December 29, 2005

Canada, eh?

Before I begin, I wanted to mention that Lilly pointed out an error in my links to me today. I have no idea how far back it goes, but apparently the "blog" link I've been using in the top left hand navigation links in my entries has been pointing to "Colloquial", my old blog, and not the current blog. Sorry about that, but isn't it nice to know that after all this time I still have a marvellous capacity at being a dumbass?

Okay! So we got back from Vancouver (eh?) a couple of days ago. The plan was to go skiing in Whistler, but mother nature didn't cooperate so much. So really, we ended up not so much skiing as shopping and eating and drinking. A lot. A LOT a lot. The lack of skiing was a pretty big disappointment, considering the fact that a) we were at the (allegedly) PREMIERE ski resort in the world at which the potential for PREMIERE skiing was evident, yet the actual PREMIERE skiing was sadly lacking; and 2) we dropped several pretty pretty pennies on the vacation. But Whistler Village is one of the coolest places we've ever been. The people were extraordinarily nice, the food was fantastic, the beverages were prevalent, the room was comfortable, the shopping was expensive, and the atmosphere was really a lot of fun.

There are several things that I would like to mention about our travels. The only anti-American sentiment we encountered was at 2:00 in the morning the first night of our stay (after a perilous two-hour journey up the mountain in the absolute dark and pouring rain). We heard some drunken villagers yelling, "America fucked Canada!" out on the street. We're not sure how America is supposed to have fucked Canada, but that's what they passionately believed. I, for one, am very fond of Canada, and my Canadian friends.

There was drunken revelry and singing outside of our room's windows every single night, in various languages and levels of skill. And the last night, some guy named Ben went missing. This is what we heard:

From the street below us: "Ben? BEN!"
From an upper window of the hotel across from us: "What's up?"
"I can't find Ben. Ben? BEN!!! Is he up there?"
"No, he's not up here. Fuck. I am WAY too drunk to go looking for anybody right now."
"BEN!! Ben? Be-en!"

We don't know if they ever found Ben.

There were dogs EVERYWHERE. Whistler Village is a very VERY dog friendly place. The only place dogs weren't allowed was inside the restaurants, and since every place had an outdoor eating area, that wasn't a problem for dogs or owners. And there was NO doggie doo anywhere. Everyone was very polite about picking up the doo. There were bags provided at every garbage receptacle. Quite often we'd come across a dog that had been tied up outside of an establishment. It would very politely suffer our pets and "Ohh, what a good puppy!" cooing. We might get one or two half-wags and a little lean into the legs. But as soon as their owners showed up, look out. The leaps and the yelps and the "Oh, thank GOD you're here! These strange people kept wanting to PET me. And it's raining, and when are you going to feed me?" Yep, Whistler was all about the dogs. Gypsy would have died of happiness.

We've decided that it would really be nice to live in Vancouver. We drove through this one area outside of the city toward Route 99, and the chalet type houses (bordering on mansions) were absolutely beautiful. Vancouver residents seem also to be all about the hedges. Each house was hidden behind high, green, solid hedges - some with arches cut into the middle for access to the yards from the sidewalk. Which I really prefer above the high, gray, solid concrete walls that separate properties in Arizona. Vancouver itself is in an incredible state of construction. It seemed the entire downtown area was comprised of towering skyscrapers in various stages of completion. I assume the building boom is in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics. I hope they get snow. Humph.

We seriously, swear to God, heard some people end every sentence with, "eh?" There were also folks from Australia ("No worries!") and New Zealand ("Good on you!"). Japan and China, tricked out in the poofy fluffy furry ski gear. There were a lot of people from France and England, and a good representation of folks from Ireland flocked into the Dubh Lin Pub (their fish and chips weren't quite as good as Rula Bula's, but they made a mean Harp Snakebite). Pretty much every shop keeper and waiter and waitress and bartender and hotel desk clerk was from a locale other than Canada. I don't think we ran into anyone else from the U.S.

The service was fantastic up there. Everyone was wonderfully polite and helpful. We had a fancy dinner at Araxi and the waiter (Mark, who was cute with big dark eyes and a New Zealand accent and stories about how he and his partner want to take the Greyhound to tour across America for $600) was extremely attentive. He (thankfully) took away the cutlery we didn't need, and COMBED our table free of crumbs between courses. Each of us went to the bathroom during the course of the meal, and each time he noticed and came by to fold up that person's napkin. He seemed humbly apologetic when he presented the bill, and then met us at the door on our way out to thank us. We watched another young man bus tables between customers, and he seemed obsessed with not allowing the top of the table to be seen as he switched table cloths. We were actually curious enough to lift up our own table cloth just to see what the hell was under there. Lo, it was a table.

We ate at Earl's twice. Two words: Filet Mignon.

Since there was no snow, I wanted to return our ski equipment and get refunded on our lift tickets. I expected a fuss, since it says right on the lift tickets that refunds are not provided for poor conditions. But when I went to the customer service desk they were more than happy to refund our money. Everyone acted as if they were personally responsible for the lack of snow and heaped apologies wherever we went. So even though we didn't have a great ski experience, everything else came together so well that we'll certainly go back again. Probably some February, since I don't think we'll chance Christmas in Vancouver again. The next Christmas ski trip will be in Colorado, I think. I hear they got FEET of snow over the holidays.

We could actually see the scenery going back down the mountain, and it was such a pleasure to see so many streams and rivers, mountains and trees, and the ocean. Customs coming and going was kind of sucky, but it only took us about twenty minutes to get through the lines both times, which I understand to be quite extraordinary. So all in all, it was a pretty good trip. The animals survived under the care of the pet sitters, and Oz hasn't left us alone for one minute since we got home. Calvin is on vacation until next Tuesday, I'm on vacation until next Thursday, and Marie doesn't go back to school until the 9th. We tried, but in vain, to convince Michael and Lilly to visit over New Year's with the babies. I think they're worried that they'll wear out their welcome before they move in with us in May. Silly kids.

And now, picture goodness...

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