For the Love of the Adventure: “Snowshoeing” at “Garibaldi Lake”

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I am not what one would call a “peak bagger”.

Rather, I am a firm believer in the old cliche that the journey is the destination. In other words, if I have to amend or abort an adventure due to weather, injuries, time crunches, or other variables that are generally out of my control, I’m not really bothered.

I’m not concerned with reaching a summit; I’m more focused on getting outside and having a really nice time. So while a recent snowshoe trip to Garibaldi Lake ended up involving neither snowshoes nor lake, I still deem it a success. I got to play outside, enjoyed a rare and glorious sunny winter day to its fullest, spent some solid QT with friends, and capped my day off with (root) beer and snacks at Backcountry Brewing – by all objective measures, the adventure was a perfect one.

If you’ve ever done the Garibaldi Lake/Black Tusk/Panorama Ridge hike in the non-snowy season, you know that the first part of the hike involves a seemingly never ending series of switchbacks through the forest. However, in the snowy season, the hike starts one step earlier.

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The paved road to the trail head is not quite as easy to maneuver in the winter, when it is covered in snow, as it is in the summer, when it is not. Our first clue should have been the dozens of cars parked on the shoulder just past the turnoff. However, there were a few tough guy cars who had laid down some tracks along the road, and our Fearless Adventure Leader’s truck seemed as capable as any, so we happily bumped our way down the road to see how far we could get.

We got a decent way up, but the three point turn required to orient the vehicle properly for a smooth exit was a little trickier than anticipated. Luckily, our Fearless Adventure Leader had a sturdy avy shovel in his sturdy truck, so the rest of us got to feel useful as we dug and pushed it to a comfortable position on the shoulder of the road, out of the way of any other tough guy cars who dared make the trek.

Then, we were off. Though there was snow on the ground, it was fairly well packed and more easily tramped by foot than by snowshoe. We debated leaving our snowshoes in the car, but we ultimately decided to take them with us in case things got deeper and softer. Spoiler alert: we did not end up using them, though I am glad we took them because – as another hiker we bumped into with snowshoes strapped to her pack said – we got to take them out for a lovely walk. Snowshoes need fresh air and exercise too, right?

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Notably missing: snowshoes.

We lucked out on gorgeous, sunny weather, though under the canopy of trees in the switchbacks, we weren’t in much danger of getting a sunburn. The snow was a little sparse towards the bottom, but it covered most of the trail pretty solidly. I anticipate after some recent snowfall that the trails are even snowier – perhaps even requiring snowshoes?

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Cell phone cameras: taking poor quality selfies since the 2000s!

My biggest challenge with outdoor activities in the winter is temperature control. I have the attractive habit of sweating aggressively when doing any moderately strenuous activity (including hiking up switchbacks for hours). If I stop, say for lunch, the sweat cools instantly, chilling me to the bone. I’m usually able to reheat my core and my legs once I start moving again, but my extremities go yellow and lose circulation. (Google Raynaud’s if you want to gross yourself out a little.) I lose feeling, especially in my hands, and it is very uncomfortable and hard to regain feeling until I’m somewhere sheltered and warm and wearing something dry.

So, when we stopped around our pre-determined turnaround time to determine whether we wanted to keep going or call it a day – despite having not reached Garibaldi Lake – I was totally fine when we opted for the latter, knowing it meant I would regain feeling in my hands that much sooner.

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We came, we saw (some pretty trees, mostly), and although we didn’t conquer much, we had a great time, proving that one does not actually need snowshoes for an enjoyable snowshoe trip!

 

 

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Flour Water Salt Yeast’s Same-Day Straight Pizza Dough Focaccia Pizza

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I was so very excited to receive my very own copy of the infamous Flour Water Salt Yeast cookbook for Christmas.

I have heard about this book for a long time – it is the cookbook of all cookbooks when it comes to artisan bread.

For the past year, I have been baking bread from my beloved (and currently extremely tattered) Bread Illustrated cookbook. I love Bread Illustrated for its simplicity, its excellent use of photographs to clearly illustrate each step, and the sheer variety of types of breads it covers. I fully plan to continue to bake from it because it goes beyond the typical rustic sourdough thing that seems to be popular right now. (Popular in bread circles, anyway. Sometimes I forgot that most people don’t spend a lot of time in bread circles.)

Flour Water Salt Yeast (which I shall call FWSY going forward) has a much narrower range of breadly recipes, but it goes much more in depth than Bread Illustrated. It’s basically like a college textbook of all things bread. It really, really goes into detail about various techniques and examines each and every variable that goes into baking bread, including temperature and time (and how to adjust each of these based on your own circumstances). It’s user-friendly, but it’s advanced.

I’m not going to lie – I find it a little intimidating. I feel like I need to read it cover-to-cover before I give it a serious go. But I did crack and try a recipe the other week – and it was fantastic.

You see, I wanted to make a pizza for dinner. I mentioned that I wanted to pick up some dough while I was in Whistler (Pasta Lupino sells its delicious dough dirt cheap!), and a girl in my book club said, “I thought you baked bread?!”. She was right – why on earth was I planning on buying pizza dough when I knew very well I could make it myself?

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Since rustic breads and pizza are the focal point of FWSY, I flipped open to the pizza section, which includes 15 pages on pizza and focaccia methodology before presenting four recipes: same-day straight pizza dough, overnight straight pizza dough, overnight pizza dough with levain, and overnight pizza dough with poolish. As I was somewhat short on time, I decided to try the same-day straight pizza dough.

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The ingredients – you’ll be shocked to know – are flour, water, salt, and yeast. One recipe yields a MASSIVE amount of pizza dough – enough for five pizzas. As the devoted pupil that I am, I read the methodology section before starting this recipe and realized that I could make two huge focaccia pizzas with the same amount of dough, so that’s what I did.

(We had pizza for days – and if you know Cedric’s appetite for pizza, you’ll know this is quite unusual.)

The recipe is super detailed when it comes to temperatures, which is awesome for making sure your dough turns out as perfectly as possible. It is on the cool side here, given that it is mid-winter, so I have created a proofing room of sorts in one of our bathrooms. It is small and windowless and easy to heat up without destroying our utility bill, and it served perfectly for growing my dough at just the right temperature.

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Here’s another intimidating thing about FWSY: it doesn’t use a stand mixer. You just use – gasp – your hands! Secretly, this is a good thing – I sometimes wonder if my weekly sourdoughs and other breads are too harsh on my KitchenAid’s engine. It will be good to give it a bit of a break, I think.

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Mid-pince

Of course, this means that rather than relying on a hook to do the bulk of the kneading in mixing, I have to use my own digits. The book outlines folding and pincing techniques (lobster claws, activate!) and it was actually kind of fun to squish the dough around to ensure all the ingredients got incorporated. I have a feeling this is the kind of thing that I will get better at over time.

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Daaaang look at those bubbles!

I also learned a new technique for creating smooth balls of dough. While Bread Illustrated talks about cupping the balls and making small little circles with it against the counter, FWSY uses a cup and drag technique, which I like a lot better.

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So, I made two massive balls of dough, which became two large baking pan-sized focaccia pizzas.

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I skipped the tomato sauce and topped them with bocconcini, caramelized red onions, proscuitto, and (post oven) arugula and Nonna Pia’s balsamic reduction.

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The pizza was delicious. The dough was easy to maneuver before baking and after baking, it was light and flavourful and completely delicious.

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The thicker focaccia meant we really got to sink our teeth into it and taste it, but I think it would be wonderful as regular pizza, too.

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If the same-day dough is this good, I can only imagine how tasty the other three pizza recipes in this book are.

More FWSY to come.

Rain in the Valley = Snow Up Top

I’ve been putting my Sea to Sky Gondola season’s pass to good use – this week, I went up twice to try my hand (foot?) at snowshoeing.

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I recently acquiring my very own pair of snowshoes – I got a heck of a deal at one of my favourite secret websites, 33 OFF. They had a bonus 10% off snowshoe deal, and their prices are already pretty good. (I also get my road running shoes from here because I know which model fits my foot well – the Mizuno Wave Riders).

This time of year, when it is raining in town, it is often snowing up in the mountains where it’s a few degrees cooler. I checked the forecast and web cameras for the Sea to Sky Gondola, which affirmed what I had suspected: yep, there is snow up there, and lots of it.

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Pro Tip: If it looks like this outside, it may still be worth getting out of bed.

(Remember when I hiked the Sea to Summit Trail the other week in pretty much no snow? It’s safe to say that there is a lot of snow on the trail now.)

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This is how much snow was on one tree branch. Hand for size reference.

I headed in the same general direction both days I went up. One day I snowshoed towards the Skyline Ridge Trail, the other I went partway up the Sky Pilot Valley Trail. Both of these trails are machine groomed – it’s like getting fresh tracks on a cat track.

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I like this post’s hat

Actually, when I went up mid-week, I did get fresh tracks – I had the whole place to myself. The conditions make it easy (and fun) to get an hour or two of power snowshoeing in.

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Fresh corduroy, brah!

Even when I went up on the weekend, it was pretty quiet. I saw a few other parties here and there, but I was largely on my own. I didn’t see anyone else head up the slightly steeper (but still very manageable) Sky Pilot Valley Trail.

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This is where the grooming ends on the Skyline Ridge Trail – continue on if you dare, it’s deep (see next photo)

Way back in the day when I lived in Vancouver, I – like so many others – struggled through the dreary January-March season where it is often wet, grey, and just generally horrible. One year, I discovered that I could head up to Whistler during this season and enjoy copious amounts of snow. It was the perfect cure to the winter blahs.

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I stepped slightly to the side by the bridge and sank down to above my knee. Yeah – probably no off-roading for me right now.

(Of course, it’s not all gravy – shoveling your car out from several feet of snow mid-March while your friends in the city post pictures of blooming tulips can get old pretty quick.)

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Now that I live in Squamish, I kind of feel like I have the best of both worlds. There are plenty of grey days, but if the temperatures cooperate as they did this week, I can get my snow fix with minimal effort. I don’t have to brush snow off my car very often, but Whistler is only a short drive away (in good conditions, anyway).

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Snowshoeing is officially being added to my repertoire of wintertime activities. I like that you can make it hard or easy, and I like that I don’t have to devote an entire day to it – I can head out for a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon and still get a lot done. I’m a fan.

Sea to Summit, Winter Edition

A few months ago, I waxed poetic about the fantastic Sea to Summit trail that winds from the bottom of the Chief up to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola.

I put in a good three or four solo autumnal Sea to Summits until the rainy season set in, the days got shorter, and the motivation dissipated. But this past weekend, it was so beautiful and perfectly sunny – in the middle on January, no less – that I felt I would be insulting the Squamish weather gods if I didn’t go outside and enjoy it while it lasted.

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January 14, folks!

(Sure enough, the forecast says rain, rain, and more rain for the next little while.)

Although we had a good chunk of snow over the holidays, sun and rain have washed away most of it. I spied a few Sea to Summit hikers on Instagram and determined that it was probably in fine shape for hiking, so I laced up my trail runners (and threw my spikes in my running vest) and headed up.

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A quarter of the way – dry, dry, dry.

The trail was actually busier than I expected. Not only was it a weekend (and a stunning one at that), but it was “Social Sunday” on the Sea to Sky Gondola – meaning live tunes, board games, and pancakes (I think. I didn’t actually go into the lodge at the top on this trip, but I get the promotional emails.)

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Still, it was relatively quiet. Though I passed a few groups of happy hikers, I felt like I had the trail to myself most of the time.

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I didn’t need the spikes for a long, long time. For the bulk of the way, the trail ranged from completely clear to pretty clear. Any snowy bits were sparse and easy to plod through. The lower three quarters of the trail were maybe a little wetter than usual, and there were streams where I hadn’t noticed them in the summer.

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Things started to get snowier where the trail splits into the logging road portion towards the top. I popped on my spikes, though it is debatable whether or not I really needed them.

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There were some slippery spots where I was glad to have them, but there were also rocky bits were I had to tread lightly, trying not to wear out the metal. There were also lots of wet sections – some you could detour around, others that required you to walk right through. My feet got pretty wet, but it was close enough to the top that I didn’t really mind.

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I leapfrogged with another solo hiker for the final stretch of the trail, who had been out with friends but opted to run ahead of them to burn some energy. I can relate – while I love heading outside with buddies, sometimes it’s nice to just power up solo to clear your head and get your heart rate up.

So, there you go. This isn’t a groundbreaking post, but I thought that there may be a few people out there contemplating hiking the Sea to Summit who might like a trail condition update. Of course, things are likely to get a lot wetter with the rain coming our way – and if it’s cold enough, we could get more snow, especially at higher elevations. In fact, I would be perfectly fine with some snow higher up – I’m dying to do some snowshoeing this winter.

The Official 2017 Magee Running Awards

My goal is really to get outside, explore the local trails, stay healthy and injury-free, and gain a little confidence on running trails.

This is a self-quote from a blog post I wrote nearly a year ago, where I laid out my running plans for 2017. I mostly succeeded in my overall goal, though I failed a little on the “stay healthy and injury-free” side of things – but I’m exiting 2017 in one piece with seven races under my belt (or, more accurately, my running vest). I’d call that a win.

To cap off a season of running, races, and physio visits, I thought I’d get a head start on award show season and celebrate some of my greatest (and not so greatest) running moments of the year.

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Best Race Swag

Overall, this was a positive year for race swag. There was good swag (hats!) and less good swag (so many – too many – drawstring bags), but one race’s swag really stands out: 5 Peaks Alice Lake.

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I didn’t even run this race, but as a volunteer, I got to take home a pair of the neon orange running glove/mitten combos that has become a staple of my winter running wardrobe. Two mittened thumbs up for 5 Peaks Alice Lake!

Best Event to Volunteer At

I volunteered at several races this year (even a mountain biking one!), but the Squamish 50 takes the cake. I volunteered at the package pick up for the 50k, and it was unbelievably well organized. There vibe is positively electric and it was fun matching race bibs with IDs from around the country, continent, and indeed, world. A+ experience.

Best Runner’s High Moment

My spirits were never higher than they were as I finished the Comfortably Numb race in June. I’m not sure why I loved this race so much – I wasn’t particularly fast and there was nothing really out of the ordinary, but I loved running point-to-point on unfamiliar trails, and cruising downhill for the second part of the race was just so, so fun.

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I loved this race and I hope to run in again in the future.

Most Humbling Race

The Squamish 50 23k KICKED MY BUTT. The horrible extra hill detour I took from accidentally veering off course certainly didn’t help.

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This was just a tough race for me – the toughest I’ve ever run. I still can’t figure out if it was because I undertrained or was just having an off day (it happens), or if it is due to the tricky terrain and unforgiving uphills towards the end. I finished the race feeling extremely humbled.

Most Satisfying Race

The Squamish Days 8K was a personal favourite. I love this small local race – it’s a straightforward out-and-back road race and I squeaked in under the 40 minute mark.

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For someone who tends to sit comfortably on the slower side of the middle-of-the-pack in trail runs, it’s fun to be able to run a fast race on the roads. I’m proud of this one!

2017 Trail of Distinction Award

After exploring many of the trails around Alice Lake and Garibaldi Highlands, I proclaim Roller Coaster the recipient of my favourite trail award. I don’t know what it is – it winds so perfectly, meandering up and down (but mostly down) through the beautiful woods without too many death traps to trip over. I love it!

2017 Trail of Terror Award

The first few months of 2017 consisted of awful icy patches, but no section terrified me as much as the bridge by the waterfall on Covenant. On one bitterly cold run, we almost wiped out as the slanted wooden slats were transformed into a wipe-out zone of black ice death. Even in perfect conditions, I STILL cross this bridge with great caution and hesitation.

Best Food

Hands down, the tastiest and most random finish line food were the Hot Buns Cinnamon Buns at Comfortably Numb. Hey – maybe they had something to do with my runner’s high?

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Most Satisfying Impulse Race

I initially only had 3 races on my agenda for 2017, but I signed up for another 4 races on relatively short notice. My last race of 2017 was the Boundary Bay Half Marathon. Just shy of two months out, I decided to take a break from trail running to focus on roads for a bit.

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My training wasn’t pretty (see: injuries and more gym time than running time), but the race ended up being a lot of fun and gave me the extra push I needed to end the year on a good note.


As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve started thinking about my running goals for 2018. I haven’t solidified anything yet, but I already know it’s going to be a tricky year. I’ll be away for some of the big races of the year (including Comfortably Numb and the Squamish 50), but my goals include trying a few new races, running a road race in another province, and enjoying many sunny days on the trails enjoying the smell of hot trees (my favourite smell ever).

Happy trails!

This Just In: SQUAMISH HAS A FRESHII!

Words cannot describe how gleeful I was when I heard an ad on Mountain FM informing me that Squamish has ITS VERY OWN FRESHII!

AND IT’S WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE FROM MY HOUSE!

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The most beautiful thing on earth :’)

Freshii is my favourite fast food choice on the planet. I first discovered it many moons ago when I was working downtown Vancouver. A Freshii opened up just a few blocks from my office, so I would go sometimes on my lunch break. It took a few visits, but eventually I figured out my dream order and I haven’t changed my go-to dish ever since (more on that later).

Here is why I instantly loved Freshii:

  • So many fresh vegetable options! While my office lunches often left me feeling like curling up under my desk and falling into a food coma, my Freshii meals never sat heavy.
  • I love that you can customize your order to a tee. There are zillions of possible combinations – if you haven’t found one you like yet, you probably just need to visit a few more times to tweak your order to personal perfection.
  • The price point fit nicely into my budget, which was around $10 per lunch. (PS – I can’t believe I used to spend $200 on lunches per month! But I did.) Note: if you customize your order, you can modify toppings to make your meal cost as little or as much as your budget allows. Flexibility – that’s why I love Freshii.
  • The whole vibe is very yoga studio/cool friend’s apartment. They have grass (fake, I think) growing out of walls and a very fresh (er… freshii… hehehe) green and white colour scheme that makes me feel calm and like I’m making responsible nutritional decisions.
  • Their soft serve ice cream is the bomb!

I loved Freshii so much that my colleague and I decided to look into starting a Freshii franchise. No joke – we contacted them, thinking that Yaletown would be a primo Freshii location. We never heard back from them, unfortunately – or else maybe I would be a Freshii franchise owner.

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The Squamish Freshii – note the Fresh Slice pizza also opening next door. Garibaldi Village is HAPPENING!

Moving away from Vancouver sadly meant moving away from Freshii. I still made a point to visit when I could – the Freshii in the Park Royal food court has satisfied my craving more than once. When Cedric and I traveled across the country in 2015, I always made a point of checking to see if the town or city we were in had a Freshii. And if it did, you better believe I re-routed our GPS to trick Cedric into taking me there.

Yes, I had to trick Cedric to take me to Freshiis across the nation because he’s (GASP) not a huge fan. Here’s the weird thing: neither is my sister. Aside from the coworker who considered opening a Yaletown Freshii with me, I’ve never met anyone who is quite as passionate about Freshii as I am. I honestly cannot figure out why. Freshii haters (or even likers-but-not-lovers), what is it that Freshii lacks for you?

Okay, enough about my personal Freshii anecdotes – let’s talk about strategically planning a Freshii visit.

Freshii: The Strategy

When you visit Freshii, you are immediately faced with a key decision: order off the menu or create your own custom dish.

Do NOT be afraid of customizing your dish. Some people are intimidated by the process, but let me assure you: it is easy peasy. First, look for the white clipboards with checklists clipped on. There will be mini pencils nearby – grab one of those, too.

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I am not Debra – I forgot to take a photo of the checklist but this lady named Debra took this one and she has also written a blog post about her own Freshii love, which you can check out here. Debra, I think we’d get along just fine.

(Note – the Squamish Freshii checklist is slightly different than the one pictured above)

Step one: write your name in the top right corner.

Step two: pick your meal type. Your options are salad, bowl, wrap, or soup. Within each of these categories, you must refine your selection as follows:

  • Salad: spinach OR romaine OR Freshii mix
  • Bowl: warm brown rice OR rice noodles
  • Wrap: brown rice OR romaine OR spinach OR Freshii mix; and then you pick grilled or non-grilled
  • Soup: brown rice OR rice noodles; and for broth type, 100% vegetable OR classic chicken OR spicy lemongrass

This is where people become overwhelmed by options. Relax – you can always come back another time to try something else. I personally always go with the rice noodle bowl.

Step three: pick your premium toppings.

Warning: premium toppings are pricey. If you pick these, you may not meet the $10 lunch budget threshold. I personally skip the cheeses, nuts, and fancy fruits and veggies. However, I do believe the proteins are worth it (grilled chicken is my protein of choice).

Step four: pick your regular toppings. At most of the Freshiis I have visited, you get six free regular toppings included in your order. Six toppings + chicken is plenty, which is why I never bother with the premium toppings. The regular toppings are plain old delicious veggies and other accoutrements. My go tos: black beans, roasted red pepper, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli.

Step five: pick your dressing.

I have NO IDEA why I initially picked the spicy lemongrass dressing, but I’m so glad I did because now, I order nothing else. I have never found another dressing – store bought or homemade – that I love as much as I love this dressing. It makes my nose run and I always gulp down an entire bottle of water to regulate the spiciness – but it is soooo good.

Because Freshii cares about you, you get to decide how much dressing you want: a regular serving, half a regular serving, or 1.5x a regular serving. Prefer it on the side? There’s a box for that, too. I usually stick with the regular serving – it’s the perfect amount for me.

Step six: bring your completed checklist to the cashier and they’ll input everything for you. Wait a bit (usually 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how busy it is), then they’ll call your name and your perfect little order will be ready for devouring.

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Here she is!

I haven’t given much information about ordering directly from the Freshii menu. These are wraps, salads, bowls, and soups made with their tried, tested, and true recipes. The truth is that I never, ever pick a menu item. I always make my own. Why wouldn’t you?!?!?!?


In addition to the main meals, you can also get juices, breakfasts, and as I mentioned earlier, soft serve yogurt with pick-your-own-toppings (blueberry and strawberry for me).

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This is from the Freshii website


The Squamish Freshii

I hit up the Squamish Freshii for the first time a few days ago. Any time a new business opens, you naturally expect a few growing pains – but nope, not on my visit. The Freshii at Garibaldi Village was smooth sailing. My experience and meal was exactly like all the other Freshiis I’ve enjoyed across the country – which is exactly the point of a fast food place with multiple locations.

Lest you be concerned that this review is tainted by things like monetary compensation or free food, don’t be – Freshii doesn’t know I’m writing this love story about them. Freshii Squamish, I love you. Get to know my face, because you and I are going to become very, very good friends.

BCBusiness vs. Squamish: What Did I Just Read?

Let’s be clear about one thing: I very much appreciate a good tongue-in-cheek satire. Case in point: Dog Lotion’s recent spin on WB/Vail’s “breaking” announcement re: new Blackcomb gondolas and chairlifts was nothing short of perfection.

But after reading BCBusiness’s “Big Fat Deal: $4.7 million to be swish in Squamish“, I was left shaking my head and thinking, “What the heck did I just read?”

I subscribe to Google Alerts for a few of my favourite topics: Whistler, Squamish, Whistler Real Estate, and Squamish Real Estate. Every morning, I scroll through my daily digest before rolling out of bed. Today, the BCBusiness article was one of the links. The short excerpt made it seem like it was a showcase of a high-end Squamish home, so I clicked to read it in its entirety.

I’m pretty familiar with BCBusiness: it’s a BC-based (duh) publication that generally posts interesting, well-researched, and well-written news and profiles. I’ve never seen anything that could be described as funny or satirical on their website or in their magazine… until, possibly, this morning, when I discovered their biting “Big Fat Deal” real estate section. (I still can’t figure out if it’s 100% a satire.)

Let’s dissect the article.

Here is the house in question:

Britannia Beach House

It’s a 5 bed, 5 bath stunner located in Britannia Beach, listed at a cool $4.698M.

The skinny: Five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 6,225-square-foot house on a 39,500-square-foot lot in Britannia Beach, Squamish.”

In BCBusiness’s defense, the MLS lumps a few different communities together into the Squamish geographical area – but anyone who is mildly familiar with the Sea to Sky knows that Britannia Beach is a distinct community from Squamish. Wikipedia classifies it as a “small, unincorporated community” and, although it is in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional Disctrict (as are Whistler and Pemberton, among others), it’s not Squamish.

“Leaping large into the luxury price range comes Squamish, previously known as the “poor man’s Whistler.” “

Poor man’s Whistler – ouch! Although not exceptionally original, this jab considerably discounts Squamish’s history – both short term (logging, anyone?) and long term (First Nations, anyone?) – and its place on the map as a mecca for rock climbing, mountain biking (in a non bike park setting, thankyouverymuch), and kite boarding, among others.

Aspirational weekenders should no longer feel ashamed to call the former pee-stop to the mountains their home away from home.

It’s true – when I lived in Vancouver and weekend warriored my way to Whistler, we stopped at the combination Tim Hortons/Wendy’s for a bathroom break and a Frosty. But the use of the word “ashamed” is a little off-base. I’m not exactly sure why one would have ever felt ashamed to live in a community that is flanked by mountain ranges and an ocean and full of awesome people who like to connect with nature and improve their community… but sure, BCBusiness. Sure.

“Indeed, here you get to lord it over the miserable middle-class commuters who fled Vancouver for a back yard that didn’t cost more than your Lamborghini (and no, we’re not talking SUV), and the service workers of Whistler who can’t afford to even rent where the really rich people play.”

Where do I start here. The lawyers, real estate brokers, medical professionals, and other Squamish-Vancouver commuters that I know are neither what one would classify as “miserable” or “middle-class” (though, for the latter, what does it even matter?). Their commute along the Howe Sound is pretty breezy, with the only real hiccup being the dreadful Lion’s Gate Bridge (which even the Lamborghini-owning West Van crew must contend with). I wouldn’t worry about them, BCBusiness – judging by the smiles on their faces and the grass stains on their kid’s knees, they’re doing alright.

As far as the Squamish-Whistler commuters, I’m sure many of them belong to the service and hospitality industries that are the backbone of Whistler. But I know many others, too: tradespeople, teachers, filmmakers, writers, and real estate agents, to name just a few. While some of us move because of the nutso Whistler rental market (not just price-wise [$2,900 for an unfurnished 2-bed-1-bath is the most recent I can find on Craigslist] but supply-wise, too), it can also be exhausting to live in a Lala Land where we are expected to serve and entertain visitors with attitudes like that of the author of this article. Some of us like Squamish because we can find parking, seats on a patio, and other people who don’t think they’re better than the “miserable middle class” or “service workers”.

“For the price of a small, out-of-the-way townhouse in the world-renowned ski resort, here you get to be top dog.”

This one is just plain old false. A 2-bedroom (is that small?) townhome in Creekside (is that out-of-the-way?) is currently listed at $725k on the WLS.

The price point that this Britannia Beach property is listed it is comparable to the following Whistler listings (to name a few):

bayshores

White Gold

  • And a 3.5 bedroom home with a private dock on Alta Lake, built in 2016 (listed at $4.498M):

Westside.jpg

Also, this may be overly picky, but the ranking of “Top Dog” in Squamish is not determined by the size of your home – factors such as which peaks you have bagged, whether or not you have personally named a bike trail, your finishing time in the Squamish 50, and whether you can snag a seat at Fergie’s at 9:30 AM on the Saturday of a holiday weekend hold much more clout. Of course, I can’t for sure say if the same is true for Britannia Beach – it not being Squamish, and all.

“Look at it as a stepping stone to your ski-in, ski-out mountaintop cabin; get in now and let the escalating Squamish prices lift you up where you belong.”

May I presume, BCBusiness, that you believe you belong in Whistler? If so, I hate to be the one to tell you – but prices there are on the rise, too. By the time your Britannia Beach home has appreciated to an amount you deem acceptable, all you’ll be able to afford in Whistler is (gasp!) an out-of-the-way small townhome in Creekside.

“Meanwhile, feel free to invite your (much wealthier) friends over for après drinks and nibbles on their way back to town—they’ll be so glad to avoid the washroom line at Tim Hortons, they’re bound to wait until they are at least back on the Sea-to-Sky before wrinkling their noses at your B-list postal code.”

See, sentences like this are why I am not exactly sure whether or not this article is a satire. It just packs a lot of meanness into very few lines. Let me break it down:

  • First of all, I am so very grateful that my baller city friends are still able to tolerate my company, despite the fact that I live in Squamish, which obviously means that I make no money at all and must be a very awful person (a miserable middle-classer, right?)
  • I am also flattered that my rich friends prefer snacking on my homemade bread to the overpriced and underwhelming nachos of the patios of Whistler. Of course, I wasn’t up on the mountain enjoying a few runs (I must be too poor to ski – I live in Squamish!) – I was busy arranging a charcuterie board and cocktails for my elite skiing friends. I hope they tip!
  • BCBusiness author, as someone who once skied 38 days as a weekend warrior and stopped at the Squamish Timmy Hos nearly every single time, both on the way up and on the way down, let me assure you that I NEVER had to wait in line for the bathroom. The efficiency of that place is astounding. Can I get a fact check here?
  • My B-list postal code is such an embarrassment to me that I rented a PO BOX in Vancouver so that when I send my Christmas cards, my return address doesn’t reveal my true self to my friends (who are royalty and who care about such things). [end sarcasm – seriously, postal codes?!?!?!?!?!?!?!]

The hidden extras: Sea view, self-contained nanny quarters, geothermal concrete floors, security system, just up the road from Mountain Woman’s legendary burgers. Take that, Whistler!”

You forgot about the mine museum, dear author!


In conclusion, here is my advice to you, BCBusiness: you’re not Mad Magazine (or even Dog Lotion). Reading this article was like watching a first-timer crash and burn on amateur night at Yuk Yuks. If you would like to discover Squamish, I’d be happy to show you around and fill you in on how there’s more to it than the fact that it is not Whistler.

Of course, you’ll have to find a Britannia Beach resident to give you the real scoop there.