July 30, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Valemount, River Rafting
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I went white water rafting the other day. In fact, all of us at the visitor centre did. I had never been rafting before, and I was unsure what to expect. I guess I hadn't been expecting much, because I arrived in the location not far from Valemount on Highway 16 thinking we would just pop into an inflatable raft and take a ride down some rough water. Then the guides lined us up to get wetsuits and helmets. Then we went through the 15 minute safety briefing where they mentioned the waterfall.
"Oh", I thought as we sat on the ancient school bus ferrying us to the launch point, "this might be worth blogging about after all!"
It certainly was. The river was framed by beautiful forest, beyond which the Rocky Mountains scraped the sky like so many sharp flint tools. As we drifted down the calm first section of the river, Mount Robson made a magnificent photo opportunity as it stood framed by trees and rushing water. I didn't have long to lament having left my camera behind though, as we started getting into the first set of rapids. Paddling like mad, the raft burst over the waves and we were splashed by the fresh mountain water. We portaged around a waterfall and shot through more rapids. at the end we hit calm water, and we all went for a swim in the cold river until we hauled each other back into the raft to paddle in to shore. It was an exhilarating experience, and I am very glad I had the opportunity to do it. It was so good, in fact, that I may want to go again soon. If you are headed out that way, plan for a few hours of extra time and check out white water rafting in the Robson Valley. Make sure you bring a waterproof camera though!
July 30, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Prince George, Professional & Spectator Sports
With a title like this, you can probably imagine what this post is about. No, it isn't about how to cook meals on your exhaust manifold. On Friday I went to the Northland Dodge Motorsport Park. I picked up my friend, we grabbed some cheap pizza, and drove out to the long ribbon of arrow-straight asphalt northwest of town. I have never been out to an automotive race before, and it was an amazing treat. We saw a vast array of vehicles tearing down the 1/4 mile during the night, from a stock Ford Fusion to a blisteringly fast AMC Gremlin to a few motorcycles and a snowmobile that could top 200 kilometres per hour. The atmosphere was relaxed as we sat on the bleachers with our greasy pizza and laughed when some engine piece shot through the hood of a Mustang or plugged our ears while the top fuel drag cars shot off the line. It is a great price for a few hours of entertainment, and if you like the sight of a classic muscle car doing burnouts, take an evening and go check it out!
July 22, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Prince George, Theatre & Performing Arts
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Last night I decided to go with a friend to the drive-in movie theatre just west of Prince George. I know. It hardly sounds like blog-worthy material. Bear with me though, because there is something to be gained from knowing that there is a drive-in here. Firstly, the Park Drive-in Theatre in Prince George is, according to their website, one of only three remaining in the province. It is also one of the most northerly in the world. The rarity of such a treat may be lost on younger people who automatically associate watching a movie in a car with a built in media centre, but for those who are old enough to know who Ziggy Stardust is, it may come as a surprise. Indeed, the day where drive-in theatres were packed every weekend with old cars filled with teens eager to see the latest Dirty Harry installment is long gone, killed by cheap video rentals and movie channels and, more recently, internet video downloads. So why did I even bother going last night, when it would be easier to stay home?
1. Sitting on the couch is boring and people do that too much anyway.
2. It is cheap entertainment, with $9 getting you a double feature where at a regular theatre it would cost more for a single movie.
3. Your car can hold significantly more snacks than you could ever sneak into the regular theatre, and you don't have to fight for cup holders.
4. You can adjust the volume on your car radio yourself rather than having your ears bleeding after a loud action scene, or being frustrated because you can't hear the actors talking.
5. The screen is approximately 263 thousand times larger than any flat screen TV you could afford or fit into your house.
6. you can laugh and make as many inane comments as you want, because nobody can hear you through the glass.
If you have not yet been to the drive-in, you really don't know what you are missing. Go see the latest sci-fi, or laugh your way through the most recent animated comedy. Just remember to start the engine every once in a while, or your battery will go flat like ours did and you will need to get a jump!
July 14, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Prince George, Food or Wine
I have, as a rule, been woefully inexperienced when it comes to tasting food from local restaurants. I am, in fact, one of those people who consider instant macaroni and cheese to be a food group in itself. While those reading this who are more experienced in food tasting are probably horrified at that thought, I do count myself to be a fairly good judge of restaurants despite this. As a treat for my recent birthday, I went first to the local lunch spot Sassafras Savouries, then to Hummus Brothers for fine dining, and finally to CIMO a few days later.
Three restaurants in one week?!? I was in heaven.
Sassarfas, to begin with, is the kind of place that you could walk past four or five times without even bothering to look into. However, if you have heard the name from anyone who has been there, your interest may be piqued instantly. Its reputation precedes like it, and what a reputation it is. Tucked under the Travelodge downtown, the place is absolutely spotless and the service fantastic. I had a chicken curry hot pot, and my friend had a panino (panini is plural, according to their menu). It was so amazing that I couldn't even carry a conversation because I was lost in the throes of gastronomic delight. And the prices were very reasonable, to boot.
Hummus Brothers was not to dissapoint either. I was determined to get some hummus the moment I walked in the door, and I was expecting it to be nothing short of amazing since it was part of the posh downtown restaurant's name. Perhaps it was a bad idea to order it, in fact, because it ended up being so good that I kept eating hummus instead of the beautifully prepared salmon and tender artichoke hearts.
Cimo, a Mediterranean place also downtown, kept up the delicious trend. I would launch into further analysis of the decor, the pairing of main courses and sides, and great service in each establishment, but this is not a food critic blog and I am not entirely sure how to spell some of the things I ordered.
Besides, the water is already boiling for my maceroni.
So, next time you are downtown, stop wherever your nose leads you. The local restaurants of Prince George are sure to satisfy your hunger for great food.
July 14, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Prince George, Bear Watching
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In Prince George, one of the most common questions visitors ask is "where do we go to view the wildlife?" Unlike in some parts of the world, where such a question is important to ask because wildlife may be isolated to pockets of protected areas, in northern BC it is a difficult one to answer. "Everywhere" is a bit of an oversimplified answer, but it is hard to think of anything else in a place so wild and open. To illustrate how common wildlife sightings are, this week I encountered a bear while bicycling, and just before that I saw two moose along the side of the road. Both incidents were very close to the city. In the newspaper it was even reported that a lost moose calf curled up for the night on a local doorstep right in town! For the purposes of most travellers, the best place to look is on the side of the road, along the ditches. Dusk is when moose are most active, so they are commonly seen then. Many visitors have been very pleasantly surprised by what they have seen. Some families have reported seeing a half dozen bear in one day alone! That said, it is largely a case of luck, and it is possible that on a whole roadtrip you may see a deer and some cows in a field (not that cows aren't bad, but something about them standing there chewing grass just doesn't scream "majestic").
The downside of all these wonders of nature surrounding us? Be careful. Wildlife are truly wild animals, and should be treated with care. Never approach a bear or moose, make lots of noise while hiking to announce yourself to animals, and be vigilant while driving in case anything darts out anto the road. For additional information about how to keep safe while viewing wildlife, visit a visitor centre or ask at guide outfitting stores.
Hopefully, armed with information, you too can have a safe and exciting trip viewing some of the beautiful animals of our province!