1st October – Dish Pit

The last day of the season will be the 9th October, but the Rendezvous is only open on Saturday and Sunday until then.  On the Saturday, we were packed with end of season visitors, so the grill has been going crazy.  We thought we had enough stock to last, but by the end of the day we were having to ration lettuce, tomato and peppers because we just don’t have enough.

I’m on call for Sunday, but on Saturday, I’m asked if I would be willing to work in the dish pit rather than the front line.  Our current dishie is desperate for a day off, and the relief dishie has been doing a lot of shifts at his other job, so doesn’t want to give up his front-line shift if he doesn’t have to.  I’ve never worked in the dish pit, but I’m happy to give it a shot if it gets me another day’s work.  The relief dishie will be fixing everything up and breaking down since that requires training, but other than that it’s on me.

In the morning I did the grill prep, and when we opened I started with the cleaning.  The basic jobs of the dish pit are separating the rubbish into compost, recycling and garbage, then rinsing off the plates before shoving them through the giant dishwasher – at which point one of the bussers takes the stuff off to dry in its right section.

In the mornings it’s very quiet since we don’t have a lot of people needing lunch, but by 1pm it starts picking up, and both I and the busser are working at full power for the rest of the afternoon.  There’s always 3 crates of plates to deal with no matter how fast we work.  I barely even realise the restaurant has closed until we get some additional bussers in to help us close.

All things considered, I definitely prefer being in the ‘front’ house back line, but think I could easily do a dish pit job on the side if I had to.

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26th September 2017 – Bike Park

Next week the bike park closes, and I’m desperate to get out at least one more time.  I haven’t managed to get on a bike anywhere near as much as I wanted to, so the second I saw decent weather, I was bolting down the hill to rent a bike.

It’s clear I haven’t been biking enough, because I drive the lift operators up the wall every time I head up the mountain.  I just cannot get the bike onto the hook or the stand no matter what I do.  The trouble continues when I get to Easy-Does-It and realise I’ve gotten the brakes hooked to the wrong wheel.  Thankfully, once I get down the mountain, I can get to the shop and get them swapped round.

I’ve never ridden anything other than the simplest trail, but since then, the rains have started to arrive, and the trail is almost a completely different beast.  There’s no longer huge lengths of dust and slippy surfaces, all the loose surface has wash away, and the biggest challenge is the rocks that have emerged in their place.  It almost feels like a completely different trail.

However, I’m really confident after 3 trails, although my hand is starting to cramp.  I decide that I’ll do one last run, but since the rain has destroyed most of the dust, I want to give the easy trail that panicked me the second time I came out another shot.

Best decision I made all day.  The trail was nerve wracking, but without the dust I had so much more grip, and managed to speed through the segment with no issues.  I really want to go out again, but my hand is in agony – lesson learned, no matter how much fun you’re having, take a break midway through the trail to stretch your hand, or you’re going to regret it.  When I hand my bike in, I still have an hour, and I know my hand is going in a restraint tomorrow thanks to my stupidity.

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21st September – Day Crew Cleaning

Since the Rendezvous is now only doing weekend shifts and will be closing come October, I needed to find another source of income.  Originally, I planned to go travelling, but financially that just wasn’t happening – so I put my feelers out and got a job as part of the Day Crew in the cleaning division.  For the first few weeks this means doing 1-2 regular day shifts where I do general cleaning for the G1 and Daylodge areas of Whistler (the bike park and upper village respectively).  When the Rendezvous closes for good and the village shuts down for the dead season, I’ll be doing more deep cleaning and detailing instead.  But for now, I’m cleaning toilets and sweeping the outside areas free from trash and cigarette butts.

Of course, it doesn’t exactly start smoothly.  My boss runs a lot of different Whistler divisions, and the cleaning division is ALWAYS short staffed.  There’s not a lot of benefits for being on the day crew and most of the other jobs in the village pay more than Whistler Blackcomb.  With so many people going on holiday, it’s even worse right now.  Today, I’m supposed to be cleaning with a regular cleaner, but they haven’t shown up for several shifts, so most of my morning is spent in her office while she tries to fix that problem.

When we do get out, we manage to check out the Carleton bathrooms, clean up the square, and do the same at the Daylodge before she takes me up the mountain to check out the toilets at mid-station (normally the responsibility of the Roundhouse, but they’re not working the weekdays anymore and it’s in bad shape).  The girl’s is fine, but the boy’s toilet is BADLY clogged, so we need to really use some elbow grease to fix it up.  After this, I’m left to my own devices, basically checking the toilets, the grounds, the upper village, and then repeating the tasks again and again until 5:30.

The one really good benefit of this job though is until the dead season starts, I get one free meal from either Garbo’s or Girabaldi’s, so that’s awesome.  Garbos have great burgers, and most meals in GLC cost close to $20, so that’s nearly 2 additional hours of cash.

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19th September – Paintball

With last week being the last full week of service, it’s time for the very last staff party of the season.  To be honest the Rendezvous hasn’t had nearly as many as the Roundhouse has, so I’m really looking forward to this one.  We’re all going to paintball!

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At around 2pm, everyone’s picked up by bus outside the admin building at Blackcomb, and we head about ten minutes out of town to the paintball area.  They have one area in the forest, and a bunch of games.  Rendezvous is paying for about 2000 bullets, so we’ll keep playing till we run out of them (or choose to buy more on our own dime).  We split into two teams, using coloured tokens to keep it even (yellow and orange – I’m on orange), and start with the first game, Capture the Flag.  Basic rules – one shot that hits and you’re out.  If it doesn’t break, you’re still in.

The orange team is in the right-side base, and unfortunately, we have a lot of people in our team who are REALLY scared about getting hit, and huddle inside the base in fear.  So, we have quite a few people climbing the hill beside us to work as cover, while others try to make their way over, and about half the team huddle in the base.  Needless to say, we lose as we all get picked off one by one, and the people in the base get slaughtered when the yellow team descend upon them.  I get picked out about midway with a shot to the arm.

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Thankfully by the next game everyone’s gotten over their fear, which is ironic because staying in the base is actually a good option now.  It’s Plant the Bomb – the yellow team has to get a bomb into our base.  If we can get to the bomb, we can ‘disarm’ it and win.  Since we’re on the defensive, we don’t have to move out as much, so we’re all over the place to protect the area.  I’m in the main base, and poked my gun out of a hole in the wooden barrier, and just fired whenever I spotted a head.  Despite a valiant effort by the yellow team, we take out the bomb holder and manage to crawl close enough to the bomb to ‘disarm’ it.

In the second round, we were the bomb holders, and our leaders came up with a strategy to carry a rock as a decoy, while the real bomb went really low.  I and a few others headed up the hill, and I decided to go right to the very top, ending up getting straight into enemy territory and using the height to try and take out people in the base.  This both did and didn’t work – I could see them and distract them, but I was too high for my bullets to hit and take anyone it.  It was a bit of a catch 22 situation.  Didn’t matter though, because despite being unable to take anyone out, our strategy worked, and we got the bomb into their base.

In the next game, there were a collection of levers all over the area, with yellow and orange tags on the end.  We have to swing them to our colour, in fifteen minutes, whoever has the most tags wins.  Each team has four levels deep in their base, and there is four in the middle ground.

This is a lot harder since staying in the base isn’t an option.  Although in the first five minutes we’re allowed to return after getting shot so long as we go back to our base – this means a lot of people take risks trying to get to the levers.  I try my luck at getting the one closest to our base on the hill, but get hit the first time in the leg.  Second time I succeed in getting one on the south side switched, but within 2 minutes the yellow team have switched it back.  In the last few minutes I go up north again, but yet another bullet takes me out of the running (quite literally, hits me in the stomach and has me doubled over as I limp back to the safehouse), and yellow takes the game again.

At this point some people want to come out and get ready for the barbeque after the game.  Since we’re starting to run low on bullets by this point, this increases our ammo, and the teams get swapped around.  Now it’s the front-line vs the back line.  Due to the number of players, I get swapped into the front line, which keeps me on the orange team.  This time is an orange vs yellow free for all.  No strategy, no needing to move around, just a full battle royale.  I decide to take the chance and head back up the hill since it worked so well last time for hiding, but couldn’t get enough shelter to make my way down, and found myself stuck far too high up.  On top of which, Eli from the other team spotted me, and started making his way up.  I couldn’t hit him in time, and decided to retreat, turning back to the orange base before Eli could make his way up.

I ended up back at the orange base trying to spot people, only to run out of bullets, and decide I’d now use my uselessness to support other orange players.  Whenever they wanted to move, I’d provide ‘cover’ by shooting at other players, who had no idea I was out of bullets.  Eventually though, my luck ran out, and I got hit by, wouldn’t-you-know-it, Eli again.  He’d come down the hill and started tracking players at the base.  As I stood up in surrender though, he didn’t realise and managed to hit me again, this time square on my breast, making the one on my stomach the second most painful injury I’d had today.

The final matchup was between two yellow and one orange, and although they put up a valiant effort, a yellow player took the win, and we all trudged out for the barbeque, having had quite the enjoyable afternoon shooting our co-workers.  We stuck around for about 2 hours eating hotdogs with relish clearly taken from the Rendezvous (all the salsa etc from Mexican that was going to go out of date), and then trailed back into the village.  A few hours later, everyone was at Crystal Lodge for another WB staple.  Karaoke.

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I know a few people who’ve gone to this, but I’ve never been myself.  However tonight was a hoot – Rendezvous basically took over the front of the bar, with our managers singing most of the songs.  I went up twice, despite being virtually tone deaf, singing ‘Going Out Like That’ by Reba McIntyre, and ‘Allstar’ – accompanied by one of my bosses who wanted to join in (we ended up messing with each other most of the song), before heading back home.  Definitely need to come more to this once winter starts up.

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15th September – Decker Loop

There’s only a handful of weeks left of the season, and I grab one last sunny day to go and finish up the mountain hikes.  This morning it’s up the Whistler Gondola, over the Peak to Peak, and off down the Alpine Loop towards the Lakeside Loop. I haven’t been here since the start of the summer, so it’s a completely different trek.  A lot less flowers, but also a lot less snow.  So, in 50 minutes, I’ve finally gotten to see Blackcomb Lake in full glory.

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You have to love the colour of the water here.  The glacier results in minerals changing the colour to this crazy collection of hues.  It’s too bad the flowers are gone, because it would have been beautiful together.

The rest of the loop heading towards the black ‘Decker Loop’ is pretty barren right now since the flowers, and most of the water has gone.  Its kind of dead – but it does give me incentive to keep moving, so I make it to the Decker Loop in good time.

This is the only black trail on Blackcomb, and a lot shorter than the High Note Trail.  However, as I’m very quick to find out, it’s also a lot steeper than the High Note Trail.  Less than 20 minutes in and I’m exhausted – have to sit on a rock and drink half a bottle of water before I can lug myself up.  Takes another 20 to get to the Glacier Lookout – by far the most work I’ve had on the hikes here in Whistler, and the view isn’t nearly as great as the High Note, but get the feeling that’s just because I left it so late in the season.  With the flowers and more sun, bet it would have been awesome.

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Views definitely get better as you head down the last part though, cause you have to walk past a collection of pools filled with yet more of the incredibly hued water.  This is Decker Tarn, which I had never heard of, and that’s rather frustrating, because it’s stunning here.  I would have loved to visit it more often – it’s even on the left steep part of the loop so coming here wouldn’t have been that difficult.  Something to remember I guess.

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Overall, I spend about 3 hours getting through the Alpine, Overlord, Lakeside and Decker Loops, and make it back with several hours to spare.  Now I just need to get some of the hikes around town done.  Next challenge with be to do the Train Crash Hike.

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11 September 2017 – Hidden Rush

Despite being called in yesterday, the Rendezvous was dead.  We barely had any customers despite the weather clearing up – the guests the bosses predicted just didn’t show.

Turns out, they were waiting for today.

We only had Fries, Grill and Thai open, with Mexican being permanently closed until winter now, and there was just three of us running the front, fully expecting it to be quiet and we’ll spend the day cleaning to occupy ourselves.  I don’t even do much prep because we have more than enough to get through a normal day – I just do one kale salad.

When we open, it’s as expected.  Completely dead.  Only Grill gets customers, and after 30 minutes I decide to take my break since Thai isn’t getting any business.  When I return however, there’s a line of 5 people.

…And that pretty much describes the rest of my day.  There was almost never a quiet moment – I was lucky to get five minutes to refill the vegetable options or cook more noodles.  The guys on Grill had helped me prep and made a full tray of noodles, but by 2 they were all gone and I had to frantically cook some more before another customer requested it.  The kale salad also vanished, which is almost unheard of even on busy days – never have I been so grateful to do prep, I kind of wished I’d done another one.

The person I felt most sorry for though was our hotline prepper.  She’d been expecting an easy day, but she was on a constant rush.  Normally we have backup items cooked so there’s no wait, but because we’ve not been busy, we’ve been working on a ‘tell me when you’re down to half/a third and I’ll start cooking’ system to save on waste.  It takes 10-15 minutes to cook a fresh batch of generally anything, so you can only do it on slow days.

Needless to say, when you have no backups and have requests for chilli, salmon, chicken, pork belly and meatballs all at the same time, there’s a bit of a rush.

At one point, I’m out of all proteins except tofu, because it only takes 2 minutes from me telling her I needed a refill to empty chicken, pork and meatballs.  Even when she manages to get them out, I’ve got 3 more things I need a refill on, as well as Grill looking for additional bacon.  Woman didn’t get a second to herself.

We were supposed to consider staying open until 3:30, but thanks to the busy rush we’re tragically short on manpower and going to need all the time we can get, so I close at 3:00 as usual, and immediately start doing some prep after clearing out the dirty trays.  We’re completely out of papaya slaw, which wasn’t even on my prep list this morning, we had 3 tubs this morning, and it’s all gone.  I don’t have time to do it completely, but I did manage to core them for tomorrow, as well as prepping another tub of gai lan, red kale and green kale.  Making the slaw and kale salad will have to be Thai’s job tomorrow.

Honestly, I feel really bad about how I handled today.  I just struggle under stressful conditions, and working on a station that I’m only competent on solo while having to make 4-5 bowls at a time, often running out of food faster than it can be replaced is extremely taking.  The worst was a huge family of Chinese guests who wanted seven bowls but couldn’t seem to agree on what they wanted – my supervisor ended up taking over and getting them to agree on chicken as a protein after I’d suffered nearly 3 minutes of just getting them to agree on the contents of 2 bowls.

In addition, I couldn’t get to the hotline prepper at the best times, and I didn’t have enough prep, especially considering the Grill and Fries seemed to handle the rush perfectly fine.  Although that’s not really fair – Grill EXISTS in a state of permanent rush, so they’re more used to handling it.

It’s been an exhausting day, and we’re a little baffled at just how busy it was.  Where did all these people come from?  It takes so long to clean everything up at the end that we end up holding the Peak to Peak up while we try and get there – we’re supposed to be on at 5:15, but I don’t think that gondola stopped until 5:30 at least.

Feel a little guilty that so much prep has been left for tomorrow, but unless we get a crazy rush again, they should be fine.

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9th September 2017 – The Blackcomb Ascent

Yesterday Whistler was deluged by constant rain, so I spent my day catching up with my blog and some other writing.  Today I’m working at the Feast again, but I want to do something with my morning.  When I look outside, the weather is cold, but dry.  There is a 65% chance of rain on the weather app, but I decide to take the chance and try my luck at completing the Blackcomb Ascent.

I completed the Big Burn trail a few weeks ago, but now that the chair lift is shut down, I need to complete it again in order to get to the Heart Burn trail.  Considering how much it took out of me the first time, I’m kind of dreading it.  The weather isn’t encouraging either, managing to look fairly ominous at the chance of rain.  The weather app suggests I’ll be fine until the afternoon though, and I know if I don’t go now I never will, so grit my teeth and push on.

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To be honest, without the vicious heat and humidity of the earlier summer, the Big Burn trail is a lot easier than I expected.  With the cool air I’m making good time, getting to the chairlift changing station in less than half the time it took me before.

The downside?  It’s started to rain. Heavily.

It’s been raining for a while, but the Big Burn is under thick tree cover, so I never even noticed.  The Heart Burn trail wouldn’t give me that benefit.  Most of the Heart Burn is on open ground, or very sparse woodland.  However, with the chairlift closed, my options are either to keep going, or head down a mountain that has a warning recommending you don’t go down in the rain, so I head on up.

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It is definitely a challenge – I have a raincoat and it performs admirably, but after an hour of constant rain it’s starting to struggle, as are my shoes.  Not to mention the water brings an added chill, and that makes me hungry.  All that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other is the mantra ‘there’s food at the top.’

Not that it’s all bad.  The views (that I can see outside of the cloud) are amazing, and the trail is nowhere near as steep as Big Burn, so I even manage to run or jog sections of it. I also get a surprise midway through when I spot a castle hidden in the middle of the forest.

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This is part of the Adventure course for kids in winter, so I’ll have to explore it once the snow makes it accessible again.

After about 3 hours since I started at the foot of the Big Burn, I finally make it to the Rendezvous restaurant, and blessedly drag myself to the counter for hot chocolate and food.

I’m so happy to be up, but it doesn’t take long to realise the worst part of this plan.  No chairlift means I have to travel via the Peak to Peak, and then down the gondola.  It’s going to be at least 40 minutes to get home while wearing wet clothing.  Needless to say, I spent most of my time on the gondola shivering, and then all but bolt up to my flat for the hottest shower I can stand without burning my skin.

I only get an hour or so to warm up and relax, because I’m on the Feast again.  The weather had affected the numbers, and we’re only having one sitting of just over 100 people.  However, we’ve also developed a leak in the serving area, right smack bang where the dessert table normally stands, so the staff have to get creative with the curtains – helped by us only putting out half the normal servings given how quiet it is.

All things considered, it was a really quiet day.  We had more than enough people to stay on top of the plates – most of the night I was coming into the dish pit with only one plate or a cup.  On the plus side, this meant everyone was out of the building at 8:30 and didn’t have to rush to get the place prepped for the morning.

I’ve also been approved for the rest of the Feasts this month, so it’s a guarantee of 4-5 extra hours each week.  This in conjunction with my attempts to get on the Dead Season’s cleaning crew means I should keep myself financially solvent even after the Turkey Sale and into winter.

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