BC & Alberta, Part 8: Kelowna & Whistler

Whenever I write about my travels I normally break down my posts according to cities or days. I mentioned previously that Kelowna was a stopover for us, where we spent one night of our trip. However, and this is the first time I’ve done this, I have no desire to write at length about our stay here.

I’m not one to bash on cities, or to make negative opinions on certain locations public (unless it’s much deserved), so all I’ll say about Kelowna is this — the Samesun we stayed in was nice, as usual; the waterfront is still pretty; and they have an IHOP, which Shannon and I pigged out in for dinner the one night we were there.

Other than that, I hated driving there (bad traffic and even worse drivers); we experienced more than one encounter with a rude ass; and Shannon and I nearly lost our shit when we were trying to get a picture with the Ogopogo statue and a group of locals, who could clearly tell we were tourists and trying to get a shot with the mythical beast, quite literally photobombed our photo by setting up their own directly in front of us. C’mon, the statue is made up of a head and two humps. How in the eff do you expect to bogart the head for your own shot when we’re trying to get a picture of the whole blasted thing.

To sum up our feelings on the town, here’s a quote from Shannon herself:

“Kelowna is full of douchers who can’t drive with stupid haircuts.”

Ya, I don’t think I’ll be going back to Kelowna again. Sorry to anyone who’s from there who might be reading this. On a good note, we were eventually able to get a shot of Shannon with the mythical creature of Lake Okanagan…

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…and I’m yet again reminded of another picture from my Moose tour…

The Sarah's and I

The Sarah’s and I

I honestly think the only reason why I included Kelowna on the itinerary was so I can revisit this statue.

We got the hell out of Dodge as soon as we could the next morning. Our final destination for the day was going to be Whistler, and I was very excited to get there as it was one town in BC that I’ve always meant to visit but never got the chance to.

Here’s a video that Shannon took on our way out of the Okanagan Valley. It’s a bit shaky, as most phone videos are expected to be when taken from a moving car, but you can still see some of the scenery in the background. Also, you can hear me giggling. I was driving so fast trying to get away from Kelowna and on to Whistler that Shannon was sliding around in her seat while trying to film. Every corner I took moved her in a different direction. It was quite entertaining.

We made our way back west, down the Trans-Canada through Vancouver, then up the Sea-to-Sky Highway (#99) to Whistler. Best. Drive. Ever. I know I’ve lamented about not having a GoPro camera in the past, but it killed me that I didn’t have one to document that drive.

While driving north on the 99 you have Howe Sound and the islands of Bowen, Boyer, Gambier and Anvil on your left. Meanwhile, your right is full of mountains. It’s the most scenic drive I’ve ever taken and I often found myself trying to do the double-duty of looking at my surroundings OFF the road while keeping my eyes ON the road. It’s spectacular and I’d suggest anyone who’s in the area to not miss the opportunity to see it for yourself.

We made a quick pit stop in Squamish, then eventually arrived at our hostel for the evening, located just outside the Whistler Village. We were booked in at the HI-Whistler, which was originally part of the Whistler Athletes’ Village during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It was the newest, nicest, most accommodating hostel I’ve EVER stayed in. Shannon and I had booked a four-person dorm, but when we arrived we discovered we had the room to ourselves. The bunk beds were made from gorgeous dark wood, the bathroom facilities –which included a toilet, a shower, and two sinks — were in our room (a rarity for hostels), and oh boy, the mattresses were firm and heavenly. The best sleep I got the entire trip was in Whistler.

After gawking at our room for a few minutes and taking the opportunity to freshen up, we made our way into the village to explore. Whistler reminded me a lot of Mont Tremblant in Quebec. It could be because they’re both ski resort towns with similar vibes (i.e. laid back people on vacation, enjoying the outdoors and the recreational sports that the area offers). I also noticed that the architecture of the buildings and the layout of the streets were quite alike. I felt like I was in a town in the Alps and half-expected Heidi to come running down one of the hills or Julie Andrews to appear in her smock to offer a spontaneous twirl and sing-song. In sum, Whistler is perdy.

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Can you spot the creeper?

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That night we ate at The Ol’ Spaghetti Factory and enjoyed more copious amounts of coffee as we strolled around the village. It was the second to last night of our trip and the anticipation of having to return to Vancouver was starting to stir within my bones. We stocked up on souvenirs, then made our way back in the dark to our hostel, where we slept like babies.

Our rental car wasn’t due back until 4pm the next day, so Shannon and I made a valiant effort to sleep in the next morning (we wanted to take full advantage of our private dorm room and heaven-sent mattresses before we had to return to the city). However, just like every other morning of our trip, we both woke up at 7am. Never fails.

With nothing else to do we packed up our belongings and took to the highway one final time. Because we had so much time to spare we decided to do three things: 1. Stop at one of the scenic viewpoints along the 99 to get some shots; 2. Stop at Shannon Falls, because really, how could you not when you’re travelling with someone named SHANNON; and 3. Da-da-da-DAHHHHH! Return to Vancouver early so we could finally get our souvenir tattoos!!

Yup…that’s a slug…

The most frantic 10-second-timed photo I’ve ever had to take. Try climbing a boulder in flip-flops.

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Where’s Waldo?

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Shannon Falls

The drive south along the 99 was just as exhilarating as the drive north, and this time I was able to see the expanse of water and islands as I drove.

One thing I wanted to make sure I had the chance to do was drive over the Lion’s Gate Bridge back into Vancouver. Without really thinking about it I took an exit off the highway that I have never heard of nor planned to take, and huzzah, there was the bridge. Coincidence? Fate? Intuition? Whatever it was, it worked.

We crossed over from North Vancouver, through Stanley Park, and into the downtown core. I took Shannon to see the house that my father’s family lived in decades ago, and then we made our way to a tattoo shop that we had found online. We were going to get ink to commemorate our trip and our twenty-five years of friendship.

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