Vikings, Saints and Catholic guilt |

Vikings, Saints and Catholic guilt

I cannot tell a lie — while my beloved Minnesota Vikings were playing an epic playoff game, I was skiing the Grand Mesa.
Bob Ward/courtesy photo |

I’ve always been loath to sacrifice an outdoor adventure to be a couch potato watching a TV sporting event, but I sure wish I would have Sunday.

The dilemma was months in the brewing. My wife and I booked a cabin at the Grand Mesa Lodge one year ago, after a super fun trip during record snowfall. We returned with two other couples this year and had a blast, despite a lot less snow.

Grand Mesa is one of the coolest places I’ve had the pleasure to visit in Colorado. The landscape fits in with the psychedelic imagery of the Beatles’ song “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds.” Vast, rolling meadows covered in virgin snow look like marshmallow pies. Dense fir forests have trees that grow incredibly high.

It’s a winter playground that provides some dazzling views of the West Elk and San Juan mountains. Ice fishermen stake their turf on Island Lake and other waterways. Slednecks have their slice of heaven on dedicated trails. Families are sledding on some suitable hills. Three cross-country ski areas provide a wide array of experiences.

It turns out Sunday also happened to be a big football playoff game for my beloved Minnesota Vikings, a team I grew up worshiping during their heydays in the 1970s. I never considered bailing on the ski trip because I knew the day lodge where our cabin was located had a small TV lounge upstairs. Well, the day lodge partially collapsed from snow load last year after we visited and it’s in the process of being rebuilt. The lounge wasn’t an option.

After ski sessions in the morning and the afternoon Sunday, I didn’t have the energy to search for a bar in the sparsely populated burgs of the mesa. Besides, I was having too much fun with my friends. I remember thinking with a bit of relief at about 7 p.m. that the game was decided one way or another. I relished the thought of returning Monday and watching a recording.

Texts work sporadically on the Grand Mesa. Sometime overnight I received one from my brother-in-law that simply said, “Yeah, so that was cool.”

I was hopeful the next morning but didn’t want to read too much into it. But another text from a long-suffering Vikings compadre was a little more definitive: “WOW, or should that be WHEW?” he wrote.

I avoided any further social or mass media so I wouldn’t know the details but told my wife the game against the New Orleans Saints must have been a humdinger. Even knowing the outcome didn’t prepare me for the rollercoaster ride.

I temporarily suffered Catholic guilt for the way the Vikings vanquished the Saints on a last play that surpassed improbable. My guilt quickly passed. I’ve been on the losing end of sour luck for too long as a Vikings fan. Perhaps this is a team of destiny.

Next Sunday I will remain planted on the couch to watch the next game, even if it’s a powder day.


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