Monday, August 27, 2012

Fun on four wheels

Balance in life is as important as passion.

That's why yours truly is on a diet. I just ate way too much good food in Vancouver and Whistler.

Another aspect of balance in my life is that my recent trip to the West Coast was a mountain of work, and mountains of fun as well.

Unfortunately a blogger get together was not meant to be. I had to miss out on lunch with Bob, Dar and others on the first Sunday I was in Vancouver because I was leading an all day continuing education session downtown.

As soon as the conference ended, my family and I rented a mini-van and headed up the Sea-to-Sky highway to Whistler to spend a well-deserved few days de-compressing.

The very impressive mountain right in the middle of the screen in that video segment is the Stawamus Chief. According to the BC Parks web site, the Stawamus Chief is the second largest granite monolith in the world and provides good nesting habitat for the Peregrine Falcon.

As you can see, I mounted my GoPro Hero camera on the roof of our van. Although the GoPro suction mount has never failed, I tethered the unit with a compression strap that I ran into the passenger compartment. The tether was not called upon to save the unit. Maybe one day I'll trust the suction mount with my $400+ GoPro investment.

Controlling the GoPro with the WiFi remote made it possible to shoot stills and video remotely. Simply genius.

We spent Thursday strolling around the Whistler Village and shopping. It was just as well because the late afternoon rainfall was a non-issue for shoppers and strollers.

Friday we made up for our indolence by gearing up and heading up the mountain on ATVs.

The midsection of an ATV looks a little like a motorcycle, as do the handlebars and some of the controls, but the handling of these beasts (and make no mistake, they are beasts) is unlike anything else.

After gearing up, including swapping my motocross helmet out for one with a GoPro mount, and with a little coaching session and some parking lot practice under our belts, we headed out and up the mountain in the company of Nat and Rick (a very nice friendly couple visiting from Switzerland), and our guide Barney.

Thanks to the unsung GoPro Hero owners who kindly sacrificed their helmet mounts for the greater good. It meant that I didn't have to experiment with my suction mount on the front of our ATV.

The stop at the base of the chair lift half-way up the mountain was just the thing to relax and integrate the ATV skills we managed to learn on the initial climb

Nat and Rick and Susan and I were the only ones riding two-up. If you look carefully you'll spot Nat and Rick leading the pack just behind Barney our guide. Susan and I were riding sweep, though we were barely qualified to do so, other than the fact as parents we were following our daughter Lauren, Andrew's girlfriend Anushka, and our sons Andrew and Jonathan. Kind of like reverse mother ducks.

Riding pillion on an ATV is way less comfortable, and way more nerve wracking than riding pillion on a Vespa. I'm seriously hoping that with this excellent adventure as encouragement, Susan will finally accept my invitation for a latte run to Ste-Anne de Bellevue on my Vespa.

After the brief pause we set out once more up the mountain.

It wasn't too long before we reached our destination, the Crystal Hut.

True to form for place names, as you can see, there was no hut, and certainly no crystal. What there was however was a decadent homemade waffle and bacon breakfast waiting to be devoured. The view from the balcony was glorious.

With our tummies full (remember the diet?), we set off once more, this time headed back down to the village.

The excitement towards the middle of this segment was an adult black bear that ran across the logging road and went to hide out shyly in the shade of some trees just below the road. All I saw was a black shadow shifting around among the trees. I'm sure that Nat and Rick got a much better view from the front of the pack.

With that bit of excitement under our belts, we set off again.

You can tell by the speed that our ATV skills were in full bloom!

And that, dear readers, is how to have fun on four wheels.

Special thanks to Nat and Rick for being such good company, to Barney our guide, and to his colleague (whose name I have completely forgotten, but who hails from Tasmania) who whipped up the breakfast feast, including completely decadent bacon that is legendary in Whistler.

For a price, I'll share his simple, but completely inspired recipe.

We spent the afternoon alternating between the hot tub, the pool, and the chaises on the pool deck.  It's a rough life, I know, but someone has to do it, no?


Trobairitz said...

Wow you were busy on your visit. The ATVs look like a great way to relax although tiring at the same time. Good thing you had a hot tub handy.

Dar said...

David - we ended up not being able to make it for lunch, family obligations took priority.

Wow looks like quite an adventure!

Canajun said...

Looks like great fun. Last time we were in Whistler it was a toss-up between the ATV tour and the zipline. We chose the zipline and had an absolute blast. Next time though - ATVs (and maybe the zipline again).

SonjaM said...

Feeling adventurous, eh? I have never considered riding an ATV but it looks like fun.

David Masse said...

Trobairitz, Susan and I were not in the habit of doing these kinds of expensive adventure experiences during our vacations. The kids were young, and money was always in short supply. It's really nice to have kids who can pay their own way, and for Susan and I to be able splurge on ourselves. We're really at a nice stage in our lives.

Dar, sorry that you had other obligations, but I don't feel quite so bad now for missing what I thought was a once in a long time opportunity.

Canajun, funny, we were also struggling over the zip line vs the ATVs. Next time the zip lines for sure. My son Andrew and I did a zip line in total darkness in Park City Utah not that long ago. That was a really nice thrill indeed.

Sonja, I found my moto skills interfering with the ability to drive an ATV competently. The starting sequence in particular was maddeningly different and confounded me every time. My companions without moto skills never had any trouble. The starter was on the left, not the right, and the interlock was only on the right brake lever. On my Vespa, I always squeeze the right (rear) brake and press the starter. I felt so incompetent. It wasn't fair. I should have had some kind of edge.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.