Belated Birthday Gift – Long Weekend in Seattle, Vancouver & Whistler

Sometimes the best presents are ones you give to yourself. Back in December I decided to buy myself a plane ticket to Seattle to spend a nice long weekend there. I lined up a place to stay with one of my friends and let fate take me on the rest of my journey.

A mere hour and ten minute long flight put me in Seattle with only ten minutes burned in my day thanks to a generous time zone jump. My good friend Willie was awaiting at the curb when I walked out of the Sea-Tac sliding doors. We caught up as he drove into the heart of Seattle for what else but a cup of coffee. It was off to a great start. Our next stop had us checking out the innovative architecture of the Seattle Public Library. Repetitive geometric shapes and abrupt angles were the highlights of this structural masterpiece. From there, we wandered a few blocks down to the H&M clothing store to browse the stealin deals. (If you’ve never been, go..) When the racks had been all picked through we made our way out of the city to grab a burger at Red Mill with a few other friends. Another must. Fully satisfied, we headed to my buddies house for some beers and games. A good first day under the belt indeed.

Thursday was welcomed late in the morning after a long night’s rest. My friend Andy and I headed down to a campus coffee shop called Zoka for some french press coffee and to get a little work done. From there we jetted over to Chandlers for some mid afternoon happy hour specials. They have half off appetizers and drink specials. We opted for some ahi poke and a tempura salmon, ahi, cream cheese roll with a few beers to wash it all down. Life’s rough… Fully satisfied, we headed over to my other buddies house to load his car for our Vancouver/Whistler leg of the trip. Our departure was a bit delayed and didn’t have us out the door until a bit after 9pm. Fortunately, we had little traffic and no troubles crossing the border. We did find it a bit difficult to navigate Vancouver due to some cryptic Google map directions… After a few wrong turns we finally arrived at the Hyatt Regency right smack in the middle of downtown. Willie’s parents graciously hooked us up with a room on the 29th floor. With an early morning departure awaiting us we quickly fell asleep dreaming of skiing deep pow turns at Whistler.

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The 6:30am wake-up call came all too early. With the help of a press and go espresso machine we were able to muster up the energy to take on a breakfast, pack the car back up and to hit the pavement all before 7:00am. A warm orange glow slowly overtook the city as we etched our way along the northern most reaches of Vancouver. Quite a site to see after arriving there previously in the dark. Still in a haze, the drive up the valley seem to blur by until we made that first turn into Whistler village. I immediately had a rush of memories from a previous trip there four years prior. I had a lingering smile thinking about the past as I buckled my last ski boot buckle and began to walk toward the village base. We were on the Whistler gondola by 9:40 and making our first turns off the top by 10:00. The better part of our morning was spent exploring the Whistler shoots before shifting our attention to the Blackcomb side. Mother nature felt it necessary to throw a weather front in our faces right as we headed for the newest lift addition to the mountain. The mountain staff deemed the “Peak to Peak” gondola not safe to travel on with the winds. Oh well, we stuck around the Whistler side for a few more runs. The site of the 2010 Olympic Downhill was a joy to rip some long super-g turns down. Satisfied with all the Whistler side had to offer we made our over to the Blackcomb side to get a little taste. It took a mere three runs before the high winds and sore legs had us turning in for the day. We strolled to our hotel room at the Holiday Inn (pretty decent diggs and location for being a Holiday Inn). A quick drop of the bags and we were on our way to the grocery store for some dinner supplies. Yes, we even had a kitchenette in our room! A long day of driving and skiing made the hot tub sound ever so inviting so we made our way to the comforts of the 104* water. A deliciously hearty meal of fresh pasta, red/white sauce combo, grilled italian sausage and a side salad filled our growling bellies before our night on the town was to embark. We headed out to check out the scene and wound up spending the majority of our night a bar called Moe Joe’s. The staff was friendly, the music was good and the people were lively. I would definitely head back to that place next visit. A few of our friends parted ways earlier in the night to a different spot called Tommy Africa’s. Good things were spoken about that place as well.

Saturday morning came slowly as we all caught a bit of much needed rest. We sluggishly packed our things, checked out and loaded the car. I was able to catch one last glimpse of Whistler/Blackcomb as it’s peaks snuck through the wispy morning clouds amidst bluebird skies. A warm grin overcame my face as we made our way out of the village and back towards Vancouver. The winding road that leads down to Vancouver provides spectacular view of earth’s impressive architecture. As farthest reaches of the ocean give way to massive 4,000′ peaks that soar to the sky a feeling of insignificance began to over take me. There’s definitely something to be said for the grandeur of the coastal mountains that erupt along the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia to Alaska. If you make it to Whistler for the 2010 Olympic games, do your best to pass on the shut eye and take in the scenic drive. Although we were flying along at 100kmh, I still managed to snap a few shots. The majority were blurry but a select few were sharp enough to give a sense of the surroundings.

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By 2:00pm we were reaching the edge of Vancouver. The skies were clear and the temperature was much more inviting than Whistler’s. Our first stop was to Grannville Island to scope out the public market. This place felt like a clash between Seattle’s imfamous Pike Street Market and San Francisco’s Saturday Market in the Ferry Building. Fresh seafood, produce, cheeses, meats, flowers and every other delictable appetite apeazing food lined the interior building from wall to wall. Before you could snap your fingers we had our hands on some tasty treats. We spent a good hour taking in all the sights and smells that adorned this delightful place. Just beyond the doors of the building lay the False Creek waters. Street performers echoed admidst the chugging ferry boats along the waterfront as we took in the city views. Another half hour of sight seeing and we were ready to move on. (Definitely hit this place up! It’s super rad.)

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Our next destination had us scoping the iconic Stanley Park as the last daylight hours began to fade. Stanley Park boasts nearly 1,000 acres of natural British Columbia landscape set only moments from the Vancouver’s city center. The south aspect of the park was our first stop. As you look across Coal Harbour, Vancouver’s eye appeasing architecture reaches towards the stars. A few quick snap shots were taken here before moving in a counterclockwise rotation north. As we wound around the waters edge, B.C.’s coastal mountains came into view. The glowing lights of Cypress Mountain ski resort lit up the dark dense peaks that rise straight out of the water. (Cypress will be hosting the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics.) With the last bit of light coming to an end, we pushed onward to the westerly edge of the park. Calm ocean waves lapped along a stretch of sandy beach tucked between rigid rocky seawall. The fading light provided some neat opportunities to slow the shutter speed down for whispy ocean images. I really enjoyed this park and could have easily spent countless hours there give more daylight.

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Traipsing around all day left us rather tired and hungry. We grabbe a bite to eat at this great restaurant downtown, the name of which I can’t remember to save my soul… My appetite was satisfied with a delicious masala plate and an frosty beer. Fully satisfied with dinner, we made our way over to a friend of a friends house in which we were staying. This gorgeous house was situated in “north van” and was far from roughing it. We’re incredibly fortunate to have this gracious stranger open her house to us. Thanks Lindsay!

This is where my story comes to a rather uneventful end. We departed Vancouver mid morning bound for Seattle in an attempt to catch the kick off of the Super Bowl. Long lines at the border prolonged our journey back and we were forced to listen to the game on teh radio. We caught the better part of the second half before my scheduled departure encroached. As I sat in the airport and watched the Steelers pull out a win, thoughts of  another amazing trip raced through my head. I tried putting it all into words but just enjoying the moment was far better. Thanks to everyone who was a part of this whole endeavor. I had a rad time. Look forward to getting back to Seattle, Whistler and especially Vancouver.

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~ by skier2435 on February 17, 2009.

3 Responses to “Belated Birthday Gift – Long Weekend in Seattle, Vancouver & Whistler”

  1. Wonderful photos, great work. Sounds like you had a good time. I myself can’t wait to visit Vancouver sooner rather than later. It’s on the top of my list but I haven’t been able to make it yet. Your images remind me how much I want to go.

  2. Definitely a great place. It really makes me want to get up there for the Olympics next winter.

  3. The restaurant was named earls. They are opening one in downtown Bellevue soon.

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