April started with a bang - a smokin' backyard BBQ mini-shred saw the closing days of the backyard park off with a bang - click below:
Being the end of the season, the boys decided to go for a switch-up day: us snowboarders tried skiing, and Pat the skier tried snowboarding
Not being the types to go half-hearted at anything, we dressed in clothing appropriate to skiers fashion - and threw ourselves headlong down the slopes.
We had a fantastic day spending hours hooting with laughter, and I have to say that everyone there did remarkably well with no stragglers at all. However the most impressiveg convert was Pat, who by the end of his first run was linking turns, and by the second was snowboarding properly. I have never seen this before - and from a 43-year old die-hard skier? Unreal!
I spent an afternoon skating at Castlegar skatepark, as I had heard that it was one of the Kootenay's best outdoor parks - boy, was I rusty on the rails since last skating in November! Dispite taking a proper stack, I continue to be impressed as to the public amenities available to relatively small towns, similar to those available in New Zealand.
Before leaving Rossland, I must tell you about Jons LP record covers, truely the sickest wall decorations in the northern hemisphere.
From Roger ("The Saga Continues..."), to the priceless Scandanavian Interlude, Wayne King and his Orchestra (because everybody loves Wayne King ;), and the frankly unbelieveable Kroeze family - each and every one is a classic! See for yourself...
Having said goodbye to our friends, CJ and I left Rossland, opting to head east to Vancouver by dropping into the U.S., rather than take the same Canadian route we have done 3 times before.
We drove south to Spokane, then east along the (alledged 4.5 hour - whatever...) highway to Seattle, where we stopped off by the Wanapum viewpoint for a stunning panorama of the mighty Columbia River (one of the longest in North America).
Continuing east, we spent the night near Seattle, before driving through city to head north through Bellingham to Vancouver - and our final destination of Whistler.
We arrived in Whistler at the start of the Telus Festival - a combination of snow sports events (such as the Big Air and Halfpipe) and music concerts - bringing more people into town than at any other point in the season. Not a good time to search for accommodation! However, after a couple of days of concerted effort and viewing rooms, we found a room available for a couple of months, perfect for our spring pass.
We were joined by our aussie friends Tom and Mike Stranger, and kiwi buddies Logan and Boots - our co-conspirators from the Black Bear kickers! The aussies decided spend a couple of months in town, working in the construction industry - and after a bit of wrangling, we managed to sort them accommodation in the same house as us - deja vous..?!
The highlight of the Telus festival was the Jon Butler Trio. Amazing talent, not only playing multiple instruments in a variety of ways, but using innovative techniques such as singing through the guitar soundbox, so that his voice was picked up through the strings - giving it a distinctly metallic sound. Superb.
Tom had lived previously with his sister, so we wound up chatting to her over drinks in the bar afterwards - a very pleasant down-to-earth person, apparently like Jon himself.
Whistler ski area is composed of 2 mountains - Whistler and Blackcomb, combining to give a vast amount of terrain. Unfortunately, apart from a couple of days of good weather at the beginning - the weather has been very poor, going from sheet ice to overcast pouring rain, conspiring to limit the amount of time we could ride before Whistler mountain closed.
It was Toms 30th birthday last week, and his brother Mick secretly arranged a special birthday treat for him - snowmobiling!
After managing to keep up the charade of a normal day on the mountain, the four of us embarked on a 2 hour trip driving snowmobiles up the Whistler backcountry, led by a guide up road where the loggers used to drive so fast down, they removed their doors in case they had to bail out!
The trip culminated on a fantastic viewpoint on Rainbow mountain, where Mick presented Tom with a birthday cake, with the number "30" spelt out with candles... Unforgettable!
So the weather has finally improved and we have the warmer springtime weather that has been ominously lacking - the snow has softened up, and we can get jibbing without fear of breaking bones.