I now come to the end of my ski adventure tales and the highlight of my 2016 season. But first, I shall begin with a bit of background on how this all came about. At the beginning of the season, I had the pleasure of skiing with an instructor from Whistler Adaptive Snow Program, who was visiting Fernie for a few days. Wylie participated in my magical first day back on skis and even had a run with me himself. He felt extremely satisfied at having made me go "woohoo"... While we were on the chairlift he talked about doing an exchange between Fernie and Whistler as a training opportunity. He mentioned including me as well so I could participate in their program. I had heard of the magnificence of Whistler Blackcomb before, but in my mind, it was the place where "real skiers" went and never considered it feasible for myself. But the thought of giving it a try excited me, and all the more so for our instructor team, as the training opportunity would be fantastic. Wylie said he'd see if he could make it work and promised to call later on.
My work with FIRE kept all notions of going to Whistler out of my mind for a while, but sure enough, a couple weeks later Wylie called me with a plan. Myself, my mum, and a group of three Fernie instructors were to participate in their program for four days in April! Whistler Adaptive fundraised to cover our accommodations and tickets, I was given a bursary to cover the costs for my lessons, and FIRE sponsored our travel, making the whole trip for the most part taken care of. Our society chose the instructors they wanted to send, hotels were booked, schemes were made, and excitement was high.
Because I was going to be at the coast, it was decided that mum, Scott, and I would leave early to visit my seating technician, Russ, in Vancouver. Having come up with a seating arrangement that worked for my needs, we decided to have Russ make me something that wasn't a big pile of foam held together by duct tape... Scott came with us to learn all he could from the seating system master... The technique Russ used for my system is called foam-in-place. Liquid foam is poured into a large garbage bag and then formed to fit the shape of my back. As the foam cools it hardens and becomes solid in the desired shape. Because the foam expands while hardening, I have to be tightly strapped against it to keep from being pushed out. Let's just say it made for the picture perfect moment... To finish it off Russ covered it with fabric, which just so happens to be my favourite colour... PURPLE!!! Russ knows me so well. It took two days to complete, but at the end, I had a beautiful new seating system for the sit ski.
Scott went straight to Whistler, while mum and I stayed a night to wander around in Vancouver. We visited Granville Island, spending way too much money and eating way too much food in true Granville Island fashion. I also tried sushi for the first time, expecting to hate it, but ending up loving it. We stayed at our favourite hotel, The Sunset Inn and Suites, took a late evening stroll down English Bay, and concluded the night by watching the sky turn pink on our balcony while drinking Earl Grey tea. The highlight of the mini Vancouver vacation was definitely spending five hours exploring Stanley Park. We walked through tree covered paths, were almost run over by a raccoon, and made friends with the flowers we met on the road. The park is filled with beautiful trees, some of which look astute and wise from their many years on earth. As I walked past them, I imagined them with long, snowy white beards, nightcaps, and circular reading glasses. I sat beneath them and looked through their branches, thinking about how small I was in comparison. As we broke through the trees, we walked alongside the ocean, watching the seagulls tease each other in the skies, and the boats bobbing peacefully along the sea. We then hiked to the top of a hill to enjoy a very healthy lunch of granola bars and donuts and oranges, The oranges cancel everything else by the way... So does the hike beforehand... This day of taking in the beauty around us ended rather abruptly after discovering my wheelchair was out of battery power upon ascending a hill. I had to be rescued by a park ranger, a very handsome park ranger I might add, making me the damsel in distress I suppose. I'll be a damsel anytime if my rescuer looks like that! ;)
I said goodbye to my beloved Vancouver and we made our way to Whistler. And what glorious adventures took place in Whistler? You'll have to come back and find out...