What better way to escape the working grind than an epic vacation?
Having no good answer to this, myself and The Irishman planned out exactly such a vacation for ourselves and the ladies (Kyna and Popple). First, Kyna headed up to Seattle, so that I could take some time to show her the sites (aka. wine and dine her). Then we headed up towards The Irishman's for an evening of boozing and partying.
(as a note: in both directions across the border, they were very insistent on seeing Kyna's full papers, including proof of citizenship. Gone are the days where a driver's license would suffice to get you across the border. You have been warned.)
After a day or two of adventures, slackination, and Maplewood hockey and beer (mostly me drinking, gotta love Cowen scoring twice in a game), we headed over to Comox, the little town neighbouring Courtney; itself a somewhat bigger town an hour North of Nanaimo. We were staying in the Vineyard Cottage suite at Restless Winds. A lovely little getaway on the coast, with a wood stove, a complete kitchen, lovely decor, and even TV for those nights when you just want to curl up in front of the fire and veg. They get my first recommendation of the night.
Comox itself is a cute little town, but except for the air force base (lots of tourist stuff around that), and a very cute SPCA shelter (where the kitties just use the entire complex as their personal playground), it's not going to win points for adventure spot of the year. Courtney was more of your standard urbanised town, and had more amenities, though less focused on tourists. We found a lovely cheese shop and a few nice coffee places to amuse ourselves. Top points to the shopkeepers in Courtney and Comox for the worst puns for innocent stores: "Wood in Hand", "All Wet", and "I-ho's" take the medals.
Skiing was lovely. Mt. Washington is a high quality drive-up mountain, with a comprehensive selection of runs, from a whole region of the mountain for beginners to a pure double-black back-country. Prices were certainly not cheap, but more affordable than some other mountains. Ample rentals, and a cozy cafeteria to rest on. Where this mountain loses points is its hours - afternoon skiing ends at 3:30! There is night skiing, but it only includes the green runs.
For our final night, myself and The Irishman took the ladies out for a nice dinner at Tomato Tomäto, a cute little restaurant in an old heritage house location. This place takes top spot for recommendations for this trip. Without a doubt, this is the best restaurant I've ever been to, and I've been to a few very nice restaurants. The drinks were tasty and boozey, the appetizers mouth-watering, the entrees perfect in every way, and desserts so tempting that even completely stuffed, we couldn't resist. All with a warm friendly decor, and excellent service. If you are ever in Courtney, go there.
Of course, then we headed home. You'd think, with all the effort Microsoft put into the Daylight Savings Time fix, that I of all people wouldn't forget. But sure enough, we thought we were doing great getting back right up until we pulled into a Nanaimo gas station, and saw we were an hour late. But, heroes that we are, we found an alternative route down to Tsawwassen, and still made the upcoming epic concert. But that is a story for another post.