How I Spent My Summer Vacation
|Whistler, Saskatchewan? All we could see was smoke and no mountains. I drew an outline of where Whistler Mountain would have been if I could have seen it.|
How I spent my summer vacation was to go up to Whistler while it was on fire.
My friends Earl and Sylvia wanted to go on a nice summer vacation. My wife and I kindly suggested Whistler, so that we could visit together. "We want to go somewhere we've never been before," they told us, their kind words yet stinging with unspoken rebuff. Well, it wasn't our fault they've been to British Columbia before. Earl and Sylvia went to Costa Rica (shades of Jurassic Park!), while my wife and I cheaped out by going to Whistler anyways, borrowing another friend's time-share condo for a week.
How did the vacations compare?
COSTA RICA: Airport chaos (lost luggage + delayed flights), 25°C temperatures, monkeys.
WHISTLER: Airport chaos (new outlet mall causing traffic jams near airport), 35°C temperatures, fire.
The time-share condo was nowhere near any forest fires which were north of Pemberton, maybe fifty kilometers away. However, the smoke came down in a foul, thick layer that blocked out the sun.
Comparison: the Air Quality Index of Beijing last week was 120, while the AQI of Whistler was 160. A good AQI is 50. Anything above that is considered polluted.
So, with everything clouded in smoke and ash we forewent strenuous outdoor exercise. Whistler has excellent hiking and cycling trails; we sampled neither. Mostly, we hung out in bars where paradoxically the air was much cleaner. Since the smoke drove away all but the tourists from Beijing, most of Whistler's facilities were very much underutilized.
The best part of the vacation was the cheese. We bought regular cheese at the market and left it out overnight on the balcony. The next day we had smoked cheddar!
Below is another photo of Whistler Olympic Plaza. It's courtesy of the Whistler Tourist Board, and was taken very close to the same vantage point as the picture above, obviously on a different day, though: