Mining, cider, and Whistler. 9/1/19

Happy September! We are on our way to Whistler, BC with a couple of stops along the way. We are driving on the Sea to Sky Cultural Highway which is reminiscent of CA 1 down towards Big Sur. Both are really beautiful and cut into the sides of the mountains that rise from the sea.

Oh, before I go any further here is a thing that had us quite perplexed. This sign is in the parking lot of the hotel we stayed in.

Sleeping policeman

Turns out that a sleeping policeman is a speed bump in Brit-speak and I guess in Canada-speak too!

After dealing with the sleeping policeman we are on our way up to the British Columbia Mine Museum. The Britannia Mine was the largest copper mine in the Empire and the worst polluter in North America. It was closed in 1974 and after a massive clean-up in the early 2000’s it reopened as a museum about mining and how to deal with the toxic brew of pollutants afterwards.

Our entrance ticket gets us passage into the museum and mining out-buildings, a train ride through the mountain in a mining shaft, and a film called BOOM!

British Columbia Museum of Mining

The main ore that was mined at Britannia was chalcopyrite and then they extracted copper from it. In later years after it was no longer profitable to extract copper, the company went into the zinc business.

Copper rocks!

Inside the museum we see a bunch of exhibits about mining. John is committing this all to memory. I know there will be a quiz later (and I will fail!)

John learning about minerals
I take a picture of quartz on rhodochrosite because it is pretty

There is also a set-up where you can pan for gold.

John panning for gold
Wow! Look what he got!! Just kidding. That is from an exhibit. He just got dirt.

We wander around the grounds until it is time for the train through the mountain. I, of course, need to take a picture of John next to a giant tire of an even giant-er truck.

John and tire

Soon it is time to climb the almost 50 steps up to the train location. It is a slow process for me since my left knee does not like to do stairs. But we get up there and don our hard hats and board the train.

Would you buy copper from this man?
Aboard the train

During the time in the mountain it is really too dark to take pictures. Our guide shows us various drilling tools and even has a working one which is very noisy. She explains that the mining process (which Canadians say with a long o) which is drill, dynamite, muck out over and over again. The mine worked on three eight hour shifts so it was always in use. After the train trip we see the presentation of BOOM! It explains how the ore is taken from the exploded rocks down the mill which is built into the side of the mountain and with each step the ore gets smaller until it ends up as a slurry at the bottom. We get to hear how noisy it was for the miners to work in the mill. They only had cotton balls as ear protection so many miners had hearing loss.

Mill #3

We really enjoyed the mill museum and learned a lot about the life of the miners, the process of extracting ore, and the environmental problems of abandoned mills.

We make one more stop on our way to Whistler and that is to another cider manufacturer. Big difference here that we did not realize until we got our flight of cider is that this cider was alcoholic! About the same strength as beer. In our flight of cider we had regular apple cider, peach apple cider, blood orange apple cider, and tequila lime apple cider. I liked the blood orange apple cider the best. We decided we better have something to eat with since it was alcoholic so we shared some pork belly tacos. (Mexican ethnic food! We must have six or seven ethnic food types so far on the trip!)

Different kinds of apple ciders
Our flight of ciders
Pork belly tacos

Finally we make it to Whistler. We are staying at the Four Seasons which is a really nice resort. We get there around 3:45 and check-in is at 4:00. They tell us our room is not ready. So we sit in the lobby and wait. Supposedly it will be ready “shortly.” John checks at 4:15 and it is still going to be ready “shortly.” At 4:45 (after I have already had a short nap in the lobby amid all the hustle of people checking in and getting their rooms) John goes back and in his scary Dad voice (our kids’ description) tells them that the situation is unacceptable and they should do something about it now. So a manager finds us a room, carries my luggage, apologizes profusely, and gives a $250 credit to use at their restaurants etc. for our inconvenience. I think having an old lady snoring in their lobby might have helped things along.

Later we go down to spend some of our $250. It is really easy to use the credit since everything is really expensive. We get some chicken wings and hummus with vegetables and pita.

Hummus with vegetables and pita

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