Tuesday, January 03, 2006

BC: The Week in Review

It's New Year's time, and that's when all the TV, radio, and magazine content out there turns to the retrospective. Since my updates were a bit lacking over this last little adventure, I figured I'd hand out some props à la year-end awards show.

The Gut Pleasing Award
Canadian beef. The USDA started blocking the import of this stuff because of mad cow scares, but I think the real reason is because it's so good, people who knew the difference would stop buying American beef. Seriously, our stuff sucks. Could be because of the hormones and cow pieces our cattle are fed... Just a hunch.

Runner up: Beaver Tail, a hot, cracked-wheat pastry spread with stuff you'd typically put on a crêpe. Everyone should start their day with a little bit of Tail.

The Refreshing Beverage Award
I'm not one to like girly drinks - or most sweet drinks at that - but if you're in Canada, you have to go to a Milestone's restaurant and have their Bellini. After all, they're the ones that created the champagne-peach-sangria concoction, and it lives up to its reputation. I'd had one in Australia and thought it was pretty tasty, but this one simply kicked ass.

Runner up: Kokanee Gold beer. While we get cheap crap like Molson, Labatt, and Moosehead, the Canuckleheads have a handful of beers that they're apparently keeping to themselves. The regular old Kokanee is a drinkable cheapie, but the Gold is actually a flavorful, full-bodied brew with plenty of flavor and not too much bloat.

The I Wish They All Could Be... Award
Canadian Girls. It must be that combination of clean air, clean water, pure beef, and guys too busy watching hockey to mess up their heads. By no means the hottest girls in the world, but definitely among the sweetest and prettiest in that plain, natural kind of way, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The Trying Too Damn Hard Award
Whistler nightclubs. Admit it, Whistlerites, you're in a small mountain town. Granted, it's a small mountain town that becomes one of Canada's busiest destinations, and as such you're going to have some great draws for nightlife. But stop pretending that every night is a big night. You don't have to charge cover every night, just to go hit an empty dancefloor. You don't have to keep up a queue outside, just to go hit an empty dancefloor. You don't have to advertise gimmicky things like gogo dancers and plexiglass DJ booths if no one's there to check them out. Try drink specials. They really work.

Runner up: Ego Monkeys and Snowbitches. Seriously, lighten up. You don't need to start fights because someone was looking at your skanky-ass girlfriend. He was probably pointing out one of her zits. Speaking of which, skanks, your shit does stink and you're not as hot as you think you are. You're on holiday in a little mountain town. Put the attitude aside and just have fun like everyone else.

Nightlife Penalty Box
Tommy Africa's (see: Trying Too Damn Hard), Garfinkels for having a $12 cover on an off-night, Savage Beagle who despite hosting a killer Om Records night made people wait in line in the snow while it was empty inside, and the Longhorn Saloon which is a pretty good place, but stop spinning all the ghetto-ass music when more people fill the floor when you play rock.

Nightlife Champs
The Boot Pub - bless your decent prices, excellent service, and status as Whistler's only part-time strip club. I still have no idea how you'd have striptease going on in there, and I wish I'd seen it, but good on you for trying. Merlin's - thank you for hosting a NYE party that people can actually afford after spending entirely too much on lodging and lift tickets. Citta - good bar, great vibes, awesome views, and a little bit of flexibility with last call times. Sweet.

By the Numbers
1: Coffee mugs in my cabinet at the Delta Whistler Village Suites. For the rate I was paying, I expect more attention to detail. And maybe a nightly palm job service.
2: Minutes we could tolerate Tommy Africa's, its shit music, and its shit service. World famous, my ass.
3: The time my return home commenced this morning, only to wrap up 15 hours later at work.
4: Shots Kellie made us do for last call at Citta, and that's why we like her.
5: Lift rides before getting to the top of Blackcomb. All that vertical comes with a bloody price.
6: Molson Canadian cans consumed before I realized the stuff was disgusting.
7: Average time, AM, that either Andrew, Heather, or myself would attempt to wake up in order to hit the slopes.
8: Key cards reissued by the Delta front desk due to demagnetization by wallets or cellphones. Quality stuff, guys.
9: Deep scratches over 2" long in the base of my snowboard, god dammit.
10: Actual time, AM, that either Andrew, Heather, or myself would eventually wake up to hit the slopes.
11: Dollars for a six-pack of cheap beer at the Liquor Store. Ouch.
12: Australians I hung out with during my time in Whistler. I swear, during the winter John Howard should just annex the mountain and plant a Southern Cross there.

Overall, a huge debt of gratitude goes out to Kathy, Kellie, Andrew, Heather, John, Susan, and countless others for a brilliant week. I hope to see everyone again, in some corner of the world, for more adventures.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year/Bonne Annee

That's what my mass text message said to everyone within my drunken digital path at the stroke of midnight. The bilingual message came first off because there were some French friends on the list, secondly because I was reading too much bilingual labeling, and also because it was a very multicultural night. I met up with Kel, John, and Susan at Merlin's - the popular bar at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, largely because they were only charging $5 for NYE festivities. Everyone else was charging $50-100. Funk dat.

The low price attracted a ready-to-party crowd from all over the world. There was my table full of Aussies. The French chicks who thought my accent was cute. The pile of Tex-Mex nachos bigger than my upper body. The British bloke who'd just come up from San Francisco after spending way too much money to watch cricket at my local pub. Every year our world gets smaller and smaller via technology, cheap transportation, and people's growing willingness to travel and meet each other, and that's what NYE came to mean to me.

I spent the evening with a load of people who'd convereged from numerous points of the world to share a party with everyone else - tons of beer, many shots, a great live band, and good vibes all around. Most of us hadn't even known one another a few days earlier. Once midnight came around and we did the countdown, exchanged greetings and kisses and group hugs, it really felt like a joyous occasion with friends, not an annual going-through-the-motions at a bar. It really kicked 2006 off on the right foot.

Happy New Year. It's gonna be a good one.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Epic Powder

I thought since I'd found a nearby internet cafe that I'd be providing more regular updates, but I've been too worn out. Between seemingly nonstop snowboarding and requisite apres-ski dinners and drinks, I haven't had time to put my butt in front of a computer and write...

I've been spending a lot of time riding the slopes, which has been a tiring, rewarding, and ultimately mixed experience. Having three weather zones on the mountain, conditions have been so variable it's nuts. I went from sunshine to white-out in minutes at the peak of Whistler Mountain, at one point being so blind that I couldn't tell which direction I was going. Never before in my life have I gotten motion sickness from snowboarding. After 10 minutes of riding nearly blind, I was ready to vomit all over the place. On the other hand, all the fresh snow and cold temperatures meant one thing: POWDER. Unfortunately, due to the weird geography and climate zones of Whistler, the powder is often mixed with ice and exposed bits of rock. My formerly pristine board now looks like a cat's scratching post, with a few deep cuts that'll have me up to the eyeballs in P-tex base repair crap for a while.

It's all been worth it, though. Today, up at the top of Blackcomb Mountain, I was blessed with a near perfect run of brilliant, knee-deep powder, just firm enough to be cruisable, soft enough to be forgiving on the turns. It was like snowboarding on a cloud. Sheer heaven. Perhaps that's why the lift that accesses that area is called 7th Heaven. No, not like that lame-ass show on the WB. More like actual heaven, without all the harps and pious people. I will definitely go home happy.

It's now New Year's eve and I have no solid plans. Eventually, I'm sure I'll get to dinner and then hit up one of the many parties clustered around the Village, but in the meantime, I'll have to rest up, soak these old bones, and just chill. I'm on vacation after all.

See you next year...