February 20, 2010

The way to Whistler (is paved with lettuce and banana Popsicles)

Highway 99 takes you from downtown Vancouver to Whistler Blackcomb, the mountain resort that's the venue for the Vancouver Olympics' alpine events. Called the Sea to Sky Highway, 99 is one of the planet's most scenic roads.

A road that is itself a destination, 99 hugs Howe Sound, a sparkling network of fjords. As you head toward Whistler, the sound is on your left, right out your window, and mountains rise sheer from the sea. On your right, right out your window, mountains rise straight from the roadbed. It's colossal, and you find yourself not caring whether you ever get to Whistler. Sandwiched between slices of beauty, you could ride this road forever.

That I remember the route so vividly is a testament to its gorgeousness, because I was sick as a dog every minute I was on it, both coming and going. I was pregnant with Adam, a very fussy eater. One false move, one morsel of something not to his liking, and my stomach erupted. Were vomiting an Olympic event I'd be a gold medalist.

Mike and I had been to a friend's wedding in Seattle. Mike flew home, and I rented a car and drove the 175-odd miles north through Washington lumber towns to Vancouver. Vancouver was, is, spectacular, a world-class city on the ocean in the embrace of a breathtaking range of coastal peaks. Office workers in Vancouver sit on the beach and eat their lunches.

I took in Vancouver's incredible coolness between bouts of nausea. Most of my Vancouver time was spent eating chocolate ice cream and banana Popsicles, foods Adam tolerated.

And Whistler? All these years later, what I most remember about my drive on the Sea to Sky Highway was the McDonald's in Squamish, site of this Olympics' Torch Relay. Adam liked lettuce, so I pulled into the Squamish McDonald's, got a salad with croutons, and sat at a table by a window with a full-on view of the coastal range rising above the highway. I was happy, the baby was happy.

When I got to Whistler, I took the 7th Heaven chairlift to its end at 7,494 feet on Blackcomb Mountain. At the top there was a snack kiosk. I got tea and saltines, took in the view and got back on the chair before the next stomach eruption.

(Read another mom-travels-with-kid-in-utero post -- different kid -- at Costa Rica: Gotta feed the baby.)