Exploring a new side of Tofino

It is no secret that I love Tofino. In fact, I think I have been quoted saying “it’s my favourite place in the world”. I can’t even count the amount of times I have been there and every time I go I discover something new. So you can imagine my excitement when my first post pandemic trip was going to be to Tofino. You can imagine my excitement even more so when I was going to be staying at a new location, the Tofino Resort and Marina.

What I loved about the Tofino Marina Resort

I have been very lucky to stay at some gorgeous lodges in Tofino, but one downside is they were always so far away from town. Tofino Resort and Marina is located just a 5 minute walk into town, so you can go for dinner and drinks and get home safely. I also loved that you don’t really have to leave the resort to have an amazing experience. The world class restaurant 1909 is right on the property and all the adventures we took started at the marina just steps from our door.

Day 1: Unique Hikes

 

Like I said this was exploring a completely new side of Tofino and so no surfboards but definite beach visits. In fact the hike I was told I was doing was called the “West Coast Facial” where we would find some spots on the beach to feel the ocean spray.

Tofino Resort and Marina partners with Long Beach Nature Tours for hiking adventures and we were taken on a custom tour starting at one of the trail head entrances to Pacific Rim National Park. I had done a few hikes through parts of the park before, but I had never been fully emerged in it. It was incredible to see and smell the giant old growth cedar trees. After about 6km the trees opened up and unveiled a beautiful beach. We had made it to Florencia Bay, and guess what we were the only ones there (quite the contrast to the usually packed Tofino Beaches). We walked along the sand for a while taking in the fresh ocean sent before we dipped back into the forest to make our way to a different beach look at point at Wickaninnish Beach – equally beautiful and equally as quiet.

We ended the day with a delicious dinner at 1909.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/videos/gallery/what-is-a-west-coast-facial-this-bc-hike-ends-with-a-unique-skin-treatment/5802443041001/6264187909001/forecasts

Day 2: Ocean adventures

We got up and made our way to the marina for a full day of adventure on the open water. We were going for a true West Coast Safari of sorts, keeping our eyes peeled for the BC big 5: Orcas, gray whales, bears, sea lions, and seals. Before we even really left the marina we first laid a crab trap (which we would get later for dinner). Not long into our trip, we heard the best news on the radio, orcas nearby. We made our way out to where they were spotted and at first noticed the spray followed by a gorgeous killer whale emerging from the waters. It was a whole family of them out for a hunt. While I always love seeing orcas, I was most impressed with how up close and personal we got with some steller sea lions. It was quite easy to tell the dominant male in this bunch. We drove by some cute otters rafting, some seals bopping their heads up to say hello, and saw the distant spray of a grey whale. Oh and from the shore we did see a black bear – crossed everything off our list. Then it was time to come back and feast on our tasty crab.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/videos/gallery/from-sea-lions-to-orcas-set-sail-and-explore-bcs-incredible-wildlife/5802443041001/6264894763001/forecasts

Like I said this was a very different Tofino experience then what I have done in the past. Less relaxing on a beach and more adventure and exploring and I feel like that is what Tofino Resort and Marina is all about. You can find out more about their tours on their website.

 

I am already planning my next trip to Tofino because this place never gets old.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia

Best B.C. getaways this summer: Okanagan road trip

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and we just aired our Spring Forecast at the Weather Network. This can only mean one thing, summer is right around the corner.

I know for many people this has been a long, hard, and dark winter and while the rules and regulations for the summer are still uncertain, there has been a lot of initial whispers that it will be similar to last summer. In B.C. last summer a six person bubble was acceptable and you were allowed to travel inter provincially.

Now, I am by no means saying go ahead and book that getaway until we know exactly what the summer will look like, but if we are allowed to explore some of B.C. I wanted to share some of my favourite trips with you.

I have always been a big fan of the Okanagan (wine country hellllllooooo) but last summer for work I was able to discover a lot more than just delicious Okanagan wine. Think of Tuscany, but just 5ish hours outside of Vancouver. Rolling hills, mountains, and yes rows of green and purple grapes. It is an amazing place to explore, and one great aspect of this road trip: along the way there you travel through the ‘Electric Highway’ where there are hundreds of electric vehicle charing stations so it can be a great getaway that is also not hurting the environment.

I wanted to share some of my favourite places to stop and enjoy along the way.

Stop 1: Osoyoos

Osoyoos is the southern most town in the Okanagan Valley. The origin of the name comes from “soo-yoos” meaning “narrow waters”. Here you will find a dramatic desert like landscape with sweeping valleys and deep brown mountains.

Things to do 

My first stop in Osoyoos was to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre where I had a tour of the state of the art interpretive centre. The tour took his to the edge of the hill side, stopping to marvel at the sage and deer brush (which is endangered). My amazing guide Jenna taught me all about how the Osoyoos Indian Band use the land here. Different trees are used for tools and clothes, different leaves are used for food and herbs. It was truly amazing to learn about the connection to wildlife first hand. While I am petrified of snakes, this area is also home to B.C.’s endangered rattlesnakes and they do a lot of studying and rehabilitation at the centre.

Once the tour was done I made my way over to the Nk’Mip Cellars. This is actually the first Indigenous owned winery in North America. It was amazing to hear about the history and the story behind the award winning wine. I had a chance to sip some of the wines while overlooking the beautiful Osoyoos Lake.

Stop #2 Vernon

After exploring Osoyoos, I hoped back on Highway 97 heading north towards Vernon. Vernon is well known for hiking and biking trails that curve around colourful lakes and sandy beaches. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Things to do 

Before making it to my hotel I made a quick stop at Davison Orchards. I have never seen an orchard so big. They had endless rows of all different types of apples and other fruits. I had a chance to try their famous “Appleanche” Slush. It was sweet and refreshing on a hot day.

Next I rented a bike from Kalavida Surf Shop and decided to explore some of the famous Rail Trail. The Rail Trail is a bike path that goes all the way from Vernon to Kelowna passing through beautiful rock faces and gorgeous lakes. At the start of the trail you bike along Kalmalka Lake. This 16 km lake is famous for its blue-green waters (it is one of a small handful of marl lakes in Canada). You could actually see the different tones as you traveled along the side of the lake. I just wish I had brought my bathing suit because there were some sandy beaches just off the trail.

Stop #3 Kamloops

After riding the bike it was back to the car for the third and final stop of the trip. I had only ever been to Kamloops once before and that was to cover a wildfire in the area, so I was excited to discover a different side of this city.

Kamloops is pretty unique because it is located in the middle of two branches of the Thompson River. What I didn’t know though is it is also home to amazing mountains and breathtaking hikes.

Things to do 

I had a chance to meet with local guide Frank Ritchie, who first took me to a beautiful lookout point to see where the two parts of the river meet. After that we made our way to the Thompson Grasslands Provincial Park. Here we did a moderate hike up Lac Du Bois to see some incredible hoodoo formations as well as columnar basalts (aka lava flows). We even saw mountain goats in the distance. After taking some pictures of the incredible hoodoos, we then made our way over to the Garden of the Trolls. An easy stroll, through some grass patches and then boom – all of a sudden these giant rock formations that look like trolls faces appear out of nowhere. Some of them standing 20 feet high. I had a chance to climb to the top of one of them for some spectacular views.

I must say I really enjoyed this trip. As a weather reporter I usually head out to this region as I mentioned for wildfires, but this trip opened my eyes to a whole different side of the Okanagan. It is home to some stunning lakes and breathtaking hikes. I cannot wait to go back and discover more of B.C.’s wine country (and so much more).

I would love to hear some of your favourite summer getaways around B.C. so we can dream of exploring again.

xo

Mia

What it is like to see a grizzly up close and personal with Adventure Quest

One of the things I love most about BC is the natural beauty and endless wildlife. From the mountains to the ocean you can find whales, seals, elk, black bears, and grizzlies to name a few. While we have some neighbourhood black bears, I have always been a little afraid of grizzlies and never really wanted to get close to them.

That was until my dad (who happens to be a National Geographic photographer) told me about the Grizzly Bear Adventure with Adventure Quest Canada and Homalco Adventure and Wildlife Tours. He described it as a bucket list experience and so I definitely wanted to find out more.

I found out that not only do you get up close and (safely) personal with the bears, you also get to learn about these amazing animals in their natural habitat and learn about the first nation reserve that they live on, and to say the least it is a bucket list experience that I want to share more with you.

 

Getting here

The tour starts in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. I am not going to lie, it is a bit of a treck to get here from Vancouver. You can either fly or take a BC ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drive about two hours. I decided to do the later because I always have a great experience with the ferry. It is a  comfortable journey and I can take my car with me so I don’t have to worry about transportation on the other side. Another bonus is they have great food on board, and you never know what you might see. I have spotted whales several times from the ferry deck.

Where to stay

Campbell River is a small town and I absolutely love exploring some of the local spots when visiting a quaint area. I decided to stay at one of the local spots, Painters Lodge. The beautiful lodge is located right on the ocean and I was lucky enough to have a room overlooking the water. The room had a large balcony so I could sit outside with my morning coffee and keep my eye peeled for orcas in the distance (staff told me it is pretty magical when they swim by). I also loved the downstairs restaurant. The food and drinks were delicious, the staff was so friendly, and there were beautiful ocean views. I loved the lodge because it had a very comfortable vibe.

The tour 

The tour started at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. The tour starts with a two hour boat ride from the Island to the mainland, Bute Inlet. Along the way we saw two humpbacks eating and another three sleeping. It was pretty neat since I have never seen whales sleeping before. We also spotted some stellar sea lions and seals out for a morning swimming.

 

Once we arrived at Bute Inlet and Hamalco First Nations land we met with our guides Tony and Koji from the Homalco First Nations. They greeted us with a traditional welcome and went over some safety tips. Then we were off on our adventure.

There were several different viewing towers that wrapped around two different rivers. The reason this is such a popular spot for the grizzlies is because of the annual salmon run and a lot of the bears are trying to eat as much salmon as possible before they go into hibernation in November.

It didn’t take long for us to spot our first bear. At the first tower we stopped at we came across a big male relaxing in the distance. I was already in awe of these amazing animals.

After driving around for a little longer we came across another fully grown female sleeping by a tree. She was honestly no more than 20 meters from us. She sniffed around (smell is their best sense) and once she realized we were no threat, she continued with her nap. It was amazing to see that the bears weren’t the killers a lot of people make them out to be, and while they are more aggressive than black bears, they will only really attack if they feel threatened.

At the next viewing tower we didn’t come across any bears but we did get to see the bears favourite lunch meal, salmon. Just below our viewing deck were about 10 giant salmon swimming upstream getting ready to spawn. I have honestly never seen such large fish in my life.

Our last stop of the day was the most spectacular. We weren’t in a tower but out in the open and the only thing separating us from the grizzlies was the river. First we saw a female bear eating a salmon. Moments later, she went back into the water and we had a chance to watch her fish for a salmon and take it back to the shore for lunch. You could hear the crunch sounds of the bear chowing down on the fish. It was incredible.

Moments later we noticed another bear heading over, closely followed by an adorable nine month old cub. I couldn’t believe how adorable the fluffy baby was and it was amazing to see how protective the mother was of her cub. She crossed the river to check us out and got really close before going back to her cub and trying to find food for the both of them. I still cannot believe the beauty of the bears and seeing them in their natural habitat was so special.

After two hours with the bears, it was time to head back to the boat and make our way back to Campbell River. Along the way we were lucky enough to be treated to a show from a lone male orca. He breached twice and was doing some flips along the water. I have never seen an orca act like that before.

Alas it was time for the tour to come to an end but I still cannot get over how lucky we were. From spotting humpbacks, to orcas, and then having a chance to get so close to he bears and learning more about them and their habitat was a really amazing and unforgettable experience. You can find out more about the tour and experience here.

I also wanted to share some more pictures with you. All of them were shot on my new Nikon Z.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

A three day itinerary in Cranbook B.C.

I am so lucky that I have had the chance lately to explore more of the beautiful province of B.C. My most recent trip took me out to Cranbrook. Cranbrook is located on the west side of the Kootenay River. It is nestled in the open valley between the beautiful Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. Basically, you are surrounded by towering, beautiful mountain ranges.

The beauty of Cranbrook was evident before I even landed on the ground. I could see the peaks of the mountains through the clouds from the airplane. I landed at the Canadian Rockies International Airport, a short 20 minute drive to downtown Cranbrook and just minutes from Powder Highway. Powder Highway has become famous because of how it makes so many large ski resorts easily accessible.

I had three days exploring the beauty of this small city, learning about the local culture, and tasting some of the delicious food and local brews. I really fell in love with Cranbrook and wanted to share my trip itinerary with you so that hopefully you too will have a chance to fall in love with this beautiful spot.

A weekend itinerary in Cranbrook 

Day 1: Cultural learning experiences and brewery tours

 

Ktunuxa Learning Centre

Once I landed in Cranbrook it was straight to St. Eugene’s Resort and Casino. As we pulled up to the building I was mesmerized by the beautiful red brick contrasting with the deep brown tree vines that hugged it from all angles.

Inside we had a delicious lunch, and then I had a chance to meet with Margoret and Jared, who run the Ktunuxa Learning Centre. I had the chance to learn their Creation Story, look over old artifacts, and even learn how to make moccasins.

What impressed me the most though, was hearing the story of the Residential Schools. Margoret actually attended the school that was once here when she was younger. She told me about some of the terrible stories, but also told me the reason they didn’t want to destroy the building was because they wanted to turn the negative experience of the school into a positive place.

Hideout 

After our time at St. Eugene it was already time for dinner. We made our way to downtown Cranbrook. A very quaint spot with some local bars and restaurants that lined the street. We made our way to the Hideout. The Hideout is the local brewery that is also home to fresh food and ales made right in the Kootenay’s. I love that the brewery doesn’t sell the beer outside of the city, which makes it a true destination spot.

We had a tour of the brewery and found out what makes the beer here so unique. We had a few tasters and even got a flight of some of their season brews (which were so tasty). We then sat down for dinner.

I loved the variety. The restaurant offered everything from bar food to more creative fine dining plates. As someone who loves Indian food, I loved that one of their top chefs, Raj, used his upbringing as inspiration for several dishes. I tried the Masala Poutine and it was to die for.

Day 2: coffees and skiing 

Hotshots 

I started the day at Hotshots. This quaint coffee shop has an amazing selection of coffees and breakfast options. I loved the community feel of the restaurant and their breakfast hash was delicious.

Skiing in Fernie 

After breakfast we drove about an hour outside of town to Fernie Alpine Resort. Fernie is nestled deep in the Canadian Rockies. I have always wanted to visit this spot because of the amazing snow pack it gets year after year. In fact, Fernie regularly tops the list for deepest snow pack in the Canadian Rockies.

The views from the top of the mountain were stunning, the snow was incredible, and there were so many different options for ski runs. It was an amazing experience.

Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap

We then made our way to dinner at Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap for dinner. This is one of the newest downtown spots. It is actually located in a 1929 heritage building that is a former fire hall. I loved the old charm of the building, complete with roll up truck doors and even a fire pole and bell.

Aside from the adorable building look, this family friendly pub had an amazing food options and delicious craft beers. I loved the fact that their flights came in ladders and their fish and chips were incredible.

Day 3: Heritage tours and bike rides 

Fort Steele Historic Site 

We started the day with some delicious warm cinnabons at Fort Steele Heritage Site. Fort Steele is a living history museum. Many of the buildings here are from the 1800s. The museum offers horse drawn wagon rides around town. We got to explore the beautiful and colourful buildings. We had a chance to step inside the newly renovated hotel, where you can actually stay.

We also had a chance to visit some of the farm animals and take in the beautiful views of both the Rocky and Purcell Mountains. I loved learning about the history and seeing all the beauty of this spot.

Fat biking 

After Fort Steele we made our way over the forests to learn more about fat biking in Cranbrook. Last winter the entire town came together for a crowdfunding project to raise money for a trail groomer. Thanks to that funding, the city of Cranbrook was able to create more than 40km of beautiful groomed trails.

I loved learning how to ride a fat bike, and it was such gorgeous terrain. The perfect way to enjoy the beauty of Cranbrook while getting some exercise.

Cranbrook History Centre 

The last stop of the trip was to the Cranbrook History Centre. The museum is a collection 0f 28 railway cars, and you can actually tour 13 of them. We had a chance to see the 1929 Trans Canada Limited train as well as the executive car “Strathcona”, which housed gusts like Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.

Where to stay?

Cranbrook is a very quaint town, and I liked the fact that there weren’t hotels on every corner, however there are definitely some hidden gems in the city.

During my trip I stayed at the Elizabeth Lake Lodge. This alpine style hotel had a full kitchen and the most comfortable beds.

I also loved that the hotel room backed on to Elizabeth Lake Bird Sanctuary. I was able to go on some hikes and walks with the beautiful Rockies as my backdrop

I fell in love with this adorable town, from the beauty of the mountains to the incredible history, to the amazing outdoor adventures Crambrook is a must visit. It is the perfect escape for a weekend away.

Here are a few more shots from my getaway too Cranbrook.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A weekend getaway to Big White Ski Resort

Living in Vancouver, I am so close to the north Vancouver mountains, and just a short 2 hour drive to Whistler. As a ski fanatic, that is a pretty awesome situation if you ask me. While I do love Whistler, Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress I have realized that BC has so much more to offer just a little bit outside of of my neighbourhood. 

I made it a goal of mine this winter to explore more of the beautiful mountains and skiing this province has to offer, and so I decided to make my way over to Big White. 

I fell in love with this quaint little ski town instantly. It has a family friendly vibe, some delicious restaurants, the most ski in/ ski out lodges in all of BC, and of course some beautiful mountains and great skiing. Even if you aren’t a skier like me, this place offers so much that it should definitely be on your winter bucket list. 

About Big White

The snow conditions in the Kelowna area was discovered in the 1960’s and a small ski area opened with a few private chalets. Big White officially came into existence in 1963. The legendary snow ghosts of the mountains was discovered in 1968 and it was also around that time the 1st on mountain accommodation was constructed.  

Since then, the mountain has just continued to grow and attract visitors from around the world. In the 2000’s Happy Valley was constructed adding more than just skiing. The Valley offers everything from a tube park to an Olympic sized skating rink. 

Over the years, Big White has won several awards including best snow in North America and Most Luxurious Ski Resort in the World. 

Where to stay 

With so many ski in/ski out options, it is hard to go wrong. No matter where you stay, the mountain is literally at your doorstep. we stayed at Stonebridge Lodge and it was perfect. It was a very spacious two bedroom suite with a beautiful view overlooking the mountain. We were also spoiled with our own private hot tub for some much needed post ski recovery. 

There was a large kitchen with all the amenities and the comfy living room was complete with a fireplace so you could warm up after a day on the slopes.  

I also really loved that the lodge offered ski lockers and underground parking which is a huge help so you don’t have to lug all of your equipment around. 

What to do

Ski

Obviously this is the biggest draw to come and visit Big White. They have a large variety of runs for all skill levels. My personal favourite was the Black Forest side f the mountain. It has some beautiful paths that took you through the trees and it was truly magical. 

And speaking of snow covered trees, one thing that really makes Big White stand out from other mountains is their famous Snow Ghosts. Basically they are trees that have been coated in ice like snow creating haunting yet beautiful valleys of white ghost trees. 

These beautiful trees are pretty unique to Big White because of the set up of the Okanagan Valley. With the lakes below and the tall mountain peaks, Big White holds in its own moisture and creates its own clouds. When the moisture falls, it falls as icy snow that then coats the trees. Make sure to take the time to snap a photo with the ghosts. 

Ice climbing

Ok, so maybe skiing isn’t your thing. No worries, there are still so many fun activities you have to try when visiting Big White. I had the chance to try ice climbing for the first time, which proved to be a very fun yet challenging sport. 

The Big White Ice Climbing Tower is one of only two ice climbing towers at a ski resort in Canada. It is almost 53 feet tall and is created by attaching four telephone poles and then basically creating a waterfall in-between them. 

It was a little hard to get off the ground since I wasn’t used to ice climbing and unfortunately I didn’t make it all the way to the top, but it was really fun to give it a try. 

Skating

There is something so special about hitting the ice during the winter months. I love feeling the sun in my face as I am swirling around the ice. The ice rink at Big White is pretty special. It is actually the highest elevated skating rink in all of Canada. It is also Olympic sized and has stunning views of the city surrounding it. 

Tubing 

According to the locals, tubing is the most fun activity there is to do in Happy Valley. You really fly down the hills and feel the wind in your face. There are five groomed lanes to race against your friends. 

Fireworks 

One of the things I really loved about my visit to Big White was that every Saturday night (weather dependant) they have a giant firework show in Happy Valley. It was just the perfect way to finish the perfect day. 

Where to eat

I was extremely surprised and impressed with the food options in Big White. For a smaller village, there were so many choices. Everything from fine dining to pub food the selection was endless. 

The Woods 

This was one of my favourite spots. It is located right in the heart of the village. We had the perfect spot right by the fire. The restaurant offers delicious cocktails and a menu filled with locally sourced foods. I loved munching on the smoked gorgonzola and had to try the fisherman’s catch for my main meal. 

Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar 

This was another one of my absolute favourite spots. I loved that this place made me feel right at home. They had healthy meals including homemade soup and gourmet paninis.  I was also able to warm up with a delicious s’mores lattes. 

Clocktower Coffee Co. 

I loved that this coffee shop was located right in the Village Centre Mall and was great for ski in/ski out. I loved the wide selection of hearty breakfast wraps and some delicious, fresh coffee to get you ready for the day on the slopes. 

Gunbarrel Grill 

This restaurant was so unique. I loved the rustic feel as soon as you walked through the door. Our server was so nice and the food was absolutely delicious. Not only did we order some delicious calamari, mac and cheese, and some salmon the meal didn’t break the bank. The best part though had to be dessert. We ended up trying the famous Gunbarrel Coffee. The coffee is quite a show, it is literally made with a double barrel shot gun and flames and it is absolutely delicious. 

I completely fell in love with Big White. From the stunning views on the slopes, to all the fun activities in town, to the delicious food this spot really has it all for an amazing weekend getaway. I cannot wait to get back to Big White. 

Happy traveling my friends, 

 

xo 

Mia