Posted by: PPHR | March 30, 2010

And so winter has come again! Really..?

By Ashley McMillan, 30 March 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to assume winter was well and truly over and one could start digging in the depths of the wardrobes for those shorts and skirts neatly packed away months ago when mother nature howled in the return of it’s icy blast, there is another reminder to us of why Whistler is such a popular year round resort.

We’re at the end of March and despite the odd ardent (perhaps just odd…) character donning no more than shorts and flip flops, we have a snow base of well over three meters and received a dumping of well over half a meter in the last few days with more promised. Whilst most ski resorts around the northern hemisphere are about to call it a day for the season, Whistler has nearly 8 weeks remaining.

This world famous ski resort town has one of the longest winter ski seasons anywhere. Now, what Whistler also offers at this time of year, is typically warmer days down at valley level, sunnier days on the hill (locals and holiday makers beautiful goggle tans prove this!), the ability to walk around most of the beautiful valley trails at will and now we’re seeing more and more biking enthusiast hitting some of the lower elevation trails that are clear of snow.

Soon, a number of the local golf resorts will be readying themselves for their opening day and it won’t be long before one can ski in the morning, bike in the afternoon and golf into the evening. Now that’s a good day anywhere!

Now this said, I sit here writing this, having just returned from another long, long run in preparation for another marathon, too tired to ski on my day off now (What that’s all about!!?), looking out of my window, barely able to recognise the contours of the mountain range that usually greets my glance. It’s cloudy and wet, not snowing as it’s too warm at the village elevation and you’d be forgiven for sitting back and proclaiming what a miserable day it is. However, I know for a fact that just above the clouds, just above where the eye can see from this level, I know that it’s been snowing again and now the sun is out – Two different worlds!

Business as usual is slowly showing some normality as the weekend crowds and last minute holidaymakers take advantage of the great conditions available. Easter will always be busy as is this week as we see the regular glut of South Americans descend upon us. It’s known to many as the Mexican week, but that’s perhaps a little unjust on the hundreds of Venezuelans and Brazilians, etc that also make the trip each year.

Now, not that anyone coming here should receive or be deserving of any treatment better than anyone else, however, many will attract or demand more attention and money will always ensure that goods, services and even privileges are bestowed upon those with the ‘muscle’. Most of these travelling South Americans will arrive with four, five or six family members and often will accompany or meet up with other family friends in resort.

Between them, they invest quite substantially into Whistler’s economy whilst on vacation and it’s understandable why business’s will endeavour to cater for their every need. Difficult for the guests to ever be in the ‘wrong’ when in the service industry! A hard pill to swallow at times, but those employed across the industries whose profession it is to serve others have developed a thick skin and learned long ago not to take some of the infrequently barked orders as anything personal.

Friends, new and old are already making plans for their impending departure having been here for the duration of the season, or perhaps their various working visa’s from around the world are due to expire. It’s tough to say goodbye to so many people each year, but this is the nature of Whistler’s workforce which consists of such a transient collection. Some of these workers and friends will perhaps come back and others will stay in touch via the now ‘modus operandi’ social networks, such as Facebook, hopefully providing beds to crash on should one travel to their own far flung corner of the world. I’ve come across some ‘locals’ who refrain from getting attached to those only fleetingly among us as they find it too hard making friends only to see them depart shortly after.

That’s their choice, but also their loss as they miss the opportunity to understand and soak up the colour and flair that these ‘new’ characters offer, everyone bringing something a little different to the table. Whistler has a small ‘local’ community, although each year it grows just a little more as some of those who came here for just a season or a brief sabbatical to escape the rigours of their ‘old’ life, fall in love with their new lifestyle and decide to stick around. Not easily done with beaurocracy and paperwork as it is, I can tell you!

So as we ready ourselves here for winter to come to an end…eventually, prepare to move on with life without some friends and characters returning to their ‘mother land’, anticipating the return of better economic times…perhaps in the afterglow and wake of the worlds focus on all that was Whistler throughout the winter games, there are a few certainties we can always count on!

Seasons will come and go. We will miss winter when it finally ceases to allow us to ski or board anymore, but will give way to allow hundreds of mountain bike enthusiasts to grab their trusty steeds, some new, some old, tackling the hundreds of trails before we know it. Bears will once again become the subject of conversations and many topics in the local press. Summer will shine and many young and young at heart will relax around the lakes.

The patios outside the village bars will always be full when the sun is out and Whistler will always be a town that attracts a diverse and eclectic mix of individuals and families, some partying, some actively participating in outdoor pursuits, some to simply visit and check out what Whistler has to offer them.

Living in Whistler is certainly all about lifestyle for most…and what a life! I can only try to paint a picture of life for you, but for those fortunate enough to have experienced it for themselves, no matter how briefly they passed through, most will yearn or endeavour to come back.

So to anyone leaving our friendly town, you will be missed and I hope you find a good life wherever you settle. Hopefully there will always be a place in your heart for Whistler, as Whistler will always have a place for you. So on behalf of everyone, let me thank you for the god times and friendship!

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