Why Travel Writing Is the Worst Awesome Job Ever

And should be nothing to complain about—but sometimes we do anyway.

By Rachel Ritchie March 1, 2016 Published in the March 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Amy Martin

People tend to envy the life of a travel writer. And admittedly, it’s nothing to complain about. Still, I often do. (Watch me.) Because when you’re on a reporting mission, every incredible experience is riddled with neuroses, from the mundane to the absurd: Is this the best place for me to be eating at this very moment? Is there an even more thrilling helicopter tour to secret ice caves? And that’s not to mention the mandatory, relentlessly jam-packed itinerary. Take my two-day trip to Whistler for this issue’s “Northwest Getaways” feature.

My wife and I landed at 11:30 p.m. at Vancouver International Airport, and hustled into a shuttle for the winding, 137-kilometer drive up the Sea to Sky Highway to our hotel in Whistler Village. (One of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world! But we could see nothing.) We found ourselves in bed at 2 a.m., noting that we were scheduled for rental fittings in six hours.

In the morning, armed with fresh sets of skis and boots, we set out to conquer Whistler Blackcomb’s 8,000 acres of terrain. Lunchtime found us weakened to near exhaustion, our legs rubbery and feeble—just in time to meet up with Olympic skier Britt Janyk, who would show us around the mountain for the afternoon. Après ski? First, drinks and live music at the Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub, then a quick shower, then off to a five-course feast at the Bearfoot Bistro, where we would saber Champagne bottles in the wine cellar before dinner, and take a break between entrées to don heavy parkas for a subzero vodka-tasting session in the Ketel One Ice Room. (Four shots, mind you.)

Day two was the big day. We boarded our AStar helicopter around 10 a.m. and flew north over the Pemberton Ice Cap. After five hours spent wandering backcountry glaciers and exploring the subterranean channels of an ice cave, we reboarded our chopper, realizing en route that we were tardy for our appointment at Scandinave, a silent spa nestled in a spruce forest. From there, it was straight to our six-course dinner at Araxi, followed by late-night cocktails and snacks at Bar Oso. (New Year’s resolutions were put on hold.)

We boarded our return shuttle to Vancouver before the sun rose the next day. But when we got to the airport, we disembarked not at the Main Terminal, from where Alaska Airlines’ direct flight would have delivered us to PDX, but at the South Terminal, where we would instead board Orca Airways’ eight-seater to Tofino. We had a surf lesson to make.


Rachel Ritchie
Editor in Chief

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