Driving in the Okanagan & Kootneys
The Day we Embraced #VanLife
Eventually morning came, again… something that seemed a surprise after the night I had. Jonny woke up to water dripping on his sleeping bag, I woke up to frantically pull Quinn’s ever-stretching legs away from the tents edges, and Quinn… well, he was just wagging his tail. I think he was pleasantly surprised to have made it as well.
As we opened the tent, it instantly gave new meaning to ‘waking up in a cloud’. The cloud surrounding us was so majestic to witness, it even took your mind off the cold. Reality struck however as Jonny bolted out of the tent to go pee, and discovered the heavy frost on our tent, and all around us. That explains the leakage, now if only the sun would return and this cloud would vacate.
Inside, I was busy packing up the tent rather quickly. I was even prepared to be bolting back to the truck once I emerged fully, just strictly based on the comments of how cold it was coming from the other side. But as the sun came back out it lifted our spirits, and… started to dry the tent, so we hung around. The view wasn’t bad either; fresh snowy mountains resurfaced and the silence was deafening.
Fed and fully dried, we made our way back to Kenny Rogers - - passing quite a few groups on our trek, and stopping to play statue to the Whisky Jacks.
It was once we got back to the truck and drove down to the next viewpoint that I noticed just how well we’ve adjusted to living the #VanLife
In the middle of a busy lookout, we rocked up, opened the swing-out, I started cooking and Jonny started hanging our damp items around the vehicle like it was our own personal backyard clothes line. Quinn laid in the sun, accepting free belly rubs from people who dared to go close to him. I even made one of the ghettoest, hipster snacks thus far: year old rice cakes, with jam and peanut butter. They weren’t even crunchy anymore, but they filled the big void which was left from those measly Mountain House meals the night before – one serving, my ass.
The rice cakes escalated to the next level when I put hummus, tomato and onion on them- probably my new favourite van-life snack!
After meeting, and getting some insider tips from some local Utahan’s, we packed up Kenny and headed for Penticton.
During the drive I called my Mom to wish her a Happy Birthday, and before losing her to the mountains, I had promised her I would look up an app called “Track my Travelling Kid”, or something along those lines…
The drive through the valley was beautiful, very dry and had a shocking amount of fruit stands – welcome to the Okanagan! We stopped for Wal-Mart supplies in Penticton, drove around the lake to Summerland and headed for Darke Lake Provincial Park to spend the night. As we headed further and further away from town, the roads got more and more rough, and showed zero signs of our potential home for the night. A great start to an otherwise questionable pick of our temporary home for the night.
We drove by cattle on the road, a crazy pump track in someone’s backyard and some amazing houses, but still no signs for this provincial park – how strange.
Twenty minutes later we arrive at Darke Lake, and found the one and only sign stating that it was actually recognized by the government as a provincial park, “Park Boundary” – that’s all it said.
Upon inspection, the outhouse featured this new concept called ‘open skylights’ while the remaining shingles laid on the ground ten feet away. But besides that, there was a nice spot by the lake with a fire pit, and no one else around - - well, once the fisherman who blared Luke Bryans out of his Honda Civic had peeled out that was.
It was getting dark so while Jonny made the fire, I started dinner. Then Jonny started setting up the tent, and I was… still trying to sauté ground beef. Hey, something’s not right here… Turns out the propane levels were not up to my required double-burner dinner needs; Jonny to the rescue. While he pondered over the propane stove situation, I finished the tent, and when I turned around to help him my Coleman stove was in pieces. Quinn was anxiously digging sand holes around us to sleep in, because at this point (ten minutes later) even he didn’t think we’d be heading to bed for hours – and he was right!
As Jonny continued to fix, and then break and then fix the Coleman stove again, I was huddled around the fire cooking a two-pot meal on our single butane burner.
An hour later, dinner was served (it was delicious by the way) and my Coleman stove now had a big hunk of metal missing by its propane nozzle. R.I.P my trusty stove, you will be missed.
The Day with the Hot Shower
Thanks to my back, I was up early again. And thanks to the moisture dripping onto my sleeping bag this morning, I was out of the tent by 7:30AM.
The fog was just lifting off the lake and it made for a nice walk with Quinn as the sun came up over the valley. Naturally, Quinn led me straight down this dyke, and sleepily I let him. Before I knew it we were now walking up a very steep include to this rock outcrop across the lake, which was well worth the view. That was until I had to come back down with a dragging doggy in one hand, and the traction of some questionable UGG boots on my feet. Shockingly, we made it down in one piece, two if you count Quinn.
I would have carried on adventuring as well, but both the very scary cougar-like prints in the dirt we found the night before and the footwear choice had my swayed. Instead we organized the drawers, and Quinn mostly played with his ball.
Before Jonny could get up fast enough, fishermen had arrived at the lake – thus giving us an audience for our first ever HOT shower on the trip. Ah well, it will take more than a few locals to stop me from having a fully nude shower beside Kenny Rogers.
Showered, organized and fed, we hit the road towards Google’s version of the Rail Trail in Summerland, BC.
Summerland is quickly becoming a favourite of mine, and it’s only slightly due to the number of wineries per square kilometer. Cute houses, located right off the never-ending lake and fresh fruit for days; the Rail Trail location was just in front of it all… despite the random driveway Google Maps tried to convince us it was. Sometimes I wonder about what goes through it’s mind, or if it’s just throwing these random curveballs to remind you how much we rely on technology, almost a F-U sort of mantra.
My thoughts left and we went for a stroll down the trail and over and old rail bridge. The only complaint I have with this town is how very dry and barren-like it is when there are no orchards in sight. Luckily this worked in our favour though, because what better way to quench our thirst than with some wine! It was after 11AM after all, and only a two-minute drive; five if you listened to Google like we did – dough!
The Dirty Laundry vineyard was picture perfect and really played well on its name. Clothes pins, wash lines, lingerie, and historic stories of a one gentleman who was one hell of an entrepreneur back in his time. As our barkeep told us; instead of working a grimy railway job, he decided to open up the towns Laundromat. When it boomed, he decided to take it one step further and include a Brothel upstairs; no one likes being bored while the wait for their clothes to get cleaned, hence once word got out, it was nicknamed ‘dirty laundry’ for all cards, women and booze that surrounded the cleaning business. The vineyard plays on this history, and even has a wine named after the password that was needed to enter, the Woo Woo Gewürztraminer.
We walked under their lovely outdoor patio and ordered a Dirty Laundry pizza, then headed inside to sample out which bottle should join us in our vineyard-view lunch. Talk about blowing the $20 a day budget out of the water in less than half an hour – but it was worth every bite.
Sampling three reds and three whites, we settled on not one but two bottles of wine, whoops!
Lunch was fantastic and either it’s the fact that we’ve been eating so simplistic lately, or it was just the best pizza ever, we ate it so fast that we decided we needed some Peach Riesling gelato to go with it – told you, when we blow the budget, we really go for it!
Sadly, it was time to head northeast toward the Kootneys so we departed for Kelowna in search of a new stove – yes; we’re still talking about it (I’m upset, ok.)
It was once again Wal-Mart that saved the day, as sad as it is to say. The newer stove is definitely a hot, younger model and nothing like my old, reliable Coleman… but there comes a time when every camper must move o… okay, I’ll drop it.
Of course as we go to leave we get stuck in Kelowna traffic, and as beautiful as a place as it is, this is why I would have to think twice about moving here.
Traffic jams aren’t usually my scene but luckily for us, the clever marketing (which is something I can appreciate) of the Gatzke Farms; there was a lovely little fruit stand calling my name as we waited.
For such a small space, there were so many apples, and for such a deal. Get this, for one carton lid, you could stack it full with TWO layers of apples for only five dollars. Sadly, as I explained to Deb, we are only two people and one Kenny Rogers - we don’t have the space, nor the craving for that many apples. This is when I, Alana Britten, bartered for the first time in m life, face to face.
“How about a mix pack of all the fruit,” I said with a questionable voice, gazing longingly in the direction of some lovely looking plums.
“Or… have you already pre-weighted everything?” offering her a back out, as I cursed myself for being a wuss.
“Well…” she says, “it is pre-measured.”
Eeek, okay, I said and thought, damn… I’m gonna pay this lady five dollars for four apples; what a terrible deal maker I am.
But what to my wandering eye appeared… why, it was her hands reaching for the plums, and chucking them beside my apples. A few strands of grapes even made their way into my ever-growing assorted fruit selection. I left smiling - success never tasted so good.
We snacked on them all the way past Vernon and towards the Monashee Mountain range, which would be our home for the night. Once again, another B.C. Recreation site that was more put together than last nights previous Provincial Park.