Bottom to Top in Whistler

15 08 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Several miles – straight up…

Good morning, Whistler!

Today is my last full day in Whistler.  I have a 9:30 tee time again and am not sure if I will play a second round (remember, there is “unlimited” golf here and I hate not to take full advantage).  I will think about it during my first round.  After yesterday’s pitiful showing I only hope I have enough balls (literally and figuratively) to finish the round today.  But first breakfast in the Grill Room. Then off to the course.

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Looks like a perfect day for golf

Today I am paired up with a couple from Switzerland.  They speak French and a tiny bit of English.  I think this may be good for my game because I can concentrate.  I plan to play “within myself” today – don’t try to be a hero and go for shots I don’t have.  Let’s see if I can finish with a shred of dignity.

Right off the first tee I hit a beautiful drive.  Then the woman gets up with a 3 wood and cracks it at least 75 yards more than my driver.  I am deflated.  I suck it up and lay up to the huge hazard crossing the fairway.  She sails over it.  That is where her game ends and I settle down realizing this will not be a competition.  I took a bogey on the hole and she had an 8.

The rest of the round was great.  I was calm and playing smart golf.  I ended the front nine with a respectable 42 and my original ball.  The back nine started with 3 pars in a row.  After a birdie and a bogey I was even par going into #16.  I ended the round 3 over with 2 strokes adding up on the brutal #18.  So happy with an 84 and still my original ball!  Shaved 10 strokes off yesterday’s round!!

So, with a great round under my belt I decided it was best to stop right there and not play a second round – make sure to leave on a good note…  I went back to the hotel and hit up the fitness room for a quick workout – feels great!

Then, I asked the Concierge for suggestions for the afternoon.  He immediately told me that I should go up the mountain in the ski lift! Sounds interesting – I am in.

The lift(s) here are right out the back door of the Fairmont.  I have only had bad experiences with chair lifts when I attempted to ski in my younger days (ask my Dad about being my “ski instructor”). I know getting on is not really a problem – it is the disembarking that is troubling.  I have never exited a chair lift without falling, ending up flat on my face with skis crossed behind me and others exiting towards me.  Without snow or skis, hopefully it will prove to be easier.

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Once I calm down, the ride is amazing.  First ride up is the Wizard lift, then I move on to the Solar Eclipse to go up higher. When you get to the end of that lift there is an entire complex with restaurants, shops, tours, etc.

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Next step is the “Peak to Peak” Goldola which spans the two mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb. Some facts:

World’s longest unsupported span for a lift of this kind at 3.024km/1.88miles

World’s highest lift of its kind at 436m/1,427ft above the valley floor.

World’s longest continuous lift system: Connecting 2 high speed chair lifts and 1 gondola.

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Ready to launch

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Views are incredible – see the two lakes?

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When the gondola finally reaches the other peak you will find another restaurant and lots of hiking and mountain bike trails (yes, people actually carry their bikes aboard the lifts in the summer!)

The final step is to hike about a mile and then board the “Peak Chair” to get up to the highest point.  I have made it this far – I have to do it.

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Made it!

The entire trip up takes almost an hour. I suppose it would be faster going down if you were skiing instead of riding the lift.  I think I prefer the lift.

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Almost back to earth.  Notice the Chateau Fairmont in the background.

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lift map – there are tons!

Wow.  I am so glad that I did that! It would have almost been a shame to be in Whistler and not get to the top of the mountain.

All of this activity has made me hungry and it is getting to be dinnertime.  I am going to follow another suggestion from the couple I met at Nicklaus North.  Dinner will be in the village at the Trattoria. I head out on foot with my trusty map and find it easily.

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Once again, I choose to sit at the bar looking into the open kitchen.  Reminds me of one of our favorite restaurants in Palm Beach – Buccan.  The chefs are buzzing around and I have a front seat for all the action. A Negroni is ordered and I sit back to watch.

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My server is awesome and makes spot on suggestions from the menu for me.  I choose the Carpaccio for a starter:

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Pairs great with a glass of Cremant from the Alsace

Then I move on to a half Caesar Salad:

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Finally a highly-recommended Indian inspired pasta dish with curry and Indian spices that is awesome:

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Such a great last full day in Whistler.  Tomorrow is my long, long driving day.  I will be heading back to reality and the states.  Only two more nights before Rich and I are re-united (“and it feels so good” – Peaches & Herb for those of you who can remember back then).





A Beastly Golf Course!

14 08 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

0 miles (ahhhhhh)

It is a beautiful day in Whistler this morning.  Temps are around 65 and supposed to get up into the 70’s.  Perfect for my first pass at the Chateau Whistler Golf Course.  But first, breakfast.  The buffet at the Wildflower Restaurant is included with my Amex perks.  I am not starving, but since they are offering I decide to pick and choose.  The selection is outstanding.

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pastry and bread station

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smoothies and infused waters

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omelet station

I end up with an egg white omelet with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Then I notice the huge hunks of maple glazed ham and the pork belly.  I ask the omelet chef if they are good and he says they are incredible.  Ok, twist my arm.

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omg – the pork belly…

Properly caffeinated and fed I ask at the bell desk for a shuttle to the course.  (It is slightly off-property.  I am immediately whisked off in a white BMW to the Chateau Whistler Golf Club.  Wow.

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Had to snap a photo while waiting for my ride

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Unfortunately, I have to pay for today’s round.  Tomorrow’s is complimentary thanks to the Fairmont President’s Club.  Also this course offers complimentary replay on the same day! Awesome.  Another shuttle (an actual car) whisks me off to the range.  I have never played at  place where you have to take a car to get to the range!  I am the only one there and cannot believe it.

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Practice area all to myself!

Today I am paired up with a gentleman from Houston (Jerry) and a pro from this club (Jai).  I come to believe later that Jerry has paid Jai to show him around the course.  I, get to reap this benefit as well.  Good thing, too because this course is a monster.  The greens are especially wicked.

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nice wildlife on this hole

I am playing like a dog.  No telling how many balls I lost – most of my bag got cleaned out.  I am sure I lost more balls today than I have in the past YEAR.  The forced carries are eating me alive.  And the greens – fuggedaboutit. I don’t feel too, too bad.  Jerry is playing worse!

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At least the scenery is magnificent

We end the round and of course I am ready to go again.  Jerry can’t stand it and phones his wife for permission to play at least nine more with me.  Things are not much better the second time around.  We race around the front nine and continue on.  Then we run into a big backup around hole 13.  Jerry and I both decide we have had enough and cash it in.  This was a very humbling golf day. Do I really have to play here again tomorrow?  Do I have enough balls?

The shuttle carries me back to the hotel where I drown my sorrows at the pool and hot tub area. A poolside Cucumber/Pomegranate Mojito helps with the pain.

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It is getting nigh on to dinnertime.  The couple I played with yesterday suggested I go to Alta Bistro in Whistler Village.  Sounds great.  The concierge gives me a map and assures me that “it is very easy to walk there.”  “You can’t miss it.”  Haha – he doesn’t know me and maps…

I venture out and pass by the ski chairlifts.  I bet this place is booming in the winter (it is quite busy right now, too).

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The stroll into the village is great.  There are lots of folks out and about and once you get into the actual village there are no cars.  Very vibrant area.

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On the way to the village – great walking path

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Who knew all this was here?

I stop to consult my map several times.  Somehow I manage to get off course, but then get myself back on track and soon see Alta Bistro.

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Alta Bistro prides themselves on locally-sourced ingredients.  I am greeted very warmly by the hostess and bartender/server  and ask to be seated at the bar.

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The bartender – Dan – is also my server.  I bug him all night about the drinks he is making, the wine, and everything else.  He is happy to oblige.  Dan suggests the cured Salmon Lox starter and also the Cauliflower Pakosas for a main.  Done.  He is spot on.

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The started may not look like much, but it is the perfect beginning.  I added a glass of Cremant from Alsace

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Wish I could describe how delicious the Cauliflower Pakosas are!

I had a wonderful dinner at the bistro and was made to feel absolutely welcome.  That is always nice especially when dining alone.

Now I have to try and re-trace my steps to get back to the Fairmont.  Naturally I get lost a few times.  Just when I am beginning to think I need to call the hotel to come find me I see a becon:

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Back entrance – thank Heaven

What a great day in Whistler.  I definitely want to return with Rich.  There is a lot to be explored here.  Time for bed – I have to see if I can tackle the beastly Whistler Golf Course again in the morning.





Finally Out of the Smoke!

13 08 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

91 miles

Awake early and the fitness room at the RiverRock is calling my name. I reluctantly answer the call.

 

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View from the fitness room

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Thank Heaven that’s overwith

Heading north to Whistler today – should be about 2 hours, but once again my GPS takes me down the primrose path.  I end up smack in downtown Vancouver.  It is a good thin g it is a Sunday – traffic is bad enough.  This reminds me of when Rich and I made a stop in Vancouver on our way to Alaska.  (You can read about it HERE.)

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Where in the hell is that GPS taking me?

When I finally get out of the city (which is a lovely, yet huge city by the way) the road becomes magical.  It is absolutely one of the prettiest drives ever.  Reminds me of the California coast road only 10X better!  Sorry, but photos are impossible with only one person in the car.  You are taking curve after curse and flying past some of the most beautiful coastline and views ever.

These are obviously not my photos:

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This is the only photo I snapped (yes, I pulled over at a viewpoint) It is worth noting that the smoke has cleared – at least for today.

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Seriously unbelievable. I am thinking it would be a fantastic bicycle trip for Rich – there were several cyclists today.

Richmond, BC to Whistler, BC - Google Maps-1

I truly enjoyed this drive probably the most of all for this trip.  I only wished Rich was with me to share it.

When I arrive in Whistler I head straight to the Nicklaus North Golf Course where I have a 2:00 tee time.

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I am all set to walk this course and get my bag situated on a pull cart. Then, the skies begin to look threatening.  It sprinkles.  So disappointed – I really want to walk, but I ask to be put on a riding cart and make my way to the first tee.  Soon I see my playing partners – walking!  They are a couple who are members here – Alan and Andrea. They both convince me to change back to a walking cart…

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Notice the umbrella holder – AND all my rain gear laying on top

We get through about 3 holes and then proceed to get dumped on.  Umbrellas go up – rain gear goes on.  Doesn’t last too long.

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Homes on this course are incredible

We periodically shed our rain gear and then quickly put it back on.  Fortunately, it is warm today so being wet is not too large of a problem.  Course is immaculate and very playable.

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There are a few holes by a large lake where seaplanes take off.  They either go flightseeing or back and forth to Vancouver.  (Rich, remember watching the planes take off from our perch at the Fairmont in Vancouver?)

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Finally we hear one rev up the engine and sure enough it glides across the lake to turn and face with the wind for take off.  Brilliant!

 

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Gliding across lake to turn around for take-off

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Taking off – just to the right of the flag and barely off the lake

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Great scenery, great company, good enough golf – what more could I ask for?

By the end of our round it is getting late – around 7:00 and it is time to finally see and check in at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.  It is just down the road in Whistler Village.

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Check in is a breeze – they are waiting for me (lol). The receptionist explains that with my American Express Fine Hotels reservation I have been upgraded to a “View” room (yay!), will receive complimentary breakfast each day and have a $123 food and beverage credit to work on.  Perfect.  Gotta love Amex. (I will also be using my 1 complimentary night through Fairmont President’s Club AND my 2-for 1 golf certificate.) Such a deal.  I drop off my golf clubs and have the rest of my items delivered to my room.

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lobby

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I think we need this florist for Janel and Isam’s wedding…

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Love the rooms at the Fairmont

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The view of the valley is great!

It is late and I am starving (again).  Tonight I will dine here – too tired to venture out.  The Mallard Lounge sounds like the right kind of place.

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I choose a Nectarine Salad with Tomatoes and Burrata.  It is simple and fabulous! A glass of Rose pairs beautifully.

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The Chocolate Bar is intriguing, but it will have to wait for another time

This was another full day.  On the way back to my room I poke around a bit and snap a few photos. I can imagine how great this place would be in the winter.  I bet it is packed.

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Three nights here should be just right.  I think I can limp along.  Tomorrow I tackle the brutal course at the Chateau Whistler…





Playing the ‘Piper

12 08 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

30 miles to Sandpiper Golf

72 Miles (felt like 172) to Richmond, BC

All was quiet at the Colonial 900 Motel last night and I had a good sleep.  Up early to make the 45 minute drive to Harrison Mills and the Sandpiper Golf Course. But first a coffee at the Blue Moose in Hope.

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As I approached Harrison Mills I began to see signs like “Sasquatch Motel,” Sasquatch Restaurant,” etc.  What??? When I looked it up later I found out The vicinity of Harrison Bay, Harrison Mills and the lower Harrison River is reputed to have the greatest number and density of Sasquatch sightings worldwide. Well, who knew? That would totally explain the hole on the golf course with the Sasquatch Footprint Bunker!

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I landed in the “pinky” toe…

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Driving in to Sandpiper

Today I must play alone. I am also going to walk and maybe the pace won’t seem quite so slow.

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The course runs right along the Harrison River and is quite beautiful.  I take it slow and have a wonderful, serene time enjoying where I am.

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Can you read this sign?  “This is an active airstrip – Do Not Enter!”  Crazy because you can see the white tee markers RIGHT THERE!!

All in all a great round – I shot an 83 and am happy with that.  Now I must make the 2+ hour drive to Richmond (near Vancouver).

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Before leaving I decide to do a little car shopping:

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Take yer pick!

The route to Richmond seems long and quite circuitous.  I think my GPS may be set to some weird setting like “take the route with the most stoplights…”  However, I finally reach Richmond and the River Rock Resort.  The Resort is huge and very busy.

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Nice room

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Fantastic View – the smoke is definitely clearing!

I am starving and decide to visit the patio for dinner.  The temps are perfect and people-watching is great.  Food ain’t bad, either.

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Prosciutto flatbread and a Negroni 

After dinner a visit to the attached casino is calling.  My luck is not good tonight and I am tired anyway.  I turn in early anticipating the trip to Whistler tomorrow.





Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

10 08 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Miles 309

Today is a driving day.  I am heading west to Oliver.

Trickle Creek Lodge to Oliver, BC - Google Maps-1

You can see that I am making my way towards my final destintion – Whistler – before turning around and heading southeast to meet the boys in Missoula, MT.

This drive is supposed to be spectacular.  It winds through the mountain pass – Selmo/Creston and the views are amazing.  Oh – except that it is even smokier here and I can’t see!  No photos for this post – no need.  All you would see is something like this:

 

 

Great, huh? The drive is long and there is a point where my GPS told me to take a little road off to the south and I found myself staring at the US Border! I was shocked and pulled over to check my map on my phone.  Sure enough this is the route.  I asked the guy at the border and he told me this way was 15 minutes faster than continuing in Canada through another mountain pass.  When he asked if I knew my plate # I reeled off

“GLFGRRL.”  He scratched his head and said that he was sure it stood for something… Dude – get a clue!

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Actually, that little remote piece of Washington is gorgeous!  Then I had to cross back into Canada and got the third degree from the agent there.  He softened when I explained where I had been etc.  He understood my license plate immediately.

I finally reached Osoyoos and the Okanagan Valley – total wine country.  There are at least 20 vineyards and wine tasting opportunities on this route along with all kinds of produce and fruit stands.  Looks like a great place to ride bicycles.

My digs for the night are at the Vintage Merlot B&B.  This tiny B&B is in a house and has 2 rooms.  Walter met me at the door and we discussed wines of the region.  He is very knowledgeable and chatty – the perfect B&B host.

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Don’t judge a book by its cover – this place is really nice inside!

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Shared common room

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My room (with its own bathroom)

My room is very nice and super clean. Breakfast will be provided in the morning.  Tonight I will have dinner at the restaurant at Tin Horn Winery.  Tin Horn was recommended to me by a Canadian friend in the US.  Walter agrees that it is a great choice.

The winery and restaurant – Miradoro – are just down the road. The restaurant is perched upon a hill overlooking the vineyard and the entire valley.  It is a beautiful building and the patio is packed tonight. Good thing I made reservations.

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Driving in

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There is a little amphitheater down below and some kind of play is going on!

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Nobody seated inside

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The view would be incredible, but…

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The list of wines from this winery is impressive.  I would love to try many of them, but I have to drive back so I must be selective.  I choose to do a flight with small pours of the Pinot Gris, Syrah and Cabernet Franc.

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While I enjoyed all three, I will have to be honest and say that I expected to be blown away.  I wasn’t. Nevertheless, I managed to make my way through all of them.

For dinner I “decided not to decide” just like when Janel and I opt for tasting menus at many places.  Tonight’s 3 courses are Burrata on Eggplant puree with sliced green cauliflower, Pan seared Ling Cod with Peppers and Spicy Beans, and an Apricot Torte with Vanilla Ice Cream.  Sound good?  It was!

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All evening I had been overhearing my server tell tables about the outstanding Rose wine from Tin Horn.  I decided to try a glass with dessert.  Turned out to be my favorite pour of the evening.

Back at the B&B, two French guests are sitting and chatting with our host.  I join them only for a few minutes and then slip away to my room to bed.  Tomorrow is a golf day (good thing too – I was starting to get the shakes from not playing yesterday!).

This was a brief, but good intro to the Okanagan Valley and makes me want to come back for a dedicated wine visit!





Last Day in Kimberley

9 08 2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Miles – about 12

Another golf day in Kimberley – ho hum.  Late tee time and probably no walking this course, so I hit up the gym at Trickle Creek.  Feels pretty good.

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Breakfast (oatmeal) and coffee in my room then a short drive to Kimberley Golf Club.  This course is unique in that the front nine was built in 1924 for miners in the area.  The back was completed in 1983.  I am given a very warm welcome from the pro shop and paired up with yet another married couple (so unusual – in AZ I am always paired up with 3 men…) Cheryl and Jim.  They are from a place about 3 hour east of here (forgot the name).

The pro shop told me that the back nine (on which we are starting) is really not walk-able, but I can trade for a walking cart for the front if I want to.  The advice is more than correct – the back nine is super-duper hilly.  Way too much to walk even for me!

Right away on our first hole I get really excited to see deer crossing the fairway!

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This is another beautiful course, and the smoky haze does not do it justice. I am kind of getting used to it.

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I did indeed drop off my electric cart and walk the back (front) nine.  It was fantastic!  At one point as I was leaving a green and rounding the corner I came smack in front of a mama deer and two fawns:

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Mama is keeping a careful eye out for her little ones (behind her just off the path)

Kimberley Golf Club was certainly one of the most beautiful in the area and I am so happy that I played it.  Their patio is wonderful as well and I sat and had a beer (Fernie Lone Wolf IPA) and a Ginger Beef Salad.  Perfect.

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Back to the room for a little rest and some packing up – tomorrow is driving day.

Since I have not yet gone out for a meal in Kimberley I decided that tonight would be the night.  I end up at the Platzl which is their pedestrian-only street that is lined with shops and restaurants.  It is very cute and great for people watching.

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Tonight I end up at the Pedal and Tap Restaurant.  It has a great outside seating area right on the walkway and I choose to wait for a table there.

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When I studied the menu I noticed an item that I keep seeing – Mucky Fries.  What the heck?  The Pedal and Tap menu offers an explanation:

Mucky Fries Breakdown

muck·y[muhk-ee]

adjective, muck·i·er, muck·i·est.
1.
of or like muck.
2.
filthy, dirty, or slimy.

fries[frahyz]

noun 
1.
plural of fry
2.
Informal. Fried potatoes.

muck·y fries

noun
1.
 French Fries covered in mozzaralla, cheddar, maple bacon, green onion and housemade chipotle mayo. Pedal & Tap will muck up your fries.

Did I go for the Muckies?  Nope – just can’t do it. Dinner for me tonight is a BC Poke Bowl – A Hawaiian style poke with soy marinated salmon, sticky rice, cucumber, cabbage, seaweed and crunchy wonton chips.  A glass of BC Wild Goose Riesling completes the meal.  As good as Mucky Fries?  Probably not, but still pretty darn good!

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It has been a great 3 day stay in Kimberley and was nice not to be on the move every day.  Tomorrow is a driving only day – about 6 hours to Oliver (west of here).  I am crossing my fingers that I will be moving away from the smoke!





Golf? Again?

8 08 2017

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

12 miles

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Good morning, Kimberely

Up and out early – the sun is peeking through the smoky haze here in Kimberley.  I am getting used to it, but would like to see the beauty of this area when it is clear.

Today is a kamikaze golf day – the plan is to play 36 holes (what else am I going to do?) First stop – Trickle Creek Golf Course.

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It is early and the course is wet, wet, wet.  No roll here.  It is absolutely stunning, and I can tell would be even more so if the smoke would clear.

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I enjoyed the company and had another good round.  There are another 18 scheduled for this afternoon, however I have time for lunch at the Trickle Creek Clubhouse.  Their patio is a perfect setting for a BLT and delicious Cheese/Jalapeno Soup.

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Next stop Bootleg Gap Golf Course (10 miles away). I end up being paired with two young guys who try to hit the ball as hard as they can.  I could count the times on one hand that they are in the fairway from their tee shots… BUT – somehow they manage to find their balls almost every time.  I spend a lot of time waiting as they search.

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This was kind of a “non-descript” round.  Oh well – they can’t all be spectacular.  Interestingly enough when I was finished I ran into Linda and Mell (with whom I played yesterday) in the parking lot! Linda told me they had been telling my (and Rich’s) story to their playing partners.  She also told me  that they told them that they had played with a “Little Hell-Cat” yesterday!  I took it as a compliment.

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Back home to Trickle Creek.  I am beat and decide to stay “home” again tonight.  There is leftover chicken, carrots, hummus and wine in my fridge.  What more do I need?

Rich calls and I am so happy to hear from him.  The boys are having a wonderful ride and are actually only about 60 miles from here.  Close and yet so far…