OH… Canada! Starting in the Okanagan Valley

Before diving into my Okanagan Valley post I have to say that I have my work cut out for me… sharing my adventures through Canada. I’m now five weeks in to my seven week journey here, and I’ve seen and experienced some really amazing places! I hoped to keep my writings more up to date but I’ve had little internet along the way. What time I’ve spent on-line is usually while sitting in a restaurant… not an ideal writing environment for me. At the moment I’m sitting in a quiet little campground on Vancouver Island, and I have wifi… in my motorhome! Tomorrow, when I relocate, who knows! So today, despite the sunshine, I’m in work-mode.

Flipping the calendar page back to June 10th now…

After saying good-bye to my  friends in Chelan I headed toward the border on highway 97. The entire drive follows along the Columbia River, and then the Okanogan River through beautiful orchards and farmland. It crosses the border at Osoyoos and continues north to Okanagan Lake. [Note the spelling difference between Okanogan (US) and Okanagan (Canada). No idea why. Even Wikipedia can’t explain it.] The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia has become quite the winery mecca over the years. Like the Chelan area, the hills that used to be covered with orchards are now vineyards as far as the eye can see. I have to wonder if our society spends more on wine than fruit these days.

I continued my drive up highway 97 along the western shore of Okanagan Lake to the town of Kelowna. Through the town actually, and up into the hills beyond to a unique little campground. Moments after I pulled in and parked at Canyon Farms RV Park, Lesley (co-owner) strolled up to say hello and give me my “chicken bucket”. This private little campground is an actual working farm full of gardens and fruit trees and free-range chickens. The bucket, I was told, was for my food scraps (most anything but chicken), and I had the pleasure of feeding “the girls” daily. As soon as I was settled in I took my girls for a walk which took us past the chicken yard.

The girls meet the girls… Canyon Farms video. (Yes… that’s me talking to the chickens.)

In the morning, after a quick drive down the hill for some supplies, I took Jazzy and Sadie for a hike to Mission Creek in Scenic Canyon Regional Park. The very unique Layer Cake Mountain juts from the ground just beyond the creek. One thought that has passed through my mind numerous times as I’ve criss-crossed the US and Canada is that I’d love to take my college geology class all over again. I enjoyed it then, but it would be far more interesting to me now that I’ve observed so much of our amazing and diverse landscape. Every bit as intriguing as the individual landscapes is the transition from one to the next… and the knowledge that it is ever changing. Every bit of fallen rock I’ve driven past on the roadside is a change in our landscape. The flow of every river and stream, the crashing of every wave, every grain of sand tossed by the wind… it’s all change.

I came upon yet another John Muir quote as we hiked through this park; “One learns that the world, though made, is yet being made.”

Interestingly, while looking up that quote I came upon this one… AFTER I wrote the paragraph above. (Muir was far more eloquent than I.) “Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” -John Muir

British Columbia, Canada

Kelowna

 Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Layer Cake Mountain

 Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Hiking with Jazzy and Sadie at Mission Creek

 Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Submerged car (from cliffs above) in Mission Creek

At Lesley’s suggestion I visited the Benvoulin Heritage Church (which was closed so I could only appreciate it’s restoration from the outside) and the Father Pandosy Mission and Pioneer Museum. Here everything was closed when I arrived with the exception of the Joseph Christien House.

 Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Benvoulin Heritage Church

 Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Joseph Christien House at Father Pandosy Mission and Pioneer Museum

IMG_4215-3 IMG_4217-2 Lesley also suggested a bike ride on the Myra Canyon Trestle Trail, which follows a section of the historical Kettle Valley Railway over 18 trestles and through two tunnels. This well maintained, relatively level trail offers spectacular views of the Canyon and Okanagan Lake. In 2003 a huge forest fire burned through the canyon destroying many of the trestles, but they managed to resort it and reopen in 2006. This 24 kilometer (approx.15 miles) round trip bike ride (or hike) is a must for anyone traveling through Kelowna! Bikes can be rented on site, but I would confirm their schedule.

British Columbia, Canada

Okanagan Valley and Kelowna from Myra Canyon Train Trestles

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Myra Canyon from bike path

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Bike Path at Myra Canyon

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

One of a 18 trestles on the Myra Canyon bike path

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

View from the Myra Canyon bike trail

Four trestles can be seen across the canyon

Four trestles can be seen across the canyon

Kelowna British Columbia

Trestle and tunnel on Myrna Canyon trail

On my return ride I met and chatted with a few gals and their dogs who were hiking the trail. Well… not all were hiking. I couldn’t resist a shot of this little cutie-patootie!

Happy little hitch-hiker :-)

Happy little hitch-hiker 🙂

After the bike ride I drove through some of the surrounding countryside. Understandably the area looks much like Washington… green and fertile.

Old barn along highway 33

Old barn along highway 33

British Columbia

Layer-cake Mountain with Kelowna and Okanagan Lake in the background

Since I couldn’t stop in my motorhome on the way north, I drove back along the west side of Okanagan Lake on highway 97 to visit a few wineries in Peachland and Penticton later that afternoon. Unfortunately every winery I stopped at was closed by 4pm. Odd, I thought, considering I was in “wine country”. The afternoon wasn’t a total bust since it was a very pretty drive, and in my car I was afforded the opportunity to stop for some shots of the lake and vineyards.

British Columbia

Vineyard along Okanagan Lake

British Columbia

Okanagan Lake

British Columbia

Mountain Goats along Okanagan Lake

British Columbia

Okanagan Lake

British Columbia

Okanagan Lake and Highway-97

British Columbia

Okanagan Lake

British Columbia

Sailboats on Okanagan Lake

The following day the weather made it easy to hunker down and work, which I’m glad I did since it was the last campground wifi I’d have for several weeks! By evening though, my curious nature got the best of me. I figured with all the elevation surrounding this lake there must be a great vista for photographing the town. Who better to ask than Lesley. She directed me to the top of Knox Mountain. Bingo!

British Columbia

Kelowna and Okanagan Lake from Knox Mountain

At some point during my many visits with her, Lesley also told me about her father, Robert Dow Reid, who is a well known sculptor. She had only described a couple of his pieces to me, and told me there were a few on display in town. While taking a different route back through town I happened upon one of them near the waterfront and immediately pulled over for a closer look. “Rhapsody” kept my attention for quite some time… admiring the curves… the flow… the movement.

Kelowna, British Columbia

“Rhapsody” sculpture by Robert Dow Reid

When I returned to the campground I went to find Lesley again… to thank her for all of her wonderful suggestions and say goodbye, and tell her I’d found one of her father’s sculptures. She invited me inside her home to show me her collection of his work (much smaller pieces of course). All were lovely. She even had a miniature version of Rhapsody, my favorite.

Bright and early the following morning I was on my way to Banff National Park in Alberta. Scratch that! It was early, but not so bright. I drove in a very dense cloud and lots of rain for more than seven hours. I knew there were beautiful mountains all around me, but I couldn’t see them! Luckily I was treated to some amazing beauty once I got there. That’s up next and hopefully soon!

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4 thoughts on “OH… Canada! Starting in the Okanagan Valley

  1. Thank you for taking me through Myra Canyon, a beautiful part of British Columbia which I have not seen but now I want to go. I have driven through Banff National Park and the mountains are breathtaking. I can not wait to see your pictures from Banff. Its been over 15 years since I have been there….eh!

    • Can’t wait to share Banff with everyone Gina! Unfortunately it will be a few days. I just popped into a local community center to do some online basics. Glad you enjoyed Myra Canyon. It was a great ride!

  2. Fran, How great to hear from you. You are on quite a journey. Your photos are beautiful and I love reading where you have been and where you are. I am so pleased that you enjoyed your stay at our farm, in the Kelowna area. I hope we will see you again sometime, perhaps with your daughter on an adventure through the Okanagan Valley. All the best to you and your puppies. Safe travels and have a great summer.

    Kind regards, Lesley, Timber, the girls and of course Prince Harry

    • Yours was one of the most unique and peaceful campgrounds I’ve found myself in Lesley. Thank you again for your suggestions on things to see and do while in Kelowna. I do hope to return one day!

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