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Category: Mitsubishi

Scandinave Spa Whistler, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

As a wonderful treat I got to take the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for a scenic drive. We would take the sea to sky highway just past Whistler, BC. Our destination: the highly acclaimed Scandinave Spa. A retreat in the middle of wooded BC, a two hour drive worth the commute. The distance has you appreciating the exclusivity of the spa: a secluded spot where you can disconnect and truly relax, as their resort promotes.

But first the drive. Admittedly I don’t engage in as safe driving habits as I should, as I would soon learn behind the wheel of the Outlander PHEV. This clever vehicle teaches you a lesson in driver’s education. A series of beeps sound if you go out of your lane (a probability along the windy roads of the sea to sky), or if you simply forget to switch on your turn signal as you move about from left to right. When the door is left open or ajar the Outlander PHEV sounds, and again if you walk away without securing your vehicle first. Then there are the normal beeps: when seat belts aren’t buckled and when a car passes you closer than you’d like. These are all regular features in a modern car, but you usually don’t get them all in one vehicle, all together. This taught me how poorly I actually drive, so without any intention of doing so, the Outlander PHEV SUV actually improved my driving the week I had it.

As for the ride to the spa, it was an enjoyable one. You drove up roads that swirled like soft serve, you got to put your foot down on the pedal and climb up the mountain, cruising along one of BC’s most scenic drives. And best of all, all in the world’s best selling plug-in hybrid. The Outlander PHEV’s is powered by a 2.0-litre gas engine, two electric motors and a generator. Meaning, the Outlander PHEV can run on an electric motor, and from a full charge it delivers 35 kilometres of electric-only driving. So you are saving money on your every day commute. Using a 220-volt outlet, the Outlander PHEV takes 2.5 hours to fully recharge and using regular 120volt outlet around 8hours.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV got us to our destination safe. A little under 2 hours, was much more enjoyable spent sitting on heated (for me) and cooling (for my partner) cushy seats, but sadly no satellite radio to toggle to between channel’s as we waited impatiently in traffic jams caused by fender benders, a three vehicle pile up, and street cleaning.

 

Fast forward and we got to our destination just in time for our massage appointment. Originally we were aiming to arrive earlier, to be able to enjoy the amenities before our appointment, which would have helped us to relax a bit more. Sadly the confusion with payment method, the lack of instruction on the processes, and no directions to the locker room would have us tense and rushing. Scurrying to change into our robes, travel to the massage pavilion the next building over, and complete a waiver.

During check in at the main counter we were given a stack of towels and a key. Having been to a spa before I knew what they were used for and was able to read between unspoken lines. However, for my partner who joined me this afternoon, this was a whole new experience. I had to be his guide. You are given a beaded bracelet with a key attached, this unlocks the padlock you are given to secure your belonging in one of the lockers. The locker room is dark, although given the number of staff members I saw walking in and out, helping to organize the space, I’d like the believe it’s cleaned regularly. I rather not closely inspect such places should I see something I can’t un-see.

After dawning one of their terry cloth robes, we travelled to the neighbouring building for our massages. From here we walked across a small bridge to their massage complex. Two floors, each with a waiting room where you fill out a medical history form, then leave it on a counter for the massage therapists to discover and call out your name.

You are able to visit Scandinave, and just enjoy their spa facilities, but honestly given the distance to travel, you might as well get the full experience by including a massage in your treatment. Your treatment is customized between yourself and you massage therapist, the price is based on time allotted.

Given that our $210 massage appointments includes the use of the spa amenities and robes, and that if you only dropped in to use the facilities, robe rentals are $13, I expected a more plushier robe. Something softer against your skin, I would have been happy with my robe being of the same material as my two towels. One of which I left in the locker to use after I cleaned up. And one I took with me as a wrap and seat cover for the saunas.

When time you are greeted by your RMT. You are led into a room where you are told to unclothe as much as want and are comfortable with, then lay on their massage table face down, under a sheet and blanket. The massage we got was 60 minutes long. We both selected a full body massage with medium pressure. There were parts  of the treatment that hurt, but I knew it was worth enduring so held firm as the RMT kneaded my shoulder blades, and hard poked points on my gluteus. But it was the arms and specifically my wrists that I enjoyed the most. This action and this experience were helpful in getting some much needed rest for my wrists and fingers. Necessary given how often I am on my phone, holding it and texting with it, using the same joints and muscles to exhaustion from the repeated motion.

Sadly I was in so much comfortable bliss that I fell asleep 3/4 way through, when I was told to flip onto my back. I was woken when my session wrapped up, feeling rested over all, but sad to have not enjoyed the sensation in its entirety.

After your appointment you are able to roam the complex at your leisure. As the spa has a strict no technology policy, I won’t have many photos of the resort itself. This restriction makes sense. The property is beautiful and I can see many people visiting just for the photo op: taking up space, trying to get the perfect shot out of the 55 taken at each of their 5 pools; thus distracting everyone on site. Similarly, for similar reasons, there is a strict no talking policy. If you have to do it, it should be in whispered tones. This makes visiting with a friend or a group of friends difficult. Honestly if given the opportunity again, I will most definitely be coming alone. This is meant as a retreat to unwind, and there is no better way to do that than by yourself. That way, there is no need to entertain another person or accommodate their wants. You visit the saunas or pools that you want, in the order that you want. More on that later.

I would also strongly suggesting coming early to enjoy the facilities before your appointment to get the most benefits. The spa is built on the practice of heating and cooling your body temperature to intense ends of either spectrum rapidly. This is hydrotherapy, it is an age-old Finnish tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is known as an “effective way of releasing tensions in both the mind and the body” (as taken from their website). “The cycle of hot-cold-relax is proven to both energize and rest the body, improving blood circulation and activating the lymphatic system to help detoxification.”

All the above is only if done so properly, which I was too impatient and listless of a person to do so. You start with 10-15 minutes of heat either in one their dry saunas with wood, wet sauna with eucalyptus oils, or hot tubs. After, you jolt yourself with a dunk or shower in some very cold water. So chilled that you can only stay within for 5-10seconds. Then you allow your body to rest for 15-25 minutes. Doing so in a variety of different settings. There were wooden chairs by a fire pit, stone benches by the pools, cloth hammocks, firm mattress, and reclinable patio chairs. You were able to rest outdoors on this hot summer’s day or seek shade in one of their three solariums, which was outfitted with a fireplace.

The outdoor spa is open through the year with solutions to beat the heat in summer, and ways to stay warm in winter. In fact, having seen photos, I think I would have enjoyed a visit in winter more, when the snow is out and the landscape white with a fine power. Although I think it is easier to go from a hot summer’s day into a heated pool, than from a brisk winter’s chill into an icy bath. So there is value in visiting during either seasons for a different experience.

There is little interaction with the staff, yet there were boxes for comment cards and sealed envelopes for gratuity in every room. By the door in the washrooms and on the front desk counter. You couldn’t miss the hint. Specifically in the massage rooms where at the end of your session, your receipt and a cup of water waited for you by a propped up envelope, reading “thank you for your gratuity” in bold typeface. I don’t mind the practice, but I don’t like how strongly they kept suggesting it.

And lastly, here are some tips for first timers: a list of things I wish I knew to do differently.

First, bring a bag to carry your stuff around in. You are constantly moving from station to station, meaning your belongings do to. Each stop has hooks and benches to store, but if you are carrying your towel, robe, slippers, and book or other quite entertainment; that is a lot to tote around. Instead stuff it all in a waterproof reusable bag and save yourself the trouble.

second, plan your relaxation route. There is a map you can reference, but the path in which to go hot, cold, and cool down is in any order, by your discretion. It is easier to go from top to bottom then bottom to top. Meaning the hot tub at the very top, followed by a cooling soak in the chilling pool. Next the dry sauna on the middle level, and it’s cold plunging pool adjacent. Then the wet sauna or another dry sauna, followed by a dunk in their cold water fountain. Then lastly the hot tub at the bottom most level followed by a spill from their cold shower (sadly this one was out of order during our visit). If you are trying to avoid the hot water you can simply grab a seat under the hot sun, or boil a little more by grabbing a chair by one of their roaring fire pits.

Third, I cannot repeat enough, how much strongly I recommend coming earlier if you have a massage appointment. Arrive an hour or two before to allow yourself sometime to relax and unwind from the 1.5 hour windy drive up. Sandwich your massage appointment with a couple of heating and cooling circuits before and after. This way if you are antsy like me, all the time waiting and sitting for each circuit doesn’t seem too daunting. Plus you are absolutely getting your money’s worth this way.

And lastly go alone. The point of this spa is to relax, and there is no better way than being alone with your self and your own thoughts. This way you can go at your own pace, and need not have to feel like you have to stick with your guest or cater to their preferences. After all doing so does become extra troublesome considering you can’t communicate with them verbally.

In conclusion, this was a a great experience that I have been meaning to check off my bucket list. A unique way to take in the scenery and escape the city. A mini road trip made possible thanks to Mitsubishi Canada and the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

 

SCANDINAVE SPA
8010 Mons Road, Whistler BC, VON 1B8
604-935-2424
scandinave.com

Theford Mines 2018: sights & activities

The things we did in Theford Mines~

It’s been three years since my original trip to Quebec and 1.5 since my partner saw his parents. So we figured it was as good of a time as any to visit the land of the French Canadians. This is a visit so different than what I am use to that I continue to absorb the culture and learn with everything that I do here. Although most of this is due to the large differences between city and country living and the pace in which they both operate in. Here I tend to stick out like a sore thumb; between my ornate clothes, to my ethnicity, and lack of French language. This isn’t so much in Montreal, but all the more the further into Quebec farm land that we travelled. The following is an account of all that we saw in and around Thetford Mines, and what I noted as interesting or unique, compared to my life in urban Vancouver.

This recap will be split into two parts: “Things we ate”, and “Things we did”. This is the latter.

We were fortunate enough to get our hands on the new 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for the week. It was the ideal sports utility vehicle for our adventuring. It was rugged enough to take on those unpaved paths, yet dressy enough for a cruise around downtown. And best of all it has a great fuel economy, so our money went further as we drove and drove. Although it also helped that gas is 131.9 in Thetford.

The landscape of rural Quebec is flat, the mountains I take for granted in Vancouver, are not visible here. At most the land is given some height from the quarries and the sand dug up from mines long ago. These holes in the ground were carved up to harvest asbestos, well before we found out how long exposure to the stuff was harmful to the miners and the surrounding homeowners. The result is mounds of this black sand piled high to resemble peaks. But unfortunately it is so slippery and potentially hazardous that this sand cannot be redistributed or repurpose to ski slopes or hiking plateaus. Instead here they stand, untouched and perfect for our photo op, above.

A few of the afore mentioned mines (holes in the ground) have since been filled with water which allow for diving, given how deep they go. Although with its black waters, they are often used as a junk pits, and not so much a scenic dive. You can tell these were man made features given the rings around them created by precision digging, from wide to narrow as they descend.

Instead, farm land take up most of the green acres, along side sprawling wooded forests. This untapped greenery is available for hunting in during the fall season. Here is where we would take our time exploring. Playing in the great outdoors, doing much of that which we don’t or can’t do as easily, living in urban Lower Mainland, Vancouver.

Hiking isn’t really all that engaging here. There isn’t much of a view, nor is there really a climb to ascend too. Instead the rugged wilderness is best explored on four wheels. We procured a couple of ATVs and were bound for the forest. They are powerful enough to go up hills and over tree trunks, but you still need to steer yourself down the right path to avoid any necessary tipping.

Here you can ride to the base of one of the town’s 57 windmills. These propellers are the newest thing to add interest to Thetford’s landscape. They harness energy from the wind, which gets processed and stored, before being sold to the US. They offer you that same small feeling when looking up at one, as you would get from BC’s Rockies.

My partner’s father is a hobby hunter, he knew of a couple of places where the forest was dense, but assessable. He took us on a tour of his look outs and quite cabins, where he sits in wait for his prey.

Prey in the form of elk, moose, and deer that he lays year long traps for. He sets up feeding stations of salt blocks, and he digs up water holes to have them congregating within range of his scope and gun, should the season and his permit allow. During non-hunting times, like the summer of our visit, he has surveillance equipment up and running. This allows him to see if his “traps” are working. Motion sensor photos capture the above mentioned hoofed animals. Photos of brown moose licking his blocks and indents of their hoofs in the soften ground that surrounds them.

We would try our hand at the cross bow he can and has hunted with. But instead, our goal was to scoot at a burlap sack stuffed with rags, a makeshift target he uses for shooting practice. The scope and neon orange bullseyes make this an fairly easy feat.

The abundance of water ways and lakes I also take for granted in Vancouver are far and few in between in Thetford, despite Quebec being referred to the “land of lakes”. My partner’s aunt has a cabin on one of the only lakes. A nice place to sit and relax at, but it just isn’t the same when not surrounded by dominating mountains surrounding you.

But if you like farm animals, there is an abundance to drive by and moo at. Cows and horses grazing in the fields, even a llama or two in an enclosure. We visited a dairy farm and got a look at the bovine under chains and visited a fowl sanctuary with rare and fancy ducks, plus black and white swans.

As for the town itself, Thetford Mines doesn’t offer much in terms of tourists attractions or really any art to brighten up the neighbourhoods. Instead you look out into the wilderness, as we did above.

However the following are a few sights worth noting. The first is Thetford’s oldest mill: King’s Mill. It has long since stopped operating, and has recently been renovated into the city’s lone tourist attraction, much to the town’s folks dismay. The city choose to pour monetary resources and labour into the project, which includes refurbishing its rusted facade and paving roads to get to it. This was done instead of repaving the rough main roads that have long lasted the harsh Quebec winters; or filling the potholes created from the filling of water and the expanding of ice within them. All this and not many more people have visited the attraction. We did to take this photo, but even in the middle of the day the mill and attached centre wasn’t open to visitor. We left without getting the full experience: the history of the mill and the town that grew around it.

Next are the churches. There are a handful of them in each town, many of these buildings are hundred of years ago. Erected by those that immigrated to Quebec with their religions. Tall steeples, towering crosses, and ornately carved doors keeping the Christian and Catholic religion alive en mass. A couple of these churches were so old that a new one were built next to the original, and the former stood firm as a memoriam. One such town has a couple, resulting in their church count to hit 11.

Thetford did have a view point, however it just doesn’t have the same gusto without the elevation needed for a successful outlook, or the bustling city below to gander at. You pretty much look right across the land as it runs parallel to the sky’s blue and streaky clouds.

 

For a longer cruise and more to see, we drove to the neighbouring town of “D’Israeli”, established in 1867, with a population of around 2,500 according to records from 2009.

In D’Israeli, we stopped at the Marina and the “Marina pub” by the water. This is Aylmer lake, it connects many of the cities by water.

At the pub they offer fun cocktails with tiny colourful umbrellas, but given the heat and the area, went for the “Lake Lager”, a hoppy and refreshing beer when enjoyed on the upper deck of their two storey building. Calming waters with boats docked and county twang playing. This is only the second summer this new patio has seen.

We also stopped at one of the town’s popular cafeterias offering fast food like hot dogs and poutine, along with drinks and ice cream. One of “Le Mont Blanc’s” most popular offerings is the their soft served ice creams. We grabbed their largest cones to share, choosing the “twist” option. What I assumed was a mix of chocolate and vanilla swirled together, was actually vanilla and maple syrup soft serve. I never had maple soft serve before, but leave it to Quebec to highlight their favourite flavour like this. Worth noting is how the actual cone has little maple leaf prints encircling it.

Seeing a poster advertise “bubble tea”, I had to order it for curiosity sake. I was surprised that the idea of it got all the way out here. Naturally, I had to order the most “exotic” flavour, which wa the “mango”, made with peach juice and black tea. The “pearls” are actually popping juice balls. I asked for the “black ones”, thinking they would be the regular tapioca balls, however they are actually just blueberry juice balls. Don’t know what I was expecting given Frenchy’s dislike of bbt and having to chew his drink. The clerk admitted that it isn’t ordered often, and this was in fact her first time having to make it. No regrets, but no repeats.

For more of what I ate and the food scene in Thetford Mines, check out part two to my Thetford trip:

Theford Mines 2018: eating & dining

Quebec City Trip 2018

During our visit to Quebec, we drove down to Quebec City for the evening. We spent our time exploring and eating within “Old Quebec”, the oldest part of the town, featuring architecture from hundreds of years ago. The exterior of such buildings have been restored and many of the interiors renovated into more modern places of business. Thus making it a great destination for tourists to come, soak in some history, and to shop for souvenirs to their heart’s content.

The drive to was a lengthy one, and unfortunately Quebec’s landscape is a flattened one. Where as we have water ways and mountain highs to appreciate when we travel within our province of BC, Quebec has farm lands as far as the eye can see. Therefore this does become quite the tiring drive, luckily our trusty 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, for the week provided us with an easy and comfortable ride.

My partner was worried about the drive within the large city and the aggressiveness of the drivers, who cut you off every chance you get. Luckily the eclipse cross has plenty of safety features to help you battle the above. This includes very clear view of the rear, thanks to the mirror magnifying the segmented back windshield.

But once you get into the city there is so much to see. You can literally behold the history of the city with ivy lined brick buildings, chipped away stone facades, and colonial style roof tops. This all comes with being North America’s oldest city, founded in 1608. The original French settlers brought with them an architectural style similar to what they were familiar with in Europe. This architecture is what really sets the French Canadian city apart from all the other much younger cities across Canada.

In fact, in 1985 Quebec City was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico, a fort equipped with antique cannons defending its shores. Both are artifacts and memories of a battle to defend the land long ago. They currently make for a great photo op.

But certainly the focal point of the city, and the most photographed hotel in the world is the Fairmont Frontenac. The Château Frontenac is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, located in Quebec City, Quebec. It is a prominent feature in the skyline of Quebec City, overlooking the water with more than 600 rooms across 18 floors. My wish would be to return, and stay for the night… one day.

The area referred to as “Old Quebec” is separated into two different levels. The stone gateway is at the upper. And in order to reach the lower half, you can either take the walk down, or ride the tram down. We opted for the latter, only to deem it the most expensive elevator ride we have ever been on. $3 per person, per ride (up or down). In a glass box you watch the the horizon shrink or grow as you ascend or descent. We would take it down and scale up stairs later to get back up.

The streets are like those of a European Village. Cobble stone roads, windows with colourful shutters and flower boxes, and lights strung over head from one side of the narrow lane way to the other. If our streets in Vancouver looked more like this, you would see me walking for the sake of enjoying them more.

The following are a few of the decorative sights I took note of.

Wonderful murals.

Strung up lights.

And art installations.

We stopped at “Lapin Sauté” for dinner. It’s exterior caught my eye, as well as the prospect of dining at a rabbit themed restaurant. The patio shared a courtyard with a few other restaurants. This scene included over reaching tree branches and paper lanterns hanging over head. All this and a warm night made for a romantic dinner session. It is just a shame that the food didn’t live up to it.

They are famous for their cassoulets, so I had to try their braised rabbit leg, with duck sausages and bacon. All their rabbit comes from Quebec, it is naturally farmed without antibiotics, hormones, animal meal, or fat. I didn’t like it, I found it a dull meal to pick at. The rabbit leg was tough, the beans grainy, and the dish overall didn’t have enough interest to it. The spices in the sausage was the only element satisfying in flavour, yet there wasn’t enough of it to pair all that rabbit meat with.

Although disappointing, it was still better than the pork chops marinated in herbs with maple and soy sauce. This was the driest pork chop I have ever had, at any restaurant. So bad that my partner agreed that we ought to send it back, instead of suffering through it. And we did.

I should of had the rabbit poutine or the rabbit pot pie. Maybe even the warm rabbit liver and kidney salad. We were thinking about ending our meal with their maple syrup crepe brûlée, but after not enjoying your two entrees all that much, we rather not chance any more disappointment.

Still hungry we continued to roam the city looking for another, more convenient place to finish our dinner at. We did so as the sun set and the sky turned shades of coral and pinks before black replaced blue in the sky.

Here we were able to enjoy the city in a different way. I liked how the city lit up and glowed with flickering bulbs.

We ended up at “Sapristi Bistro Bar” to continue our meal. We were once again able to enjoy the warm night, on their backyard patio. A section between two brick buildings, decorated with potted plants and strung up with patio lights.

The margarita pizza was disappointing in size. This sad looking single serving was actually the “large” at $14. This wasn’t enough food for two, but luckily I ordered enough wine to fill me up.

And thus ended our night in Old Quebec. We took in most of the sights and enjoyed the city in its splendour. And now with all the traffic dispersed, we were free to drive back home, in our 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

The recap of our travel will conclude in the next travel blog on Thetford Mines.

 

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