Experiential Tourism Creates Authentic Connections
Connect with locals. Meet new people. Share stories. Taste local food. Try new things. Open up to growth.
Travelling has always been a journey. But it is becoming more important to travellers to have authentic travel experiences, to really get in touch with the place they are visiting, to journey not just to a place but also into a place, inside its core. Travelling begins with the desire to explore—to seek somewhere new and see what exists there. The landscape of a new place speaks for itself. We just look around and it’s there. But if we want to see into a place, we have to look a little closer, a little deeper, and there we will find our journey’s true meaning.
Years ago, I was inspired by Rick Steve’s “Europe Through the Back Door”, a guide to the best off-the-beaten-track attractions of Europe. I longed to go to places that less people had discovered. There I would find beauty and charm in the quiet spaces that hadn’t been over-run by mobs of tourists. Rick Steve, and a good friend of mine, taught me some important points about travel—like how to be respectful of place and culture. I learned to drink wine before visiting Italy, and to drink tea before visiting Ireland. I learned how important it is to attempt to speak the language of the countries I visit. During my travels, I learned that my best experiences were ones that involved meeting and getting to know the locals—staying at B&B’s or riding a public bus.
In later travels, I desired more connection. I still wanted “things to do” in each place, but I soon learned it needn’t be white-water rafting to raise my heart rate. I discovered that making an Art Glitter card in Sedona, Arizona, or Digging Clams for my Dinner on Prince Edward Island could open and raise my heart to new levels. I met local folks, heard their stories, tried their craft, tasted their food, and learned what their home means to them. These experiences connected me to place, and gifted me with wonderful lasting memories.
The natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast is truly awesome. It is an off-the-beaten track hidden gem of a place. And now there is an opportunity for visitors to go deeper into its beauty. Catch Our Drift Earthly Journeys is an experiential tour company offering visitors a chance to connect with local people who are passionate about sharing their skills and knowledge. Journeys are offered year-round. You can learn more and view available journeys at www.catchourdrift.ca.
Article Submitted by Sheila Cameron
Catch Our Drift Earthly Journeys
Why I Ride Here
It is Friday morning and I sit pensively watching the rain come down outside my window. Clad in my warm pajamas and drinking my steaming espresso, I think…am I really riding my bike today? Am I really that insane? But Friday is my pedal day and rain or shine, we get out on those trails. For there is one thing I know for sure: No matter how terrible the weather looks from inside, once you are out in the forest, all of that is forgotten. Once you are surrounded by our lush landscape, bounty of leaves and loamy moss covered trails, you feel far away from anything that is negative. This is West Coast Riding: 365 days a year.
My riding friends range in age from 25 to 72 (and the 72 year old can shred some dirt, let me tell you!). Our conversations on the trail vary from relationships to parenting to food and wine; and yes, we even throw in some bike talk especially when the males are present. I have had some of the best discussions on these trails and worked out some of my most challenging life problems.
So you see, I simply cannot let a little rain get in my way. These rides are too important and I can’t imagine missing one pedal stroke. For me to be outside in nature surrounded by special people is what makes me feel most alive. And here on the
As I ride back from the labyrinth of trails aptly called the West Sechelt Single Track, drenched, cold and covered in mud; I smile anticipating a hot shower and post ride beer. This is why I ride…why I ride here.
Submitted by Lydia Watson
Discover the Magic of Snow at Dakota Ridge
Not too many people know that the Sunshine Coast has a winter playground. Visiting Dakota Ridge is an amazing way to enjoy all that fresh snow has to offer right here on the Coast. While the weather may be foggy or rainy at sea level, a trip up the mountain to this winter wonderland promises snow fun for the whole family during the winter months.
With a four-wheel drive and chains to negotiate the 14-kilometre, scenic logging road that rises to the Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area near Wilson Creek, you can access multiple cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. In addition to road and parking area enhancements, Dakota Ridge now also features a new sledding area and, for the first time, trails in the extensive system have been given names derived from the Sechelt and Squamish First Nations languages.
Rolling hills beneath yellow cedar, mountain hemlock and fir are blanketed in sparkling snow. Topping out at 1,200 metres, on a clear day the views from 15 kilometres of world class cross country ski trails (classic and skate) and 7 kilometres of snowshoe trails include Georgia Strait, the North Shore mountains and Mount Elphinstone, creating a real “sea-to-sky” composition that is fantastic for photographers looking for stark contrasts.
To access Dakota Ridge, turn north off Highway 101 onto Field Road. At the end of Field Road, turn right onto the logging road. It is a good idea to have your chains on or at the ready before moving into the snow zone. The Sunshine Coast Regional District maintains the road to Dakota Ridge and the trail system.
Dakota Ridge is growing with new trails and activities being planned with each additional season. Once at the ridge, you will find a parking lot, trailheads with maps, an outhouse with an eco-holding tank, a Quonset warming hut with a wood stove and picnic tables inside and a user-pay system. There are no garbage facilities, so be prepared to pack it out with you. Dogs are permitted in designated areas, but must be on a leash.
Snowmobiles also start at the trailhead, so all are encouraged to be mindful near the start and finish of their loops. Trails are clearly marked with signage that have snowshoe and skier symbols on them.
Enthusiasts are reminded that conditions can change abruptly and they should carry emergency supplies at all times. There are six green circles along the trails to mark where users may be able to get cellular phone reception (this is dependent on weather conditions and service provider). Keep extra clothing, food and water and even sleeping bags in your vehicle in case road conditions become impassible.
A growing group of dedicated volunteers provide assitance on the trails during weekends, ensuring safety, answering questions and reminding users of the pay policy. Day rates are $12 or less depending on age for cross-country skiers, snowshoers pay $6 or less, and children 12 and under can use the facility for free. Group rates and season passes are also available. There is also a flat fee of $5 per vehicle for all visitors who are not purchasing a snowshoe or ski ticket or pass. This fee supports the cost of road snowplowing and maintenance of the sledding area. Season pass holders also receive discounts at popular winter recreation areas like Lost Lake in Whistler, Whistler Olympic Park and Cypress Mountain.
After leaving ocean and greenery behind, entering Dakota Ridge is like landing in a winter wonderland fantasy where forested trails envelope you, bluffs with inspiring views cause you to pause, and the community of outdoor enthusiasts embraces you. With the privilege of recreation comes the responsibility to protect it. Please stay on the marked trails, be safe and have fun!
For information on passes, and to learn more about snow and road conditions or for driving directions, go to www.scrd.ca/Dakota-Ridge or find us on Facebook.