Things started to get interesting when we first noticed that we were lost. We were on Alberta highways so we were not horribly lost, but we were nearly 100 km east of where we should have been. We had an important job. One group was making the bulk run to get foodstuffs. Another the grocery run for items which weren’t required in bulk. Our job was to get to the cabin first and setup the electronics.
We had written directions and a man in the van who knew where he was going. I had a map to the cabin on my iPhone. None was enough to keep us on track. Finally realizing we had missed a corner, we set ourselves back towards the cabin. We arrived about 10 minutes after the grocery crew and 30 minutes before the bulk crew so little harm was done except to our pride.
The good news was that the extended trip allowed the first gaming experience. We pulled out Time’s Up and ran a modified version. My butt was handed to me – a theme to be revisited many times during the trip.
The weather was incredible as we arrived. It stayed that way throughout. When hanging around playing games you don’t want it to be too hot even when those games are outdoors on the patio. Saturday and Sunday the weather was a little variable. The wind picked up and there were occasional spurts of rain. But it was never really cold or too wet. The rain was generally so brief that it didn’t even cause us to take a break for cover. We slid the gaming table further under the patio overhang and continued on.
Twice a crew went out fishing. They only fished catch and release, but everyone had some success. Even that was turned into a bit of a game as the largest and most fish were both tracked and tabulated.
Late Saturday afternoon, there was a little accident while helping me out of a chair. I was on my feet, but as I tried to pull my legs together my foot slid a bit and my balanced collapsed. To say I fell implies a quicker descent, but I managed to land with both legs splayed out to the side and my knees bent back under me. Even though it was during the middle of the crucial turkey cook a group assembled to get me back up. No visible damage was done, but I pulled/twisted something in my left knee.
At first it hurt. Fortunately a first aid kit provided an icepack. We were very close to using some of the ice that had been frozen for scotch. But it was still able to support my weight and standing on it didn’t make it hurt any more. It seemed to hurt the most when I turned my ankle beneath it and when I tried to pull my foot back when walking. That night was tricky. It hurt quite a bit and I found I could only roll half way over in one direction without putting pressure on it that hurt a lot. Still managing to sleep has never been a problem of mine! The next morning it didn’t hurt and only ached. It still hurt when twisted. By today it doesn’t hurt at all, aches when twisted and hurts when a lot of pressure is put in it in the wrong direction.
My greatest highlight for the trip was Mass on Sunday. The Boyle parish seems to only have a turnout of about 50-60 people during the summer. When the ten of us tromped in we greatly boosted the size of the congregation and the priest’s jaw nearly dropped. When our section began to sings the hymns with enthusiasm and for some smaller number of us decent voices and skill the priest was prompted to begin the service by thanking us for our attendance.
The poor priest seemed flustered throughout the Mass. He engaged in a question and answer portion during his sermon. At first it seemed that his questions might be rhetorical, but we soon determined he was actually looking for answers. So many of us began to contribute vocally to the Mass as well. It culminated at the end, when still flustered, the priest mused as to whether there was anything else he wanted to say. Troy suggested, “How about ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord and one another'” (or a similar Mass closing). Perhaps Troy was worried that the priest was so atwitter that he might forget to dismiss us, but it simply prompted the Father to question us on our presence ad purpose.
It was so much fun that on leaving Dave suggested that it might be fun to someday descend on another small town parish with our crew and their entire families.
So before the trip one of the big anticipations was for the food. It was no let down. Our worst meal was likely delicious BBQ’d smokies and sirloin burgers. I like the breakfast foods so I think that the best were the homemade McGriddles Dano made. Maple infused waffle tops and middles, sausage patties hand assembled and grilled out on the BBQ, cheese and eggs also sized to fit on the dinner roll sized assemblage. They were num-num good.
The premiere meal was the deep fried turkey. Two years of anticipation and one previous failure had only whetted our desire for this. There was no failure this year! Corn on the cob was grilled on the BBQ and while I was nursing my knee the turkey was deep frying. Stef had also managed to put together a spicy jerk infusion for the bird as well. It came out spicy and juicy and tasty. The corn was also juicy and sweet. After two years wait it will be hard to top as a main course.
Now the real main course for the weekend was gaming. Troy and Dano has a definite goal. They had invested several hours into a co-op Gears of War 2 campaign the year before. The goal was to finish it. Unfortunately when everything was setup, their save game was gone! stymied not in the least, the two stalwarts started again. Amongst us all they went for the latest nights, playing until the sun started to rise on one occasion.
The other video game success was Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I played a few hours on that. It was interesting to me as the game adapted fairly faithfully about 3 years worth of the main Avengers plotlines in Marvel Comics. Most of the twists and some of the action set pieces were stories I was well familiar with.
More than anything else though I played board games. We probably played about one third of the games we brought. Oddly some old favorites never saw play including Dominion, Descent and Arkham. The game that saw the most play was Bang! Bang! isn’t my favorite game. It is strongly related to two other games I have – Werewolf and Are you the Traitor? Bang! has a great theme of a western gunfight and dresses up the core mechanic of guessing hidden roles with some innovative card play. But I find it introduces too much randomness and takes away some of the social interaction that makes Werewolf so good. Now Bang! is still a pretty good game and I’d likely never turn down a game and I didn’t all weekend long.
We never did play Werewolf. It is best for groups greater than 9 people so even our large group didn’t really have enough this year to make it work. We did play a game of Are you the Traitor? for the first time and it worked pretty well, but I still like Werewolf best of those games.
We also played every single Vlaada Chavtil game I own. Civilization:Through the Ages, Dungeon Lords, Space Alert and Galaxy Truckers. All four were good successes. Civilization Through the Ages worked well, but it had been so long since we played we all made some strategy and tactical errors that slowed us down. If we play again in the near future I think it will work very well.
The other Vlaada games are all fairly humorously themed. Those games were all accompanied by some laughter. Actually, all the games were accompanied with laughter. But those laughs were directly related to the theme.
The biggest game success, I believe, was the Sunday afternoon game of Time’s Up. We got all 10 of us together to play. I have avoided inside jokes here, but ask Dave to mime out the name of James Bond characters some time. The whole game went well and the game was my one big win of the weekend. Rob M. might deserve the most credit as his guesses during the game were often inspired. He, Dave and I were the winning team.
Another success was Nuns of the Run. We played about three times. Each time was taut and frustrating for me as I never got anywhere close to winning, but most everyone else seemed to rack up at least one success there.
Actually, getting my ass handed to me in game after game was an ongoing leitmotif for the weekend. So much so that I won the only substantial award we handed out. I’d talk more about it, but it would seem to make me a hypocrite. 🙂
The last goodness was the accommodation. The cabin out on Skeleton lake is such a great venue. My wrecked knee aside, I have never slept better at one of these weekends.
The trip ended much as it began with us getting lost. Fortunately, we realized immediately that we had missed a corner and only circled a single block, but it made a nice bookend to the weekend. But the rest of the ride home had some nifty conversation about lottery winnings and it ended in the Fort with some ice cream. Yummy.
This year has been a year of fairly dramatic change for a number of the guys. (I don’t mean to say all the changes are equivalent.) We are pretty lucky that we are able to get together for a weekend like this and all just decompress. Of course, we are even luckier to have the friends we do – not only play games with, but to stand beside us through the changes. At least I am.