Monday, July 30, 2012

Whistler Pilgrimage 2012: Part 1 Getting There

Dave taking in the views from the upper mountain.
It was four years ago that our crew, a gang of friends and friends-of-friends, finally pulled the trigger on a trip to Whistler. The idea had rolled around in the back of our heads for a few years and held there until we started to legitimately talk about it. Once it was verbalized, it seemed to snowball. Whistler is a about two thousand miles away from my home in Arizona, and it took a pretty serious commitment to finally throw down the cash and get in the truck. We wondered how it would be, after watching so many videos and polling so many people who said it was "so much better" than anywhere else. It seemed impossible that the mountain could live up to the hype.

Long story short, it blew our minds. I mean literally. When I returned home, I struggled to talk about anything else. I thought about it all the time. I think my employer saw a serious decrease in productivity. Suddenly, I felt like this place that I had visited for six days had held onto the entire portion of my heart dedicated to any love of geography and fun. I know that's cheesy, but it's true. I didn't just love riding at Whistler. I loved everything about the whole area. Driving up the Sea-to-Sky highway alone feels me with joy. 

But I digress. This is the story of our third trip, this last July. We're seasoned pilgrims now. We like to think we have the whole thing down to a money-and-fun-maximizing science.

The players:

Wes, who would fly from Phoenix to Bellingham where the rest of us would pick him up, was the provider of undying enthusiasm and stoke.
Jarel, another Arizonan, drove to the rendezvous in Utah. Jarel was the patriarch of the group, giving the rest of us hope that we might be able to still shred when we're ten years older.
Adam, from Utah, was the resident genius. Seriously, this guy knows everything.
Dave, my brother who lives in Salt Lake, was there to show us what it's like to ride at the next level.
And then there was me, Brigham, along because I have an iphone with GPS. UPS has nothing on me when it comes to logistics.

The drive. I can't say I look forward to this part. Every trip we've settled on driving over flying. It's just so nice to take your bikes, tools, extra gear, etc. But the drive is a monster. At least on the way there you have the benefit of anxious excitement to get you through. We met Sunday afternoon at a Texaco in Tremonton, Utah, and headed north. It's only a few minutes before you're in the rolling, golden hills of southern Idaho, headed for Boise. The conversation is strong and the excitement is high. We can drive all night easy!

Dave looking perky long before hour seventeen behind the wheel.
We only stop for gas, and of course that's happening way more often than we would like it to. Why does buying gas feel the same as flushing money down the toilet? 

Idaho goes by amidst music and conversation spanning the gamut. It was somewhere in Idaho that Wes joined our conversation. Wes owns a business, and his time is worth more than his money, so he flew up to Bellingham while the rest of us used a couple days up driving. Unfortunately, the only flight he could get had him showing up in Washington around 10 a.m. Sunday morning. We weren't leaving Utah until Sunday night, which meant Wes would be waiting for us until sometime early Monday morning. I had always pictured him throwing down a pillow and playing games on his phone in the airport for 18 hours, but he had other ideas. He texted me:

"Are you guys close?"

"Uh...we're in Idaho. We won't be there for a LONG time."

"I'm going to check out Bellingham."

Over the course of a number of hours, we continued to receive periodic texts from Wes with enough info to make us wonder what the heck he was doing.

"I'm going to rent a scooter or something and go exploring."

"I'm headed for Ferndale. This is awesome!"

Wes was moving. We didn't know how or why. All he had was shorts, a t-shirt, his phone, and wallet.

We continued chasing the sunset on our way northwest, hitting Oregon just before dark.  A quick stop at subway for the sub of the month, and it was back on the road. Another text from Wes: "The ocean is sweet!"

windmills, mountains, and prairies. Worth a photo at 80 mph

Somewhere near this gas station I drove for about a half a mile. Dave drove the other 999 1/2 miles.

It wasn't long into Oregon before it got dark. No more photos out the window. The conversation and music continued, and miraculously, Dave continued to stay in the driver seat. Must've been the Starburst jelly beans. Crossing Oregon in the dark is a long haul, but eventually we were two states down, one more to go. Bellingham was the next target. Wes texted us that he was in Blaine, right on the border of Canada. We just laughed, wondering what he was doing and how he got there.

Crossing Washington in the dark is even worse than Oregon. But we had bikes to ride, so we soldiered on! By the time we neared Bellingham, where we originally expected to pick Wes up at the airport, Wes had texted that he was crossing the border. On foot. "What is he doing?!" We were freaking out a little bit. By the time we got to Canada around 3 a.m., Wes was in downtown Surrey BC, and we were pretty sure we would end up having to bail him out of jail.

When we finally managed to meet up with Wes, he was walking down the street in a residential neighborhood, freezing, at 4 a.m.

How we found Wes, in the headlights.
Loading Wes' stuff under the streetlight.

We were dying to hear his story, and it didn't disappointed. Wes can't stand to sit still, apparently, so he had himself an adventure. As far as I can remember, his account included the following:

  • Walking into Bellingham and getting lunch at a diner.
  • Hitch-hiking for some distance with a Mexican preacher, and long haired boy in the front seat whom Wes mistakenly called the preacher's wife.
  • Almost being bitten by a snake while walking through Ferndale.
  • Taking a nap on the beach. 
  • Walking to the border, and attempting to cross at a road crossing. Detained by officials for an hour, wondering how a guy walking to Canada with absolutely nothing, could actually be going mountain biking. 
  • Walking to Surrey. 
  • Charging his phone and taking a nap in parking garage.
  • dodging police while he wandered around the city. 
Wes looked a little tired after walking 30-some-odd miles.

Squamish, 5 a.m.
 The crew was complete! time to make the final push through Vancouver, up the highway to my beloved Squamish, and into Whistler. We just might beat the sunrise. By this time, Dave had decided to drive the rest of the way out of sheer pride. All of us were getting a little fuzzy, but I manned shotgun and vowed to keep the heavy music pumping so Dave could avoid killing us in a rollover. Wes cashed out pretty fast, and the other guys dipped in and out of sleep. I may not have driven the whole way, but I did sit in that car for something like seventeen hours without ever going to sleep. Barf. Dawn was approaching as we gassed up in a very brisk, misty Squamish. I stepped out of the truck and stretched my legs, overwhelmed by fatigue and stoke. We were home.

Stay tuned for Part 2, when we actually ride our bikes!


  1. love the story cant wait for part 2

  2. Awesome story brig. Wish I could have been there. Love the part about Wes. What a character.

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