Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Shameless plug for a fantastic winter resort

This is the third year my brother and sister-in-law (D & E respectively) and Ian and I have come to Sun Peaks, near Kamloops, BC, for our annual week-long ski trip. The tradition started when I was living in Boston for those two distant years, and D, coming from Seattle, met me in Colorado for spring break. The first year, we stayed somewhat near Vail, but closer to Keystone, Breckenridge, and Copper Mountain. Vail was definitely best, so the next year we went directly there. The first year Ian was around, we four went to Vail again, but I had long since moved back to Seattle and we realized that for the price of four plane tickets and a rental SUV, we could drive our own SUV and stay in a place much nicer than the pseudo condo-with-microwave-which-counts-as-kitchen we could afford in Colorado.

We visited Whistler the first year, and stayed in a ski in/ski out condotel for a week. This was pretty nice, but there were other places within driving distance. The next year we chose Sun Valley, Idaho, which is, it turns out, at 14 hours, beyond our limits for how far we’re willing to drive. The benefits of Sun Valley were two-fold, however: E’s southern Idaho family came to visit for a day (well, seven of the remaining eight came); and my second cousin happened to be living there, in Steve McQueen’s old house. One of his ex wives (perhaps his widow?) was renting it out for the extra income. The house was 1960’s awesome—a giant log-cabin place, with a red carpeted game room (complete with original fridge, covered with stickers and Steve’s friends’ handwritten notes, behind the custom bar), and a very sexy master shower/bath thing that reportedly took advantage of a hot spring up the hill behind the house, and was all tiled and had some steps going down and was behind large windows and a glass door. So you could, presumably, watch sexy young starlets bathe each other. But I digress.

The next year, we came to Sun Peaks. D had heard from a friend that it was a newly minted resort, and so not terribly crowded yet. My mother, hearing it was near Kamloops, reminded us that her grandmother had been the first white child born in that town (a somewhat dubious distinction—I mean, exciting and all, but a little sad. Presumably, previously non-white children were born there, before they were shuttled off to the local reservation). Anyway, we came, and fell in love.

Sun Peaks lies about 7 hours from Seattle (although we’ve only once in three attempts so far made it here in anything approaching that little time . . . easy to get lost if you actively try, which we did the first two years, although we are familiar now with many back roads in rural Whatcom County, and many even backer, dirt roads, in whatever township it is around Kamloops). In the last three years even, development has exploded, with large, beautiful townhome vacation condos going in all over the valley. But they’re nice looking on the outside, all timber framed and full of windows to take advantage of the scenery, and fantastic on the inside. This year we’re staying in a two bedroom plus den (for accordion, horn, or computing), which shares a wall with a vacant place on one side and a place on the other side full of a family of five. Here’s the amazing thing—we really only know they’re a family of five because we’ve seen the kids in their hot tub. We hear them not at all, except when they’re going up or down the stairs, which they evidently can only do as fast as possible, but they also evidently only do rarely. Really, the soundproofness is amazing.

And outside, not only are there almost 3000 vertical feet and almost 3700 skiable acres for downhill, there are also 40 or more miles of cross-country skiing trails (with more than half track-set), and probably 15-20 miles of snowshoe trails which I can now say, without hesitation, is way more than enough.

We always get 4 of 5 day tickets so we can take a day off in the middle and recover our strength, and today was that day. Except for the three hours of snowshoeing (which is, in fact, more painful on the feet than skiing and way more tiring) and the 1 ½ hour return hiking on one of the graded cross-country trails. Yeah. Totally rested.

Of course, there are also such adventures offered as driving your own dogsled team, a fondue dinner and a torchlight ski down an easy hill after dark, sleigh rides and more.

But the true best thing about staying in an actual condo with an actual kitchen? Dinners like tonight’s—homemade mushroom risotto and weisswurst—or last night’s Indonesian tempeh with peanut sauce, or the upcoming halibut curry and mango sticky rice dessert, or the aforementioned nerd pizza.

Really, isn’t it always about the food?

No comments: