Weekend on the Sunshine Coast!

I love weekend getaways; a short and sweet escape from your regular routine and usual weekend activities. However, in order to do the art of weekending well you need to make sure you plan ahead to get the most out of your trip! Yes a bit of a tedious task but usually every group may have a planner(or volunteers) to take charge and make sure everyone has the best time. My list below is tips that I find helpful, a little how-to guide if you will... 

  • Location! Location! Location!
    • This weekend my friends and I went to Half Moon Bay, BC on the Sunshine Coast, not to be confused with Half Moon Bay in California - that location looked great too, but unfortunately was not in the sailing schedule for BC ferries... It was everyone's first time to the Sunshine Coast and it did not disappoint! Even better, from door to door the travel time was just less than 3 hours - that included a ferry ride!
    • **FIRST TIP: For weekend getaways, don't spend your whole time travelling, you'll barely feel relaxed before you have to back up and go again! I'd say destinations in the 3-5 hour range are best for Friday-Sunday trips.
 Smuggler's Cove

Smuggler's Cove

  • Accommodation
    • **SECOND TIP: Whether you're a group of six or a twosome, think about what you're looking for out of the weekend to plan for the best accommodations. Trips to the spa might mean you're best suited for a resort or hotel, in our case we were looking to relax by the fire pit and make some delicious food (Seafood Boil!! More on that later!). An Air BnB was the best value and suited our agenda, be sure to note the number of people in the house allowed and any additional costs! We rented a house that had enough space for everyone to have a room, a huge kitchen, a fire pit and the seclusion from city life we were looking for. 
  • FOOD!
    • Again, location becomes a factor when planning the food situation, for our destination to the island we decided it was the perfect setting to try our first Seafood boil. We hit the local fish market and picked up fresh crab, mussels, prawns and clams - paired with some lemon, a plethora of salt and we were in business. Oh, and butter, can't forget that! We served it up by dumping the pot of seafood deliciousness right on the table - such a fun way to feast. And an easy clean up!
    • **THIRD TIP: The rest of the weekend was mostly groceries we brought over, I'm a big fan of this approach as I think that on short vacations grocery trips should be limited so you can just enjoy (also saves you some dollars in the end usually)! We had lots of family styles meals and grazing. For your next trip look at what the local specialties are and try something new! 
 Being locals! 

Being locals! 

 Island afternoons.

Island afternoons.

 Breakfast, is the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast, is the most important meal of the day.

 The end result of the Seafood boil! 

The end result of the Seafood boil! 

  • Activities
    • **FOURTH TIP: I find activities are always best to not necessarily be set in stone, you don't want weekends to feel over planned... that would defeat the purpose of a weekend away! Unless that's your goal and you want to fit in all the things - go for it! We realized that one of BC's greatest natural spectacles was right in our back yard, the Skookumchuck Narrows were about 45 minutes away from our place and the 4km hike led us to where twice a day there is a change in tide reversing the direction of the rapids! How exciting! Sadly, we were a few hours late to witness this phenomenon but it was still a gorgeous hike... we'll be back for you Skookumchuck. Next we stumbled upon Smuggler Cove after missing our turn off, it was literally just us on the rocky beach and a few jelly fish, so serene! Lastly, we were introduced to the long running tradition of the 'Sleepy Hollow Rod Run' where literally the entire town sets up on the side of the highway (think living rooms set up on the side of the road), needless to say there were some pretty impressive cars to admire. So basically is what I'm saying is that sometimes, even planners, need to fly by the seat of their pants and see where the day takes them! Enjoy, talk to locals, get suggestions and explore. 
 Skookumchuck Rapids, a few hours to late... 

Skookumchuck Rapids, a few hours to late... 

 Brown Lake enroute to the Skookumchuck! 

Brown Lake enroute to the Skookumchuck! 

So that sums up our little summer weekend getaway! I love going new places and a change of scenary, we booked this trip only on a few weeks notice so don't be deterred that we're already in August (when did that happen by the way?!), lots of summer left to enjoy. 

The last tip I'll pass along is that while outside stargazing and having sing alongs around the fire, be mindful that voices DO carry and islanders will call in a noise complaint. We had a visit from the local authorities but he appreciated that us city folk forget the stillness of the island means voices carry... or it could have been the Nate Dogg song choice on the speaker, we'll never know! 

Happy Weekending!! 

xx

LC

A Weekend in Wine Country

With every big life change I always have the inkling to get out of town; an adventure before a new chapter begins, if you will. I started a new job this past Monday and I knew my vacation needed to be doable in two days: not too much travel time and ideally somewhere to soak up some sun. The end result ended up being right in my "backyard" of BC - Kelowna! The last time I was there was as a kid driving from Edmonton, so I was so excited to return and, this time, to enjoy the grapes (and by grapes I mean all of the wines the valley had to offer!) 

I went with a friend I've known since my high school days in Edmonton - and our vacation chemistry was spot on. It's so important to find the people you can travel with, because said people can make or break a vacation.

We stayed at the Okanagan Lakeview Bed & Breakfast; it was our first B&B experience and we were beyond impressed. Michelle and Ralf had a gorgeous lodge-like-home overlooking the lake. The house boasted high ceilings, exposed log beam; everything cabin-y you want in a B&B by the lake. The room was more like a hotel with all the amenities you could want, plus it displayed a view of the lake and our own private terrace! A big bonus was the delicious breakfast served to us the next morning; I think B&Bs are the way to go! I highly recommend this B&B if you find yourself in Kelowna.

We booked the "Afternooner" wine tour with Discover Okanagan Tours, and it was nothing short of fantastic - they even made an exception to pick us up from the B&B! Rocco, our awesome driver, had the pleasure of driving around 6 ladies for the afternoon, but the pleasure was all ours. From learning our names to http://quailsgate.com/ special requests and capturing photo ops, this man had it covered. And he knew his wine too! We went to 6 wineries and came back with more than 6 bottles... always just a wine enjoyer, I did learn a thing or two as well! Obviously less information was absorbed the more the wine flowed. Check out our wine facts and highlights we learned from the wineries we visited!

Summerhill Winery

  • Known for its Pyramid (aka "fire in the middle") and their sparkling wine! The unique component of this pyramid versus other wineries is that it follows the french tradition of putting sparkling wines in dark, cool places for 30 days so the "cuvee & dosage marry".
  • I took home a Riesling, which I thought would be great to have on hand for summer! Not the biggest white wine drinker but the Reisling was the perfect blend of dry and sweet and went down too easily... will be adding this to the rotation for girls night on the patio! 
  • Marechal Foch: I am not a fan of this berry: it's a hybrid french wine grape. I enjoy sitting by a campfire but don't enjoy drinking them. But, as we learned, every palate is different. Could this be the cilantro of wine?!
  • What we bought: Brut and Riesling

Rollingdale WInery:

  • Cherry Port: I usually only endure a port with my grandparents after a meal, but this cherry port was so nice! The cherries naturally make it sweeter and had a very nice finish! Who knew??
  • Did you know the grapes aren't picked until Halloween? The wineries have been happy with the hotter weather this year: longer growing season = more sugars = sweeter wine and higher alcohol = winning!
  • This winery is Organic Certified which means no sulphites are added to the barrels. So it's basically just fruit, which is good for you, so drink up.
  • There were two SUPER sweet wines that were able to win over the NON drinker in our group! Impressive.
  • What we bought: Tumbleweed

Little Straw Winery:

  • Cuvee: a type of wine that is dependent on the season, the weather, the blend and cannot be replicated! If you find one you like, best to stock up or you'll miss out.
  • When trying so many wines the tastes started to blend together, so we were told to always take a second sip as the first one is not an accurate representaiton of the wine. Good to know.
  • Chef Trevor is the talented in house chef who offered a tapas menu at the winery. These tapas were on a different level! Wine soaked apples with homemade boursin with honey and chives was a stand out winner! All paired well with an incredible rhubarb rosé - YUM!
  • What we bought: Tapestry

Mt. Boucherie

 

  • BC has so many great white wines and bubbles to offer, I wasn't as impressed with the reds until this winery. We found the Syrah that had been opened this year - it was by far the best red of the tour! 
  • This winery gave a great view so we snapped a photo with the bridal party on our tour - a sweet punch of girls that let us join their celebrations! 
  • What we bought: Syrah

Quailsgate:

  • First of all, I'd be completely find with getting married here. It's so beautiful with a terrace overlooking the vineyard and lake! A stunning property.
  • We learned that rosé should be enjoyed the same year it was made! (I may have a few bottles to get rid of...) In fact, the colour of the wine actually turns after the season! So, Rosé Okay within the year.
  • What we bought: Chassele (the trifecta of wines - the varietals). 

 

Beaumont:

  • Alexandre owns the Beaumont winery and he has FUN doing it. We walked into live music and even Rocco our driver was invited to drum along. He serendaded the group with a lovely rendition of 'Can't Help Falling in Love with You' to my friend Sabirah - it was coincidently her wedding song! He sung just to her, but his toothy grin had us all swooning...
  • What we bought: The sparkling "Serenade" 

What's wine without a little cheese? Less enjoyable, obviously! We visited Carmeli's Goat Farm on the way out of town; the goats were so cute and not a fan of the rain! Our favourites we went home with were the chevary cheese (Provence, Lavender and Thyme & the Dill and Onion), gouda and the blue cheese. We paired with chevary cheese with a peach and bourbon compote - to die for! This place also offers a free cheese tasting with purchase, I'm pretty sure we tried 15 cheeses! What a delicious end to the weekend.

I apologize in advance if I've butchered the language or descriptors of wine. It became harder as the tour went on to retain much (for obvious reasons) but I enjoyed the experience so much! Kelowna is a beautiful place to visit with over 200 wineries - a repeat visit is required. I am happy to have broadened by understanding of wine even in the slightest... I'm pretty stocked up for summer too!

I'm always first to think outside the country for vacations but sometimes I need to remind myself how beautiful BC is and all the gems it has to offer.

Here's a little tip from me to you: before heading on the Crow's Nest (by accident...), be sure to fill up your tank of gas. We managed to reach East Gate gas station with 20km to empty to find that NO ONE was there. Needless to say we happily found out that 0km on a Ford Fusion will take you an extra 30 km's ... 

Cheers to weekend adventures and visits to wine country!

xx

LC