I exited off just north of Arlington at the small town of Sylvana, and took the old Pioneer Highway through Skagit County. There was no traffic here, and so I could relax and meander the farm roads – stop tensing up, pushing, and rushing, and I could enjoy the warmth of the sun on my bare arms and the wind in my face. (Note to self -- put sun screen on the back of your hands -- your riding gloves have a big oval opening that when exposed will burn your hands red and look like funny birthmarks.)
I unfortunately had to get back on the freeway in Bellingham for the run up to and across the border and in to Vancouver BC. I swear even though the traffic wasn’t heavy, it was all around and rushing and I’m positive my blood pressure went up. It would be interesting to have a BP cuff and take a measurement. There is so much more to concentrate on with all the traffic moving around that you naturally I think tense up.
As always, it takes some time to get across Vancouver, but at 3pm it wasn’t all that bad, and before I new it I found myself on Highway 1, the Trans Canada. Now that would be a road trip – Victoria BC all the way to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Province of BC has been working on Highway 99 the Sea To Sky highway for the last 7 years, getting it ready for the Olympics. This has to be one of the most spectacular drives anywhere, and a hell of a lot of fun on the bike. It travels the East side of Howe Sound and up a fijord to Squamish before heading inland and up to Whistler and the BC Interior. Where there was once a two lane road hanging by a thread to a notch caved out of a cliff, there is now a modern engineering marvel of a four lane divided highway.
This place has always felt like a second home too – until this trip. While I’ve come up here alone in the past, this is the first time I’ve come up alone since Tony and I split up. This was always our second home – and while I’ve learned to live with the ghosts of the Seattle house, the ghosts remain strong up here. I opened up our locked closet to find his toiletries and clothes here. I walked to the village alone and ate alone at our favorite “first night” restaurant, Mongolie Grill.
I rode up the mountain on the gondola after my meeting today – something we would have done had he come with me. I looked down at the runs we loved to ski, and how much we loved coming up here and racing down the mountains, and I have to wonder again if I can do it alone.
Among the changes up here is a new massive “thrill ride” of sorts. The worlds longest and highest gondola – known as the Peak To Peak. It crosses the canyon of Fitzimons Creek at a level that planes fly, and gets you from the tops of Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain in 11 minutes as opposed to the more than 60 minutes it takes skiing all the way down one mountain and riding all the way back the other.
I rode the chair lifts down the Blackcomb side of the mountain, enjoying the sun, the breeze, the wildflowers in the meadow and even a lonely black bear walking a trail below the lifts – somewhat symbolic I suppose -- and then walked back to the condo.
It’s getting close to dinner time – so I’ll walk back to the Village in a bit, and maybe take in the Harry Potter movie at the little cinema here, and swing by Cows, the quirky cool Canadian ice cream shop. I had thought about leaving on Monday so I could avoid the weekend down canyon traffic, but I’m not sure the ghosts here will let me stay, so I might just ride the long way home through Lillooet and down the Fraser River Canyon tomorrow and get back to Seattle sometime late Sunday. We’ll see in the morning.