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Rocky View Publishing assistant editor makes unadvised trek in winter storm

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Dec 05, 2013 10:58 am

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Whoa, well, that was a storm.

The fact that I’m impressed says something, as my partner and I moved to Airdrie from Yellowknife, NT for the “warmer weather.”

It appears that we’ve brought the arctic cold with us and for that, we’re very sorry.

The other major motivator for us, was the small-town feel of Airdrie, next to the big city – where we could enjoy all the luxuries it could offer, while still maintaining our distance.

Another draw was the access to live music and concerts, an addiction that we both live for.

So when your all-time favourite band, going on 20 years, comes to the city, you jump at the chance to spend way too much money, on fabulous seats and anxiously await their fabulous concert.

Four months I waited, counting down in my head the days until I could be in the same building as them, and listen to the music that makes my soul happy.

Four months, that’s 120 days, I waited.

So what does the almighty Mother Nature do? Whips up 70 km/hr winds and drops 20 cm of snow on Pearl Jam’s arrival.

I had some words – not suitable for print – that expressed my disappointment.

This wasn’t my first time seeing them, there’s been many other concerts that I’ve been lucky enough to attend, but this one was a milestone for me and I hadn’t seen them since 2009 (far, far too long).

The day came and we looked outside and saw the white mess, blowing snow and treacherous conditions.

Seeing the disappointment on my face that morning, my partner said, “Maybe it will clear up in time.”

I hoped and remained positive – somewhat – and contemplated the drive. “RCMP advising against travel on Highway 2,” the tweets kept coming in, “Pearl Jam concert still a go,” the tweets said.

Finally at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2, my partner and I decided to do the very irresponsible and reckless thing and go into the city.

I know it was dumb, but we had to try, and by that I mean he was along for the ride and I had to try.

The drive in was horrendous, to put it mildly.

Deerfoot Trail – despite the zero visibility – wasn’t the problem, neither was Stoney Trail, it was the disaster that was Metis Trail.

When we go to see concerts in the city, we always take the C-Train down, it’s much easier (most times) than going downtown and paying parking fees.

While stuck in traffic, my partner looked at the Calgary Transit website, which informed us that Metis was probably the worst route choice we could have made.

We left Airdrie at 6 p.m., we got on the C-Train at the Saddletown station at 7:45 p.m.

At this point the show had already started, and while I wanted to see the opening act, Mudhoney, it wasn’t my first priority. So doing the math in my head “Mudhoney goes on at 7:30 p.m., so Pearl Jam should be on around 8:45 p.m.”

One hour away from Pearl Jam taking the stage and I was in the farther position north that I could be.

We boarded at 7:45 p.m., but ended up waiting at the station, not moving, not knowing if it was going to take us downtown, until 8 p.m.

Finally the train moved, and took us where we needed to be, we jumped off at the City Hall station, ran across the street, jumped on another train to the Saddledome, and this is where our luck changed. We pushed our way on to the train and it left immediately, it was 8:30. Running off the train, through the BMO Centre, into the Saddledome, waiting in line for beverages the anxiety was killing me, it was 8:45 p.m., and then the first notes played and they took the stage.

We had not one extra minute to spare. We managed to lose ourselves in the whole show, singing and dancing all night, completely forgetting the stressful trip it took to get there.

Fast forward three hours, and it was 11:45 p.m., completely still amped up from a great show, we boarded the first C-Train home.

Waiting, waiting, waiting 15 minutes in -25°C temperature with a windchill.

Finally boarded at 12:15 a.m., switched trains and landed back in the northeast at 12:30 a.m.

We left the station and my partner spotted a women whose SUV was stuck in the snow, so he got us out and then went back for her. He managed to get her out, but was covered in snow from pushing the car out.

We left after his good deed and made the long trek back to Airdrie at 1 a.m.

All along, while there were stressful times, high drifts, bad drivers and broken down cars scattered throughout Calgary, we managed to stay out of the snowbanks and drifts, never getting stuck ourselves.

Until we got home, when we pulled the car into our apartment parking lot and immediately submerged the car in a six-foot snow drift, not four feet from the entrance of the underground parking lot, go figure.


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