Thursday, February 10, 2011

My hindsight is BETTER than 20/20

Hotel rooms and plane tickets to Whistler...paid for in advance
Ski gear ordered for trip $168
Rental car...$350
Parking at the hotels $35 per night
Best sushi I've ever eaten for Adam's birthday dinner $70
Best sushi I've ever eaten at the same place the next night $50
Ski rental for two $156
Tickets to Fresh Tracks for two $80
Lift tickets for Whistler/Blackcomb for two $180
View from the top...priceless
Sled ride down the mountain with the ski patrol...REALLY EXPENSIVE

Adam and I planned a trip to Vancouver and Whistler for his 40th birthday. It sounded great at the time. In order to get the best deal I had to pick non-refundable rates for everything. Two days before our departure, Adam lost his job.

Now what? Should we stay or should we go? Turns out, we probably should have stayed. This is where my hindsight gets really good. However, since I am only living my life for the stories...this trip was a rousing success!

The day before our trip we met Grand-mommy and Poppy Huskins in Knoxville to hand over Sophie Bean for the week. I was so sad to see her go, but she was in heaven and was waving as they drove away. She had an amazing time with them and was so excited.

The night before we were scheduled to leave, Adam was trying to print off our boarding passes for Southwest and found out that our flight was cancelled. He got us re-booked on another flight that left at almost the same time. The only problem was that it got in to Seattle at 5:50 pm (2 1/2 hours later than our original flight). Our off-site (translation...cheaper) car rental place closed at 6:00 pm. After many phone calls Adam managed to find a car for the same price at another site that stayed open until 7:00 pm. All's well...right?

We landed in Seattle and ran to get our bags because we had to ride a train to the car rental place and had to be there by 7:00 pm. When we got to baggage claim Adam's bag was there...mine was not. Turns out mine took a detour to Sacramento. Apparently this happens frequently out of LAX. The only problem? We were heading to Vancouver that Canada.

The good news...Southwest said the "could" bring my bag to me.
The bad news...They also said it would take a long time. We were only spending 1 night in Vancouver and then we were headed to Whistler.
The good news...My bag would be arriving at the airport in about an hour.
The bad news...The car place was only open for about 30 more minutes. I sent Adam to get the car while I waited on my bag.
The good news...He managed to get to the car place in time.
The bad news...He got horribly lost trying to get back to the airport to pick me up and was pretty stressed.
The good news...I got a $200 travel voucher from Southwest for the inconvenience.
The bad news...we got to Vancouver so late that we didn't have time to see anything.

Our first stop was at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver. It was a very nice hotel...with bottled water available for a mere $6.50 per bottle. YIKES. We snuck into the hotel bar about 5 minutes before it closed and split some wonderful fish and chips and filled up on the free water there.

The next morning we got up and it was raining...hard. We rode the light train to a little restaurant called Medina Cafe.  Delicious. I'm sure Vancouver is a wonderful city, but in the cold rain it is hard to tell. We found a little Chinese grocery store and bought some umbrellas there, walked back to the hotel, and decided to head to Whistler. Here are some pictures of the fresh seafood at the Chinese grocery store...amazing.

I had no idea what live scallops look they are

We also found some Chinese swiss cake rolls...interesting.
The drive to Whistler was probably unbelievable, if you could see anything. For us it was raining and foggy...but I'm sure it's very nice on a sunny day! 

On the way to Whistler we found a Wal-Mart. Normally I hate Wal-Mart, but I was dying for some diet coke (I didn't want to spend the money on it in the restaurants) so I was thrilled and stocked up! It was the smallest Wal-Mart I've ever been to.

Anyway, if you have never been to Whistler you must go. It is beautiful! We stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and while it wasn't the fanciest hotel I've ever been to, their customer service was AMAZING. This is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. They fall all over themselves trying to help you, I loved every single minute of it! Before we got there I emailed them to let them know it was Adam's birthday. They upgraded us to a deluxe room and while we were in the Village one evening they put some chocolate covered strawberries in our room. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel.

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler
View from our room
View from our room
View from our room
The next morning it guessed it...raining. However, the hotel has a shuttle that takes you all over the village so we didn't spend very much time in the rain and went shopping, eating, etc. Here are some pictures of the village.

That night we ate at Nagomi Sushi for Adam's birthday dinner. We found a recommendation for this place on a random blog. It was, by far, the best sushi I have ever eaten (and we eat a lot of sushi). I ate things raw that I didn't even know you could eat raw. Adam suggested we order one thing at a time, try it, and then order something else. We never have the luxury of eating this way because typically we are trying to entertain Sophie. It was heaven. BUT the sushi was so good we just kept ordering and ordering. I was terrified to look at the bill. It was technically Adam's birthday dinner so I wanted to relax a little but, but money was still at the forefront of my mind. When the bill came Adam looked at it first. It was $71 INCLUDING tip. I realize this sound like a lot to some people, but half that amount of sushi that is half as good is at least this much in Nashville. We knew we would go back...and we did...the next night! 

Our hotel at night
Before we left I figured we would opt out of skiing to save some money. I had not totally made up my mind, but wanted to play it by ear. Once we got there and saw the beautiful mountain I was afraid we would regret not skiing. I figured if we got home and Adam immediately got another job, I would be sorry we didn't take the opportunity to ski while we were there. I would love to blame Adam for this, but I'm actually the one who brought all that up. I knew he really wanted to go and that certainly influenced me, but technically I was the one who said it. Who knows if we would ever be able to get back there again...however, having been there I can't wait to go back. It could have been a once in a lifetime opportunity, or a disaster, I'll give you one guess as to how it turned out.

There were a ton of little kids skiing off the cute
Adam getting his rental stuff
Ready to face the mountain...or so we thought
We decided to do Fresh Tracks, this allows you to ride the gondola to the Roundhouse on Whistler before the mountain is even open. You have a buffet breakfast and then they ring a bell so you can be the first people down the mountain. They only allow the first 650 people to arrive to participate. We were at the Whistler gondola by 7:00 am, ready for the whole Whistler experience.

 Here are some pictures from almost the top of Whistler mountain.

Murdered out for the slopes for any Rob and Big fans out there!
The sun came out while we were eating breakfast and it was so beautiful on top of the mountain. I would have more pictures but Adam was yelling at me to start skiing already...

Let me preface this next part by saying that it has been a long time since either Adam or I have been skiing. The last time was a trip we took to Lake Tahoe before we were married. We both have been skiing most of our lives and figured it would come back to us pretty quickly. For the most part it did. However, I didn't figure in my elevated fear of injury related to the fact that I have to work and I have a small child to care for. I was so terrified of hurting myself that it took me awhile to get my "ski legs" back. Adam, on the other hand, was feeling every single day of his 40 years and required frequent rest breaks during his ride down the mountain. He CLAIMS that he was struggling to go slow for me and it was killing his legs. I claim that this might be only part of the truth. Anyway, we went down the first run. It took us a very long time to make it 1/2 way down the mountain. Partially because we kept stopping, but mostly because the mountain is HUGE. We rode back up to the top to ride the peak to peak gondola. It was closed...So I took pictures while waiting for it to open back up. 

And finally it did...

Adam on the Peak to Peak Gondola
Self portrait
Going into the clouds
In the clouds

And here is where the story gets interesting. When we got over to Blackcomb Mountain we decided to take the "easy" route down. Conditions were not great, it was a granulated snow/ice mix and an "easy" hill at Whistler is a little different than an "easy" hill other places. We started down the mountain and about 1/4 of the way down got into some fog and some very heavy, thick powder. I was leading and could not see a thing. I was praying to myself..."get me off this mountain safely, please get me off this mountain safely" the whole way. 

I figured Adam would want to stop at some point, but I was scared to stop in the low visibility area because I didn't want someone to run into me. Finally I found a good spot in front of a very large orange "slow" sign. I waited for quite awhile Adam. I figured he must have passed me at some point and was probably further down the mountain waiting on me so I started skiing again. I went a little bit further and found a nice spot to stop again and decided to check my phone. Here is the text message I found...

"Hurt knee. Ski patrol is coming to get me. I'll find you on the way down"

I would provide my response, but it involves a 4 letter word so I won't. I then had to ski the rest of the mountain alone. At one point I got lost and ended up on an "intermediate" hill. I am definitely an intermediate skier under normal circumstances, but this was a different world. I was trying to go slow to avoid another injury in the family and finally just gave up and skied straight down the hill (much easier). About 45 minutes later I reached the bottom of the mountain. 

I tried to find Adam. No luck. I went to guest relations and they told me he would be taken to the clinic. The emergency clinic. I went upstairs to get out of my ski clothes and to get some stuff for Adam. I realized I was gross and decided to take a shower...yes, in my husband's time of need I took a shower. I knew the rest of the day was shot so I figured I might as well be clean! 

This is where paying extra for a nice hotel paid off. When I asked the valet to get our car for me to take it to the clinic, they offered to take me there AND come back and pick us up. In a very nice Suburban. It was wonderful. I didn't have to drive anywhere, I didn't have to find a parking place, I didn't have to worry about how to get back...they took care of us! By the time I got to the clinic Adam was done with his X-Rays and was ready to go. The good was just a sprained ACL. The bad news...the bill was $922. 

Yeah, we weren't going to go skiing, changed our minds, and not only did we have to pay for skis and lift tickets...we also have $922 in out of network hospital bills. Hindsight. It's sort of like changing your answer on a test in school...always trust your first instinct, always!

I took Adam back to the hotel, hooked him up with some ice, and decided to explore the village. I bought him a nice ice bag, a knee brace (which we later had to return...without a receipt), motrin, and a t-shirt that said "The price of lift tickets is nothing compared to the price of the helicopter ride off the mountain" (unfortunately it didn't fit and had to be returned). I seriously considered buying him the t-shirt that had a big green circle with the word "easy" and on top of that "I suck". But I thought that would just be cruel. Funny...but cruel. 

The next morning Adam was getting around really well...too well. NOW, let me be clear, my initial fear when I found out he was hurt was that he would be hurt badly and need surgery. Surgery that would require a long recovery and therefore longer unemployment. So, while I am relieved and VERY thankful he was not hurt stung a little to see him barely limping and knowing it cost us $922 to get him off the mountain. I asked him to limp a little bit more, he obliged, and I felt better. 

The bottom line is...had he tried to ski to the bottom he probably would have been hurt much worse and he claims the sled ride was no fun...and I believe him. The only problem is...since I was ahead of him I have NO pictures of his ride and he wouldn't let the ski patrol girl take any for fear I'd post them on Facebook, or here. Which I totally would have! I mean, I'm hoping that was a once in a lifetime experience...and now I have no pictures of it. How am I supposed to live for the stories if I have no evidence. I'm still trying to get over this. But I suppose it's my fault for leaving him in the dust. 

The next morning we were leaving Whistler and we ate at Crepe Montagne. Holy was awesome! I actually took pictures of our food!!!

Omelette with sauteed mushrooms...YUMMMMMYYYY
Adam's breakfast with pancakes AND toast!
Chocolate and strawberry jam crepe
After breakfast we headed back to Vancouver. On the way back I spotted a convenient 7-11 and made Adam stop so I could get a Slurpee. I LOVE Slurpees and we do not have 7-11s in Tennessee. The last time I had one was in Chicago a few years ago and that one was cherry because the real Slurpee was out of service. Other than the almost constant Slurpee headache...thank heaven for 7-11. 

When we got back to Vancouver we checked in at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. All I can say is SWANKY. I almost booked the same place we stayed the first night but I'm so glad I didn't. This place was the same price and was so nice! It was a perfect ending to a somewhat dramatic trip!

Adam discovers the TV in the mirror
My view of the Superbowl...from the tub with a glass of wine! It made the Steelers loss a little more tolerable.
Our last morning in Vancouver I snapped some pictures from our window...a beautiful day in Vancouver, of course...because we had to leave!!!

We drove back to Seattle and dropped off the car. We were running a little behind and decided to take a taxi instead of the train to the Airport to save time, the train was going to take about 40 minutes. 5 minutes into our ride Southwest called to let us know our plane was about 40 minutes. Classic. The taxi ride cost us $40...versus $5 to ride the train. Is that not the perfect ending?

But wait...there's more...we parked our car at Adam's former workplace to save money on parking at the Airport. However, we needed a ride over there. When we got in there was no one available to drive us over (something about planes needing to be de-iced) so we had to take a taxi. His workplace is not even a mile from the airport. When we got out Adam handed the driver a $20. He gave him $2 in change. Adam asked him how much it was...he charged us $15 and assumed a $3 tip. I should have known when he didn't start the meter. I understand this is how he makes his living, but I just hate dishonesty. If he had told us upfront that his minimum charge was $15 we would have paid it...we didn't have a choice, but I hate it when I feel ripped off. 

Anyway, we made it home safely. Adam and his knee are doing fine. Sophie was back at home when we got there and has not stopped talking about her time with Adam's parents. She had a blast!

Watch out Vancouver and Whistler...we will be back!

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