Okanogan Road Trip 2011

The first big Fall rain storm hit the coast on the day we left for a weeklong road trip. We’d no set destination; however, it seemed a good idea to head east where it might be drier.

view from one BC Ferry to another
Passing Ferries in the Rain

The drive through the Fraser Valley was extremely wet. So wet traffic slowed to 7o kph, where normally people drive at 100 -120.

driving on Trans Canada highway near Chilliwack, BC during rainstorm
On the (Wet) Road

We made for Skihist campground outside Lytton as I remembered it being a dry landscape. We arrived at dusk and Sue whipped up dinner.

making dinner at the Skihist BC Provincial campground, outside Lytton, BC
Dinner at Dusk

A smattering of rain in the night left no trace of dampness on our tent in the morning.

campsite at Skihist campground
A Lovely Morning!

I love the dry landscape, with its pine trees, sagebrush and the Thompson River rolling towards the Fraser River, the railway running beside the river.

view of Thompson River from Skihist campground
View of the Thompson River

We backtracked to Lytton before continuing on.

old billboard outside Lytton, BC
The Changing Fraser Canyon

Since the construction of the Coquihalla Highway the Trans Canada Highway through the Fraser Canyon has become much quieter. We saw many closed businesses: hotels, motels, cafes and those funny little roadside attractions. Lytton proudly displayed an artifact of the railways that still pass this way.

CNR caboose at Lytton, BV
Caboose at Lytton

We turned off Hwy 1 at Spences Bridge and took the much quieter, beautiful and winding Hwy 8 to Merritt. We stopped to admire an old railway bridge and for Sue to pick some sage.

old railway bridge over the Nicola River
Bridge Over the Nicola River
picking sage along the Nicola River, BC
Sue Harvesting Sage

The car began to smell really good!

We continued south from Merritt to Princeton, still avoiding the busier highways.

old house outside Merritt, BC
Ranch Country

Old ranch houses, barns, trucks, cars and machinery add historical texture.

At Princeton we joined Highway 3 and headed east along the Similkameen River. Rain showers came and went but the weather was much improved over the previous day. We stopped at Bromley Rock and admired the river, the rock and variety of flora.

Similkameen River at Bromley Rock
Sue on Sandbar at Bromley Rock
Rock in Similkameen at Bromley Rock
Rock at the Rock

We continued east to Osoyoos where we made camp at Haynes Point.

campsite at Haynes Point, Osoyoos, BC
Campsite on Osoyoos Lake

Although Osoyoos is one of the driest, warmest places in Canada and Osoyoos Lake one of the warmest in the country the clouds persisted. Until the next morning when the sun finally broke through…

Haynes Point Campground, Osoyoos, BC
Morning Swim

and we went swimming right out our backdoor! A bit chilly, but swimmable.

tent set up at Haynes Point Campground, Osoyoos
Morning Sun on Our Wee Home
view down Osoyoos Lake
The View

The sun appeared/disappeared behind clouds and from all around us we could hear the popping of the guns used to scare birds from the fruit. Before leaving Haynes Point we stopped at the wetlands walk.

Haynes Point marshland walk viewpoint
Viewing the Wetlands

The wetlands around Okanagan lakeshores has been reduced to about 4% of their original coverage. This bit provides a habitat for many species plus a stopover for migrating birds.

We visited the Desert Centre to have a closer look at this northern fringe of the Sonara Desert ecosystem that carries on south to Mexico.

The Desert Centre, Osoyoos, BC
Entrance to the Desert Centre

We started with their indoor exhibition space and then walked the boardwalk, blasted by a strong warm wind, taking a close look at the desert landscape.

The Desert Society has built birdhouses and burrows to encourage rare species to stick around or, in some cases, to return.

birdhouses at Desert Centre, Osoyoos, BC
Bird Houses

As we walked we continued to hear the pop pop of bird guns from the neighbouring green orchards.

Desert Centre and neighbouring orchards
Desert and Orchards

Meanwhile the wind continued to drive the clouds away.

clouds and sun over Osoyoos, BC
C'mon Sun!

We headed north, towards Okanagan Lake. We stopped for a new camp stove (our old one was becoming dangerous) and a bottle of wine (after all, this is Canada’s wine country).

We checked out various campsites and decided on the Okanagan Lake campground as it’s on the lake and was almost desserted. Of course a few of the ubiquitous RVs lumbered about.

RV entering Okanogan Lake campgrounds
How Many Wheels?

Our lakeside campsite was so nice we decided to stay two nights.

view of campsite at Okanogan Lake campgrounds
Relaxing by the Lake

While there we kayaked and swam. OK, Sue swam more than me. The water wasn’t really all that warm.

kayaking on Okanogan Lake
Sue Admiring the View from the Water

Our banana-like kayak must have given the fish an eyeful.

kayak in Okanogan Lake
Fish's View of Kayak

The south campground was closed so we went there to swim and scream.

swimming at Okanogan Lake campground
Sue, Mostly Underwater

We visited nearby Peachland and spent a few hours walking the waterfront promenade. Along the way we saw some interesting signs.

The Hip Replacements, Peachland, BC
Appearing: The Hip Replacements Band
waterfront signage Peachland, BC
Give the People What They Want

And we checked out the houses. This freshly renovated Miami style unit is listed for a cool $1M.

waterfront home for sale, Peachland, BC
Waterfront Style

Maybe this kinda similarly styled one would go for less?

house in Peachland, BC
(Post) Modern (House)

We also stopped at Hardy River and Falls to see the Kokanee spawning.

Hardy Falls, Peachland, BC
Hardy Falls
spawning Kokanee salmon, Hardy River, Peachland, BC
Spawning Kokanee

Yes, not only a beer, but a landlocked salmon, related to the ocean going Sockeye.

In the evenings we’d watch the stars come out over Peachland and the lake.

night falls over Peachland, BC
Fall Night Fall

We continued north to Kelowna, the town where I lived the third longest in my life (4 or 5 years when very small).

bridge over Okanogan Lake at Kelowna
The Bridge and the Beach

After a walk along the waterfront we went in search of one of my childhood homes. Although some of the houses looked familiar I wasn’t positive which we’d lived in but I enjoyed the nostalgia of being in a childhood neighbourhood. Especially the back alley.

alley behind Water Street, Kelowna, BC
Childhood Revisited

Walking back to the car we noticed that the City of Kelowna has a wicked sense of humour.

walk sign in Kelowna BC
Walk or... ???


walk sign, Kelowna, BC
Go Away?

Funny though…. Ogopogo wasn’t as big as I remembered….

Ogopogo statue, Kelowna, BC
A Smaller Ogopogo

From Kelowna we headed east and south on Hwy 33, passing through the community of Joe Rich (which seemed to go on forever, but with little habitation).

Joe Rich sign
Welcome to Joe Rich Stewie!

What a change in the landscape by heading just over hills from the lake. Green trees growing thickly until we were way down the Kettle Valley.

Sue was a bit nervous when we drove into the Kettle River campgrounds; they were almost desserted and a bit spooky. At first all we saw was one RV, parked out in the middle of an open area in the blazing sun, its occupants huddled under a beach umbrella.

Kettle River campgrounds
The Lone RV in the Forest

However, it turned out that there were other people about. We found a nice site near the river and went for an afternoon walk exploring the river and former railway tracks (now the famous Kettle Valley Rail Trail).

Kettle Valley rail trail
Sue on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

We crossed the old rail bridge and considered swimming but the waters, although beautiful, were chilly.

Kettle River from the railway bridge
River, Bridge and Photographer
diving board on Kettle River bridge
Wanna Dive?
Kettle River swimming hole
Into This?

Later, when sitting down by the river, I noticed that Canada’s national rodent had been busy across the way so I waded across for a look-see.

beaver chewed tree, Kettle River, BC

The next morning we were up early and right away noticed how cool it was compared to the Okanagan Valley. We decided we’d drive to Manning Park and do a bit of hiking in the Cascades before heading home.

road leaving Rock Creek BC
Road Photo

Yep, I do shoot backwards out the window while driving!

heading west on Highway 3
Go West!

But sometimes I’ll ask Sue to get the photo.

mountain and wine country sign
Sign o' the Time
Anarchist Summit sign, BC
Another Sign o' the Time

We had made a big loop back to Osoyoos. That long spit sticking out into the lake is Haynes Point where we’d camped a few nights previously.

view of Osoyoos Lake
View to Osoyoos Lake

We stopped at the Nk’Mip (inka meep) Winery (owned by a local First Nations band) to buy more of their excellent wines. Although not wine aficionados we enjoy a glass sometimes and when in wine country…

Nk'Mip Winery Osoyoos
Nk'Mip Winery Store

And we learned the local aboriginal word for ‘Speed Bump’.

speed bump sign at Nk'Mip winery
Speed Bump Translated

At this point, if I’d been smart, I would’ve checked the weather reports before leaving Osoyoos. But onwards we went…

Liddels fruit stand
Fruit Stand Stop

stopping for fruit and yet more wine on our way west.

No Park sign near Kerameos BC
NO NATIONAL PARK! (more machines though)

We kept seeing these No Park signs near Keremeos. Apparently about a third of the population is against having a national park protecting the grasslands ecosystem, and they’re quite vocal about it.

But: that ‘s all the photos. As we hit Manning Park the wind started howling and the rain rolled in. The alpine roads were closed, various campgrounds shut for the season. We decided we might as well try making the ferry links for home. Thankfully there was a 6pm sailing for Swartz Bay (not on the schedule), and we made it home after roaring down the Fraser Valley at 12okph (poor little Suzuki!). Until we hit Surrey. Who’s idea was it to put the highway through Surrey? Maybe that new bypass will solve the traffic jam problem there.

All in all though we had a great time. The tent never got wet. It was hot and sunny enough to make it seem like a real late summer holiday. Now to hunker down for Fall and a bit of Winter before heading way westwards to South East Asia in January!

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