There are few things more incredible on my list of Incredible Things than a good old fashioned road-trip. Nothing quite beats hours spent cramped up in a tiny space, walled up between backpacks and snowboards and costco-sized bags of cheetos. Throw in a good friend or two, some tunes from your teenage years and a basic idea of where you’d like to end up, and you’ve got a nice little adventure on your hands.
It’s been years since I’ve been on a real, bonafide road-trip. The reason being that I’ve been lacking that certain requirement that most road-trips necessitate. A car.
Now that I’m back in Canada, however, I’ve got the car. Believe it or not, I’ve got a couple friends, too. And since my friends are of the awesome variety, they’re keen to wall themselves up in a moving vehicle with me for an undisclosed period of time.
I set foot on Canadian soil on December 20th, the definition of broke and without a job. It wasn’t two days before a good friend of mine invited me to Big White.
Now, I’ve never been to Big White. It’s one of those local-ish mountains that I’ve never had the opportunity to visit. That being said, I still didn’t have any money.
“You have to come!”
“When was the last time we went roadtripping? C’mon. It’s not like you have a job or anything.”
Ha ha, shut up. “I can’t.”
“Well, let me know ok? You won’t have to pay for gas because I’d be going anyway. And there’s four of us sharing a room, so the hotel won’t be too expensive.”
As much as I wanted to go (it’s been a long time since I snowboarded in Canada), I dismissed the thought on the basis of money. You don’t have any money. You need a job, you hobo. “Not looking good,” I told a disappointed Joanne.
Christmas came and went. On January 3rd, Joanne calls. “You in or out?”
“Can’t do it.”
Silence. And then, “Please?”
I’m so predictable. “FINE.”
And so it was done. On the morning of January 4th, Joanne pulls into my driveway. I throw my snowboard, some random clothes and a bunch of swear words into the car, and squish myself into the passenger seat beside a beaming friend. “You’re buying me a coffee,” I growl.
Turns out it was one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on – and in my own country, nonetheless. We drove to Kelowna, picked up a toque and some goggles and moseyed on up to Big White. At night. In the dark. And it wasn’t not scary.
We spent a couple of incredible days and nights in Big White. My first time on the mountain, I was impressed with the location of the hotel in relation to the slopes (we stayed at Chateau Big White), the magnitude of available runs, the presence of night riding, and the overpriced lift tickets (I’m going to complain about anything expensive, just deal with it ok). I was also impressed with the quality of our company (top notch!), and the stumbling distance to Snowshoe Sam’s (try saying that six times fast after 6 pints).
When our wonderful weekend came to a reluctant close, we said goodbye to those people in our lives with normal jobs and normal schedules, and moseyed on over to Kicking Horse in Golden, BC with our non-normal anythings. We had another friend for this portion of our road-tripping jaunt, and not any friend, but a friend with connections. He may or may not have arranged for us to obtain “Founders Passes” for riding the hill and he may or may not have organized for us to stay in what may or may not have been the owner of the mountain’s private chalet. I will never admit to any of this, any of these things that didn’t happen, so don’t even bother asking.
The drive over Rogers Pass was top three for most terrifying drives of my life. It’s a good thing Dave was playing screemo music at maximum volume because the snow-and-ice-covered road and zero visibility definitely weren’t terrifying enough.
“If I were to guess, I would say the centre line is somewhere to my left…”
“I… think… we’re still on the road?”
“Oh. That’s… not my side.”
When we finally made it over the Pass and into Golden, we got lost (of course we did). We were blindly following GPS like a trio of total ritards (yes, ritards) as it led us into the deep dark forest with all the deep dark trees. We followed that road right until it ended in a locked metal gate under the judgmental, centuries old pine trees at the eleventh hour on some idle Monday.
It took us forty-five minutes to get out. It took us forty-five minutes and the rest of our cheeto crumbs. It took us forty-five minutes and the rest of our cheeto crumbs and at least thirteen more screemo songs before we found the chalet.
Which turned out to be the creepiest chalet ever to exist on the eleventh hour on an idle Monday. I’m talking keys in weird places. Doors that don’t lock. And so many rooms that I felt like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
And the morning sunrise was so pretty I wanted to eat it.
Now, I’ve got to say… Kicking Horse is maybe the best mountain I’ve ever strapped a board to my feet and shimmied down. It is definitely my favourite mountain in the interior. The weather might have helped. I’m talking gorgeous sunshine, fresh powder (they aren’t kidding when they call it the champagne powder capital), free admission and no lineups. Pancakes and maple syrup and chocolate cookies probably helped, too. And once we learned how to lock the chalet’s doors (stupid German locks), work the sound-system and turn on the sauna, even el-creepo chalet started to warm up to us.
The verdict? BC’s interior offers some incredible mountains. If you can survive the drive up there (maybe don’t do it at night during a snowstorm), the payoff is unreal. So if you haven’t been… go. :)
On the way home, we stopped for perogies in the most delicious perogie joint in all of British Columbia: Cecil’s Perogies. It’s in Kelowna, and it’s most definitely worth a visit if you happen to be passing through. Just have a look at these monsters!
Is there really anything better than a good road trip?
Who knew home could be so awesome? :)