Winter is coming. Thanks to the Song of Ice and Fire epic ("Game of Thrones" for those who get their books by television) those three words sound grim in my head, so lets imagine them shouted out by someone who's insufferably happy, like Elmo if he wasn't tainted by a sex scandal, or Peewee Herman who, well, had his own "Elmo" problem once upon a time.
This column is for all the newcomers to Whistler. Cut it out and stick it on your minifridge with that magnet you got from that beer case, or pin into the ceiling of the sauna you sleep in between Jaeger bombs; a simple list of Dos and Don'ts to guide you through the season.
DO... take full advantage of everything that Whistler has to offer, including the mountains, the trails, the tours. Whistler is best experienced outside, or at the very least on a patio.
DON'T... Shoot your wad too quickly. One of the saddest things this time of year is all the crutches and arm slings on people who saw Red Bull's "The Art of Flight" or Sherpa Cinema's "All I Can" and said to themselves, "Hey, that doesn't look that hard..." Pace yourself: there's snow on the slopes until June.
DO... be polite to our guests, though they will sorely test your patience and, yes, your very sanity at times. Tourism is the lifeblood of this place. You may think you're here to ski or snowboard, but you're not; you're here to work. Tourism is why this place exists.
DON'T... spend a nickel more than you make. People dig themselves into some deep, sad holes in this town, but while the cost of living is high and the urge to party is strong, there are thousands of us that have found a way to make it here against all odds. Learn to budget. Say "no" sometimes and, if you do go out, then please, for the love of Ben Bernanke, take cash and leave your cards at home!
DO... make a lot of friends and be nice to people. The thing about Whistler is you never really know who is going to be here long-term, but if you're nice to everyone then chances are you'll have people to play with for a long, long time. We don't generally judge people for the way they look (unless it involves rear-entry snowboots) or how they dress or what they do for a living. I guarantee the guy who brings your pizza is more hardcore than you in every way.
DON'T... get caught in the April Trap (I coined the phrase, hence the caps), where you find yourself getting dragged to endless going-away parties at expensive restaurants for people you may never see again. Seriously, there's one of these every week at the end of the season, and it's the fastest way to blow all the cash you were so wisely saving for a mountain bike. Show up late or make a card or something. Ditto for birthdays.
DO ... get to know us. The community here, though it may seem invisible at times, is incredible. It's the community that volunteers for events and organizations. It's the community that builds amenities like the library and Valley Trail, that keeps the food bank stocked and steps up when people need help. Volunteer for something. Show up to things. Talk to people. If you end up moving here full-time, the community will probably be a bigger reason than all the recreation opportunities combined.
DON'T ... bite off more than you can chew. Whistler's got a body count that grows every year, and while sometimes it's the result of people pushing boundaries with full knowledge of the consequences, sometimes it's just people in way over their heads. Pique writes about dozens of people who need the help of Search and Rescue every winter season; don't be one of them. Know where you're going and if it's in your ability; take courses and be prepared with the right gear. Never go into the backcountry alone. It's not just your life at stake remember, it's everyone who comes looking for your sorry ass.
DO ... eat nachos for dinner and drink the local beer. Both are excellent.
DON'T ... despair. Ever. We get dry spells, but snow always comes. Jobs and beds always materialize. All the dramas in your life involving money and relationships and whatnot will seem pretty small in the rearview mirror. Keep your chin up, if for no other reason than it's the best way to enjoy the view.
DO ... Take care of yourself. That scurvy story is an urban legend, but it's still a great cautionary tale. Eat right and exercise because the coming winter could be the longest you've ever experienced, and you can get pretty run down and out of shape by the time spring rolls around. Add a bout of mumps, swine flu and a venereal disease or two, and you could be feeling like Keith Richards looks.
DON'T ... litter, tag, trash, scream obscenities or generally be a douchebag. In Whistler, the real badasses prove it on snow, dirt and concrete. Maybe where you come from it was badass not to give a crap about anything, but here you're just the douchebag who threw his coffee cup on the ground.
Do ... Have a memorable and safe season. Or two.
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