Date-28th December, 2017
On a Bus to Whistler
I have seen snow only a few times in my life. One of those times has been in Vancouver. Although vancouver is the warmest city in Canada with temperature ranging between -1 to 2 degrees in winter, it still snowed over there. Not enough to actually cover the ground and block the roads but a few small patches, here and there. It was quite hard and slippery, more like hardened slush rather than snow. To get to experience real snow, we planned to go to Whistler. It is what we might call a hill station. People go up there in the summer as a picnic spot but in winter it was all about skiing.
Right now, I am in the bus from Vancouver to Whistler. It is still quite early in the morning. I am feeling drowsy, having woken up very early, but I can’t sleep in a moving vehicle. We had to wake up, get done with our breakfast and reach China Town by 7:30 am! From China Town we had to catch our bus to Whistler. When we reached there at that hour, there was no one around. At first we thought that we had come to the wrong place and began to fret but soon we saw other people arriving and asking us if that was the right place. We told them we thought so and felt quite foolish when a lady pointed out a sign reading ‘Bus to Whistler’ with the symbol of a bus underneath, indicating that it was indeed a bus stop. Quite a large crowd had built up by the time the bus arrived. Now, two hours have passed and we still haven’t reached. Everyone is talking about an accident that lead to a lot of traffic and congestion. Apparently a car has overturned due to snow. On hearing this I feel quite unnerved. What if this happened to us?
Forcing these negative thoughts out of mind, I try and focus on the music blaring through my earphones.
We have stopped at a gas-station which is not only a gas-station but also a general store. We are currently standing in the long queue for the women’s washroom. I just saw a lady, who got so tired of waiting that she slips into the men’s restroom as soon as it is vacant. We are quite shocked but the people around us didn’t seem to be. It must be quite normal for them. We looked around for something to eat and bought some chips and a packet of Skittles. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Skittles? Papa bought some coffee and we are off again.
Images of snow laden trees are flashing past, as we are driving ahead. They are beautiful. We had been told that the road to Whistler is mesmerising but due to mist on the windows we can hardly see anything, apart from some trees.
We have finally arrived at Whistler. As soon as I step on the ground, I feel them sinking into soft, fresh, powdery snow, unlike the hard slush I had seen in the city. Snowflakes are falling all over the place and a few fall on my outstretched hand. They melt as soon as they come in contact with the fabric of my glove but I get to see them well before they melt. They are exactly how I had pictured snowflakes to be, only much smaller. We go up a flight of stairs and reach a small, quaint village. The kind of village I have read about in books. There are many pubs all over the place, a huge fire is burning in the middle of one of them, houses with snow covered roofs stand at a distance and a ticket counter has been erected in the middle of the village. I warm my hands before the fire. It looks magnificent, like an orange glow in the foggy atmosphere of the snow covered paradise.
We are currently in the gondola lift. All around us, skiers are at their energetic best and we look like the only people who have come over as tourists. They are constantly discussing the routes they have skied on, how many times they have skied this winter, the model of their skis, their experiences from the previous years and more. We feel quite out of place among all these experts, all dressed up in their ski gear and their skis. We are sharing a gondola lift with a few other skiers. They know each other and are constantly talking. We finally get off at a stop, only to learn that we have to take another gondola lift to get to our destination. I am quite happy because another gondola ride means a few more cherished minutes of warmth. This gondola lift is bigger than the previous one and is completely filled. I and papa have to stand right in the middle but that is fine. We can see through the glass floor of the gondola lift but there isn’t really much to see. All that meets the eye is snow and huge coniferous trees with a few skiers occasionally. Beautiful it is to see the pristine snow over the trees and the ground spread out like a thick veil. But after a while, when the eyes find no further variation to this sight, it gets boring.
It’s beautiful alright, but I have heard so many great things about this place that I am quite disappointed as the same scenery repeats over and over again. I don’t really know what I expected in the middle of winter but definitely something more than snow, trees and skiers.
We have finally arrived at our destination. It’s a point on the mountain from where a neighbouring mountain, Blackcomb Mountain, is visible but due to the fog it’s almost hidden. We have hardly stepped out of the gondola lift that the wind has started blowing ferociously, the snow is falling directly on our face and it is so cold that my teeth are actually chattering. We put on some sunglasses hoping that it might help to shield our eyes from the snow and it actually works. We quickly make our way to a nearby cafe to seek shelter from the windstorm. That’s where we are right now. The cafe is warm and inviting with many people bustling around. We are quite happy to see a few more tourists apart from us. We get one huge cup of hot chocolate and bring out some sandwiches that my mom had packed. We find a seat with much difficulty and remain there for a good half an hour enjoying the free wifi.
We finally have to go out. I reluctantly put on my gloves and step out of the cafe. Immediately a cold gust of wind licked at my legs. See here’s the disaster. I am quite well covered on the upper part of my body but the lower half of my body is covered only by a thermal inner and a pair of jeans. So my legs and my face were the only parts of my body where I feel cold. I just want to get back into the cafe or the gondola lift again but the snowstorm stops right then, slowly coming to a halt. We can now clearly see the Blackcomb Mountain. My parents are taking many pictures of us and the mountain. I am probably looking quite annoyed in the pictures because I am practically frozen and I can’t even move my facial muscles to carve a smile. Also, my lips are horribly chapped so whenever I try to smile, my lips start bleeding.
Right now I am at the pub I had mentioned earlier, the one with the huge fire-pit. The ride to Whistler village and the ride back had been much eventful. We met a couple of Indonesians who had settled in Canada. They talked to us about the places they had visited in India. We also met a couple of technicians who managed the gondola lift. From them we learnt that these gondola lifts have never failed to work. They seemed affronted that we might even think of such a thing.
The pub we are at is called ‘Irish Pub’. To my annoyance, a large group of people have completely surrounded the fire-pit.
The inside is also full so the only option left is to sit outside on a table with a heater hung above but it is quite useless since the wind is blowing like a raging monster. I don’t know what to order so I just decide to order some fries with gravy and cheese. It turns out that that is just a fancier name for poutine. It is quite good but it’s too much for us to finish all of it. Also, for some reason the cold weather always lessens my appetite.
We have nothing much left to do. We have taken a ride to the gondola lift, seen Blackcomb Mountain, had lunch in a pub, seen snow and experienced -11°C temperature. Going to Mount Whistler was a great experience. But everyone told us, if we really wanted to see the beauty of Whistler we should have come in the summer. They all agreed that in winter, there is really nothing to do except to ski. But I believe it was still worth it! All I want now is to get back to our hotel but our bus is at 7:30pm and the time right now is 4:00pm. My feet are so numb that I can’t even feel them. I guess it’s because they are in direct contact with the snow.
Although I am wearing snow-boots, the cold still manages to creep in. We are waiting for the 5:00pm bus hoping that it would not be too full so we would be able to get in.
We are in the bus right now. The bus driver of the 5:00pm bus said a flat “no” but somehow we managed to convince him to let us in, on the condition that we could board only if there were any vacant seats left. We climbed onto the bus and waited anxiously, looking at all the people who climbed in. We were relieved when the bus started to move and the bus driver didn’t throw us off.
The bus ride back is quite uneventful. My mom has just checked the temperature. It’s -11°C. We stop at a gas station but this time almost no one gets off. Everyone is tired and just wants to get back home. Or in our case, hotel.
It was nearly 8:00pm when we got back to the hotel. All of us took a hot bath as soon as we got back. When I had put my hand in the water to check the temperature, my hand had turned completely red. I guess the cold had slowed down my blood circulation so when it came in contact with the hot water, it sped up suddenly.
We are ready to call it a day, and crash on the bed.