British Columbia is a selfish place. Not in the sense Americans are most familiar — Canada’s westernmost territory isn’t built upon hoarded wealth or privatized ambition.
Rather, BC’s residents are disarmingly kind, and appear far more concerned with their region’s environmental beauty than monetary excess. Thus, greed takes a unique form; while much of the world clings to negativity and achievement, British Columbia retires deeper into its own humble paradise. The nerve.
Each day, four million Canadians wake to deep blue lakes, thick evergreen forests, and looming snowcapped mountains. Last week, Mercedes-Benz invited us to share in our northerly neighbors’ daybreak phenomenon.
There are many ways to experience British Columbia’s natural splendor, but we recommend a road trip with ample time for photographs and slack-jawed gazing. Our sojourn begins in Vancouver — Canada’s most densely populated city. After gorging on lightly battered fish from The Boathouse Restaurant, we acquaint ourselves with Mercedes-Benz’s all-new E-Class Coupe.
The elegant two-door integrates S-Class Coupe styling with the automaker’s “sensual purity” design language for a mesmerizing new form. Its exquisite cabin proves to be both an appropriate precursor to the radiant sights awaiting us, and an accommodating setting for our lengthy journey.
Before hooking north along the Trans-Canada Highway, we savor a glimpse of Vancouver’s dazzling downtown. A network of small islands within Horseshoe Bay border our path away from civilization. Ahead, Mt. Garibaldi controls its eruptive temper — 10,000 years without incident, plus another day.
As we ascend the aptly named Sea-to-Sky Highway, elevation offers us breathtaking new views. Before long, we arrive at the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler. During the winter months, this small town teems with mountain sports enthusiasts, but in June, it feels as if we’ve reserved the entire domain.
After a quick shower, Sprinter vans shuttle us to a private residence for dinner and cocktails. From the cabin’s expansive deck, we watch the sun slip behind a ridge of violet colored mountains. The rapidly dropping temperature draws us closer to the fire pit. Warm and buzzing from the day’s excitement (or is it the Canadian Whiskey), we struggle to imagine a more perfect evening.
The next morning, gray skies threaten rain, but our optimism isn’t damped – heated, massaging seats may have something to do with our cheery outlook. On paper, it’s a two-hour trot to our first stop in Lillooet, but waterfalls and glacial lakes pull us from the main road every few miles.
Sunlight discovers tiny holes in the cloudy canopy, sparkling the horizon with color before an invisible hand patches the opening. If only our camera could adjust as quickly as our eyes to the dancing light. Content with a handful of shots, we dive into the E400’s leather-lined haven before the chilly air turns us into human popsicles.
We join our media colleagues at Fort Berens Winery just as the sun appears to win its battle overhead. Perched above Fraser Canyon, the estate offers year-round tastings and locally sourced cuisine. After a delightful sampling of charcuterie, roasted tofu, and root vegetables, we’re back on the road.
Last in and last out, it’s time to play catch-up. Engaging Sport mode sharpens throttle response, stiffens the suspension, and improves steering feedback. In corners, the E400 feels light and controllable. As the road straightens, its twin-turbocharged V6 and intelligent all-wheel drive system help us rapidly close the gap.
Heading south through Hells Gate, we scan the banks of Fraser River for any sign of wildlife. A bear, a moose, a deer – anything would stoke our enthusiasm. Alas, no such luck; only the churning rapids keep us company as we cruise into Harrison Hot Springs.
Recharging with a floral pour-over and a cranberry scone from Muddy Waters Café, we ponder the going rate for a shack overlooking Harrison Lake. Before we can properly investigate, however, we’re ushered back into the E-Class Coupe for our journey’s final leg.
On schedule for the first time since setting off, we engage the E400’s adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts vehicle speed based on posted limits. Floating along, literally on air, thanks to Mercedes-Benz’s Air Body Control suspension, the most arduous part of our approach into Vancouver is deciding what we’ll wear to dinner.
Bolstered by the success of head chef Phil Scarfone, Nightingdale has become one of Vancouver’s most touted restaurants. Only the evening before, Mr. Scarfone had catered our Whistler dining experience in person. Now, As if our adventure needed another highlight, course after course of fresh, perfectly seasoned dishes appear on our table. Should you somehow finagle a reservation, remember this: Hangar Steak plus Artichoke Hearts equals culinary bliss.
Incredibly, it isn’t the sights and tastes that percolate among our memories of British Columbia, but rather the informality of the whole experience. The more extravagant details of our itinerary notwithstanding, daily life in British Columbia is entrenched with grace and calm.
Perhaps our accusation of selfishness is unfounded. After all, anyone is welcome to share in the region’s striking beauty – premium transport or not.
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