Feb 13, 2010, Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

 I know this website has a dyslexic/hyperlexic theme but thought I just add some other spice.  My time at the 2010 Olympics.  This is Day Four, Saturday, Feb 13th, 2010

Good morning:

Oh my gosh, there was no way I was writing last night!!!!!!!!   Not even for myself.  I got back to Katherine’s at 12:30 am.   It was POURING RAIN and the streets, even her street in the West End was teaming – well, about ten of us – with Olympics people – all volunteers heading wearily home for a good night’s rest.  The guy I chatted with as we walked the block from Denman to K’s apartment is from Montreal – He’s a volunteer – driving artists all over town and loving it every moment.  He’s was all decked up in his “blue and green uniform with his identification hanging down in a pouch from his neck, feeling very proud  He’s having a blast!!!! 

Day Four, yesterday, began with a quick trip to the Vanoc Box Office – looking for a medal’s ceremony ticket.  No luck yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then my day four really began. 

Whistler.  Now, can you believe the last time I went to Whistler was 1964.  Haig and Mary took me along with Jane and Charlie Kimbrough who were in VCR performing at the Vancouver International Festival and Romilly.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  All I remember is a colorful meadow with many sorts of wildflowers and a stream, a rushing stream and Mary’s generous picnic including a bottle of red wine.  Those were my drinking days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    We had a great time.  

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that has all changed. Thank heavens I had pre-arranged my transportation which departed at 9:10 promptly – leaving many behind to wait for the next bus.   I had a cup of hot milk from Starbucks to keep me company as we set off.  I was lucky to garner a front seat – my seat partner was a pilot with Fedex who had dead- headed from Connecticut via Memphis and then VCR.   I learned a lot about FEDEX behind the scenes but mostly we kept questioning our bus driver – what’s that, oh, what’s this.  It was one of British Columbia’s typical winter days – overcast.  The clouds were hanging every so low as we journeyed into the mountains.  The new road is beautiful – does hang a bit on a cliff at times – not unlike Highway 1 going out of San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 

 We passed through Britannia Beach. Remember how at school we learned about businesses in Canada and how copper came from Britannia Beach.  Well, there we were going through Britannia Beach.  Kind of a sad town now! 

And, then two and half hours later we were in Whistler. The bus driver admonished us.  Be sure you take note of where I have dropped you off.  Remember Seven-Eleven.  Whistler Village will all seem similar and for the Olympics our stop has changed.  We leave on time so get back here – find your way in plenty of time.  I knew I would get lost, directions are not my best!  Seven-Eleven, that I can find, ‘cause I can keep asking until I find it. 

The first thing that struck me about Whistler is the architecture.  Some of the hotels seem reminiscent of the old CPR and CNR train hotels with their peaked roofs – no not copper – but still. Whistler didn’t feel like a quaint old ski town.  Hmmmm 

Then I realized, I have no idea what to do here. I asked one of those Vannoc volunteers in their blue and green outfits – you can’t miss them, you know:  Where is the Tourist Bureau.   You go turn left and then right and then left.   Grump.  I got lost twice (didn’t care – kind of fun) but then, voila, there it was.  I asked:  How can I best take advantage of my day in Whistler;  I have a ticket in the evening to The Nix but nothing else. 

Well, it began with a trip up the gondola – me and six others. They all had skis and those funny boots.  Have you watched how people walk in ski boots – it’s like they tip toe – only they are in these clumsy, not flexible boots.  I would HATE that experience.  They seem unconcerned.  Our gondola headed straight up, over snow, mounds of snow.  We even watched for a few minutes – from our bird’s eye view – a practice session of the salalom (sp) race – you know, know the one where they have to wind their way around poles.  I learned it’s okay to hit them??????    My fellow travelers in my cubicle high above the snow told me:  Be sure you get the clear floor when you go peak to peak. They were referring to the next top of the mountain ride I was going to take.  Okay, Okay I said.  We arrived at the top of whatever, I think it was Whistler and it was darn cold as we exited.  There were people, and skis and people and skis everywhere.  I looked to my left and was befuddled.  What in God’s name is that?   It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting– you know the one where all the paint is spattered on the canvas – only this was huge.   I approached and laughed and laughed.  It was rows and rows of skis waiting their owners to pick them up.  Kind of like lost children. 

I wandered about a bit and decided – time for peak to peak.  Now, it’s an overcast day and fog – yes – fog was about.   So, the drama of this trip was minimized somewhat for in the valley between each peak was scattered fog – seemed like SF home.  This is an extraordinary ride:  It’s a suspension ride.  One very tall tower on one mountain whose stable cables are driven deep, deep into the group holds three cables strung across this immense valley to the next mountain and another very tall tower.  I decided for my first trip across I would choose a cabin with the solid floor – didn’t want to scare myself to death.

Had great fun chatting with all the skiers from ALL OVER THE WORLD, each with a unique story.   We made it across, whew!!!! – took twenty minutes.    I wandered this mountain for a while.  I would love to come back and hike here!!!   Then, my tummy told me – eat Ann.  So I headed in.  Awful food – but who cared.  I chose a hamburger – needed protein and of course chips.  It’s so great to be back in Canada – they serve vinegar with chips,, the one redeeming lunch feature.  I found myself sitting at a table with four volunteers, in their late 50’s. They are from Thunder Bay in Eastern Canada.  Guess what they are doing?   Preparing the courses for the skiers.  Today the gals – went in tandem sideways down the steep course sideways stamping down the course so it is flat and pristine and their husbands stood on the side of the course and had huge whisks on long handles gently brushing aside the powder snow that their wives have unsettled.   They had been up since 5 am and it was now 1:30 pm. Famished, exhausted and hilariously funny.   Didn’t matter my lunch was so awful. 

Time to return on the gondola back to the original peak.  I never did figure out when I was on Whistler and when on Blackcomb.  Didn’t really matter.  This time I went in a glass bottom gondola. LOVED IT.  It was like sitting on top of trees ladened (sp) with snow.  It would have been fun to be able to swing from those tree tops.  The fog was doing its fog thing, swirling about.  We all took each other’s pictures.  Lot’s of fun.

2010 Olympics: Ann atop Whistler Mountain on a gondola

Ann in a gondola atop Whistler Mountain

I hung out on the other mountain top for a while, just taking it all in.  So beautiful.  And, I wasn’t cold at all.  Had one of Mum’s hand knitted sweaters – the bright orange one –  with its high neck.  No cold could get in there!  And, then it was time to return down the mountain.  This time I got a gondola all to myself.  What a treasured time that was.  And, guess who called on my cell?   Haig and Mary – They are in Hawaii  sunning.  What a hoot that with all the technology no matter where you are you are connected! 

My late afternoon in Whistler Village was figuring out where the Seven Eleven is.  You know, the village all looks alike so I need to get my bearings for I was taking another bus up to Lost Lake for a performance at 7:30 pm and knew everything would look different later.  I finally felt like I had it figured out, found a Starbucks for my afternoon Chai and then headed to the large screen to watch the first part of the Canada and ? hockey teams play.  Canada was well ahead when I meandered on for my theater.  Now, I had to take the number 6 six bus to get there.  It was jammed with tired skiers and visitors.  A man said to me: Lost Lake, theater.  I don’t think so.  Oh yes, I said. At which point an Asian couple said, yes, she’s right, we’re going too.  It took the bus half an hour to get us there.  Nearly the last stop.  And, suddenly we were left – the three of us in the dark.  A lady appeared with a flash light and said welcome to THE NIX.  Just walk down this snowy path and you will come across a tent.   Now, I could see why the instructions I printed off their site had a BIG warming.  DO NOT WEAR HIGH HEELS.  This was a snow adventure.   

The play took place in snow sculpture.  It was a good enough play – you know about being uphappy and finding love.  It was the environment that was unique.  I had a little blanket that stored into nothing that I brought along.  This young New Zealander was sitting by me – he was dressed for the summer, so we shared my blanket.  I didn’t want his teeth chattering!!!     I told the guy taking tickets that I had a 9:30 bus to catch back to Vancouver.  After the half hour trip to get to the “theatre”  I was a bit apprehensive about the reality of my making my bus.  Oh, he said:  I will get you a taxi.  Seemed somewhat impossible out in this wilderness – but by gum, it did happen.  The return trip was no more than five minutes and he knew where the Seven-Eleven was.  Yes, I made my bus. 

 Predictably, the bus was jammed.  We were all tired. The chatter soon stopped.  Before we knew it we were back in Vancouver – two and a half hours had flown by disembarking at the Hyatt, next to the subway.  It was just past midnight.  Vancouver was jumping.  Oh my goodness.   

 A wonderful day.

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