TRAVELLER I LOCAL VIBE
LOCAL ANIMAL: GROUSE
If you’re near a wooded area in the Sea to Sky Corridor and you hear
a low-pitched drumming sound — or even something that sounds
like an old Model T car starting up — chances are good that you’re
hearing the grouse, a mostly ground-dwelling bird that’s about the size
of a chicken.
The Whistler area is home to at least three species of grouse — four,
if you’re among those who feel the determination made in recent
years about two slightly different types of blue grouse being separate
species (sooty and dusky) was correct.
“The dusky and the sooty were once considered just different forms
of a blue grouse, and the experts have decided that they’re different
species, but I’m not convinced,” said Whistler-based naturalist Karl
Ricker, who believes that despite slight differences in appearance, the
distinction is primarily geographic.
“You see the sooty ones here, and the dusky ones in Pemberton and
farther into the interior,” said local birdwatcher Heather Baines.
The ruffed grouse, which has a distinctive, black “ruff” of feathers on
its head and back, and the spruce grouse are the two other species
found around Whistler.
It’s common to see and hear them near forested areas in March and
early April. The drumming sound of the males — starting slowly and
reaching a more rapid crescendo (hence Ricker’s comparison to the
sound of a Model T starting up) — is part of its mating ritual. It’s made
by the bird flapping its wings against its body, often while standing on
a resonant structure such as an old log.
In the warmer months, it’s common to mistake a grouse for a
ptarmigan, a bird of similar shape and size. Ptarmigans, however,
change colours to white in winter, while grouse remain brown or
slate grey year-round, Baines said. Grouse don’t hibernate, but
it’s less common to see or hear them in December, January and
February, as they tend to stay back in the forest, at lower elevations.
Because they nest on the ground, grouse can be quite territorial
and occasionally become aggressive toward perceived invaders
— including humans. According to Baines, grouse that become
aggressive are often defending a clutch of eggs from the many
predators that can threaten their soon-to-be hatchlings. At other
times, they’re just curious or even thirsty.
POD HOTEL DEBUTS IN WHISTLER
Whistler became the home of Canada’s first pod-style hotel in August
2018. A pod hotel is a hybrid between a hotel and hostel, with small,
private sleeping quarters and shared washroom and storage facilities,
and common areas. The brainchild of intrepid travellers Russell Kling
and his wife Jelena, the Pangea Pod Hotel aims to fill a budgetary
niche that the two felt existed in several markets including both
Vancouver and Whistler.
The hotel, which has four different types of one- or two-person
“pods,” is based on a concept similar to the “capsule”-style hotels that
have their origins in Japan; but the Pangea’s 88 pods are different.
Designed to elicit a much warmer, cozier feel than most of the space-capsule-like spaces found at Asian properties, the Pangea pods’
interiors have wood finishings and accent walls to give them the look
of a boutique-style hotel room — only much smaller.
“We want people to feel like they’re in a small cabin on a cruise ship
or maybe a sleeping compartment on a train,” Russell Kling said. “If
you’re in a small space, then how that space is sorted out is really
critical. You want to ensure that the small place we give you has a
space for your bags, wallet and clothes, a charging station and such.”
Four-piece bathrooms are spread among the “suites” (pod groupings)
and are shared but not “communal.” Instead, each is designed with
separate showers and separate washrooms, plus a vanity area and
changing space. There is also a secure “Toy Box” where skis, bikes
or other gear can be stored. The property’s communal living room
features a café with an open kitchen and bar, as well as a third-floor
rooftop patio with bar overlooking the Village Stroll, all of which are
open to the public.
Kling and his wife had been looking since 2013 to open in either
Vancouver or Whistler but settled on Whistler after finding what they
felt was the perfect location in the heart of the Village. The reviews
from customers and the media have been excellent. “We’ve been
very thrilled with the response so far,” Kling said, adding that the two
believe there’s a market for Pangea properties elsewhere as well. For
more information visit pangeapod.com.
STORIES BY DAVID BURKE | IMAGES BY JOERN ROHDE