Category Archives: Whistler

Posts written in Whistler

Time flew

I cannot believe that it has been a whole year since I was making my final preparations to go to Canada. This week in 2004 was my last in the country, as I flew out on the 24th October. Man, how I wish I was in that situation right now. Still, I’ve got lots of lovely work to look forward to before I can go anywhere else.. \*cry\*

I’m supposed to be at the job centre right now sorting out my jobseeker’s allowance (benefits, lol) for the past month, except they want umpteen forms and I can’t find my fecking P45, or my fecking last two payslips. Beh. They’ve been ‘filed’ somewhere by Mother and she can’t remember where.. [pulls hair] :)

Whistler Revisited

Went back up to Whistler on Sunday for a day. Actually we were supposed to be going on Saturday but after going to bed at 4.15am making the 8am bus wasn’t looking hopeful and unsurprisingly I/we slept through the alarms. We dragged ourselves down to the downtown bus stop for the Greyhound anyway at 9.30am but there were literally no seats so we thought sod it we’ll go tomorrow instead. As a consequence, my sleep pattern is in ruins because of the late nights and early mornings and I still feel like I’m recovering from the beer poisoning incident, but hopefully that’ll have sorted itself out before I leave on Friday…

So yes, on Sunday we got up at 6.30am and headed down to the bus depot to be sure of a seat. 2 hours later we were back in tourist paradise where it was rather windier than I would have liked – good job I took a jumper. Bumped into my friend Jess almost straight away and spent a while catching up before heading over to the gondola station to go check out the summer views for comparison. It was actually pretty weird being there with absolutely no snow – the vibe was definitely different and to be honest within a short time I was ready to leave again! I’m very happy with my decision to move on for the summer, but then for me it was never really a consideration to stick around after the season finished…

We were told that our staff passes were still good to go summer sightseeing so we got to ride up for free, bonus. Well, I say that but actually my pass had been hotlisted – probably the final insult from the dickheads in charge – but there was a reasonable person working at the Springs Building (admin centre) who sorted that out for me :) so THEN we got to ride up for free.
A huge bike park has been constructed in Whistler for the summer mountain biking (which I have to say did look pretty awesome) and there were plenty of serious looking people about with full face helmets and bling bling full suspension bikes. If we’d been staying around longer I would have looked into hiring one and reliving my youth :)

At the top it was a touch chilly – the board said it was only 7 degrees but I don’t believe them. The good old roundhouse was still open but I refused to go into the restaurant because I know there’s at least one person there who I don’t want to see! So instead we rode the peak chair right to the top of the mountain. The views from up there were pretty spectacular – there’s still quite a few glaciers around with snow on so I got some good pics and they’ve just put up a big abstract stone statue of a man which apparently is there for the olympics.

After going back down I met with Beth & Lave to see what they’d been up to and we got attacked by wasps as we dined on the patio, then we headed over to Lost Lake to see what it was like as I never made it over when I was around before. Unfortunately they operate a shuttle bus there in the summer so there were a lot more people around than there would have been previously, but oh well at least I’ve seen it now! After that we went walking round the shops for a while before it was time to take the bus home.
There’s something I definitely didn’t like about the whole place, especially in the shops, I think because the whole town is just so false. I mean I know the people who run the place want everyone to be super friendly but I for one can do without having enthusiasm shoved down my throat :) plus you know that all the cool kids probably resent the fact that there’s so many tourists around. Plus the fact that everyone there is pretty much a lazy bum :p anyway, that lifestyle, as you may have gathered, is not for me. I don’t know how the hell the guys that are still there have managed to stick around for so long without going nuts…

When we got home it was about 9.15pm, actually we went to the bus depot on the way home as they’d overcharged Yuki for her ticket by $3, and spoke to this moron on the desk who was very unhelpful and said basically they can’t help unless you still have the travel ticket, which you have to give to the driver to travel, great. I called him useless and we left – really we should write a letter of complaint just on principle. Anyway when we got home I started trying to sort out transport for Seattle the next day. We were going to take the greyhound at 6.15am, but getting up at 4.45am didn’t sound like the best prospect! So instead we’ve decided to hire a car from a company called “rent-a-wreck” :) Avis have a clause whereby you have to be over 25 to rent… How ridiculous. So, 8am at rent-a-wreck it is. Seattle here we come!

Whistler retrospective

Whistler is a strange place. You wouldn’t see it if you were just passing through, but having been there for the season I think there’s no way that you couldn’t notice. It’s just so commercialised and artificial! It really does feel like Disneyland, even though I’ve never been there to draw comparisons :) plus you get such a small section of the overall population there – no poor people, few women (and the ones that stay there get greatly above their station due to the favourable ratio), everyone smokes weed, has long messy hair, speaks like “dude man bro”, wears toques (or beanies to you and me), even in nightclubs and restaurants, SO many Australians, basically it’s a bubble just like at university, except smaller and MUCH less diverse. Property prices are ridiculous, everything is so expensive (although not the degree of the bar prices in French resorts, thankfully) but everyone wants to go so nothing changes. I’m particularly happy to leave behind the junkie culture, although it doesn’t really affect anyone, you just notice it (especially on the buses) and ignore it. Compared to the French resorts (and probably anywhere with an ounce of tradition) it just has no charm whatsoever. Having said that it’s a cool place to live!!! Everything is so relaxed – the biggest decisions you have to make are “should I go boarding on my day off or chill out at home”, and “which bar should I go to tonight”, the scenery is absolutely beautiful, everyone is really friendly, you bump into friends every time you go out, there’s loads of outdoor activities. A lot of people I met who lived in the place permanently were deeply opposed to city life, which I guess is understandable considering the size of this country… (I feel we’re going to return to England with such a different perspective)
If I had the opportunity to do the thing over again then there are certainly things I would have done differently, but then it’s easy to know what the best way to do things is once you’ve done it! Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The biggest changes I would have made are house and job (i.e. everything). Our house was cool but I’m sure if I’d gone with instinct at the start then we could have found somewhere much better, particularly if me & Si had stuck with our plan of finding somewhere for the two of us. As far as the job was concerned the ‘free’ pass you get for working for intrawest is in no way free. Basically you can’t quit your job because if you do then you have to shell out another $1000 for a pass, I heard of one guy at the roundhole being told that if he didn’t work the extra shift that they wanted him to do then they would revoke his lift pass, nice. Plus we worked out that working evening part time hours Si earned double what I did, and he was struggling for hours a lot of the time. Even when you take into account that he had to buy his pass he still earned over $2000 more than me. Plus he got to go boarding every day! Like I said before though the social side of my work was pretty good, and I think we got a bum deal because most other people who worked for Intrawest didn’t seem to have so many bad words to say, we just got unlucky working at the roundhouse because of the idiot management there. Having said that I don’t think that anyone was particularly happy with how Intrawest treated its employees. I mean it’s a customer-centric organisation but they don’t value their employees at all, if you’re not management. If you *are* management then none of the rules that apply to the seasonal staff seem to apply to you, you get to do nothing all day and you get paid a very nice salary to order around the guys getting minimum wage in probably the most expensive place to live in Canada. Still, I was happy to learn that our supervisor Stefan was demoted to lead hand for the summer from his supervisor position, maybe due in part to all the negative feedback I gave him on the employee opinion survey, heh. Well at least I’d like to think so. I’m actually quite sad that in so many of my postings I’ve complained about work, I think if I’d worked somewhere else then maybe the experience would have been altogether different! It was cool to work on top of a mountain though :) also the snow situation didn’t help with the overall experience – I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that the one year we come to do this they have their worse season on record. We should have had fresh powder to ride every time we went up, but instead we got rain, sun, lots of ice and very little opportunity to improve for a long time. There were runs below the mid-station that didn’t open all season, how crazy is that? I’ll tell you – it’s unheard of. When the snow finally did come it was SO much better, you could actually see why people rate Whistler Blackcomb as the best resort in the world (to my family – you will have to go back and see what it really should be like!). Instead for a long time we would grimace at the poster on the wall inside the gondola mid-station with the #1 resort in the world slogan emblazoned in huge white letters. “Not this year.” I would think.
I leave the place though with many fond memories of powder days and time with friends, most of whom I hope will remain so for the years to come. Already I miss the snowboarding, it’s just so cool to roll out of bed, get your stuff and be at the top of a mountain less than an hour later! England sucks, they should build mountains there. And already I miss being there. You can’t prevent the advance of the seasons though… it was cool to see what a resort looks like through the entire cycle from being deserted at the start of the season to incredibly busy and back again, and to see the snow arrive and depart. Whenever I’ve been to a ski resort before you just kind of assume it’s like that all the time!

Anyway I’m babbling again, maybe I’ll finish this later (yes, finish – write even more), maybe I won’t, but I’ll depart with these poignant words.
Overall the experience proved to me that I still have a lot to learn, which is refreshing. Plus I think that now I’m actually domesticated, shock horror (well, kind of).

Last day in Whistler :(

On my final day in Whistler we went boarding once again in glorious sunshine. I took my sapient baby out to ride again (which I wish I’d had chance to do more throughout the season cuz the board’s so much fun) and me & Si donned our hockey shirts for the final outing together. We met Pete outside the Roundhouse and headed up for a couple of warmup runs down the saddle before heading to the park. The second time down we had a race where Si bit off more than he could chew and ate shit whilst trying to overtake me :) tssk.
After that we decided to do an off piste run for some reason, because we knew it was going to be so slow and heavy, but actually it turned out to be quite fun because it was like the wettest heaviest powder you’ve ever ridden in, so it was like trying to tailpress your board and simultaneously make turns. Anyway a way down we found what looked to be a nice dropoff, but Pete’s scouting and subsequent directions were way too vague for our liking so I dropped off a small part to one side and directed Si down. The drop he came off must only have been about 6ft, but he did it absolutely perfectly before letting his nose dip ever so slightly whilst riding out and slammed hard on his face, bending the wrong way and cartwheeling in the process, which was quite amusing (but looked pretty nasty).
After a free lunch courtesy of the roundhouse contacts we hit the park all afternoon, where I attempted (and nailed) my first 360. Only 3 months overdue, looks like the 720 I was aiming for at the start of the season will have to wait :)
The park was pretty sketchy, the jumps had gotten really warm and the takeoff was all carved up on the jumps at the top. Plus the snow was so wet that you had to straightline it at all the kickers to get enough speed to clear the knuckle (which I failed to do every time after on the first jump I nearly did a backwards somersault unintentionally because there was a big kink in the takeoff). Still it was pretty fun because it didn’t hurt to fall in the slush. Some of the snow was pretty patchy in places though, there’s a cut -through in the trees where you can access another couple of hits before you get to the lift, but there was quite a lot of mud and branches to jump over on the way! On one run I was acting like a yuppy too – boarding whilst on the phone – and hit the top of a buried pole so went ass over tit right underneath the lift.
After boarding we had to head back to base to finish up packing and try and give the place a final tidy. The plan was that after we’d finished cleaning we’d go for a house dinner and then head out for a few farewell drinks for me as I was the only one from the house actually leaving Whistler the next day. That plan didn’t turn out that great though because the guys all decided to go and play football for 2 hours… which meant we didn’t get into the village until 10ish, so we had to sub dinner for a group subway (no pun intended). Actually when we finally got to longhorn the rest of the house (and Daz & Graham plus whoever else I’ve forgotten) went home early because they said they had to get up early the next day, lame. So that left Tim, Sara and I to see the night off. Tim, you’re hardcore mate, respect. We start and finish in the same way :)
I think by the time I got to bed it was 3am and I got up at 7, but the morning was just a complete disaster! Turned out that although we’d cleared everything out of the house the night before or whatever, by the time we’d emptied the bedrooms sooooo much more crap had turned up. Leaving lots of rubbish bags and no time to clear them due to being kicked out at 10am by our bastard landlord. In fact Dave saw him outside around 9.30 sweeping the drive and he asked, “So, is that nice, big taxi on its way yet?” I tried to avoid him altogether when I left to get the 10.30 greyhound to Vancouver but only managed a silent handshake. The guys just had to leave the house too, so we ended up leaving a load of crap still inside. Great.
I had so much stuff with me that I had to get the taxi driver to help me load and unload the car, and he had to literally drive into the bus stops and park up right next to the coach!! My backpack was so heavy that if I didn’t concentrate it would pull me over backwards, no joke. The three boards, three jackets, two sets of bindings, boots plus other clothes and tools in my board bag were pretty heavy too, but at least that has wheels! Luckily Yuki came to meet me at the bus station though cuz there was no way I could manage that lot on my own (I also had a box with speakers in and a bag of food and alcohol).
The bus ride down was a time for contemplation, like I said I was quite sad to leave Whistler but at the same time excited about going somewhere else, particularly returning to a normal society (well, that’s debatable here but that’s another story) where there’s lots going on. On the way I was listening to lots of tunes that had been on the stereo consistently throughout the season, which made me miss it already! I think one track which marked my mood is ‘Aqueous transmission’ by Incubus, listen to it as you read this if you may :)
After arriving in Vancouver I wanted to take a taxi to the woman’s house whose basement we were staying in but in the end we took public transport because it’s considerably cheaper! We called a cab once we were pretty close to the house to avoid taking another bus but after it didn’t turn up for 45 minutes we thought enough is enough, though true to form once we had gotten on the bus the taxi rolled up, but too late. So, next stop was the basement suite of a very nice Filipino lady named Cynthia, where we began the search for a house…

Last day at work :D (and some other stuff)

My last day at work was a liberating experience. Actually there were a LOT of people all finishing on that day – from the bussing staff myself, Kieran and Nathan; from the food servers Aly and Laura, plus a cashier called Tim and maybe another couple of people who escape me right now..
Anyway it was pretty much the same old same old, I took some pictures for posterity because I don’t think I’ll ever get to work in a place where the view out of the window is that good again! Also I kept my uniform and name badges as souvenirs…
Looking back on it I can’t say it’s been that bad because I’ve made lots of friends through work and it’s had a pretty active social scene, plus Nathan made the good point that it can’t have been that bad because the time has passed so fast.
That evening we went for a barbeque at Jonny et al’s house in Tamarisk. Tamarisk is maybe 15-20 minutes away from the village proper in the opposite direction to where we lived. These guys’ house was awesome – they were right on the edge of a big lake and had barbeques and picnic tables plus piers and kayaks provided exclusively for the entertainment of residents of that development of houses. And they paid considerably less than us, and had their own rooms… There was actually quite a funny and scary part of the evening where myself, Dave and Si left Matt and Lewis and went to pick up some beers from the liquor store in Creekside while they went straight to the house with the firelighters etc. As we were leaving the liquor store we met Tim & Jonny, both of whom were residents of the house we were going to, who had taken one of the kayaks and rowed across the lake to Creekside. Instead of taking the bus they urged us to come back in the boat with them, even though we queried if it would be ok with 5 people rather than 2.. Anyway they insisted it would be no problem, so we thought what the hell it’ll be a novel way of turning up to a party.
On arriving at the beach it turned out that their unsecured kayak had been ‘borrowed’ by one of a very drunk bunch of guys, who had gone out into the lake without a paddle (which they had removed in the hope that it would dissuade any possible getaway attempts). His friends all thought this was hilariously funny, but I thought it could have possibly turned ugly because Jonny was not a happy chappie. After berating the guy for a while he eventually managed to paddle the boat back to the shore, and all was well. When we actually saw the boat our fears grew in substance, but still we decided to carry on with the plan. We all piled into the boat, with $100 worth of alcohol, and pushed off. We’d maybe gotten 3-5 metres away from the shore when the boat started rocking violently and we started taking on water, prompting much shouting from the passengers. A woman on the pier adjacent to us suggested that maybe it would be a good idea if we all got lower down in the boat instead of sitting up on the bracing struts, so me, Si and Dave all got as low as we could without sitting in the water which was now occupying the bottom of the kayak. I was pretty worried at this point as we were facing a 15-20 minute row, and in my pockets were my phone and camera, plus if we turned over we thought all the beer would sink. What made it worse was the fact that there was such a big audience around the lake who I could sense were just willing us to fuck up :) what followed was an agonising wait (mentally and physically, because the cramped position we’d adopted began to get VERY uncomfortable after about 10 minutes, but we daren’t move for fear of losing balance) while our oarmen navigated us across. In fact we had to go with one oarman because both of them rowing at the same time made us too unstable, and the brim of the boat was at most 5 inches above the water level! Every time anyone moved everyone would shout “STOP MOVING!” lol. We all wanted to make two trips, stopping at one of the moors along the way, but the guys in the know thought that if we made an intermediate stop then maybe we would turn the boat over trying to get out, so we had to put up with the pain until we made it home. Miraculously we made it the rest of the way without taking on any more water, but my legs didn’t regain feeling for maybe 20 minutes after stopping, and my back was killing me!
The barbeque was awesome – we played some Frisbee and sat around on the beach until the sun went down. There were SO many mosquitoes though, I’ve never seen so many. Dave got bitten 17 times (we counted them), ha ha. I only got bitten two or three times, I killed one as it bit me, bastard thing.
Later, we went en masse to the Longhorn for celebrations, where I spent a while playing pool with Pete until contentiously losing by fouling on the black to a couple of Canadian guys (very unsportsmanlike). The whole centre section of the pub was occupied by roundhole staff I think, there were so many people from work there. At any rate, it was a pretty standard night out, Maybe getting wrecked the night before dampened the enthusiasm for drinking again, plus we could barely move having eaten so much for dinner!!
Sadly the mixture of all the beer from that night on top of the beer from the previous night left me feeling less than on top form the next day, and by the time I’d sorted myself out it was 2pm and I didn’t really feel like it was worth going up the hill then! So instead I spent the afternoon searching for houses and making appointments for Yuki down in Vancouver :) but I was pretty disappointed that on my penultimate day I didn’t make it out of the house… skillz.