Feb 2, 2004

I stopped writing on after Whistler Day 6, and really, since I've gotten back, I either haven't had the time, or haven't been in the mood to get the rest down. It's kinda amazing how it was 3 weeks ago, but it's felt like 3 months. Here's what's remaining in my memory, before it melts away:

January 8, 2004: Whistler Day 7
So a Arislan, Asmodean and I suited up for our fifth day on the hill. Relgar and Marilyn headed out that morning too. They made it out the door before us; we ran into them at McDonald's. I was hopelessly scanning the booth that we occupied every morning for some sign of my Banff gaiter, which I had lost somewhere the previous day, but there was no sign of it. Asmodean got his regular sausage mcmuffin. I got my bacon and egg bagel, since as we all know, bacon is good. I don't remember anyone else' breakfast.

We parted ways with Relgar and Marilyn after breakfast. We stopped briefly at the ski shop to pick up Sinyee's board. It was quick since she had rented the previous day; her bindings were all set up, she only had to grab the board. By the time we got to the base, we'd pretty much decided on doing Blackcomb again, since Sinyee hadn't done it before. Just walking to the mountain, it was much warmer than the previous days, and while the first day was clear and frigid, the last day was warm and cloudy.

The four of us got into the Blackcomb gondola, which, being newer than the Whistler one, was much more comfortable, and you could actually seat 8 comfortably. They stuck another couple in with us, making it a spacious 6. While Sinyee marvelled at the grandeur of the mist-shrouded mountain, Xun and I cast glances at each other as we were eavesdropping on the couples' argument.

Apparently, she didn't like the way he let girls hit on him in the bar, or something like that. She was also going on about how she didn't like it when other guys hit on her, I suppose the subtext was that he was to behave the same, although she seemed rather convinced that all men were pigs. The conversation ended with an uncomfortable silence after she declared something like "I don't think I want to be your girlfriend anymore", upon which Sinyee snapped out of her beholdenment of nature to declare "I don't think I should've had that sausage McMuffin", or something to that extent. Angry potential-ex-girlfriend picked up on the cue to exclaim in a mix of bewilderment or disgust, that one would have McDonald's for breakfast. Accused philanderer chimed in on how McDonald's kills a lot of pigs (which we had actually discussed earlier in the week), and how he didn't eat pigs because they're filthy animals since they didn't sweat and rolled in the mud and thus had flesh full of toxins. Apparently, he didn't eat pork, and had managed to convince his companion to quit the meat since they started dating. I guess it never occured to him that pigs, like all other mammals, would piss and shit. Or perhaps he forgot that, in which case I could excuse him for being constipated. Actually, I did, so I didn't give him the whole "bacon is good, pork chops are good" speil. It's a pity Lancer wasn't there, cuz I'm sure he coulda convinced our abstaining gentleman on the merits of personality. In any case, we had reached the end of the gondola ride, so we never really figured out what happened. The girl was reasonably cute though, I bet if she tried she could find a guy who'd bring home the bacon.

The conditions were pretty crappy all around. The powder on the previous two days melted into heavy sludge. It would have been fine for snowballs, but not too good for riding. It was especially crappy for click-ins, since it'd pack into the bottom of my boots like crazy. I pretty much needed my swiss army to clear em out on a few occasions. I haven't figured out why my bindings were coming loose, but over the course of the day, I had to tighten the screws a few times. The conditions were bearable on the top third of the mountain. Riding up the chair, as the rain plopped against my jacket and soaked my gloves, there's an almost imperceptible change as the splatter eventually turned into a rattle, and before you know it, flakes instead of drops are running over my gloves. As we rode down through the snow, we'd run into big clouds of fog as the snow turned to rain.

Highlight of the day was after our lunch break in a stuffy lodge on the top of Blackcomb. It's a small shack, and given the weather, it's packed and humid. We rest for a while, and since we'd been doing the same chair for most of the morning, we tried taking a different route. We're going around the mountain along a catwalk, and in the fog we see a roped off area with a warning sign, and a gate. "Couloir Extreme" it says, with two black diamonds on orange. When Sinyee gets close enough to see us sitting by the gate, she yells at us, "are we going there!?". I sense fear in her voice. Asmodean is with her, so I yell back "You're NOT going down here, you go THAT way!", after which, Arislan and I make the trip complete off that plunge.

That evening we had dinner at the High Mountain Brewing Company. They didn't really have the pub grub we were looking for, the nachos and burgers. Instead they had fancy stuff, I ended up getting a seafood paella (at a bar? go figure), but their beers were not bad. Afterwards we stopped by at Cows for ice cream. I don't really remember what we did that night, other than the fact that I was really tired.

January 9, 2004:Whistler Day 8
We got up and packed, rather more efficiently than I expected. While we had arrived without snowboards, Arislan and I now needed to fit them into the back of our massive SUV. On top of that, we needed to fit Asmodean's luggage in on top of the four original occupants, since he was on a later flight, and would be hanging around with us for most of the day. At first it was doubtful that everything would fit. It seemed like Asmodean might end up sitting the day away at the airport. But as with most problems, when you just yank it all out and give it another shot, we eventually found a way to pack everything in just right.

Each car grabbed a Talkabout, and the game of twenty questions carried us pretty much all the way back to Vancouver. Our car picked the hippiesque peace symbol, they couldn't guess it. They countered with a palindrome, and we got that. We found our way to chinatown after two hours, and after some wandering (and hobbling on Lancer's part) we found a dim sum restaurant (Park Lok) which had reasonable prices and mediocre food.

After lunch, we parted ways. The Ontarians were in one car, most of their flights left early in the afternoon, so they headed to the airport. Asmodean moved over to our car. I dropped the guys off at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. I remember it being pretty cool when I went there as a kid. I drove over to Coquitlam to visit my grandmother, my aunt Jeannie, and my cousin Luke. It took about an hour, but I eventually found the place. I hung around for an hour and a half while my grandmother offered me fruit, and then I headed back to pick up the guys, who discovered that the Aquarium really wasn't as big as we had thought. Ah well.

On the way to the airport, we made a few calls. Did I mention that I had left my phone in the car at San Francisco Airport? Luckily these other guys had phones and were able to arrange rides for us back in SFO. Asmodean was on a different flight from us, so we parted ways. We checked in easily, although Arislan faced some I-94 difficulties going through customs. Eventually he made it through, we grabbed dinner at Burger King, and got on the plane just in time as the last passengers. Almost. The last passenger, who we saw running towards the gate as we entered, was Asmodean. Somehow he had missed his flight and got put onto ours, which was fine, since the plane was empty. We got a row to ourselves, made it back to San Francisco without a hitch, got picked up by 3 cars, and ended up back home in San Jose.

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