Thursday, December 28, 2017

Visiting Whistler

Talking with Matt about their upcoming visit, he expressed a keen interest in visiting Banff National Park in Alberta. After a little research, I realized that plan was a wee bit ambitious during the winter, due to not only inclement weather, but distance as well. We could, however, take a trip to Whistler on a bus that picked us up downtown. Sold!

Boarding the large comfortable bus at 9 in the morning, we sat back to enjoy the scenic route along the Sea to Sky highway. Driving there ourselves is not an option because in BC snow tires are a requirement that we could not meet. Plus, this way, Bruce could enjoy the ride as well. The sky was a bit gloomy as we began the journey; pretty, nonetheless. Pictured in the water is one of the BC Ferries that take you over to Vancouver Island, a two hour trip.
Just past Squamish, where we visited in early Autumn, the road moves begins moving inland with accumulated snow, rivers, and bluer skies.
At one point, our bus came to a complete stop in the middle of the road to allow, what we are convinced was, a wolf to cross. Others are not so sure about the animal identification and my blurry photo is not a great help in answer to that debate.
In a little under two hours we entered an entirely different world, more commonly known as a mountain village where there were skiers everywhere you looked.
Very, very cold too! Because we are not skiers, this was like entering a foreign country where people speak a different language. Oh wait...we are in a foreign country!

After stopping by the Visitor Center to purchase our lift tickets, we joined loads of others in line for the lift that would take us to the top of Whistler Mountain, the first stage of the experience on the Peak 2 Peak gondola. Just like it sounds, a cable car joining two mountain tops!
I'm not entirely sure, but I think we were one of the few people wearing jeans and standing there in the cold, I can totally understand why! Neither Bruce, nor I, had ever been in a gondola before, and although it was a tiny bit scary, the gorgeous scenery made up for any anxiety we felt.
Heading up 7,000 feet in the air, in an enclosed capsule was so exciting for this mountain newbie. The views! The cold! The sun! Holy Cow, the sun was blinding. I had a thought a few days later about how when I was in x-ray school, and many years beyond that time, health care professionals only wore white. Seeing the pure, clean white snow in the bright sunshine made me think that wearing white was meant to suggest cleanliness? I know people love the crazy scrubs worn today by health care workers, however, I still hanker for the days of white. So, back to the mountaintop...
Being an Olympic fan, I love being in places where the Olympics have taken place.
Should you be wondering, the only parts of me that were crazy cold were my hands and feet. Other than numb feet, I was good.
Although the snow looks blue in the shadows, it is only the reflection from the bright blue skies, somewhat like it does over open water.
It was crazy busy inside the lodge where we went for sustenance before heading into the Peak 2 Peak building. More views from the back of the lodge.
Because we visited early in the season, the snow accumulation is not close to what it will be. The temperature, for those wondering was, 17F.
Do you see what I see? We saw skinny Christmas trees everywhere!! As I type, our cute skinny Christmas tree is lighting up the cold and rainy day. I'm having an entirely new appreciation for that tree now that I know it is way more authentic than I thought. Getting up our nerve, we headed into the building, where a gondola was waiting for us. There is room for twenty inside that bubble.
And then, you are off into the wild blue yonder.
Held up by only four towers, you cross a span between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Peak in 11 minutes. Again, the views!
You have to remind yourself that others have done this for years so it must be safe.
We are still over land here but after a dip it begins to go back up.
My head was bobbing every which way, taking in all of the beauty both off to the side, and down very far below.
Breathing a sigh of relief, we disembarked, looked around, and thought, DAMN it is cold up here!!
Because we were another 1,000 feet in the air, we did not stay long as our feet were freezing! As was my camera, but it still worked like a charm.
After enjoying the views, as much as one can with frozen feet, we took a deep breath, and got back on the gondola for the ride back over to Whistler Mountain. Having done it once, I will say, it was a tiny bit less daunting.

Walking into the center of the village, look who came to town, albeit a few days early? To tell you the truth, Whistler Village looks just like it should be in a Christmas movie, of which we have seen many.
Earls was a welcome sight where we warmed up by the fire with a hot chocolate.
Because time was of the essence before the bus picked us up, we only visited the gift shop at a super cool new art museum, housed in a very innovative building.
Walking back through the village Matt and Tom agreed to a photo.
Ice skating and tubing were happening in the Olympic Plaza.
Boarding the bus for the ride home, we arrived practically before we knew it.

What a day...what a place. Talk about a winter wonderland!

yours truly,

Gail



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Day One and Day Two

It felt like forever before Matt and Tom came out of the incoming passenger corridor at the airport, but finally, after a lengthy wait at immigration, their exhausted faces came into view, and what a welcome sight it was. London is eight hours behind Vancouver, so their arrival time was, well you can do the math. 8:30PST. Oh the sweet energy of youth!

Our first order of business the following morning was a trip to Urban Fare, the closest grocery store. Thinking it would be nice to walk along the seawall to get there,
I was surprised to find patches of ice along the way. Tom put on his coaching hat, guiding me to avoid my slipping and breaking something. Not to mention spoiling their visit! Bruce had a meeting at the office in the morning, so once our shopping was complete, we walked over to meet him there. It was nice for them to meet some of the women Bruce works with as well as seeing where Bruce spends most of his days. We must have eaten somewhere, however, that memory already escapes me! Good grief it is a good thing I have a blog to remind me of my days!

Although they showed no signs of jet lag, I thought a low key day was best, and we had just the activity planned to accomplish that mission. Bruce, along with his whole department, went last week for a Christmas event, to an attraction I'd often seen but never visited,  Fly Over Canada. He came back full of enthusiasm, saying it was super cool and he wanted to go again once the lads arrived. And so we did, but first we took a big step, going to the office where I now have a BC resident card which will be helpful in setting up a bank account, as well as possibly getting a library card. Bruce's mission was to obtain a valid driver's license, however, he was unsuccessful but now knows what documentation he needs to make it happen. From there we walked to the Christmas market for a look see.
Did I mention it was cold? Well, I should have! Hard to believe how good they look after their long flight!
Canada Place is just down the street from the market and when we arrived the light was just magical.
On the left is the West part of the Convention Center and the trees in the distance are Stanley Park. The year is nearly up for the big Canada 150, their nationwide anniversary celebration. I'm wondering how many people have been photographed in front of this lighted sign because every time I've ever been here, someone is having an Instagram moment.
It makes me wonder if they will just leave it there. I suppose time will tell. Fly Over Canada is way at the end of the promenade which is lined with decorated trees and lights.
You won't be surprised to learn that at this time of year, the attraction makes the most of Christmas, theming it like you are riding with Santa in his sleigh over the length and breadth of Canada, a country full of scenic vistas. Here's a little video of what it is like although I did not watch it beforehand and had no idea what to expect. In an overused word, our reaction was, AWESOME! When Bruce is enthusiastic about something it generally proves to be worth every penny and it most certainly was that. My only disappointment was that the end of Canada Place, where there are some large light displays, was closed due to ice.  I sure won't be writing about that next year at this time will I?
From there we walked home along Burrard Street, stopping for an early dinner at Joey at One Bentall Center where the food was great, as was the view through the window at one of my favorite water features in the city, especially at night when it is lit with ever changing colors.
Letting the open crosswalks be our guide as to a route home, we found ourselves walking by the very busy skating rink with real snow remaining on parts of the roof.
Day one in the books.

I went out before sunrise Thursday morning to take a few photos of the lit boats from ground level,
and what was left from the snow in the park. Plus, I always want to remember the lit Christmas tree that has brightened these dark nights.
Thursday we went to the mall, after collecting Bruce at the office. We rode the Skytrain out to Metrotown in Burnaby where we shopped at Uniqlo for additional warm undergarments for me and Tom bought a sweater. The food court was a mad house, filled with Christmas shoppers. Although we forgot to watch it, a newsman interviewed Bruce for television!! Of course they may not have used "his" segment, but maybe they did? Tom had fun at a store that sells what look like giant filled bags, but in reality turn into comfortable places to lounge.
Christmas movies!! When we are not out and about they are running full time here. At this point we have watched so many that we know all the phrases the characters will speak and, of course, there is the "kiss", solving all problems!

Emily, from the office, wrote up a list of vegan restaurants for Matt to try, so while we went to the Earls Christmas party at the nearby location, they went for vegan Mexican on Davie Street. We walked to the party and had a marvelous time. Every single one of these folks have been so nice to me! I was asked to take the design and construction group photo, and did what I could with my limited skills in that realm.
For the record, I wore neither heels nor a black dress, instead opting to go for comfort by wearing those goldish shoes I bought during our first week here. Bundling up for the walk home we arrived around midnight, far too late for this old gal especially because we had a grand adventure slated for day three.

I'll get to that in another post, but let's just say that it was just as grand as we were hoping for.

Here's hoping everyone had a lovely Christmas!

yours truly,

Gail

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow

Had you grown up in the Price household you would immediately get the title reference. As only a few of my readers did, let me explain. You've heard, probably ad nauseam, about my love for two Christmas records we grew up listening to every year--Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. I won't belabor the point yet again, however, one of the songs goes something like this:   


Snow, snow, snow, snow
Snow, let it snow, let it beautiful wonderful snow

We sang along as if we knew anything about snow. Well, my friends, now I know a little bit about snow firsthand, much to my delight.

Looking at the weather app on my phone Tuesday morning, I saw the snow symbol for around 9 that night. Woo hoo! I figured we would be walking home from the train station about that time after collecting Matt and Tom at the airport. Wondering what that would be like, I began getting ready for some last minute errands. Following my shower and layering of clothing, I walked into the living room and much to my surprise, it was snowing at 9 in the morning rather than 9 at night.
Instead of the puny flakes I'd seen about a month ago, this time the flakes were big and coming down fast. 
As you can imagine, I was texting Matt right away that it was snowing, going so far as to shoot a little phone video. Bruce, of course, could look out of his office window so already knew that by golly, it was snowing pretty darn hard. The park began to get a coating...
I'm pretty confidant I was the only one on their balcony reveling in the fact that it was snowing! After about an hour of it coming down quickly, I finally thought that perhaps I should actually go out in it and so I did. Coming out of the building, I felt sympathy for the construction workers across the street who did not share the luxury of running back into a heated building when it just got too darn cold.
As you can imagine, I was loving it, taking photos of everything I saw, grateful that my camera claims to be weatherproof.
Looking good, right? 
In spite of my excitement, even I began to get cold so I hightailed it back upstairs spending the next 45 minutes finally catching up with Angela who is on the same side of the country visiting Matt's parents. For those of you who remember her story, you will be heartened to know she is doing pretty well, although Christmas is hard because Matt was such a Christmas enthusiast. She now has an adorable dog named Lily who is bringing her much comfort. All the while the snow continued to fall and the park looked like this.
By the way, these are not black and white photos, they only look that way due to the lighting. At any rate, from above, I was enchanted by the accumulation of snow on the bare tree branches so once again I bundled up to get a closer look. 
The street sign!!
One of the things I've been so thrilled with during this adventure is how the same scene can look so different depending on the month of the year.
You've seen the view below many times now, but never like this:
Not a whole lot of people out, however, there were a few enjoying the unexpected snow.
Showing the photo to Beth at the office, she claimed it was "Very Vancouver" with the bike tracks in the snow. It took a local to notice that feature.

Can you guess what happened after the two hours of snow? I wouldn't have been able to before, however, now that I've seen it happen it won't catch me by surprise the next time. It began raining. Very Vancouver. And before long the park looked like this.
Not the best time to do errands, but you do what you have to do, right?

We've had some great adventures while Matt and Tom have been here, which when time permits, I will share, but in the meantime, I'm sending out wishes for both a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year full of what brings you joy. 
Snow, snow!!!

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. although our park is green again, there are many parts of the city where the snow has remained, covering roof tops and lawns because it is darn cold. 27 degrees as I type this morning. 




Limping Along