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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Beautiful British Columbia! – Community Service Hawaii & Alaska

Canadian rapper Classified sang us into the True North with his song “O’Canada” which we blasted on our bus once we crossed the border from Washington into British Colombia. At the border, we had our first celebrity encounter meeting border guard Lim. He is one of the guards featured on the Canadian reality television show “Boarder Security”, which Trip Leader Karlee is a big fan of. She was really excited to meet Lim and have him pass our group through immigrations.

We had another stunning drive on the Sea-to-Sky Highway which hugged the coast and the Powell Sound Inlet. It was hard for us to take our eyes off the scenery and got us very excited about what we were about to experience first-hand in Whistler. We stopped at the Capilano Mall for lunch en-route to Whistler Village where Kennedy, Amanda, Lauren, Karly W., Gillian, Nikki, and Samantha tried Tim Horton’s Timbits (a Canadian must-try) for the very first time. The girls thought that they were way too sweet and are sticking by Dunkin’ Doughnuts Munchkins as their preferred treat.

After checking into our beautiful suites at the top of Blackcomb Upper Village, we made our way down to Whistler Village for some exploration time and our first Canadian adventure: Ziptrek Ecotours, which combines zipline based adventures with ecotourism. Being high in the treetops in Canada’s ancient temperate rainforest was an amazing way for everyone to learn about the natural environment around them, while experiencing a rush of adrenaline at the same time. Our group went on the ‘Bear Tour’ which was five incredible ziplines joined together by a network of suspension bridges, boardwalks, and trails. We had some stunning views of the Fitzsimmons Creek and zipped across cables upwards to 15 stories high. Kennedy finally decided to take the zipline plunge after 9 years of passing on any previous opportunity to soar among the birds. You go Kennedy! Vivian, Samuel, Harrison, Allie, James and Lindsey showed off some sweet aerial moves and upside down positions as they zipped across the course. Lauren, Jake, and Karly W. showed no fear as they soared above the trees. By spending a few fun hours zipping through the rainforest, we essentially gave back to the environment as proceeds of Ziptrek Ecotours goes to supporting various projects dedicated to environmental stewardship and ecological preservation.

The Whistler adventures continued the following day. Birthday girl Vivian got a particularly fun start to the day as she woke up to room full of multicolored balloons. Lauren (and her lungs) where dedicated to the task of blowing up all the balloons, while Karly W. and Gillian provided moral support from the sidelines. After a nice walk down to the Lower Village, the trip members split up into their respective groups for two different activities. Trip Leader Susan accompanied 10 ladies on the Peak-to-Peak Gondola Ride, while Trip Director Trevor and Trip Leader Karlee went snowboarding with the rest of the group on top of the Whistler Mountain Glacier, aka the 7th Heaven Zone. The ladies on the Peak-to-Peak adventure got to enjoy the spectacular vistas of Whistler from the glass bottom of their gondola. Whistler’s Peak-to-Peak Gondola is the longest cable ride between two points without any towers in between. The ladies traveled 4.4 kilometers between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains which Samantha and Karly W. said was actually quite relaxing. At the top of Blackcomb Mountain, the ladies took in the views and had a photo-shoot with the Olympic rings from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Carly R., Kennedy and Trip Leader Susan enjoyed the hot sun on the ride down, while several of the ladies belted out a Miley Cyrus song that could be heard 4 chairlifts back. Surprisingly, their loud singing didn’t scare away the wild Black Bear cub that was grazing the mountain side just below their chairlifts. Their Whistler mountain adventure couldn’t get more real than that.
Whistler ski guide Scotty got the other group amped up for a great day shredding on the Glacier. It was quite the hefty trek just to get up to the top of the mountain. It took approximately 40 minutes complete with 2 chairlifts, 1 bus ride, and 1 more chairlift to get to the 7th Heaven Zone. The skiers and boarders also saw a Black Bear from their chairlift on the way up the mountain; who knows, maybe this was the same bear that the gondola riders saw on their excursion. As soon as the group got to the top of the mountain, they dropped into the glacier to ride among the local pros. We even had some of our own pros, with Harrison, James, Samuel, and Allie ripping it like competition skiers and boarders. Lindsey and Isabel looked like snow bunnies riding in their tank tops and reflective shades. Karly K. was alive with the fresh mountain air and in awe of the beauty around her. Jake mastered the T-Bar and was riding with great confidence by the end of our session. Snowboarders Isabel and Trip Leader Karlee packed things in early to relax at the lodge, soak in the rays, and have a mini photo-shoot with a not so mini Inuksuk perched atop Whistler Mountain. We were very lucky to enjoy one of the last operational days of the season on the glacier which was melting at a very fast rate. Everyone was feeling worked out and gnarly after an unforgettable summer shred session.

We had a very successful, fresh, and delicious family style pasta dinner back at our resort, with 3 preparation rooms and a clean-up crew. Everyone pitched in and made the meal awesome. After Vivian’s chocolate birthday cake for dessert, we had a pool party out back in the warm evening air. We played a fun, interactive game of celebrities as another one of our AH-Dos Beard Extravaganza events. The three teams competed against each other in a game of descriptive wits and charades to guess different celebrities. Team No Name was killing it in the description rounds but Team Crustaches made a big comeback in the charades round. No one could have done a better impression of Tarzan than Nikki, and the way Karly K. acted out Liam Hemsworth was priceless. Everyone had good fun and it was a great way to end our night and time in Whistler.

The adventures continued the followed day in a more urban setting: Vancouver. Everyone mastered tandem biking in Stanley Park with Allie and Isabel working particularly well together. They were the only bikers to successfully make it up a massive hill, while everyone else had to get off and walk their bikes to the top. The bikers went on a huge spinning mission to get to Prospect Point, the highest elevation in Stanley Park. Not only did their ride take them along a beautiful seaside path, but through more forested areas of the park as well. Karly W. and Gillian went on a long walk through the park with Trip Leader Karlee, and demonstrated their creative photography skills. Keep an eye out for their pictures of the bikers getting geared up and other artistic shots of the park. The trip members worked up an appetite during their physical activity at the park, which was satisfied by all the fresh, local fare at Granville Island’s Public Market. The down logs that lined famous Kits Beach served as a great place for the group to relax and digest all the delicious food from the market.

Back at the University of British Colombia Totem Park Residence, the guys fired up a game of football. The ladies got settled into their rooms and freshened up while Karly K., Isabel, and Kennedy tossed around a volleyball. Kennedy went even further with her personal fitness as she completed a full body plyometric workout with Trip Leader Karlee.

Before flying out to Honolulu, Hawaii, the group had their third service day with a morning at Quest Food Exchange in Vancouver. Quest Food Exchange redistributes surplus food to lower socioeconomic clients that need it most. Annually, Quest redirects $5.8 million dollars in food that would have otherwise been sent to a landfill. This food then serves 260,000 people who may not have access to healthy, affordable food. Unlike a food bank, where the client doesn’t necessarily have a say in the food they are receiving, at Quest clients are able to shop in the market to purchase food that is suitable for their lifestyle and dietary concerns. Trip Leader Susan, Karly K., Gillian, Lindsey, Carly R., and Isabel worked upstairs to lift, sort, and inventory boxes filled with personal care items. Trip Leader Karlee, James, Vivian, Allie, and Kennedy did the exact same task in the basement with food items. After lifting many heavy boxes, Nikki and Lauren did a great job of chopping and packing onions to be sold in the market. Harrison, Abby, Samantha, Samuel, Jake, Amanda, and Trip Director Trevor, transported heavy boxes and then unpacked and sorted protein bars to be sold in the market. The AH-Dos crew provided a great service and worked diligently to get the job done. After the morning of hard work we’re all ready to say goodbye to Canada and Aloha to Hawaii!

The Westcoast Blogger