Love and Other Outdoor Sportz

We all had an amazing day today!  Everyone head out fairly early to hit the slopes and go skiing and snowboarding early – the bro and sis-inlaw went off to ski some and check out the Peak 2 Peak after our adventure; Mr K and the Teenager made a beeline for some of the Blackcomb green slopes and by all accounts everyone had a great day!

At lunchtime, Mr K and the Teenager came back here, picked me up and we went up to the Whistler Coca-Cola Tubing Park for a bit of snow tubing fun… mostly because well, I’ve been green with bitter envy watching everyone go out skiing and having fun in the snow while I’ve been making the sensible decision to not go out skiing in order to, well, be able to walk and/or function for the rest of the holiday.  It seriously sucks.  This isn’t some bullshit FOMO I’m talking about here – this is actually missing out shit and it has become such a feature of my whole bloody life. I am constantly fighting my traitorous body over the things it won’t let me do, but more often than not, when it comes to the ‘unnecessary’ fun stuff like bungee jumping, jet boating, zip lining or other crazy fun stuff – logic, sanity and/or self-preservation tend to prevail.  Ho-Hum.

But today, I was not exactly hedonistically throwing caution to the wind, but rather had decided to gently wave caution in the general direction of the prevailing breeze?! and head to the tube park for a bit of fun.

Saw this ATV, and was like, stuff tubing, can I drive it?  Unfortunately, the staff wouldn’t let me. Party poopers! The park has a Magic Carpet – which in essence, is a flat conveyor belt that tubers/skiers can hop on and get a ride up a slope to save time and energy.  Seeing you pay by the hour to enter this park, a quicker ride up the slippery slope was a damn good plan.  Up the top getting ready to go down.

Our first run down we jumped straight into the deep and went on the steepest, fastest slope – the black diamond tube run (lol).  We went down individually first and thought we’d pair up for the next runs.Mr K and I ended up racing down the slope, and this being a gravity-driven thing – I thought I’d be outclassed real quick, but as luck would have it, the attendant who kicked my tube to send me down the hill, put a significant bit of spin on it and I went barrelling downhill in a relatively straight spiralling line overtook Mr K who seemed to be having a bit of a bumper car ride, slamming a few times into the edge of his tube run.  So yeah, rifling effect for the win, I beat him down the hill.
Waiting for our next run… And each time come to ever such an elegant stop at the bottom.  😛 

After we’d had enough fo the tubing park, I returned back to the Aspens and Mr K and the Teenager hit the slopes once more this time over on the Whistler peaks to do some runs over there.  They didn’t come back until after dark and I swear I have never seen such happy grinning faces. I think… no, I *know* that they want to go to the snow again soon.  They both had so much fun. Photo op of the day goes to this happy snap Mr K took on his iPhone… he just looks on top of the world.  🙂

We finished off the day with a lively dinner out at La Boca restaurant down in the Village and were spoiled with delicious fresh mussels, braised bison cheek and a lovely local sparkling wine.   Tomorrow, we have to pack to leave the Aspens… and no one wants to leave!

2018, Day One

After exhausting themselves on the slopes yesterday, the Teenager decided he would have a Sea Day, Mr K and I decided we would go and explore Whistler-Blackcomb and the rest of the family hit the slopes again!

Leaving our resort for the day, this is the little walkway that goes out to the slopes. I love the trees all loaded up with snow – I have taken so many photos just of trees covered in snow.  I shall try and refrain from posting too many (she lies!). Whistler-Blackcomb is actually two mountains that make up one enormous ski-resort.  It is located only 120km north of Vancouver and is apparently by far the largest ski resort in North America. It also has the world’s highest and longest unsupported cable car span in the Peak 2 Peak gondola.  Given all this appeal, Whistler Blackcomb is also the most-visited ski resort, seeing approximately two million visitors each year.

We took a regular gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain… The mountainside facilities are quite impressive – restaurants, restrooms, shops for last minute ski type requirements, child friendly spaces with computer games.  Everything you need to have a break if you are day tripping and you can’t just pop back to your apartment for lunch or a break. There are plenty of characters around here – and I can’t confirm this, but I’d put odds on that this guy is Australian. From here we took the Peak 2 Peak cable car across the valley to the Blackcomb peak.
The countryside is just stunning…  It’s a bloody long way down from the gondola.  :/  At the otherside, we had a walk around in the snow, tried hard not to be run over by skiers or snowboarders, and then decided to have some lunch. The view from our lunch table out across the valley – feels like you are on top of the world. After lunch, we took the Peak 2 Peak back to Whistler peak (we didn’t have skis so we couldn’t just take the chairlift back down Blackcomb) so we could return to the Village.

The views today were just incredible – we went up at about midday and came back on the last Peak 2 Peak gondola which was a 3pm.  By 4:30pm, it is getting dark and we were back at the resort with wine and cheese in hand.  Another beautiful day.

New Years Eve in Whistler

What a glorious day!  Today everyone was on the slopes – except me… because bad back, chronic pain, must make sensible decisions *mutter mutter*.  So I decided to go for a walk into the Village and check out the Village Stroll, and I could not have picked a better day for it.  The sun was out, the skies are so blue, and the snow looks pristine and fresh.   The covered bridge across the creek to the Lost Lake. Everywhere you look is another beautiful vista.  I can understand why people flee the cold for the winter – I get it, there is probably only so many times you can look at these landscapes and feel a sense of wonder that overrides the fact that your toes feel like they are going to fall off!  But for us, being from Australia and having only been to the snow a few times in our lives, if at all – this place feels truly magical.
Down in the Village Stroll, at the Olympic Plaza, you can find a sculpture of the Olympic rings from the 2010 Winter Olympic games. Icicles!  Actual Icicles.  Love them… though of course if they ever become a common occurrence where we are from, we will know that hell hath frozen over.I walked around the village for a while, spoke to all the Aussies working in the stores – seriously, I’d have to say 80% of the people who are working here in a seasonal capacity, are from Australia.  There must be something about this place that attracts them, but I met only one Kiwi, and dozens of Australians everywhere!  And it was the same in the restaurants and retail facilities up the mountains, in the ski school, and everywhere else we have been to.  Shopping done, groceries for dinner squared away, I braved the free Number 5 bus and went back to the Aspens.  Didn’t get lost – win!

Later in the afternoon when everyone had done with their skiing, we all went for another walk down into town to show the kids the Village all lit up with Christmas lights. I don’t know where the kids get their energy from, but they were running and jumping and climbing and playing on every little mound of snow they find!  They are absolutely enthralled with this wintery paradise.

Eventually, with our toes freezing (it was -10C and feeling like -15C according to the weather app on my phone), and it still a LONG way from midnight, we decided to find somewhere to thaw out for a while and landed ourselves in the Gnarly Roots pizza cafe for some hot chocolates, hot ciders and a late night ‘snack’.  Whereupon the energy I just mentioned deserted the kids and they damn near fell asleep at the table waiting for food.  That ‘snack’ by the way, turned out to be the biggest pizza I have ever seen!
We warmed up and enjoyed our second dinner *rolls eyes* and then went wandering through the rest of the Village Stroll, from there it was back to the bus to head back to the Aspens, where most of us were sensible and went to bed!  Those of us who were determined to see in midnight got rugged up and head out onto the Blackcomb piste at about 11:30pm to see if we could see the fireworks being set off in the village. The moon was nearly full and there were other small groups of revellers out on the piste as we all waited for midnight.
Seconds after this photo was taken, we were nearly run over by a man on a toboggan blowing a horn of some sort, yahoo-ing his way down the mountain and then stopping, very inelegantly in a snow bank!  😛  Drinking Mr K’s novelty barrel sake that I had given him for Christmas as we waited for the fireworks… It was bloody cold stand around like that and I was grateful for the sake.  Eventually fireworks* and well wishes and cries of ‘Happy New Year’ rang out across the mountain – and shortly after we hightailed it back inside to warm up!   *Completely photoshopped – they put up only one firework at a time and spaced out rather weirdly so I smooshed together four dodgy handheld fireworks photos into one.


Adventures in Whistler

After waving farewell to Vancouver Island we head off to Horseshoe Bay by car ferry and onto our New Years adventures up at Whistler.  The drive was abysmal… snowing approximately 1cm per hour and plenty of traffic.  Thankfully, Mr K learned to drive over here, many years ago, in these road conditions and was happy to get us safely where we were going.  The visibility was dreadful, but no worse than a thunderstorm back home, and the guys on the snow ploughs were obviously working overtime so all up it wasn’t too bad.  Also thankfully, there was only a refreshingly small number of local yokels driving like the roads were ‘normal’ – nearly everyone seemed happy to potter along doing 20kmph under the speed limit and that suited us just fine!

We arrived at Whistler around 4pm in the afternoon – which of course is when it starts to get dark here in the middle of winter, and quickly found our accommodation which was not as easy as it sounds when all the road signs, road markers and hotel signage is covered in snow! We found the Aspens on Blackcomb eventually and were pleasantly surprised to find our two bedroom suite which was to be our base for the week, was much larger than it appeared in the photographs online – I know, when does that ever happen?  We have a kitchen, two bathrooms and a decent sized living room. And the view out the windows was very exciting – around the pools and out the back gate is the Blackcomb piste!  Apparently, I chose well – the ‘ski-in/ski-out’ locations are considered very desirable.  Who knew?  Well, actual skiing type people probably knew.The following morning, alarms were set, and excitement was high as we were getting the kids off to skiing and snowboarding school.  We walked straight out down to Whistler Village to the Skier Plaza where the multitudes of people getting ready to hit the slopes when it was barely daylight, made my head spin!

It was not yet 8am (sunrise wasn’t officially until 8:19am) and the crowds were everywhere, people stalking/stomping around in ski boots with ski equipment casually slung over their shoulders, a DJ playing loud music from a balcony above the plaza, young people scoffing huge hamburgers for breakfast, and kids walking around looking like puffed up starfish in their huge insulated ski pants and anoraks. It was loud, energetic and chaotic.  🙂  This little dude was the only chill guy in the place, and seemed in no hurry to get up the mountain. After we got the Teenager squared away in his first ever snowboarding lesson, we went for a walk down into the Village – everything was covered in snow, which again has the effect of making everything look the same.  We were hunting for the Starbucks to meet up with some friends. Cool chairs outside Starbucks – a little too ‘cool’ for me, I was glad we found some seating indoors. We spend a wonderful couple of hours catching up with Barry and Sandra, whom I had the pleasure of getting to know on my huge 84 night South American adventure earlier this year.  It’s crazy to think that we met travelling around South America and visited heaps of beautiful places all over countries like Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru, together – I mean, we went paragliding off a cliff in Rio de Janeiro together, and hiked up Machu Picchu together! – and now here we are meeting up at New Years in Canada!  This is one of the best things about travelling, meeting wonderful new people whose company you enjoy so much, they turn into lifelong friends.  <3  Fingers crossed that our plans come together and we get to do the TransAtlantic with these guys and the other beautiful people I met cruising around South America, too. It’s hard work trying to keep up with your friends who are already retired… But I can’t wait!  🙂

After our coffee date, Mr K and I were heading into Vancouver for the afternoon to see Kurios and to go to a Canucks game.  The skies were much clearer than the drive up, though the roads… still, not so much.   Being from Australia, everywhere we look is a stunning new vista – just looking down the street with the layer of snow covering the trees and the footpaths is beautiful.   I have taken hundreds of snow photographs.Now it had stopped snowing we could actually see the place we were looking for the night before!  🙂
The drive to Vancouver was beautiful – blue skies, a layer of fresh snow everywhere as there had been about 15cm overnight.  The snow plough guys were out in force working on the roads and they were definitely improved over last night’s conditions. More speed landscape photography – the 99 Sea to Sky Highway doesn’t really have a great many lookout points where you can stop safely to take pictures, and those areas that are intended for lookouts are currently poorly signed due to signage being, well buried in snow!
We made good time down to the city and went to see Kurios, easily one of the best Cirque du Soleil shows I have seen in years.  I am so glad we made the effort to get tickets and go see it.  The only downside is we had left the Teenager up on the mountain having a snowboard lesson and he didn’t get to see the show. I’d take him to see it next week – but the run was wrapping up on the 31st.

After the show we literally walked directly across the road from the 6:45 pm exit of the Big Top, to the 7:00 pm kick-off (I dunno… what does one call the start of a hockey game?!) at the Roger’s Arena for the Vancouver Canucks vs LA Kings game. The Teenager and the rest of the relatives had come down after their Big Day O’Skiing and we met up with them there.  We arrived just in time for the national anthems, very fancy, and in spite of the Canucks not skating their way to victory – it was a great fun game to watch, and the food was as horrid as you expect and our expensive seats were right up in the bleachers where they should be.  All up, a very satisfactory first NHL hockey experience for the kids.  😛

Then it was time to hit the 99, Sea to Sky highway back to Whistler. We were a little worried about what the road conditions would be like driving back in the middle of the night – mostly because the Canadians around us seemed worried about it – but the snow plough guys had been working their butts off and the roads were clear and predominantly dry on the drive back.  Much better than expected.  We were back in Whistler by about midnight and gave a grateful salute to the snow plough drivers as we passed them just outside of Squamish.  What a huge day… and tomorrow – more snow fun for the people!


Victoria and the Royals Game

Today was designated Cousins Day – which meant we were off over the Malahat to Victoria to meet up with all Mr K’s cousins.  We arrived around midday and decided to got to a nice seafood restaurant for a bite of lunch before Mr K and his sister had to take care of some business in town.  We both hit and missed on the ‘nice seafood restaurant’ bit.  We went to a place called Nautical Nellies right on Wharf Street, with you guessed it, views over Victoria’s waterfront and wharf areas, and were shown to a lovely table by the waterfront.  Nautical Nellies has an extensive menu with lots of appealing options, so we all decided to try some appetisers as well as main meals so we could taste a bit of everything – crab cakes, oysters, salt and pepper calamari, seafood pad thai, seared Atlantic salmon, and the ‘most popular dish in the restaurant’, the seafood stockpot pie.  Yup.  We had completely forgotten about North American portion sizes and had way too much food! Anyway, long story short – my lunch (salmon) was delightful, but I have it on good authority that the ‘most popular dish in the restaurant’ is foul and the contents of said stockpot pie tasted like they come out of a can!  :/  So yeah… if you are in the area, avoid the place, our waiter Cal gave us a bum-steer on that one.

After lunch we went for a wander around the waterfront to see what we could see.  Naturally, boats in the harbour, a couple of old buildings, like the Empress Hotel, and we made our way around to the Parliament Buildings.
The Knowledge Totem at the Victoria Parliament buildings. I like the frog.British Columbia Parliament Buildings – very traditional English style of architecture which is not surprising at all given the Neo-Baroque style of the late 1890s design and the statue of Queen Victoria out front. The Empress Hotel and a statue of a lady with a book that I couldn’t find any information on… she has a monkey on her back too, weird. Scratch that – “The monument features a seated Emily Carr with her sketchpad. Emily’s Javanese monkey ‘Woo’ perches on her shoulder and her dog ‘Billie’ stands nearby. The statue was erected along Victoria’s Harbourfront on the grounds of the Fairmount Empress Hotel. It is fitting that the ‘Our Emily’ statue was unveiled during Women’s History Month in Canada, on October 13th, 2010.”  Yeah, read that whole ‘monkey on her back’ thing as a bit more meaningful.  😛

After wandering around the waterfront for a bit, we went off to meet the cousins for beer and pizza and … a hockey game!  Woo!   Victorian Royals vs the other team.  Dunno, think they were from Calgary.  The Royals are a junior league – which apparently means the players are all under 20 or so and are basically on watch for the NFL.

The team mascot is Marty the Marmot, which is a small fuzzy rodent loosely related to squirrels – though this guy looked more otter-like than squirrel-like. Beer in convenient sippy cups…  Ice-hockeying… I do like the Royal’s goalkeeper.  His name is Outhouse.

And at the end of the first period, out came the entertainment in the form of these little league guys taking the ice.  They were so cute!  And every single one of them at probably 5-6 years old, can skate way better than I can!

We ended cousin night with cocktails, buffalo wings and the biggest platter of nachos you’ve ever seen at a place called 1550 (because it was open!).  A great night was had by all.  Invitations have been extended for all the cousins to come visit us Down Under, and hopefully one day they will… Julie, I promise there are no spiders in Australia.  Also, we promise to force an Aussie Rules football game on you all – I’ll even deign to go too.