Our second ferry ride of the weekend was as painless as the first. We arrived about 30 minutes prior to departure, cruised on to the boat and were on our way. We started watching Nurse Jackie on this trip so we fired up a few episodes and were docking in Vancouver before we knew it. One thing I noticed was "missing" from the ferry experience was any security check-point. Not that there needs to be one really, but I found it strange and very trusting of Canadians to allow virtually anyone to drive their vehicle (or individually walk onto) the ferry without any security screening. Are we that sensitive to violence in the U.S. that we need security checks to make us feel safe? Or are other parts of the country that much more safe than ours? Regardless, nothing happened during our ferry experience that made me think there should be; I just found it a little eerie no one else did.
Upon docking in Vancouver, we drove off the ferry and headed North to Whistler. This, as I'm sure everyone knows, was the site of the February 2010 Winter Olympics and home to a huge ski resort and mountain biking course. The drive up the mountains was very picturesque - similar to what you'd see in Colorado but with the ocean down below. The drive took about 2 hours, but we stopped at Shannon Falls along the way and hiked up to this waterfall. How beautiful is this?!
Because my husband can never do things the normal way ...
We continued North toward Whistler. Andi saw a sign for a fish hatchery and turned in. I think he had some sort of fond childhood memory of visiting one. So we cruised in, but were disappointed to find only a few fish and nothing to really look at. So we looked around, and started taking photos because yeah, that's what we do.
We arrived in Whistler shortly after and it was booming! Tons of tourist groups, families and mountain bikers everywhere we turned. Now normally, Andi and I aren't much for crowds on vacations; usually avoiding all tourist traps and organized activity. At first, we were overwhelmed by all the crowds of people. There was a farmer's market taking place in Upper Whistler and was wall-to-wall people complete with amusement rides and all. We took a chance and spent $50 a piece on an unlimited lift ticket that took us all over the park. We jumped on the first lift to get away from the crowd and saw this:
...and more of this:
Not looking good. The farther we traveled up the mountain, the more dense the clouds became. Then finally: sunshine and warmth. It was wonderful. We hopped off at the top of Blackcomb Mountain and walked around the lodge. The views were amazing; we were on top of the clouds!
Next we took the Peak to Peak gondola over to Whistler Mountain. These new system was added before the Olympics to connect the two parks together. Oh my gosh! It was the coolest thing! Definitely the favorite thing we did all day. The gondola was all enclosed and is the longest spanning and highest rising in the world. The views were spectacular.
Once we arrived on the top of Whistler Mountain, we ate lunch and then rode the lift down to Whistler Village. It was crazy busy down there as well, with lots of restaurants and shops. It was the best of both worlds - the tops of the mountains were quiet and peaceful and the villages were bustling with excitement. I was surprised at how clean and quaint the entire area was. Definitely worth the stop.
Whistler Olympic Statue
As we cruised out of town, I begged Andi to stop at the Olympic Village Centre. I don't know what I expected exactly, but thought we'd see gigantic lodges and ski contraptions. But actually, it was small and disappointing. Being the marketers Andi and I are, all we could talk about is how much of a "miss"the park was. Since the space was already built, they could have showcased video or giant informational signage about the athletes who performed there or the records they set. Instead, all that's left are abandoned ski jumps.
We left Whistler and drove back to Vancouver. We were booked on the red eye flight, so we had a few hours to kill before the airport. We decided to return to the Sea Wall in downtown by the harbor and visit Granville Island. We spent the last few hours of our vacation strolling along the water, talking and dining at a outside restaurant patio.
What an awesome way to celebrate our first year of marriage! Loved Vancouver and can't wait to return someday as we celebrate another moment in our life together.