After yearly trips to foreign locales and enjoying what other countries have to offer we did something different with our vacation this year. We left our passports behind and became tourists in our own backyard. Our vacation consisted of borrowing Dad’s truck and camper and hit the road in late June to spend 11 days going through the Okanagan.
Over the years we have marvelled at sights locals take for granted and decided to see what Canada has to offer. There are many areas we’d like to see in Canada but for now we’re starting small and going through the BC Southern Interior. Perhaps in the future we’ll visit the Maritimes or go north but this time we’re chasing sunshine, desert conditions and vineyards.
Our trip took us through the BC interior going in a clockwise drive with stops in Golden, Kelowna, Penticton, Osoyoos, Christina Lake, Kimberley back to Golden and then home. Where possible we reserved a spot on a lake or within walking distance of sights and activities. If there was a bike or walking path nearby all the better.
Planning a trip within your own country is easier than international trips, but contacting camp grounds during their winter season made the reservation process slow and we had to modify plans as we went (one day here and take away a day there). We started our planning as far back as January knowing that some places wouldn’t accept reservations until March and we wanted to be ready to book the moment they were open. Some items that caused us troubles were required length of stays in the high season summer months and restrictions around long weekends. We had to modify our Osoyoos/Christina Lake itinerary to fit in to a spot in Osoyoos over Canada Day weekend but more time in Osoyoos was not a bad thing by any means.
It was a great vacation that went by too fast. Some highlights were…
Experiencing +40 weather in Osoyoos. We went to the tip of the Sonoran Desert and weren’t disappointed with arid conditions and hot weather. Locals were talking about it being too warm for them so we knew we were experiencing something special.
The weather was great on the whole trip and we only experienced one morning with rain, which didn’t last long before warm weather broke through. The camper is equipped with air conditioning so on hot evenings we were able to bring the unit to a reasonable temperature.
Wine, wine, wine. We left Edmonton thinking we were fans of red wine and were exposed to some great tasting whites. I still enjoy a full red but now a Gewürztraminer or a dry Riesling may suit me fine. I also understand what I like about red’s and am looking at all types of red’s with a new appreciation. On the day we went to six wineries (a wine tour so we weren’t driving) things became hazy before high noon and we had to be poured out of the van at the end of the day.
Over the course of the trip we visited 18 wineries and bought wine at almost all of them. Some were better than others, and we came back with 60 bottles. The true test has been seeing if the wine is still good back at home and so far our favorites in the Okanagan are still our favorites back home.
Walking along the beach in Penticton. Of all the places we stopped at Penticton stood out for us. There was something about the town, some vibe, which made it unique from other places we visited. Situated between two bodies of water and rolling foot hills it is a pretty scenic location. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the tourist center in Penticton has a liquor store that stocks a lot of BC wineries so you don’t need to drive up to Kelowna or Naramata to get your favorite bottle.
The drive between camp sites wasn’t horrendous, however it couldn’t be avoided that some days were longer than others. At most we travelled 7.5 hours and other days it was a quiet 90 minute drive down the road. The worst part of any day was managing the truck on the roads, busy or not. I felt like I was in a stair car, stepping on the gas to speed up and then immediately going on the brakes because there was a red light four blocks away.
Travelling through a major area on the Canada Day long weekend was a bit of an oversight, and we had some hairy moments amongst the traffic, but we survived and it made for an adventure. Once we reached Vernon and started towards Kelowna it felt like we were in one big traffic jam. The ingredients were there for a tedious drive: long weekend in July, start of holidays, great weather; all reasons why others were probably on the road too. Thankfully this was the exception and not the norm when we travelled, but I was always happy to park for the day and know that I wouldn’t need to head out again.
We limited some of the sights we went to because we knew driving there would have been a challenge (ie: the trestles in Osoyoos, or any of the switch backs that lead to a hiking trail). This is not to say the unit wouldn’t have made it there, it just would have been extremely stressful and slow going.
For as big as the truck/camper is on the road the amenities it offered when we parked was worth it. We could put the air conditioning on to cool the camper down, take a shower, cook all of our meals and had enough on board water and battery power to sustain us when we had to dry camp in a provincial park. I have a new respect for large units on the road and more that venture on the mountain roads from Golden and Revelstoke; those corners were taken extremely slow in the truck and I am amazed that the shuttle we take there for skiing in the winter time manages that, and in worse conditions.
The trip was a nice break and a calm before the storm of house renovations, cat emergencies and unplanned expenses and it left us wanting to return to the Okanagan region sooner than later. Plus, we now have a fully stocked wine cellar and the weekly debate of ‘drinking the good stuff or a bottle we bought locally’.
Images from the trip can be found in the Gallery here.