I’m gazing into the eyes of a beautiful mule deer who’s peacefully grazing on lush mountain greenery. He’s just 25 feet away, and totally unfazed that ten mountain cross cars are being transported stealthily up the mountain before they’re slipped from the lift and self-propelled onto the race course. This deer must be new to the neighbourhood, as clearly, like me, he doesn’t know what’s to come.
As soon as the first car takes off, squealing around the corners, my 27-year-old son Seth behind the wheel, hooting and hollering, that deer was long gone. But I’m still here, in the car right behind Seth, followed by Ayan, my 25-year old and next, his girlfriend, Sheena.
Left to my own devices, I might not be barreling down this 512-metre course with a 52-metre vertical descent, where you can reach speeds of 35 km/hour (I didn’t), but, you see, adventure sports are something my kids enjoy.
We’re spending a summer weekend at Sun Peaks, British Columbia’s second largest ski resort. Both of my kids live in Kamloops, where a 45-minute drive out of that semi-arid desert landscape lands us in the cool, forested mountains. It’s at least 5-10 degrees cooler up here than in the valleys.
We travelled a lot as a family when my kids were young, but then there was a gap of time where, like most teenagers, they didn’t want to be seen with me on the streets of our hometown, never mind try to have an enjoyable vacation together. Now that they’ve let go of their thinking that travelling with a parent is way un-cool, we’re re-discovering the joy of get-aways together.
Apparently, my family’s not alone, as travel companies like G Adventures report that travel bookings for families with adult children are on the rise, to more than double that of families with younger children.
Unlike when they were young, I’m relieved to no longer be a referee, babysitter or caregiver, and nor worry if they’re eating a healthy, balanced diet (Admittedly, it’s hard not to comment!). As a family of adults, we all get to just relax and be ourselves.
Of course, it can be a challenge to plan a vacation, as everybody’s needs and interests are different, and as adults, we all want a say in our plans. My kids like more extreme activities, but after pulling a muscle while participating in a flying trapeze activity, I’ve realized I need to censor myself. So soft adventure is something we all enjoy.
Sun Peaks is a mountain biking and hiking mecca during the off-season and with so many other activity options it was hard to choose—should we canoe, kayak, fly fish, stand-up paddleboard, explore the resort on horseback?
We arrive on a Sunday, in time to happily wander through the summer farmers market, tasting morsels of local cheeses and wild-harvested haskap berries, while admiring the arts and crafts. When Seth and Ayan stop at Sneaky Scallywags, which boasts 36 flavours of jelly belly beans, and spend $17 on the gourmet sweets, I’m flooded by nostalgia–some things never change.
Next we decide on a hike, and I’m star struck when Olympian Nancy Greene who, at 75, is still going strong in her role as director of skiing at the resort, invites us to ride up the Sun Burst lift with her and her husband. There are mosquitoes to greet us at the top, and without repellant, Nancy shows us how to crush the leaves of the white yarrow in our palms and rub it on the exposed parts of our skin for a natural bug deterrent.
From the top of the lift we start our 230 metres ascent through small sub-alpine groves and wildflower bowls to the Top of the World lookout where the name says it all. From this altitude of 2,080 metres, you can see forever, and I’m told on a clear day you can see four mountain ranges: Coastal, Caribou, Selkirk and Monashees.
The next day starts with a peaceful canoe paddle on nearby McGillivray Lake, where the water is so calm it shimmers like glass. My sons grew up canoeing with their dad, but hadn’t been paddling for years. They joked about getting back in touch with their J-stroke maneuvers as we zigzagged across the water.
My sons and I are keen golfers, so that’s our afternoon choice, while Sheena chooses to drive the cart. We’re glad we’ve opted to only play nine holes–the fairways are narrow and unforgiving, and we lose at least 20 balls. But we all keep our sense of humour about it (“I was only able to not get frustrated because we stopped keeping score,” confides Ayan, and I had to agree), and enjoy the stunning natural layout of the course, which takes us along forest paths, over bridges crossing babbling streams, and allows drop-dead gorgeous mountain vistas. After all, Sun Peaks is BC’s highest elevation golf course.
We are a family of foodies, and indulging in good eats is a must wherever we go. At Sun Peaks there is no shortage of options, like at Morrisey’s Public House, with their Sunday market-inspired brunch. Chef d’Souza arrives early to walk through the market where he checks out the local ingredients to inspire his menu.
For our brunch, I was the odd-person out ordering a frittata, while all three kids (can I still call them that?) ordered the eggs benedict with a twist, served on a jalapeno corn meal muffin with fresh candied salmon, instead of Canadian bacon.
On our last afternoon, as we’re all lazily paddling in the Sun Peaks Grand pool (by the end of 2018, this luxury resort will be even more spectacular–it’s currently undergoing a multi-million dollar reno), Seth asks “Well, where should we plan our next trip?” Exactly what I was thinking.
For more info go to: Sun Peaks Resort
Tips for Travel with Adult Children:
- Don’t get stuck on everyone doing the same thing all the time; if someone doesn’t want to join in an activity, that’s ok.
- If one family member is really uncomfortable with a destination or an activity, probably best to settle on another option; it’s okay to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, but you don’t want to go so far that someone is uncomfortable the whole trip. On the other hand, even if an activity isn’t your first pick, join in good-naturedly and try to have fun.
- You might find that you fall back into old dynamics of the parent doing most of the planning, but everyone should feel they’ve had at least a say in the itinerary, choosing places to eat, etc.
- Especially when your kids are bringing along a girl(boy)friend/partner, arrange to have separate hotel rooms, or rent a condo where everyone can have their own space.