Last March, we wrote an essay for Vancouver Is Awesome about Charles Montgomery’s fantastic book Happy City, and how it perfectly articulated our family’s own decade-long journey from the suburbs of Toronto to the heartbeat of Vancouver. In the coming months, we will share the experiences unique to this city that fill us with pride, joy and excitement; allowing us to build a happier city, just by living it.
The Christmas holidays are generally a quiet time for our family. Being one of the many out-of-province transplants in Vancouver, most of our Christmases are spent taking time to unwind from the hectic routines and school/work schedules, spending quality time together with our two children instead of the usual family dinners and gatherings.
This year was no exception, and we enjoyed a quiet first week of the school break, including the obligatory day of toy construction on Christmas Day. By the following weekend, we were all feeling quiet restful, albeit a bit antsy. Generally speaking, we are a fairly active family, meaning we don’t spend too many weekends sat at home, curled up on the couch and relaxing. So after spending a week rejuvenating, it was time to get outdoors again, and we had the perfect solution.
Having grown up in Ontario, we hold a nostalgia for crisp, winter days. Hearing the crunch of snow under our feet, building snowmen, and most importantly, spending a day tobogganing with friends and family. So with the help of Modo, on Monday, December 29th, we booked a Dodge Journey, piled all our snow gear into the roomy trunk, and set off North to Whistler and a Winter Wonderland.
Because we live without car ownership, getting to take a trip by car is always exciting for our kids, as they experience a different perspective travelling in the back seat as opposed to walking or riding a bike. We’re quite grateful to have access to so many affordable car-sharing options in Vancouver – facilitating our lifestyle choices – but allowing us the freedom for longer distance trips to some of the beautiful landscapes of British Columbia not easily accessibly by bicycle.
Although the local, North Shore Mountains (for one of whom Modo are offering a free driving credit promotion) were still yet to see a sizeable dumping of snow, Whistler did not disappoint. The kids faces lit up with anticipation at the first sighting of snow covered trees, and our youngest was sure to repeat the age-old question, “are we there yet?”, every five minutes from Squamish to Whistler. Thankfully, he did get in a quick nap so we had a little reprieve for a few minutes.
Upon arriving, it took everything to keep the kids’ excitement contained as we all put on our snow gear and bundled up for cold, shaking dust off snow pants that hadn’t seen wear for almost a year. But once we were ready, we set off on a walk along the trails towards Lost Lake, the kids wasting no time, laying down in the snow to make snow angels, making snowballs to throw at each other and us, and attempting to build a snowman. As we reached Austria Haus, it was time to head back to the village for two reasons: further trails towards Lost Lake are only accessible to cross-country skiers, and it was nearly time to set off for the main reason we came to Whistler – snow tubing! Perhaps cross-country skiing will be the theme of our next visit…
As we mentioned, tobogganing was a big part of our childhood, and since moving to Vancouver, the closest we’ve come so far has been hauling the kids in our sleigh on the rare snowy day to get to school, or the very rare occasions we have gone snow-shoeing on one of the North Shore mountains. But until this year, snow-tubing, as attractive an activity it is, has never been an option due to height restrictions. Needless to say, we were very pleased to know our youngest had surpassed the minimum height of forty-two inches, now standing just over four feet tall, and was able to hit the runs with his parents and older sister. And so, just as the tube park opened, we purchased our two hour passes and headed to the Excalibur Gondola and up to the tubing runs.
The park would not disappoint. After one test run to ensure they weren’t too scary – for parent and child alike – it was a consistent race back to the top for the next run, including riding in doubles down some of the faster lanes. The biggest achievement was that of our youngest, who turns six in couple of weeks, who insisted on riding solo down one of the faster runs while his mom, dad and sister headed over to the doubles run. The grin of complete satisfaction at not only braving the run but his brief taste of independence was enough to light up even the darkest Vancouver day. As our passes expired, we made our way back down to the village for a picnic lunch and a wander through the village, including playing at the snow-covered playground in the Olympic Plaza.
As the day began to close, we piled back into the car, shed the winter layers, and set off back to Vancouver with the setting sun as our guide. Exhausted, our kids took the trip home as an opportunity to get in a lengthy nap, and we enjoyed a peaceful ride, the beauty of the Coastal Mountains, as well as catching up on our podcasts, a handy bonus with a vehicle equipped with an A/V jack.
Before heading back over the Burrard Inlet, we made one last stop – the viewpoint on Cypress Bowl Road. By that time, the sun had completely set, and the view of the sparkling city below was a pretty spectacular way to end our epic day trip to the snowy mountains and back again. Living car-lite presents its only challenges, but with a little bit of planning, and having access to affordable car-sharing through Modo, there is no limit to the adventures we can have as a family, in our own city and beyond!
To view the full collection of photographs taken by the author, please click here.
Melissa Bruntlett is the co-founder of Modacity, a multi-service consultancy focused on inspiring healthier, happier, simpler forms of urban mobility through words, photography and film. You can find them on Twitter: @modacitylife.