In Search of Sunshine
Saturday morning, I told my hubby we needed a decent desk for the office. Currently I'm using a table covered by a computer, printer, office supplies, no keyboard tray and no room to work. I suggested we go to Costco. He balked at the idea.
"I don't want to go out," he said in a grumpy voice. I'd noticed my normally active and easy going hubby had been a little down and low key lately, spending most of his free time parked in front of the TV watching American and European football with the odd hockey game thrown in for variety. Though there were recent rumours of sunshine, the first few weeks of the New Year were mostly overcast, grey and even foggy for a couple of days. I diagnosed my hubby with the January Blahs and immediately went to my laptop to have a look at the Big White webcams.
For those of you who don't know, Big White is a ski hill about a forty minute drive from Kelowna out Highway 33. The internet showed sunshine and blue skies from all seven webcams on the mountain.
"Why don't we go up to Big White for lunch," I suggested, "We can take a walk around the hillside and then hit Costco on the way back." So we did.
Here's how things looked on the drive up just past noon. There's a lot more snow here compared to the patches of green in our yard back in the lower Mission.
As we traversed the mountain switchbacks, I began to worry that it might be cloudy at the top after all. People often say, "If it's cloudy in the valley, just go up the mountain and you'll find sun," but they also call Big White "Big Whiteout" because there the weather can bring in so much fog and low cloud they have to close the hill because you can't see where you're going.
As we reached the turn off we could see blue sky, but it seemed to be in the wrong direction. Oh well, I thought, at least we'll spend some time together and have a nice lunch.
We pulled into the busy parking lot, and walked past the skating rink, tossing hopeful glances over our shoulders as the cloud covered sun inched it's way towards the bright blue sky. By the time we walked the few metres to the gondola the sun was shining and we were all smiles.
Hubby made a friend on the trip up the mountain. Poor little guy was terrified and shivered the entire way.
We joined the mobs of skiers, snowboarders and hipsters in the village centre and had lunch at the newest restaurant: The Woods. Drinks were quite affordable and I had a glass of Banrock Station Cab Sav for $6.00 and hubby's Steamworks Pilsner was comparable. The meal was ok and overpriced. The service was terrible. It took almost an hour to get our food. Burgers and smokies were on offer by the fire outside and I'm thinking that might have been a better option. It was gorgeous outside with temperatures hovering above zero and I didn't need mittens or a hat.
After lunch we poked around the village, grabbed a coffee, chatted with a couple of friends we ran into and took the gondola back down to the Happy Valley Adventure Centre. I think I've been to Big White three times in the 18 years we've lived in Kelowna and when I was here, I came for the skiing, so I didn't know too much about the Adventure Centre. As I watched families playing in the snow, it brought me back to my childhood winters in Sioux Lookout and now I'm really looking forward to coming to visit friends here in February. Now the wheels are turning to figure out how to get my nine year old niece and her folks up here in the winter.
Here's the bunny hill. The people standing in line along the left are actually standing on their skis on a moving sidewalk that brings the kids up the hill. So much easier for the little ones than the old T-bar.
We watched a brave young Aussie named Nick make his way up the Ice Tower. Australian accents as common as Canadian up here, and most of them are heard in the voices of the staff. Our waiter, coffee server and the guy belaying in the photo above, were all Aussies.
Here's what I'd like to have been doing... spinning down the hill on an innertube. There are steeper runs to the right of this photo. You can see a line of tubes on either side of the hill here. It's people in tubes, hooked to a line that's pulling them up the hill. When I was a kid.....oh nevermind...
Besides downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, eating and drinking (there are 22 restaurants and coffee shops on the mountain), there's lots more to do here. There are cross country ski trails, hiking trails, and snow shoe trails that allow dogs on leash. There's snow mobiling (kids size snowmobiles too!) , dog sled rides and horse drawn sleigh rides. Pretty much every winter sport the average person can do is available here. You can come up for the day or find a condo or hotel room to rent online. Many of them have private hot tubs!
Stay tuned for future photos as I guarantee we'll return this winter, maybe more than once!