January, 2012 Archives

When life gives you snow…. Go snowmobiling!

Last week, a co-worker, Meghan, and myself were heading down to Abbotsford for the Vancouver Motorcycle Show. We left Wednesday morning in a rental SUV with good winter tires and 4 wheel drive. After stopping for a lunch at the best little bakery in Merritt (Brambles… it’s a must do!) we hit the road. Just as we got back on the Coquihalla, we heard that they had closed the highway in both directions. At this point, we were already on a section that you couldn’t turn around so we just decided to take our chances and keep going. Worst case scenario, we figured we could play cards for a few hours if we got stopped – plus we had a safety kit with some extra food, water and warm clothes (highly recommended for any winter travelling). Visibility was poor and the highway had pretty much turned from 3 lanes to 1 ½ lanes but we slowed down and just took it easy! It may have taken a little bit longer than we had hoped, but with good music, good tires and four wheel drive – the trek really wasn’t that difficult.
After five days at the Motorcycle Show (which was so much fun!), it was time to come home. Sunday evening we checked the road reports while eating dinner in Chilliwack (such a good sushi place there) and everything looked fine… definitely not worse than Wednesday so we figured we were in the clear… There was heavy rainfall through to Hope and then the snow started falling. It was a complete white out to the point of not being able to see a foot in front of the vehicle. Even being prepared with a good vehicle and supplies – we couldn’t go faster than 40-50km/hour. Thinking the snow might clear up the higher we got – we kept going! By the time we reached the summit – we did not want to continue. Yes, I am sure we would have been fine to keep going slow but neither of us felt like driving that slow in those conditions when we had just worked all day. Wishing we would have stayed overnight in Hope, we stopped at the old toll booth rest area to try and figure out what to do. At this point, we figured it would take just as much time to go back to Hope as it would be to continue onto Merritt so away we went. Two minutes later, we both just realized that there was no way we could drive in the blizzard as it was just too nauseating to drive through all that blowing snow.
It was at this point I said “I really wish there was somewhere to stay overnight here”… Meghan looked at me and with what seemed like an epiphany – said something that was music to my ears… “I think there is a place just ahead”. And she was right!  A moment later we were just able to make out a sign for the Coquihalla Lakes Lodge. We immediately pulled over and called to see if they had any space for the night and we were in luck, they did! The owner Mark told us to drive down - 2 mins from the highway but with the limited visibility and nearly snowed in road… it seemed like a lot longer. He met us in the parking lot on a snowmobile and was overjoyed at the amount of snow that had fallen! He told us to park and jump on the sled. Pardon? We have to sled in? I was a little apprehensive as I have never been on a snowmobile but was also excited to try it out. Meghan and I decided right then, that instead of being disappointed we couldn’t make it home, we would look at this as an opportunity to check out a local tourism product and make a bit of an adventure out of it. Approaching the main lodge, we were immediately greeted by Coconut, the resident dog which made us both feel immediately ‘at home’ since we were both missing our dogs! Mark and his on-site employee were so hospitable and made us feel so welcome that evening. After having been sold out for the weekend – Mark invited us into his home and offered us dinner and drinks while he got our cabin ready. After a short wait, we were taken to our cabin on what has to be one of the most unique valet services in the area… by snowmobile.


I didn’t really know what to expect as usually I am the type of person to research where I stay first, but the cabin was great. With a full kitchen, living room, bathroom and loft with two double beds – we were so excited to be staying there. After a glass of wine (we definitely had our priorities straight when grabbing what we needed from the car for our overnight stay), we both snuggled up in our beds with some very comfortable bedding Mark graciously supplied us with (usually, you bring your own) – we feel alsleep to the crackling and glow of the wood fire. Waking up feeling rested, we were excited to go outside and check out the area… there was a ton of snow… I mean a TON! It was above our heads in some places and we both wished we had our winter clothes with us so we could jump right in. The cabin patio opened up to a view of the lake and the peacefulness of the area just stunned us. Looking around, it was easy to see that the outdoor recreation opportunities were endless – from snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the Winter (did we mention you can pretty much do these activities up until April!) to swimming, fishing, ATV’ing, mountain bike riding and more in the summer months. There is even a person on-site to give you a massage after a long day snowmobiling (must call ahead to book)! After having a wander around, another little rip on the snowmobiles and some coffee – Mark had plowed us a route out and we were on our way. Monday morning, the roads were clear and the sky was blue and we had a beautiful drive into Kamloops. This place is definitely great for families and would be a perfect addition to your  getaway to Kamloops!
They say everything happens for a reason, so next time life gives you snow… go snowmobiling!!

-Kamloops Kendel

6am Wake Up Calls Welcome on SKI DAY!

It’s Friday morning and my alarm clock goes off at 6am. The snooze button is about to be hit for the first of at least three times until wait … it’s not a work day, it’s a ski day! Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to bound out of bed when the snow capped mountain tops are calling your name? The same holds true for my kids, who are normally morning people, but especially more so today. The kitchen is a flurry of activity as hot cocoa is being poured into thermoses, hearty sandwiches are being wrapped, and of course a myriad of cookies, chips and other treats make their way into the super stuffed lunch bags! Oh, we’re stoked.

 
The day we headed up to Harper was on the tail end of the cold snap, so when we got to the mountain, it was minus 17. Brrrr! Despite the cold, it was beautiful. The lodge’s chimney showed that the fire was already going inside and the evergreen trees laden with snow and were beautiful. We unpacked our gear and made our way inside to meet up with our group.

 

Our boys were taking ski lessons that day and renting equipment, and the process was an easy and smooth one. The kids love the instructors, especially the realllllly tall guy with the Scottish brogue. The nice thing about Harper Mountain is that you can sit inside the lodge if you want, and you can see the hills that the tow rope and T-bar service where the kids are skiing. Most people are used to solely going on a chair lift, but there are some pretty decent runs off of the T-bar including a black diamond and many blue runs. The chair lift is also great, but didn’t open until 12:30pm on the weekday we were there.


What I like about Harper is the family atmosphere. We don’t feel pressured to bag as many runs as we can, but ski for about an hour or two, come in to warm up, visit and snack by one of two fireplaces, and then head out again. There is also night skiing which I’m excited to try and tubing which we’re going to do with a bunch of friends for sure this year. Downstairs are a bunch of cubbies where you can keep your lunch, boots and other gear, plus if you don’t want to pack a lunch, there’s a cafeteria where you can purchase hot dogs, burgers, fries and other bevies.  Harper Mountain is only 20 minutes from Kamloops, so even if you’re looking to do a half day, the cost and drive are reasonable and make it a good morning, afternoon (or all day) activity.

~ Awesome Aleece

Bring on the POW!

Well after a few days of what felt like arctic winter torture we are back to our balmy temperatures ranging from 0 to 5 degrees predicted for the weekend. Not only will it warm up but it will snow! This is great news for someone like me who has a countdown every week until Saturday when I can get up to the hill in hopes for some fresh tracks. Last weekend left us with 30cm of fresh powder to play in and this weekend is shaping up to be about the same!
Both Sun Peaks and Harper Mountain have lots of the white stuff for everyone to enjoy. For the familythats new to the sport and looking for a great family outing for a bit less of the green stuff check out Harper Mountain. For those of you who want a mountain resort feel with 5 chairs, 2 T-bars and a beginners carpet, head on up to Sun Peaks Resort.
So...I am going to share with you some of my favorite runs which always gets me in trouble with my friends because they want to keep them all to themselves…..but I’m going to tell you anyways!

Lets start with Harper Mountain. I grew up skiing at Harper and always loved Midway and kept left to hop onto Little Bend. These are both blue runs and have some excellent play on the sides where you can find some nice powder. There is a great tree run that falls in between Midway and Little Bend that brings you out at the bottom of Midway. You can see it on the map but it has no name.
Now for Sun Peaks, It's quite a big mountain and has a lot of secret spots that the locals try to keep secret. One of my favorites is off the Sundance Express. If you head down Homesteader and look to your left you will see tracks that head down through the trees. Its not too tight and seems to always have lots of powder. Another great run is Chute. It is a black diamond run so can be steep in parts. Head up the Sunburst Express then over to the Crystal Chair and follow the signs to the Chute. Keep left and you will find some good powder!
So, I hope this helps some of you who plan to come up for a family getaway to do some skiing or boarding. Maybe I will see you on the slopes!

 

Posted in Press Release, Events,

No Explosions This Time, Just BIG Science Centre Fun!

What kid (or big kid) doesn’t love science? Even if you don’t have a passion for science, I guarantee you’ll LOVE the BIG Little Science Centre as our family did.

The BIG Little Science Centre first opened its doors in February of 2000 by Gordon Gore, a retired science teacher who aims to teach science through interactive and hands on teaching. We were fortunate to have Mr. Gore do the ‘Science of Light and Colour’ show on the Saturday we went to the Centre. The Centre has been in a few locations in Kamloops but now is at its home in the George Hilliard School on Kamloops’ North Shore. When we first walked in, we were cheerily greeted by Susan Hammond who showed us where we could put our coats, where the washrooms were, told us what time the show started and encouraged us to check out the interactive displays.

We were treated to a show first where Mr. Gore showed various experiments with light and colour. Takes me back to my days of high school science classes, though this was much more fun enjoying the oohs and aahs from the crowd, with no test after either (best part). Kids ranged from 3 years of age to teens, and along with grandparents and parents, the show was appropriate and fun for all. Our 5 year old son Calum was chosen as a volunteer and enjoyed being a part of the experiment with light.

Next we went to explore the hands on experiments. There are three classrooms devoted to hands on experiments (140+) and I’d recommend giving yourself a good 2 hours to explore them all. There are volunteers on hand to explain what to do, but the kids had a great time figuring out for themselves what would happen and each station has clearly written instructions. From blowing MASSIVE bubbles, experimenting with magnets, screaming into a sound proof box and enjoying the many mirrors which warp and contort your face and body, our family loved it. The nice thing too, was that there is so much room, you don’t ever feel crowded or pushed to rush through the Centre. And it’s cost effective too. It was $10 for our family of 4 (2 kids and 2 adults). There are special presentations each Saturday at 1:30pm, and they typically theme them from the Science of Christmas: Santa’s Secrets, to other fun shows and demonstrations. Check out the Tourism Kamloops page for more information and enjoy the wonders of Science this year!

Until next time,

Awesome Aleece

 

How's the weather there?

"How's the weather there?"  This or variations of it ("some weather we're having eh?", "How about this weather", etc.) are often one of the first question your grandma, aunt, uncle, parents [insert any other person older than you] will ask on the phone or via email.  My step dad, Bruce, was notorious for asking this question... so much so, that it became a running joke amongst my friends and family.  If he answered when my friends called the house for me, they would be answering the question before he even asked!  You can imagine the humour my best friend (currently residing in London, UK)  found in it, when on Christmas Day we skyped and one of the first things I asked her about was the weather... she laughed and said "Did you really just 'Bruce' me?" I could only laugh too and think that I must be getting older myself.

Petersen Creek Park Mid-DecemberIn any case, this really is some weather we are having.  It seems as though almost every 2nd day is a record setting warm day.  Don't get me wrong - I love it.  As a resident of Kamloops, the lack of snow and ice is a welcome sight when driving to and from work and keeping the heat turned down has cut our gas bill.  Not to mention, I still have not had to purchase a new snowsuit and boots (which were on my list since October) and I have no muddy dog paws running through my house since it has been so dry.  However, as a tourism marketing organization... this lack of snow has been a pain in the butt!  I mean, we've positioned ourselves as a four season destination with tons of activities to do in each.  We've promoted that Kamloops has a wonderful winter wonderland where in just under 3.5 hours from the  Lower Mainland, you'd be in a land of fluffy white snow with winter activities galore.Maybe you would be surprised to know that we still are!  This 'hybird' winter/spring weather has opened up the door to a multitude of outdoor activities that can't normally be done together and now is your chance to get in while the gettin's good!

Ski & Golf in the same day?  No problem.  Mount Paul golf course is an executive 9 hole course that offers a challenge for both the experienced and new golfer.  At a par 32 and yardage of 2072, it is ideal for all ages. This little course is open weather permitting (and it has been...) so why not get in a round before heading up to Harper Mountain Ski Hill (20 mins from downtown Kamloops) or Sun Peaks Resort (45 mins from downtown Kamloops) for some afternoon runs in the soft powder our area is known for.  Or golf by day and ski by night since Harper Mountain has night skiing available.

Cross Country Ski & go for a Hike/Bike - This combo is a dog's dream!  Head out to Stake Lake Nordic Centre (15 mins from Kamloops) in the morning to cross country ski the 5KM of groomed dog-friendly runs and then head back Dog Friendly Cross Country Skiinginto town for lunch and a hike at Kenna Cartwright Park or Peterson Creek Park which are both full of a myriad of hiking and single track biking trails. Both happen to be off-leash, so Rufus will definately be pooped at the end of this day. With over 40 pet-friendly accommodation options and cross country ski rentals available at Spoke n' Motion - everything you need is in right here!

Dirt Biking & Ice Fishing - We recently heard of a long time local who went out dirt biking on New Year's Day for the first time in his life.  With numerous staging areas in Kamloops, hit the dirt and pair it with a trip to one of our 100+ local lakes.  Many of the higher elevated ones are frozen and ready to fish.

Row, row, row your boat and Snowshoe - On a sunny Janaury day, why not slip your kayak or paddle boat into the Thompson River, say hi to some of our seasonal Trumpeter Swans and follow it up with an afternoon of snowshoeing. Snowshoe rentals are available from Runner's Sole.

These are just to name a few.  Who knows how much longer we will have this warmer weather for so this is the time to come take advantage of these combos!  After a busy day outside, unwind at one of our local spas - Sunmore Ginseng Factory being the only of its kind in BC, check out a WHL Hockey Game, watch a Western Canada Theatre production or take in one of the amazing Kamloops Symphony performances.  Come experience all Kamloops has to offer and the next time someone 'Bruce's you' - you can tell them all about  the fun activities you did in this amazing weather!

Cheers,

Kamloops Kendel