Took a little trip one June weekend to the Edmonton , Alberta Rugbyfest. 600 miles. We cleaned out the Maggot Bus before leaving, half filling a good sized dumpster with empty cans. Found about two cases worth of full ones as well. Fourteen of us loaded up and headed north (I know you need 15 to play, but we figured we'd take care of that later). At least one 12-pack each. Detroit Rock City, the driver, doesn't drink while driving, leaving the rest of us free to do so. After stopping at a couple of bars along the way, and getting lost for an hour in Kalispel, MT, we stopped beside the road, just short of the border at 3 AM, Friday morning. Rock City decided to sleep under the bus (?) while the rest of us were stretched on boards across the aisle, or in the pit.

7 AM, in a blizzard, R.C. decided we'd get moving again. The snow ended by the time we reached the border. Customs guy came out, asked what we were up to, etc. Could have just waved us on. Instead he told us all to go inside to Immigration. None of us were planning on staying in Canada for more than three days, but we did as he said. Now sitting in a crowded waiting room at that time of the morning, with only four hours of sleep, no breakfast and a hangover is not much fun. They called us one by one for entry interviews, to see if we were worthy of admission. Asked who I was , what I did, was I born in America? Did I have proof of naturalization? How much money I had? Ever been arrested? Unfortunately, five of us had been, for DUI. Now, driving under the influence is a felony in Canada, and they don't just let convicted felons walk into their country. Nope, can't let you in. Too dangerous. But maybe they can give you a "Conditional Entry". Gonna cost though. $100.00 each. Otto pulled out the VISA card, and paid the bribe.

Back onto the bus and out of here soon, we thought, soon as the customs guys give us the OK. While waiting, Slim Jim and I walked over to the nearby coffee shop (only three buildings at the border, 2 ports of entry and the coffee shop). Had a coffee and a muffin. As we were leaving, a customs dude dashed up in his Blazer and told us to get back with the rest of the team. When we got there, all the luggage had been taken off the bus. We were told to get our belongings together, and stand beside them, for the drug-sniffing dogs to check out, "especially you two who left - you weren't cleared by customs yet. You'd better watch your asses!" The customs commandos (combat boots, bloused trousers) led the two dogs around all of our stuff, and got moderately excited over Reno's bag, who was promptly led inside, presumably for a strip search. The dog was very interested, however, with an empty beer can lying near the building, but the handler kept pulling it away.

Then came the bus search. First we were warned to remove any drugs and paraphernalia which might be on board. It occurred to Scarecrow that there just might be a pipe on the bus, so he hopped inside to look for it, calling out "If there was a pipe on the bus, guys, where might it be?" Couldn't find it. Now the Maggot Bus is a special place which has to been seen (and smelled) to be believed. Stickers and graffiti adorn the walls and roof - "Another Mormon on drugs" and "I got stoned for a month one night". Beer cans are ritually thrown off the ceiling and allowed to accumulate on the floor. So does garbage, old clothes, whatever. And covering everything, is a thin film of marijuana residue, most recently added to the night before. The dogs were overwhelmed by the bus and couldn't find a thing. There was nothing in the bus anyway, as one of us had stashed the bag in an empty beer can and dropped it beside the customs office.

Nothing found on the bus. Nothing found in our bags. The customs boys were mad. We obviously were international drug smuggling terrorists, but they couldn't find a thing. The commando who had been giving Reno the close search came out, snarling "I know you have something. We have all day, do you want us to search you all? GIVE IT UP NOW!!!!" We all shrugged innocently. Three hours after our arrival, shivering and wet, $500.00 poorer, we got back into the bus. The can was snagged before boarding. North we went.

Breakfast at a little town over the border, during which time a police car screamed by. Comment from a local, "Either trouble at the border or a fight at the trailer court."

Slept while James drove, the lunch/dinner in Calgary. All-you-can-eat buffet for $6.99, Canadian (roughly 32 cents, U.S.). Took the challenge, and they lost money.

Edmonton, a big city in the middle of nowhere. Apparently a lot of oil up there. Not much else. To the hotel for a swim and steam bath. Party at a local club, THE THUNDERDOME!!!!!!!, complete with fog machines and special lighting effects. Real down-home place. Bartenders were either steroid-bulging posers or hardbodied babes, both sexes dressed in shorts and cutoff tanktops. Beer was $11.75 a pitcher, but it was two for one until 10:00, so we stocked up. Loud rock and roll, finally dancing. They didn't appreciate our slam dancing, though. A local radio station was having a special night there, with several contests. I entered one with Meg Ann from the Betterside. It was a T-shirt exchanging contest. We won hockey tickets, naturally.

Returning to the hotel, we found Aaron, who didn't want to spring for a room and planned to sleep on the bus, in my bed with a woman. Promptly kicked him out, and she wouldn't stay.

Game at 9:00 AM! Up at 7:00, breakfast with lots of coffee, followed by more coffee. Drove the bus to another hotel to pick up a few assorted Maggots. A herd of players from other teams also got on board - they though we were the Ruggerfest shuttle bus. Heard a few comments about the quality of motor coaches in Edmonton.

To the pitch. Cold, cloudy and dismal. We had planned to play in the fun division, but our match secretary (who didn't come along) had put us into the competitive division. Against one of the Edmonton club's first side. We held a 7-0 lead for almost all the game. Penalty. Run in for a try and conversion. Tie game, 7-7. Whistle blew. The second game of the day ended much better, 39-5, against another first side. Also the site at which Seattle Dave uttered the immortal words, "I know how to tackle. I just chose not to."

Party that night. In Canada, apparently, you have to pay for everything. There was an admission fee to the party, and beer was $2.00 a cup. The beer was pumped from kegs into garbage cans, then scooped into cups! Oh, Canada! You needed to buy tickets for each beer. Several of us planned ahead and brought along pints of liquor. Then Aaron, bless his dark little soul, redeemed himself by crawling under a table and grabbing a handful of tickets. We all got smashed. Aaron drank himself into a daze. He was pushed over the fence, and crawled around in the mud until he was escorted back to the bus.

The game on Sunday wasn't until 12:00, so we slept in and had a leisurely breakfast. The game went badly for us, with them having 16 players. But we managed to hold the lead, 7-0, until the end, when the ref marched them most of the way down the pitch on such penalties as "pushing too hard in the scrum" (?). They capitalized on this and ran in for a try, followed by a conversion. 7-7. Whistle blew.

Took a nap, then a shower at the club house, then partied a while in another team's bus, as they had a keg going and it wouldn't be polite to say no. Another party, more money to get in, but free beer! And a cool glass mug! And food! Food turned out to be a hockey puck on a bun, and I was unable to finish it (that's bad). Beer ran out very early. Oh, Canada!

We were invited to a couple of the local teams' parties being held that night. Naively, we drove off to the Leprechaun's club house. They wanted $7.00 for a tiny pitcher of beer. Oh, Canada! One of their club officers had the decency to buy us two pitchers of beer. We tried to liven things up with a shopping cart race along the deck, but the Cheeseheads were too cool for that kind of stuff.

Then our New Zealand Maori told us he'd teach the Hakka. This ancient Maori dance is performed in a circle, with chanting and grunting, arm waving and leg stamping. It is sung in defiance of one's opponents, about how you will destroy them. It is always sung by the New Zealand All-Blacks before each game. We formed a circle. Boydie began chanting and gesturing, then told us all to follow him. First it was in unintelligible Maori, then went "old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O", and on like that, to a tribal beat. Old MacDonald is now the Maggot Hakka.

Enough of that, off to the Druid's party, where beer might be more available. They wanted $5 just to walk in. Oh, Canada! We hopped the fence around back. More expensive beer inside, though. I walked down the street for a hamburger, then crashed in the bus for the night.

On the road in the morning, back to the States and cheap beer. Stopped in Calgary, nearly out of gas. Refilled , then James headed back onto the freeway, meanwhile passing a large number of restaurants. Once on the freeway, he suggested we stop for lunch. Pulled off again, drove around for an hour, then finally stopped at a supermarket and we ate at the deli.

Passed through US customs with no hassle "All of you born in the US?" "Yes." "Drive on." Love this country!

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