Canada, Banff

10th December 2005 – 17th April  2006

During my little journey to live and work in every continent before 30, I wanted to tick off living and working the ‘ski bum’ life. I wanted to experience what it was like to work/party by night and snowboard by day.

Partying by night (hanging in the kitchen) Snowboard by day

What better place to set this chapter, than Banff in the Rockie Mountains. My mate Bugz had spent the previous season there and the upcoming season he was filming for his snowboard dvd (check out his website This saw many mates, and mates of mates from back home coming over.

Banff is a place where the tourist buses unload there cargo of high paying ‘tourons’ to take in the amazing natural beauty, wildlife, world class ski resorts and over priced souvenirs. This one night sums up Banffs beauty, after having a few quiet beers downtown in the one of many bars, walking home, in the sprinkling snow from clouds that covered towering mountians with our conversation about fresh tracks in the morning, only to be interrupted by 3 deer walking down the middle of the road towards us.

Looking down Main St Banff. Beautiful Banff.

Anyone that has lived in a popular ski town knows the first obstacle is finding accommodation. Luckily Bugz had a contact that saw us land a sweet 3 bedroom apartment. The problem in a ski resort town is that accommodation costs don’t reflect the wages of a dishwasher. The only way to make accommodation affordable is by packing as many dishwashers as humanly possible into a the space provided. We filled the 3 bedrooms with hand me down bed bug mattresses, constructed a bunkbed, got a fold out couch off the back of a truck –literally- and pimped out the closet with a custom fitted mattress for our most vertically challenged and daring flatmate. We rounded up 8 paying flatmates, but there was always a hitchhiker, a friend in need, drunken friends unable to drive, homeless mates, visiting friends that took up the free floorspace. At one stage reaching capacity of 13 –you had to feel sorry for the 1 female flatmate using the solo bathroom

To get us to the ski resort each day our extended family ‘invested’ in a $900 1989 Mecury Sable complete with stylish faded maroon interior and the all important front bench seat. The Sable was like a once glamorous runway model whose years of drug abuse, smoking and living off lettuce leaves had caught up on it. We gave the Sable a makeover to make her feel good about herself that included a collage of snowboard stickers, and two thick black spray painted racing stripes. Although it had racing stripes it wasn’t a performance car, it came with two pedals, a brake pedal and a noise pedal. But the Sable was the rock that held the family together, it would of been fitting to call it “The Stable”. It was always there for us waiting obediently to be packed with excited little kids off for a days snowboarding. We gave the Sable love and let it relive its youth with doughnuts in the snow and photographs in snowboard magazines. The Sable held on valiantly to see the snowboard season out, like a grandparent who fights off death to see the birth of there grandchild. We put the Sable to rest one week before I left.

Warming up the Sable In my fudge packing attire with a fresh batch of toffee apples

 At the start work consisted of minimum wage temping work, doing all the jobs that no body wanted to do, cleaning hotel rooms, labouring on frozen construction sites, climbing up 20 metre silos ­running electrical cable. Then I made a career move and became a ‘washroom attendant’ at the local night club. Yep, you are right, I was that guy who sits in the toilet keeping it clean and offering cologne, condoms and mints. Once you got over the smell and idea of sitting in a toilet, it worked out to be the best job, where else do you get paid to have a few drinks and talk to people (in a toilet). I worked 12 hours a week and made more money than everyone else slaving away working 40 hour weeks, and I got to snowboard everyday –if I wasn’t too hungover from working the night before!. Although it did have its downside, that New Years I spent working in a toilet:). I could write a book solely based on the life of a washroom attendant.

I could survive easily on the ‘dirty’ money I was getting from the washrooms, but my grandmother wasn’t too well back home so I decided to earn some extra money to have a surprise visit back to NZ. So I became a ‘fudge packer’ and no this wasn’t conducted in the nightclub toilets. It involved standing in the window of a mainstreet chocolate shop wearing a chefs uniform, stirring the couldron of fudge or chocolate with my big spoon. Onlooking Japanese tourists would take photos of me like the zoo animal I am. I would also man the cash register, and of course I would pack the fudge.

My weeks were my weekends and my weekends my weeks. In the weekends when the mountains and the town were overrun with tourists I would be cleaning spew in the toilets by night and packing fudge by day. Then come Monday it was time for snowboarding during the day and hanging with the massive crew living the same dream at night. 

Whippeeeeeeee! Cindy loving the chapter as well. My going away party, hanging with the peps that made it such a wicked chapter.

 After 3 years of working the world, I had earned enough money fudge packing to buy a ticket home to see my grandmother and recharge the family batteries for a month. So in Banff style there was a going away party. After 1 hour sleep I jumped in the airport shuttle to Calgary. As I watched the Canadian Rockies go by I reflected on the friendships, partying, snowboarding, road tripping, relaxing and laughter. With a smile on my face I thought to myself  ‘that was a  f**king chapter!’


3 Responses to “Canada, Banff”

  1. wendy t at 10:42 pm #

    Awesome website Hap. You Have done a fantastic job. Really great to read and see photos. Also to be able to recognise some familiar faces. Excellent. Will keep on reading. XXXX

  2. Hap at 3:53 pm #

    Hey WEndy,

    I’m glad you could recognise your daughter, haha. I know what you mean, I actually had to use cindy’s photos as I had lost most of my photos from Banff, along with all my socks, I’m pretty your son has all my socks, that room seemed to eat up our clothes.

    Hope all good back in the sunshine city.

    nuthin but love hap

    ps you can check out more photos, theres a ‘photobucket’ link in the right hand column.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: