I am very sorry to our readers. I unintentionally took the month of November off. However, I am back with renewed vigor to post more about our travels, education, and global issues.
November was a hard month. My new job as School Director for an international center in Seattle has kept me very busy. I love that I get to meet students and staff from around the world every day! I am learning more from them then they are from me probably. Plus, being the director gives me an amazing opportunity to apply my international education experience in a real-world setting.
As a well-earned reward for my hard work, my family and I decided to take off to Whistler, Canada, for the long American Thanksgiving weekend. Whistler is an amazing year-round outdoor activity vacation destination. No matter what you like to do on your down time, you can probably find something there to entice you. So, even non-skiers, like my wife, can have a good time.
From Seattle, Whistler is an easy 219 miles. We meandered north taking in the magnificent scenery. The drive from Vancouver to Whistler is particularly spectacular. You pass by Horseshoe Bay, Shannon Falls, and Brandywine Falls. You can make the trip in 4 hours, but I recommend allowing yourself more time to stop and enjoy the journey. Our youngest son, Elijah, really wants to go back and visit the Britannia Mine Museum in Squamish. Unfortunately, we did not have time this vacation. So, we have an excuse to go back!
Whistler was the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It is a world-class ski destination. The small remote area has greatly benefited from the Olympics. You can visit the now historic reminders of Olympic glory in and around the village. We gawked at the intimidating 90 meter ski jumps and bobsled run. During the Olympics, the village had to have been a thrilling place to be. Today, it is alive with 5 star resorts and people from all over the world.
We stayed at a very cozy place called Lost Lake Lodge, which is in the Upper Village of Whistler. It is a small resort with heated pool, fitness center, ski lockers, and very nice rooms. We reserved a one bedroom suite complete with a fully equipped kitchen, gas fireplace, washer and dryer, balcony, wi-fi, large screen TV, and board games. It is also on the Chateau Whistler Golf Course for you golf fanatics. We definitely did not rough it! We liked that we could walk on well-marked paved trails around the lodge and lake each morning. Even though it is not in the village proper, everything is within walking distance.This has the added benefit of making the lodge a great deal compared to in village places. We rate it very high for family getaways!
The staff was very nice and took care of us. Phil at the front desk was especially helpful and courteous. Remember, you need to check in at the Blackcomb Lodge before heading to the Lost Lake Lodge. Unfortunately, Expedia did not tell me that dogs were not allowed. Our pampered pooch, Albie, slept in my truck most of the time. I do not think he enjoyed the vacation as much as we did.
From Lost Lake Lodge, we could walk or drive to the village center. Whistler has a maze of paved and dirt walking and biking trails that connect everything. We did take poor Albie on some walks to get him out and stretch. Whistler Village is a fun place to hang out, stroll around, shop, eat, and take in the scenery. The Village Stroll winds through the pedestrian only village past high-end shopping, art galleries, boutiques, and pubs. It even has two Starbucks! The best hot chocolate I may have ever had can be found at Blenz Coffee across from the Olympic Park. They make it with real melted dark chocolate. Elijah is now addicted to it.
The first day, we decided to take the Peak-to-Peak gondola ride. The Peak-to-Peak is the longest gondola traverse in the world. It connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The heart-stopping ride travels a record-breaking 1.88 miles free span between towers at a dizzying height of 1,430 feet above the valley. We took the Village Gondola to the top of Whistler Peak. The 20 minute ride up in an enclosed gondola made for a beautiful aerial trip. At the top, we had a nice lunch at the Roundhouse Lodge with an incredible view of the slopes. After lunch, we braved the traverse on the Peak-to-Peak gondola. It was absolutely amazing! The 360 degree view of the mountains was truly awe-inspiring. We waited for a glass-bottom car, which made the experience even better. We could look down and see how high we really were. I was too entranced by the view to be afraid!
*Tip: Check the weather the morning that you plan to go up because it changes quickly.
From the top of Blackcomb Peak, we decided not to take the round-trip back. Instead, we chose to ride an open chairlift back down. Despite the cold, the open feeling of the chair let us feel like eagles. Since both mountain ski slopes converge at the village, we were very close to where we started. It was an amazing up, over, down trip in the clouds!
After our gondola excursion, the boys wanted to go sledding. Luckily, we brought two sleds with us. Mish and I got some quiet time to walk around the village and relax. No amount of cold or wetness can deter boys from playing in the snow. We came back to see if Aaron and Elijah were ready to go. Not a chance. If it was not for the ski patrol herding them off the hill, they would probably have stayed sledding much longer.
Back at Lost Lake Lodge, I cooked a big traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the family, complete with a smoked turkey. OK, I bought the turkey pre-cooked, but the thought was there. Keeping family traditions is very important to us. No matter where we travel, we make sure that we observe holidays. I think that when the boys are older, they will remember these times and appreciate them. For my wife and I, we still enjoy watching the boys during holidays. Even Aaron, at 16, still gets excited and gets into the spirit.
The next day went looking for more exciting things to do. We considered zip-lining, ATV riding, skiing, dog sledding, bungee jumping (not!), and horseback riding. You can even ride a real bobsled or luge down the Olympic course. In the end, the weather decided our choice. The boys went indoor rock climbing and to an arcade. Maybe not as thrilling, but still fun and different. (We are mean parents who never bought our children a game station.) Later, we went to see Olympic hopefuls test themselves on the luge and bobsled. Unless you have actually witnessed a luge rider streaking past you at 80 mph only 5 feet from your nose, you cannot truly appreciate the danger of the sport.
That evening, we went swimming in the outdoor pool back at the lodge. As we sat in front of the roaring fire snacking on turkey left-overs, we remembered just how thankful we truly are for all of the blessings we have.