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Birding Tips for Hockey Players in Sedona

A day and a half in Sedona: it wasn’t much time, but our hockey team made the best of it. The pools, the hot tubs, the meditation classes and massages. Then there were the hikes. For me, hiking involves looking for birds and wildlife. That means I try to get out with a guide at least once when I’m travelling, hiking trails I otherwise might miss and hoping to spot elusive local birds. (Endemic species,…

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So You Want to Ride the Vortex

The landscape on the 90-minute drive from suburban Scottsdale to Sedona, Arizona, reminded me of  north-central Mexico, where you really shouldn’t drive casually these days because the drug cartels might take a notion to kill you. I lived in Mexico years ago and loved my pre-cartel travels, enjoying the barren hills, the cactus, the wide blue skies, deep culture and wonderful people. Now here we were in similar hills with no visible drug traffickers and…

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Warm Weather Hockey – 2

Our hockey team, the Beaver Dames, is known for off-kilter first nights at international tournaments. Back in 2014, arriving for the tournament in Reykjavik, we decided the thing to do after an overnight flight during which few of us slept was to get on a tour bus well past sunset (after a day during which few of us napped). Our goal: to search for northern lights in the mountains outside town. As a result, we…

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Hockey in the Desert (Part Two)

I may have mentioned that our hockey team met Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock at the luggage carousel at the airport in Phoenix, Arizona. Perhaps once or twice. Maybe attached a selfie. But that was only part of the team experience at our third international hockey tournament, which recently took our twelve skaters, goalie and two bench coaches (concussions) to Arizona, ready to follow-up on our glorious non-victories in Las Vegas last year and…

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Hockey in the Desert – 5

When they said Red Rock Canyon, they weren’t kidding about the red. It was our last day in Las Vegas, the day when the championship games were underway at the hockey tournament, and we were busing it past the arena to spend the afternoon hiking in the Mojave Desert, its rust-coloured hills soon visible beyond the subdivisions. The day before, we’d been told that our competitors had called us the nicest team in the tournament,…

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Hockey in the Desert – 4

From what we’d heard, the Las Vegas express bus took you on a jaunt down the Strip, then swerved into real life. We decided to ride it to Old Vegas, to Fremont Street, where after all the glitz and hollowness of the mile-long casinos, we were promised a little honest tackiness. We picked up passes at a machine on the Strip, and soon after hopping on board, I realized I could have ridden that bus…

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Hockey in the Desert – 3

As a writer, I spend hours a day inside my fantasies. Staring at my laptop screen—or more often at the floor—I’m fantasizing 19th century Egypt, Charles Dickens walking the streets of London, an Ontario commune in the 1970s or mayhem in a Mississauga chop shop during a police raid. (Novel, novel, short story, film script: based on a true story.) In Las Vegas, what struck me most strongly was seeing other peoples’ fantasies acted out…

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Hockey in the Desert – 2

Let’s get the hockey part over with quickly. We’d never played in the Las Vegas tournament before, and the convener got stuck on the fact we’re Canadians, and obviously masters of hockey. Not. He put us in a division with teams far better than us, and we  found ourselves chasing 22-year-old U.S. collegiate players down the ice. Since our team’s average age is 45, we should probably have been placed in a division with the…

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Hockey in the Desert – 1

Las Vegas got underway in the check-in line at our hotel. The guy in front of me was talking to Siri on his phone, dictating a text message. Sex message. He didn’t seem to have seen his wife in a while and was looking forward to getting busy as soon as he checked in, going all graphic about what they would do. I wondered if the wife had just got in on a separate flight.…

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The Sue Deacon Memorial Cup

Big, gratifying news: the second annual Sue Deacon Memorial Cup raised $110,000 this weekend in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada. The money will go for research into the disease that took Sue Deacon and continues to take too many other women’s lives. Sue played hockey, so it was a hockey tournament at her home arena, Bill Bolton Arena in Toronto’s west end. Four women’s teams, four men’s teams and two children’s teams were organized in…

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