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



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