Top Six Reasons To Play Hooky

After bundling up through month upon month of bitterly cold winter, sloshing through chinook slush piles and laughing to keep from crying at never-ending springtime blizzards, summer — real, honest-to-God-leave-the-house-without-a-jacket summer — is not something that should be wasted in an office. These quintessential pastimes are calling.

1. Calgary Folk Fest Friday Afternoon

Be there when the festival gates open at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 22nd. While the tarpies dash by you in their quest for prime real estate in front of the main stage, saunter casually into the legendary beer gardens and find a sun-dappled spot under the tall trees where you can kick back with a pitcher of Big Rock. You’ll be nicely buzzed by the time the side stages start up at 3 p.m., and in fine form by 5 p.m., when the crowds start packing the park and the fest really starts rockin’. (

NOT ENTIRELY UNTRUE EXCUSE Going on a site visit.

2. Rafting on the Elbow

Floating down the lazy river that winds its way through Calgary’s poshest ’hoods provides the closest thing we have to a beach scene in this town. The shallow rapids can be navigated with pretty much any form of blow-up watercraft, so long as everyone in your party has the necessary life jackets to placate the vigilant bylaw and police officers patrolling the banks (it doesn’t matter if it clashes with your bikini — they will pull you off the river and write you up an automatic $500 fine). Drop a retrieval vehicle in the parking lot of the Talisman Centre before proceeding to Sandy Beach at River Park (follow 50th Avenue S.W. east from Crowchild Trail down into the park) to launch. Then settle in for two magical hours reclining on an air-filled ballast, trailing your hand in the water and sipping cans of (ahem) “soda,” kept cool in a mesh bag leashed to the watercraft.

NOT ENTIRELY UNTRUE EXCUSE Researching ways to streamline operations.

3. Hotel Arts Pool

The open-air pool at the heart of this Beltline boutique property is part of the Raw Bar lounge, meaning, if you’re a paying customer, you’re free to enjoy a taste of the L.A. lifestyle, sunbathing on a chic chaise while sipping retro-inspired cocktail concoctions like the 2010 Calgary Cocktail Competition-winning Pear Muscuvado Almond Julep. Stash a bikini and a pair of Jackie-O shades in your work purse at all times so, when the time comes to slip out, you’ll be ready. A super-sized sun hat is also good to have handy for an instant disguise. (

NOT ENTIRELY UNTRUE EXCUSE Testing the waters of the tourism/hospitality market.

4. Spruce Meadows North American

For those who prefer to hobnob with the more-refined horsey set, the Spruce Meadows North American tournament (July 7 to 11) is the place to be if you go ga-ga for prancing thoroughbreds and posturific show-jumpers sporting impeccable blazers and boots. Sure, you could join the rest of the proles swarming the joint on the weekend. But the weekday rundown of junior and amateur equestrian events offers a more relaxed atmosphere for observers. Also, with equestrianism being a choice pastime for the offspring of famous folk like Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, the Spruce Meadows ringside scene has earned a reputation as the city’s best bet for big-time celebrity spotting. (

NOT ENTIRELY UNTRUE EXCUSE Gaining insight on how to deal gracefully with obstacles.

5. Stampede Parade

Everyone loves a parade, particularly when it takes place during business hours. Most downtown offices ease up a bit when it comes to all things Stampede, turning a blind eye to latecomers sidetracked by the lure of ever-present pancake breakfasts and other offerings. If you work downtown, it’s your civic duty to be out of the office and along the Stampede Parade route the morning of Friday, July 8th, particularly if the sun is shining. Afterward, tell the interns you’ll time them to see who makes it back to the office first, then, once they’re out of sight, make an about-face and head over to the midway for some deep-fried whatever and a couple rounds of the Zipper. (

NOT ENTIRELY UNTRUE EXCUSE You won’t need one. Your boss is either teeing off in the Okanagan or enjoying a “wet lunch” with clients at a beer garden, and the odds are better than even that, before you make it past the you-must-be-this-tall-to-ride sign, the accounting team will be pounding shots in the Cowboys tent.

6. Fishin’ in the Bow

It’s a cliché for good reason. Blowing off work, school or any of life’s other bummers and sauntering off with fishing pole in hand (whistling the Andy Griffith Show theme, of course) is one of life’s great pleasures. The Bow River’s renown for rainbow and brown trout just adds to the local-enticement factor. You don’t even have to go very far — the “Zoo Hole,” where the Elbow meets the Bow River, is a choice angling spot just paces from downtown and, if you need more help, enlist a guide such as Wayne Hanson at Hanson’s Fishing Outfitters and then it’s not just skipping out of work, it’s a learning experience (or, rather, “professional development”).

NOT ENTIRELY UNTRUE EXCUSE Come clean this time and just say “Gone fishin’.” Chances are, everyone will think you’re kidding anyway.

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