by Ava Chisling, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Oct 21st 2010 06:01 PM
If you hear someone shout "BioBlitz," don't worry, there is no need to take cover. In fact, just the opposite. Grab a friend or a family member, no matter how young, and enjoy an event that is good for you and the environment. A BioBlitz is when a group of people count as many species as possible in one area, including bugs, plants and birds. To make hard work fun, the Whistler Naturalists set up a scavenger hunt and offer kids the chance to meet a swamp monster. Is there a child on the planet who would not want to meet one of those?
PO Box 845
Whitler, BC V0N 1B0 Canada
Like the monsters of your childhood dreams, according to the local language of Whistler, "Fitzsimmons" watches you day and night, and you don't know it. And even more scary, you may have stood on top of it and don't realize it. The Fitzsimmons Range is the name of the mountain range Whistler sits upon. The Fitzsimmons Range has been a popular mountain playground since settlers first arrived in the Alta Lake Valley, now officially known as the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Ski lifts popped up in the 1960s and the party town reputation of the region began. If you look south from the top of Whistler, you will see a peak pyramid-shaped mass. That is the range's highest peak, rather ominously called Overlord Mountain at 8,612 feet.
3. Whistler Mountain
One would think that a community nestled in the shadow of ancient mountains would have a deeply significant name. Perhaps it was founded by or named after the famous 19th century painter, James McNeil Whistler? It wasn't. Whistler Mountain used to be called London Mountain (snore), but was changed when someone realized that perhaps an association with very bad weather isn't the wisest choice for a resort town. It became Whistler in 1965, and not because some old explorer or a wise First Nations leader whistled a lot. No, the name was chosen because the whistle is the sound marmots make, as in those fuzzy groundhog things. Not very romantic, we know.
4. Skwxwú7mesh and St'at'ímcets
These are the true local languages. The Squamish people speak Skwxwú7mesh and the Lil'wat people speak St'at'ímcets, two separate people living side-by-side in the Whistler region. Interestingly, both languages contain the number seven, which, when pronounced, acts as a "pause" of sorts in the middle of the word. Because First Nations languages were passed down orally for generations, linguists first helped them put their language into writing. There are now regional schools to teach the languages to the young, and the prestigious Simon Fraser University in Vancouver has a First Nations Studies Program, including courses on linguistics.
5. The Question
You may hear a customer ask a store owner if he has a question, but it is not what you think. The Question is a local newspaper that has covered the region once a week since 1976. Important local news like bear sightings, power outages and real estate development are covered in The Question, which is good because these sorts of stories get lost in the big city news of Vancouver. Updated daily online, such articles may seem trivial to a visitor, but to mountain communities, they are vital. Knowing about heavy snowfalls, landslides and road closures is life-saving information, and the Question is where you can turn to find it.
6. Snowboarders Lingo of Whistler
The following are a list of handy terms to further navigate Whistler slang: "gorby" (a tourist, as best evidenced by the rental board they use), "Whis" (Whistler), "Blackrock" (Blackcomb), "The Lick" (liquor store), "Croosh Goo" (crucial goods), "nectar" (awesome), "snorkeling" (skiing in deep powder), "knuckledragger" (snowboarder), "wanker two planker" (skier), "six bucks" (a six pack of beer), "grom" (a young snowboarder) and "puking" (not the result of drinking six bucks, but rather heavy snowfall).
With this knowledge of Whistler slang, you can feel a part of the hometown crowd when you visit.
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