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Today we had the whole day to spend in Whistler without anything planned. After a lazy morning of waking up and deciding to go back to sleep we went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, where lo-and-behold, we discovered gluten-free french toast. I didn’t even know that existed. Having already received a complimentary smoothie shot from our waitress the french toast arrived. It was thinly covered with maple syrup, pecans and slices of banana. Wow. I can’t say enough about that breakfast. I’m beginning to think that Canadians are more adept at dealing with allergies than food service people in America.

When we went back up to the room I glanced out the window where I saw a stand among the many stands of the Farmers Market that said “Gluten Free” and “Freshly Baked.” As soon as I came back to I told Natalie about it and we anxiously awaited our trip to the Market later in the day. In the meantime we headed to the Squamish and Lil’wat Cultural Center.

This center was created by the people of the Squamish and Lil’wat Inuit Nations as a collaboration. It’s very unusual for different native communities to collaborate on things like this but these two nations actually had a history of sharing based on a territory they share among the mountains. We saw some beautifully carved canoes, totem poles, baskets, drums and lots of other native articles, but perhaps most interesting was the giant cage.

When we read the description alongside this wooden cage (about 7-8 feet tall) we found out that each culture had a story to go along with it. Essentially the stories were the same and involved children staying out past their bedtimes only to be stolen away by a woman and carried away in this cage. At the end of both the tales the children were freed (either by their own ingenuity or with the help of a kind village adult) and they never stayed out late again. If I’d been told that story as a child I would never have played outside.

Around 11:00 we headed back downstairs in the museum to hear a man sing the “Dancing Song” of the Lil’wat Nation and watch a video about their two cultures. They talked a great deal about their belief in using everything that they take from nature and being sure to thank nature for its gifts. We got to see video of the ritual dancing and ceremonies and saw the children learning the languages that date back generations. After the video we got to go inside replicas of the Longhouses and Pithouses that these people lived in and did a little nature walk to learn about some of the plants indigenous to the area.

Following our museum visit we headed to the Farmer’s Market. As we neared the market we began to see stands with raspberries, artichokes, fresh cucumber, and baked goods. Standing side by side with the farmers were artisans from the area hoping to sell their works. And I can’t forget to mention the chocolate and sweets. We headed right for the gluten-free stand where we got a loaf of corn bread, a loaf of sour-dough bread (which I never thought I’d be able to eat again), gluten free pecan tarts, brownies and cookies. We didn’t really need to eat lunch today after we nibbled on some of that. Wow. Yet again, reason to believe that the Canadians know something about gluten-free that we don’t.

At another stand my dad got a vegetable drink which included carrots, lettuce, cucumber, lemon and apple (and god knows what else). It wasn’t half bad and it was certainly something new. We bought some fresh raspberries and headed back to the room to change into swim suits. It was about 80 degrees out today and we went down to sit by the pool which was completely packed. When we did find a spot it was directly in the splash zone. O well. There were tons of kids splashing everywhere including the lap pool. When my dad pointed out that it was, in fact, a lap pool to a dad with rowdy kids he seemed confused. After gesturing to the sign the man got out leaving his kids to splash around as much as they liked.

After a short nap in the room we headed to Village North to do some geocaching and shopping. I bought a little inuksuk. For those of you non-Canadians it looks like a little stone man and essentially it was a symbol for travelers used to indicate direction, food or shelter. To carry one or wear one is to have direction in your travels. I thought that was a really neat idea and I’ve been wearing it since. Shortly we were hungry again and went to eat at a pasta restaurant where they had gluten-free pasta!

As we were waiting with our little beeper to alert us when our table was ready my mom mused on what other hands had probably touched the device. Somehow the conversation somersaulted and my sister ended up pointing out the little kids probably wiped their snot, sweat and poop all over it while they were waiting for their table. It’s possible that everyone was slightly dehydrated..

Once we got in to the restaurant we had a very nice Australian waitress and quickly ordered some delicious meals. It was a great dinner and we got to talk a bunch. On the way back to the hotel we stopped in the woods for one final geocache completely unprepared for any sort of bear encounter which seemed pretty likely to me considering where we are.

Back at the hotel safe and sound I headed to the gym for a bit and now we’re off to bed. Tomorrow we’ll take the Rocky Mountaineer back to Vancouver. We’ve had a wonderful stay in Whistler so far.

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