A little taste of summer. That’s what I had in mind when I suggested to Bear we go for a drive. He works hard, and it seemed to me he hadn’t taken much time to enjoy the season. Go for a drive, maybe spend some time at the beach, have a picnic… anything to get him out of the house for a while. I was thinking about one of the local backroads, but Bear had a different idea.
“Can we go to Revelstoke?” he asked. Revelstoke? It wasn’t exactly the short drive I had in mind, but why not? I wasn’t sure what there was to do in Revelstoke. When I was a kid, it was just the place we stopped for gas on our way to Whispering Pines Resort, a most amazing family-friendly campground near Mara Lake. I have many fond memories of Whispering Pines – camp cookouts, movie nights, mini-golf, the pool. I learned to dive in that pool.
But Revelstoke….Hmmm. Could be fun.
“Sure,” I said. “A daytrip, or do you want to spend the night?”
“Let’s spend the night.”
I booked us a room using one of those websites like Expedia (remind me not to do that again) and looked up Things to Do in Revelstoke. Bear looked up Top Ten Places to Eat in Revelstoke.
With a vague and fuzzy plan, we got up early in the morning and headed out.
Once we were past Sicamous, it was new territory. I had never driven the Trans-Canada Highway, and Bear had never seen it. We stopped at the Enchanted Forest along the way, just to have a quick look. Bear is a little old for it, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk it. I haven’t been to the Enchanted Forest since I was 18. At the time, the exhibits were in a sad state of disrepair, fading and chipped paint, structures collapsing. It was wonderful to see everything has been fixed up. There is a second family fun park right next door for slightly older kids – an adventure park with numerous small zip lines, etc. The parking lot was crammed full of cars, dogs, and strollers. Knowing the Enchanted Forest would be around to enchant generations to come was strangely comforting.
Once we arrived in Revelstoke, our first order of business was lunch. We shared a large poutine at The Village Idiot. Of course, with a name like that, we had to eat there. The poutine was amazing, as was the atmosphere. When the cocktail menu was unfolded, we found a version of Snakes and Ladders, called Slopes and Lifts. Using coins as tokens and a site on my phone to roll a die, I kicked Bear’s butt three times before lunch arrived.
Even though it was after check in time, our room wasn’t ready when we arrived.
“Let’s drive to Golden,” I said.
“Okay.” Bear didn’t bother to ask why. He just agreed. I love that kid.
The Roger’s Pass stuck out in my memory as some of the most spectacular scenery I’d ever seen. I was excited to share it with Bear. It didn’t disappoint.
On our way into Golden we stopped at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre, arriving just in time for the last presentation of the day. As we were listening to the presentation, one of the wolves began to howl, and all the others joined in. It seemed to come from all sides – a haunting, yet exhilarating, symphony. The hair on my arms stood on end as the sound of the wolves filled my whole body. There was something so primal, so natural, even though this was the first time I heard wolves calling, I felt it had always been a part of me, and I had been a part of it. Calm settled over me, and the slight headache I had from driving all day vanished in that moment.
Bear took this picture.
Once we arrived in Golden, we found an ice cream truck and ate a cone. Then we drove back to Revelstoke. Well worth the trip. Mountains, wolves, and ice cream. I wanted a taste of summer, and I got one. But it wasn’t over yet.
Back in Revelstoke, live music was playing in the street, as there is every night during the summer. We couldn’t get a patio table at The Taco Club, but we did get another fine meal.
During the drive to Golden, or maybe on the drive back from Golden (who’s counting?) we agreed on a plan for the following morning. I made a phone call, and we were all set.
In the morning, we would embark on a white-water rafting trip.
When the alarm went off at 7:30 in the morning, I made my way to the bathroom and slipped on my bathing suit, which, for some reason, I had thrown into my bag at the last minute, not really expecting to need it. Then I woke Bear. The day was absolutely gorgeous, and even at 8:00 am, already starting to get hot. We opted to take the grab-and-go breakfast the motel provided – yogurt, a boiled egg, an apple, and a granola bar, instead of trying to find a restaurant.
After signing our waivers and being fitted for wet suits, neoprene socks, and borrowed sneakers, we boarded the bus for the ride to the drop-off point, some 25 minutes out of town. While on the bus, we were given instructions on what to do in all kinds of emergency situations. My heart began to beat faster. What had I signed up for? This rafting trip would last about two and a half hours and take us through both class 2 and 3 rapids. Was I ready for this?
At the drop-off point, we fitted ourselves with helmets and lifejackets and made our way down to the water. Even though I’m 75 pounds lighter than I was the last time we went white-water rafting, it was still a challenge to get down to, and board, the raft. Our guide, Luke, told me I didn’t have to paddle if I wasn’t up to it. Bear laughed out loud, knowing there’s nothing wrong with the upper half of my body. I’m not completely helpless yet.
(Apex, the rafting company we signed up with, takes photos of the trip from various points along the way, and gave us digital copies when the run was complete. The following photos are from the album taken by Apex.)
We pushed off, letting the swift current carry us to the first major rapid. The glacier-fed river is full of silt, making it a pale, Egyptian Blue. And it was cold. Both Bear and I had refused the fleece shirt and water jacket offered to us, as we both tend to run a little hot. Despite the temperature of the water, I did not regret my decision.
Squeals, screams, and laughter filled the air as we navigated our first set of waves, rolling, tossing, and splashing. White water foamed over the raft as we dipped and rose. Between rapids, our guide Luke entertained us with stories and jokes, and educated us about the area. The stunning views and thick forest along the banks added an aura of peacefulness to the excitement of the white-water.
My foot was cramping from being jammed under the seat to hold me in, but I held my own, paddling hard when it was called for. At one slow spot, Luke asked if anyone wanted to take a dip. Partly to stretch out, and partly to cool down, I opted to slip into the water, and was somewhat mortified when it took Bear and Luke to pull me back in. But the cool dip was worth the humiliation. Making my legs work to get back into position was worse.
As we neared the end of our run, the only disappointment was that it was about to be over. I could have gone another couple of hours, easy.
Or maybe not. Once on dry land, I realized how exhausted I was. I stumbled back onto the bus, after picking up a slice of watermelon. I was barely able to pull myself up the stairs and into a seat.
That slice of watermelon was the best thing I’ve ever tasted.
Once back in town, there were three objectives – washroom, water, and food. Fortunately, all three were available right there.
The final leg of our journey was a drive up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, in Mount Revelstoke National Park, a twenty-three kilometer drive up the mountain, switchback fashion. We stopped at a few viewpoints along the way.
I’d read early August was the best time for wildflowers in the park and was disappointed there didn’t seem to be many. But the higher we climbed the more wildflowers appeared until the meaning of the words Meadows in the Sky became apparent.
Our final stop, in Vernon, for a quick dinner before heading home. Here, the tables were equipped with Connect Four. Bear kicked my butt three times before our meal arrived. I guess we’re even.