Workin' 9-5

I recently calculated that I spend about 400 hours/year, in a car, driving to work. This is a LOT of time, especially considering I log about 192 hours/year on the phone talking to my parents in Ontario. Ummm, that’s less than half the time I spend sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with my three commuting buddies. Sorry mom.

There’s a real technique to the whole commuting thing that may not be readily obvious to the average city dweller. For one, there’s aggression. Us car commuters are driven people, quite literally, very driven. You would be too if you knew that on average you spend 10 hours a week confined to your car! So, my commuting compadres and I have developed a series of maneuvers to speedily, and safely, navigate our way to and from our place of employment.

Allow me to describe in detail some of these maneuvers. There’s the “I’m-not-from-around-here-ultimate-snake” maneuver which, through skillful execution, allows a commuter to quickly by-pass kilometre’s of bumper to bumper city traffic by simply disregarding road signs, ignorantly driving down side streets, making “illegal” right turns, and miraculously popping back out on the main thoroughfare kilometers ahead of those suckers…err, uh, shoot, I mean the “law abiding” commuters.

Then there’s the “step-aside-I’m-coming-through-horn-honk” maneuver. Mike, one of my fellow commuters, was the brain behind this one. When properly executed this maneuver allows the commuter vehicle to safely “run” a red light, while avoiding any unsightly pedestrian take-outs. Picture this scenario, the driver will come upon a yellow street light that is obviously about to turn red. Rather than slow to stop safely in time for the red, the commuter vehicle continues on, while at the same time lets out three, “coming through” toots of the horn happily notifying any pedestrians preparing to obey the “walk” signal that, “oh, sorry darling, my foot couldn’t reach the break pedal in time. If you don’t mind, I’m just going to scoot through this red light, and continue on my merry way. I wish you and yours a wonderful day”. This maneuver, though at first glance, appears to be quite gentile, can still result in great gains for the savvy commuter.

Below is a short video demonstration of a typical commute. If you turn the volume up loud enough you will have the privilege of hearing me sing!

I would be happy to expound upon some of my other highly specialized maneuvers should anyone wish to decrease their commute time by, oh, maybe 15-20 minutes each way.  Seriously, this stuff works!

Driving maneuvers are one facet of any savvy commuters set of competencies. There are also a few notable tactics to approaching the pre and post commuting hours. Pre-commute requires the finely tuned, “wake-up-20-minutes-before-needing-to-be-out-the-door-slap-on-whatever’s-laying-on-your-bedroom-floor-and-try-to-remember-to-brush-your-teeth” tactic. This one is a particular favorite of mine, and one I feel well qualified to share a few insights on. Thank goodness I work for a “dirt bag” friendly organization like Mountain Equipment Co-op. There have been countless times I’ve shown up to work only to realize I’m either, 1) still wearing the pants I wore to bed, or 2) forgot to brush my teeth altogether! Ensuring that your Gucci handbag matches your Prada heels before you leave the door in the morning is really just a thing of lore in my workplace. Phew!

The last tactic I will share with you relates to the “post” commute. I like to call this one the, “15 minute window”. When you arrive home after a long commute, followed by a long day, followed by another long commute, you have literally 15 minutes from the moment you step foot in the house to when you need to be out the door ski’s, climbing gear, running shoes, bike, whatever, in hand. Otherwise, and I promise you I’ve made this mistake many times, you will be a heap on the floor unable to do anything but utter simple phrases like, “I’m hungry”, and “let’s watch America’s Next Top Model”, and/or stare at the wall.

I feel as though I have painted the commuter in a very negative light here. Please, don’t see it as such, I can assure you, as much as your life takes on a whole new level of madness, it also places firmly in your psyche an inexplicable churning to giver’. I mean, by the time the weekend roles around I’m so amped up from living life at 300 km/hr (no, I don’t drive that fast!) that I’m practically frothing at the mouth to get outside and do something radical. My weekends are full. I wring every last drop of fun out of them, much to my mother’s dismay, who has all but given up on trying to call me during the weekend.

We're like the United States Postal Service. We'll get you to work sun, snow, rain, sleet, thunder, hurricane -- you name it!

The many faces of our Sea to Sky commute. 

You know you're almost home when the mighty Chief pops up in the distance. We're almost home!

Now isn't this a happy commuter?! Davey's always in a good mood. I can't quite figure out how, or why?

My driving inspiration, Bam Bam, my black hearted mascot, and the namesake of my Subaru. Rich's photo.

So yes, life in Squamish, as a commuter, ain’t all the bad. I’ve got some great commuting buddies, and manage to pump out lots of fun, fun, fun on the weekends. And, what a perfect segway into, “what exactly have I been up to the for last two months?” Good you should ask, and shame on me for being so tardy in updating this thing!

A while back as the weather began to turn from Ski to Climb, or maybe that was just our brains telling us we were done with skiing and ready to start climbing, Colin and I made the early season pilgrimage to Penticton, BC also known as "Hollywood of the North". Maybe I'm making that one up, but the place is filled with very tanned people, and a healthy collection of retirees. Regardless, the climbing in Skaha Provincial Park is the perfect remedy to end of ski season blues here on the Coast.

Any climber will agree that the first few climbing days of the season are always a little desperate. Your body screams at you to let go on every hold, while you're brain screams at you to hold on for dear life because, "what if the rope breaks, what if this hold breaks, is my foot behind the rope, I'm pumping out, is my belayer watching me, am I going to get a soft catch if I fall?"...on and on and on like that it goes, until such a time as, 1) you've gained enough fitness to hold on for longer than two moves, and 2) enough mental strength to silence your nemacing brain waves. And so it began, three days of sunny bliss in Skaha with Colin, and of course, all in the company of some very amusing and wonderful characters.

Colin getting ready for some 5.10 action on Day 1. This photo is of most interest because of the simply fabulous blue mary jane crocs he's rocking. Aren't they adorable! 

At the beginning of the climbing season, just as you have to re-sort your brain, and develop some much needed fitness, there's also the act of refamiliarizing yourself with, as Colin calls it, "the hot zone" (AKA getting used to the giant mess that happens when you show up at the crag and release in one giant explosion all the gack that one typically brings when cragging). Here is a photo demonstration of said "hot zone".

Enjoying a pre-climbing break in the parking lot. 

Action on Doctor's Wall. I didn't know buddy in the blue here, but he obviously knew I was taking a picture of him. 

Paul dancing his way up Air Test on the Great White Wall. Despite the fact that it's a manufactured route, it's a striking line  up a striking wall. Skaha project no. 1 for the season!

Again, don't know this guy, but I liked his red shirt!

Colin working it out on Air Test to the 5.12c anchor. 

Another demonstration of the "hot zone".  This time in the parking lot.
The weekend after Skaha, we found ourselves on the fence yet again. "To climb, or to ski?", one of life's great questions. Skiing won out, and we decided to ski the Spearhead Traverse in a day. Neither colin, or I, had skied the Spearhead before, and with conditions looking pretty good, we decided to go for it while we were still in ski shape. Turns out, the good forecast lasted only about one hour into our traverse and for the majority of the day we were in a whiteout following only the five metres of ski track we could see ahead of us. So, I guess I still don't know how beautiful the Spearhead is, but I could sense the mountains, and they seemed pretty. HaHaHa! 

We completed our little traverse quickly all things considered, and we're back in the Village by 6:00 pm. In typical Whistler fashion as we rounded the last bend before the Village we all but skied right into a rap concert with thousands of people and in attendance, and a snowboard freestyle competition. Somehow, that really didn't surprise me though. Despite that, the highlight of the trip had to be meeting the gentleman from the "Save the Unicorns Society", who sang for us the Societies National Anthem "Stardust". Simply amazing!

Looking out onto the Spearhead.
Hmmmm, just us, and 35 of our closest friends. Thankfully, we didn't see any of them after this.
Sarah, in a whiteout, and beginning to turn white herself.
Black Tusk in the distance.
Gosh, I don't really know what Colin is doing here?!
Welcome to Whistler darlin', where you can finish your mountain ski traverse, and still enjoy a rap concert at the end of your day?!
....and here's the snowboard thing. You can see the guy catching some pretty big air up there.
A couple weekends after the Spearhead, we were back in Seattle before Colin flew off to Alaska and decided, again, to go skiing?! Colin's proposal, the North Face of Mt. Shuksan. I ignorantly agreed because it was one of my goals this season to learn to "ski the steeps". So, of course, why wouldn't I want to ski one of the classic ski descents of the Cascades?! I mean, really, how hard could it be...

Well, testament to how difficult it was for me, I didn't take a single photo of the descent, I was just too gripped to take out my camera. But, despite my terror I didn't tomahawk the 1000 m face, and in fact, I think I skied it pretty darn well. So good in fact, that I can't wait to get back on that mountain and ski some of the other radical looking lines like the Hanging Glacier, or the North Face into the Northwest Couloir.

Sarah skinning up the White Salmon Glacier. Colin's photo.
Mt. Shuksan! left skyline is the North Face line, Northwest Couloir is next, then the Hanging Glacier, and the White Salmon Glacier on the right. Colin's photo.

Colin skinning up the White Salmon Glacier.
Just before getting ready to ski our line. Colin gave me the best pep talk ever just after this photo. He's absolutely wonderful!

Yes, that is me, near the top of the North Face, and I'm linking turns baby! Colin's photo.

One last view of our line. It sure is pretty....