I’ve heard so much about Whistler and seen many pictures on Facebook. I heard it’s so big that it takes days to go on all the runs and that the runs are like 30 minutes long. Every winter, it seems, I hear about friends that are going to Whistler. The only places I’ve been snowboarding are Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve snowboarded on this dinky little hill thing in Illinois. But that doesn’t count, no offense to Illinois folks. Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass were the only real ski resorts I’ve been to.
Last month, my friends Tony and Jennie told me that they’re going to Whistler with a group of friends and invited me to join them. “Come ski with us at Whistler!” they said. And I said, “Ok!” (that’s a made up conversation, but I wanted to include some dialogue.)
The plan is for me to drive up to Whistler on Thursday, snowboard with them on Friday, and drive back home on Saturday. I’m excited to go to Whistler. But more importantly, I’m excited to go to Whistler in my Xterra. Woot! The furthest I’ve been into British Columbia is to Vancouver, and now I’ll get to explore further into BC land.
After doing some research on Whistler, I’m starting to understand why so many people vacation there. It is, in fact, HUGE. There are two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, and it’s the biggest ski resort in North America. Looking at Google Maps, you can see that the runs are like snowy highways cut through the trees that go on and on and on. There’s also a gondola that connects the two mountains called Peak 2 Peak Gondola. That’s going to be a must. And the road! The Sea-to-Sky Highway starts at Vancouver and winds its way along the water, past some islands, and then climbs up into the mountains. It’s gonna be so great!
Another thing about Whistler, it’s expensive. The cheapest lodging I can find on their website is around $300 CAD per night. That’s crazy. And this is why I’ll be sleeping in my Xterra. With the back seat folded down and front seat pushed forward, there’s room for me to lay down and sleep comfortably. I’ve never done it before and I am eager to try.
Thursday morning, I pick up my freshly waxed snowboard from REI and Phillip and I start packing the car for the journey ahead. Snowboards, boots, passport, backpacks, sleeping bags, passport, clean clothes… I’ve got to make sure I don’t forget my passport. After checking and double checking, off we go to Canadia!
After being questioned by some US border patrol officers, we drive over to get questioned by the Canadian border agent. “Do you have a gunnn?” “No.” “Welcome to Canada.” With that, we enter the land of kilometers and flashing green traffic lights. The land where black octagons are strictly forbidden.
A huge perk of traveling with Phillip is the he knows where good food is to be found. And we found it at Sushi Garden. Thanks to the favorable exchange rate, we got ourselves a generous portions of very delicious sushi. Yum.
With our stomachs pleasantly full, we make our way up along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Sadly, it’s dark and we can’t see the amazing view of the sound and islands that we’re driving past. On the bright side, we’ll get to see the view on the way back. Dark corner after corner, dimly lit by the Xterra’s headlights, we follow the Sea-to-Sky Highway until we arrive at Whistler Village.
We find the cabin that Tony and Jennie are staying at and stop in to pay a visit. Introductions are made and we relax on the couch while watching Just For Laughs on TV. Canadian TV is so different from TV in the US. Not the TV’s themselves, but the commercials and shows. I didn’t think things would be so different, but I guess I am in a foreign country.
After a few laughs from watching children prank strangers on Just For Laughs, we’re joined by Tony’s double black diamond riding friends. Introductions are made, beers are poured, and the whole cabin is filled with conversations. That’s when I saw something I have never seen before. “It’s a shot-ski.” It’s a ski, with four tiny boot bindings, each holding a shot glass shaped like ski boots. The way it works is, once all four boots have been filled and four participants are standing shoulder to shoulder, they tip the entire ski with the four ski boot shot glasses and simultaneously take a shot. Pretty cool. But me being a noob blogger, I don’t have my camera with me to document this fascinating ritual. So. No pictures. Sorry.
Phillip and I break away from the lively group and begin preparing the Xterra for the night. I’ll be sleeping in the back, behind the driver seat with the rear seat folded down, and Phillip will be sleeping in the front passenger seat with the seat laid all the way back.
This is my bed for the night. I’ve got my camping mat under my sleeping bag with a comforter on top. With that, and my layers, I should be warm enough for the night. Probably. (spoiler alert: we didn’t freeze to death.)
My first experience winter camping in a car was a huge success! And sleeping in the Xterra worked like I had envisioned. It’s not as comfortable as my bed at home, but I woke up feeling refreshed and adventurous. I’m ready to hit the slopes! But little did I know that I will be in for a lot of hurting. Dun dun duuun!
To be continued…