussies weren't as uncouth and obnoxious as these examples.

I'm not sure how well this held up later on when some Victorians joined us and a raging debate ensued on what she should drink. Up to which point she had been drinking Coopers with me. The New South Welshmen vehemently demanded she drank Tooheys while the impoverished Victorians advocated VB. Eventually we all settled on Cascade. There was a huge map at the back of the pub, so Jen was subjected to a unique geography lesson regarding Australia's beer loyalty regions and the AFL - Rugby divide.

I had a go at the yabby racing, but my yabby hit the ground facing the centre of the circle, and when I squirted it in the head to get it to turn around it just rolled on its back and flailed its legs in the air. I came last. Blake, one of the slaughterhouse guys won the grand final through blatant cheating, so we all initially cheered and toasted to the Calgary Flames (ice hockey) tickets and giant Fosters umbrella, but then his prizes got revoked.

By this stage most of the UofC crew had rocked up, decked out in their freshly manufactured Australia Day T-shirts. The NSW boys moved on to Lucky's to try and get lucky, and we all sang Waltzing Matilda and chanted "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi" a bit. Jen had managed to escape by this point.

A while after midnight the truth sunk in - it was well after midnight on a weeknight, and we were, despite the board shorts and thongs, in Canada on a -42 degree day, probably colder by this hour. So we rugged up for the walk back to the train, and made our way home.

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