THE WHISTLER VACATION
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A couple of years ago I spent 3 weeks in Vancouver BC, for a much needed 'girl-time' with my friend Susan. This sparkling Metropolis is almost utopic, clean and fresh, where modern high rise buildings invariably look towards mountains and water as far as the eye can see. The culturally diverse population is cohesively health oriented, the air moist, crisp and fragrant. Organic food markets, yoga studios and natural hiking trails abound, and are filled with glowingly healthy looking people. Thus, it is the natural go-to place when I need to recharge.
My first week it Kitsilano included daily yoga classes, frolicking with my buddy and her Golden-Doodle BooBoo on Stanley beach and The Seawall, procuring and eating the best, purest, home cooked food. On the first day of Chanukah, Susan and her fiancé Dan threw a party for me, inviting some super cool friends for me to meet.  After we lit the first candle in the Menorah, a roomful of people exchanged token gifts and great conversation. At this point my hosts informed me of MY special Chanukah present - a three day stay in Whistler, a place of which they spoke incessantly. They met and fell in love there, were passionately crazy about the resort, enough to go so frequently as to accumulate hundreds of thousands of credit card points at the Four Seasons Hotel, their favorite.
I smiled graciously (I hoped), but was not a happy camper...Of course I heard about Whistler from many ski aficionados, knew my two friends found their true love there, yet the image I had in mind was of snow covered, cold mountains, with the wind WHISTLING below, a gray sky above. I imagined lots of sporty types hardened to discomfort, competing one another for best speed and form on the steep slopes. How do I get out of this one without offending anyone? I like to believe I'm a curious person, wide open to experience. Pre judgment of any place or person, especially one I haven't witnessed with my eyes is very counter to who I am. It was revealing to acknowledge the source Ski resorts equal Embarrassment...with a capital E.
Confession: Ok, so I'm not a natural skier, never was, never will be. I tried, mind you, took the lift to the top of Liberty Mountain, NY, equipped with rented skies and bravado, thinking 'How hard can it be?'. Twenty minutes later I was still struggling to stay upright, losing one ski, then the other, putting them back on and feeling like a hopeless klutz. I must have moved ten feet in all that time, most of it on my backside. In fact I spent far more time rolling in snow than doing what others did with such easy grace. When an amused crowd gathered at bottom, enjoying the sight of my version of the abominable (read klutzy) snowperson, I closed my eyes and just flew. Seconds later, at slope's bottom, red with embarrassment, my note to self was 'Very Hard! Don't like it'. Sof Pasuk! Have not put on skies since that incident and promptly condemned all ski places, pronto.
Now we can get back to the story.
We drove less than two hours, and arrived in an exquisite, glistening village, filled with European Chalets with thatched roofs covered in white powder. All around, snow peaked mountains and glorious Nature. This might not be bad at all. First, the place sparkled in the sun, and the air was fragrant with fresh snow and pine leaves. And the wind? Why didn't it whistle? Temperature was mild despite it being December. After we settled in our respective rooms at the stunning Four Seasons Resort, I read in the guidebook Whistler was the largest and most highly visited of all ski resort in North America. The name Whistler had nary to do with gusting winds, but rather with the shrill whistling sound of the native ground squirrels, called Hoary Marmots when they communicate with one another. Cute little critters, with a funny name.
My friends stocked up the refrigerators with yummy fresh organic produce, gluten free bread, Israeli cheese and hummus, grains, nuts and seeds, Almond Milk, Sunflower butter and assorted vegan delicacies. We could last on the simple fare for the duration, even though a hot meal would've hit the spot after all the walking we did in the Village. Before retiring for the night, we sat at the ski lodge in front of the roaring fire, sipping on hot cider sprinkled with cinnamon.
Next morning we met up in the lobby, and it was time to show myself what I was really made of. Needless to say, this time I was doing it with less bravado and more forethought. Starting at the Bunny-Hills, I joined a group of beginners, an instructor at the helm, and by the end of the day was pronounced an accomplished Bunny Hill skier. No more, no less, yet I was proud for staying on my skies, and with a sense of satisfaction scuttled back to the luxury of the hotel. After a shower and change of clothing, we met up, sharing experiences. They tackled the tallest mountains, the steepest vertical slopes and I...well, I beat them both several times playing Scrabble by the fire. Suffice it to say that even if you're not a great skier, or even any kind of skier, there's so much to do in Whistler.
Walking around in the charming resort village, seeing sites that sport world class beauty, relaxing by the fire with a book, meeting lovely and very friendly people from all over the globe. I felt my whole body relax and my spirit rejuvenated to such a point that upon return to Vancouver I began painting again, for the first time in two years. The first painting I produced was named 'Rebirth' and sold almost instantly when I brought it back to New York. The sparkle returned to my eyes, stress and trauma dissolved into the highest, most creative phase of my life, up to that point.
Whistler and Vancouver are Chicken Soup for the body and soul...guaranteed. And so what if I still can't ski as well as the 90 year old great grandpa who walked with a walker but skied like an eagle. Or at least a Hoary Marmot.
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