In March, the house packed up and went to Panorama ski resort in BC for a couple of nights. Before I start, let me tell you about our travel buddies/flatmates.

  • Carris – English, beautiful girlfriend of Sean and travel guru.
  • Sean – English, boyfriend of Carris and a mean cook/baker.
  • Kurt – Australian, older brother of Zeke and the maker of the amazing video below.
  • Zeke – Australian, Kurt’s not so little brother and the loudest in the house.
  • Tate – Canadian, amazing at almost every Winter sport and longtime Banff resident.

Through being Banff locals we got lift tickets for $69 a day and accommodation on the mountain for $9 a room! Awesome!

Day 1
Fergus, Tate, Kurt, Zeke and I left early in the day on the Wednesday but found out early on our trip would be longer due to the  93 being closed for avalanche control. We stopped in Lake Louise for a sausage roll before continuing up the Trans Canada through Yoho National Park to Golden. 

 On the way we stopped at The Natural Bridge, a rock formation that spans the Kicking Horse river just past Field. The boys meandered down the path in deep snow and along the side of the icy river to go into the cave under the bridge, it looked wonderful in there but I didn’t want to fall into the feeezing river so Fergus and I stayed on the bridge above.We continued on, beers in hand, music blaring, through the gorge to Golden and on to the 95 to Invermere. Stopped for some Timbits before climbing up the hill to PanoramaAfter checking into the Pine Inn we unpacked and headed down to the store on the old town gondola to get supplies (beer and Yagermister). 

Suituated in BC’s Purcell mountains, Panorama has nearly 3000 acres of terrain, 6 chairlifts and Canada’s largest slopeside hot pools as well as shops, cafes and bars.After a few drinks in our rooms we headed for the T-bar, a bar within crawling distance to our lodge! Had a few beers and played some pool (I kicked everyone’s arse!) and chatted. After a while Carris and Sean turned up (Carris had to work in the morning) and we enjoyed a hilarious game of musical bingo which I was rubbish at and by the end I didn’t know if the game was still on every time a song came on! After that we hit up the dance floor and showed off our dance moves, it was so fun. 

Later on it turned a bit fuzzy, I know I had 3 shoeys (drinking beer out of someone’s shoe) and it was a pretty late and messy night…….

Day 2

After a lovely breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches cooked in our room on a camping stove by Carris and Sean we warily made our way up to the chairlift a mere 10 metres from the lodge.

Headed right up the very top via 2 chairlifts and started our day.  Started on a mogully black run where there was a lot of stopping, falling over, laughing and general hungover shenanegins. Lost Kurt and Zeke after the second run and found out later they had retired back to the room. It was very icy over the whole mountain which made it hard work but it was sunny so we were rewarded with amazing views of the valley and surrounding mountain ranges. 

Relaxed on the deck chairs up the top at the Summit hut and had coffee. It was a lazy day but most of us skied right up until near closing time. Later in the afternoon we hit the hot pools. The one large and two smaller pools ranging from 35-40 degrees were so relaxing after a day on the slopes despite loud children splashing about and the boys throwing balls and squirting water at each other, it was rather nice. Boys will be boys!There is a free shuttle bus that takes people to and from Invermere nearby so jumped on that and headed down the mountain to town to get dinner. It was a long journey on a windy road, we were tired and some were a bit green round the gills. The bus driver kindly recommended a place called The New Station Pub to us which ended up being very nice. It is right on Lake Invermere and we saw a lovely sunset over the lake and mountains.Had a big dinner as many of us hadn’t eaten lunch. I had the Chicken Souvlaki which was yum! Had a few drinks and walked up to town to look around while waiting for the bus. Not much to see in Invermere. We were even stopped by local security asking why we were loitering around at 10:30 pm in town! We all look like friendly folk, I think….

Day 3

Headed back up the mountain again in the morning, another lovely day but the mountain was still icy up the top. Did a few runs up the top before sticking lower down where the snow was slightly softer. Had lunch and beers (it was St Patrick’s day so Guinness all round) down at the main building and chilled out for a bit in the sun.Did a few more runs up the top and through the park before calling it a day. The terrain was great and the mountain has long, wide tree runs and wasn’t busy at all, it was just a pity the snow wasn’t great but for $69 who can complain really.

Packed up the cars and headed on our way home. Stopped at Radium Hot Springs for a dip before carrying on through the gorge on the 93 to Castle Junction. The road had been closed for avalanche control as I mentioned earlier and we could see why as we travelled through there. There were reminants of avalanches all along the road. Up on the mountains you could see where the snow had fallen and on the road where it had been cleared. It was an amazing piece of roadway and driving over the passes and through the valleys really makes you appreciate the scale and beauty of the Canadian Rockies. I really hope to do the drive again in the Summer as there were so many viewpoints and things to do along the way we didn’t stop at. A weekend I will always remember, thanks guys!

Here is a GoPro video Kurt made of our trip.Muppets go to Panorama

Nanaimo – Who said there was nothing there?

We caught the small Islandlink bus to Namaimo from downtown Victoria. Not a great amount to see but we did pass a lot of forest and costal areas which was nice, admittedly I did sleep most of the journey.

We were dropped off in the afternoon at the Nanaimo ferry terminal so had to catch a bus to the main town and then walked up the hill to our next couchsurfing host’s home. It was a lovely big old house with plenty of character. Our room was a double room downstairs complete with ensuite. Sweet! Another couple from Columbia & Sweeden were in the next room. Our host, Steve also had his mother and daughter staying over that night so it was a full house. 

Fergus and I went to get some wine from the local bottle shop while the other guests cooked a lovely dinner of veggie burgers, hummous, salad and other yummy stuff. It was so lovely to have a proper healthy home cooked meal. Chatted and then had an early night.

The following day we decided to go for breakfast in town. After walking around a bit we finally settled on a small French cafe. Unfortunately they were very busy and after a muck up with our order we were given free biscuits and a free piece on Nanaimo bar. Great! The food was yummy and we were in no hurry so it was all good. 

Watched the daily canon firing beside the bastian then headed around the dock to the water taxi to get to Protection Island and jumped straight on after paying $9 each.

A short ride later we docked on the island just beside where Canada’s only floating pub is. We walked up onto the island past a carpark with no cars, only golf buggies, that is how the locals on the island get around!

We strolled along the gravel roads (all with oceanic names (Pirates Lane, Captain Morgan’s Blvd etc) past amazing houses and shacks surrounded by lush forest, it was simply stunning. At one point we cut out onto a small piece of land beside a jetty and walked around the rocks and shared our Nanaimo bar, it was nice but very sweet.

Strolled around the rest of the island, checked out the outside area of the closed museaum and headed for a bite to eat at the Dingy Dock floating pub.

We had clam chowder, a huge bowl of fries and a beer before catching the ferry over to the neighbouring Newcastle Island. This island is not inhabited except for a few campers. There is also a Museam and a small store. We wandered around the islands perimeter through large forests, past rocky coves where we saw a small seal pup waiting for its dinner, small beaches, an inland lake and some totem poles.

Caught the ferry back to Nanaimo and walked up the hill to the house. It was quite late so we stopped at a pub on the way home for dinner. I had more Poutine. Mmmmm. Settled in for an early night again after stargazing for a while.