Singing down Whistler

I had a blog entry written but lost it, so I’m reconstructing the weekend from memory. We had about a four-and-a-half hour drive up on Friday, including an hour in the line at the border and another hour in a five way merge going up to Vancouver. It turns out that 99, which I-5 turns into at the Canadian border, is not really a highway in the American sense. It turns into a regular old city street going up through the city of Richmond. I should have taken note, but at that point I was too tired. We also struck out for dinner, having failed to phone ahead for Valentine’s Day dinner reservations, and ate a quiet room service meal before collapsing at approximately 5. (Kidding. It was around 9:30.) (Oh, and it turns out that broadband doesn’t mean broadband in a hotel—at least not when five out of every eight packets get dropped.)

Saturday we got up early in the morning and drove up to Whistler. Slowly. It was supposed to be about sixty miles up 99, which I assumed would be pretty straightforward. But remember that note about 99 not being a highway? It holds true going north out of Vancouver as well. And it winds around a cliffside overlooking the water before it heads up the mountain—one lane either way. Suffice it to say it was a slow trip up. We got there too late for a morning ski lesson, but managed to get our gear (naturally, no lockers left for our shoes. If Vancouver is serious about this Olympic bid, they better put in some extra lockers for the skiiers. Tromping back to the car, four lots away, in ski boots to return our shoes to the car isn’t my idea of fun) and got up the mountain for our first ski.

Did I say mountain? I meant mountain. My God. Words fail me… Suffice it to say that an Olympic class mountain is really really different from Snoqualmie, or “Snow-crummy” as someone on the mountain who was familiar with the resort knew it. (Note: It’s still better than my first experience skiing in Virginia.) After an initial trip down the mountain, without a map or guide, we got our afternoon lesson. Excellent instructor. By 3 pm, I was making parallel turns. It seems a lot of skiing is about physics—the edge of the ski vs. the flat of the ski—and learning to shift the weight to take the skis where you want to go. And I wasn’t quite as sore as the last time.

Which was good, because it was another two hours down from the mountain back to the hotel. But we had reservations, at Le Crocodile. Which lived up to its reputation. Tomato and gin soup followed by duck breast with fois gras for Lisa, cream of wild mushroom soup with trufffle oil and pan-seared sweetbreads in a Calvados and tarragon sauce for me. A little rich, perhaps, but that was kind of the point, to get the heck out of town and have a nice quiet evening. And it worked really really well. We’ll be returning to Whistler, I think.