Canadian Okanagan Valley, Sept 30 to Nov 15, 2018

the view out our window…

With the snow behind us and above us, we drove down the western side of the Rocky Mountains to our first stop in the valley, the city of Vernon.  Our home for the next nine days is Swan Lake RV Resort.  A nice, small adult living community that is located on the north east corner of Swan Lake.  Our site was perfect, it was a corner lot, looking out onto the lake towards Vernon.

apple trees and Lake Okanogan…

Our first couple days were cool and wet, but not white, so that was encouraging, even with temperatures that were almost ten degrees below normal.  Then, the sun finally came out and gave us the chance to explore on our bicycles.  The ride around the lake and into town was a nice scenic one with rolling hills.

Over the next week we got to do many rides that took us over to the north end of Okanagan Lake and down to Kalamalka Lake, up to the Allan Brooks Nature Centre as well as the Planet Bee Honey Farm and Honeymoon Meadery, where we left with a jar of some amazing honey and a bottle of mead.

On our motorcyles we explored the far north end of the Valley going up to Salmon Arm,  before circling over to Sicamous, with a stop in Enderby to visit an old friend of Robert’s, and back down to Vernon.

We spent our Canadian Thanksgiving by going on a nice hike up the ridge right beside our park and along the Grey Canal Trail.  The trail was filled with fall colours and gave us a good view looking out over Swan Lake. It followed the old aqueduct that feed the valley orchards back in the early 1900s and there were leftover remnants of it still on the trail.

Grey Canal Trail

With the crockpot cooking all day while we were hiking, we arrived home to the smell of turkey and stuffing and enjoyed a lovely dinner sitting at our new table, overlooking the lake.

heading to Kelowna

Continuing down the 97 for a little over 50 kilometers our next stop was Orchard Hill RV Park in Kelowna.  Located on a hill in the middle of the city, this was a nice little park on 13 acres with twelve sites nestled in amongst the apple orchards and vegetable garden.

on our path!

This allowed us to go for a nice daily sunset walk around the ridge which rewarded us with a beautiful view of Okanagan Lake as well as downtown Kelowna. The trail was also a popular spot for deer and several times we had to stop to let them get out of the way!

We were excited to see what Kelowna had to offer us, as this is a place we might consider to settle in.  Since we have only heard about the horrors of the traffic congestion in Kelowna it was time to find out if they were true.

Since our main mode of transportation is a bicycle the congestion did not bother us.  From the seat of the bicycle we explored the Farmers Market a couple of times, cycled up to Knox Mountain Park (250 meters above Okanagan Lake) which gave us another great view of the lake, the downtown area of the city AND gave us a great thrill as we rode down the mountain!

Another nice cycle took us south of the city along the lake to Summerhill Winery, which had an incredible view of the valley. While cycling downtown we were quite impressed with the bike lanes and paths that get you around the city,  even out to the university was easy enough to get too without traffic issues.  We did not, but you could even cycle to the airport if needed!

We went for a motorcycle ride that took us out to Gallagher’s Canyon, but could not drive up the forest road to Myra Canyon due to the roughness of the road, we will return with a car! So our first impression of Kelowna was a good one, traffic and all!

our view from A Block!

Continuing another 75km south, our final stop of our Canadian fall was  Penticton and the Holiday Hills RV Resort.  This was familiar territory for us as we had spent time here last autumn just across the road at Wrights Beach.  This was our home for the next four weeks, so we settled in to enjoy our view looking out over Skaha Lake and were welcomed to the neighbourhood on “A” Block by Ron and Ed and it soon felt like home.

An added bonus for us was that there were two “brothers” here that were nine week old puppies that were a mix of lab, Rottweiler and malamute and were adorable!  The park had a nice clubhouse, weight room and a weekly Friday evening happy hour.

vineyards at Halloween

Since the weather was still quite nice, we enjoyed spending a lot of time on our bicycles. Numerous rides around Skaha Lake, getting to know the Naramata Bench, as well as the village of Naramata.  A great ride took us up the hill to the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, which is an amazing 500 meter climb, coming down is awesome!

Okanagan wineries with a view!
Orchards in full fall colour!

We also used this time to get caught up on haircuts, massages and our annual flu shot before our snowbird season. Other then running around town with the Harleys we went for a day drive over to Keremeos which is taking the 3A over a small pass before stopping in Cawston at Twisted Hills Craft Cidery.  Their cider is good, but their cherry juice is even better!  From here we went over to Osoyoos before heading north back to Penticton.  The drive up from Osoyoos was an amazing drive, full of fall colour, from all the vineyards and orchards that line the valley and it was stunning.

We try not to eat out very often, but we did discover the Bad Tattoo Brewing Company where we had an amazing pizza that was half blue cheese and apples, half pulled pork with a smores pizza for dessert.  Their salted caramel ale was not bad either.

This visit we also discovered The Dream CafĂ©.  It is a nice little night club/restaurant that has live music and serves good food as well.  We ended up going twice.  Once for Irish Mythem, an Irish born Canadian folk singer who is an amazingly talented musician with a great sense of humour.  The second time, was for Ryan McMahon who is a member of Lion Bear Fox (they have a good following in BC) but was performing on a solo tour and it was also a very entertaining evening.

We have been driving around with a small crack in our very large windshield and over the last month have been trying to get it fixed with Speedy Glass out of Penticton. I do not know what the final price for the piece of glass was, but it cost us our $500 deductible.

With the weather turning cooler we had to drive up to Kelowna to get it fixed at that Speedy location.  There they could pull it into their bay and work on it regardless of the weather.  So we went on Boondockers Welcome and found someone who allow people to park their motorhomes in their driveway up by Gallaghers Canyon.  So off we went to Kelowna for a mini two day vacation.

the ski hill was open at Big White Ski Resort

After parking the RV in the driveway we took our rental car and drove up to Big White Ski Resort to get our snow fix and watch a beautiful sunset over snow capped mountains. That night was probably the coldest night we have had in a long time with the mercury falling to -7C. In the morning we scraped the frost off the rental car windows and dropped our motorhome off at Speedy and off we went to explore.

snow and sunset from Big White

We had breakfast at IHoP and then went and donated blood before driving up to the Myra Canyon Trestles to hike and see the old wooden train bridges, which is a 9.6 km long section of the former Kettle Valley Railway. It was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and completed in 1915. It was a beautiful hike!

hiking on the Kettle Valley Trail

With our rental car it was much easier to get around in warmth and comfort, so we drove up to Penticton’s ski hill called, Apex Mountain.  Since it is not as high as Big White there were no ski runs open yet, and while it is a lot smaller, it did look like a nice little ski village.

Our last weekend we went back up to Vernon to spend the day with Bryan, Alexis, Helen and Madoc who were visiting friends there. The drive up from Penticton to Vernon is beautiful at the best of times, but with the snow on the pine trees in the mountains, it was gorgeous!  We had a lovely day hanging out and it was great to see them! 

getting colder, time to head south!

With it almost time for us to leave, our new friends, Dave and Sue, wanted to pick our brains about being “snowbirds”. They had it basically figured out and just wanted some confirmation from us “seasoned” travelers.  It is fun being able to pass along some well learned information. We have come a long way in 2.5 years.  The middle of November has arrived and it is time to head towards warmer days.  The weather was co-operating perfectly for us, the sun was shining, the wind was light so off to the border we go.

View of Penticton from Skaha Bluffs just before we left.

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