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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Tuesday, 25 February 2003
Squamish --> Whistler, Canada

This morning I woke up about 10am, I might have been a bit tired of my first week. But today I had to get going again and be ready for a very active day at my next destination.
“I don’t really eat breakfast in the morning that well,” my hostess Reanne told me. So I joined her for a good old noodle soup for breakfast. I packed my bags again and was ready stick my thumb up again along Highway 99.

I thanked Reanne for letting me stay at her place and for teaching me a bit about the fascinating lifestyle of the Squamish people.

I first let another hitchhiking couple catch a ride first (hitchhiking law!) and when it was my turn I did not have to wait more than fifteen minutes until two guys from Korea took me along to Whistler.

They were two very gentle men and introduced themselves as Lee and Sui. They were on a one-week vacation in Canada and just rented a car to drive around the Sunshine Coast of Canada. When they asked me where I was from and I answered with The Netherlands, they got totally excited and said ‘G-sd-din! G-sd-din!’ over and over again. What? “Oh! Guus Hiddink!”

Well, Guus Hiddink is the Dutch coach of the Korean national soccer team and by being pretty good in the last Soccer World Cup, the Koreans found out that they could have their dreams back again. A Dutch man had opened their eyes. And mr. Hiddink really has the status of a superstar in Korea. There are books about them, you can buy all kinds of stuff with his face and name on it; he is a legend. And in my home country he is just coaching another soccer team again, like nothing has happened. The Dutch are pretty sober, even though somebody is world-famous somewhere else.

During the trip to Whistler we were all amazed by the view. Snow topped mountains past us left and right and we were all clicking away with digital cameras.

The guys dropped me off right in town of Whistler Village, the key to the resort. The Whistler Village a very newish and rather characterless and pastel-shaded conglomeration of hotels, restaurants, mountain-gear shops and loud people in fluorescent clothes than are healthy in one place at the same time. Well, I guess the locals here won't be happy with that description from my own little guidebook.

But I am now in –what is said- the best-rated ski resort of Canada! The resort area averages some over three million visitors a year, and Whistlers challenge is now turning towards a possibility of hosting the Olympic Winter Games of 2010 (together with Vancouver).

In Whistler I called my host here, Joern Rohde, who runs the Cedar Springs Bed & Breakfast Lodge in town. He had invited me over to stay for two days and within these two days he is trying to get me to experience a few great activities in Whistler. So he picked me up in town, drives me to the lodge where I dropped of my stuff – quickly shook hands with his wife Australian wife Jacqueline and then drove straight to Cougar Mountain.

Because this is where Joern had arranged a complimentary snow mobile tour! I couldn’t really catch it yet, I was going on a tour with three other people and I was going to drive my own big 500cc snow mobile!

I had to sign a waver (I won't sue them in case I would die) and change into warm gear before we took off. First everything was pretty new to me. Giving gas, using the brakes, feeling the whole mobile move under me, but meanwhile Joern was in front of me, already stunting with one leg in the air and the mobile on 45 degrees!

After a ten minutes ride on great white snowy roads and fascinating looks on the surrounding landscapes we arrived on a frozen lake in the middle of a cold dark forest. The ice layer was covered with snow and in the winter time it is used to ride around on with the snow mobiles. And that is what we did! I worked out how the whole thing worked and got quite some confidence in using it and started riding laps where I easily was going over 100km/hr! This was fascinating! I had never been on a snow mobile before!

After a while we all parked the mobiles at the side and walked into the forest. There they had a little wooden shed, where somebody was already roasting sausages on a barbeque! It was time for a little lunch bite and inside we all got a sausage roll with warm chocolate while the wood was burning in the fireplace. This was cosy and cool at the same time!

During this lunch Joern told me what he all worked out for the coming days. It all seemed to logic to Joern to help me out while I was staying Whistler. He enjoyed my website and Jacqueline had seen me on GlobalTV last Saturday. They immediately invited me over and Joern send out an email to all his contacts in town to check out my website to see if anybody would like to help me out. “And people replied! Today we are on this snow mobile tour, tomorrow you will get all the necessary equipment and a ski pass to go skiing on Mount Whistler and Mount Blackcomb, we’ll have a complimentary dinner at at the BrewHouse restaurant in town tonight, and on Thursday, when you’ll be leaving Whistler again, I got Ziptrekto give you an exhilarating experience of ‘zipping over rug mountain terrain’!” Mmm! What a schedule that was!

And it was all because “you are doing a great thing! And while you are in Whistler, we should make the best of it!”

Speechless!

We continued our tour on the snow mobile again and this time we ended up on top of Cougar Mountain. I quickly learned there was a difference when you ride a snow mobile on a simple snowy path and when you ride up the mountain. That difference is called gravity!

It’s actually quite hard and of course I had to be the guy that went off track and wanted to see what else I could do with this mobile and I once dug it into the snow and twice almost got it to topple and roll over me off the mountains. You can’t really do a turn when you ride up a mountain, these things are heavy (and expensive!).

But what a fun it was. Riding of steep hills of snow (Joern: “Don’t worry, just follow me!”) was adrenaline pumping! One our way back down again, along the paths that go around the mountain, Joern said to me: “At certain points you have to stop to smell the roses, but don’t do that now.” Yes indeed, snow mobile tours might not be the most environmental friendly thing to do for leisure and excitement, but people also go motorcycling for a sport….

It was around 4pm when we got back to the base station where we had left from. Snow mobile riding is fun, but also tiring as I held myself in position all the time and I was pretty much glued on the handle bars....

Our next activity today was my skiing equipment. As I get a chance to go skiing tomorrow (which I haven’t done in almost two years and I used to do in Austria and France), I had to select my ski boots and specific skis and have things measured out a bit at Summit Sport.

Then we finally got back to the B&B Lodge where I got some time to relax! I was given a single room with a Queen bed and my own bathroom with a luxury shower. It wasn’t particularly busy in the lodge. There was three Americans, a group of Japanese youth and a handful of others staying.

In my room I had an afternoon beauty nap and refreshed myself a bit. Downstairs in the living room I met up with a few other guests, who were already watching the ice hockey game with Vancouver versus Atlanta.

One of the guests staying here was the stupendous American named Scott. With a voice of John Goodman he relentlessly pushed in his pride of America in every conversation, and if possible add some Canadian-bashing to it (blink blink). This guy just loved to start discussions about how strange the Canadians are and how the Americans are always right and perfect and “how the entire world can learn from the Americans!” Well, of course, this was so much exaggerated b***s***, that I most of the time just didn’t say much or try to think of a way to get back at him.

No American should have the right to say that I should be thankful to them because they freed the Dutch from the Germans, because it were the Canadians who actually did that in my country! 1-0 for me there, Scott!

We used real life allegations towards each other, about Bush’s intelligence, vice-robot Dick Cheney and why the US want to be the police of the world, but of course it was as fake as possible too.

Scott wasn’t even taking himself serious (I hope), but just loved to make fool of the Canadians. “Because the Americans are just the best people in the world and the rest of the world is just ****** jealous!” And he would laugh out loud.

For dinner Joern took Scott, the British guy Chris and me along to the BrewHouse restaurant in town. This is where sat in the pub watching the ice hockey game live on big screen televisions, while drinking big pulls of beer and our complimentary dinner on the table.

Scott left when we finished all the food and came back one hour later. He said he’d been to an Anonymous Alcoholics meeting in town. Scott has been going to the AA for more than ten years already and every time when he is in Whistler (some four times a year), he visits his AA-buddies in town! That was good to hear.

Scott is very honest about it and he quit drinking alcohol, when he saw things go wrong with himself and he didn’t want to die the same way as his father did. “Wherever I go I can walk into an AA-meeting and tell my story. It’s good for anybody who has problems with it and it’s a great way to make some contacts too!”

When we had enough beers (and alcohol free beers for the American), Scott drove us back to the lodge again. This is where everybody had chilled out and where I still had to connect myself to Joern’s high speed internet connection and report on story of the day.

I shouldn’t have worked all night until 2am, but sometimes I just have to work hard in return for all these freebies… Tomorrow I will go skiing, yesss!!!

Good night Whistler!

Ramon.