Cross-country Skiing at Confederation Golf Course

I’m not usually excited about winter – a quick search for “winter” in my archives reveals that I mostly complain about the the cold and snow from November through May – but this year I’ve actually been looking forward to the snow. I impulse bought new cross country skis (my first new set since high school) and have eagerly been awaiting the start to ski season. We got snow awhile ago but then I had two weekends of first aid, and then a weekend of report card writing so this Saturday was the first chance for me to get out.

After a morning of Christmas shopping I was ready for some outside time (and some exercise ) so I put my new boots and old skis into the car and headed to nearby Confederation Golf Course. We’re really lucky that the course is only 5 minutes away and gets track set when there is enough snow. The snow isn’t amazing so I didn’t want to scratch up my new skis but I was desperate to try my new boots.

It was pretty warm (+3-+5) so I waxed with the stickiest wax I could find:

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Waxing is still something I can improve on (and I probably need to add a red wax to my collection for warmer weather) but this worked just fine.

I started on the trails in the southwest part of the park and did the “hilly” section. Then I did a loop in the middle before crossing over to the northeast side where there was a nice long loop set. For a ski course in the middle of the city, it ends up having a surprising amount of ski trails set. All in, I skied about 3 miles (5km) with only a tiny bit of overlap.

My Strava track

My Strava track

I’m feeling out of shape so 5 km was enough for the day. I love that Confederation is close enough that I can go over for just 45 minutes. I was happy that I’d brought my old skis – there was a little grass and a few bare patches but I thought the tracks were pretty good for the little amount of snow we have.

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It was pretty warm again today and is supposed to stay warm all week so I think conditions at the park will deteriorate but I’m hopeful we’ll get more snow soon. I’d like to be able to go for an evening ski to see the Christmas lights. And given how sore my legs are today, the exercise can’t hurt either!

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Dog Friendly Travel – A Wine Tasting Weekend in Oliver BC

I knew that the Oregon part of our road trip was going to be dog-friendly but I wasn’t sure what to expect in Oliver, BC. We ended up having an awesome time there with Patches so I thought I would share our experiences in dog friendly travel in the “Wine Capital of Canada”.

[We were traveling in the summer which I think makes it easier. We enjoyed sitting outside with Patches and were able to do lots of active things.]

Where to Stay
Our B and B (Riverside Trails) was dog friendly (the hosts have two dogs). We had a suit with a private entrance and a deck to eat breakfast on. They had a nice lawn for Patches and backed onto a river path where we could walk and Patches could swim. Our hosts were great and had lots of helpful information about the area. There is a BBQ and small kitchen area so it was easy to either bring home takeout or cook so we didn’t have to worry about eating out with the dog. If you’re travelling with your dog (or even if you’re not) they are a great option for a dog friendly stay.

Riverside Trails B and B

Riverside Trails B and B

What to Do

Winery Tours
I hadn’t been able to find much information about visiting wineries around Oliver with your dog, but since Patches couldn’t stay at the B and B alone we took him with us to sample wines when we first went out on Saturday morning. It was super hot, +30C, so we knew he couldn’t stay in the car but we figured we could take turns sitting outside with him in the shade if we had to. We packed him three water bottles in the cooler and his collapsible dog bowl to make sure he’d stay hydrated. Luckily, we didn’t need to take turns sitting with the dog because he was able to come with us everywhere! He still required all that water though.

At the first winery Jon went in to ask about the dog while Patches and I waited in the car, but after that we would usually just bring him to the door to ask. While I don’t know if wineries are officially “dog friendly”, every winery we asked let Patches into the wine room to taste with us. It was fairly quiet at all the wineries we visited and none of the other guests seemed put out by having Patches there but we always politely asked and had Patches on his clip on walking leash. Burrowing Owl provided a dog water bowl and Platinum Bench has a resident winery dog who graciously shared his treats with Patches. The other wineries we visited were StoneboatLe Vieux Pin, LaStellaCovert Farms and See Ya Later Ranch. See Ya Later Ranch is dog friendly and welcomes dogs with a dog yard out front and water bowls. Patches was very well behaved and lay down beside me everywhere (except Platinum Bench where he was too busy convincing people to feed him).

Hiking and Walking
There are lots of well known hikes in Oliver but the downside to dog travel was that we didn’t get to experience them. Our hosts gave us directions to a private park where it was more shaded to walk, and we also had the river path behind the B and B which had a few swimming holes. In cooler weather (spring/fall) there are lots of walking options or if your dog can handle the heat you could try something.

The Beach
There are several dog friendly beaches along the strip from Summerland to Oliver. We took Patches to the closest beach every day in the afternoon – the dog beach at Skaha Lake in Okanagan Falls. The beach is part of the Christie Memorial Provincial Park and has a fenced swimming area for dogs. Dogs aren’t allowed on the rest of the beach but the park has a large grassy area with lots of trees where you can spread your blanket and relax between dog swims. The lake is really shallow so Patches was able to wade to his heart’s content.

Patches at the dog beach

Patches at the dog beach

Sun-Oka Provincial Park and Peach Orchard Dog Beach (both near Summerland) also offer opportunities for dogs to swim.

Eating
Breakfast was provided at our B and B and we ate outside while Patches lounged on the grass. For lunch on our first day we ate fresh bread from Platinum Bench, some cheese we had from earlier and fresh cherries while we relaxed at the dog beach. On Sunday we ate at Covert Farms – we had their farm platter (meat, cheese, fruit and crackers) with some wine and ate outside on their patio. Their menu isn’t very extensive but the dog was welcome to join us. Dinner was take out on two evenings (we ordered, did a scenic drive while it was being made and then ate it back at our B and B) and on the third evening we BBQed back at the B and B. One downside to dog travel is that you can’t visit most restaurants (unless you are ordering to go).

Patches taking a nap while we had lunch and tasted wine at Covert Farms

Patches taking a nap while we had lunch and tasted wine at Covert Farms

Overall
I wouldn’t select Oliver as a dog destination on its own but if you are traveling with your dog it is possible to enjoy the area. We found it easy enough to have Patches with us, but there were a few things that I would have liked to do (eat at a fancy restaurant, hike McIntyre Bluff or the Golden Mile Trail) that we couldn’t do with Patches. 

Oregon and Okanagan Road a Trip 2014 – Days 7, 8, 9 and 10: Okanagan Travels

After our morning at Cannon Beach we had a long drive to B.C. We took the 101 along the coast of Oregon to Washington, drove up the coast, cut across to Seattle and then took the back roads north to the border at the Aldergrove Crossing. It was pretty uneventful – the trees in Washington are pretty and so are the small towns but we were in too much of a hurry to stop anywhere. We did pull over for ice cream at one point and even Patches had a cone.

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We made it to the border around 8:30 and then drove about 45 minutes further to the BC Parks campground at Cultus Lake. It is a busy spot but on a weeknight there were tenting spaces available. We set up our tent and basically went to sleep.

We woke up the next morning, had a quick breakfast of coffee and scones and got back on the road to our next destination – Oliver, BC. We didn’t have to be at our B and B until the afternoon, so we stopped for hazelnut butter and cheese near Agassiz and then again to take silly photos of Patches at the Hope, BC Visitors Centre.

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We had a few stops to walk Patches, a few more stops to buy fruit and then we were at our B and B in Oliver around 3:30 pm. We stayed at Riverside Trails, where we had a 3 room suite with a small deck and private lawn area.

Our plan for our time in Oliver was to wine taste, hike a little and relax. We started Saturday morning with a delicious breakfast at our B and B and then headed out to do some wine tasting. We ended up visiting three wineries in the morning: Burrowing Owl, Platinum Bench and Stoneboat. (I’m going to talk about visiting wineries with your dog in a other post but it was a successful experience!). We liked all three places and bought a few bottles at each. Platinum Bench also sells delicious sourdough bread (which you get to sample with the wine tasting) so we picked up a few loaves for lunch.

Our hosts had given us a recommendation for a short hike with the dog that wasn’t supposed to be too hot so after our wine tasting we drove around for a while trying to find the trailhead. On our second attempt we were successful and took Patches out for a walk as a reward for being such a good sport with the wine sampling. Unfortunately, Patches found the hike too warm and we had to rush back to car to cool him off. Still, the views from the trail were pretty.

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After our hike it was definitely time to do a more relaxing activity so we headed to the beach at Skaha Lake. They have a dog swim area so Patches was finally able to cool down and lots of shady grass to spread your beach blanket on. We stuck around there until dinner time and then headed back to Oliver.

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Sunday was very similar to Saturday. We had french toast with fresh raspberries and then headed out to sample more wine. We started at Le Vieux Pin where we sampled their flight of whites and had a lovely chat with the people there. Then we went to LaStella where we also sampled olive oil and the most delicious vinegar.

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Our third stop was at Covert Farms where we timed our visit to coincide with lunch hour. We ordered the farm platter (a selection of meats, cheeses and fruit) and sampled their wines while we munched away. They have a nice outside seating area and we had the whole place to ourselves.

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After that we visited their organic u-pick for some blueberries and made a final winery stop at See Ya Later Ranch before hitting the beach again. We all went for a swim and then relaxed in the shade until it was time to head back to our B and B.

Overall it was another excellent visit to the Okanagan. While Oliver wasn’t quite as cute as Summerland, we still enjoyed the wineries and will definitely be planning another visit back to the area.

Vacation Has Started!

Friday was my last (half) day of work before summer break so now I’m officially on vacation! Last year we went canoeing to start off our summer, but this year we’re on our Oregon road trip.

We’re just on the very first leg of our trip – Calgary to the cabin. We drove down last night, along with everyone else escaping the city for the long weekend. Even though I was done at 12:30 pm yesterday we didn’t get out of the city until 4 pm so it was a long drive with lots of RV and trailer traffic. Patches found it very stressful so there was lots of seat shuffling until we both ended up in the back seat.

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While the weather at the cabin has been a little cloudy and rainy, it is a nice start to the vacation. We slept in (until 8 am), had a latte and just generally relaxed. We’ve taken the dogs out and during a sunny break, I got a mini-golf lesson and we kayaked around the lake to see the painted turtles.

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Our plan for tomorrow is to cross the border into Idaho and make the long drive to Oregon. I’m looking forward to seeing some new states and (after what will be a long drive) getting to the coast!

My May Mini-Vacation – Fernie

We waited right until the end of the month to squeeze in our monthly mini-vacation but we still managed to get a weekend away! We spent a quick two days in Fernie, BC last weekend and it was a great chance to be outside in the almost summer weather and hang out with our friends. There was lots of things going on and I came home pretty exhausted from all the fun.

We left the city around 6 pm on Friday but the drive down was quiet and we made really good time down to Crowsnest Pass where we took a quick break. I think we got to Fernie around 9:30 pm and quickly settled ourselves into our rented condo at the ski hill before joining the rest of the group. Things were in full swing and it was close to 2 am before we dragged ourselves back to our condo.

We woke up on Saturday to a gorgeous sunny day and knew we had to get outside to enjoy it.
The view

After a late breakfast we made the short drive into Fernie to try the local disc golf course. It is a beautiful 18 basket course that was the perfect combination of distance (not too long) and difficulty (enough trees so it was interesting but you didn’t have to spend a ton of time looking for your disc). It took a couple of hours to play but I think everyone enjoyed it.

Teeing off
One of the more scenic courses I’ve played

After that we grabbed a slurpie and wandered around in Fernie. We’ve always just driven past the town so this was my first real visit. It has a cute main street and we checked out some of the stores and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine.

Once we got back to the resort I was still feeling restless so I persuaded Jon to do a little easy hiking at the ski hill. We walked along some of the bike trails and enjoyed the views for a couple of hours before heading back to soak in the hot tub and hang out.

Saturday evening lasted well into Sunday morning and I got up pretty reluctantly to check out by 10 am. We were on the road by 11 am so that we could have time to stop at one last attraction for the weekend – Frank Slide. We drive by it every time we go to the cabin but have never stopped so I decided that this had to be the weekend we finally explored it.

We started at the interpretive centre where we did the short walk around the outside of the building to read about the site. Then we walked the 1.5 km Frank Slide interpretive loop to see more of the slide. It was really interesting and I’m glad we finally visited.

After that it was an uneventful drive home and time to get ready for another week. While I didn’t come home from the weekend refreshed like last vacation, it was really nice to get outside all weekend. We don’t do that enough so it was worth the tired-all-week-long feeling!