Day 152 was American Thanksgiving. While Canada had their Thanksgiving the month prior, the ski resorts still recognize the day because it’s the official start of the ski season. American tourists will often go to Whistler over the long weekend. This year, there wasn’t any snow. It hadn’t snowed at all the entire month, so the resort was making snow at the top so some of the runs could be opened. People could ski on the top half, but they couldn’t ski to the bottom.
I don’t ski or snowboard, but I wanted to enjoy the snow because I think it’s beautiful. I also wanted to go snowmobiling. On Thanksgiving, I walked to the gym and got a workout in. Afterward, I FaceTimed with my family in Missouri so I could say hello and see all of the delicious food they were eating.
After showering, I decided to go to my favorite restaurant to eat a Thanksgiving meal. Portobello is attached to the Fairmont Chateau at the base of Blackholm mountain. I ordered the chicken mushroom pie and a dessert. It was just as delicious as when I ate it back in September. The place was mostly empty, as was that whole section of the village. Blackholm didn’t have the gondola operating. It was only operating at Whistler mountain across the way.
I walked around the Fairmont Hotel, which was decorated beautifully for Christmas. There is something special about luxury hotels. I just love them. I love the details that people put into making a magical atmosphere. I wandered the halls, wishing I could live there.
Outside, the trees were laden with lights, adding to the festive experience. It started to drizzle and I regretted not having my umbrella. I walked the Village Stroll over to the main part of the village. Because it was Thanksgiving, I didn’t just want to sit around at home. I saw a sign for a Vodka Ice Bar. It was inside a hotel, so I went to the front to ask about it.
They keep this small freezer room at -22 F (-30 C) full of vodka. You can do an expensive tour, and it includes four shots of vodka in 20 minutes. You aren’t allowed to stay longer due to the cold. I signed up for the tour, but there wasn’t a group to go yet, so I ordered a drink and some oysters at the bar. It was around 5:30 pm, and it was mostly empty.
To my left was a couple from Seattle and to my right was a couple from Portland. Both couples were there for the long weekend to ski and were pretty bummed about the conditions. They were the first Americans I had met the entire month in Whistler.
I talked with the couple to my right about my travels, and they said they were jealous that I was living the dream. The girl’s name was also Christy, and she was only two years older than me. They were fun to talk with, and they signed up for the next tour as well. After talking for about 15 minutes, we were called to put on large, thick coats to tour the vodka room. The bartender was helpful and put my oysters in the fridge for me.
There were 11 of us on the tour. When we stood up to put on our heavy coats, the guy from Portland said, “Wow, I didn’t realize you were so tall.” I get that a lot when people meet me when I’m sitting down.
The vodka room was so cold! The coat helped a lot, but my fingers were freezing! I had to have one hand out to hold my little shot glass, so I kept rotating hands, giving one a chance to warm up in my pocket. The tour guide talked with us about vodka for about five minutes and then let us sample four kinds.
I talked with a couple who were in their late 40s to early 50s and they volunteered to take my picture. That was super nice because daring to take your hand out of the pocket was a painful experience. Supposedly the vodka tastes much better being that cold. It was good, but I was too focused on being freezing. Plus, having four shots in 15 minutes is a lot.
As we were all taking off our coats, the couples said they were leaving because they only came to the bar for the vodka room. We said goodbye, and maybe we’d see each other again. They didn’t want to tell people we met at the vodka room, though, so they said, “We’ll just say we met at the library.” Wink wink.
I went back to the bar, and the bartender promptly got my oysters back out, and I ordered another drink. A tall German guy was sitting next to me, so we chatted for a bit. He was there for work. His job is to figure out the best tour for millionaires to drive their three million dollar cars from Vancouver to Alberta. They were considering making a stop in Whistler. He was waiting to meet with the operators to see what Whistler could offer them – maybe helicopter rides?
Man, being a millionaire is a crazy life. This guy was friendly enough, but he was pretentious. His co-worker met him at the bar, and then they met up with another couple at the bar, the operators. I almost got included in their meeting until we basically had to explain I was just talking to him at the bar, and I didn’t actually know him. They all went off to look at the cellar to see the finest wines available.
I looked around and noticed it was now packed. Dead-season was officially over. There was live piano music, and it was a lovely place to be. Once I finished my oysters, I walked around the village now that the shops were finally open past 6:00 pm.
After checking out some shops, I went into Tapley’s. It’s a bar that has live music, skeeball, and darts. I sat at the bar and listened to the bartenders talk about the sudden influx of American tourists – the start of the season.
“We’re running out of glasses. They’re all ordering martinis.”
“That’s how you know the Americans are in town.”
The next day, I woke up to snow flurries! I was ecstatic that it was finally snowing! Unfortunately, it only lasted for about 15 minutes and didn’t stick.
I had ordered some boots and a winter coat from a store called Long Tall Sally. They closed their U.S. stores and only have physical stores in Canada. The closest one to me was in Vancouver, so I ordered online and had them shipped to my Airbnb. In the U.S., I would order from them and receive my package within a few days. I was confused when it took two weeks to be delivered. Then I found out the Canadian Post Office was on a strike.
Thankfully, I received them just in time for the snow. The boots were cute, but they were a little tight. I wear size 12, and most stores don’t carry my size, so I would have to make them work.
As I was getting ready to walk to Creekside Village to test out my new boots and coat, I received a knock on the door.
“Hi, I just wanted to let you know that we’re going to be doing some construction in the unit above you for the next three days from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. I know you’re going to be in the unit a lot; I already notified the owner of your unit.”
“Yeah, that’s a bummer considering I’m trying to get a lot of writing done.”
“Well, according to the bylaws, we can work from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, but we’re not working that long. The first two days will be the loudest because we’re redoing the floors. Maybe you could go work at Starbucks down the street.”
Great. Within 15 minutes, the noise was so loud that my cousin couldn’t hear me on the phone. I talked with the owner and described how loud the noise was. She wasn’t confident it would only be three days because, after the floors, they were redoing the cabinets. We had already agreed that I’d stay an extra 10 days, so she agreed to give me the extra days at a discount.
I walked down to Creekside Village and walked around. Two snowboarders stopped me on the corner asking where the bus station was. I directed them and said it’s $2.50 one way. They said they’d probably just hitchhike instead, but they headed towards the bus station. I felt like a local – people asked me for directions!
The snow had stopped, but it was still pretty and festive outside. The gondola was running even though it was mostly empty. I walked over to a gingerbread house that was serving specialty-made ice cream cones with cotton candy around it.
On my way back, I stopped at Creekbread Pizza. They make wood fire pizza and had great reviews online. I sat at the bar and ordered two different pizzas split in half so I could try two different kinds. It was delicious and provided leftovers for the following day.
It was nice having a fun two days. In the U.S., Black Friday shopping has gotten out of control. Instead of shopping for the latest deal, I was just living life, talking with people, and having experiences. I’ll take that any day over a discounted flat-screen TV.
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