It was a night of never-befores. On Friday the 13th, we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary in Whistler, BC, Canada. It was my mom’s first trip to Whistler and we were going to introduce her to one of my family’s favorite summertime activities: a mountaintop barbecue at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. Late that hot afternoon (32 ℃, 89 ℉) we climbed into the gondola to begin our ascent. We were looking forward to a little relief from the heat; even my mom, the Californian, was uncomfortable. Sweating profusely, we headed straight up the mountain, checking out mountain bikers below and scouring the woods and hillsides for bears. One person—not the biggest fan of heights, who shall remain nameless—sat with eyes closed, gripping a pole and grimacing for much of the sweltering trip. After about 25 minutes, we stepped onto Whistler Mountain, 6,020 feet up.
We looked around briefly and then proceeded to the Peak 2 Peak gondola for more sightseeing. The Peak 2 Peak, which runs between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, travels 1,430.45 feet above the valley floor. Its total distance is approximately 2.73 miles, with 1.88 of those miles being the longest unsupported span in the world. The total ride is about 11 minutes long. One person—who, again, shall remain nameless—chose to wait on a bench (with feet firmly planted on the ground) rather than dangling in a bucket from a wire in the sky.
After the round-trip ride, our family reunited on Whistler for dinner. We found a table on the sprawling outdoor patio. We took in the spectacular 360° view. Snow-covered, tree-lined mountains and glaciers surrounded us. We breathed it all in, letting it fill up our souls. We raised our glasses and toasted Frannie and Huckster and blew kisses to the sky. Local group Brother Twang played an acoustic version of Pearl Jam’s “Daughter.” We piled our plates high with melt-in-your-mouth ribs and flavorful salads while keeping an eye on a raven to make sure he didn’t dive for our leftovers. We scoped out a local news crew and my 9-year-old tried to figure out how to sneak into the background shot. We laughed. We marveled. We were uplifted by the magnificence of our surroundings.
On this night of celebration, there was no sadness in what we missed; simply joy in what we’d had.
We ended the evening on a mini inner tube run that overlooked the valley. I watched as the boys zipped and bounced down the hill on their bellies and bums, over and over again. Coaxed by my 9-year-old, Grandma joined in, sailing down the hill in a little tube.
“Can you believe we get to inner tube in shorts and t-shirts on July 13th?” I asked my son. “Not many people get to do that. This is a special night.”
It was a night of never-befores.
We soon made our way back to the gondola to begin our descent. This time, the Nameless Person kept eyes wide open, smiling, scouring the woods and hillsides for bears.