Well over a year ago, we went to a pre-Christmas celebration at the home of our dear friends Jenn and Jos. This tradition was one of my favorites of the season. Jenn and Jos welcomed us into their beautiful home with their perfect tree and lovely decorations, and cooked a much-stressed about meal (they came to all my cooking classes and felt some very unnecessary performance anxiety about cooking for me), and poured special and delicious bottles of wine from their collection. On this particular night, they were both sporting new and blinding rings on their left ring fingers. They had gotten engaged. We were beyond thrilled for them.
We spent that evening talking about their upcoming wedding. They had chosen Whistler, a mountain resort in British Columbia – site of all the skiing events in the winter 2010 Olympics – as the place for their wedding. It was where they had taken their first vacation together and also where they had gotten engaged. They asked us tentatively whether we could come and we both yelled “YES!” before their question had even left their lips. We started getting excited about planning a mini ski vacation around their wedding.
When we decided to move to Oakland last summer, Jenn and Jos figured large in my mind. Not only are they terrific friends who we would feel sad saying goodbye to, that Christmas tradition was important to me, and not attending their wedding was not an option. One of the first things we did when we made the final moving decision, was to book flights to Vancouver and reserve a hotel room in Whistler. It was the first vacation we booked flying out of our new city.
Our trip there was wonderful on so many levels. I had not been to Whistler in ten years and seeing it post-Olympics, with the village so much larger and yet retaining its unique charm, was such a treat. We got five nights there, a bit of time to spend as a family and lots of wedding festivities. We got to ski and also just enjoy the lovely town and relax.
Whistler is a resort made up of two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, both of which are huge. Blackcomb is just a hair higher but both of them boast one of the longest verticals in North America. That means if you find yourself at the top of the mountain at the end of the day, it will take you about 45 minutes to ski down to the bottom. Even though we were there over a very busy weekend, we only waited in a few lines. That is the benefit of a big mountain and speedy lifts.
Our first full day there, we put the boys in ski school and had a whole day to ourselves on the mountain. I grew up skiing and have been lucky enough to ski some amazing mountains, but I am really a fair weather skier. Fortunately, the weather was more than fair, gorgeous sunshine and temps around 30ºF. We truly couldn’t believe our luck. We stayed put on Whistler and got in some great runs. The boys seemed to do well in their lessons.
The next time we skied, we did so as a family. The boys both did two years of ski lessons when we lived in Seattle, and Graham also had some lessons in Sun Valley when he was five. Graham has become a really good skier, able to keep up with us for the most part. Spencer is still only six and tends to just point his skis downhill, do a “pizza” (snowplow), and go. We had to urge him to turn and do “french fries” (parallel), instructions he may or may not have listened to. At least this year, he didn’t fall much, since falling tends to involve all parts of his ski equipment falling off, followed by tears.
Whistler is set up really well for families and young children. There are “learning zones” on both mountains and the ski schools are incredibly efficient and well run. The kids have their own lodge where they eat lunch! There are cool little finds on both mountains, such as this castle. We took the gondola over to Blackcomb and found our way to this treasure. The boys took their skies off and went down the slides for a while.
The cool think about going over to Blackcomb is taking the incredible Peak 2 Peak gondola. This is an incredible, and relatively new, gondola that we caught up at the top of Whistler. It holds several world records, one of which is that it has the longest span between ropeway towers – 1.88 miles. If you are afraid of heights, which I am not, I would not advise going on this gondola. Especially not in one of the two cars that have glass bottomed floors! I would have taken more pictures from the car but we were gliding through fog.
This is what two boys look like after a day on the slopes and some time in the hotel pool.
(Wedding reception menu, just for the vegetarian.)
Ah, the wedding. Jenn and Jos are considered by all who know them to be very generous people. In all respects. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a big party thrown by two generous people, I suggest you go. This was the nicest wedding that I have ever been to, with no expense or experience spared. They were extremely thoughtful about all aspects of the parties, both for the rehearsal dinner at the Rimrock Cafe and the incredible reception at Bearfood Bistro.
At Bearfoot Bistro, the tables were simply lovely with tons of white flowers and themed tables based on places where they had special experiences. I was at the Paris table, fitting for me. Course after course of amazing food came out. I have no idea how they were able to get all the dishes out at one time, everything hot, perfectly seasoned, and beautifully plated. If you have ever had bad wedding food, and we all have right?, this was the antitheses.
In addition to being treated to amazing food, beautiful tables, and an incredibly moving ceremony that had me cursing the decision to wear regular mascara, we got to saber our own champagne in the wine cellar.
And we got to taste vodka in a frozen room. Are you a vodka drinker? I am not so I abstained from doing a shot but I did take a sip and what do you know – vodka tastes better in a frozen room!
That is me, on the right. I might be wondering how I can smuggle that coat, which we were required to wear in the room, out of the restaurant and into my luggage. It had eight layers of goose down and I felt totally warm in a -24ºC room. Then again, I might not need that coat in California…