I began writing this piece on 30 November when we arrived at our room in Whistler Hilton. I found that the almost-ten-year-old laptop was still working, albeit half-heartedly. Apparently, the firewall license had expired such that I could not access the internet from the laptop, implying that I had to be content with recording bits and pieces on the odd days, but I must confess that I had been rather lazy on this trip. In the meantime, Su had been busy on her iPhone feeding our friends on Facebook with our daily routines often with graphics so that I had little incentives to upload my thoughts the way I did when we were here last time.
Now that we are back, I tried to cut and paste the notes I had taken and turned them into a readable piece, beginning with what I found on the laptop, which showed that I last worked on it on 4 April 2016 at Whistler Village, when it was raining snow, sleet and hail. I recall that we left the next morning. So, there we were almost 2 years and eight months to the day, finding that the room had not changed much since notwithstanding the much hyped renovation last year which resulted in a reduction in our revenue and other unintended consequences which I would not labour on at this point.
We had been skiing almost every day on our own without instructors. We began with Whistler Mountain because Blackcomb Mountain had yet to open at the time, but many chairlifts were still closed, primarily because snow had yet to build up at the lower sites and at the Village, even though it got rather chilly at times – it was -8 to -10 degrees on some mornings, for example. Nevertheless, the Peak to Peak was running.
As soon as we unpacked, we found that the electric rice cooker which we bought two years ago in Hokkaido was dented a bit. We had yet to use this device until then; because it is on a different voltage from Hong Kong anyway; and we were glad that it’s still serviceable. It thus added to our Whistler inventory list which we had been contemplating making of the main items we have in the trunk room, but which we never did. There are actually quite a few things, more than we think, and I think they can last us for a few more skiing seasons. As a start, we don’t need to bring in any warm clothes, tracksuits or underwear; or the daily necessities for personal comfort, such as hand cream, foot cream, lotions, ointments, washing powders, detergents, garbage bag, chopsticks, noodle bowls, spoons, wine glasses, and to my delight, quite a few bottles of good single malt. People who stumble into the collection would easily think that we actually live here every day. Come to think of it, we began making up the collection since early 2012 and we have been accumulating stuff year after year until the break I mentioned in the beginning. There would come a time when a spring cleaning would become necessary.
As Su had said on Facebook, it was the first time we were in Whistler in December. We were delighted with the festivity, the lights and the tree decorations. The reason why we were earlier arriving this year is actually quite interesting, and indeed plain simple. I saw some rather cheap tickets to Vancouver being advertised by Air Canada way back in March or April when I was having breakfast with some friends. I called Su; and before the breakfast was over, she had already booked the tickets with Cathay Pacific which offered an even more competitive deal. I believe one condition was that we must start the journey before December. I was initially reluctant to leave that early, because I have quite a few standing meetings I would normally attend in the first two weeks of December, but since I started the joke by calling Su and telling her the good news, I need to bear the consequences.
Back to skiing, which was the why and wherefore we were there, we started to suit up after we had our late breakfast; having had two pints at our favourite Dublin bar, done some grocery and taken the lobster we bought from Lobster Man in Granville Island, when we learnt that the niece of my classmate had left the place. It took us longer than we thought to suit up, but we were okay, I think. The upload was smooth – there were hardly anyone going up at the time, which was about half an hour before 1pm. It was colder than we thought and the sunshine was somewhat deceiving. Many chairlifts were closed; so we went up to the top and skied down taking whatever runs that were open. I was careful and cagey at first, not knowing whether the muscle memories were working, but soon I found that I was on auto pilot and I simply followed Su wherever she went, just as what I have been doing since she came into my life. So the first run was good, but somewhat tiring and intimidating at times. I thought we would download when we returned to the Roundhouse, but Su suggested another run; and so we did. We parked our skis and poles and most importantly at the restaurant where we ordered some hot drinks but not so hot food until it’s time to get back. The queue for downloading was phenomenally long and which was something we had never seen. The staff at the Roundhouse estimated that it would take at least an hour to get on the gondola and it was just past 3pm. Su decided that we would wait inside, as opposed to standing outside in the queue in freezing conditions, confident that the gondolas would continue to run until the last skier or tourist had been downloaded. After more than half an hour, Su talked to a young attendant at the exit area and intimated that her husband was in his 70s and would find it too challenging to wait that long on the queue. The young man was sympathetic and admitted us preferentially. We were grateful; for that must have cut our waiting time for at least 45 minutes. On the ground and after removing our ski boots, we went to look for some bubblies and leavies to go with the oysters from Lobster Man. We got something at very reasonable prices which we consumed with delight.
The same evening, Su called up Jim Moore whom we haven’t been in touch since April 2016. A lot had changed since for the family. He now has two grandson twins in addition to the young Peter who is now about six. There was so much to catch up and we would do that soon, which we did.
It could be jetlag or whatever: we woke up a few times at night: Su said she got up at 7:30am, had breakfast and did a few things, but I slept until almost noon. After having some breakfast in haste, we suited up and went off for the upload around 1:15pm. At the Roundhouse, Su decided to take another run to catch more sunshine. It was a busy run, with skiers and boarders all over the place and speeding left and right; and it was somewhat freezing. We hit another chairlift for the upload; and we went down immediately for the run we had the day before, which was more reassuring, so that by the time we went back to Roundhouse, it was past 3pm. After some hot drink, we went for the download: there were much fewer people; and we didn’t need to wait at all.
That was an account of the first two skiing days. I found that I had not taken much legible or intelligible notes afterwards. News of the passage of my life long teacher, mentor and confessor Father Deignan had had an impact on me and I wrote a piece which I uploaded at the hotel Business Centre. We would attend his funeral tomorrow morning.