March 9, 2022
The First Law of Trip Planning states that as the linear number of travelers/planners rises, the potential for useless suggestions, debate, delay, and drama increases exponentially. After three months, the ski trip had two original participants uncommitted, one random waffled in and out, and no tickets booked.
“They aren’t going. Last year one of them bailed at the last minute because of the baby, and the other wanted to be at his son’s lacrosse tournaments. Who cares where they want to go?”
“Well, from what I remember, Whistler was amazing. And it never rains in Seattle. They say it rains there, but I have been a few times and never even saw a cloud.”
“SO to deal with the COVID tests, we fly into Seattle and drive across to Canada. The website has clear rules for driving: a negative test within 72 hours because trucks have to cross the border reliably. We could get shut out if we try to fly to Vancouver?”
“Yep. It’s a longer drive, but not that much, and we won’t risk the flight being canceled or rescheduled, which could mean we have to retest.”
“Great. My daughter and her boyfriend are thrilled to go, so let’s pull the trigger.”
British Columbia is spectacular. Driving the Pacific Coast Sea to Sky Highway, I looked back and forth from pristine blue water islands on the left to snow-topped forest mountains on the right. A colossal cruise ship steamed toward Victoria. At the right time of year, you can see pods of whales. Peaceful scenery was appreciated after the border drama: that and the hot chocolate and donut doughnut sugar buzz.
40 minutes earlier:
“Everybody got passports and COVID tests ready? OK, hand ‘em to me. Hello Officer.”
“Where you headed?”
“Going skiing in Whistler.”
“Just a minute.”
Ka-thunk, Ka-thunk, Ka-thunk went the pulse in my ears as my throat constricted. WTF is the problem? We are fully vaxed and documented. “Here’s the situation. The two of you are fine. The other two had their tests more than 72 hours ago… 76 hours ago. I could send you back to the US and make you get another test. And who knows how long until you can find an appointment? You might have to go to Seattle. But I am not going to do that. Here are two self-test kits. Once you get to your hotel, go straight to your room. Follow the instructions online, and a nurse will walk you through taking the test. Then you go straight to a pharmacy where they will collect the tests and mail them in. You can then go and enjoy your vacation. If you test positive, someone will be in touch immediately…”
“Thank you, Officer. We appreciate this.”
Certain people cannot avoid complications. If none comes about organically, they manufacture some. It seems to be in their DNA, passed down through generations. I come from a long line of idiots going back to the Old Country on my dad’s side. When I drove my daughter to get her new driver’s license, we sat for three hours at the DMV. Her number flashed on the screen, and she couldn’t find her old license.
“I had it in my purse; I know I did! Shit!” Back at the house, she tore her room apart and checked every jacket and pant pocket. The floor, between the car seat cushion, and even the garbage can.
“Do you think you left it in Texas? We can call and have them look.”
“Let me see your purse, will you? Here it is, ding-dong…”
“OMG, what is wrong with me?”
“Don’t worry about it; it’s genetic. All my fault. We can go back tomorrow.”
March 12, 2022
We skied Whistler in the morning and met up for lunch.
“Yesterday, we took the gondola to Blackcomb and did 7th Heaven in the afternoon. It was our favorite.” Great, let’s do that after lunch. They say the mask mandate is over; we can ski naked-faced tomorrow.”
“This Indian curry bowl is awesome. Live a little and have some with your peanut butter sandwich. It’s worth it.” “You’re right – wanna split one?”
The Whistler Blackcomb Peak 2 Peak gondola is a world record holder. The longest unsupported span of its kind, almost 2 miles, and in the middle, the highest above a valley, 436 Meters. That’s dizzyingly high, flying right through clouds, and as the view clears, if your stomach can take it, look down and see the creek like a thread winding along the valley floor.
“My legs have had it. Should we go down for après at the Chateau?”
“Kids, if you want to do more runs, meet us later for drinks, and we can do some work.”
This was the debut of OMARI in Canada. Identifying Whistler as a premier fashion ski destination, the four of us were brand ambassadors in OMARI leather skiwear. My daughter sported her namesake “Hannah” parka, neutral Smoke leather elegant with a raccoon trimmed hood. Her boyfriend looked boss in the Black Morgan jacket, and I was in Nimbus, the 3-in-1 Black with Warm Grey shoulders, and a hood over Black Straight Leg pants. The Grayson mitten prototype was in test runs. Black leather shell with a quilted embroidery pattern matching the Morgan jacket, and cashmere blend inside sewn with individual fingers. The shell unzips and your hand stays in the glove lining to work your cell with forefingers tipped in touchscreen-compatible fabric without removing the mitten. It reached the 30s by the afternoon, and my hands were hot. Yesterday morning in the 20s, they were a bit warm too, so we will adjust the Primaloft insulation to their 1-ounce glove product and lighten up the knit gauge for the cashmere so it will be perfect.
My friend had commissioned me to make him a custom jacket, Warm Grey with Red, White, and Blue trim.
“I tell you, I get more compliments on this jacket. It’s a perfect weight. I’m toasty, and all I wear underneath is this synthetic wicking thing. The leather is so soft, and I’ve never gotten wet. I have one more run left in my thighs, then I’m done.”
“Up 7th Heaven lift and then Cloud 9. We can take that black diamond Yard Sale. That’s the best snow on the mountain. Away from the high traffic runs, still powder between the trees.”
“We’re NOT doing Yard Sale.”
“Let’s all ride up together and do Upper Cloud 9. You guys hit all the nice blues and we will meet you at the Fairmont.”
Upper Cloud 9 was a cruiser, cut through the trees, under the lift, and into Everglades. Nice warm-up. “This weather is perfect! March is so much nicer. I hit some deep stuff off the side. Hard to imagine what it was like in January when your brother was here. Negative 20 Fahrenheit? No, thank you.”
“They literally didn’t ski one day- it’s not worth freezing your face off.” Take the green Expressway and then Yard Sale is off the right side.
Perched with ski tips over the edge, checking for a good line through the bumps, adrenalin kicks up a notch. Just me and the mountain. Pop off the lip, jump-turn from mogul-top to top I accelerate toward chaos. Ease down into the valleys, knees piston, poling off the tops kicking powder and turn, turn, turn, turn. Breathless. “That’s a good way to pop a tendon.”
“Like Hannah heard that guy say yesterday as he went off the edge, “There is no next time Andrew…” So true, if you don’t fall at least once or twice you aren’t really trying hard enough. The worst is like now; last run and you space out, catch an edge on the catwalk, and face plant. My brother has a great story about that from Steamboat. He went headfirst off the edge and ended upside down in a tree well. Nobody saw or heard, and he was just barely able to get out. So exhausted and scared he took off his skis and walked all the way down. On the last run-out it’s all about living to ski another day.“ Still about 5 miles to the beer. Focus. Sunset Boulevard to Green Line. Stay under the Merlin past the Gondola and to the right. There is Fairmont Chateau.
A modern-day castle. The ski concierge will take your gear if you like, the high-ceilinged lobby is buzzing. Debutantes in fluffy white robes heading to the spa traipse past James Bond types in black ski jumpsuits. A group of oligarchs chattering away, one lady stands out with a beautiful blonde fur ear-warmer and white snow pants over giant fur moon boots. “Think she skied today?” Let’s sit at the bar and get a beer. Who knows when the kids will show up?
The casually refined Mallard Lounge doesn’t mind you taking off your ski boots and padding around the thick carpeting in socks. German Lager from the tap with exactly 2 inches of foam soothes the feet, and the lead crystal glass etched with a rendering of the Chateau is a nice touch. “Looking good, Billy Ray.” “Feeling good, Louis” Surrounded by deep golden walnut wood and thick leather upholstery with the huge fireplace crackling and live guitar music we peruse the drinks menu with many tempting libations. “I see a table about to open by the fireplace.”
“Hey, sports fans! Over here. Where have you been?” We did 7th Heaven twice and went to shower and change. The spa here looks amazing, and we walked right past some cool shops for OMARI. Pick a drink first. How about a White Pear Cosmo, Rock Bottom with Thai Chili gin, or Drunken Mallard with Canadian Maple Syrup?