As the weather continues to be varying degrees of frigid here in the Pacific Northwest, I seriously began to question our plans to spend the week of mid-winter break skiing in Canada. Not even Whistler, which seems like a simple straight shot from Seattle (I mean, they have snow but isn’t their climate similar to Seattle?)…but the Canadian Rockies. As I was anxiously watching the forecast hover near 0 degrees (double and triple checking that I was in Fahrenheit and not Celsius), I was thinking that we were crazy for these plans! I mean, our neighbors were off to soak up the sun in Hawaii, Mexico, and Florida.
We packed and repacked the car. Do we need hand and foot warmers? Do we put the rocket box on top of the car? We did and then we took it off. Yet no sooner did we set off, it was the beginning of an epic adventure. Isn’t this the nature of a family road trip, after all??
Driving north towards the Canadian border was a beautiful journey and we got more and more excited as we started spotting snow. Granted, there was some bickering (let’s be real, the three kids were packed among our snow gear in the back seat), and we had to close-up the iPads so that we could count the bald eagles. But the gradual climb after Kelowna, BC (Dairy Queen cones in hand), was full of wonder and anticipation. What could Big White have in store for us? We could not have anticipated the wonderful surprise we had ahead of us.
“Snow Ghosts”Our condo right off the ‘Easy Street’ run, through the village
This photo taken from our window. Celebrating local Olympian, Kelsey Serwa’s gold medal ski cross win
Where We Stayed
Our condo? I mean the description couldn’t have been more acurate when they stated it is “ski in, ski out.” One reviewer described handing a cup of coffee out the window to a passing skier. In fact, the entire village seems to be surrounded by blue and green runs with easy access to the lifts and gondola that weave in and out of the center of the village. For a family ski vacation, the easy access to our condo was key. We stopped in for potty breaks and snacks and lunch. The kids got on their ski clothes (no easy feat!), shoveled in some breakfast, and trudged with skis in their father’s hands up to the ski school each morning. We didn’t drive our car our entire stay! Which again, as novice snow drivers, was key.
The girls loved their instructor, Amy
It’s The Snow
Big White’s claim to fame is it’s “Okanagan Champaign Powder.” While I know that I love champagne, I wasn’t sure what this meant until I truly experienced this phenomenal snow! Especially coming from Western Washington, where I’m used to the scratching noise my board makes on the icy conditions. The snow at Big White was truly aaaaamazing! Not too heavy, thick or even fluffy…but just right.
But the best part of the mountain? You can get take any lift to the top and take several blue and green runs down. From the very top. Unlike other resorts, where I have felt stuck on the same few lifts where all 3 of my kids can ski, we were able to explore the entire mountain without fear of getting stuck going down a run outside of our comfort zone.
The kids enjoyed two full day of lessons at Big White (a reasonable 9:30 am-3:15 pm, including lunch). The ski school is hard to miss, located in the center of the village. The kids explored the entire mountain and couldn’t wait to show us the “bumpy alley,” Winnie the Pooh’s house, and other fun courses hidden among the runs. And what a treat it is to ski with adults, like a double date. By 3:15, you’re ready to rejoin your rowdy clan and ski several runs together before turning in the skis for the remainder of the day. And, after 2 days of lessons, we felt confident skiing the third day as a family of 5. There was even a 6-person chair that we were all able to ride up together!
The play didn’t stop mid-afternoon…with two families including 5 kids between us, does it ever?? Big White offers numerous family activities after the lifts close. The kids enjoyed free popcorn and hot cocoa each afternoon after a short Gondola ride down the the Happy Valley lodge. Meanwhile, exhausted adults toasted to another fabulous day of tiring each other out. Nachos and live music completed the perfect day.
As if skiing and boarding were not enough, we got out on the ice rink one morning. Jack rented his first pair of hockey skates…who knew they were different than figure skates?? Ok, every Canadian. You can also rent a hockey stick. We stuck with the walkers.
And tubing. Not just for kids! The husbands were first reluctant to participate but the entire crew agreed that this may have been our most favorite activity. And with a magic carpet and lights, you can go up again and again (and again) for endless fun. Or until you get hungry. Too exhausted to make our meal, we took the gondola back up to the village for pizza.
And one of the most special coincidences was that the winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang coincided with our trip. While sipping cocoa after a day on the slopes, the kids were glued to the tv watching down hill skiing, hockey…and curling. In the mornings, they were inspired to build half pipes out of lego, complete with a medal stand. In fact, hometown athlete Kelsey Serwa won a gold medal in the women’s ski cross while we were visiting. It was so exciting to partake in the celebration!
Check out all of the “after-run” activities Big White has to offer. Ice climbing? And snow mobiling for kids? Clearly we need to go back.
We’re Going Back!
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Not ready to return to reality, we spent an extra night in Kelowna (an hour outside of Big White). There we caught a Kelowna Rockets hockey game against the Seattle Thunderbirds. I’m a new hockey fan! The music, the energy (they give out cow bells), the beer, and the fast-paced games…we loved it all! So much so, we came home and signed-up for the waiting list for Seattle’s pending NHL team. Really. Perhaps I just love everything about Canada?!
We’re already planning our return trip. To note, lift tickets are free this April 1-8 when you book your accommodations through the Big White central reservation system. And, Alaska flies directly from Seattle to Kelowna (you can skip the 6-7 hour road trip adventure), and your lift ticket is free the day of your flight (for any date)!
Join us! Sunny weather, beach vacations pale in comparison to the family fun to be had in Big White’s snow. Thanks for reading. ~Jenn
This post was done in collaboration with Ski Big White resort. As always, you can expect all opinions on this blog to be entirely my own.
Thank you to Sam Deighton of Big White for the beautiful family photos of our tubing adventures.