Canada

British Columbia, 2010 Olympics, And a Cold from Hell

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Hi all! Long time no talk. Life has been super busy and we have again been traveling.

This last week, Brady and I flew out to Whistler, Canada for a board of directors meeting. Wow. I’ve never seen a more picture-perfect town in my life. If you think Colorado is beautiful, then you haven’t seen anything. We got to Vancouver around 12:30 in the afternoon last Tuesday (3rd), got our bags and rental car and made our way up the Sea-To-Sky Highway to Whistler. This was my first time ever being on the Pacific Coast and it was nothing short of spectacular. The drive was everything I thought it would be and more: wildlife, ocean, mountains, glaciers, heaven.

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That’d be the Pacific Ocean!

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Along the way, we stopped at 2 waterfalls and hiked up to them. Kudos to Pinterest because that’s how I found out about them! ūüôā¬†The first was Shannon Falls outside of Squamish. It was beautiful. It is the 3rd tallest waterfall in British Columbia at 335 meters.

At Shannon Falls. Picture taken by me.
At Shannon Falls.

The next waterfall we went to was south of Whistler a little ways РBrandywine Falls. This was a little bit further of a hike, but not a difficult hike. It maybe took 15 minutes one way. We crossed a cute little covered bridge and a railroad track to get there. I think I got sick when I looked down off the viewing platform.

Brandywine Falls. Picture taken by me.
Brandywine Falls.
Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls

We finally got up to Whistler around 4 that afternoon and got checked into our hotel – Fairmont Chateau Whistler. BEAUTIFUL. It is situated in what they called the Upper Village. It is about a 10 minute walk to Whistler Village, but it is not out in the boonies. Blackcomb Mountain ski lifts are located directly behind the hotel, so there is plenty around and lots to do.

Once in the village, there are over 200 shops to explore along with many restaurant choices. Whatever you want to eat, there is a restaurant that will serve it. It got quite chilly in the evenings so I would recommend a light jacket. I found it funny that 60*F to the locals was considered “shorts and tank top weather” while I was walking around in a jacket and jeans. Crazy people. The first restaurant we went to was The Brewhouse. We took advantage of the outdoor patio so we could soak in some mountain air. Well, when the sun started setting around 9:30, it got pretty chilly! The restaurant keeps a ginormous stack of fleece blankets on hand for the customers sitting out on the patio. I was thrilled. So there we were – sitting out on the patio drinking and eating with me curled up in a blanket. Tourists.

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Side note, the sun comes up at about 4:45 in the morning and doesn’t set until nearly 10.

Since our board of directors¬†crap didn’t officially start until Thursday, we had all day Wednesday to just dink around and explore Whistler Village. We started off with breakfast at our hotel at¬†The Wildflower. It was full buffet or a la carte¬†and it had everything imaginable. Rather pricy, but definitely worth it. I recommend the Morning Energizer drink with¬†bananas, strawberries, bee nectar, honey,¬†and dates. Delicious little drink and it comes with a bagel and cream cheese.

That evening, we met up with our insurance agent for¬†the company and he took us out to dinner at Hy’s Steakhouse. This was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel and located on the west (which felt like south to me) end of Whistler¬†Village.¬†It was a great restaurant with a wide variety of food and wine to pick from. Oh yes, and their drink menu is on an iPad. shocked the hell out of me. Pretty cool.

Hy's Steakhouse Drink Menu. Incredible wine list.
Hy’s Steakhouse Drink Menu. Incredible wine list.

We ordered Escargot and Calamari for an appetizer and they were both superb. For those of you who refuse to eat Escargot because it is snail, suck it up because it’s amazing. I got a filet mignon for my main course with a side of horseradish (I wouldn’t recommend their horseradish – no spice) while Brady got a Bone-In Rib Steak and Don (our agent) got fish. For the life of me I don’t remember what. Maybe trout?¬† No complains on the food. It was great and we went home happy.

Thursday. Oh Thursday. I woke up with a sore throat, congestion, and a headache from hell. I was sick. GREAT. We had a full day ahead of us with our business group and I was freaking sick. After taking a shower, I felt a little better and went down to the gift shop to buy the most expensive Tylenol PM I have ever bought.

At 9:15 we met up with our group for a tour. There were 41 of us and another 10 or so went golfing. To start our day, we¬†took a bus¬†to Callaghan Valley to Whistler Olympic Park¬†which is about a¬†15 minute drive from Whistler. This was home¬†to a lot of the 2010 Olympic Game venues which were hosted by Vancouver. Our first stop was the ski jumps. Holy moly they were huge…and impressive.

The Olympic ski jumps.
The Olympic ski jumps.

The big jump is 120 m tall (394 feet) and the “normal jump” is 90 m tall (295 feet). Why anyone in their right mind would want to jump off of one of these is beyond me.

From here, we took about a 10 minute hike up to the Nordic Cross Country start and finish lines and got to view the Olympic Rings. The question that everyone kept having¬†was “why are they green?” This¬†was because the 2010 Winter Olympics were known as the “Green Olympics.” They were the eco-friendly games and nothing is left unused. The ski jumps (above)¬†are still used every winter, the cross country ski routes have been paved with asphalt so that those training are able to roller ski on them in the summer, and the Athletes Village was turned into condos.

Posing with the rings at the cross-country skiing finish line.
Posing with the rings at the cross-country skiing finish line.

Next, we hopped back on the bus and drove about 5 minutes over to the Olympic Biathlon course. There were 10 biathlon events at the 2010 games but when it comes down to it, it combines 2 events – cross country skiing and marksmanship. The cross country distances varied from 7.5km up to 20km and they shoot at a distance of 50m. They have also paved this track for roller skiing training in preparation for cross country skiing.

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The biathlon shooting range.
Leading up to the biathlon shooting range.

After our tour in Callaghan Valley, we got back on the bus and drove back to Whistler where we went and toured the Whistler Sliding Centre. This is where the Olympic bobsled, luge, and skeleton events took place. The track is nearly 4500 feet long with 16 turns. To this day, it is the world’s fastest course and during the Olympic trials in 2010, 21 year-old Goergian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died on this course during the 2010 Olympics when his luge flipped going 90mph and he hit a steel beam.

The start for the men's luge
The start for the men’s luge

After our sliding centre tour, we made our way back down to Whistler Village and onto gondolas to go eat lunch on top of Whistler Mountain and do the Peak2Peak Experience. The gondola ride to the top took about 22 minutes where we were greeted with a catered meal, a killer view, and a photo op. The picture with us standing with the stone figure is an Inukshuk. This is the official symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics and there are several all over Whistler.

On top of
On top of Whistler Mountain with the Inukshuk

Finally, we made our way to the Peak2Peak gondola which takes you from the peak of Whistler Mountain to the peak of Blackcomb Mountain. It is 1427 feet about the valley floor and a unique experience.

Traveling on the gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
Traveling on the gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

By the time we got back to the room it was about 3:15 and we had a group dinner at Quattro at 6:15 that evening. I still felt like hammered shit, but went anyway. Free food, open bar, and lots of company. It would’ve been hard to turn down. We had 2 appetizer options, and 3 meal choices for this dinner. I really wasn’t too impressed with the Spaghetti Quattro, but the spinach salad with goat cheese was delish.

After dinner, Brady and I sauntered over to the Barefoot Bistro to do the Belvedere Ice Room experience. There is a vodka tasting ice room in the restaurant that is -14*F and houses over 50 different kinds of Vodka. We had to put on these massive goose down parkas to keep warm and in we went with the bartender. We sampled 4 different kinds of vodka, one of them has to be Belvedere because the sponsor the vodka room. The other 3 shots were up to us to choose. Now, I say¬†4 shots like we just got absolutely shitfaced…but we didn’t. We took¬†four 1/2 ounce shots, so we had the equivalent of 2 normal-sized shots. Yes, vodka is nasty, but because the vodka was so cold, the cold alters the taste of the vodka and it does not burn when you drink it. This experience is $48 per person and lasts about 10-15 minutes. It was totally worth it! Everything but the floor and vodka bottles are ice. I was in heels and I wouldn’t recommend that shoe choice. My toes were damn near frozen because the floor was so cold, and the floor was also slick!

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Brady and I vodka tasting inside the Belvedere Ice Room

Ice Room Ice room 3

Not much to report Friday. Brady had meetings from 8:30 that morning and got done around 2:30. I was feeling worse so I lounged in bed and when his meetings were over, we walked down to the village and had drinks¬†on the patio at the¬†Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub. I had a green apple martini that was to die for and Brady had some stout nasty beer that he seemed to really enjoy. Oh yes, did I mention that the liquor tax in Canada is either 17% or 20%? They also have a tobacco tax that is every bit as high. Our waitress told us that a pack of cigarettes is like $12.00. Ridiculous. And that has very little to do with the exchange rate which is about $.03 higher than the United States. Just a little food for thought. ūüôā

After our drinks and people watching¬†was the President’s dinner at our hotel and after we made our way down to the Mallard Lounge in the hotel and had drinks with some of the people we had met. We woke up the next morning at 6 and hit the road to Vancouver around 7 that morning to catch our flight home that afternoon. It was a great trip but I was glad to be home and sick in my own bed. I missed work this¬†Monday and part of Tuesday for still being sick and today I am feeling MUCH better, but still snotty and coughing.

To end, I just wanted to share a few more of the pictures from our trip. Enjoy!

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Monkeying around on our hike up to Shannon Falls
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The Inukshuk in Whistler Village
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With the Olympic Rings at Olympic Plaza
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2 thoughts on “British Columbia, 2010 Olympics, And a Cold from Hell

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