Apex Mountain Resort: A Winterland Vacation

Some people migrate south in the winter – friends to Hawaii, parents to Mexico – but we opted for a cooler vacation spot this winter and headed east towards Apex Mountain Resort.

Apex Mountain Resort

Apex Mountain is a half hour drive from Penticton, a small city in the Okanagan Valley in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Because of its location, Apex gets the perfect combination of high precipitation with low humidity, resulting in the lightest champagne powder. Horrible for snowball fights, yes, but ideal for skiing and boarding and snowshoeing even without daily snow fall.

Winter within walking distance

Though we ended up there accidentally when looking for somewhere to camp, Apex ended up being exactly what we wanted – somewhere we could camp and be within walking distance to various winter activities.

The small town centers around one square block that features the Gunbarrel Saloon, the Edge cafeteria, a snow school, rentals area, liquor store, and a shop for all your mountain needs (to mention but a few). And of course, there’s a hotel, a lodge, townhouses for rent, and an RV camp site where yours truly hung out.

Skating, Snowshoeing, Skiing – Oh my!

The RV campground was a two minute walk from the skating loop, which was literally a 1km loop through some trees and was so much more fun than skating circles around an ice rink, but if you were into that, there was also a hockey rink a bit closer to the town center (10 minutes from the RV park).

There’s also a tubing hill for the kidlets, and for those young at heart. And of course, there’s loads of cross country and snowshoe trails, most leaving from the Nordic Center further up the mountain, and one (the Honey Loop) which starts right in town (which was our trail of choice, given our preference to not drive). (We got lost anyway).

And if you’re more prepared and want to go bigger than that, there’s also about 70+ runs for your skiing and snowboarding pleasure.

New Year’s Eve, trailer park style

On New Year’s Eve, we opted out of going to the party at the Gunbarrel Saloon and instead hung around the RV campground, Trailer Park style, waiting for the fireworks we heard were going to happen. A giant fire pit was resurrected from beneath the snow and a bonfire started early afternoon that lasted well into the next morning when we woke up.

New Year's Bonfire, Apex Mountain Resort
Our trailer park New Year’s Eve bonfire

As we sat around waiting for midnight, we listened to our camp neighbours talk about their time at Apex. “It was packed up on the runs!” Ms. Kerry said. “Oh yeah?” The half Portuguese guy quipped. “Did you have to wait 3 people to get on the lift?”

And that’s the beauty of Apex. Barely 4.5 hours away from Vancouver, and yet a world away: a winterland no one knows about.

Westcoast Weekend: Canada Day – Vancouver Edition

Happy Canada Day!!

Before I get to some Canada Day celebrations and other things you can do this weekend around Vancouver, the NewsLeader had an interesting fun fact about Canada Day I thought I’d pass along.

When the Governor General suggested that the union of the British North American provinces celebrate the anniversary of its formation, July 1st became a holiday (albeit 11 years later) under the name of Dominion Day (which means ‘sovereignty’). This became an annual celebration in 1958, filled with multicultural, artistic, and sport events, but wasn’t officially known as Canada Day until 1982!

Whatever you want to call it, here’s some ways to celebrate in Vancouver on July 1:

  • Celebrate Canada Day at Canada Place with music, entertainment, food vendors, sports shows, an official Ceremony, a children’s park, the Canada Day parade and the Fireworks Show in Burrard Inlet. 10am-11pm. Free.
  • Join theCanada Day celebration at Granville Island for the annual Parade, an official Ceremony, dances, jazz performances, a children’s pavilion, face painting and the like. 12~10pm. Free.
  • For something a bit different, try the Steveston Salmon Fest for a Parade, an official Ceremony, culture shows, craft fairs, art exhibits, a carnival, the famous salmon BBQ, and more. 6:3am (if you want the pancake breakfast) until 5pm. $15/plate.
  • Don’t forget that most malls and community centers will have family friendly activities to celebrate as well like Burnaby Village Museum (11am-4:30pm), Lougheed Center (12-3pm) and Edmonds Community Center (grand opening of the center and Fred Randall Pool 10am-12pm, Canada Day celebration 12pm-3:30pm in Edmonds Park).
  • The Run Canada Day Race (Kids, 5K, 10K) will start warming up at the UBC Running Room at 9:45am. Late registration is available if you’re feeling active, $20/$40/$40.
  • Or there’s the Surrey Canada Day celebrations at the Amphitheater, with loads of activites, tea, an expo, amusement rides and a full music and artist lineup. 10am-10:30pm. Free.

And don’t forget these great events over the long weekend!

Locarno Beach: Perfect for Summer Nostalgia

When Vancouver leans towards summer, make memories at Locarno Beach.

While everyone flocks to the water at the peak of summer, the beauty of Vancouver’s beaches often lies in the ‘not-quite-beach-weather’ days.

Panorama of Locarno Beach, Vancouver - YourLocalKat

It’s that typical Vancouver June weather – the city just starts leaning into summer, flip flops and tank tops and surf shorts are donned but the water isn’t breached by anyone other than excited dogs and fearless children. Picnics are set up but the mini BBQs are used as heat lamps for cold hands on chilly evenings. Vancouver beaches are made for this.ATV tracks on Locarno Beach, Vancouver - YourLocalKat

And though it is just another patch of the 20-kilometer stretch of sand that the city is fortunate to have, Locarno, sheltered from the main streets, feels like it’s all on its own, remote, comfortable – Locarno’s bliss is in its coziness.

Towards the city at Locarno Beach, Vancouver - YourLocalKatThe coziness of rocky coves and secluded strands of sand hidden behind rows of bush and tall cedars that act as private beaches when the tide is low. The coziness that’s made for the most nostalgic of summer memories: for those casual coffee dates spent chatting on a log watching the sunset, for group sing-a-long bonfires that go late into the night, and romantic moments flirting well into the sunrise.

And those memories are what summers are made of.

Locarno isn’t actually that small or remote – there’s loads of picnic tables, a dog park, and six volleyball courts, but it feeeeeeels cozy. And for all those ‘non-beachy-beach-days’ that Vancouver is so well acquainted with, feeling cozy around a bonfire is just right.

View Larger Map

Top Ten Fun Facts About Toronto – The First Timer’s Special

Today I had my first pre-TBEX tour – The First Timer’s Special: All About Toronto, and it was a whirlwind!

From the entertainment district to St. Lawrence Market, the financial district to Queen’s Park, Forest Hill through to Chinatown – there was quite a lot of information to fit into three hours!

That said, since the tour was full of facts and figures about the city, I thought I’d share the top ten fun facts (some impressive, some geeky) that I learned.

Top Ten Fun Facts About Toronto

10. Toronto has approximately 200 cultures! 200!

9. Toronto’s PATH is the world’s largest underground complex. Linking offices, attractions and shopping arcades, it’s got to be big – it has 29 kilometers worth of walkways!

8. The hospitals concentrated on University Avenue are all actually linked by a tunnel 20ft underground in case a patient needs to be moved.

7. The new City Hall is designed by a fella from Sweden – when viewed from above, the Council Chamber is supposed to look like an eye between two sets of lashes.

6. Toronto’s Island Park is actually a 900-acre floating sandbag. It’s also where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run.

5. Casa Loma’s original inhabitant was able to build the lavish castle because of the money he made providing electricity to the city. He started losing money when Sir Alex Beck’s generation system was set up on Niagara Falls.

4. Front Street is called as such because it used to be the front of the harbour. The few blocks between the current harbour and where the water used to come up to on Front Street are actually all landfill.

3. Toronto was originally established in 1793 as York by Governor John Graves Simcoe who thought the location was a less vulnerable than the previous capital of Newark to an attack by ‘evil Americans’.

2. Toronto has more condominium and high rise buildings than any other place in North America. And has many more permits for the upcoming years!

1. When the City Hall moved into what was called “The Ward” – the Jewish neighborhood between College, University, Queen and Yonge streets – the Jewish community moved to where employment could be found, specifically in the textile hub of Kensington Market. Times have changed – this is now better known as Chinatown.

Fake islands and harbours, underground passages and an intense turnover in cultures. Cool, huh?

Do you know any other cool facts about Toronto?? Add them in the comments!!