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

Bremerton/Seattle – A big surprise!

We discovered we were staying an hour outside Seattle during our plane ride ( very bumpy plane ride) to Seattle from Cleveland. We were a little worried because of the time it would take to get to Bremerton but we managed to pay $3 each to get the train from the airport to the city and then $8 to get to Bremerton from Seattle. It was a lovely ferry ride over the harbour and though the islands as the sun was setting. 

We got an uber to the house and were greeted Leah and Ryan who showed us around and introduced to us to their flat mate Alan and other AirB&B guest Jen. Ryan made me a whisky and Coke and we all sat around the bonfire chatting. 

On our first day Ryan very kindly offerd to take us out for the whole day to explore the area. We were so up for that as there is so much you miss out on travelling by bus and he is a local so has an abundance of knowledge of the area. 

We set off around 9 and stopped for McDonalds breakfast and then had a quick stop at a Marijuana shop for a look as it it legal in Washington. We carried on South on highway 106 to Skokomish where we visited Hunter farms which sold animals (Leah and Ryan’s rabbits were bought here), veggies, flowers, crafts and condiments. We tasted some amazing locally made ice cream and bought some drinks.

From Skokomish we headed North on highway 101 and then off road to the West through the forest to High Steel Bridge, a 685 foot long and 420 foot high steel bridge crossing the South Fork Skokomish River. It was a bit hairy to be so high up and the barriers were not exactly high either. A perfect Bungy spot! 

From the bridge we headed back out towards the water to Hoodsport. We stopped at Hoodsport Winery where we paid $5 to taste the amazing Blackberry, Blackcurrent and Apple fruit wines. Most of them I really enjoyed and the hostess was really friendly and knew a lot about the local area. 

After a few glasses of wine we needed something to soak up the alcohol so we stopped along the road a bit at Hamma Hamma Oyster company for some Oysters (and more wine). We sat by the outdoor prep area and chatted to the guy opening fresh oysters to serve people, he gave Fergus and I an oyster each as well.  We bought the Steamed garlic oysters and I had a glass of NZ Oyster Bay Sav Blanc and Fergus had a beer. What a great place. Right beside the water one side and forest the other. 

We got back on the road again a tad behind schedule so unfortunately missed a few things Ryan had suggested we do. Headed up to Finn River Cidery which was a lot bigger thank he winery and had a huge outdoor seating area and even a lady playing songs and singing. We did a cider tasting there and tried about 8 different ciders from apples grown right there on the orchard, most of them I really liked and the hostess was really knowledgeable and sweet. 

Headed further up and crossed the Hood Canal Bridge over to Port Gamble then headed back down South to Silverdale where we popped into Leah’s work.

Leah took Fergus and I to the Safeway to get some snacks and drinks and we returned to the house and had some drinks in the sun. Later that evening another AirB&B guest arrived to sleep on the futon. Ian, a 22 year old student from Melbourne. It really was a fantastic day out. Thanks Ryan!

 The following day was a lazy (hangover day). We went to a local cafe, Hi Lo Cafe where we had a brilliant breakfast served by really happy and friendly staff. It was a kooky place with a hippy vibe and you could even sit in a VW van and have your meal! Later on we just went to the shops and made soup for dinner and chilled.

On the Tuesday we set off for Seattle early in the morning. Got the bus down to the terminal and jumped on a ferry. It took an hour to get to the city and the ride was beautiful. All the stunning houses lining the shoreline, little islands and ships dotted around the place really reminded of home and the Otago Peninsula. 

Arriving in Seattle you could really smell the city and notice the crowds, this made me certain I had made a good choice in choosing to stay in Bremerton. We had seen enough cities and wanted to see more of the outdoors. We wandered around the Piers and then up to Pike Place Market Which was heaving with fresh produce, nik nak shops and people. Wanted to get some food in there but it was so busy we opted for a cheaper option further into the city.

After a lunch of Burrito Bowl which was yummy we got the Monorail over to the Space Needle. We didn’t go up as we had already been up a number of tall structures on this trip so missed this one. The surrounding gardens, building and sculptures kept us entertained for a while before we moved on to the Olympic Sculpture Garden and then to a Pierside Irish bar. After 3 drinks there we ran to get the 5:30 ferry back to Bremerton.

That last evening we went to the Safeway and got a bunch of meat and some drinks and Ryan cooked a BBQ. We sat around chatting and watching Ryan expertly help Ian how to put up his new hammock.

I had a lovely barbequed Ham Steak and salad roll and Fergus had sausages. Jen had returned and another one of Ryan’s mates also joined us. It was great for Fergus staying here as both Ryan and their flatmate Alan were gardeners so the boys were able to talk shop a lot. A really great night with new friends and similar to what we used to do back home during one of Fergus’s BBQs.

I throughly enjoyed staying with Leah and Ryan and really hope we see them again soon.