Thursday, January 7, 2010

West is Best

Dont' get me wrong, I love Ontario too. But it's January ... and it's just not that awesome at the moment.

Hence, I headed west to Courtenay BC to ring in the New Year. If I could fold up my sports equipment into bite-size packages, I could have skied in the morning, then biked in the afternoon. It's winter up high, but at sea-level, it's still spring! Since both my favourite sports take up so much room in suitcases, I opted to bring out just the sticks. (And make up for the bike with my running shoes.)

I had ulterior motives as well of course -- Gerhard has left Ontario for his annual sojourn West. His parents live in Courtenay so he spends some time with them for the holidays before relocating to Squamish for the rest of the winter. I met them for the first time and was treated to warm hospitality, great walks with Max-the-dog, and some pretty amazing eats!!

I stayed a week, and it went by way too fast. Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana!

But holidays don't mean training stops ... completely: I ran my first 10 kilometres-in-a-row ... and rode my first box in the park, too. Woo hoo! Gerhard, Adlar (his brother) and I got up to Mt. Washington a couple times, and a had wonderful time both days.

Pros: some seriously fun runs (rollers! pow! park!); Beaver Tails — Killaloe FTW!; Amazing zones on the back side like a secret gully (that wasn't so secret); cool vibe including hitch hiking snowboarders, bra tree and even a Christmas Tree!; kettle chips; the Boomerang chairlift and everything it reaches; Adlar Gross's amazing kamikaze snowboard stylings (limited time only); great conditions both days, said the girl from Ontario.

Cons: Sushi Mon by the Hawk Chair for lunch was a bust -- wasted way too much time NOT shredding while waiting for crappy Raman noodles -- at least the sushi was decent (tip courtesy of an otherwise friendly hitch hiker we picked up); um ... what's with the lift-littering?; holy line-ups batman ('tis the season); bad drivers burning up their brakes on the road back down the hill (stinky!!!); sore feet from boot-breaking-in-age.

50 cm of snow fell before our second visit so it was a hard day's work on the hill skiing through all that powder. Woe is me! Alas, the sun came out and things got a little heavy, but still awesome. On top of all the other awesomeness, I was rocking my new skis and my new boots (Thanks G and Steph!!). Both get top marks!! I was a better skier instantly!

Back at Sea Level, we did a bit of one of my favourite things: picking up stuff from the beach. Much more sporting in BC because of all the amazing things that wash up! Like Turkish Towel sea weed, Bull Kelp, sea shells galore, pretty round rocks and even things you can eat! Gerhard's dad was telling me that when they went camping as a family, they never brought any food; they didn't need to because there were enough oysters and other sea food to keep everyone satisfied. Amazing.

We visited the only chocolate shop that I think might give Mill Creek a run for its money: Hot Chocolates. Their sea salt caramels are heavenly. Thank god they deliver!!

For New Year's we dined on crab and lobster with some Moet to wash it down, played a rousing game of Yahtzee then banged pots and pans at midnight to keep the ghosties away. I started 2010 rested, refreshed, and renewed.

On my last day, Gerhard and I took the ferry over to Denman Island. We walked the beach, picking up Oysters, stalking a Blue Heron (or was he stalking us?!) and exploring the sea side. We had a drink at a pub overlooking the Strait of Georgia, and learned a thing or two from CBC radio while snacking on candied salmon. It was a perfect day.

The only good thing about saying goodbye, is getting to say hello again. So ... until next time!

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