The next stop on my journey east was the Okanagan, and my uncle Phil’s. He’s not technically my uncle, but anyway whatever. He’s been in Canada for some 20 years living near and around Penticton, a small town that sits between the Okanagan and Skaha lakes. I didn’t see much as I arrived, because it was late in the night, and after several hours on a Greyhound I was still slightly hungover from my last night in Whistler, so I promptly passed out! The next day however, after a hearty fry up, we set about visiting all the places that I’d visited with my family the previous times we were here, some 10 or more years ago. First stop was one of uncle Phil’s old houses. It had been some 15 years since I’d seen this place and it probably brought up some the strongest feelings of nostalgia of any of the places, as we drove past in the car. I remembered playing baseball out side with my sister, and I remembered that it was the place where I’d seen my first episode of Futurama! Anyone who knows me will know I’m obsessed with that show! Haha. From there we headed out to a look out spot just outside of town overlooking Penticton. We’d had some family photos taken here years ago.
After that we headed out to Penticton’s own take on the Hollywood sign and then back to uncle Phil’s, via the ice cream shop for an ice cream with his girlfriend Nadine. I’d not really seen the house in the night when I arrived, so we did a bit of a tour around, and then took Oliver the dog for a walk around the nearby orchard. We ended the day with Big Rock and a BBQ!
The next day we headed down into Penticton again and made a stop at that Canadian institution that is Tim Horton’s. To be honest I’m not a coffee man so I can’t really comment on it (and I’ve found their panninis be aweful!) but they do make a passable cup of earl grey, which sorted me out fairly well for the rest of the day and a bit more sight seeing. With a fresh brew in hand we headed over to the SS Sycamus, an old paddle steamer that sailed the waters of the Okanagan some 100 (ish) years ago under the ownership of the Canadian Pacific rail company. It sits with it’s bow still in the waters of the lake at one end of Penticton’s beach and serves as a museum and tea house. My main interest however was in its impressive train set! It dominates the lower deck and depicts how the area would have looked all those years ago, when trains where the main method of long distance transport in the region. I’d been able to drive the trains last time I was here but unfortunately the place was closed for refurbishment and I had to settle for staring at it through the windows.
After that we went to grab a spot of lunch with Nadine, and then headed off into the Okanagan wine country. You’d think, being in the centre of Canada’s mountainous west, you wouldn’t be able to grow things like grapes around here, but actually the Okanagan enjoys fairly warm, dry, conditions that make for fertile growing soils suitable for grapes, apples, and the region’s famous peaches. The scenery here resembles something more like the Mediterranean crossed with the American wild west, with dusty logging tracks, wild horses, rows of grapes vines, and even the odd cactus. We popped into one of the local wineries and I asked the owner a few questions about making wine and tried a couple of samples! After that I helped uncle Phil pull up some carpet and visited the jewel in the Okanagan crown – the Summerland dump! Followed by curry!
On my last full day in Penticton we headed up to the Skaha Bluffs, this was an area famous for its great rock climbing over looking Skaha Lake. It was a really interesting walk as I got to see first hand the affect of the areas regular forest fires. There were loads of chared stumps all around and you could see how the forest was renewing itself, with new growth sprouting up all over the place.
We took Oliver with us too, he’s not the biggest of dogs, but he did a good job keeping up with us and clambering over the rocky sections of the path.
We also came across a few climbers and I found myself filled with envy as we watched them leading up the superb granite formations that the area is known for.
That afternoon and during the evening I began preparing for my arrival in Toronto by starting the hunt for somewhere to live. Its the last piece of the puzzle for summer and the next few months and I need to get on it before I arrive back to make sure I get somewhere as quickly as possible. The following day I began to make serious tracks back east!