How my car earned his name Christof the Chrysler. This story needs a bit of the back story...
While I was having my wheels fitted I managed to meet up with two cool chicks from Squamish and I headed up to Whistler with them for opening day. I was super excited because this was the whole reason I was here, finally some time on the hill. It cost me 130$ inc tax for a one day pass but even though we got there a bit late and the lifts shut two hours early, I needed that day for my soul!!
While we were up at Whistler I was pleasantly surprised at how clear the roads were of snow, I could get up here with my mud and snow tire no problem. I made this comment in the car on the way back to Squamish and I was very quickly filled in with how bad it can get, especially on a fresh snow day and if there is loads of traffic on the roads the ploughs can get blocked and slowed in clearing the roads, which then causes accidents, which means more delays to the snow ploughs and so starts the cycle. I was warned that Sunday was normally the worst day as all the weekend warriors from Vancouver left on a Sunday afternoon. Oh how I wish I had listened to this advice.
That was a Friday, when we got back my car was ready and waiting for me. During that snowboard session I had realised that my board was woefully small for all the powder I wanted to shred. So on Saturday I headed back up to Whistler and did some shopping. It was very successful, I know a lot more about board shapes than I did before and I managed to get a last season board brand new and in my budget. Happy days.
I was surprised again at how easily it was to get into Whistler, as the lifts were running I expected ques and not much space in the car parks but this was not the case. So I was lulled into a false sense of security.
I returned triumphant from my trip to Whistler and the next day was the first time in days Caoimhe and I had a day off together, so I was keen to show her Whistler town as she hadn't been there yet. Petra came along to as she had things to sort in Whistler, so the three of us jumped in my car and headed up there. My first alarm bell should have gone off when it started snowing not that far out of Squamish. As we got closer to Whistlers the snow ploughs were present on the roads clearing the newly forming snow and slush. There were a couple of compact sections of snow but my new tires dug in well, no problems for me. As we entered the town the second alarm bell should have gone off, there was quite a bit of traffic coming towards us for so early in the day.
The town was like a winter wonder land!! The roads were compacted snow but again, no problem with my winter tires. We spent the afternoon exploring and eating, getting Petra sorted for a few things. I just enjoyed soaking in the atmosphere and again the town was no way near as busy as I expected and there weren't big ques on the lifts. The last thing we had to do was take Petra up to a base to collect a cheque, it was in Whistler and apparently up a steep hill. I wasn't sure of our chances of getting up if it was steep but we went to have a look. My car bossed it up, it was not what I would call a steep hill, just a bit of an incline, easy. So after we got the cheque it was time to head home, no worries right? This was when the problems started.
The whole time we were in Whistler the snow had been falling, I was confident in my tires now and I was confident so long as I took it carefully we would make it home and we did .... 8hrs after we tried to leave the first time!!
As we exited the village we joined a que of traffic that was not moving very far. We decided to sit in it, it would move eventually and it did, very very slowly. after an hour we had barely left main Whistler village area. I was getting worried about fuel consumption so I intermittently turned my engine off. This was fine, until I turned it off for a bit too long and kept the heating running and the radio and my lights and my wipers. Oops, a brief moment of panic ensued as I realised the engine wouldn't turn over any more. We asked the car behind us to jump us but apparently he didn't have the attachment points on his battery. I popped the bonnet and as I did so a Jeep coming the opposite way pulled over and gave us a hand. We weren't holding up the traffic because it couldn't move forward any way. The nice man in the Jeep gave me a jump and I will never again turn my engine off like that again.
The nice man in the Jeep gave us an up date on the traffic ahead, there were cars and trucks sliding all over the place, some in ditches and a lot of the big trucks were struggling up the hills and getting stuck, this was why we weren't moving. He advised us to turned around and wait in Whistler until it all calmed down. So we did just this, found a Starbucks and got cosy.
While we were in Starbucks we ended up meeting a lady called Anna from a country near Russia, she didn't say which one, just said we would never have heard of it. She was staying at hostel at the edge of Whistler and was stranded in town because the buses were being affected by all the traffic as well. We explained we were in the same boat and I offered her a lift when we eventually left. We had dinner in Whistler in the end and tried to leave again at 8.30pm.
The traffic had not gotten better, only worse. We were moving even slower now and what was worse is there is now fuel station in the main whistler village, the nearest one was in Creekside. As we crawled forwards I was slowly watching my fuel needle start to drop dangerously low. According to the online traffic updates a 5 min journey was going to take us 2hrs!! We were not going to make that!! So we turned to trusty old facebook, Caoimhe and Petra had found a group with traffic updates for the Sea to Skye Highway and on it people were talking about a back way, it sounded promising. I was worried about the condition of that road and people were commenting that some people were stuck in ditches on it earlier but the most up to date post said the road was clear and it would by pass all the traffic. We had been sat for just over an hour in the que, I was running low on fuel and the short cut brought us out just below the fuel station in Creekside. We went for it.
It took us 2 min to get back to where we had pulled out from the main village to the Highway. We continued along the wrong way on the highway for 5 min then turned onto the back roads. This is why I had brought my winter tires, the road was a full on snow road, not a jot of tarmac in sight. I was nervy at first but once again the car and its tires held steady. I kept a low speed and carefully winded us around on the back road, up hills, round tight bends. Caoimhe and Petra giving encouragement as we went, occasional steering commands from Caoimhe if I got too close to the side of the road and the big snow bank. It took us 30 min but we made it back to the highway and there was not a car in sight going our direction.
I collected fuel and then we continued on the very quiet road. Along the way we picked up another lady, this time from South Korea, she was staying in the same hostel as Anna but had decided to walk from Whistler, she was walking in the middle of the highway!! We dropped both of them off at the hostel a little further on and my good deed for the day was done. I feel I need to put in a small note on Anna for my own future memories. Anna was lovely but it turned out also very strange, we learnt from her that Banff and Whistler were the STD capitols of Canada, she just randomly blurted that out over dinner. There were quite a few times where her conversation left us, stumped. I don't think I will forget her in a hurry.
We made it back to Squamish at around midnight, no more problems and a very quiet road. It turns out the highway had been shut going south just above Creekside and it was only opened a few min before we got home.
This was the journey that earned the car its name. We were all a little euphoric after successfully navigating the back road and felt the car should have a name. So Christof the Chrysler was born. It was orginally Chris but Caoimhe said it reminded her of someone at our old work place so it was changed.
I am writing this blog from a coffee shop in Golden. Christof and I successfully made the 8 hr journey the day after the Whistler saga. Our only difficulty came from going over Rogers pass, in the dark and with my headlights covered in grit and mud from the road. It was the scariest hour driving of my life!! I could barely see the road and I was being over taken by huge trucks going twice my speed. I as one over took me I would accelerate so I could see using their headlights. I have never been so relieved to arrive somewhere before.
I'm here now and I can't wait to start work and get out on the hill with my new board!!