Sunday, February 25, 2018

Big White: Seattle detour, Saturday

And we're off! Oh, except the second leg of our flight has been canceled due to whiteout conditions in Kelowna. So... quick, book a hotel in Seattle!

The Hotel Max is super hip, with retro games like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.

It's also right next to the United States District Court.

We arrived a bit before 4, and our room (which we had just reserved online) wasn't quite ready. We went down the street to a coffee shop. Let me tell you, Seattle hipsterism makes San Francisco look staid.

We were three blocks away from Seattle's Pacific Place Din Tai Fung... the boys (and Sigrid) tried xiao long bao for the first time...

...and some kimchi dumplings... orange juice with sprite...

...and some red bean buns to close dinner out.

Big White: Seattle detour, Sunday

We couldn't get rebooked to Kelowna until Monday, so we spent Sunday checking out Seattle. We started off by checking out the Pike Place Market.

Soren had two corn dogs for breakfast...

...while I went for the fried chicken hearts and gizzards.

After a more normal breakfast start, Anders joined Team Corn Dog.

Next, we went to the Space Needle. Sigrid is thinking that maybe we're done with tall towers with long lines. She and I went up the Eiffel Tower on our honeymoon; we went with the boys, Miran and Haraboji up the N Seoul Tower in 2016; and now the Space Needle. Whether it's because it came after the others or because it's under a lot of construction right now as they add a glass floor, we were underwhelmed...

...but we did get this fantastic souvenir pic. (For the record, I told everyone to make a funny face, but Soren seems to be the only one who did.)

After all the crazed travel and last minute arrangements on Saturday, we needed some downtime, so after lunch we went back to the hotel room, where Anders did some homework. He looked a lot like I suspect I do when I'm working from my hotel room while traveling.

While Anders was working on his homework, Soren and I went down to the lobby and played games...
...checked out the lobby art...

...and enjoyed the afternoon happy hour (well, I did).

We originally tried to come up with a cool dinner plan, but eventually decided that was too ambitious. Instead, we ended up going to an Il Fornaio, of all places. (There's an Il Fornaio in SF, and another in San Jose.)

Big White: Seattle detour, Monday

Alaska Airlines had rebooked us on a Monday evening flight with a layover in Vancouver. But Monday morning, I noticed that there were seats that morning on a direct flight to Kelowna, so I called the airline up. Unfortunately, there were only two seats, but there was another direct flight that evening with two seats. So we split up, with Sigrid and Anders going on the morning flight. Soren and I continued on with our Seattle adventure. We made it to the Crumpet Shop for breakfast. (We had tried to go there on Sunday, but it was too crowded.)

Soren had a nutella crumpet and a fancy hot chocolate.

After that, we went to a candy shop to buy some gum, so that we could go visit the gum wall. What's the gum wall? Well...

Soren's addition to the wall...

...and mine.

We spent a bit more time in the Pike Place Market, including visiting this nice viewpoint.

Then, we went to the Pacific Science Center. We got there around noon, and at first I thought it was just like visiting the Exploratorium, except that we didn't have a membership here, so had to pay to get in. But we had a great time, and stayed for over four hours!

Naked mole rats. They had a big habitrail-style burrow, but they seemed to like to hang out together all squished up.

There was a tropical butterfly room, but Soren didn't want to wait in line to get in, so I had to content myself with this pic that I took through a window.

After the science museum, we still had some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we went back to the Hotel Max (where we had our bags stowed). Soren worked played with the Jenga blocks...

...and I enjoyed another happy hour.

And then, it was back to the airport...

...and, finally, to Kelowna.

Big White: skiing!

Now that we were finally all up at Big White, it was time to ski! Last year, after refusing yet again to try ski lessons, Soren committed to trying this year. And, indeed, he was positively excited about it. Here he is, all geared up.

We signed him up for an afternoon lesson, given that he and I didn't get in until past midnight. But we finished at the rental shop well before it was time for his lesson, so I showed him how to clip into his skis, and gave him a few pointers—a curious choice, given that I hadn't gone downhill skiing in eleven or twelve years!

Finally, after a quick lunch, it was time for his first lesson. Sigrid and I went down the gondola to spy on him.

One ski...

...two skis...

...and then we stopped helicoptering. But the resort uses a GPS tracking system that lets you see what your kid did on his lesson. Here's Soren's first lesson. The big straight green line on the bottom 3/4 of this pic is the magic carpet. You can see that he took four "runs" down—three on the left, and one on the right. He had a great time!

And, after a second lesson on Wednesday morning, Soren proudly reported that he had graduated to being a Snow Ranger!

I, meanwhile, was up (mostly) on downhill skis for the first time since 2006 or 2007. I was pleased to learn that I was just as good a skier as I was before. Also, unsurprisingly, just as poor a skier as before. But Big White has green runs everywhere, and I enjoyed taking the lift up to see these snow ghosts and the magnificent view.

Sigrid and I had a great time skiing with the Chandras.

We had lunch at Snowshoe Sam's Pub (sadly, the beer special that day was PBR—we chose otherwise).

After lunch, we skied out the village and down to a lift. Here's Soren, with me running behind him with a camera.

And then the Kwundersons went on our first lift together (along with the Chandras).

We took Thursday off from skiing, and then skied on Friday and Saturday. Saturday was a full day of skiing for everyone. On Friday, Kelsey Serwa won gold for Canada in the women's ski cross. Big White is her home resort, and there's a green run named after her grandfather, who co-founded the resort. When we got up the mountain on Saturday, we found that several of the signs for Serwa's run were now honouring Kelsey Serwa.

Sigrid and I skied together without the Chandras for the first time, to give them a chance to explore some more interesting runs. We discovered that on Saturday Ogo Slow was too slow even for us, whether because the fresh powder lowered the speed, or because we had improved a bit. Plus, down at the bottom of Ogo Slow, we found ourselves at Gem Lake Express, which is the lift right next to the parking lot used by locals with season passes. Traffic!

Here we are up at the top of Falcon lift.

A while later, Sigrid convinced me to try some blue runs. It started off very poorly (for me), but we actually both did ok on Perfection (still blue!), so I consider it a success. For our last lunch on the slopes, I proposed checking out the Blarney Stone Irish Tavern, which we passed by every time we took the Plaza lift. Sigrid was a bit surprised by the size of her beer. Our waitress explained, "we serve real pints here," meaning 19.215 oz imperial pints.

The big boys ate lunch with their ski instructor, but the younger siblings came with us and had Shirley Temples.

After lunch, Soren said he was done. After everyone else went off for more skiing, I convinced Soren to take a pass down the short Hummingbird run, and he perked up. We ended up going down Hummingbird four or five times.

Sigrid, meanwhile, tried some more blues with the Chandras. Looking good!

All told, we got some skiing in on four days—five days for Anders. We had clear days, snowy days, and some lovely powder. Fantastic!