Sunday, July 10, 2011

Canada is Fun, eh (or “ey” if you prefer)?

"Best on earth"? That's a bit pretentious 

If friendly nationalities were an Olympic sport, Canadians would have to earn a silver medal at the very least, with those genteel Luxembourgers around the corner. Think about this – Canadians are frequently the targets of tacky (or awesome) jokes about syrup, linguistics, Mounties – and no one ever takes offense. “How I Met Your Mother” is consistently coming up with hilarious Canada jibes (“jibe” was supplied by Word as a synonym for “joke”… terrible); South Park’s “Blame Canada” was even nominated for an Oscar!! What do our lovely friends up north think? They laugh – then buy prescription drugs with their free health care.

So it’s with this thought in mind that I say the Canadian border patrol north of Washington is full of douches! This is not just my take; I’ll have you know I’ve had numerous friends that have indicated similar unfriendly encounters.
This is the unfriendly lane

It’s about 7am or so early February. My buddy Mitch and I are juiced up on 5-hr Energy shots, driving to Whistler from Seattle to do some snowboarding that will certainly be legendary. We get to the Canadian border, wide-eyed with anticipation, greet the border patrol officer with large smiles, unadulterated joy, and a rousing, “How you doing today?” Dude glares at me like I just punched Wayne Gretzky in the face. Five long, awkward seconds pass. His vision pierces through us. Confused at his disdain, I ask what I need to do – considering I’ve never driven across the Canadian border before.

“You can start by giving me your passports.”

Short. Venomous. Hatred brewing towards America. We tell him we’re excited to go snowboarding in Whistler, and he ignores us. He then asks us a series of rapid-fire questions without listening to the responses: where are we from? What are we bringing? Why are we here? How do we know each other? For how long? What’s my first pet’s name? What elementary school did I attend? It was like I forgot my gmail password and entered a never-ending land of generic identity verification questions.

Mitch and I contemplated supplying fake information to this guy just to see how he would react. How do you know each other? We don’t. Just picked him up ‘cuz I liked the cut of his jib. What’re you bringing into the country? Frogs that are not indigenous to the area and will soon overrun the country. Why are you visiting? We love burritos. Wait – is this Mexico?

It's like a green, bulimic version of the Golden Gate
After this little border experience, we cruised to Vancouver, which seems to be a fine place. However it doesn’t have any major freeways that go through the city. That’s f’n weird, people! Think about it. No major freeway going through the city? Vancouver’s population is said to be around 2.2 million. That’s comparable to Houston. Can you imagine Houston without a major freeway cutting through their TWO downtowns? Insanity like Shaun T! Vancouver’s highway quickly turns into city streets, which turn into residential streets, which turn into Optimus Prime. We had to ask numerous polite Canadian pedestrians and take a series of side streets to get out of the city. It was like our own personal “Quick Change” (arguably Bill Murray’s most underrated movie).

The village
Should've stuck with the greens
We got to Whistler around 11, on the mountain by noon. As we geared up at the base, we contemplated bringing extra layers for the summit. A guy next to us told it was below zero at the top, so we took his advice and dressed a little warmer. As we headed to the summit, the weather was perfect. Sunny. No wind. It dawned on us – homey was talking in Celsius not Fahrenheit. Oh Canada! You tricksters. It was actually around 27 degrees for us, which is ideal.

Couldn't find this run. Had to settle for pic from lift
The resort is enormous. Two twin mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, draped in snow, more than 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, 200-plus trails. Waisting little time, Mitch and I hit up the Peak to Creek run, which is more than 5,000 feet – practically a mile long run. Now I should mention Mitch is a ridiculous boarder who grew up near a resort (Big Bear counts right?), and does big air and a bunch of really cool stuff that I can’t. This mile-long run left both of us exhausted. Mitch was nursing a completely flogged (another Word synonym replacement – who comes up with this stuff?) ankle, and I was just brutally out of shape. The run didn’t just leave my legs cramped, but also my toes and hands. Who gets cramped thumbs? Snowboarding?!

Mitch was proud of this photo. He needs glasses.
The next day riding wasn’t much better for either of us. Mitch developed a softball-sized knot on his calf, while I remained Sir Cramps-a-Lot. And there’s the rub. The resort is so large that taming it in two days cannot be done – even if we were in better shape. We explored as much as we could, cutting up a few backside bowls, including one that was thick, untouched powder. But ultimately there wasn’t enough time to take it all in. And that’s just one mountain. Thanks to a Peak-to-Peak gondola, we were able to finish day two on the Blackcomb side, otherwise we might have missed that mountain entirely.

Powder be deep
Whistler is every bit as impressive as the hype. Legions of powder. Open range. Friendly Canucks. Yet as incredible as the resort was, I felt like we weren’t able to capitalize on as much as we should have since our health was so friggin’ flogged. If I were to ever go back, I would have to do some hard core P90X legs action to prepare. Can’t blame Canada for my poor fitness level.

But that border patrol dude on the other hand...

Next episode: Tense cooking and the saddest hotel in Canada

1 comment:

  1. The frogs invasion was a reference to the Simpsons, no? And you're right about Quick Change. I may have to put that on my Netflix roster. Don't feel bad about the thumb cramps; I stubbed my toe last Friday and now it's black and blue but I didn't hit a door or table leg...I hit a shoe! A SHOE!! And it was a sneaker at that! You may be out of shape but I think i'm freaking infirm!!