Monday, April 23, 2007

To You, Eh!

So it's a week later. The luggage has been unpacked. The snowboarding gear has been put into storage for the off-season. The photos have been uploaded. And my liver is still recovering.

I'd like to take this opportunity, first of all, to say FUCK YOU to Snowbus. Not only did you totally flake on us on that Friday, but you still haven't refunded us, and your voicejail system has no means of getting in touch with you. You're not replying to emails, either, so I have no choice but to publicly call your patehtic asses out and warn all my friends and readers never to use your services. It's a shame, too, because last time I used you guys, you were pretty good. I hope your business fails as you drown in your oversized puddle of smug, complacent piss.

That said... YAY! WHAT A GREAT TRIP!

Many thanks to all the awesome people of Canada. (Except Snowbus.) Seriously, it's amazing how one tiny border crossing one country north makes such a difference in the demeanor and attitude of the people. Maybe there's something in the water, maybe there's something in the beer.

Extra super special thanks to Susanna for being Susanna and encouraging binge drinking even in the face of illness, to J for being a great snowboarding partner in crime and general enabler, and to Elena for being yet another enabler and warranting extra mondo mega props for hookin' up the pimp pad in Whistler Village. Y'all make traveling in a group worthwhile ;)

And to the readers out there who actually bother to keep up with this shit and check out the photos. With the massive holes ripped into my memory by years of hard livin', it never really happened unless I wrote about it or took pictures of it. Thanks.

Cheers, eh!

(Full Flickr photo set here.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


EDIT: Apparently I was pretty trashed an initially titled this posting "Drunk@PVR". Where is my mind???

So today at Vancouver Airport, J and I have accomplished what we did on the train from Belgium to London.

We pooled our remaining funny money and bought a LOT of Granville Island Pale Ale.

On top of that, some lady gave us her box of Tim Horton's donuts.

Canada... FUCK YEAH!

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Time and a Place for Everything

So normally I don't dig on the Jack Johnson. But like on trips before, sometimes it's just the perfect thing to listen to whilst mellowing out in the morning.

Here I sit, sipping on my espresso, taking in the warm atmosphere of yet another cafe, looking out at the cold grey outside, reflecting on another great jaunt beyond our country's borders.

And all I can say is that Canadians are nice. Really fucking nice. Not to the point of being irritating, but really, really, really friendly.

It's kind of like the Jack Johnson - overwhelmingly positive, almost in a sickening way, and totally lacking edge, but somehow very welcome. Eh.

Down for the Count

Chalk up another night in to food coma.

Yup, yet again, we've decided to forgo the legendary Whistler nightlife because we decided to pig out at a restaurant. Caesar salads, salmon, steak, more salmon, prawns, Bellinis, butternut squash ravioli. My friends still refuse to believe that we just ate at a chain restaurant (Milestone's) because it was so good. If the chain restaurants are this good up here, I want to move to Canada. The locally produced wine ain't bad, either. The waiter recommended the Sandhill cab-merlot and it paired perfectly with my bloody rare striploin. And now I'm obsessed with finding this wine. Almost as buttery and rich as the steak itself.

I must be getting old when I find food and wine to be a higher priority than chasing tail at nightclubs.

Go Ahead, Kill Me Now

Because my life is now complete.

I just watched Gremlins and South Park in French.

Freakin' awesome.

Permagrin Gone

So I took all these awesome photos today. Including a fantastic macro shot of the beeeautiful, cheesy, gravy-y poutine I had at the Longhorn for apres-ski today and... guess what? I just hooked my camera up and my memory stick has failed. I don't know if it's the altitude, the cold temperature, or the years of abuse my digi has taken, but the stick's dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. So bummed. I had some awesome shots, too. Especially of last night's killer Bassnectar gig. ARGH. ARGH. ARGH.

To think I used to work for Sony and was a proponent of Memory Stick. Assholes.

You'll just have to look at one of my similar shots from last year, I guess. *sigh*

On the other hand, here's a model example of how nice Canadians are. The guy running the internet cafe here (conveniently right across the street from my lodge) noticed I had a Mac and that the coffeehouse down the street has a network that doesn't work right with Macs, and thus has free internet. SWEET. Silver lining in everything, I guess. Too bad the weekend's coming to an end.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

I decided to throw better judgement out the window and go for it. Why not? How often am I up in Canada? How often do I use my snowboard bag to pack all my gear? (Answer: Last time I came up to Canada, a while back.) How often does one get to run Whistler/Blackcomb whilst uncrowded?

With a stiff upper lip, I decided to join the crew on the mountain, and it was WELL worth while. Sure, I stopped sometime after noon, but I got in a half day that made up for the shitty season we've had in Tahoe this year. Elena and Susanna made their way to the easier slopes, while J and I headed up for the top of Blackcomb and hit 7th Heaven, my favorite bowl from last time.

It wasn't without bumps. On our first run, which looked like a pillowy steep full of moguls, I got rocked. At some point I got topped, my back binding went loose, and I went through a knee-jarring set of tumbles that would've made any Hollywood stuntman proud. I was hurt, but not as much as my ego. No matter. Next round. Top of the bowl! Shuuuuushhh shuuuuuuushhh.. BUMP BUMP CRASH BANG OUCH! Oh crap, I just got a jaggy rock up my bunghole! Seriously, I was afraid I'd be shitting blood. I GOT A PIECE OF ROCK UP MY ASS. This really is not the way to start the day.

But after the rock, everything was all good. We hit a huge pocket of powder that was pure gliding pleasure. No turning necessary, just point straight down the run and enjoy the floaty, heavenly feel of real, true-to-life deep pow. This alone was better than all the days at Tahoe combined this year.

Then it got even better. Sure, I ate it going full speed down a cat track and 720'ed my way into oblivion. But after that, it was smooth sailing to the bottom. Largely due to my new Burton Audex jacket. If you don't have one of these, go get one. NOW. It's got Bluetooth for your phone, connections for your iPod, and most importantly, boomin' speakers in the collar so you can crank your music without being shut off from other skiers and riders. Hands free partying from peak to lift line. Get it. Get it. Get it! From the top of Blackcomb down to the gondola ride back down, I was cranking last year's Daft Punk set from Coachella, carving my way happily to the beat. Between the good snow and perfect soundtrack, this was the best day I've had on the mountain all season.

Capped off with several double Jack & Gingers and a poutine at the Longhorn, this was the perfect day.

Sure, I could go and ride some more. J & Susanna are up on the Whistler side right now. But I figured why jinx such a great day? I'm content, and I've got a permagrin on. Fuck yeah.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

So I've been coughing up some lung butter this morning, and my legs feel as weak as can be. Should I even bother buying an $81 lift ticket and try to work my way down the runs? The weather hasn't been ideal, and I'd probably be better served just sleeping all day...

We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful

Seeing Lorin jamming out on the main stage at the Telus World Festival has been the highlight of my trip so far. He was so fucking awesome, better than the first time I met him opening as a DJ for Supreme Beings of Leisure at the "Cafe del Mar" event at Pier 23 years ago. The man has talent. Not just as a DJ (believe me, he shreds some ass doing that) but also in creating original stuff, especially with two MCs on stage. I was blown away. I kept thinking back to killer sets of the past, in terms of how much I was enjoying it, and just how good the execution was and how well the crowd was getting into it. Fuck yeah! And he's like a mindreader, knowing exactly what I want to hear. I won't be missing any of his upcoming local gigs in SF if I can help it.

Anyway, time to get hopped up on more meds and crash. I'm SICK.

Stream of Consciousness

So I'm at the Electric Daisy internet cafe now, and I'm pretty hopped up on the Kokanees I drank in my freakin' JACUZZI TUB, the Crown Royal I've been pounding, and whatever pills I've been given to kill the pain. I'm achy and I'm sore and I have to get better so I can ride tomorrow, which should be a glorious day up on the mountain. It dumped yesterday. Raining at the base today, but that should mean snow up top. It's supposed to be mostly sunny and partially warm tomorrrow, so I'll be able to not only ride some potential freshies, but take in the amazing views Whistler affords.

Tonight the Telus festial stage starts at 7:00 and my old friend (not longtime, as in I haven't seen him in ages) Lorin Bassnectar is headlining. This should be bangin', provided I'm able to stand upright and withstand the cold. I really shouldn't go out tonight and get rested up and ride for tomorrow, but I really have no common sense or self-restraint when I'm on vacation.

So yeah, either I'm going to get very, VERY sick, or this weekend's going to be epic. Could go either way. In the meantime, I've got some Crown Royal and more Crown Royal waiting for me upstairs...


p.s. Canadians are REALLY FUCKING NICE.

I'm Feeling Much Better Now, Dave...

I just woke up and these motherfuckers, instead of going out, are drunk as skunks.

This is why they're my friends.

They've finished off most of the Kokanee.

This is why I hate them.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


So I'm full-blown sick now. Between sleeping with the window open the other night, and freezing my ass off at the Longhorn patio - despite numerous layers - I feel like a tired sack of shit. I'm sure falling off the wagon didn't help matters, either.

Oh well. Sleep cures colds, and I've got a valium and beer with my name on 'em.

O Bulimia!

So J and I just went and stuck our fingers down or throats and rolfed up a good chunk of our dinner.

We'd gone to the Brewhouse and had ginormous microbrews (the bourbon vanilla porter is out of this world), as well as ginormous portions of food. They say American portions are huge? Canadian portions make them look like little Weight Watchers boxes of food.

Anyway, my woodfire spit-roasted lamb was not only gigantic - I didn't know such a part of the lamb could be so huge - but tasted fabulous. And it was fairly gentle on the way back up.

We were supposed to go out and party it up tonight, but this is more what we looked like:

I Love Canada Again

So Greyhound wasn't at all bad. Sure, the seats are a bit cramped and traveling by coach is ssssllloooooowwww, but the ride was pretty decent. Also, unlike its American counterpart, Greyhound Canada isn't the Ex-con Express. While Greyhound at home is the unofficial transit provider of the US penal system, the one here is, well, just a bus.

We checked into our new pimp accommodations in the village and unwound, while I tried desperately to get the WiFi working, only to moderate success. (Hence the choppy bulk updates for you regular readers...)

Susanna and Elena immediately went to work scouting the village for drinking locations, and after a while, J and I met up with them on the Longhorn's back patio, with a perfect view of the Telus festival stage. Sam Roberts - whom I'd never heard of - was rocking the fuck out of the stage, the beers were flowing, and the snow was dumping. So much for the forecast for rain!

It dumped 4 inches just while we were out, and before heading back we went to the Village liquor store we went to pick up some supplies...

J complained that people were looking at him funny for buying so much beer. I mean, this is the country that gave us the McKenzie brothers. STRANGE BREW, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I find it hard to believe that any Canuck would begrudge someone for buying a shitload of suds.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Hate Canada

Ok, maybe not. But specifically, I hate Snowbus. Should you ever find yourself flying into Vancouver to go to Whistler/Blackcomb, do not - under any circumstances - book with Snowbus. Seriously. FUCK THEM.

Sure, they were just fine my last trip up here (link) and they're pretty cheap. And they pick up in downtown. But you know what? They also don't bother calling or emailing you when they've decided willy nilly to cancel their weekday service.

"Next bus is at 1:55. Tomorrow."

"I specifically reserved the 12:00 bus. Today. You've charged my account and everything."

"Sorry. You can either catch the bus tomorrow, or we can have you refunded by Monday."

"Umm, great. Thanks, Chief. And just how am I supposed to get to Whistler now? I kinda need to be there, oh, you know, when my condo reservation starts. TODAY."

"You can take Greyhound or Perimeter."

"Thanks. Fuck you, by the way." *CLICK*

I called Perimeter.

"We have one bus remaining today, at noon. Fare is $67 one-way. How many in your party?"


"Oh, we have one spot. Would you be interested in going tomorrow?"

"No thanks. And fuck you." *CLICK*

Ok, I didn't really say that this time, but I thought it.

Was this it? Would I really be reduced to riding Greyhound after vowing never to come within holding-my-nose-up distance of one of their buses?

Oh well, at least it's only $18. They have departures every two hours, as well as plenty of availability. And despite the derelict buildings surrounding the Pacific Central train/bus station, the place itself is actually very nice. There's even a gift shop with internet here. And you know me: Internet makes me happy.

I Love the Exchange Rate

While the US dollar is considerably weaker these days, coming to Canada can still be a good deal. Take, for example, my breakfast at the fabulous Beyond restaurant this morning. The best corned beef and hash I've ever had, topped with perfectly poached eggs and onion strings, with a giant glass of freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and whole wheat for $13.50. That's like $11 at home. Try getting a meal like this for that cheap at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco. I dare you.

I love Canada. The only shitty part is I feel like I might be coming down with a cold, thanks to me sleeping with the window open last night. It's amazing how many stupid things you can do without doing much. Such is going to bed drunk.

All Your Beer Are Belong to Us

I love traveling alone, but one of the great things about going somewhere with a group is that you can pool your resources. For instance, you could get yourself a decent hostel room on your own, or you can join forces and get a place with a view like this:

As much as I love backpacking and budget travel, sometimes you just need a pimpin' suite.

So here we are at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa, just spitting distance from all the hoppin' nightlife of downtown Vancouver. I led our crew (J, Elena, and Susanna) down Robson Street, which upon last visit was a carnival of diners, revelers - you name it. But being Thursday night, it was dead, to say at the least. You could hear everyone's footsteps, it was so quiet.

I felt like a bit of a tool bringing everyone down here, and we ended up settling on some restaurant & beer bar. If we're gonna be in the Pacific Northwest, let's at least drink some beer, eh?

For a moment, I thought our bartender was Irish. His Canadian accent was so heavy, it was hard not to chuckle. I so wanted to order an Elsinore, eh. But I went with the Granville Island Pale Ale, and we went through most of the other local brews, as well. I found my butt growing roots in my stool, and as the barkeep asked what our next round will be, he reminded us it's last call.

"What?? It's not even one yet!" I protested.

"We have a restaurant license. If you wanna drink 'til two or three, you'll have to find a bar, eh."

Fair enough. We ordered another round and started chit-chatting with the group of off-the-clock employees next to us. They started doing shots, so we decided to do shots. They ordered more beer, so we ordered more beer.

Ladies and gentlemen - our first night in Canada and we're part of a lock-in! Two o'clock rolled around and we were still drinking more local microbrew. One of the gals, Ashley, seemed to be all over J's shit. Too bad there wasn't enough Jagermeister left behind the bar to lower his standards. She was sweet and cool, but belied everything I'd told my friends about how Canadian girls are so pretty. Her galpal, on the other hand, looked like my favorite Spice Girl (yeah, I know, Sporty's a dyke or something) and I would've been more than happy to fulfill my role as wingman, but like I said - not enough Jager in there to make this happen.

Maybe I hang out with people who are just too picky. While our bartender was cute, the girlies sat around theorizing that his eyebrows were too shaped, and therefore he must be gay. Whatever. Then again, he kept making conversation with me, even though I had two nice young ladies right next to me. Maybe they were right.

O Canada!

I'm in Canada now. Vancouver, to be exact, and off to Whistler to catch the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival. (And do a little shredding, myself.)

So here goes an extended weekend of snow, Pacific Northwest beer, and hopefully lots and lots of POUTINE.

Updates and photos once I find some decent internet access, eh.