Headed South of the Boarder

30 Jan

Before I get into my next post, I just wanted to say it’s a couple weeks late, while travelling throughout the PNW we were on the move a lot and didn’t have much time to find wifi. I’ll be posting another one within the next week that wraps up our trip down south. Enjoy!

It was finally time to head state side. With the weather in Vancouver being a bit of a bummer, we were hoping for something positive as we travelled across the border. Our first stop in the US of A was Bellingham, WA!

Bellingham was a rad little city, lots of nice locals, tons of organic food markets and cool outdoor vibes. Backcountry Essentials, located right downtown has all the necessary gear for getting out on the mountain, also the top floor holds a bunch of used, vintage quality gear for decent prices, and the shop sells beers, can’t ask for much more in a shop! After cruising around town, we found a good place to park for the night across from Bloedel Donovan Park on the eastern section of town.

Vintage Vans (c.1996)

Bloedel Donovan Park


There wasn’t any snow in the forecast for the next couple days, to fill in the time between storms we headed down towards Seattle, but decided to take the more adventurous route on Hwy 20. The highway takes you through part of the San Juan Islands, providing views that are pretty unreal. Deception Pass State Park gives the best views of them all. A giant suspension bridge connects the mainland to Whidbey Island, a place you could easily spend the day staring out towards Olympic National Park.

Deception Pass Bridge

Olympic National Park in the distance.

Hwy 20 eventually brings you to the bottom of the Island at Clinton, where we took a connecting fairy to Mukilteo, a short ride but worth it! On the ship, we met this rad local, Jason, who we chatted with briefly about our trip and snowboarding in general. He gave us his info and has been feeding us with great info/tips ever since. Thanks Jason, you’re the man, let’s hopefully ride sometime!

Traded the van in for a boat.


Once arriving back on the mainland, we drove into Seattle, parked up and checked out the REI downtown. REI’s are the mecca of outdoor gear, I could live in that store, and this store in particular is the original, a little overwhelming but filled with so much sweet gear. Later we headed to the north end of the city to find wifi and a safe place to park. The following day was dedicated to exploring the city. Cold for Seattle standards but a sunny day gave us the perfect atmosphere to walk around. It was a must to caffeinate the day with a Starbucks Coffee (since it’s originally from Seattle), and made our way into the heart of town. The main attraction of the day was checking out Pike’s Place Market. The market is as old as the city itself, a multi-level seafood market that features everything from Crab to locally made soaps. A real cool place, my favourite part of Seattle for sure.

Seattle, WA

Mystery Coke Machine…

Space Needle.

Original Starbucks (1912 Pike Place, Seattle)

Pike Place Market

One of the many levels in the market.

Seafood booths for days.


For lunch we hit up Shorty’s, a hole-in-the-wall bar that plays punk music, has pinball machines and serves up insanely good hot dogs! Later, we met this awesome guy at the Army Surplus store who gave us some tips on places we should check out on our way up to Mt Baker! He was stoked to meet ‘real’ Canadians haha. Overall, Seattle is an alright place, driving isn’t the best since all the streets are on massive slopes, tons of pot holes and it’s always in gridlock. Apparently it has a severe problem with car break ins which isn’t the best thing for people like us who live in their vehicle. The city is pretty spread out, hard to see in a short period of time but it has tons of cool little bars and shops to check out!

Dawgs, Punk and Pinball, perfect combo.

Coastal Views


The forecast was showing a heavy storm moving towards Mt Baker and we had a couple buddies from Revelstoke who were shredding there for the week, so back north we trekked.

Through the advice from the dude at the Army Surplus store, we drove on Hwy 11 (Chuckanut Drive), it takes you through Larabee State Park, and went to the hidden gem known as Taylor Shellfish Farm. You can buy Oysters that come from the harbour and surrounding ocean right next to the farm. Kayley tried them for the first time, and yes, she liked them, especially with a little lemon and hot sauce. These weren’t no shitty chained restaurant oysters, they were the real deal and we had to shuck them ourselves. Getting the real Sea to Table experience. Support local!!

Cheers!

Shucking

A Bargin!

Larabee State Park

On our way to Mt. Baker, we stopped in Glacier, the last town before the mountain. It was a must for me to check out Mt Baker Snowboard Shop, this shop is living history. Mt Baker and the shop were one of the original places to recognize snowboarding and fully support it. They have signatures inside from every legend and the outside wall has a mural done by the awesome Jamie Lynn.

Many legends have come through here.


We arrived at the mountain mid-afternoon, parked in the back lot with a variety of other campers and waited for the storm to arrive. The wind and snow really started to pick up as the sun was falling and it roared all night, at some points during the night it felt like the wind was going push the van on its side. With the combination of that and the excitement for the following day, not much sleep was had.

The Yeti in its element.


Regardless of the lack of shut-eyed we got up as the sun was rising, using the snow plow clearing the lot as our alarm clock. The snow covered the van, a piece of evidence that today was going to be a good day. We shoved breakfast down our throats, threw on our gear and got in the line with the other storm troopers. We were somewhere between the 10th-15th chairs up and it was off to the races. The fresh was easily 20-30cms deep and light! We mainly stuck ourselves at Chair 5 all day, so many cool little drops and fun places to slash. A plus to riding on a Monday is zero lift lines and you rarely see anyone all day and with the snow coming down throughout the day, the gaps kept getting filled on, no shortage of untouched fresh. Later on, we headed over to Chair 6 and took advantage of the stepper runs but with most of the area tracked out, we didn’t last long over there. It turned out to be another one of those days where you get for it not to end. I even had Kayley hitting mellow chutes! Super cool!

Rise and Shine!

Storm Troopers!

Lady Ripper!

Dropping into the good stuff

 

 

Snow filled faces

Attempt 1: Tomahawked

Attempt 2: Yew!!

Gettin’ some!

Thanks for a radical day Baker!


It was a dream to shred at Baker on a pow day, this mountain has been supporting standing sideways since day one and so much history has been recorded at this place. Nothing short of special!

Originally, we were supposed to meet up with Jay and Julien but when there is no cell service, it’s hard to find one another. Luckily we found them as were having a beer in the lodge. We all chatted about the day and decided to follow them back down to the converted bus they were staying at in Maple Falls. The bus was your stereotypical hippy bus, wood stove, trip blankets, propane oven, and Christmas lights. Julien cooked us up an awesome meal, shared some beers and stories. Worked from the day of riding, we all went off to bed stoked and sore.

Livin’ the van life.

Hippy Bus hangs.


The next morning, they went riding and we headed south as cooler weather was moving in later that day. That afternoon, we arrived in Snoqualmie, WA, a little town east of Seattle for the night. Portland was our next stop and we couldn’t of picked a worse day to do so. We took the scenic route with the hopes of getting a glimpse of Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens but overcasting snow didn’t allow for that. As we pulled closer to Portland on i5, there were hundreds of transport trucks lined up on the shoulder putting on tire chains and the highway had a couple inches of ice packed on, it was gnarly. Still being miles out of Portland, we decided to pull off and find a town to wait this mess out in, eventually ending up in Battle Ground, WA. Due to Portland’s lack of snow clearing equipment, we had to hang in this town for two days, although it wasn’t all a waste. It gave use a chance to get some well overdue errands done. A small highlight would be having extremely good coffee in a cafe made out of an old church! Old Town Battle Ground

Snoqualmie Falls.


As we pull into Portland, the ice on the side roads was horrible. The street we found to park at was not too far from the highway and in reasonably good shape ice wise. It was quite and beside a large city park along with giving us the chance to walk to downtown and see what the city was all about. Everyone we chatted with said how abnormal the weather was, I was starting to believe we were bringing snow everywhere we went, even in the places that rarely see it. The next two days we wandered around town, hit up a couple snowboard shops, Polar Flagship Store, and hung out in coffee shops utilizing the wifi. Also, we consumed possibly the best pizza ever at Sizzle Pie in the East end of the city.

Portland shirt finds.

Evo, Portland knows what’s up!

Old Portland

This pizza was fuckin’ insane.

Damnnnnn

I had a laugh and a beer.


Portland is a place to come back to when it’s not covered by an ice storm. With a massive rainstorm on it’s way, we made our way to Mt Hood, Oregon to ride at Mt. Hood Meadows and adventure around the National Forest. I’m crossing my fingers for good weather.

-Chris

Couch Surfing and Pow Turning

7 Jan

It’s weird transitioning from being in a van to being in an apartment, even though it was something we wanted over the holidays, especially with the cold air taking over the PNW. The feeling of running water, a refrigerator, private shower, an oven, consistent wifi, heat and a couch. It is crazy to think about how lucky you are and the basic necessities you miss while on the road. The opportunity of having these ‘necessities’ makes that feeling of ‘miss’ greater. If this opportunity didn’t arise, that feeling probably wouldn’t appear. It’s cool to have such awesome friends that will trust you with their shit and let you press the refresh button. Living on the road isn’t hard but there are times where it isn’t easy.

Kayley and I took advantage of a week under a stationary roof. We cooked tons of meals thanks to our Thug Kitchen Cookbook, watched too many seasons of The Office, drank our fair share of beers and yes, of course, we did some snowboarding. Big White was prime both days we chose to ride. Dec 21: it has snowed a bit the night before which left the runs nice and soft, we even had sunny breaks all afternoon. Black Forest was filled with tons of untouched snow and the lift lines were bare. A solid day to get tons of laps in and find all the juicy side hits.

Chilly hike up Knox Mountain

The mountain showing some Christmas spirit.

Happy Campers!

Paying respect to the winter solstice.

Best boardshop! Worth checking out!


Dec 24: We originally were planning on going up to the mountain on Christmas but with 25cms+ coming the night of the 23rd, it was only necessary to get fresh pow laps on the eve of X-Mas. It couldn’t of been a better day, it snowed more in the morning and was blue bird all afternoon. The day was spent in the trees carving our own tracks in the deep stuff and sending it off whatever natural booter we could find. Not a bad way to spend the holiday. Big White is fun to put it simply, it has terrain for anyone and whatever you are looking for. Plus they don’t call it Big White for nothing, you’ll always find some freshies.

Morning lifts

Making our way through the Black Forest.

Practicing my tweak technique

Snow Surfer

What I’m truly grateful for!

Christmas Dinner! Thanks to Kay for being an awesome cook!


As much as we wanted to stay longer, we both started to the feel the need to get in the van and hit the road. Also, I had been watching the forecast and Whistler had a massive storm coming in and we needed to be there for it.

The drive from Kelowna to Vancouver was a sketchy one. The corridors had been getting hammered with snow/rain over the last little while, making the conditions less than ideal. But with the future storm on its way, it was our only chance to get outta there. Mountain conditions can change rapidly and all attention must be put on the road, no room for mistakes. It’s ether beautiful or impassable, well in the winter that is.

Post-Blizzard shot somewhere on Hwy 5.


The following day we made our way up to Whistler, the Sea to Sky drive is rad, total PNW vibe; foggy, mountains and greenery. It was nice to see Whis totally covered in snow and the storm had already began to set in upon our arrival. Once getting our passes dealt with, we met up with our good friends, Corey, Keele and Paz. I had worked with Corey and Keele at Boardsports in Toronto. Corey and Paz both work in the Whistler village and Keele was visiting for the week. It was awesome being able to rip with these dudes the following morning. We headed to a local diner that night and it was puking, bringing the stoke level to an all time high. We all hit the hay early in preparation for a full day of pow slashes.

Kay and I awoke early, arrived at the Whis gondola around 8am with the snow still coming down. Once we walked out of the gondola up top, the mountain was in full blizzard mode. We strapped in, leaned back and got some deep slashes in. Before meeting up with the guys we hung around the Emerald Chair since alpine wasn’t opening due to the high wind and low visibility. The day was a dream, plowing through waist deep fluff, high-fiving, and big smiling. There are zero complaints on days where you find yourself in 45cms of fresh snow (Well, the only complaint I had is getting lost with Paz and almost falling 15 feet into a creek but other than that a radical day!). If you find yourself in Whistler on a powder day, lap under the Peak 2 Peak gondola, lots of rad glade runs, easy pillow hits and it all funnels back down to the same cat track!

Ready to Rip!

Kayley keeping it pre-1990’s

Dumping!

Find your line!

 

Stoked Dudes

Post Shred Tacos – Urban Cantina


Day 2: We were given a beautiful blue bird day and zero wind, but with that comes massive lift lines. Whistler not only known for its snow, it’s known for stupid long lift lines. We tried our best to find the remainder of the untouched stuff all day, eventually making our way to alpine, where we had some of the best runs of the season. The Flute Bowl on Whistler Mountain was steep and deep. It was the prime day for the Cool Bean; surfy turns were had all day, my face hurt from smiling. Friends were made in the lift line, advice was traded and stoke was shared. To finish off an awesome couple days I even met a legend and one of my all time favourite shredders in the Whis library, Bryan Fox. He came to Whistler to catch the same pow laps and enjoy the beautiful weather before heading to Japan. Surreal moment for sure.

Blue Bird!

Just a couple people…

Dropping in!

We came from somewhere on that upper ridge.

STOKED!

Bird Whisperer?

Beer to cap off the day.


Since Whis isn’t the most accommodating for campers, we ate out each night, La Cantina had insanely good tacos, their fish taco was out of this world. The other night we grabbed some greasy but good pizza from Fat Tony’s right by the Whistler gondola and enjoyed a heavy IPA at the Brewhouse in Olympic Village. Also, parking is impossible in town. The parking authority is very strict, there is minimal street parking, the ski lots are a no go for overnight, so we found out the convention centre and library had overnight parking for $5 and $10 for 24hrs, so luckily we snagged a covered spot at the library and held it there till we left town. With the cold weather moving in we decided to head back to Van, rest and plan our trip down to the U.S of A. I’m stoked to get down there, shred Mt. Baker and Mt. Bachelor and see Seattle, Bend, Portland, the list goes on! I’ll check back soon! Keep being rad and get out there!

-Chris