Whistler: Gas has Class

Even the Husky gas station in whistler was styled to fit with the cabin/west coast chateau theme.


A ton of love for Pemberton

Our hotel being overbooked was the best thing that ever happened to us.

Instead of staying in our usual motel set-up we drove into Pemberton’s upperscale subburb today to find a lovely B&B at the end of the road! We are staying at The Greenwood Inn and have “The rose garden room/The dream room”. The roses are not yet in bloom so it’s still called the dream room right now. Well named, because this is my dream basement suite. Separate entrance, small kitchen and living room, fireplace, and all beautifully decorated! I wish I could live here all year round!


Susan and I sat around and got some business out of the way (still more to go!) and then went to dinner at “Solfeggio” a short walk away. Imagine every little thing on a hipster’s Pintrest wall: that was this restaurant. I was afraid to take pictures and be rude, but we did get this one with the symbol of hipserdom:


[Revision: Nov 2014] You can see pictures of the ultimate hipster interior in this Vancity Buzz article!

This place had everything: The worn wood re-purposed into rough tables, mis-matched chairs, colourfully stitched pillows on the benches, lights danging from industrial-inspired cords into bigger mason jars, shelves held up by decorative metal pipes, chalkboard labels on the big glass canning jars used to contain spices. There was even a full bicycle hanging high on the wall to our left. That was what did it for me. It was actually TOO hipster, so saturated that it was near nauseating. It surpassed style and made me feel like I was in what would become the tacky nostalgia diners representing an era 50 years past. THIS is the sort of place our grandkids will interpret as we interpret this:

grease diner


But I digress, It was still very nice. It was $5 Fridays and very busy, but we didn’t have trouble finding a table. We ordered fish tacos, black bean sliders, red potato poutine, and vegetable-black bean sushi roll. Our favorite was the poutine because the potatoes had been cooked in coconut oil and had a very nice coconut flavour that you would not expect to pair so well with the gravy and cheese!


RCBC Zero Waste conference – Day 2

Day 2 is just as much fun! Having a blast meeting more recycling people! This morning the conference began at 7am, with breakfast! It was lovely, and so was lunch! Sorry, no pictures of the food, but here are some to illustrate the extravagance of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler!


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Leyla Acaroglu

The speakers today have been wonderful. My favorite was Leyla Acaroglu, who spoke about the importance of Design with the product’s End-Of-Life in mind, design for the environment (to be composted, repaired, reused or recycled), and the importance of fun in change. She said that to get people to modify their behavior you either have to make it fun, or disrupt the process, making it difficult for people to get what they want without being eco-friendly (e.g. Recycling bins that don’t allow you to put the coffee cup in without folding it and taking the lid off; and her example was the “Eco Kettle” which you have to hold down the button for the boiling chamber, reducing the re-boiling that comes from forgetfulness, while also encouraging people to only boil as much water as they need.


It was a long second day (7am-7:30pm), and afterwards we were encouraged to stay for the “gala” and awards ceremony. Our good friend Andrea from the Royal Roads booth next door did not stay unfortunately because she was feeling tired. We did, however, get to enjoy the evening with our new friends George Quon from IPL (a garbage bin manufacturer), the good people from Eco-Win (Who kept getting upset with us for ditching them at the Gala and the group activity – Sorry!), and Mary from the “Potato House” – a recycling goddess who promises us a “Dump Tour” as soon as we have a spare moment while in William’s Lake. I can’t wait Mary!

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Andrea from Royal Roads

I have learned so much from just the two short days at the RCBC conference. Yesterday Mary taught me about the dangers of clear disposable plastic water bottles (something I have yet to become an expert on, but one thing is clear – Avoid them!), but also of plastics in other products. Unfortunately my much beloved collapseable plastic water bottle was deemed questionably unsafe. It does not list what type of plastic it is, even though it does say BPA free it could still be harmful. “Use it to carry the water you wash your feet in” was all I could think about last night in the shower. She taught me a handy rhyme (for children and anyone):

“4, 5 &  2, All The Rest Are Bad For You”.

(Only use plastics 4, 5, and 2, and 7 – IF it says BPA FREE)

Whistler Zero Waste Conference – Day 1

Today Susan and I drove up to Whistler bright and early for the 2014 Zero Waste Conference. This is a big deal in the recycling world and it seemed like anyone who was anyone in the local recycling loop – from stewardship executives to municipal recycling leaders – were present. We are here representing all the stewards we represent and chatting to some very interesting people. Personally, I am thrilled to be here and am having a blast. It is great to be surrounded by so many people who understand our message and are so passionate about finding alternatives to garbage culture.

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Met some great people including a man who works for Camosun College and is in charge of managing their waste and recycling. He has already made the change to move garbage and recycling bins from classrooms to encourage everyone to use the hallway and common area bins (where waste can be separated into many categories), and is planning another campaign to remove coffee cups completely from campus! This sounded insane at first – no paper cups and plastic lids to be bought or sold on campus! Impossible! But maybe not so… He expects that after a few months of strong revolt that people will adapt and begin bringing their own re-usable mugs. The problem is that people are not separating the lids from the cups. So Camosun students, either start recycling properly or brace yourself for the impending day when paper cups are banned!

We’re also pretty good friends with the people at the neighbouring tables. To the right we have a woman from Royal Roads University talking about the various environmental programs they have available.  She’s very nice. To the left we have two men from Eco-Win, an antifreeze recycling company. They were fantastic to talk to because (1. They recognized me through a family friend, small world!) and now I know so much more about the antifreeze recycling process! Did you know that recycled antifreeze is actually better than new antifreeze? Not only for the sake of recycling and reuse, but because apparently when you mix antifreeze and water before putting it in your car, all the tap water additives mess with the composition and so it is actually better to buy the distilled Eco-Win recycled antifreeze! Those guys are so wonderfully passionate about their work and it is a pleasure to have met them.

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Anyone who has already visited Whistler knows how beautiful it is. This is my first time here, and wow it is beautiful. We were both struck by the extravagance of this children’s playground. The only downside is that EVERYTHING is so darn expensive. Have you ever heard of a hotel charging per night? Our hotel charges $18/night to use their parking garage!!! On the upside, Whistler is beautiful. Susan said today that “Its like the ideal BC, so woodsy and Canadiana” and she is right. Its beautiful and just looks like money, money money.

Did I mention that the conference is held in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler?! This is the longest amount of time I have ever spent in a Fairmont hotel, and let me tell you, it looks like a freaking castle on the inside. Royalty resides here. The bathrooms alone are breathtaking. Sorry about the lack of photos today, I promise to take photos of the grandeur of the Chateau Whistler tomorrow.

Hope, Merritt and Lytton

What does Therese Mah do in her spare time? Watch the heartwrenching season 2 finale of Veronica Mars, among other things. Oh wow, so emotional. They have such cliffhanger endings each episode that it is impossibe not to get sucked in. Antonia and anyone else looking for a new favorite TV show should check it out.

I feel like I rushed through my retelling of my time in Hope, but I also wrote a blog post here on the BCUOMA Blog about the walking challenge and plethora of wooden statues we saw in Hope. Susan likes to think about how and why people migrated to certain cities and areas, and this idea lead to a Wikipedia revelation of a piece of Canada’s dark past in the business of racial discrimination and Japanese internment. It turns out that just a short distance from Hope a Japanese internment camp, Tashme, was in operation during WWII. Today a large and beautifully landscaped park in the middle of hope, the Tashme Friendship Garden has been built in recognition. There was also a sign there marking Hope as the Sister City to Izu, Shizuoka in Japan; an interesting concept. 

From Hope we continued on to Merritt on the Coquihalla Hwy, one of my less-favorite highways in BC so far because people just drive too darn fast on that thing! Even worse, on our way back to Hope via Lytton it was pouring rain and there was some scary hydroplaning. Luckily Susan was driving, or else I would have been tempted to drive cautiously 20km under the speed limit.

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The one thing that struck us about Merritt was the naked hills! At first we thought they were cool, like something out of the sound of music even, but the longer we stayed in Merritt the more creeped out we were. They looked barren and craigy. Why were they so bare?! We began asking some of the locals we encountered, and in the end I spoke to 3 different groups and got 3 different answers. There is lots of logged timber around Merritt, and I mean lots, so we sort of assumed de-forestation, but none of the locals gave us this answer. We did recieve the answers: A Pine Beetle Infestation, A Fire, A Farm. In the end I think it may be a combination of all four. I think there might be a cattle ranch in one direction and tourist hikers told us they definitely saw signs of fire in another. The other striking thing about Merritt is its strong effort to brand itself with a country theme, most likely for tourism the annual Country music festival draws. Even their bus stops have little wagon wheel decorations.

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Other things about Merritt: Its windy there, and we felt much better on the drive back to Hope, after the hills started getting trees back on them. The naked-ness was making us uncomfortable. Here are some pictures from our short stop in Lytton, a beautiful little town. We were fortunate enough to talk to a man the day before, who approached us interested in finding a recycler of parafin wax, and who taught us to pronounce Lytton “Lit-On” rather than “Light-in”.

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The drive from Lytton to Hope is filled with these beautiful tunnels!


craving completeOn our way back to the lower mainland for gas we stopped in Chilliwack (it appears that the super cheap gas before was just chance, because it was as expensive as anywhere else our second time through), and yes, we did go back to Decades! This time I got my soup and salad and Susan got chili and a bun.

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Check out the event we participated in this saturday, the Coastal Swap Meet. I wrote another BCUOMA post about it HERE