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Trip Report Festive BC. Kyle in Canada 2014/15

Discussion in 'Canada' started by kylep, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    We're well on our way to our Xmas and New Year snow trip. Currently enjoying a few days in Vancouver before heading up to Whistler and more after that.

    Just a brief summary so far and over the next couple of days I'll embellish a little more and include some photos.

    Left Sydney Saturday morning and arrived in Hong Kong that evening. Met my mate at the airport and then we headed to our hotel on Hong Kong Island, before going out for the night to check out some sights and have a few drinks. Had the Saturday morning to do some more wandering before catching our flight to Vancouver (which we almost didn't make! more on that later).

    Arrived in Van on Saturday afternoon local time (yesterday) and were greeted by some real gloomy weather. Despite this we went to Van Dusen last night to see the amazing Christmas Lights display before going out for dinner. Today we went to Stanley Park in the morning and way out to South Surrey to see a Hockey game this afternoon.

    Plenty of photos happening already, and I have my new board sitting in my room and everyone is excited to get to the snow. Reports over the past few days are looking quite promising as well.
     
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  2. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    OK, so last night in Vancouver and we've ended up behaving ourselves, AND all packed up ready to throw the gear in cars in the morning so finally time to add some details....


    For a few reasons, I decided to fly Cathay Pacific for this trip. This means flying through Hong Kong so I rendezvoused with my buddy travelling from Perth and we spent a little under 24 hours in the bustling city.


    [​IMG]


    We arrived in the late winter’s afternoon and made our way to the hotel on HK Island via the Airport Express Train and then a free shuttle from Central station to our Hotel near the Convention and Exhibition Centre. After a short rest and freshen up it was time to go out and explore the city. I visited Hong Kong 9 years ago – my first overseas travel experience, so I had an idea of what to show my buddy on his first visit.


    First on the list was to see the famous nightly light show. We took a taxi back to Central station which cost just a few dollars (AU$) and then a local MTR train under the harbor to Kowloon. New to Honk Kong since I was last here is the International Commerce Centre building which houses the Ritz Carlton Hotel and on the 118th floor is the Ozone Cocktail bar. Looking through the menu it seems that their specialty is Gin, so we order a couple of Gin based cocktails. It's certainly not a cheap drink here but worth it for the experience and great location, plus at nearly 500m ASL we thought it was good altitude training at nearly the same height as some village bases. The nightly light show started about 15 minutes after we arrived. The rain was putting a dampener on the night and had the outdoor terrace closed to service but we were still ok to go out there to have a look. Due mostly to the rain I think and also the height of the building the lightshow was much less impactful than what I recalled from many years ago. I'm sure on a clearer night it would be a great vantage point, and certainly was still a good view of the city.

    My plan for after the drink and lightshow was to head over towards Nathan Road and just meander as well as finding something for dinner. Again the rain was against us on this and the taxis around the ICC seemed to require a long wait so we eventually decided to catch the MTR back to the island for the rest of the night. We found some dinner at a cheap and cheerful restaurant near Lan Kwai Fong. After this it was time to settle in for some drinks and perhaps wheel around the dance floor a few times at one of the bars in this buzzing precinct.

    In the ICC building in Kowloon and again in one of the malls on the island we saw some impressive Christmas displays. Some of the buildings also had some great Christmas light displays on them on both sides of the harbour.

    [​IMG]

    We eventually walked home to the hotel in the wee hours of the morning after a long day for us having left home in Sydney and Perth rather early.

    The next day we made sure to use our time and the weather was more in our favour. After a mixed western and asian breakfast in the hotel we caught a cab to the Peak Tram and fortunately for us had what turned out to be a short wait. Just 2 trams departed while we lined up before we were on one. On our return the line was across the road and I'm guessing would have been up to an hour. The Peak Tram is essentially a tourist attraction now for access to the highest peak on the island which gives you a great view of the island and across to Kowloon and beyond, dependant on the weather and haze. The rain actually helped here as it had cleared a lot of the haze and it was essentially a blue bird day. We enjoyed some time having a look around and taking some photos before returning to the base and walking through some shops and down to the foreshore back to the hotel.

    Getting back to the airport was really easy with the free shuttle to central station. The great thing here is you can check-in to your flight and drop your bags at the train station for the Airport Express and then just worry about your carry on for the train ride.
    The terrible thing we learned just at the right time at Hong Kong Airport is that Cathay Pacific don't make regular flight announcements in their lounge - despite being in the specific lounge close to our gate. Being used to many delayed flights, we both were just relaxing and wondering when we would be called. At about 5 minutes before our due time I asked the counter what was happening, to which I was told "FINAL CALL". We grabbed our stuff and were rushed to the gate where we were told our bags had already been unloaded and we were lucky we made it! The first lounge I've ever been in where they didn't call a flight! But, we made it. Just...
     
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  3. Astro66

    Astro66 Still looking for a park in Thredbo

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    Great report mate.

    See you in Sun Peaks :thumbs:
     
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  4. chunky

    chunky Old n' Crusty

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    The Van Dusen lights are sensational!
     
  5. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    markopolo and main street like this.
  6. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow, what a great day for a shot from the peak. Never been that clear the times I've been (which is just twice).
     
  7. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah it was much clearer than any day on my previous trip years earlier. Rain gave us some issues and some wins
     
  8. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    OK, so far behind I'm going to summarise Vancouver very quickly as we're now in Whistler and had our first day on the mountains yesterday.

    So, Vancouver. We arrived around midday, made our way through border control with some comprehensive questions and found the shuttle for our rental car. Rental pickup went smoothly except for having to reject numerous attempted upsells which would have added hundreds. But that's how this company make the real money. Found our way to the hotel ok with a basic tourist map and settled in. We were wandering the streets in no time, picking up a few essentials.

    Rain. Rain. Rain. From when we arrived and all through that first night it rained. The rest of the group had already decided on the Van Dusen lights display for that night and we got on with it. The displays were amazing and the rain added to the atmosphere, but at the same time made it difficult to spend much time soaking them in. Instead the rain soaked through my shoes. After the lights we went to Yale Town for some dinner and drinks. Found a great little bar where you can also paint a canvas. Will remember the name later. Then went to a pub for dinner, a bit of a chain 'earls'. Good first day in Van.

    Next day it was off to Stanley Park first thing (though this was a slow start). We parked near the main entry then walked up to the point. Fabulous park with stunning scenery amongst the towering trees. We had lunch at the cafe at the point. Then it was time to head back to the hotel to quickly grab what we needed and then drive out of town for a hockey game. We saw South Surrey Eagles go down to the Victoria Grizzlies. Not the NHL but still a good show, even if a little quieter in the crowd than we expected.

    Next day a few of the group were keen to head to Grouse Mountain but my buddy and I skipped this to do some shopping (the others did most of this on the day we arrived). They still went up and we headed on a stroll around the city. After lunch we went to the real shopping, hitting the snow stores on W4th. Picked up some new pants, helmet, goggles and some smaller items. Mission accomplished. That night the group split a bit and 3 of us went to Gas Town for dinner. Couldn't find the first place we were considering, then tried a place named Alibi but that proved a good choice - if there wasn't going to be a 45 minute wait. So we doubled back to somewhere we passed - Chill Winston. It proved a great choice with sensational food that we shared and good beers and wines.

    The next day was our last full day in town. So we took a trip to Walmart for some supplies for Whistler and to another area for snow gear for a few more small (maybe unnecessary) purchases. Squeezed in a trip to the barber and some Xmas skype calls back home and then a chilled dinner and beers next to our hotel.

    And that was essentially Vancouver. Had some great beers, some not so great coffee and got an appreciation for a nice city. Pics later, time to get to the Gondola for day 2
     
  9. benchives

    benchives I forgot how to ski Ski Pass: Gold

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  10. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Some Vancouver highlights...

    Van Dusen Christmas lights
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    Stanley Park
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    Digital Orca
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    Seaplane port
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    Olympic Cauldron
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    Life
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Xmas eve was our drive day, so after a quick breakfast we loaded our car for the drive. The car we got is a Jeep Compass. With one side of the back seat folded down a board bag fits on a slight angle. So we were able to get 2 on top of each other and a 3rd would fit also. Our friend who joined us rather than the bus didn't have skis or boards but a giant suitcase which worked ok. Everything else packed around that. Not much spare space but did the job.

    It was a beautiful sunny morning in Vancouver and those conditions lasted all day. The drive was super easy and we made a few stops which made it very relaxed.

    Shannon Falls
    [​IMG]

    The sun had just started peaking above the ridges in some spots which made for some interesting effects
    [​IMG]

    I still haven't loaded any photos from my real camera so these are all off the iPhone so far. Bloody busy with a dozen people to organise and entertain.
     
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  12. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's now our 3rd snow day here and just saw the report of 2cm fresh overnight. Should be another great day.

    We arrived in Whistler on Xmas eve, just in the last hour or so of daylight (3.30pm). Got settled in and found parking for about half the price our hotel wanted. Saw a sign for Christmas Carols on our wanders and the gang were all pretty keen. Once everyone got sorted we found the Westin and followed the crowd for the Carols. To our surprise the carols were inside, in their ballroom and it was packed! It was a nice vibe but with the crowds and our hunger we only stayed for a few carols and then found dinner at Blacks Pub. A spread of pizzas that were nice and thin and not too heavy.

    Christmas day and it was snow time! A variety of new gear from everyone and excited faces had us at the gondola about 8.30 and up we went. Glorious conditions awaited, we were above the cloud base and the sun was out. Barely a breath of wind. This was pretty much the same yesterday as well, though the snow started lightly mid-afternoon.
    Christmas day we hit Whistler mountain. Pick for us was the Symphony chair and runs around there. Harmony 6 also gave us some great runs. Also did the Peak and Red chairs and finished the day by riding all the way to the village. Conditions were quite nice up high but the lower runs mostly filled with beginners were chopped up and had a sand-like layer from the guns on top of an icy base.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Hacski

    Hacski Guest

    Nice pics, and impressions.
     
  14. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Whistler is definitely a nice tourist village. Great lights and activities that give it a good feeling for the holidays
    [​IMG]

    Didn't get to finish Christmas day activities. We organised a semi-catered dinner for Christmas. We are 11 adults plus an 18 month old and have 2 kind of 2-bedroom suites. So we combined everyone into one of the rooms with some rearranged furniture and pooled plates and utensils. Dinner was delivered in the afternoon and essentially needed a final hour of cooking and basic finishings. Full turkey dinner with stuffing and vegetables, with Yule log for dessert and one of the Aussie Nanna's christmas cakes brought over by one of the couples. We had a secret santa and a yankee swap so had some great fun and rolled back into our room later for bed.

    Boxing Day was day 2 on the mountain and we went to Blackcomb. As mentioned before it was a sunny start to the day
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    [​IMG]

    Ventured up to the Blackcomb Glacier. Stunning place and considering the lack of fresh snow in Whistler lately, provided a nice surface to play on. Reports that it may have only been open for a week or so. Did 2 runs down the Glacier run with some nice little jumps and the cat track exit is actually a lot of fun and lovely between the trees.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A small hike off the T-bar to access the Glacier entrance.
    [​IMG]

    We spent most of the day riding the Crystal Ridge chair plus a bit of Glacier Express and a few runs up and down from Rendezvous for meet-ups (Blackcomb end of the Peak 2 Peak). We finished the day with a ride to the village. The lower runs are not in great condition but it's a better ride down than the Whistler side at the moment.

    The evening was pretty relaxed, after the obligatory apres drink at the base of the mountain we returned to finish off the leftovers from Christmas dinner and a few drinks.
     
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  15. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Saturday and Sunday were a lot busier. Guessing city folk up for the day/weekend. Saturday was clouded in and a couple of us headed for an area we hadn't been and paid for it. Was white out with insufficient features to assist in reading the run and terrain up top. Hard work until we got into the better vis. Worked our way over to some more protected areas with trees on each side and had a better time. Lift queues were up to a 5-10min wait at times but generally still manageable and folks are good at merging the lines and filling chairs with little fuss. Went to a nice little pasta cafe near our hotel for dinner and it was great. Really good coffee too!

    Sunday started with a good coffee - Aus style. Peaked Pies was the hot tip and worked well for us. Back there today. It's right near the hotel so perfect for us. We went straight for the Glacier run and waited in line for the chair and were on the first, then first on the T and on the run. Brilliant and still found some nice creamy snow out wide. Ended up doing 4 runs over there during the day, which includes another smaller run between lifts for the return ride. Started getting a little crusty on top later in the day. Again finished with a different run to the village to finish the day. Went to the Fire and Ice show in the evening where some riders and skiers do jumps at the base and do it through a flaming ring. A nice little show. The crowds packed out the pubs and restaurants afterwards so a bunch of us had peaked pies for an easy dinner.
     
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  16. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Monday we took it pretty easy. The group ended up fairly broken up due to lack of coordination, gear issues that needed attention and so on. No issues with it and turned out pretty fun for all. I ended up on Whistler doing a few runs in a small group and getting into the park there. Hit a few boxes and jumps, nothing too crazy. We met up with one of the other couples and then the group I was with needed to go and get some gear fixed so I road with the extra couple, one of whom is still a fairly beginner snowboarder so my mate and I decided to take it easy and practice our switch riding. It was a very nice clear day though quite cold. That's if you weren't in the crazy wind. After a few practice runs, our beginner headed down the mountain and my mate & I ventured out a bit. We tried to go a little higher but the wind was a bit intense and the runs were icy/crusty rubbish. So we decided to try out the Peak 2 Peak Gondola on what seemed a perfect day for it - great view. Then we did a non stop run down to the village and snuck a few pints in before heading home.

    Last night a group of 5 of us indulged a little and did a snowmobile and fondue thing. We road skidoos up to Crystal Hut and had a fondue dinner up there. Was a great fun time on the ride, and a fun cozy experience up the mountain. Not cheap but good fun and something we wouldn't ordinarily do.
     
  17. Camelot

    Camelot One of Us

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    nice detail Kyle, enjoying the reports :)
     
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  18. benchives

    benchives I forgot how to ski Ski Pass: Gold

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  19. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wow the last few days flew by. We left Whistler and all our friends this morning and currently driving to Sun Peaks via Van. Just the 2 of us boys now with 3 days at SP and then probably same at Silver Star.

    Had a pretty incredible time all up. The last few days on the hill were warmer with an inversion. Runs were firm and quite smooth with much less traffic but many off piste areas were all mogels (good for some). Had really good light and mostly clear skies though as the sun never gets far above the ridge lines there's still lots of areas with flat light. Did quite a few runs around Symphony and 7th Heaven areas mostly in the past few days with a few other random runs including some small park action on Whistler.

    Was snowing lightly when we left this morning and a mix through to Van. Quite a bit if rain as we skirt Van now.

    Also got some data added to my Canada phone so we can satisfy our tech needs on the drive.
     
  20. chunky

    chunky Old n' Crusty

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    nice. Mrs Chunky doesn't have good memories of the snowmobiling there. She managed to flip off hers as we descended in the dark and it was a few mins before we actually realised. And of course she was yelling at the top of her lungs for us to stop and we left her in the dark, which started freaking her out even more. Finally when the group realised 'oops' the guide told us not to move and flew off as fast as he could to get her.
     
  21. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Just finished breakfast and preparing for a day at Sun Peaks. Did the drive from Whistler via outer Vancouver and the Coquahalla. About half the trip was through heavy snowfall and/or snow on the road. Our little rental handled well though we spent a large amount of time below 80kph. Got into SP around 7pm. Dinner at Bottoms was a great intro.

    Horrid internet at the hotel so will get pics up when I can. Though I got a little vid up on my Instagram yesterday (liveitseeit)
     
  22. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Was wondering how that worked without an actual tail end Charlie. I had a friend on the back who didn't appreciate a bit of skid lift on corners so I had to behave. She apparently rolled a quad on a sand dune tour so a little scared. Surprised how much power the skidoos had but very nimble.
     
  23. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Cross posting but it needed to go in the SP thread as well. This was the village earlier this evening. Tomorrow might be ok.
    Only getting images up by using my limited 3G prepaid to Instagram. Still trying to upload my other photos with terrible internets.

    [​IMG]
     
  24. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Some pics that have loaded...

    Vancouver highlights.

    Birds in Stanley Park (be careful, one's a friend)
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    More Stanley Park
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    One of the lakes on the drive to Whistler, so glassy, will grab the name later
    [​IMG]

    A little excited, arriving at Whistler
    [​IMG]
     
  25. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    A couple more from Whistler

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  26. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Today. Was pretty awesome. Over a foot of fresh. This was from mid morning, a clip from first run coming...

     
  27. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Run from first thing in the morning. Got a great faceshot in this one. Was hard work in the heavy powder and lumps holding that pole!!



    Yesterday was wet muck, then drove to Silver Star. Was a nice drive with the rain along the way I think helping road conditions. Today at SS was very firm in the morning with the sun softening things a bit. Spring skiing but with lots of lumps formed from the pow day.
     
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  28. Astro66

    Astro66 Still looking for a park in Thredbo

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    Great Vid mate. Hope you're having a great time at SS.
     
  29. andrew7

    andrew7 Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    Great trip report, looking at a very similar trip also leaving just before Xmas as well. Where did you stay at Whistler and how did you rate it? How are you finding the Whistler v SPeaks comparison (fresh snow at SP now doubt helps!). Sounds like Whistler was not overrun at Xmas? cheers
     
  30. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    @andrew7 will add more soon as have more time in a few days. Ended up staying at Cascade Lodge which was nice and close but had a bit to do with group size. Have a good idea now of where I'd like to stay and various options. Place was good with everything we needed, mix between normal hotel and holiday apartment.

    Got a little busy but nothing compared to NZ/Aus except for certain pinch points at times. Sun Peaks obviously less busy (though week later) but much smaller size. Many things to consider in the comparison though.
     
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  31. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Well, the snow part of the trip is officially over. At Vancouver airport awaiting my flight to New York. Dropped my last travel buddy off for his flight earlier today back to Perth and then did some more sight seeing around town - Capilano bridge, Van Museum and a leisurely drive along the coast with a walk along a forest trail as well.

    The 2nd day at SS was much the same as the first. When we left yesterday morning the snow in the village was feeling much nicer. Highlights of SS were probably getting some good practice at 'popping' my new board and getting some air off insignificant bumps in the runs, and the awesome singer/guitarist who played in The Keg on Thursday night, she was stunning both musically and in a lady way.

    The drive back to Van yesterday was a long one. Added 40 minutes because we didn't top the fuel up early on and then not realising that the route bypasses the fuel at Merritt, then it's another 100km+ to Hope for the next fuel. So had to turn back at one of few opportunities to do so. Then as we got into Van, traffic was a nightmare. Was all good once we got there, and caught up with one of the couples from the trip who actually live there now.

    So now it's a solo week in New York, with just one catch-up scheduled in the morning and then plenty of time to amuse myself wandering the city and soaking up some of the city that I had to rush last time. Working up some videos of the snow time, and most of the photos that are worthy are now up on my gallery: http://photos.liveitseeit.com/Travel/Northern-Exposure-1415-the-raw/

    Probably won't update this much more other than to put the videos up when they're complete.