The seaplane jerks, spasms, and plunges. I’m the only passenger in this seaplane, flying from Vancouver to Whistler, British Columbia on a cloudy September day, and the pilot grabs a handle thingee in the plane’s lower center (I’m aviation illiterate) and shifts it around. My neurotic mind races. What will that do? What is the strategy?? Are there parachutes??? I remember what a flight attendant friend once told me: treat turbulence like a crazy theme park thrill ride, and enjoy it! Thing is, I LOATHE THRILL RIDES!!!
To distract myself, I fixate on the utterly gorgeous scenery surrounding the compact, shuddering aircraft. Green mountains rich with splotches of bright orange, red, and yellow autumn leaves, the sea-to-sky highway, and
glittering water below. Finally, things calm down, the previously grey sky gives way to a near cobalt blue, and upon landing on Green Lake, my pilot from Harbour Air Seaplanes (1055 Canada Place. Tel: (604) 274-1277.
www.harbourair.com) smiles and says, “Have a great time in Whister.”
This was my first encounter with choppy air when taking a seaplane, which honestly is the most fabulous, timesaving, smooth (with rare exceptions) method to travel if you’re not luggage-heavy.
This ski resort town that played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics games and athletes, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain is now a popular recreation destination all year, and it’s exceptionally LGBTQ-friendly, with a dedicated tourism website for LGBTQ visitors (www.whistler.com/gay-friendly-whistler), and the annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival (www.whistlerpride.com).
“It’s a very athletic place, and there’s a lot of eye candy to be had!” adds Pride’s Dean Nelson. “It has one of the world’s best mountain bike parks, and [during summer] these hot half-naked guys come off and hose themselves down at the end of the day! We also have this cute little lake called Lost Lake, and a lot of beautiful gay ‘wildlife’ to be seen there. If you’re into that kind of thing!”
The next edition of Whistler Pride is scheduled for January 26th to February 2nd, 2020. Annual attendance is around 3,000, and programming includes daily guided skiing and snowboarding groups, après ski sessions, an indoor pool party, dances, entertainment, and jubilant rainbow flag-waving march down the slopes and through Whistler village. Ski gear is readily available for rental, and Nelson recommends taking ski lessons in advance for an edge on the slopes.
My visit is during a September weekend, and even with no special events on the calendar, Whistler is buzzing with visitors,
including loads of LGBTQ couples, some holding hands romantically while strolling the well-designed, shop-lined sidewalks of Whistler Village.
I check into the 528-room Fairmont Chateau Whistler (4599 Chateau Blvd. Whistler. Tel: (604) 938-8000. www.fairmont.com/whistler), head to its casual Portobello Market and bakery for a really tasty, made-to-order porchetta sandwich with as much pork crackling as I’m legally allowed, fresh pastry, and a craft beverage. I’m impressed by the selection of local edibles on offer in the market, which includes small batch chocolate bars from the Fairmont’s own pastry chef, Anup Chaubal, including the blonde-toned 35-percent cacao Honeybear, created with the property’s rooftop apiary honey.