Vancouver to Whistler (and back) – 168 miles

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Last full day today and, with a good weather forecast, what better place to visit than the mountains which have been hiding themselves since we arrived. Surprisingly, at least to us, was to find constant notices as we climbed the mountains demanding that snow tyres should be used and snow chains carried from 1st October to 31st March.  Crikey, that’s next week!  We had been asked by the car rental people whether we intended driving in the Rockies, so clearly there might have been a concern to ensure we had the right kit.

 

Our first stop was Shannon Falls, the third highest waterfall in British Columbia.  What?  OK, it’s high and impressive and it made a nice stop, but I have no idea where to find the two higher ones. There were various hiking trails which took you through dense forestry, no thanks, as well as a trail to the gondolas which took you to the top of the mountain. I think there was snow up there but the morning cloud was still clinging steadfastly to the mountain and who knew when/if it might lift.  Even for seniors it was a $40 ride and with the risk of being unable to see anything, it was ‘no thanks’ again and we simply carried on up the fabulous Sea to Sky Highway.

 

We passed by Squamish, another small mountainside town, which helps to service the better known Whistler. You could see that the 2010 Winter Olympics had demanded service requirements to those going up the mountain, so many of the usual culprits were there, including McDonald’s, Subway, etc.  By this time the sun was breaking through, the views ahead were becoming increasingly spectacular and the prospect of coffee at Whistler provided the impetus to continue.

 

We knew we were nearing when the electricity pylons became almost as dense as the trees.  Somewhere a huge amount of electricity was being used.  Smart lodges and hotels, clearly ski related, were much in evidence and then we saw the ski lifts and the hillsides which will soon be pistes, deep with snow and full of brightly clad skiers.  We turned into Whistler, discovered the Tourist Information Centre, found loads of huge hotels, chalets, drop offs for the gondolas, but no coffee.  Come on, this is silly, there must be a village. Of course there was, and eventually we found everything we needed, all overlooked by the still proudly displayed Olympic Rings.  In fact we found a large slice of pizza each at a cafe quaintly named ‘Gnarlyroots’ and enjoyed the sun in the village square sitting in huge adirondacks.  The Fall is much in evidence in Whistler but the maples are already shedding their bright red leaves ready to reclothe their branches in thick snow. Were I ever tempted to slide down a mountain on cold white stuff, I would certainly come here.  Luxury and convenience are everywhere, but I confess that sliding onto a sunbed on a hot white beach is more to my liking, so perhaps not, Whistler. You did your best and I loved the visit, but……

 

The scenery was, of course, spectacular.  The high mountains already have snowy tops and the sea views during our descent were equally breathtaking.  Such a wonderful day for our last full day of the 2018 Road Trip. What entertainment can we come up with for the evening?  Cinema, music, a nice meal?  Something to sustain us for the packing!!

 

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

A final full day of our Road Trip and we were… on the Road, again. (Apologies to Willy Nelson and Canned Heat as we sang both versions – albeit briefly!)

 

The Sea to Sky Highway (aka BC-99) took us through some of the most beautiful countryside with mountains (some snow capped) on one side and the Strait of Georgia on the other. The road wasn’t devoid of bends or hills so it was also interesting to drive. Signage was in English and Squamish which added another dimension. Researching led me to find out that, in 2014, there were only 7 native speakers but now there are University courses in it as they try to preserve that part of their First Nation heritage.

 

I found Shannon Falls quite impressive but resorted to one of my appalling attempts at humour by mentally singing “Oh, Shenandoah” when I saw a Shannon door! #trulysorry

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Onto Whistler. It wasn’t our first choice of destination for today but coming on as a substitute, it scored!

Again, looking at some research, Until the 1960s, this quiet area was without basic infrastructure; there were no sewage facilities, water, or electricity, and no road from Squamish or Vancouver. In 1962, four Vancouver businessmen began to explore the area with the intent of building a ski resort and bidding for the 1968 Winter Olympics. Garibaldi Lift Company was formed, shares were sold, and in 1966, Whistler Mountain opened to the public.

Later, the town, then still known as Alta Lake, was offered the 1976 Winter Olympics after the selected host city Denver declined the games due to funding issues. Alta Lake (Whistler) declined as well, after elections ushered in a local government less enthusiastic about the Olympics. The 1976 Winter Olympics were ultimately held in Innsbruck, Austria.

However, Whistler was the Host Mountain Resort of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, the first time the IOC has bestowed that designation on a community. Whistler hosted the alpine technical and speed events.

 

There is money about in the ‘resort’. Impressive, indeed. However, the Olympic Ring ‘statue’ is inaccurate, in my view, as the rings should show linking to form a chain of friendship between the continents. The colours are indicated on the ‘statue’ but not the chain, I suggest. Anyway,… the place was still impressive – as was the pizza slice!

On the way back to Vancouver, I had the enviable task of finding appropriate picturesque opportunities for our resident roving photo-journalist (aka Kath!). Looking for viewing points (which often didn’t have much of a view) and driving down ‘No thru roads’ (sic) to find the best shot of a mountain or water focussed my mind and enabled me to have a ‘task’. I like tasks! Genuinely, give me a task to do for someone and I’m like a dog with two tails! Chuckle! 

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I, also, like rocks. Having read Rudkin’s ‘Ethics of the Dust’ many years ago, the longevity, history, sight and feel of rock impresses and intrigues me. So, when I overheard that a rock close by was the biggest monolith on Earth, my ears pricked up.

If the rock (approx. 100 million years old) had been around for the equivalent of one day, I would have been around for 0.06 seconds of it! Wow!

Stawamus Chief (Mountain) is not the highest nor has the greatest volume despite standing some 2297 feet (700 metres) above the Howe Sound. Looking at World Rankings, The Chief came in 12th which is still impressive but has often been claimed to be the second largest GRANITE monolith in the World and I can’t dispute that claim. Hail to The Chief – Stawamus (not Trump). 

We’ve had Ribs and Baked Potato (not ‘Jacket’!) for dinner. Very North American and very tasty, too. 

Tomorrow is another day and our 2018 adventure is almost over. 

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