28th August 2017 – Softball

Unlike the Roundhouse, Rendezvous staff don’t really get a lot of events planned, mostly I think because the bosses are busy while Roundhouse staff are quite laid back and plan things on their own.  However at Pre-shift last week, we were promised that’s going to change this week, with no less than 2 events planned in quick succession.  First would be a softball game on the Monday against Roundhouse, and on Wednesday there would be the Zoolympics, an event of drunken bar games to celebrate the end of Summer.

I admit, drunken bar games are not my idea of a good time, but the softball match appeals to me, and I manage to get a lift with Andrew after work, heading to the Meadows Recreational Park.  There’s a huge swimming pool, gym and ice rink here, as well as a park that hosts a small baseball park on top of large plains of grass – which apparently get used by paragliders (no less than 2 landed while we were setting up).

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Rendezvous helped arrange travel for a lot of their staff, so by 6:30 we’re outnumbering Roundhouse almost 2-1.  Some of Rendezvous goes to help boost their numbers, and after a coin toss, we’re out on the field while Roundhouse bats for the first round.

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I’m guarding the spot between the third and fourth plates, but honestly I don’t get much action since the Roundhouse send out their best hitters – guys who send the softball flying out onto the green a few hundred metres out…or have foul balls that don’t come anywhere near me.

The rules for the game (in order to keep it running) is either three strikes or three runs before swapping.  Basically we have to strike someone out or the other team gets 3 players back to home – Roundhouse pulls off the latter and we swap.  Rendezvous does almost as well, and we have two runs and one person just waiting for a good hit to get home when I finally get to come out.  I get 2 strikes…and then I manage to hit the ball, and it’s a GOOD hit.  Tragically, since we already have someone running in, I don’t get to run, and we swap back to field.  I have to stay on the bench since we have so many players.

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In the middle of that game, the guys who went to get dinner arrive – we’ve ordered a bunch of pizzas from Gnarly Roots, by far the best pizza place in Whistler, and half the reason I showed up.  Much to my frustration though, they’ve gone for fancy toppings and I’m a plain girl.  Eventually I take on the fully loaded pizza, after picking off the olives and some of the peppers, and then it’s back to playing.

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We manage to get another 2 ½ rounds in before it’s literally too dark to play, and I hitch another lift back to staff housing along with a bunch of other guys.  Kind of wish we’d had the opportunity to do more of this – softball was a hoot, but guess I’ll have to settle for drunken party antics on Wednesday.

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22nd August 2017 – The Plague Returns

Remember that flu/bug in Vancouver that knocked me out for the better part of a month?  It’s got a sequel, and it’s making the rounds at the Rendezvous.

My Monday that throat problem is a genuine cough and sore throat, resulting in me drinking a whole lot of hot water with lemon and lozenges.  I get through it with some issues, but by Tuesday things are really going downhill.

However, this time, it’s not just me.  Since we all work together and a significant number of us live in the same area, bugs travel quickly.  A lot of Rendezvous are starting to fall – one girl flat out calls in sick, and while I’m nursing my new headache and the previous symptoms with ibuprofen and flu medication, my co-worker on Mexican all but collapses at noon, unable to stay on her feet.  She tries taking a break to recover, but she has to throw in the towel and head home, leaving me and another backline co-worker to handle Mexican.

It’s been fairly quiet lately, so I figure I’ll be okay.  Except today ends up being a tour bus day, and I spend the afternoon with a long constant line.  Between helping my co-worker (who has never been on Mexican and needs some guidance on how to make things or what things are) and speaking to guests, my throat goes from painful to toxic.  I try guzzling down coke just to keep it numb and hydrated enough to keep talking, but between that and the constant queue, my general health goes South FAST.

By 3:15 I’m a dead girl walking.  I have a headache, a far too high temperature, a vicious cough that I can’t control and a throat so raw I can barely talk, not to mention to energy at all.  Thankfully my boss takes one look at me, and at how I sound, and tells me to go home early and take tomorrow off.  I stay just long enough to get the Mexican mostly under control for tomorrow, and drag myself down to the chairlift, heading into town to get a stronger, cough related medicine.

It takes forever to get home, mostly because I’m so tired I KNOW I won’t make it up Staff Hill.  It’s just not going to be possible, so I wait for the free shuttle bus that’ll take me to the hotel at the top of Staff Hill on the other side, and walk along the path to Staff Accommodation (a trick many people use, especially at night since the hill has no lighting) before collapsing into bed.

I spend the next three days just trying to recover.  Rendezvous staff are dropping like flies but the guys in charge don’t want anyone back up there unless they’ve fully recovered – understandable given we work with food.  I use Staff Hill as my test of health, walking down it once a day for food.  Each time I’m nearly dead halfway up, and sleep for the rest of the afternoon.

Thankfully, by Saturday I’m well enough that I can risk going to the Feast, and I’m back at work on Sunday along with everyone else.  Really hoping that Canada’s illnesses don’t make another appearance, I’m getting so sick of being sick.

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19th August 2017 – Harmony Lakes

With August almost over, I’m starting to realise I’m very quickly running out of Summer, and still have tons I want to do.  I haven’t been able to go out of a bike nearly as much as I wanted (although to be fair, that’s mostly due to price), I haven’t gone swimming as much as I could, and there are tons of hiking trails still to be done.

With that in mind, I decide to head up Whistler and do some of the smaller trails while the weather looks good.  I’ve already done all but Decker on Blackcomb, so I can try to get through the Harmony Lake Loop and maybe the half note trail if I’m up to it.  Probably not since my throat still feels gummy even after pre-emptive cold medicine.

I’d been putting off doing these because I wanted to do them with Maggie.  However, ever since I took the weekend off, Rendezvous has kept me off on the weekends, and our days no longer match up.  As a warm up, I decide to take on the Big Burn trail on Rendezvous, then take the chairlift down so I can head up to Whistler.  I even leave early to make sure I have enough time.

The Big Burn is part of the Ascent Trail, Blackcomb’s newest hiking option.  It consists of the Little Burn Trail (Upper Village to 18 Below, which is what we have to climb to get to staff housing each day), the Big Burn Trail (18 Below to the top of Wizard) and then the Heart Burn Trail (Wizard to Rendezvous).  It’s supposed to take an average of 3 hours total, so I figure I’ll do the Big Burn and see how I feel on whether I do the Heart Burn today as well.

As it turns out, that’s asking way too much of my body, because the Big Burn Trail is STEEP.  It’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other – my water barely makes it to the top.  The route is also rather awkward, involving chains and a little rock climbing to make your way up – no wonder they don’t recommend walking down.

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With my water gone, I decide to leave the Heart Burn for a later date and head back down the chairlift, making it back to the room for a shower, and then head off to Whistler.

Already I know I’m not going to be able to do the High Note.  I’m coming in tired, hungry and with limited water, so I decide to just do the easier track that leads to Harmony Lake, and then come back via the Black trail ‘Harmony Meadows.’

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This is an Intermediate trail that takes less than an hour to do, walking past on of the artificial snow lakes and down the mountain.  There are several small lakes in this small bowl, all known as the ‘Harmony Lakes.’  They’re created via rainwater and don’t have any fish, but are major sources of water for most of the wildlife on the mountain.

I loop round the lakes and then head upwards towards the fork that depicts the High Note trail and Harmony Meadows.  As much as I want to do the High Note, I stick to the Meadows since it only takes 45 minutes.  Its biggest hurdle is the steepness of the climb, there are areas where you’re dependent on climbing a chain, and it’s a sheer cliff drop on your right hand side.  The benefit of this though, is the views you get once you’re at the top.

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When I get back to Whistler’s main section, I’m hungry enough to head into the Roundhouse and try their food.  To be honest I’ve tried it before and outside of the Feast, I don’t rate it compared to Rendezvous.  Their fries and fish are overly greasy and overcooked.  Today I try their Noodle Bowl with prawns…and again, not impressed.  Broth isn’t too bad, but the noodles are extremely bland and none of added seasonings really do much to improve the flavour.  Have to shove so much soy into it just to get some taste.  Really glad I eat at Rendezvous instead of here.

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18th August 2017 – The Feast

With the smoke that’s plagued us the last few weeks, I’ve been desperate for more work, but not quite willing to take the plunge and get a second job.  I really like having the option of walking around in the afternoons, and winter will be fine for me to work like a dog, but it does mean my finances are suffering.  As such, I’ve been asking around for any other work on the mountain, and it finally paid off when an email came out to all Rendezvous staff that Roundhouse was looking for staff to help out during the Feast shifts.

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The Feast is a buffet style dinner held at the Roundhouse each Friday-Sun in June/Aug and costs about $40 a plate.  A few of us attended in July using a Blackcomb voucher that let us in 2 for 1, and it was well worth the discounted cash.  There’s salads, fresh vegetables, chicken, prawns, ribs, salmon and beef, as well as a very well stocked dessert table consisting of cupcakes, bar cakes, whipped crème, pecan pie, fresh fruit and a different hot dessert each week.

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However, with summer coming to an end, they were losing a lot of staff and desperate to get in some extra hands.  I get offered a Friday shift, and later a Sunday shift, and have to grab a front of house uniform from The Springs (meaning I get a pair of travel trousers for free, score!)

Working in front of house is a completely different situation to back of house, mostly due to how much moving you’re doing.  My job is to clear tables for the two sittings (one at 5:30, the second at 7:30) and keep them clean, and get allocated two areas where I have to navigate (usually the ‘Elbow Room’ and ‘Glacier View’).  At first this is pretty dull, with very few tables, but once everyone’s sitting down, its full power for a good hour.  Turn around and blink, and there will be 12 tables with half a dozen plates waiting to be collected.  Plus, since I have no experience bussing, my plate balancing is mediocre, and EVERYTHING ends up dripping down my shirt.  I also have to answer questions from guests, which can be hard considering I don’t normally work this mountain.

On the other hand, I get a fifteen-minute break in which I get to eat at the Feast, so that’s a good bonus.

I do a good enough job that I get invited back for a Sunday shift, although on Saturday I can feel a tickle in my throat, which is turning into an actual sore throat by Sunday, so I need to keep an eye on that.  Dan (the boss) wants me in Saturday/Sunday next week, and if I get worse, I’ll need the hours just to stay financially afloat.

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12th August 2017 – New Look

We finally got some rain!  The weather is awful and the smoke has been replaced with mist.  Come tomorrow we might have something resembling a view, just in time for the bikers to come to Crankworx and give Whistler one of its most profitable weeks of the summer.

It’s a breath of fresh air, literally, for Whistler.  And not a moment too soon, between the bad weather and my lack of hours, my mental state has been in a really bad place for several days.  Not since university have I struggled as much as I did, so now that things are making a turn for the better, it’s time to bite the bullet and do something I’ve been desperate to do for a while.  Get a haircut.

For two years I’ve grown my hair so that it would be long enough to do funky colours.  However, I’m now in a job that doesn’t allow them, and is so hot in the backline wearing a wig seems like a stupid idea.  Plus, the dye I had done in Australia has now completely bled out leaving my hair an ugly dishwater brown/blonde.  The smoke has just amplified my displeasure, making my hair hot and greasy with the humidity, trapping the heat in the valley.  Honestly, I just want my short haircut back.  So, I walk to a salon called Farfalla, and pay $60+tip to cut off the 8 inches or so of hair I’ve grown.  Thankfully, the woman assigned to me doesn’t try to talk me out of it, and happily takes the scissors to the length.

God I’d forgotten how good short hair feels.  There’s something enjoyable about a ponytail, but it pales in comparison to the lightness of a clipped scalp.  I’ve still got some length, even longer than it was when I left the UK, but it’s a vast improvement over my damaged and dyed mop.

In the evening, I’ve got some more fashion related work to do – I’m on the Whistler Buy & Sell Facebook page constantly looking for any winter deals, and a woman is selling some boots and jackets at a very reasonable price.  I take a walk along Alta Lake along the way, and when I make it to Blueberry Hills, managed to grab a pair of snow shoes for $20, a parka for $5, and a practically new snowboard jacket for $50.  All things considered, a really good score – most snow shoes are close to $100, and the jackets not far behind them.  Now I just need to grab a snowboard, some skis and some trousers, or try my luck at the Turkey Sale in October.

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8th August 2017 – Silent Hill

Yesterday I returned to work and served maybe 10 people.  If that.  I’m always feeling a little under the weather after such a hectic couple of days, so when Waide starts looking for people to cut during the week, I am happy to take today off, even if financially I really shouldn’t be.  Sadly, I can’t really do much with the day, because on top of feeling pretty awful, the weather matches.

The smoke has been here for over a week, and everyone’s started praying for wind or rain so we can stop looking like we work in a horror movie.  We had a lightning day on Sunday, but it didn’t result in a downpour, which is what we really need to clear this smoke.  Crankworx starts this weekend, and we really need better weather if we want to get our customers up again.

When I’m back in on the 9th, we’re back to deep cleaning just about everything while we wait for customers.  We have them coming in, but they rarely want food since there’s no view to enjoy.  I’m probably not going to be in Friday either, because I’m on call and without rain, the last thing Blackcomb needs is more staff.

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6th August 2017 – Anime Revolution

Last day in Vancouver, though I have a sinking suspicion I’ll be going back to a quiet Whistler – the smoke is still thick even here, so don’t even wanna think about what it’s like there.

I start the day checking out the Worst Cosplay Competition.  I have no idea what this is, but it’s apparently popular.  Turns out it’s kind of like Minamicon’s variety show – the hosts pick five-ten cosplayers in the audience, and they compete against each other in events like pun-off, drawing and iron cosplay.  The person with the least applause is eliminated each round, until they have a winner.

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I’ll tell you right now this was by far my favourite event at Anime Revolution.  It was hysterical start to finish.  First of all, it was hosted by Dream Daddy cosplayers, the Christian Daddy, his wife and two of their children, all of whom stayed in character (or at least some version of it) throughout the event, and this only added to the fuel when 3 of the competitors were also Dream Daddy Cosplayers.  One of whom (to be fair not sure if they’re actually from DD, kind of looked like Weevil from YGO) just stole the show when, after being told to draw their perfect family, drew him, his cat and his perfect husband, Barack Obama.

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Then in the first iron cosplay round, where they had to dress up as their idea dream daddy, he dressed in a cape and admitted he’d dressed up as his D&D character Logthor.  Finally, in the iron cosplay round where he had to dress up one of the ‘child’ cosplayers, he dressed up his child, and then immediately kidnapped him…only to bring them back admitting the child was too creepy for him.  It was fantastic.

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The Death and Rebirth finals later in the afternoon sadly, weren’t quite as entertaining.  To be honest I think I just don’t get it.  It seemed like a lot of false fanservice and crazy antics that didn’t appeal to me.  I came out of it honestly not able to remember a thing that happened of note.

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I also caught the back end of the Cosplay Idol competition, which is singing entrants only.  I knew North America was big into performances, but it’s fascinating just how many they have.  There’s D&R for the not-quite-talent crazy antics, Idol Festival for the Dance Groups, Cosplay Idol for the singers, the Competition for skit performances, and the talent show for anything else.  Considering I come from a land where it’s the Omake/Masquerade or nothing, it’s pretty overwhelming.

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The con finished in the late evening, but I had to be back on a bus by 8, so I spent my last hour running around the dealer’s room.  In Canada, they start reducing the prices of things at cons (which NEVER happens in the UK or Australia) so I started buying.  Ended up with 2 shirts, a hoodie, a mug, a thermos, keychain and some KHR playing cards, plus whatever I managed to grab from the swapping table before they closed.  Tragically, all the mystery bag tables started offering several bags for $40, but I was out of cash – gutted…although honestly most of the stuff would have been things I didn’t want or need, so probably for the best.

I get back into Whistler some time before 11.  As expected the smoke is still everywhere, visible even in the darkness.  It’s going to be a slow week.

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