One of the hidden jewels of Wood Buffalo is Vista Ridge, the all season recreational park in Saprae Creek. I had the opportunity to duck out of a half day of work to accompany my son Dylan to the hill so he could try his hand at the tube run.
The day was perfect, a great temperature, not too sunny or windy. The students from Dr. Clark School were enjoying a day of skiing, snowboarding and all other manner of conveyance that young people have glommed on to in recent years. Dylan, with significant balance issues associated with his cerebral palsy, hung out in the chalet with Katie, a wonderful wheelchair-bound classmate, waiting their turn to tackle the tube run.
Being the sole visitors to that portion of the ski hill this afternoon, we were transported by snowmobile to the top of the five-lane tube run--normally that trip happens in a big sleigh for about 20 people. Grabbing hold of the straps on Dylan's tube, we set off screaming down the hill. The wind in my face was exhilarating as we rotated in flight, almost a full 360-degrees before slowing down near the hay bales, positioned to absorb those tubers who build up a little too much momentum.
"Does anyone ever get hurt on these," I asked, slightly nervous about attacking the larger runs.
"You know, we've never had first-aid calls out here," replied the young Aussie ski patroller. "But, way back when they used to have trouble with people going into the trees way down at the bottom of the run -- that's why the hay bales are there now."
Vista Ridge is an incredible facility, reborn from its time as Spruce Valley just days after my arrival in Fort McMurray in 1996. John Wilson, Jim Carter, Bob Reynolds and many others inspired a shared vision that has turned it a winter playground extraordinaire. They, and all the others who were part of the dream, should be very proud of where this project has gone, and excited about where it will go in the years to come.
February 10, 2010 - 192.6 pounds, 26.5% body fat