Days 152-153: Thanksgiving For One

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 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. Afterwards, 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.

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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 of a hotel, so I went to the front to ask about it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. There was a tall German guy 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 the 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.

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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 the 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.

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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!

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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 speciality-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 left-overs for the following day.

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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.

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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Days 68-72: Weddings Galore!

I arrived in Denver, dropped off my stuff at my Aunt Lori’s house, and then headed to a cousin’s house for dinner. I had two weddings to attend – one on Friday and the other on Saturday.

I enjoyed a really fun evening hanging out with some family and drinking. I ended up sleeping on a pull-out couch there and when I woke up in the morning, I felt awful. It turns out turbulence from the plane, mixed with not enough sleep and too much to drink isn’t the best combination. I headed back to my aunt’s house and took a very long nap.

My parents and sister flew into town, so it was nice getting to see them. I spent the next day shopping and catching them up on my travels. The first wedding was that evening for my second cousin, Rene.

Rene is in her mid-20s, beautiful, and has the sweetest heart. Her wedding was at a gorgeous resort that overlooked a luscious green golf course.

After the ceremony, we ate an upscale dinner, followed by dancing outside. It was a great time and I was able to see many family members and catch up. We sent the new couple off with a firework arch.

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The next morning, the bride’s father, John, hosted a catered breakfast at his house. I stayed there for awhile and then showered so I would be ready for the next wedding. My Aunt Lori and Uncle Jim’s son, Michael, was getting married.

This wedding was on a large piece of property that the bride’s parents own. They had built a structure to cover an outdoor wedding as well as an indoor structure for the reception. They built both structures and landscaped in six months. Everything looked amazing!

Michael is in his late 20s and it was great to meet his new wife. The wedding was huge and I was seated next to people I didn’t know. One of the women at my table knew my grandmother when she was younger. I was thrilled to hear about her because she passed away before I was born. After the reception, there was a bonfire, dancing, and wood-fired pizza.

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When I got back to the house where I was staying, I started talking with my Uncle Steve. He lives in Idaho, but was staying at the house too. He is a pastor at a small church and we started talking about my travels. He was so encouraging and said he believes God has big plans for my life.

I told my uncle what I had told a few friends in LA before I left. I believe God gives all of us passions, which help direct us to His will. When I moved to California, I didn’t know anyone there and had never even been there before. But I spent the year after college praying and trying to figure out what I should do with my life. I kept feeling pulled to California.

I decided to take action and I asked for a transfer at Target (I was a Team Leader). Within five minutes, two stores said they would take me. I had two weeks to get ready to move. I had no idea where I was going to live, and would be leaving behind a boyfriend that I had been seeing for the last year.

Once I took action, everything fell into place. My sister drove out with me so I had someone to help me; my boyfriend loaned me his truck so I could haul a small U-haul and he drove my car out to me a few weeks later; my mom put me in touch with her cousin in Arizona who I stayed the night with and they put me in touch with their son who was in LA for the summer; and a family friend put me in touch with a friend they knew who lived there. They were out of town, but they allowed us to stay there for free for a few nights and left the key under the mat. To this day, I’ve never met them.

I told my Uncle Steve that story because it was a time in my life where I was at peace, knowing everything would work out just fine. People thought I was crazy. I was moving 2,000 miles away to a city I’d never been to – one of the most expensive cities – at age 23. It’s a time in my life I’ll never forget. I look back now and think that it was pretty crazy, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. I felt confident because I knew that following God’s will would make everything ok.

When I decided to quit my job, sell my house, and travel, it was something I felt pulled to do for about a year. So when I finally pulled the trigger, I felt confident everything was going to be fine. I think God reveals step one to us. He’s not going to reveal steps two-five and the final result because he wants us to have faith. Plus, how boring would life be if we knew each step and the final result?

I think there are so many people in this world that know step one – it’s the yearning you have in your heart. It’s the passion you can’t stop thinking about. But sadly, most people don’t take action. Without action, you’ll never make it to step two. You’ll never know the wonderful things God has in store for you.

My late-night conversation with my Uncle Steve was so fulfilling and inspiring. After two months of traveling solo, it was so nice to be refueled.

I hung out with my Aunt Lori and Uncle Jim for the next two days, getting to know more about them when they were in their 20s. My aunt showed me photo albums and it was great getting to know more about my grandpa because he died when I was five years old.

My aunt and uncle’s daughter, Melissa, was about to move to Wyoming so we talked about her new adventure. Their friends came over to eat a couple of times and I spend those days feeling like I was their own daughter.

It was time to fly back to Anchorage, Alaska, where I had left my car. I needed to make sure I was out of Alaska and Canada before all of the winter snow hit. I had a layover in Seattle again. I got lucky on the flight there and got an empty row to myself. The flight from Seattle to Anchorage gave me an exit row with additional leg room.

I wouldn’t arrive in Anchorage until close to midnight. I reflected on my time in Denver and started to get excited about the 36-hour ferry ride I would be taking soon from Haines to Prince Rupert.

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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