December, 2011 Archives

Cap off the holidays with 1000's of sparkling 'wild' lights!

It's Monday night and I've just gotten home when there's a knock on my door. I open it and find my boyfriend standing there, rather unexpectedly. He tells me to "get changed and get in the car" and absolutely won't tell me where we're going. I trust him enough to know it's not a kidnapping, but past that I'm oblivious. So now I have a problem, and every girl reading this already knows what it is. What do I wear? Is casual okay or do I have to step it up a notch? Winter boots or runners? Extra warm socks or everyday regular socks? And I was getting no hints from the boyfriend.

So he eventually gets me into the car and off we go... to the BC Wildlife Park! Every year around the holidays they put on their Annual Wildlights Festival. This year is the 14th year and it runs from December 9th - January 2nd, 5:00pm-9:00pm. Upon our entry (only $12/person!), we were greeted by Santa, jolly as could be and handing out candy canes - definitely a favourite holiday treat of mine. We spent a little bit of time walking around the interior of the building and looking at the different snakes and other reptiles. My favourite snake was Purshia and she is a Coluber constrictor or "Racer Snake." She definitely looked like she was built for speed and she had huge black eyes. We also learned a lot walking around the indoor Discovery Centre which explores the various habitats in BC - Rain Forest, Grasslands, Mountains, Interior Plateaus and the North. This is also where the (extremely cute) Burrowing Owls have their home and the BC Wildlife Park is the largest Burrowing Owl breeding facility in the world!

When we finally got outside, the park was beautifully lit up all around with various light displays and I giggled like a little girl when I got to hit the "push" button on an interactive display which caused a penguin to go slip-sliding off of an iceberg. There was hot chocolate, apple cider, hot dogs and other snacks available for everyone as well. We got to see Uncle Chris the Clown entertain the crowd while we sat around campfires and enjoyed the treats. Even though we had already walked around the park to see the lights, we decided to take the Wildlights Express Mini Train that runs around the park for a second look. It was nice because you get to see the light displays from different angles, and some displays you get closer to on the train than you can following the walking path. You can also take a wagon ride if you want!

Since it is so dark out during the Wildlights Festival, there's not much to see in the way of the animals while you are strolling around the park but we did manage to see the shadowy masses of sleeping buffalo and a few sheep. The noctural coyotes were actively running around their habitat as well, which was fun to see. You are able to go and say hello to the animals in the Home Hardware Double H Corral Family Farm too, and they even had pot belly pigs in there this year. Every night at 7:30pm is the wolf feeding too which is quite the sight to see. You can tell they know it's dinner time as the four of them line up and pace by where the food will be thrown over by the park staff. Once the wolves are fed, the park staff tells the audience a little bit about them and how a wolf pack functions.

In past years, the BC Wildlife Park caps off the night with an incredible fireworks show but new this year was a Laser Light Show that happened twice throughout the evening. It was a fun showcase of what is possible with today's light technology set to Christmas tunes ranging from the smooth Michael Buble to the rockin' Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the kids absolutely loved it! This event is perfect for a fun family night out. I had a great time while I was there but if I could pass on any advice, it would be to make sure you wear the extra warm socks instead of the everyday regular socks.

Happy Holidays!

Coquihalla Connections & Conditions

You may have heard that life is not a destination, it’s a journey. The same can be said for a trip on the Coquihalla Highway from Vancouver to Kamloops, and what a wonderful journey it can be.

My family and I were doing some visiting in Vancouver last week and had a great trip back to Kamloops which inspired me to blog about the topic of driving the Coquihalla Highway. For those of you who haven’t made the journey and have heard ominous tales about “Snowshed Hill” and huge mountains of snow, I’ve found the trip (which I’ve made many times since the highway first opened) to be quite pleasant. And yes, there are mountains, usually snow but the highway crews are amazing to keep the roads clear so you can enjoy the winter wonderland as you travel.

Betcha’ Didn’t Know? Kw'ikw'iya:la (Coquihalla) in the Halq'emeylem language of the Stó:l? is a place name meaning "stingy container". It refers specifically to a fishing rock near the mouth of what is now known as the Coquihalla River. This rock is a good platform for spearing salmon. According to Stó:l? oral history, the skw'exweq, or underwater people, who inhabit a pool close by the rock, would swim out and pull the salmon off the spears, allowing only certain fisherman to catch the salmon. The Coquihalla Highway, derives its name from running alongside this river between Hope and the former location of the toll booth about 50 km away.

Be Prepared: as a former Girl Guide, I’ve always been taught to be prepared. This also holds true for driving the highway. If you’ve got good all season or winter tires on and drive for the conditions, yes that means slowing down and taking it easy, the highway can be a nice drive. For any trip our family does, we always have our truck equipped with jumper cables, extra blankets and a first aid kit, which I’d recommend.

My Travel Recommendations: our boys are 8 and 5 years of age so we pack plenty of snacks, drinks and games for the trip. We have a DVD player in the vehicle, but I prefer for the boys to look out the window and interact with us instead of zoning out watching a movie. There are all sorts of games you can play too from the ‘License Plate’ game, ‘I Spy with My Little Eye’ and travel-style board games. We bought mini Etch-a-Sketches for the boys which provides hours of entertainment. Music is also a must and family sing a longs makes the journey fun if not a little hard on the ears.

Great Stops: We typically fuel up in Chilliwack, have a washroom break and grab a cup of coffee then head out. 30 minutes up the road is Hope and you can stop at the Visitor Info Centre and have a picture with the ‘Rambo’ cut out and marvel at the coastal cedars and tall firs. About an hour from Hope is Merritt where the Nicola Valley opens up and it’s really beautiful. TIP: we typically find gas prices in Merritt  a little higher so if you have enough gas to get you to Kamloops, maybe wait to fill up. Check for the best, up to the minute prices. Kamloops is only 50 minutes down the highway and once you get into the city there are many turn offs to get into the city centre. With four major highways intersecting Kamloops, the city is easy to get to and has a ton of great things to do!

- Awesome Aleece

FORE!!! Golf in December? It's No Joke!

On a sunny but brisk December morning, Let Loose Lisa and I were feeling up for a round of golf...  but where, oh where might we golf in December?  With the beautiful weather we have been having, I'm sure you'd believe me if I said we went out and played a round of 18 at one of our 12 local courses... but in honesty - we'd be waiting all day due to frost delay.  So, we instead ventured deep into our city centre to a location so central, you'd have to be a hacker to miss it!

We arrived at Legends Indoor Golf which is located in Lansdowne Centre.  Upon arrival, we were immediately impressed with the facility.  As you walk in, there is a section to the right selling golf equipment which is very reminiscent to entering a Pro Shop.  We instantly felt that this place was for golfers... the modern feel and decor was definitely above par to many other similar establishments I have seen. There are 5 simulators in the main area all fitted with a bar top table and a few chairs and a few more tables down the centre to accommodate larger groups.  There is a more private room fitted with leather chairs and the largest stimulator of them all perfect for a private party.  The whole facility is licensed with a snack bar and options for catering.

Let Loose Lisa and I were immediately drawn into the large private room.  We were anxious to test these simulators out and I was first up.  The first thing Dave (the owner) showed us was the golf analysis tool.  I stepped up and took a swing while a camera filmed me from the back and side.  Next, he brought up an avatar which indicates the proper movements of a swing.  What I found out was that I actually have pretty good form.  Other then my arms not being quite straight enough, my posture was very good and my accuracy was better than many experienced players (or so he said).  I found this so interesting because I am not a golfer at all, and have only played a few times in my life but he said with a bit of practice, I have potential to be really quite good.  This was great news to hear and actually made me more motivated to get out and practice  this upcoming year!  After the analysis, he showed us a few of the 21 courses available including Banff Springs, Pebble Beach & Wooden Sticks (to name a few)... the High Def screens were so realistic - (including sounds of birds, waves, etc.) it does actually feel as though you are right there. 

If playing a full round of golf isn't quite up your alley - there are several other fun games to pick from including skills contests (window break, hit the tractor, long drive competitions, etc.)  Heck - you can even bring your Wii or Xbox to set up and play or play a round followed by watching a Canucks game or the like.  There really is something for everyone here.  If you're a serious golfer, you will love this facility to practice over the winter - head on down for Men's or Ladies' Night, lessons with the GPA certified professional or just grab a group of friends and head down for a drink and some fun!  Bring your own clubs or rent them there... the options are endless.

From out of town?  No problem... Grab a foursome and head into Kamloops overnight.  One night accommodation at the Best Western Hotel Plus Kamloops, complimentary breakfast and a round of golf at Legends all for $70/person (based on a foursome).

Overall - this is a great new tourism product in Kamloops and Lisa and I will definitely be back down sharpening up our skills for the spring ;)

- Kamloops Kendel


Watch our Video from Legends: