But seriously, it is good to be home again. It was nice to see the boys (however unenthusiastic they were to see me) and catch up with my bff and family. And I pick Deane up from the airport tomorrow morning, bright and early (6am, eek!) so life as we know it will resume - ie: Deane has a 9am meeting. Crazy. I have to admit, there was something quite satisfying about arriving home to a nice clean house, crappy New Zealand programming (no better or worse than crappy cable programming if I'm honest), and mundane routine like making up a batch of yogurt for the next day, preparing another truckload of delicious muesli (this time with dried cranberries and white chocolate, as the original recipe suggests - yum!), and grocery shopping. And thank God, the kids are back at school! I just sent them off for their first day, hurrah!!! But you don't want to hear about that, right? You want the details of the awesome trip! Well, let's get started from the beginning.
Friday 25th, Deane drove down to Napier with the boys and left them and the car behind, jumped on a plane Saturday and waited for me at the airport. I rocked on up and we met his workmate William and his family in the Koru lounge. William made a passing comment that the plane that appeared to be ours was probably going to be delayed, as it had a big flashing light in the cockpit. Hmm. We sat and ate some dinner and chatted away happily until the boarding call was made, trudged onto the plane, then proceeded to wait for about an hour while they fixed an electrical problem with the fuel pressure gauge. Yay. The flight was long and bumpy (as they often are) and I managed about an hour of broken sleep, despite taking some sleeping tablets (which clearly DO NOT WORK) but it was okay, as flights go. We made good time, and ended up only being half an hour later than our scheduled arrival time in Vancouver. Deane being Deane, he decided that since we were staying in five star accommodation for our first night, why not take five star transport? So we hopped in a limo. Ridiculous! But fun :-)
After we'd checked in, we went for a wander and bought some local sims for our phones (Deane would've been fine, but it would have cost me $30 per MB for data! Insane!). Then we found Gastown, which is an awesome suburb of Vancouver. It has the steam clock!
No, that's not a very good picture, is it? Sorry about that. My nighttime photography skills are even worse than my daytime ones. *sigh* We stopped in to The Cambie for dinner, and this is where we met and fell in love with poutine. Damn, that stuff is good! And yet, so, so bad. We devoured bowls of poutine numerous times throughout our trip, and Deane even found (and bought at least six packets of) poutine gravy at a market. I have hunted down a cheese curd recipe (since it is not commercially available in New Zealand) and we will be able to have poutine at home too! I'm looking forward to introducing the kids to it :-)
The next day we rented a car and drove to Tulalip outlet mall just outside of Seattle, where I bought a pair of Nikes for CAD$70! Way cheaper than buying them at home! We also bought a bunch of other stuff, and Deane found a neat used sports goods store where he bought some snow blades, boots and poles. We stopped in for dinner at Applebee's (I had the oriental chicken salad, it was awesome). They had a Harry Potter picture on the wall, which of course I had to get a (crappy nighttime) picture of ;-)
Then it was off to Whistler mountain!!! As we got closer, it started to snow. I don't know how many of you have ever driven at night while it was snowing, but I just have to say it was magical. I can't even begin to describe how beautiful it looked through the front windscreen, watching the snow falling. It was kind of like the old Windows screensaver - you know the one, where it looks like you're flying through space and whizzing past all the stars - it was really amazing. And our accommodation? S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G!!! This was the view from our room:
We had a one bedroom suite, which was spacious and just all around gorgeous. It had a gas fireplace, under floor heating in the bathroom, a huge shower, a ridiculously large bath tub, three on-site restaurants, free shuttle all day every day... I would stay there again in a heartbeat. It was only five minutes walk from Creekside Village, where you could hop on a gondola and head straight up the mountain.
Or the shuttle would take you on a ten minute drive to Whistler Village, where you could go on the gondola up either Whistler or Blackcomb mountains. I love love love Whistler! I would live there if I could.
Inukshuk, morning and night. Wearing a snowy hat ;-)
The first day was spent on a Ziptrek tour - the longest available, the Mammoth Tour which takes about 4.5-5 hours. It was fantastic, and our guides were the best. They were very knowledgeable and informative about the history of Whistler, the local inhabitants (of the furry variety ;-P) and the ecological sustainability of Ziptrek and the environmentally friendly measures the locals go to to keep Whistler safe and inhabitable for the wildlife and the community. Beautiful views too.
That evening we went on a Finer Things tasting tour, which was a fun little jaunt around town trying different foods at different locations. For our tour, we stopped into Bearfoot Bistro (which had an amazing wine cellar), Hy's Steakhouse (the tuna was divine), Quattro, Rocky Mountain Chocolate (OMG the caramel apples!!!), Rogers Chocolate, and The FireRock Lounge. The food was pretty amazing, but we didn't end up going back to any of the places to eat (although we did call in to Rocky Mountain again. Seriously, those caramel apples...). After that we headed back to the lodge and crashed, ready for the next day - snowboarding!!!
Oh my, that mountain is something. The views were epic, the snow was gorgeously powdery and soft (most of the time), and there are just so many places to go and things to see! Here are a few pics to give you an idea:
Yes, that last one is of me sitting on my butt. Probably having just fallen over. That happened A LOT. We had four days on the mountain, and I have to say my snowboarding improved significantly during that time. It was a lot of fun, boarding down runs with crazypants names like Whiskey Jack (Upper and Lower), Bear Cub, Olympic Run (Upper and Lower), Pony Trail, Papoose, Burnt Stew Trail, Pika's Traverse, Crystal Road... And I even boarded from the (almost very) top of Whistler, all the way down to the Village at the bottom! We took the chair lift to Harmony Hut and went down from there. That's nearly 7,000 feet up, y'all! We also stopped into the Crystal Hut on Blackcomb, where the belgian waffles come highly recommended by the locals. I got the fully loaded:
Strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips and whipped cream. Awesomesauce!
I still got passed by the majority of boarders on the mountain, but I was happy with the progress I made, and would have no qualms about heading to the snow again. In fact, SnowPlanet is sounding pretty appealing right now (although the quality of the snow there will pale in comparison). I'm hoping Deane might have the chance to take some time off during winter this year, so we can head up to Ruapehu. Fingers crossed!
And if you ever happen to find yourself in Whistler and you're hungry, go to El Furniture Warehouse. Everything on the menu is CAD$4.95, and delicious. Amazeballs.
Gosh, it's 12pm already. I have a heel and a foot to knit before Deane arrives home tomorrow morning (I'll explain later) so I better get going on that. This post is already pretty long, and we're only halfway through the trip! So I'll post again soon, with the other half. Enjoy, and I'll see you again shortly ;-)