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Three hours north of Vancouver by omnibus, nestled in the mountains, is a town best known to geeks for its proximity to the code names of several major Microsoft projects: namely Whistler, Blackcomb, and Longhorn. Whistler Village is the quintessential tourist town —so much so that I doubt there is such a thing as a ‘local’ here— a town where four out of five people you meet in the street or in service jobs have non–Canadian accents, while three of those four are Australian or English. Clearly this is a town where the “G’day, howahya?” pickup line doesn’t wash.

But these things are to be expected in a town that literally only exists because of the mountains. It’s a ski town, pure and simple, and that’s why we’re here.

Unfortunately for us, a recent heat wave has meant that the conditions on the mountains have been somewhat… sub optimal. In a nutshell: it’s icy as hell. And hard, icy conditions don’t bode too well for someone who strapped a snowboard to his feet for the first time only a few days ago. While I’m at least confident enough to tackle some of the beautiful runs Whistler has to offer, my right ass cheek and right shoulder are in serious repair mode and really really don’t want me to hurt them any more. But despite the pain of learning to ride on very firm ground —and the pain of knowing my money might’ve been better spent on hookers or cheetos— I persist. It’s like blowing a grand on a gym membership that only lasts you a week: even if every muscle in your body screams for you to stop, you just have to get your money’s worth.

We’ll be spending Christmas here in Whistler Village, with plans (as best I can tell) to snowboard on Christmas day. Without families or gifts or turkey or a tree, Christmas really feels like it’s just going to blow on by this year… and for the first time I think I’m going to regret that. Christmas is something I normally wish would just hurry up and pass, but since we haven’t watched a lot of TV and haven’t spent a lot of time in department stores during the lead–up this year, I haven’t had the opportunity to become sick of it. A shame, really. The first time I’ve really wanted to celebrate Christmas in years… and I’m 10000 miles from home. So if I don’t get online before the big day, Merry Christmas, and I love you all.