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Volunteering for the 2010 Winter Olympics

Prepping for the 2010 Winter Olympics

No, not that kind of prep - I'm not competitive at Speed Skating or Ski Jumping, though with enough beer, I might make the podium for Curling - prepping to spend a month away from home in the snow, in a neighboring country.  Work application, lodging, travel, re-scheduling other activities for before or after the Olympics, answering 'why' and 'how' questions @ my decision to volunteer for the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

So why?  Thought it would be fun, and a life-enriching experience.  Plus, I'd never attended an Olympics in person; what better way to experience it than from the inside?

What's on my mind as I prepare to leave for Whistler…will the Canada Border Services Agency let me in to Canada without license plates…how crazy will traffic be in Vancouver…what if the cat I'll be taking care of keels over, considering she's 14 years old and never been away from her owners for more than a week…what if I throw up when cleaning the litter box…what if the house sucks…what if my housemate is a nightmare…what if there isn't reasonable bus service to Whistler…what if the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games lost my work application…what'll I be doing once I report to work…that's just the background stuff; in the foreground, I'm just psyched to connect with the Olympics.

Day 1  Winter Olympics 

Planned to leave tomorrow, but wrapped up everything by lunchtime today, so I'm off.  It's sunny.  Stop for a Double-Meat at In-N-Out, which is reason enough to visit California if you don't live here.  Parked, eating in my car, a dozen birds land and scurry around on the hood of my new vehicle, those sharp feet can't be good for the paint.  Northbound, one rest stop, then a fuel stop at Shasta City, I stock up on water and peanut M&M's.  I'm digging the satellite radio - my last car didn't have any kind of radio, so I've made a quantum leap in mobile sound reproduction.  Arrive Portland, wolf down a midnight Grand Slam at Denny's next to my hotel.  Hit the pillow, have to wait a bit for the sugar from the M&M's and pancakes to process, then a reasonable nights sleep, except that… 

Day 2 Winter Olympics

…I'm ambushed by the alarm clock - set by a previous patron - at 6:00am.  Bacon and eggs next door at Denny's, trying to tune out the cell phone conversation in the next booth - God, if my life ever becomes that boring, just shoot me.  Overcast, short drive to Seattle.

Day 3 Winter Olympics

Visit the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field - an incredible place to hang out, especially since they added the Personal Courage Wing with World War I & II aircraft, situated in period sets - with my brother, have dinner with my sister (in town visiting her daughter), my niece and her husband, then we meet up with a couple of my niece's cougar friends (they're funny and nice) for drinks.  My sister and I talk late into the night, great to catch up, as we barely had time to speak at Christmas.  

Day 4 Winter Olympics

Partly cloudy, fill up on diesel, incredibly, there's no wait at the border crossing.  The border guard asks me why I don't have any license plates, lets me pass.  Head north on Granville St, play russian roulette in the left lane with cars whom I hope don't turn left - if you've driven into Vancouver from the south, you know what I'm referring to - surprisingly, there's little traffic downtown, and I'm through Stanley Park, over the Lion's Gate Bridge, through West Vancouver and northbound on the Sea to Sky Hwy towards Squamish, the town where I'm staying.  Squamish sits between Vancouver and Whistler, mid-point for the Olympic venues.  I arrive early, the woman who will let me into the house isn't available, so some fine dining at A&W, return, catch a nap in the car, she shows later in the evening, we search for Minni, the cat, find her hiding place under the bed in the guest bedroom.  All I can see are glowing demon eyes, apparently she's not pleased with having a new housemate.  The house is very nice, and the owners the most pleasant people you'd ever want to Skype with, but…no open windows + 80F inside + cat + litter box + throw-up…I'm gagging.  The owners left me a personalized notebook with instructions, and a bottle of wine - which was thoughtful - but no odor control.  Head to bed, no sign of Minni.

Day 5 Winter Olympics

Rain.  I'm up, find a hardware store, purchase two plug-in-the-wall air fresheners, a futile attempt to manage air quality; the house now smells like artificial air freshener + stale kitty.  The Adventure Center recommended a gymnasium that I could join, though they didn't tell me it was gender-specific, realized I wasn't the right gender when I showed up, I was willing, they weren't.  Find a modest gym that caters to both sexes, I actually thought I'd be working out between volunteer shifts!  Liquor store, then home, discovered two new drinks that shouldn't be consumed in the same evening.

Day 6 Winter Olympics

Minni is ringing the bell - perhaps it's more of a rattle - on her collar, outside my door at 5:00am, and talking to me, but not in meows, more of a stutter of vowels…eee…aaa…uhuhuh…elderly, perhaps she can't meow like she used to.  Still skittish when I approach, at least she now sleeps in the open.  Rain!  Whistler has snow, but lower-elevation Cypress, where Snowboard, Alpine and Freestyle Skiing take place, may have to truck in snow.  Lots to do today - pick-up accreditation and uniform in Vancouver, visit friends in same city, clean up the house for the housemate, whom I'll pick up tomorrow at the airport.  She's from Kobe, Japan, currently living in Ontario, also a volunteer.  Before I depart for Vancouver, kitty diarrhea in the guest bedroom…  Nature's Miracle, yes, would also be a miracle if Minni would use the litter box, and nowhere else.  Accreditation and uniform fitting are well-organized, set in the sporting venue where Ice Skating will be held.  Verbal check-in at front door, sort into line for official check-in with passport, get papers, follow red stripe to next room, photographed (no smiling allowed, seriously), badge produced, follow blue stripe to uniform check-in, follow grey stripe to waiting area for uniform fitting room, take a #, watch bass fishing on a plasma display (I'm not kidding), escorted to the fitting area, take men's large in everything except the pants, which are too big, so I get fitted with a women's pants, I'm embarrassed.  The fitter says they're not cut any different, just smaller waist size - right - hands me a sheet with my garment size, no stripe to follow, manage to find my way through the temporary maze, reminds me of Halloween haunted houses as a kid, get uniform, have everything verified at check-out, then out the door, elapsed time 40 minutes, and everyone was incredibly nice.  Drive up the Sea to Sky, where two lanes have been subdivided into three lanes in places, making for narrow lanes and shoulder driving, which is fun at night - no street lamps - particularly when it's raining.  At home, try on my wardrobe - a giant Smurf.  Minni has missed the litter box again - shit!  Can I type that?  She approaches me, the first time, shows me where she likes to be scratched; around her large ears, under the chin, collar.  She has huge eyes, huge ears, narrow face, looks a bit more like a creature of the wild than a domesticate.  Her purr is something akin to an inline-four with clogged idle jets.  I can tell we'll get along, even though I'm less-than-thrilled with poop duty.   Watch two movies - don't remember what they were - into the wee hours, I don't have a TV at home, so this was special.

Day 7 Winter Olympics

At the gym again, but I'm too sore to do anything but aerobic sprints.  Besides, the really attractive blonde woman who was stretching in front of me yesterday isn't here.  Drive to Vancouver to pick up complimentary ticket for opening ceremony dress rehearsal, should've driven around the block before parking…several blocks of people dressed in Wave blue, the color of volunteers…I'm not going to join them, so back to my small and expensive parking space.  Stop off at the accreditation and uniform center and purchase an official Olympic backpack, which I immediately regret, it's a bit too feminine for me to use.  Off to airport, pick up housemate, back to accreditation and uniform center for her to wander through the temporary walls.  So thoughtful, give her my Olympic backpack, explain that I purchased it for her as a gift for subletting a room from me.  Back through dark and rain to Squamish, stop at a sushi bar, an hour wait, watch her closely to grok sushi etiquette - she's from Japan! - learn to make an origami-like chopsticks stand - can't remember the Japanese name - out of the chopsticks wrapper, very cool.  With a new housemate, Minni's in hiding, under new housemate's bed, hope the cat doesn't make a mess during the night. 

Day 8 Winter Olympics

Grocery shopping, stop at The Adventure Center for guidance to local activities; right behind where we're staying is the Stawamus Chief granite dome, I'm warned that it's a really steep hike.  I head off to photograph scenic Shannon Falls, which is just down the road from the Chief.  Was raining, now the sun's out, hmmm, there's a side trail linking up with the Chief trail, I'll check it out.  Sign says 550m vertical rise over 2.5km hike, that works out to…steep.  I'm wearing a t-shirt, worn-out Chuck's with soul but no soles, carrying full-size camera with lens, nothing waterproof, if it starts raining again.  So I'll just hike a little bit…part-way up, my phone rings, someone from eBay wants to recommend ways I can save $$ with future listings.  I keep climbing, some places are so steep, there are ladders, and up on the granite face, chains imbedded in the rock so you can scale the walls like Batman.  I've no food, no water, no brains.  Beautiful on top, though a bit cold.  The trip down was treacherous - it's often like that, isn't it? - and I was regretting that I didn't think to bring the trekking poles I purchased in Seattle on the way up - they would've taken a bit of the strain off my knees going down.  Anyway, survived, get to the parking lot - the one with the sign that says thieves work this lot day and night - to find some guy looking in my car window, but he ends being an Olympic volunteer from Ottawa, and not a thief.  Back home to a dinner of water, wine and Ritz Crackers.  Music and flashing lights pour in from the street, run outside, the Olympic Torch Relay is coming up the street, cool!  Run back in, grab camera, return in time to snap a few photos in the dark as the gentleman carrying the Olympic torch slowly walks by…I thought they ran with the torch.

Day 9 Winter Olympics

First day on shift, set my alarm for 5:00am, housemate set hers for 4:00am, which I heard, including the four snooze cycles…I'm up.  We're dressed in matching Wave blue Smurf uniforms.  Dark and raining, walk to local bus, which drops us off at Wal-Mart, where we catch staff bus to Whistler.  About an hour later, arrive at Whistler Olympic Park in Kavanagh Valley, approximately 30 minutes away from Whistler Village and Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.  Walk through security, check-in, get meal ticket, take 10-minute bus to Biathlon venue.  It's 7:00am, I'm 90 minutes early for today's shift.   One of the media managers shows up - from England - she's very nice, gives me a tour of the facility.  Venue photo manager and supervisor - my bosses - show up, along with some of the other volunteers - ages 20 - 75 - I'll work with over the coming weeks.  The Olympic Torch Relay stops at the Biathlon stadium, set up for photographer access, sneak a few photos with my point-and-shoot.  No restrooms or running water yet, just honey buckets, work those thigh muscles, a bit tougher on women :-)  It's cold outside, the media center is like a sauna.  Bit of overload the first day, learning about everyone, how the media center will work, setting up photo positions on the course, showing the course photo positions to photographers, weaving amongst athletes in training, negotiating with broadcast for space, defining what photographers can and can't do.  Set up photographer lockers in media center.  Photo manager swears a lot, but a good guy, has photographed seven Olympics.  Lunch is good, particularly the soup.  Scottie, from Vancouver, is setting up kitchen equipment in the cafeterias, explains how the food thing works at the Olympics, which is really interesting, ask me if you want to know.  Was concerned what lunch would be, given that Coca-Cola and McDonald's are sponsors…fortunately, no Ronaldor Hamburglar in the mess tent.  My ski pants are dropping down, like plumber's pants, need to buy a belt.  Night, bus from Whistler was full, talked with a couple from Winnipeg, very nice, they drive skidoos (snowmobiles, my American friends) at Cross Country, cool gig.  My legs are feeling yesterday's Chief descent, which I guess is ok, means I've actually exercised! 

Day 10 Winter Olympics

Up at 3:00am, the 'why' escapes me.  Beautiful day, caught the local 6:00am bus, it's COLD waiting for the 6:40am to Whistler.  Nice to arrive in Whistler while it's light, and first to use the honey buckets, whoo-hoo!  Completed some prep work in the media center, then out on the course with photographers, helping them plan their shoots for when the medal events begin.  A really tall guy from Associated Press in Argentina, we were touring the course, stadium, firing range positions, he fell through holes in the snow a few times, one time, had to dig him out - it's a bit risky for bigger people when the snow melts underneath, leaving caverns beneath the surface crust - watch your step.  There's real, dark hot chocolate in the media center today, was told after my second cup it's for the photographers, not photo staff.  Ok, I'll just walk down to the mess tent and get some there.  Thai soup for lunch today, cream of broccoli yesterday, both good.  No grey water is allowed for cooking, so soups are cooked in plastic bags in a central location, then shipped out to the venues and reheated.  Sounds unappetizing, but I think it's their secret to good soup. All utensils are biodegradable, four different types of recycling bins available for trash.  Besides soup, we get a sandwich, banana or orange or apple, granola bar or cookie, and water or, yes, you guessed it, Coca-Cola.  My new Sorrel boots are wearing on the front of my shins, hiking the courses are taking a toll.  Loosened up the laces, which helps a bit.   Watching the athletes ski to exhaustion around the circuit, up steep hills, heavy rifle on back, then show up at the firing range, completely shut down, concentrate on hitting target, then push to exhaustion again, pretty amazing, have lots of respect for the women and men who compete in Biathlon.  Wrapped up shift early today, caught the 4:30pm bus back to Squamish, home at 5:45pm, which was cool, gives me plenty of time to clean the litter box, yuck.  I'm a dog person, I like cats when other people take care of them.  Minni was mingling and friendly with both of us tonight, starved for attention.  

Day 11 Winter Olympics

Met a local woman from the provincial forestry service, she indicated that 600 army troops are patrolling the woods around Whistler, advised me that if I peed in the woods, I'd probably be on video.  Army helicopters are flying overhead.  The media center is getting busier, taking more photographers around the course today, getting lots of walking in.  Access to various points on the venue are closing up as Security prepares for spectators.  Still lots of procedures to figure out, who can shoot where, what, when.  Warmer today, snow getting a bit slushy.  6:30pm bus back to Squamish.  Tomorrow, Security is doing a sweep - inspecting everything, sniffer dogs, looking for explosives, sign of the times, I guess - so no one is allowed on venue, we all have the day off, which also backs up to the two days I already had scheduled off.  Housemate and I will go to Vancouver tomorrow, pick up our tickets to dress rehearsal, hit Granville Island, so some shopping, hang out, and sleep in!  

Day 12 Winter Olympics

Sunny with roiling white clouds, beautiful day.  Drop housemate off downtown, to pick up our tickets, I head for Granville Island.  Meet at Cat's Social House - where else? - for lunch, have awesome blackened chicken wonton soup, a meal's worth.  Musicians performing all over the island - toss $2 coin in guitar case of a really good classical guitarist - hang out at glass blower shop, shop at market, buy designer chocolates - yeah, baby -  then head back to Squamish.  Housemate lit the electric burner cover on fire, smoke and flame, odor of burning paint, which wasn't bad when compared to Minni's litter box, I then burned a pizza; is the oven temperature gauge in celsius or fahrenheit?  I guessed fahrenheit…incorrectly, apparently.

Day 13 Winter Olympics

Scheduled off day.  Hung out, went to gym, bought groceries.  Returning home, Minni's making urping sounds, I investigate, mess in the same spot in housemate's room.  Very unpleasant, almost urped myself…Nature's Miracle to the rescue.  Should I tell my housemate why her carpet is wet when she gets home?  Question for you cat owners: Do you mind littler box patrol?  What if it's not your cat?  Minni's aim isn't very good, there's usually a mess in front of the box, on the box, even in the box.  I like dogs.

Day 14 Winter Olympics

Scheduled off day.  I'm hungover, aspirin helped a little bit.  Once housemate returned from shift, drove to Vancouver to attend dress rehearsal for Opening Ceremony, awesome!  After all the warnings not to drive, that there would be heavy traffic and no parking…no traffic, parked right next to BC Place, Opening Ceremony venue, for $1.  It's raining, hard.  Opening Ceremony lasted for three and a half hours, just like the 'real' Opening Ceremony, except that there were stand-ins for the athletes, and the torch lighting wasn't included - um, it might've been a good idea to rehearse the torch lighting.  Cramped legs!  Crush of people upon exiting stadium, a bit uncomfortable as thousands of us were squished up against the fence, yippee.  Late meal at A&W back in Squamish - hey, we do everything first class.  Temperature in the house when we get home is a blistering 85F - Minni was digging it - fireplace would not respond to the remote, eventually switched it off the next day, which pushed the house into the next ice age.

Day 15 Winter Olympics

Slushy day at Whistler Olympic Park, but there's now a trailer behind the media center with toilets and running water!  Lots of photographers on venue, all day on the course and range, final preparations.  Soaked!  Slosh into a frozen house that night, remove the stonework under the fireplace to access the receiver unit, installed new batteries, we're back in business.  Note:  House heat provided by a thermostatically-controlled gas fireplace, said thermostat residing in a remote control as complex than the one that came with your home entertainment system.

Day 16 Winter Olympics

Opening day for the 2010 Winter Olympics!  Early start, up at 4:30am, volume of staff waiting for Whistler bus has tripled.  First medal event for Biathlon is tomorrow, course closed early today - usually busy with training - so caught early bus back to Squamish, watched the 'real' Opening Ceremony on TV.  Looked just like the dress rehearsal, except that I had more legroom, the actual athletes were in the parade, and there was torch lighting, including the crazy Gretzky truck ride in the rain.  Did some laundry, preparing for guest to arrive tomorrow from LA. 

Day 17 Winter Olympics

First medal event, Women's 7.5 km Sprint, Slovakia the surprise winner.  Stationed at range all day, which is kind of a cool place, as you're actually positioned in front (and just off to the side) of the number one firing lane.  Weather nice during event, though it rained afterwards.  Back to Squamish, out to dinner at the famous Shady Tree Pub with my guest.

Day 18 Winter Olympics

Scheduled day off.  We drive to Vancouver, beautiful day, hang out at Granville Island, go pub crawling in Gastown, then attend the first Medal Ceremony at BC Place, followed by a concert by Nelly Furtado.  Very cool to watch the flags of the podium winners go up, hear the national anthems for the gold medalists.  Finally, was able to carry my full-size camera, but with a short lens, and since we were seated at the far side of the venue, wasn't able to many meaningful shots.  About the camera thing:  Why am I attending the 2010 Winter Olympics, and not really taking photographs?  I'm here as volunteer photo staff, which means that I work the competitive venue in support of Olympics-accredited photographers.  Accredited photographers take the photos; staff are restricted from taking photos.  Which means staff takes photos, but covertly, with stealthy, small point-and-shoot-cameras-that-fit-in-pockets.  Almost all of my photos from the Olympics, and all of the photos taken on venue, were stealth photos...

Day 19 Winter Olympics

No medal events today for Biathlon, so I work two medal events at Cross Country, very cool, lots of photographers.  I'm on the finish line, many athletes collapse after crossing the finish line, right in front of us, some vomit, some heave like fish out of water.  After a couple of minutes though, they're up and off to face the next challenge; THE MIX ZONE - athletes must traverse a treacherous labyrinth filled with reporters and broadcast cameras who are corralled in small holding pens.  They snap, occasionally bite, further endangering the athletes…the mix zone may be more intimidating than the race itself.  Out for sushi with my guest - demonstrated new-found origami skills by fabricating chopsticks holder out of the chopsticks wrapper.  Later than evening, I'm feeling really funky, achy, no sleep, then up at 4:00am for work.  It's all fun! 

Day 20 Winter Olympics 

Women's 10 km Pursuit and men's 12.5 km Pursuit Biathlon medal events today.  Work back of the finish tower, where my job is to wrestle with photographers who want to get on the photo tower when it's already full; Aikido training served me well.  Other than full-body contact with photographers, this location is pretty cool, at least for the women's races - they congregate here right after the race, preparing to enter the mix zone, and some of them - gotta love the European women - undress right in front of me, and, well, I'm a professional, and I do enjoy my work.  My visitor attended the men's Biathlon medal event, we meet up and head towards Whistler Village to pub crawl, but I'm feeling even more strange than last evening, so it's back to Squamish.  While waiting for the local Squamish bus, my teeth start rattling, chills.  Hot shower, crawl into bed at 6:30pm, get up 13 hours later (!) after a night of alternating fever and chills.  What a fun host, I should have more visitors. 

Day 21 Winter Olympics

Scheduled day off.  Feeling better, we drive to Vancouver, tour Christ Church Cathedral, the city's oldest church, listen to some inspiring pipe organ music, also tour the Vancouver Museum.  Hang out downtown, back to Gastown for lunch, then to  the Olympic Torch, burning away behind chain link fence.  This decorative surrounding of the Olympic Torch is itself surrounded with a bit of controversy, and lucky me - just as I turned around from taking photographs  through a small viewing portal cut into the fence, a broadcast team shoves microphone and camera in my face, asking me what I think of the Olympic Torch Controversy - I'm looking for cover, there isn't any.  I'm not about to say anything disrespectful as a guest in another country.  Also, my manager's voice is in my head:  "Saw you on TV last night.  Remember that rule about staff not talking to the media?  You're fired.  I don't care that you're not being paid, you're still fired."  Made a few positive comments about how beautiful the burning torch was, ignored the negative, baiting questions, slid off to the side, abandoning my guest, now the focus of the broadcast crew.  Drop my guest off at the airport, head back up the familiar Sea to Sky to Squamish, Minni's litter box is due for a cleaning.

Day 22 Winter Olympics

4:00am wake up, perhaps three hours sleep.  Stunning day!  Women's 15 km Individual and Men's 20 km Individual Biathlon medal events, worked media center for first event, finish line for second event.  It was so nice out, I didn't wear a coat or gloves.  Yes, even without a jacket, I still look a bit like like a Smurf.  What is the volunteer uniform?  Black ski pants, (two) long sleeve 'Wave' blue t-shirts, each with a unique design, vest, ski jacket and toque (stocking cap in America) in the same blue color.  Didn't wear the toque, used my hood when cold.

Day 23 Winter Olympics

No medal events at Biathlon, worked qualifying round at Ski Jumping, sold out crowd, very cool, stationed up front at the outrun.  Politely busted by venue photo supervisor for taking close-up photo of athlete, a bit more strict than at Biathlon.  Morning was cold in the shadow of the hill, then hot once sun rose over the ski jump, beautiful.  Walked many steps up to the two ski jumps - called Normal Hill and Large Hill, on post during afternoon training, very tranquil, far above the crowds.

Day 24 Winter Olympics

Again, no medal events at Biathlon, worked Large Hill Individual Ski Jumping medal event.  Stationed at outrun again, awesome competition, gold medalist was the final skier, really exciting.  Afternoon, worked during training at Cross Country. Back in Squamish, dinner with a fellow volunteer, she drove up like myself, though she brought her dog.  On the way back from dinner, police pull me over, politely question me about my missing license plates.  Ok, I'd had a few drinks, but I was in good form, and after discussing the State of California's fiscal dilemma, the resulting delay in shipment of license plates, and why Arnold Schwarzenegger carried an Olympic torch when he wasn't a Canadian citizen, I was released on my own recognizance.  

Day 25 Winter Olympics

Incredible weather again, Women's 12.5 km Mass Start and Men's 15 km Mass Start Biathlon medal events.  Working a great course photo position, where the course comes together, view skiers going uphill on one side, skiers speeding downhill on the other side.  I've now got a raging cold, turn in early, to rest up for what's likely to be a long day tomorrow.

Day 26 Winter Olympics

Scheduled day off.  Do some local stuff, take my local bus in early afternoon, only now I discover that it takes a different route, long time until I show up at Wal-Mart, where I board a bus for Whistler Village, taking my full-size camera with a short zoom.  Arrive Whistler Village at 4:00pm, it's clear and cold.  Will be meeting up later with a local woman who shares friendship with other photographers I know.  In the meantime, stumble around in the cold, take a few photos as the light wanes.  I'm standing outside of a restaurant, huddled in front of a high-tech-gas-flame-behind-glass-heater, one of the volunteers I work with walks by, he and his buddy have been snowboarding, his buddy broke his board on the half-pipe.  Over to Starbucks for hot chocolate, but mostly just to be in a heated room.  Have dinner at the Brew House, where I'll meet my new friend later.  Walk around, amazed at how many people I recognize from the venues…I've been missing out on the party!  Back to the Brew House, link up with contact, then pub crawl, end up at Buffalo Bills Bar and Grill, dance club.  At the coat check, dozens of conical Devo hats line the hat shelf - Devo performed in Whistler Village tonight - the disembodied hats make me laugh, though the Grey Goose I've been drinking all night had lowered my 'that's funny' threshold.  It's loud, crowded, and I'm dancing with my camera strapped across my shoulder, such style.  Early the next morning, depart Buffalo Bills Bar and Grill, find my way back to the bus stop - buses run all night during the Olympics - and board for Squamish.  I'm the only person with grey hair on the bus, which I think is cool, though my thinking may be impaired.

Day 27 Winter Olympics

Whew, short night.  Women's 4x6 km Relay Biathlon medal event today.  At shift end, a few of us bus over to Whistler for drinks, to meet up later with several others from the team, as this is the last day for several of them.  Everyone has brought a change of clothes, except me; I'm still wearing Wave blue, for which I am abused the whole evening by my civvies-clad teammates.  Two Long Island Iced Teas, six Grey Goose straight up's later, I shuffle away early, my cold in full swing, leave teammates to close down Whistler Village.

Day 28 Winter Olympics

Much-needed scheduled day off.  Fall out of bed at 9:00am, voice like a frog, clean-up around house, catch up on email and social networks, all day.  Every time I sneeze or cough, Minni leaves the room.

Day 29 Winter Olympics

No medal events at Biathlon today, squatted at the Help Desk, rather than help out at medal events at Cross Country and Ski Jump, try to give my cold a break.  On the local stand-and-hold-the-bar Whistler Olympic Park bus, a really tall woman crushes me with her backpack, apparently unconcerned that the growth on her back is pressing my head against the window.  I've lost my voice, leaving me to communicate solely with hand signals and facial expressions; she figures it out.

Day 30 Winter Olympics

Men's 4x7.5 km Relay Biathlon medal event today.  It's snowing heavily, but it's soggy, everyone's soaked by noon.  Last day on shift for most of us, we each get a cool Swatch Olympics volunteer watch, congregate at the Biathlon penalty loop for a group photo.  There's a huge plastic tarp with the Olympics Inukshuk symbol, hanging down into the pit at the center of the penalty loop.  It's covered in snow, looks like fun to slide down on…so a couple of us dive down the tarp, sweeping the snow away so the photo's better, pretty soon it's a sliding free-for-all.  As we wander off to the Cross Country mess tent for a party, the Biathlon venue is already dismantling, kind of sad.  The course and firing range will remain, but the spectator stadium and other buildings will disappear.  It's also hard to say goodbye to newly-made friends, seems like we've been working together for months; well, it's been a month.  Bus back to Squamish, clean the house, preparing for my exit on Sunday morning.  Minni is meowing - if you call it that - something awful, and urping what I believe are fur balls, gross things that look like they come from another planet, plus throw-up.  So this is what it's like to own a cat?  I'm ready to hand Minni back to her loving owners.  

Day 31 Winter Olympics

My housemate is leaving a day early, which means I get to leave a day earlier than planned.  A couple loads of laundry, vacuum, one FINAL litter box cleaning, and I'm heading south, through Vancouver and back to the USA.

Day 32 Winter Olympics

Stopping in Longview, Washington, to meet up with high school friends, some of whom I've not connected with for 35 years.  This isn't a class reunion, but rather a get-together that some good friends organized.  Wonder if I'll see people I don't recognize?  It was awesome, a fantastic evening, as easy to talk and laugh with, as if I'd seen them last week.  Some had been married - to the same person - for more than 30 years, others working on their fourth marriage.  Never attended a class reunion, but I can see that they must be a blast.  Reconnecting with friends is a good thing!

Day 33 Winter Olympics

Full day drive back to Carmel, uneventful, though I'm getting re-attached to '80's rock 'n roll, having a radio in the car again is a pleasure.  Whew, lots to catch up on when you're gone for a month, and lots to reflect on from my Olympics volunteer photo staff experience.  If you have an opportunity to participate in an Olympics event, as spectator or otherwise, do so!  

2012 - Summer Olympics, London, England

2014 - Winter Olympics, Sochi, Russia

2016 - Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2018 - Winter Olympics, Annecy, France or Munich, Germany or Pyeongchang, South Korea


rick strange
Great stories, Rayner !  Satisfied my curiosities and broadened my feline prospective definately.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 07:16 PM
OMG, I was rolling!  I've had housecats (no longer) and can picture your dilemma's. What the heck is "grey water" in the soup?  Or should I be afraid to ask.  What a fabulous experience.  Thanks for sharing all the details.
Sunday, March 21, 2010 - 08:04 PM
Rayner, I really enjoyed reading about yet another one of your adventures.  For some reason I never thought you were a cat person, but it sounded like the experience was an erye opener for ya.  Have a good one and I hope to talk to you soon.
Monday, March 22, 2010 - 09:19 AM
Poor cmu on my part; grey water isn't in the soup- at least it shouldn't be - it's the water leftover from washing dishes and other stuff.  They weren't allowed to produce grey water, i.e. wash dishes, so cooked soup in the bags, so no need to wash the cooking pots.
Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 11:54 PM

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