The next day was our uber long day where we’d head from downtown Vancouver to the mountains for Whistler day-tripping. It was about a 2 hour drive, so we got started early and met in the hotel lobby at 8AM to depart. We were both really excited for a day that consisted of all sorts of awesomeness – getting to the top of Whistler by gondola; lunch at the top; extreme zip-lining; drinks and dinner of the lead Star Award planner’s favorite Whistler restaurant. I promptly fell asleep on the bus while Brendan enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery.
We were dropped off as a large group and had a short walk to the center of town as we enjoyed our first few moments Whistler day-tripping. Since this wasn’t ski season quite yet, they carved the mountain in to some pretty intense mountain biking tracks. It was packed!
At the bottom of the mountain, we waited for a few minutes while our guides collected our gondola passes, and then we queued into the special group line to get right to the front. It was like the Fast Pass at Disneyland.
We hopped on to the gondola and slowly inched our way to the top. Once there, this miracle revealed itself.
Here’s the picture of the infrastructure at the first level, prior to the Peak to Peak gondola.
We had a brief 30 minutes stop to take in the sights and also to get our picture taken in front of the Olympic rings.
Then we switched gondola and got on to the Peak to Peak one that crossed Whistler in to Blackcomb. The view across was magnificent. Some of the gondolas actually had transparent floors (about 1 out of 30); unfortunately we did not get one.
Atop Blackcomb we were treated to lunch at Christine’s, a charming and delicious restaurant overlooking the glorious view. This was one of the best meals we had – a delicious salad and breads, and although the mains were some form of meat or fish and potatoes again, the vegetarian entree was very unique and tasty (a grain stuffed pepper). We enjoyed this meal even though it did go a little long.
When 2PM rolled around, it was time for us to head down the mountain and meet up with our zip-lining guides. Since we were excited about zip-lining as part of our Whistler day-tripping adventure, the ride to the bottom seemed to take forever!
We went with the group to the check-in area at the zip-lining storefront in order to sign waivers and then we were split up into smaller groups depending on the itinerary (easy or advanced zip-lining). We did the advanced one with 6 other people. We got suited up and headed back up the mountain, but this time only half-way.
We then took a 15 minute hike through the forest on dirt paths to the zip-lining infrastructure. I was the first to zip, since I had never done it before. Getting the mechanics of it were a little tricky at first because I kept revolving around and came in but first on the first run. On subsequent runs I was able to control my momentum and rotation better and even went upside down a few times! It was a blast.
We had two guides come up with us – an Irish guy and an Australian guy, both in there early 20s. They both had been at Whistler for a few years now and rotated between the zip-lining and being a ski instructor. They seemed genuinely happy with this life.
They also made it fun for us by setting up challenges on the courses (for example, on course #2 they challenged each of us to go upside-down). They also told stories as we walked from course to course, one time about a cougar that was sleeping on one of the platforms that they had to get to leave without being eaten of course. They also pointed out various aspects of the forest, the animals, and the plant-life.
After we went through 6 different runs, we headed back down the mountain and rolled in to an Irish pub. We had some beers with the other folks from the Star Awards who had joined us, and then headed to dinner with the larger group at Araxis.
Dinner was again very fun, and, each couple was given a very thoughtful gift – a small, jade carving of a polar bear with a salmon in its mouth (to commemorate all the salmon we were eating, of course! ;)). The other thing I remember about Araxis was that the wine was delicious and plentiful – they knew how to keep up liquored up and happy.
We headed back to Vancouver from Whistler day-tripping around 10PM and were back around 1130PM, promptly falling in to bed sad that we only had one more full day left.