Coronavirus State

Well, a lot has changed in the past month. If I’m rereading this 15-20 years in the future, here’s a quick rundown;

Virus spreads around the world. Affects mostly older people, not kids. Economy shuts down. Here in Washington State, kids don’t have school, it’s canceled for the remainder of the year, and I’m mostly working from home. The last half of March, and so far the first part of April, have been spent almost exclusively at home with the kids.

The positive sides though; air quality is said to be improved, traffic (in case I do have to go anywhere) is incredible, gas is the cheapest I can remember it being (around Issaquah, it’s gone from around $2.99 to $2.39 for regular unleaded, and I’ve seen it as low as $1.54 per gallon in somewhat nearby Cle Elum). I have yet to fill up though, as I have probably driven only 100 miles in about 3 weeks.

Being at home has been good for the wallet, and spending the time with the kids is always a positive, especially at their ages. Hopefully we can get through this without impacting/infecting our parents and family. I haven’t seen my mom face to face other than when I dropped off some donuts for her in a box that I only touched with gloves on.

With all that said, here’s how the rest of life has been impacted;

Real Estate – Since there are rules for showing properties (smaller groups allowed in homes, no open houses, must set appointments), showing activity is down for us. But it goes in waves (I guess real estate always does). I’ve read that homes are still going pending, and still closing… but I’m also reading about potential buyers wanting to wait out this virus scare, and being concerned about the long term economic impact (prices decreasing).

Areas that tend to be really hot and competitive are still hot. I couldn’t believe that 4 homes listed in The Woods in Issaquah all went Pending within days of being listed. But the outlying areas appear to have homes that are lingering on the market. And now is not the time to set a “high list price” just to see what happens. I’d be aggressive if you plan on listing now, to give people a reason to get out of their homes and want to come visit.

My 2 cents; As always, if you have the financial means to buy, and you love a specific area, don’t pass it up. Because there’s always going to be a demand in this region. Especially the closer you are to Seattle / Bellevue.

ECommerce / Sturtevants – Ski and snowboard shops seem to be hurting out there in the online world. I’ve never seen so many deals! Makes me want to whip out my wallet and start ordering things I don’t need. Some companies were so desperate, I saw many deals below wholesale.

The good news is that most ski resorts usually close in mid-April. So sales would have slowed down anyway around this time. However, March is usually a huge month for sales, and many people buy items to stock up for next season.

And sales aren’t just happening in winter sports. I’m seeing sales everywhere. Nordstrom had a few days where they had 25% off their entire site. Dicks Sporting Goods, Best Buy, REI all seem to have a daily sale going (happening online though, not in stores).

For us, it’s been a struggle. Most of our staff has been let go or furloughed. Essential businesses are allowed to operate, but obviously a ski / tennis shop is not. I’ve gone into the warehouse about once a week to ship orders out. But with the way our site is structured, a lot of items get pulled from the retail locations. And that’s where it gets tough since I don’t have keys to the stores.

Plus, sales for the online department are WAY up. I guess it’s obvious that when people can’t buy in-store from their favorite shops, they tend to go online. The good news is that a lot of local people have been supporting us, and that’s always good to see. Hopefully we can weather this pandemic and reopen as early as May. That’s my hope anyway!

Until next time…

Real Estate Update – February 2020

There was a day last week, when the following occurred while doing a search of homes on the NWMLS;

  • City: Bellevue
  • Number of Bedrooms: 3 or more
  • Price: Under $1 million
  • Results: ZERO

Yikes. Even right now, on a Thursday right before going into the weekend, there are only 2 active results that meet those search parameters. To say inventory is low would be an understatement.

It’s hard to imagine things getting much more difficult for buyers. Here’s hoping inventory turns around and that we’re able to reach a much more balanced market, if that could exist.

It seems as though every time inventory does build itself up a little bit, there are articles about the market crashing and how buyers think they’re in control now. We (Mitch and I) will see it first hand as well, with low ball offers, and buyers all of a sudden getting picky. I think the end result of that is that sellers decide to wait, and new listings decide to hold off and try the rental market instead.

So, hopefully we’ll be blessed with an influx of new listings soon, and a market where sellers can get a price they want, and buyers can still do all their due diligence while taking advantage of low interest rates.

Another Post on Price Matching

I wrote a post about a year ago about the challenges of price matching, and I wanted to write a follow up to say that, perhaps websites should just simply stop price matching.

(I do want to clarify that this is different from allowing our retail stores to price match. Because if a customer is coming into your store, you should appreciate the fact that they’ve taken the time to come talk to you face to face. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the cost of shipping.)

The issues most websites face are this;

By the time a customer calls you up and asks for a price match, consider the circumstances. They are probably coming to you because no one else has it available. Think about that for a minute. Why would a customer be calling an online store, if they could buy it cheaper elsewhere and not have to talk to anyone?

So now, you have the “last” of something. Shouldn’t that price then go up? Not down?

I understand if it’s a mass produced item (lets say a LEGO toy set), and you just want to support a local business instead of buying from a Target or Walmart. If that is the case, again, I would go into a local store, and have a conversation face to face.

But the phone conversations with customers regarding price matching usually involve people who have never bought from us before, some who don’t even know what store they called (they just clicked a link on their phones), and others who want it shipped internationally or cross country but aren’t willing to pay for it.


Other factors include the cost of shipping and not knowing exactly what the customer’s expectations are (they might expect something in perfect condition, but chances are an item may have a damaged box, or it could be the display model off the showroom, especially when we’re down to the last couple items in stock).

I do think companies should not aggressively / blindly honor price match requests. Unless it’s for a repeat customer who is more likely to shop with you in the future.

Pending Listing in Covington – MLS 1492375

26466 186th Ct SE Covington, WA 98042 | 3 bedrooms | 1430 square feet | $338,000 List

After 3 days on the market and a lot of foot traffic and interest, this Covington listing of ours went Pending. We hope the buyers of this property love this home as much as our sellers do.


Marketing Remarks

Updated 3 bedroom corner-lot home in Timerlane Estates. This quiet house was made even more enjoyable and ready to move-in with a fully updated upper bathroom, new living-area flooring, interior paint, stainless appliances, granite kitchen counters, light fixtures, outlets, and more! Enjoy the cozy wood fireplace in the winters or the freshly painted deck and fenced, wraparound lawn all summer. New WH in 2017 and Furnace in 2016. Community features an outdoor pool, clubhouse, and winding trails.

New Listing In My Home Zip Code 98027

It’s always great to represent a seller in an area where I’m most familiar. Even though things have changed quite a bit in Issaquah, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up here, and come back to live here once I started my family, so I know what has changed and what hasn’t.

It’s still a small city located at the foothills of the Cascades, just a short distance from Bellevue and even Seattle. You can get here in 15 minutes from the stadiums when there’s little traffic. And it’s a great place to live for outdoor lovers such as myself, with Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park, more hiking trails than I can count (one of those State Parks borders this property), and 3 ski areas within an hour and a half.

If you’re into these types of things, you’ll love this latest listing. It’s located on Squak Mountain in the High Valley community.

Located on over 2 acres, with a home that’s over 3,000 square feet, it feels like it’s built into the hillside. During our open house last weekend, everyone commented on how unique the home is, that they’ve never seen anything like it. And that’s a rare thing to hear these days, as lots are bought, subdivided, and communities are built rapidly trying to appeal to as many buyers as possible.

In my years of real estate, I’ve never been to an open house where every group spent at least 20 minutes. And every person had a different vision. Some talked about moving away from the city now that their kids are out of the house. Some talked about eventually having kids and how they would love the yard and space. Others loved the potential for entertaining, as the kitchen was large and open, not to mention the wrap around deck on the second level. And one of my favorites features is that the office / spare bedroom upstairs is laid out a lot like my office at work.

So if you’d like to be close to things, but away from everything, this community would be a good one to consider. The school districts are great, and the neighbors I’ve met say it’s a great commute if you’re heading south (towards Renton, Kent, South Seattle), and not too bad if you’re heading to Bellevue and downtown Seattle. You’ll be getting a one of a kind home.

High Valley, Issaquah | 12234 210th Pl SE | $997,000 | 4 bedrooms | 2.75 bathrooms | 3,030 square feet | MLS 1488626 | 2.06 acres

My Take on Real Estate – Spring 2019

Just wanted to write out my thoughts on the real estate market as of June 2019.

It’s been an interesting start to 2019 for my partner Mitch and I. We’re on pace to match the transactions from last year, but overall it’s a much more relaxed and laid back market compared to the previous 5+ years.

We definitely see the micro-markets and specific pockets that continue to be hot, but we’re rarely seeing multiple offers or offer review dates. The few times we do see offer review dates, those dates tend to pass without much fanfare. Maybe they get an offer or two, but often times we continue to see those homes on the open market.

In my home community of Issaquah, specifically in the 98027 zip code, here is how May 2019 compares to May 2018;

98027 May 2018 May 2019 Change
Homes / Condos Sold 56 67 +19.6%
Avg Price $845,042 $784,095 -7.21%
Median Price $824,500 $699,000 -15.22%
Avg Days on Market 21.1 31.7 +50.24%
Median DOM 8 10 +25.00%

Those numbers are a little shocking at first, but perhaps the median price drop was affected by a large number of condos selling. If we filter out out the condos, and just show the homes, here is how those numbers look;

98027 May 2018 May 2019 Change
Homes Only 43 48 +11.63%
Avg Price $945,858 $921,278 -2.60%
Median Price $905,000 $777,500 -14.09%
Avg Days on Market 25.2 34.3 +36.11%
Median DOM 8 12.5 +56.25%

In both tables, we’re seeing about a 14-15% median price drop from year to year. Okay, so that’s a pretty small sample size, and I always like to start in 98027 because that’s where I live and grew up and I sort of suspected that listings were taking longer, and I’ve been seeing more price drops, but I wasn’t expecting such a large price drop year over year.

Again, that’s a pretty small sample size and it’s just a single zip code.

What if we pulled in numbers for all of Bellevue, from May 2018 compared to May 2019? Just for homes (no condos), and all of the Bellevue zip codes (98004, 98005, 98006, etc). Here is what that would look like;

Bellevue May 2018 May 2019 Change
Homes Only 127 156 +22.83%
Avg Price $1,422,511 $1,278,560 -10.12%
Median Price $1,309,000 $1,100,000 -15.97%
Avg Days on Market 14.4 33.2 +130.56%
Median DOM 6 8 +33.33%

So these numbers look very similar to Issaquah’s 98027 percentages. From working with our recent clients, we know that people are moving to areas like Kent and Maple Valley to try and escape the high prices. Maybe an area like Maple Valley is benefiting from the dropping prices of Issaquah and Bellevue? Here are the same stats for Maple Valley.

Maple Valley May 2018 May 2019 Change
Homes Only 76 67 -11.84%
Avg Price $575,545 $523,535 -9.04%
Median Price $536,036 $480,000 -10.45%
Avg Days on Market 20.6 20.4 No change
Median DOM 6 6 No change

So from all these charts and numbers, I’d come to a couple conclusions;

  • It’s more of a buyer’s market now than it has been since the Great Recession ended.
  • If you’ve been waiting to buy, I’d start following the market and paying more attention now to see where the market might go in the next 6 to 12 months. If this pace keeps up, this upcoming fall might be an ideal time for buyers. Especially if there is extra unsold inventory from the ‘typically busy’ summer season.
  • With the prices falling in Issaquah / Bellevue, more transactions have occurred, but perhaps that had the opposite effect in areas like Maple Valley, where there were fewer transactions compared to the previous year. Maybe some of those buyers who would have bought in Maple Valley ended up buying in Issaquah and Bellevue.

We’ll continue to watch the numbers and will expand our search as needed. If you’re curious about the trends in a certain area or region (within Western Washington), please reach out to us on our Facebook page,

Thank you. -Jin

image courtesy of City of Issaquah Parks & Recreation page;

Saying Goodbye to Brian

I write this in the hopes that one day my kids will read it.

A week ago, we lost Brian, we had to put him down. It happened all of a sudden. We had dropped him off at grandma’s house to go spend a weekend out of town, when she called and said he wasn’t eating any food, and kept throwing up. He also didn’t want to go outside or for any walks. All of which is unusual for him.

So we came back and spent Saturday evening with Brian. When he didn’t perk back up on Easter Sunday morning, we admitted him to Alpine Animal Hospital in Issaquah right in front of Costco. They called a couple hours later with the grim news. His gall bladder and kidneys were failing. They could operate to remove some blockages in his gall bladder, and give meds for the kidneys, but said he was suffering and that his quality of life may not recover, and recommended being put down.

It was a heartbreaking phone call.

Against their wishes, we took Brian back home for one more night together, and then on Monday morning, at 9:19 AM on 4/22/2019, he passed peacefully with Manda, the kids, and grandma all by his side. I’m glad he didn’t suffer for too many days, and appreciate all the things he taught me.

Thanks to everyone who has ever met Brian for their support and for reaching out over the past week. The rest of this post is for my own personal records. I never want to forget Brian, and am fearful that his memory will fade. So I’m writing down dates, details, and as much as I can now while I remember.

Rest in doggy heaven good friend,

  • Brian the Bichon Frise – April 6, 2004 – April 22, 2019


(Picture from June 2018)

The Early Years with Brian

It was 2004, I was halfway through business grad school, and I was a cocky 20-something who had just sold a company, bought a condo, and right around this time, I purchased my first “adult” car and obtained my real estate license just in case the business degree didn’t pan out. Getting a dog probably just seemed like another “adult” thing to do at that time.

I remember walking around my complex and meeting a neighbor who had this large white dog around 30 pounds. I thought it was the coolest poodle I had ever met, when the neighbor explained that he was a Bichon Frise named Butch. He joked that he had to give him a tough sounding name, and that Butch was large for a Bichon, most are well under 20 pounds. I wish I remembered that neighbor’s name so I could thank him, I still hope that he’ll Google “butch the Bichon issaquah” and he’ll find my posts.

Soon after, I visited a shop in Bellevue that no longer exists, called Absolutely Puppies. It was just off 8th, at 805 111th Ave NE. An area that became SO popular over the past 15 years that it’s now a highrise building.

There was an area with Bichon’s in it, and I remember one of them getting on his hind legs and reaching for me. I picked him up and set him down by my feet. He wouldn’t leave my side as I walked around that store. We left that store, I sat in the passenger seat of my girlfriend’s Honda Accord, with Brian on my lap. It was August 1, 2004. He was just around 4 months old. We gave him a temporary name, Brian, but it ended up sticking. He was named after the family pet on Family Guy.

Later, I heard that this shop mostly sells dogs from puppy mills, so I always feel like I rescued Brian from a bad situation.

I also remember that first night with him, because I had him inside a cage on the floor next to my bed, and he wouldn’t stop barking / crying randomly. I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” But once I put him on the bed, he was happy as he slept by my side.

In the early years, Brian loved licking my feet, sleeping under the covers and then coming up for air in the middle of the night, and taking clothes and sometimes shoes / sandals around the rest of the house. He had this short burst of energy that most Bichon’s get, and I loved it when he’d tire himself out. I used to throw tennis balls, and he would run after them, then leave them there forcing me to go pick up the ball.

Brian also loved wedging himself into tight spots, like between me and the couch. He just loved being near us and I remember his weight leaning up against me anytime I was sitting.

I also loved that when he took food from your hand, he was so gentle. And he never took food from strangers. He was sometimes difficult on a leash, but as soon as you took that leash off, he’d mostly stay right by your side (unless he was looking for some place to poop, then he’d take forever). He was a great hiking buddy even if he’d need a bath right after.


Brian originally hated kids. It all started when he was a little puppy when I took him to a real estate showing and this family had several children. They started petting him all at once, and he retreated to under my car, fearful. After that, he would snap at kids occasionally and we were always careful to keep him away from young people.

When Livia was born, Brian was 9, and we were worried that he wouldn’t take it well. But thankfully we were wrong and they got along great. When Owen was born, Brian was almost 12 and Brian loved Owen even more. They would cuddle up together.

Rolling with the Changes

Brian was with me as I lived in 5 different residences, worked various jobs, and rode shotgun (or in my lap) in at least a dozen cars. He is the one thing in my life that was a constant presence as I grew up, found my career, met my wife, and had my kids. He was there when my dad passed away. He was there when both my kids were born. He will be impossible to replace.

He was my daily companion, especially those 6 months or so after I broke my leg and he spent every day with me on the couch.

I think the change is the hardest part. The place where I got him no longer exists. The place he got neutered no longer exists. His first groomer (Sue’s Grooming) no longer exists. The home where he spent the most time in his early years (the Wong’s where he was best friends with Buster) is just about to be sold this month.

When I hear noises now in the house, I still think it’s Brian. I’m still used to getting up early to let him out, feed him breakfast, and do his normal routine.

Now, it feels like everything in my life is either “Before Brian” or “After Brian.”

The last 2 years were tough for him. In April 2017, he was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, which caused him to drink a lot more water, and pee constantly. He started taking meds and wearing a diaper full time.

He didn’t bark as much. He was losing his hearing. He hadn’t gone on a hike in at least 2 years. Last year, we tried walking him down to the store and back, but he got tired on the way back, so I had to run home and grab a car. But throughout all this, he never lost his appetite.

On his final day, we tried giving him kalbi, which was easily one of his favorite things to eat (he would walk around the entire house with that bone in his mouth, and then start whimpering when he couldn’t find a good hiding spot), and when he turned his nose and had trouble walking away, we knew it was time to let him go.

I appreciate all the things that dog ownership taught me. I could get into the cliches but if you’ve owned a dog before, you probably already know what I’m talking about. On the day he passed, I told Manda that the pain I feel makes me never want to own another dog again. But as a week has passed, I feel like I want to honor Brian by one day getting another dog. I’ll never replace Brian, since there’s no way we can replace the memories we have, but the highs I’ve had over the last 15 years easily outweigh the lows, and I feel like the least I can do is share these feeling with another pet, one day down the line.


Special thanks to his regular vet, Companion Animal Hospital in Bellevue. I wish he could have seen you guys one more time (unfortunately all this happened on Easter Sunday). And to his regular groomer Carol, at Der Pet Haus in Bellevue. Carol, you never once complained to us that Brian needed to come in more frequently, or that he was a difficult pet when it was time to do his nails, or that I needed to brush more often.

Just Listed in Federal Way

Just listed in Federal Way!

$399K, 4 bedrooms and just shy of 2000 square feet. Let us know if you’re interested in buying real estate.

  • Jin, Skyline Properties

Ultra clean, turn-key home in Goldmaur is ready for the entire family with ample space, nestled in a park-like property. Features include kitchen with granite tile, a cooktop island and eating space, master bedroom with en-suite bath, cozy wood fireplace in the living room and skylights throughout for plentiful light. The lower level bonus room with 1/2 bath make a great place for entertaining or retreat. The oversized 2-car garage has storage and workspace. New paint inside/out and carpet.

Snohomish New Listing

Well, we didn’t expect multiple offers before we could even hold the first open house, but our clients are ecstatic. This beautiful home went pending before I could even complete this write up. Credit goes to my partner Mitch Greenblatt for preparing and marketing the listing, as well as to the sellers for making sure the house showed well.

Photography by L Ten Photography

MLS #1423030 – 20425 82nd Ave SE in Snohomish WA 98296

Idyllic rambler on shy acre in Snohomish. Elegant pull-through driveway and courtyard entry greet you and your guests home. Inside the sunken living room features a wood stove and oversized windows framing the private, park-like back yard with hot tub. The large kitchen with ample storage, gas range, and bar seating is open to the family and dining areas for a truly great room feel. Newer roof, vinyl windows, water heater and connected natural gas service make this home move-in ready!

Jin Lee, Skyline Properties Bellevue

BC-Banff Road Trip – January 2019

Every winter my friends and I talk about road trips, checking out new mountains, and just hanging out like old times, but usually it’s just talk. Things like work and family take a higher priority as we get older. But this year, everything fell into place and we made it happen.

With the purchases of Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain over the last half year, things have changed quite a bit for skiers and snowboarders in the Pacific Northwest. And thanks to my company Sturtevants (a division of Christy Sports), I have access to dozens of resorts through the Ikon and Epic Passes. So 2 friends and I decided to take a week off and just start driving up north to British Columbia and Alberta, Canada.

Day 1 – We took off from Bellevue, Washington on a Tuesday morning, heading north towards British Columbia. Depending on drive time, conditions, border crossing times, we would head to either Cypress (a nearby resort in Vancouver on the Ikon Pass) or continue on to Revelstoke (also on the Ikon Pass).

There was virtually no traffic and no wait at the border, so we decided to keep driving and to take a big chunk out of our drive by just heading straight to Revelstoke. About 8 hours after leaving Bellevue, we arrived at our hotel in Revelstoke. We decided to stay 2 nights here and ride 2 days. There was some projected snow in the forecast but that didn’t materialize.


Day 2 (Revelstoke on the Ikon Pass : Rode 26.5K vertical feet) – The funny part of this mountain was that every local brought up the crowds. They would ask us, “Why would you come at such a busy time?” And “The road from the hotel to the gondola might take 20-30 minutes depending on crowds.” Yet, everywhere we looked, there was nobody to be found. We would arrive at the parking lot in the morning right around the gondola opening time, only to be one of the first cars. We would walk right up to the gondola without any waits. Our Ikon Passes were kept in our pockets, the machines would scan us, and we’d get right on.

The most surprising thing about this mountain is also what it’s most famous for. The vertical. When looking down from the gondola / lifts, it just felt like we were gaining 5 feet a second, like we were taking off and flying.

We were tracking our progress using the Trace app, and after a day of somewhat taking it easy and trying to warm up our legs for the week, I found that we had done 26.5K vertical feet. That was the most I had done all season, by far.

Day 3 (Revelstoke on the Ikon Pass : Rode 29.8K vertical feet) – On day 2 we parked at the lot right above the gondola and when the gondolas started letting people on at 8:30, we were still only the 3rd car in that lot. There was quite a bit of fog in the morning and that fog slowly seemed to follow us up the mountain throughout the day. But we also had pockets of sun / partly cloudy skis. I guess when there’s so much vertical, you tend to get a lot of changes in the weather.

We thought we would blow past our previous days total for vertical feet, but by the time we did a couple laps from the top of The Stoke chair, to Revelation Lodge, we realized how exhausted we were getting. That run itself is over 4000 vertical feet, and when we got to the car after a little more than 4 hours on the mountain, we were just shy of 30K for the day.

One thing that’s obvious to me about Revelstoke is that there’s really only 3 chairs (a gondola and 2 quads) that service most of the mountain, and there really isn’t any room for beginners. I’d probably pass on bringing my kids up here until they’re much older. I also noticed that everyone rips and is an advanced skier / snowboarder. The groomed runs were amazing and allowed you to go as fast as you wanted, even for someone like me with previous knee and leg problems. Since the runs were so wide and long, we very rarely rode next to anyone else. It almost felt like a private resort.

We took off from Revelstoke after that second day of riding, and headed East on the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1). About 2 hours later, we arrived in the town of Golden, where we found a cheap place right off the main highway about 15 minutes from the resort.

Day 4 (Kicking Horse on the Epic Pass : Rode 17.9K vertical feet) – Once we arrived in Golden, we could see Kicking Horse resort from the highway. Since it was our first time, we didn’t really know which peaks were which, but we could tell that a ski resort was in those hills.

We didn’t spend too much time in the town of Golden, but it definitely gave off a ski town vibe similar to Revelstoke. Especially once we got to the mountain itself. It also felt more touristy than Revelstoke, with fewer locals and a lot of foot traffic around the gondola.

Using the Epic Pass was easy, I asked the ticket window if I needed to do anything special, but I could just walk up to the line, get out my card and have them scan it.

The mountain itself is pretty intense. A single gondola takes you to the top, where you get off on what feels like the spine of a mountain. And from there, you have to ride along this ridgeline with enough speed to get to the “Easiest Way Down” signs. So again, much like Revelstoke, I probably wouldn’t bring my kids here for several years.

But at the top of that gondola is where you could choose to hike to various peaks, bowls, and runs that aren’t accessible by lifts. It’s the definition of “earning your turns.”

The vertical isn’t as easy to pile up as it was at Revelstoke, but the runs were unique, and would be even better on a powder day. We did a little exploring and hiking out towards Terminator Peak (looker’s left) and the Ozone (looker’s right).

Once we finished our day here, we drove about an hour and a half towards Banff, where we would spend the next 2 nights.


Day 5 (Sunshine Village in Banff on the Ikon Pass : Rode 19.3K vertical feet) – Banff locals will tell you they’re a ski town, but it took me some convincing before I believed it. The previous 2 times I’ve been to Banff (once as a kid, and once with my wife), we were just there to sightsee. Kind of like when we visit Leavenworth, a Bavarian town in Washington.

But there are several snowboard shops and outdoor related stores mixed in with all the touristy things, along with 1 mountain just outside of town (Norquay), 1 mountain about 20 minutes away (Sunshine Village), and another mountain about 40 minutes away (Lake Louise). The town of Banff is beautiful with a mix of mountains, snow and water. But when you drive in from the West, the mountains of Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village are all just as impressive which I think might take away from the allure just a little bit. Still, I love visiting Banff and the food options here are always great.

Snowboarding at Sunshine Village on Day 4 felt a lot like being at home (Stevens Pass / Crystal Mountain). It was a Saturday so the lots packed up quickly and there were a lot of families. There were mountain hosts everywhere who were extremely helpful. We ended up getting off the gondola too early, but did enjoy a bunch of runs to ourselves on Goat’s Eye Mountain without lines.

Once we got to the main village, we realized we were riding on the Continental Divide, along the border of British Columbia and Alberta. The runs were moderate, not too slow or fast, and the locals were friendly and would tell us about the facts of the mountain, how it’s a good mix of everything and that we should come back when there’s powder so we could ride down Delirium Dive. The runs were busier than we experienced on the trip, but we expected that from the crowds we saw in the parking lot and the fact that it was a weekend.

When we left a little bit after 1 pm, we realized just how crowded the parking got. There were at least 6 shuttle pickup spots along the road with cars parked almost all the way to the highway.


Day 6 (Lake Louise on the Ikon Pass : Rode 14.6K vertical feet) – We thought about chasing powder and heading towards Fernie or Kimberley Alpine, but since the weather kept changing and they did not receive any new snow, we decided to check out Lake Louise nearby.

After a second night in Banff, we checked out of our hotel and headed west back towards home. About 40 minutes west of Banff, we would arrive at Lake Louise ski area.

To be honest, fatigue started setting in so we knew we wouldn’t get anywhere near 20K vertical feet on this day. I feel like we kind of snuck in, rode for a few hours, and left so we could make our way to Vancouver that night.

We expected big crowds similar to Sunshine, especially since it was a Sunday AND because it was the first time all week they were expecting more than a trace of snow, but it was a pretty mellow day overall. There would be a wait for chairlifts on one run (10 minutes or so), but then no wait when you came back.

I really enjoyed the terrain and since there were so many ways down, we rarely saw other people. Again, a nice surprise considering it was a weekend. We lapped the Larch chair several times, then headed back to the main side. As with all the other mountains, we did a couple top to bottom runs around lunch time and then called it a day.

Once we got back on the road, we made our way back towards Vancouver which we expected would take about 9 or 10 hours. We stopped in Revelstoke (for gas) and Kamloops (for dinner) to sort of break up the drive, and arrived at our Vancouver hotel right around 9:30 pm. It did help that we got an hour of time back (from Mountain time to Pacific) during our drive.

Day 7 (Cypress Mountain on the Ikon Pass : Rode 5.9K vertical feet) – Our hotel ended up being less than 30 minutes away from Cypress Mountain Ski Area. After a week full of rocky mountain views, snow capped peaks, and new, challenging terrain, it felt like we were back at the Summit at Snoqualmie, with better views. The terrain looked fun in parts, although we didn’t ride some of it because of coverage and conditions (the snow felt chunky and our legs were just burning by this point).

We rode the Raven Ridge Quad Chair (down below, past the parking lot) and there appeared to be some fun terrain under that chair. But again, we didn’t want to push ourselves down a run that was blocked off and had some coverage issues. It was also warming up and we were ready to just call it by this point.

The best part of this mountain was it’s convenience, and the views of the water and downtown Vancouver. It’s also good to know how accessible it is, so if they ever get a big dump, we could be there in a relatively short amount of time.

From North Vancouver, it was just a short 4 hour drive back home and we were back in our driveway before 5 pm.

The inconsistencies of using the Ikon and Epic Passes (from my experience during the 2018-2019 season);

Ikon: While at Crystal Mountain and Cypress Mountain, we had to go to a ticket window to get a day pass for that specific resort. While at Revelstoke, I just walked up to the gondola with the pass in my jacket pocket, and the RFID would open up the gate and I could just walk through. While at the Banff resorts, I had to take my pass out each time and have it manually scanned.

Epic: While at Stevens Pass, they have handheld scanners that would scan your arm or leg (wherever your pass is) and they’d let you through. You never have to take your pass out. Yet at Kicking Horse, you need to take it out and allow them to scan it. I’ll update this after visiting Whistler in February.


We’re already talking about doing this again. Possibly in the Tahoe area, or near Big Sky-Jackson Hole, or Colorado. And it sounds like more friends would like to jump on board for the next trip. We’d consider flying out to those areas though, or possibly renting an RV. I’ve done the drive to Montana before, and not sure how my SUV would handle sustained 85 MPH roads. Obviously we’d try to figure out the best / cheapest combination of airfare, hotels, gas, oversized baggage fees, and so on to see what makes the most sense. We’ll likely just keep an eye on upcoming powder and go from there!



Length of road trip; 7 days from Bellevue, up towards Banff, towards Vancouver, then back home. 6 days of snowboarding at 5 different resorts.

Total miles driven; Just around 1450 miles

Total spent; Right around $360 per person (3 of us were in the car) including food and hotels. Gas was another couple hundred split 3 ways.

Resorts visited; Revelstoke (Ikon Pass), Kicking Horse (Epic Pass), Sunshine Village (Ikon), Lake Louise (Ikon), Cypress (Ikon)

Total vertical feet snowboarded; 114,000 feet

Best spot for families; Sunshine Village in Banff

Best spot for a powder weekend; Revelstoke in British Columbia

Tips for when we do this again;

  1. We stayed in hotels that were slightly away from the main town centers / villages, and they were often 1/2 the price.
  2. We tried to stay in hotels that offered free breakfast, so we could eat in the morning while getting ready and not have to make another stop and spend extra money.
  3. I need to find a full size SUV that gets at least 20 MPGs. Maybe even something like a TDI Touareg that gets around 30 MPGs on the freeway. But otherwise, happy with the Land Cruiser.
  4. On almost every day, we rode from 9 am to 1 pm while carrying snacks, instead of taking a break for lunch. If we rode fewer mountains and fewer days, I’d extend those days out longer to maximize my time on the slopes.