Touring the Valley
Okanagan Valley Travel Tale
by Lorry Patton ...
The Okanagan Valley has many bustling communities within its fragrant boundaries, from
sophisticated Kelowna to
country-like Winfield. Each autonomous yet connected to one another by record-breaking hours
of sunshine, clean
pure air and Highway 97, the hilly highway that interweaves the towns that prosper amid desert
sagebrush, sparse pine
trees, rich vineyards and thousands upon thousands of fruit bearing trees.
In all this splendor, many people of the Okanagan Valley thrive, literally, off the fruit of the
land -- with a little help
from the blossoming tourist industry, too.
Our excursion began in Osoyoos, a green oasis in a giant dust bowl. To get a good look at this
unlikely description we
drove east of town on Highway 3 to the Anachist Mountain Viewpoint. From a distance, we
could see the oh-so-blue
Osoyoos Lake, neat rows of fruit trees and the odd red-tiled roof. ( The town has adopted a
Spanish decor. ) The
whole scene was surrounded by a landscape of tumbleweed and rocks. After such a appearance
from afar, we
expected to be disappointed with city center. Not so, bricklined sidewalks were adorned with
pots overflowing with
colorful blooms and the beaches were alive with bathers and boaters.
Okanagan Valley is wine country; boasting worldwide recognition. But alas, the days of bare
feet stomping on the
grapes are long gone. Modern mechanical crushers do all the work. And the wine ferments in
huge stainless steal
cylinders, not in the charming oak barrels of the past. At one of the many wineries in the valley,
we learned that red
and white wine comes from the same grape except the red wine is fermented with the skin still
on. We also learned
that sherry is a white wine to which pure alcohol is added and that its amber color comes from
Interesting. Interesting, too, how seriously everyone participated in the wine sampling. The
winner, judging from the
nodding of the heads, was a Chardonney.
Oliver doesn't have the flowers so vivid in Osoyoos, nevertheless, the town has plenty of motels
and campgrounds for
the tourists and plenty of festivals for the local inhabitants. The Alpenfest, a Bavarian festival of
wine and sausage
held in November sounds like fun. And Fairview Days, held in June, sounds like a lesson in
history. The celebration
is in honor of the once active gold mining community nearby.
It rained throughout the Vaseau Lake area -- the greenest and lushest section enroute. We never
saw the Bighorn
Sheep said to live on the slopes, but, we did see gentle deer and little furry marmot scurrying
about and lots of
feathered friends. Vaseau Lake is one of many Federal Government Bird Sanctuaries and every
year, the proud
Canada Geese come to nest.
We continued through Okanagan Falls still under heavy rainfall. I'd say unexpected, judging
from the looks on the
faces of the venders at two gigantic flea markets. They watched dejectedly, as their possessions
-- some junk, some
treasures -- got an unwelcome shower. Speaking of junk and treasures, there are antique shops
Some of them could be museums, with their old-fashioned furniture and country china.
The streets of Penticton were aglow with sunshine and happy vacationers and the beaches of
lengthy Lake Okanagan
were cluttered with water lovers and their toys. Some I've never seen before . . . paddle boats,
odd shaped surf boards . . . In the distance, sailboats were swaying gently in the breeze and
swooped. Feet could be seen dangling from the harness. I was brave enough to try the
contraption in Mexico one
year. Scary stuff. I thought the rope would break and I would soar away forever. I've since
learned I would have
come down like a parachuter. My biggest recollection of the experience is: it's so quiet up
Penticton not only has the regular attractions such as art galleries, museums, game farms and
theater, it has a square
dance jamboree and an Ironman Triathelon. Over two thousand come to kick up their heels and
over four hundred
join the Ironman Canada Full Triathelon hoping to qualify for the famous Hawaiian event. ( The
triathelon is a
threefold race, including biking, swimming and running.)
Practically all the towns in the valley have special events. Summerland had an antique car rally
happening. It was
rewarding to see cars older than we looking in such good shape. Incredible, what a little loving
care will do.
The private homes in Peachland were lovingly cared for, too, adding still more beauty to the
already pretty vista.
Peachland is eagerly awaiting a 'go ahead' on becoming a Victorian Village. According to
Richard Smith, the
museum's curator, they are ready. A 'yes' will bring out the hammers and nails and up go the
falsefront walls and
competition for Barkerville, the gold rush boom town replica. Lucky for Peachland, now that
Highway is completed, it's a mere four hours from Vancouver, B.C.
We'd been to Kelowna before and it had always been a hustle bustle town, but, for some reason,
the downtown streets
were bare this holiday Sunday. " So bare, you can roll a canyon ball down the middle and not hit
a soul," said Peggy
Gibson, puzzled at the conspicuous absence of shoppers in the usually-very-busy refurbished
warehouse. Now, it's
the location of the Okanagan Art Company run by a co-op of local artists. Every craft imaginable
was on display,
from shawls to ceramics to sculptures, the ideas seem limitless. Outdoors, on the porch, a
painting was taking form.
Trudy Knox was working on her latest oil, a scene of the region. Indoors, a serving of ice tea and
sweets was offered,
in contrast to the ordinarily no-food-no-drink rule.
It was a beautiful bright day and perhaps everyone was out on the lake trying to get a shot of
Ogopogo. After all, the
prize for the best photo was $2000.00 Who is Ogopogo? Why, he's Canada's Loch Ness
Monster. Our very own sea
serpent, sometimes ten, sometimes fifty feet long. He makes his home in a cave somewhere in
the abundant waters of
Lake Okanagan. The lake is 80 miles long, so he can easily be missed. The most recent sighting
of Ogopogo was
near Kelowna. Our binoculars were ever ready.
We went as far as Winfield, before we turned for home. It was a pleasant and relaxing holiday
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