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Homecoming – Glimpses of a new Whistler

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Compromise. Not an easy concept to master for a hard-headed sports-warrior intent on his own adventures. But pair him up with a just-as-stubborn female (whose earthy wisdom regularly trumps his bad-boy cleverness), and suddenly compromise, as opposed to out-and-out defeat, doesn't look so bad...

I never planned on living in Vancouver full-time. My community - the place where my friends, my activities, my interests converged - was Whistler. Had been since the early 1970s when I first moved here to teach skiing for Jim McConkey and pursue my own high-mountain dreams. At best, I was only semi-civilized. Give me a good bushwack or a long climb into the alpine or even a tough ski tour on my own and I was happy. Sure, I could handle people. But only in small doses. My heart yearned for wild places; my soul called for backcountry epiphanies.

Whistler, with its lofty peaks and old logging trails - its easy alpine access and seemingly limitless big-mountain terrain - was just the place for a guy with my particular proclivities. Within moments of leaving the village I could doff my human skin and let my bear nature take over. Whether on my skis, on my bike - or even on-foot - there were adventures to be had around every corner here. I looked forward to growing old among my Whistler funhog buddies. Looked forward to being the little ol' guy you catch sight of occasionally on the local summits.

And then I met Wendy.

Sporty, smart, and sexy as all get-out, my fourth-generation Vancouver vixen had her roots so entwined in the rich soil of the Fraser River delta that I knew right away it would be near-impossible to cajole her north to live full-time at Whistler. A skier since she could walk, Wendy wasn't opposed to spending lots of quality time up here. She just felt too constrained by the narrowness of the valley to make it her permanent home; felt too hemmed-in, she said, by the incessant rain and clouds of winter to consider settling here for good. So we decided to compromise. At least I thought it was a compromise...

For one of Wendy's many gifts was her ability to make you think you'd come to a joint decision when in fact you were simply acceding to her wishes. Still, we both bought into it. As long as I travelled the world, as long as I pursued my adventure-writing career in far-off places like Greenland and Patagonia, "we" decided that home base would remain Vancouver. Though hard for me to get my head around it at first, it was a decision that I could live with. Our kids would benefit from the best schooling available, Wendy would be able to pursue her academic adventures at nearby UBC, and the airport shuttle would remain a short one for me.

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