The Wonder Reels...the extended version 

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Sometimes I wonder whether people who have never been here believe me when I tell them what this place is like. Who can blame them?

I live in a town of about 10,000 people that, on a holiday weekend during the winter or a festive weekend during the summer, may swell to somewhere around 50,000. That's because quite a few other people like to come here to play, get away from wherever they live, or just hang out in the mountains.

So, what's there to do here? Well, in summer, we have five lakes in the valley, all within walking or biking distance, all swimmable... more or less. As long as you're not smitten with big, powerful ski boats or personal watercrap, you can do all the lake things you can think of on them.

You can walk any direction and before long, you'll come to a hiking/biking trail that'll connect with another trail, then another trail and pretty soon you'll be caught in a spiderweb of trails you can spend most of your life exploring. Most will head up a mountain since we're surrounded by mountains. Bonus though, most are downhill coming back.

If elevation gain isn't your thing, you can walk or bike or skate a paved trail from one end of the valley to the other. Have I mentioned that everything I've talked about so far doesn't cost a penny, which, by the way, will cease to exist in another week? Nickel for your thoughts?

Of course, if you want to spend money, you can do that... easily. There are some wonderfully infuriating golf courses, two mountains full of highly developed ways to amuse, thrill and, if you're not careful, hurt yourself. There are patios galore, sometimes even in the sun, great places to eat and drink and watch the parade of humanity wander aimlessly by. There are galleries to raise your brow and street entertainment, notwithstanding there aren't really any streets to speak of.

The town's populated with generally well-educated under-achievers. So few people move here to climb the corporate ladder even those who do call themselves the exceptions that prove the rule. Most people work enough to get by and given a choice of making more money or having more free time, will take the free time, thank you.

Before I ever came here to ski, I wondered if I was up to the challenge. Turns out I wasn't, but that's another story. And ever since I moved here, I've been awestruck by the wonder of this town, these mountains, this lifestyle.

So it came as no surprise to me that Whistler Blackcomb — affectionately referred to as the MotherCorp — finally hit on selling the wonder of it all this year. Yes, this is the Wonder Year.


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