This is part two of my all scenery trip to the Okanagan. An annual trip we have been make since 2011, yet it surprises me how much more there is still left to see.
It was here that we began to, what I deemed as, “chasing view points”. It is the inspiration of this blog post and more like it to come. Outside of dining out I enjoy seeing and experiencing new things. My partner, and I, wish to travel more, to be able to collect scenery, and earn an internal bank of sights seen and things done. Our end goal is to experience as much as we can on our limited budget, in our limited time.
On this half of the trip we went on rocky drives and drove up snaking roads, in order to climb the highest peaks. There, we enjoyed the local wildlife, saw nature at its fullest, and admired unlimited views of the entire Okanagan valley.
The valley with its surrounding mountains is quite different from our city of sky scrapers and bright lights back in Vancouver. Basically any photo you take towards the view is a good one. And if you include the full expanse of sun in your frame, your photos are figuratively and literally golden. Like these where the sun framed in shadow.
Or these where the sun setting behind mountains. Does it really matter where I was when I took them? – No. They are all beautiful. There is no bad view.
Our drive to Kelowna from Penticton began because they had an Arby’s there, and my partner wanted curly fries. Every drive around the lake is a scenic one. Blue skies and white clouds, rocky Mountains and still waters. The green fields and smooth roads binds it all together. For those with sport vehicles and for those who enjoy a good cruise, this route is one I recommend.
The city of Kelowna is a lot larger than Penticton, it is more familiar as it resembles a bustle metropolis in vehicles and venues. Including Arby’s.
It is here we had lunch at our favourite barbecue place. With summer and sun you think barbecue. And “Memphis Blues” continues to be one of our favourite go-to’s. Though as a chain consistency is an issue. All the meat is prepared ahead of time so it is hit or miss when it comes to your meal. Today was a miss. We had the two meat combo with our choice of barbecue. We went with our usual, pull pork and beef brisket, and it came with the standard sides: seasoned fries, corn bread, coleslaw, refried beans, and barbecue sauce. The pulled pork was very dry, there was not much improvement when slopping it with sauce. The beef was better, but there was more burnt gristle than actual tender cuts of meat. I didn’t get much. The highlight: I really appreciated the fact that each table is set with a whole roll of paper towel along with the usual condiments.
We took some time to walk along the downtown marina. There, we admired all the boats docked, and imagined the ones in our future. The ones that we would one day have to pay a docking fee for. The marina is the waterfront gateway to Kelowna. It offers temporary moorage in the heart of the city and rental for use on the Okanagan Lake.
The are stories about the Ogopogo lurking in these waters. It is a snake like water dragon, the Canadian version of the Loch Ness monster. This creature has been allegedly seen by the First Nations people since the 19th century. The most common description of the Ogopogo is a 40 to 50-foot-long sea serpent. This popular sculpture commemorates it.
As a part of positive thinking: we put out what we want, in order to get back what we feel we deserve. “The secret”. (It’s a good read, check it out) Therefore we like looking at property. We drive out far to visit the ones with the best view. The further from the city the larger the house and the most they ask for them. We speak as if the ones we like are already ours, we strategize on where we would like summer homes and what features each would need. Yes I said “homes”, we are ambitious. This thinking inspires us to search out more and more beautiful property with equally stunning views. Something the expanding Okanagan valley has plenty of. You can’t help but look out and think, “someday..”
One such area is the “Kuipers trail system” & “The ponds”. The nearby housing area will soon be getting their own park, which includes several bodies of water and several hiking trains. The view is expansive and there is still more room to expand out further.
With the hot summer sun, the lack of rain, and the dryness of the earth; there is a risk of burning. The history of roaring forest fires is evident from the scorched earth in the distance. Blackened stumps and charred saplings mark the area like tombstones. A sad thought, but the reality of such hot conditions. Though on the bright side, nothing good comes without a cost, and technically there are natural hazards no matter where you live.
I lied, we did stop at one winery this year: Summerhill Pyramid Winery, to use their facilities. We did consider resting at their “Sunset organic bistro” with a glass of house wine, though the long line and unorganized staff triggered my impatience.
They are have “pyramid” in their title to call attention to the actual white pyramid located on the premises. According to their website this pyramid is a cellar, where all their wined are finished off in. It is “built with precision Sacred Geometry and aligned to the stars to create a structure of stillness and harmony”.
Established in 1986 by the Cipes family, it is the most visited winery in British Columbia. It was the first winery to be certified an Organic Winery by the Pacific Agricultural Certification Society of Vernon.
But like most wineries they too have decorations and activities for the sake of novelty and to cater to tourists. A fountain set with a large wine bottle pouring into a goblet, a sphere painted like the world welcoming all those from around it, and labelled benches for visitors to sit and rest on. There are also informative tours, a look in their fermenting operation, a gift shop, a restaurant serving lunch and dinner, and play places for children with no interest in wine or weddings. They were also hosting an outdoor wedding this weekend. Such places must make a lucrative living dabbling in everything.
Passing by, we stopped at the “Scandia” amusement park for a round of outdoor mini golf. Their park also offers indoor black lit mini golf, batting cages, their own raceway for go karting, and a pretty happening arcade. I haven’t stepped foot in the latter for a long time, but from I remembered the ones in my day were not this cool. Hidden within the sea of flashing machines and amongst the sounds of fake shots being fired, they also have a jungle themed restaurant. I secretly wanted to do and try it all, but being the only couple amongst families tonight I felt out of place. So we stuck to golf.
The golf course theme was of a town. It included castles and cottages, a saloon and a church. There were running water foundations, still pools, spinning wind mills, and lit up paths. It was well maintained and actually pretty scenic for what it was. We are sore losers and not good at golf, but had fun.
We also stumbled across at the “Kelowna Mountains” resort. There was so much to see there, that I have featured it on a separate blog post.
We travelled on the Coquihalla Highway on our way home, just to pass by Merit. There at their tourist information stop is a little snack shop. According to my partner they sell the best samosas. The clerk was not very friendly looking, her scowl almost drove you away. The friendly girl at the neighbouring ice cream place was doing more business for obvious reasons.
What a weird place to enjoy a ethnic savory deep fried meat pocket. I had a veggie samosa with potatoes and peas, and a chicken for $2.50 each. They came with a sweet and tangy dipping sauce. It was good, I don’t know if it was worth the travel to, but I finished each and was happy to have tried them.
The drive home was cloudy and cold, we were tired and hungry. Four hours left like eight. A vacation is restful until you have to head home.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This will not be the last time we visit the Okanagan and Kelowna. The valley gets more and more beautiful with each reoccurring trip. And we grow more and more in love with the place. It still amazes me how much more there is to see with each return trip. With places like this in our BC backyard, we ought to make a point to visit them more.