Friday, July 05, 2024

Whistler, British Columbia Trip - June 23-30, 2024

Let me start off by saying BC is one of the most beauitful, raw, rugged and freindliest places I have ever been.  We had an amazing trip.

At the last minute, with a lull in work responsibilities and with Z not having anything planned, I decided to book us a trip to Whister BC Canada the week before we left - then spent the next week pre-planning things to doo and booking a couple of excursions.

Sunday, June 23, 2024
We would fly into Bellingham WA, drive up to Vancouver, stay the night, do an excursion in the morning and head up to Whistler for the remainder of the trip.

Our 12pm flight from Denver to Bellingham was uneventful - we checked all our bags (golf clubs, biking stuff, fishing stuff included) so it made it a light load on the airplane.  Southwest flies direct into Bellingham (only until August 4th this year) and that cut an hour and a half off the drive from Seattle to Vancouver.

We landed at 2pm PST in the small airport in bellingham, grabbed a small SUV at Alamo, the bags popped out of baggage claim quickly andwe were on the road before 3pm.  The trip up to Vancouver was smooth - although we did get into the slow line at the border crossing.  The agent asked why we were headed up to Canada, where we were staying, what I did for work, etc. but we were soon in Canada.  

Driving up to Vancouver was pretty cool - although the map showed Vancouver to the north and west, there were high rises and cities to our east, north ans west - I forget that most major cities in Canada (Toronto, Montreal, etc.) have tons of residential high rises.  

We were staying at the Parker Hotel downtown Vancouver - and we parked the car and checked in.  We dropped our small bags in the tiny room and headed downtown - I had a few things on my list to check out - but first was Granville Island - which was right across False Creek from us.

We hopped onto the Aquabus shuttle and ferried across to Granville Island.  Aquabus are these small pontoon ferries that whizz you around False Creek - we only needed to go maybe 200 yards across the water - for $8CDN each round trip.

The city looking back from Ganville Island.

First stop was actually at The Lobster Man for a $25CDN lobster roll - it was very good, but we needed more - so we hit up Tony's Fish and Oyster Cafe and demolished a full seafood plate with clams, mussles, halibut, fried oysters and shrimp.  And a Molson (or two).

We grabbed some cannolis in the market as well.

On the way back to the hotel, I remembered I didn't really bring a sweatshirt - so we hit up the Wildlife Thrift store next to our hotel and I found the perfect sweatshirt for $14CDN.  I have no problems repping a Canuck shirt as I am a huge hockey fan (and the Boston Bruins did beat them in 2011 to win the Stanley Cup).

We walked more towards the upper downtown - I was looking for breweries, but also there were a bunch of cool things to see.  Including the Steam Clock in Gastown District - we heard it go off which was pretty neat.

We made it a point to walk by the Rogers Center where the Canucks play.

Sjyline from our hotel at their rooftop restaurant.

The sun sets up here at like 9:30pm - we were beat from walking so we crashed out.

Monday, June 24, 2024
I got up early and went for a run - the views were pretty cool.  And the running was much easier at sea level.

A crashed and abandoned sail boat on the rocks in the bay headed out to Stanley Park.

A random piece of art - a chandelier hanging under a bridge near out hotel.

Our excursion in Vancouver was to take a zodiak boat up the Indian Arm to see Granite Falls.  Our guide would tell us many facts and about the history of Vancouver/Canada/the Bay.

The ride up was great - we were in full wet suits, so the ride was good - despite the overcast and 50 degree temps.

I don't have a picture of Granite Falls on my phone - but I did take GoPro video of it and you can see the full trip here:

A smaller, more secluded falls on the way back.

The Canadian Tire CEO mansion in Deep Cove.

We were back to the hotel to pick up the car by around 4 and headed to Whistler.  After crossing a few bridges, we were headed up the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish for dinner.

If you haven't driven Sea to Sky Highway, it is one of the most beautiful drives ever (unless it is snowing - then I wouldn't be too excited for it).  Amazing views of the ocean, mountains, islands and beauty of the PNW.

We stopped at Backcountry Brewing for a couple of 4 packs of beer and then headed to A Frame for a beer and Flipside for a burger.  Damn the burgers were good!

View of the Chief rock climbing wall in Squamish.  (Similar to El Capitan in Yosemite).

We then boogied up to Whistler (about an hour more drive) to check into our hotel.  Me being cheap, I decided to not park at the hotel and pay $37/day - so we parked in Lot 4 and walked the .3 miles to the hotel.

We dropped our stuff at our hotel, the Crystal Lodge, and hit up Beacon Pub & Eatery to watch the end of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup between the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers.  It was nice to see Florida redeem themselves and hodl onto a win.  Most Canadians in the bar were rooting for the Oilers - but weren't too bummed out to see them lose - we were in Canuck territory anyways.

This beer is Hope You're Happy by Coast Mountain Brewing - I fell in love with this beer and luckily it was everywhere!

View from our hotel room - overlooking a golf driving range (which we never hit) and the mountains - we were smack dab in the middle of Whistler Village - so really didn't need the car except for excursions.

Sunset at like 9:30pm.

The waterfall at the Westin - not sure why I took a pic of it.

We searched for mountain bike rentals that night (if you book in advance you get a 20% discount) - and could only find one place close by last minute.  We went and got his bike park ticket for the next day as well - very easy to do being right in the village.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

In the morning (you can see the moon is still well up in this pic from our room) Z headed to the gondola to bike around 9:30am.  Of course the bike park ticket they gave us last night was for YESTERDAY, so we had to go back to guest services to get that changed - no problem, they were happy to oblige.

I have no video or pics of Z biking, but he said he had a great time and Whistler bike park  was everything he had dreamed about after watching 1,000s of hours about it on YouTube.

I spent the day hiking and fishing (not catching) - exploring the Cheakamus Lake Trail and River and then checking out a bunch of other areas that had running water and looked fishy.

Although not a great day fishing, the views were amazing and of course, being the extravert, I met a ton of cool people.

Some shout outs to people who I didn't get their names and will never see again - the two couples from Palm Springs CA that I met in the parking lot of Cheakamus Lake and hiked a little bit with - thanks for the great conversation about beer and vacations and house swapping!  To the local bike rider who was fixing his flat in  a pull off by Twenty Mile Creek that I stopped and chatted with - it was great talking to you about Whistler and the area.

Most nights were blurs, as we would check out local restaurants and then go back to the hotel, nap, get hungry again and wander out to find late night food (usually pizza).  We were pretty beat from all the activities.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024
Wednesday was another planned day - I had made reservations to do the Via Ferrata rock climbing and to play golf in Squamish - so we got up early and headed the hour down to Squamish.  We got breakfast at White Spot, and were at the Gondola by 9:30 to catch it up to the top to do rock climbing.

The gondola shoots straight up the mountain - with great views of the bay (that is the ocean - not a lake).  We met our guide (Shout out to Emil who was a great tour guide), got on our gear, and hiked a short ways to the start of the climb.  The climb was pretty cool - straight up at times, but it was very safe - with easy holds onto the metal bars they had anchored into the walls.  Emil told us someone had cut the cable to the gondola twice in the past - I can't image how expensive it was to replace all the gondola cars and restring that cable.

(yes, the person in the blue coat is a rando that was first in line so got into all the pics the guide was taking and then shared with us).

After lunch was our next excursion - 18 holes at the Squamish Valley Country Club.  We got there over an hour early and hit the driving range and putting green.  The weather was not looking good - it started raining/drizzling and we had to make a decision.  Cancel and get out money back or start and not be able to get a refund.  We decided to play.

I got Z some new Titelist clubs a month ago and we added inch extensions to them - this was the first time I would play with them - and damn, are they good clubs!  BTW, he hits the ball a ton - he's a pure athlete.

This picture does not do this golf course justice - this hole faces The Chief (the rock climbing wall) - what an amazing view.

That's a brown or black drake mayfly - which is pretty cool - as a fly fisherman, I have taught my kids to seek out bugs like this.  Z found this one on the bark of a huge (like 4 feet around) cedar tree.

Golfing was amazing - we did stop at the halfway point to completely do a change of clothes out of wet stuff into dry stuff.  After hole 10, the rain did stop.  We were the only ones on the course - so we took our time and had fun.  Z hit the ball well - but his putting added some shots.  

Another long day - we got back to the hotel in Whistler and crashed - got dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory in the lobby (which was actually pretty good).  We met a bunch more people - including our waitress who was from England.  Most of the workers in Whistler are from England, Australia, Scotland, etc. - they told me it was because it was easier to get a work visa to Canada than to the US or other countries.  Interesting.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

It didn't stop us - it did slow us down, as we didn't get out of bed very early.
Since I had bought the Alpine Pass we decided to hit the Peak 2 Peak Gondola - we went up the Whistler Gondola to the top - there is a park up there where you can do some other adventures (hike, bike, food, sky bridge) - but it was super rainy and most of that stuff was closed.

View from the top of the Whistler Gondola:

View from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola:

Video from the glass bottom of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola:

After that we decided to go explore and hike a little.  I knew of a few short hikes we could do in the rain. 

First one was Brandywine Falls - which is right off the road and about 1km hike.  Very cool falls.

We took the .7km hike into the Swim Lake as well.  Small lake - but beautiful - the water was actually really warm (strange).  We did notice we were standing next to a bunch of blue berry bushes (which we ate some) - and decided that we should probably keep moving rather than find a bear.

Next stop is Whistler Train Wreck - which is a 1km hike out to one of the best experiences in Whistler.  This is the trail below - it was an easy hike on a mostly paved looking path.

Suspension bridge over the river.

Let me first say that we were the only ones there, and it was raining, which gave it an earie feeling - not in a bad way, but kind of a sad way.  But, the rail cars were all spray painted in an artsy and classy way.  Even Z commented that we only saw one penis spray painted on a car and no curse words.  You can tell that Whistler promotes this hiking trail and they are proud of it.  Great little hike and it was cool seeing these huge steel rail cars all wrecked and painted up.  I think this was one of my highlights of the trip.

Again, we stagger back to the hotel - wet and tired, got dinner and then crashed for the night.
While at Guest Services the other day, Z noticed that they has Commencal bikes for rent - so we booked a rental of a Commencal FRS (the bike he bought last year and then cancelled due to delays) for the next day.

Friday, June 28, 2024
Started early - headed to the gondola and G1 Rentals to get fitted and pick up the bike.  Go a bike park pass and headed up the mountan.  On Facebook thsi memory popped up - view of Z 4 years earlier at Trestle Bike Park here in Winter Park Colorado.

I made him re-do the pic in the same way, but as of today.  He's grown a little!

Since Z was biking, I went exploring and fishing.  I found a couple more spots I wanted to fish - but no luck.  Water is way too high right now in BC as the runoff from snow melt blows out many rivers and makes them very cold.

Here are some random pics of my adventures:

Sign at Callaghan Creek - where I wanted to fish.  I think I will pass.

Alexander Falls:

A ptarmigan?  or grouse?  I saw a couple of these - they were not afraid of me.

The ski jumps at the Olympic Park training center in Whistler.

If you aren't bear aware - get your ass back in your car and leave.

Callaghan Creek - aqua blue from snow melt.

Again, not much to report from the evening - I think we hit Old Spaghetti Factory again and crashed.

Saturday, June 29, 2024
I booked a tee time for 11am in Pemerbton at the Sunstone Golf Club.  

We got up there a little early and stoppped at the North Arm Farms for breakfast and to explore.  This farm is a u-pick kind of place, but had a beautiful barn and sitting area in the back overlooking the huge mountains that shoot straight out of the ground.  Again, this picture does not do the beauty justice.

We showed up at the golf course at 10am and I checked in and the guy couldn't find my reservation - I showed him the email response and he said I wasn't the first to do this - I had made a reservation at the restaurant for 11am.  He would fit me in.

This course is right next to the Lillooet River - the river is HUGE and fast and glacial.  This golf club is located between two branches of the Lillooet and in October last year they got a huge snow storm in the moutains, and then it all melted the next day and the whole area flooded - flooding out a ton of the area.  This area was AMAZING!

There is my favorite beer making an appearance thanks to the golf cart girl having it in stock:

The Lillooet River:

After a great golf game, where Z beat me handily, we decided to make the long treck back to Bellingham Washington for our flight the next day.

We went a different route this time and crossed the border at some random spot a few miles from Bellingham - this time we were first in line.  The agent asked us where we had been, what we did, and when we said golf - he asked who won?  Well, this set off Z saying how he kicked my ass, blah, blah, blah.  Then I said to the agent "you really had to ask that?"  I told him the kid cheats and there were about 8 astricks on his golf card.  The agent looked at us, laughed and said "you guys are good - have a safe trip".

Back in Bellingham we checked in to the gorgeous Comfort Inn, and heaed out for some seafood.  We found a fancy restaurant and ate salmon and halibut with a mussels app.

The waitress mentioned that the beer I was drinking was from Otherlands - so I looked it up and we hit it before going back to the hotel. 

I had one beer a Grissette - let's just say that it was an interesting bar.  Z said the patrons were a little "zesty" - I think alternative was a better way of describing it/them.  While there it was their 4 year anniversay and they had a "burning" of (I guess) a cardboard person/demon to celebrate their anniversay.  After a couple of poems were read, they doused the cardboard person and set ablaze.  Strange, yes.  Weird, absolutely. Typical PNW, probably.

Sunday, June 30, 2024
After a night of being sick (sore throat, coughing) in the hotel - I was feeling better - we made it to the airport, dropped off the car, hit Scotty Browns for a good burger (at 10am) and then were on our flight home.  Landed at 4pm, grabbed our gear and was home by 6pm.

What an amazing trip - it was so laid back and chill and we got to explore a really cool place.
Thanks for having us BC - I look forward to going back!

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