July 12, 2006 | Tips from Us >
The kids and I woke up last Saturday to a beautiful sunny day, and decided to go on a spontaneous overnight camping trip. Knowing that many of the BC Parks camping grounds would be full, we headed out on one of the logging roads just north of Squamish
, and camped for free along the Squamish River. We drove past our usual camping locale and, lucky for us, found a campers dream come true – a perfect spot equipped with leftover firewood, a raised fire pit, easy access to the glacial-fed river and its sandbars, complete privacy, and a mountain view of two receding glaciers complete with waterfalls. Not bad for a 2 ½ hour drive from Vancouver (not counting the stop in Squamish to watch rock-climbing on the Chief and to fill our cooler with marshmallows, popcorn, hot dogs, ketchup, hot chocolate, and other mandatory camping fare).
Camping along B.C.’s logging roads doesn’t require a 4x4 – our little Mazda Protégé did just fine going 60 km/hour on the relatively smooth gravel road (I was pretending I was on a road rally!). Ironically, I got a flat tire on the newly paved highway on the way to Squamish (putting on spare and mandatory stop at Canadian Tire also not counted in our 2 ½ hour timecount… and thank you to the two cars who stopped to help), and yet made it through 40 miles of logging road unscathed. Check out this link for more info on free camping in B.C
If you are interested in seeing the mountains and glaciers on-the-move, the Squamish River has also become quite the hot spot for river rafting
. We saw four expeditions heading to the river as we were heading home.
July 12, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Victoria - Dining
That was the question Sunday morning after Canada Day. We chose to benny, and by this I mean indulge in heart-stopping eggs benedict for breakfast. I am a big fan of breakfast, and when I travel I like to eat in unique, greasy-spoon joints. You know the place I mean – long line-ups, stuff on the walls, old music and an endless flow of coffee being poured by a woman who calls you “honey.” In the case of our Canada Day weekend trip to Victoria
, we found two delightful diners.
The first day we stopped at John’s Place
. The lineup was 20 minutes long, the walls were filled with celebrity (and not-so-celebrity) pictures, posters of rock stars and sports memorabilia, and the music stuck with us for the rest of the day. The waitress kept filling our coffee cups even though we said we had enough… a few times. She addressed us as “daahh-lings.” My veggie benny was $8.95, came with a heaping mound of hash browns, and could have used a bit more hollandaise sauce, but really, isn't that a given?
Superman, Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe all grace the menu at our second-day stop, Floyd’s Place. The building is appropriately painted pink. My stomach couldn’t take another benny, so I ordered the $3.95 traditional – eggs, hash browns and toast – which also came with a heaping mound of seasoned oh-so-yummy carbs. Floyd’s has a sunny outdoor patio and the inside is comfortably decorated with deep couches, bright walls and a lively fish tank for the kids. I dare you to order the Mahoney – you get what the kitchen prepares and you can either pay the original price or flip them for it – double or nothing! No lineup that day and located at the corner of Pandora and Yates.
June 30, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Powell River, Sightseeing Tours
Find more information about Powell River - Sightseeing Tours
A word of advice - while visiting small islands, teeny towns and remote parts of British Columbia, be sure to bring extra food with you, just in case.
Just as an example, my husband and I kayaked to and around Savary Island
last weekend, and despite much research and preparation, including talking to locals and checking websites, it was not until we landed on shore that we were informed the one general store was not yet open for the summer season. (Did I mention this was June 25?) Also, one of the two local restaurants did not open on Sundays (which we knew) and the other was closed on Sunday nights beyond 6 pm. This last bit we didn’t know until Sunday night because the waitress told us earlier they would be open as long as people were there, which unfortunately was not true. In fact, earlier in the day she had offered to set aside an order of BBQ ribs for my husband, to ensure they wouldn’t sell out before we arrived for dinner. When we got there at 6:30 the pub was still busy, but they informed us the kitchen had closed at 6:00. Hmmm....
Fortunately for us we were staying at a B&B and the gracious hostess offered us leftovers from her dinner party. Shameless plug here for the Savary Island Lodge – Jean is wonderful and the beachfront view from her home is more than worth the trip.
Despite our minor culinary setback, we loved our trip and I highly recommend Savary to anyone. It is an idyllic island completely surrounded by white-sand beaches, located at the south entrance to Desolation Sound
. Overall, a great destination for kayaking and hanging on the beach. Just bring a bit of emergency food to ensure you can leave the island without a bad taste in your mouth.
June 27, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Lytton - Attractions
I just read about this and although it sounds kinda kooky, it could be a unique way to spend Canada Day. Hell’s Gate Airtram
in the Fraser Canyon is celebrating Canada Day (this Saturday, July 1st) by breaking their world record of 230 flavours of fudge on site at one time in the Fudge Factory. Sounds like there will be free samples of gooey goodness...
June 22, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Prince Rupert, Dining
Find more information about Prince Rupert - Dining
When asked what makes his freshly-made-at-the-table Caesar salad better than all the rest, Luke replied, “There isn’t a waiter in the world that doesn’t think theirs is the best. They’re all wrong – mine is.” I was dining at the Masthead
restaurant in Cowichan Bay with a bunch of friends, and a few bottles of wine. Turns out Luke’s Caesar has a bit too much anchovy for me, but combined with a local Pinot Gris, I wasn’t complaining. We took turns guessing which movie the pianist was playing his songs from. Was that from a Ginger Rogers movie or Fred Astaire? Ah... Sahara.
More than a few of us commented on how nice it was to get such fine dining in a small town.
June 20, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Duncan - Museums
If you have read any of my previous entries, you will know I am a big fan of small museums. I walked into another unique one a few weeks ago in Cowichan Bay. I was actually trying to go for a stroll down one of the main piers, but as it turns out the pier is actually the museum.
As I walked down the pier, I entered a series of covered sheds (like small covered bridges). As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so click here
to check it out.
One of the sheds is set up for kids to build their own toy boat to take home. In another shed, I particularly liked the Johnson Outboard motor from 1947 that was on display – very retro chic in a maritime sort of way. At the end of the pier, there is a pavilion that currently exhibits over 30 hand-made miniature boats.
The maritime centre also restores old boats and offers boatbuilding shops, which are held in the onshore workshop. Inside, the smell of freshly carved wood hit me like a winter gale in open water. There, I met Herb Rice, a resident Coast Salish Artist, who was carving elaborate doors for a private home. Cowichan Bay is located on Vancouver Island
, just south of Duncan
June 17, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Atlin, Backcountry Skiing
First, let me apologize for not writing about this months ago, when you could have hopped on a plane and land in Northern BC
immediately. But, perhaps a winter story in summer isn't such a bad idea - it might help cool things down a bit on these hot, almost summer days we seem to be experiencing (yes, I am bragging - it has been tank-top weather here lately). I was flying to the Yukon in March and happened to be sitting by a group of travelers from Switzerland. Turns out they were all heading to Atlin
, (which just so happens to be known as the "Little Switzerland of the North," as I just read on our website) for some spring heli-skiing. They were all decked out in high-end branded downhill ski clothing, i.e., Volkl, and looked like quite sleek and serious skiers (as opposed to baggy-clothed, laid-back boarders). I must admit, it seemed a bit odd to me to see an elite bunch from Switzerland, land of world-famous skiing, head to the most northern point in British Columbia for some snow. I confess that until that day I knew very little about Atlin and their corner of the world. Anyhow, when our plane flew over Atlin, every passenger looked out the window. The view was spectacular. Puffy, white mountains stretched out. Glaciers bounced sunlight right back at us. Snow, snow and more snow. The plane was silent except for oohs and aahhhs. The guy sitting next to me said, "This is a once in the lifetime trip for me, I have always wanted to come here." Looking out at the view, I could definitely understand. In fact, I was half ready to don a pair of expensive sunglasses and join their crew. And now, I suppose, if you so feel inclined, you have all summer and another nine months to plan your trip there too - and save all your pennies. And then, perhaps next winter while you are sipping an apres-ski drink, I will write an
June 05, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Campbell River, Museums
Find more information about Campbell River - Museums
Although I appreciate both, I prefer hands-on exhibits to formal, hushed galleries. And when I entered the Museum at Campbell River
I was fascinated with the touchy-feely texture and layout of the award-winning exhibit, which is themed around the Northwest First Nations 9,000 year history in the area, with spotlights on the logging and fishing industries.
My family and I started our visit by entering a small, dim lit theatre where a First Nations story was told through a multitude of elaborately carved wooden masks. The Treasures of Siwidi, a story owned by the Kwakwaka'wakw families (I love that name), tells the journey of a young man to the Undersea World where he encountered a host of supernatural creatures.
The rest of the museum is filled with First Nation artifacts and poles, a cross-section of a felled tree, the life size replica of a 1920’s pioneer floathome, a replicated hotel lobby, rowboats, gillnets, tuna cans and more - each room demanding more and more of our curiousity. My four-year-old spent time driving an antique logging truck while my eleven-year-old practiced netting cod, pumping water and ringing the camp dinner bell (the other visitors laughed at all the noise, not something you typically see while taking two loud and rambunctious kids through a museum). Things quieted down a bit as we settled into the art deco theatre to watch historic film footage of the famous explosion of Ripple Rock.
Overall, a highlight of our trip, something not to be missed.
June 02, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Vancouver, Boating & Sailing
Find more information about Vancouver - Boating & Sailing
I love being outside in Vancouver
in the summertime, especially since my office is about a five minute walk to the waterfront. Last summer, as I was strolling along Coal Harbour, I noticed a boat rental sign. Well… as you can imagine, it didn’t take long to organize a lunchtime boat ride for a few friends. Four of us grabbed hot dogs from a street vendor and boarded our speed boat. Maximum speed in the harbour is S-L-O-W, so we had lots of time to watch float planes, sailboats, cruiseships and Stanley Park go by, although it didn't take long to get beyond the marker and let loose at full throttle.
Within one hour, we roared under the Lions Gate Bridge, zoomed across the inlet to West Vancouver
(nice waterfront mansions to ogle over), zipped up to Lighthouse Park
and flew back again to Coal Harbour. We came back a little “soar” from jumping the waves (WAY too much fun!) and our bellies hurt from laughing. Definitely a perfect way to enjoy a sunny day.
We rented our boat from Coal Harbour Boat Rentals (Telephone 604-682-6257) for $55 per hour, but they do have a smaller one for $30 per h our. Other boat rentals in the Greater Vancouver area include Sewell’s Marina
in Horseshoe Bay (boot over to Bowen Island) and Bonnie Lee Boat Rentals
in Granville Island.
May 12, 2006 | Tips from Us >
Find more information about Vancouver - Dining
I am not a huge fan of oysters, but I’m game to throw one back every now and then - as long as you shove it in a shooter glass full of spicy-something or another with vim and vinegar added in for good measure. That being said, I happened to run into Rodney’s Oyster House
as part of a scavenger hunt yesterday, and I think I may have been instantly converted into one of those obsessed slurpers I keep bumping into.
While I have never been to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard, I would expect Rodney’s would fit in there just swell, with white-washed wood, hand-painted driftwood signs, hanging buoys and …er, hanging around beach-bum-looking-boys.
Here are two tips I picked up for you. 1. Happy hour is from four to six with oysters for a buck a shuck. 2. In the summertime Rodney (I assume he hangs out there too somewhere) opens up a garden patio for picnics -Wednesday through Saturday 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM (weather permitting). Rodney’s is located in Yaletown