Our North American Trip - April to June 2010.
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Trip Report for Kelowna (Okanagan Lake) - Kimberley/Cranbrook.  May 12 - 18

(This will be updated as and when the opportunity presents itself, and we’ll add photos when time permits.  It could be a bit disorganised at times due to infrequent Internet access!!)

Wednesday, 12 May:   Vancouver - Kelowna
   Beautiful fine sunny day            Temp:  10 - 22 oC

Had our own breakfast, packed up and then left Vancouver around 10am to drive to Kelowna (Okanagan area) – 4hrs drive. 

After travelling for a while along Highway 1 we stopped off at the Decades Coffee Club in Chilliwack - Graham had found it on the ‘Trip Adviser’ website before leaving NZ – selected the café in our GPS and hey presto we arrived at the door.  It was a delightful café (not so appealing from the outside) – nice food, so had a light lunch there (one of the staff members had recently visited NZ  for 4 weeks so was particularly interested to see us and hear our accents).  The young lady also gave us a large piece of Banana pecan cream pie, as it’s a local favourite and we don’t have it in NZ – it was very nice and not too sweet.

We then called into the Minter Gardens just a few km along the Highway – very pleasant gardens to walk through with plants growing in very light sandy soil.  Still quite a few tulips but too early for the roses as not quite into the early summer flowering period.

On the other side of the highway were the Bridal Veil Falls – some of the nicest falls we have visited – very high and quite wide - glad we took the time and effort to walk up to them as they were just lovely.

Enough stops and back on the road for some more serious driving changing onto Highway 5 soon after passing by Hope.  At that stage we started following alongside the Coquihalla River (110km driving speed) as we climbed up to the Coquihalla Summit of around 4,000 ft (we thought it would have been higher than that) – quite a bit of snow still on the banks beside the road and by the signage it gets plenty of snow during the winter months – the temperature dived to 10-12 deg C. 

After joining Highway 97C we drove through the Kentucky-Alleyne Porvincial Park – again very high with lots of snow on the banks beside the road, then there was a very steep decline as we got closer to Kelowna but we were not able to see Okanagan Lake until we were nearly at Kelowna.

Found the ‘View of the Lake’ B&B we were to stay at (initially passed it) and were welcomed by Steve and shown our room – nice house and facilities with great views.  After a glass of wine and a cuppa we drove down to the centre of Kelowna to find something for dinner.  As we approached the Sturgeon Hall ‘Bordello’s Italian Pizzeria’ Restaurant there was a huge noise coming out of the complex (bar on ground floor – restaurant on upper floor).  There was a Canada vs USA Ice Hockey match on TV – Montreal won – wow what a noise – reminded us of a NZ vs Australia rugby match!  Anyway the Bruschetta (on thin wholemeal bread – commonly served on white bread) and pizza (good thin based one) were both very enjoyable.  Nice light meal.

It was little hot trying to get to sleep last night as the weather was much hotter than we have experienced anywhere on our trip so far.


Thursday, 13 May:   Kelowna (Okanagan Lake)
   Beautiful fine sunny day            Temp:  10 - 25 oC

After a lovely breakfast at the B&B we are staying in (small blueberry pancakes, berries & yoghurt and an omelette) we had a lazy morning reading up about the local area and caught up on some computer work.

We drove downtown around lunchtime and had some sushi for lunch (freshly made as we waited) then had an ice-cream each in a waffle comb (freshly made) – A had coconut ice-cream and G had chocolate.  Had a good walk along past the Kelowna Yacht Club to Waterfront Park to check out where a French Restaurant was.  During our walk we spotted a bright red 3 wheeler motorbike parked by the lake – from the rear, it had been made to look like an old American car (it reminded me of one of the entries at the World of Wearable Arts last year).  It had a V8 motor in to boot!

Drove up the valley nearly as far as Lake Country – not much to see so not particularly interesting – and then drove up to the Quails’ Gate winery and then called into the Mission Hill winery (huge complex of buildings up on top of a hill) – their wines were very nice (bought 3 bottles – Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, & Cabernet Sauvignon).

In the evening we went to Bouchons Bistro (French) for dinner – we both had very nice meals (G: snails then Steak Tartare.  A:  Piece of veges in filo pastry then a Confit of duck – we then shared some profiteroles & ice cream, drowned in chocolate sauce).  It would be one of the best French restaurants we have eaten at – our waiter was very attentive and had a great sense of humour – he really knew his stuff and the service he gave was excellent... well trained.

Steve, our host at our B&B is a very friendly and extremely helpful host and we enjoy talking with him.  We haven’t seen quite so much of his wife Chrissy as she evidently works elsewhere later in the afternoons.


Friday, 14 May:   Kelowna (Okanagan Lake)
   Beautiful fine sunny day            Temp:  10 - 25 oC

After a lovely breakfast at the B&B (Cinnamon twists, poached pears and a portion of vege quiche) we drove down the east side of the Okanagan Lake, initially calling into the Summerhill Pyramid Winery before driving onto Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan Inc (owned and run by an Israeli couple) to go on a Goat Cheese tour at 11am.  We were initially shown where they make the cheese (stayed outside the room due to hygiene), then went under the building to the Ageing Cellar where it is temperature controlled at 12oC @ 75% humidity, were shown where they milked the goats and where the goats were sometimes housed, followed by many different tasting samples of their cheeses - many were very pleasant.  They also make Gelato from their goat’s milk, so we both had a gelato each (G:  Chocolate & Orange & Chocolate.  A:  Mixed berry) – very tasty flavours. 

Mid afternoon we drove up to the Myra Canyon (4,000 ft) to view the (18) Trestle Bridges (originally built between 1913-1916 for the Kettle Valley Railway) and enjoy part of the current walkway and cycle track (15km / 12 miles) – it includes 16 wooden trestles, 2 steel bridges and 2 tunnels.  During 2003 12 of the 18 Trestle Bridges were destroyed in the Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire in the Myra Canyon and after 4yrs of restoration of the wooden Trestles, the track was officially reopened in June 2008.  The undergrowth is also only just starting to re-grow again after the fire (6yrs ago).  We didn’t’ leave the track until soon after 5pm and there were many people still walking into it.  We spent over 2hrs walking on the track (predominantly flat) enjoying the views and appreciating the time and effort that would have gone into replacing the Trestle bridges after they were destroyed by fire.

Driving back to our B&B we stopped off at a petrol station and put the car through a car wish as it was particularly dirty.

Back at the B&B we prepared a very casual meal for ourselves from bits and pieces we had purchased from a supermarket during the day along with a salad for Annette.

Saturday, 15 May:   Kelowna (Okanagan Lake)
   Beautiful fine sunny day            Temp:  10 - 28oC

We had another rellyenjoyable breakfast in Steve’s kitchen at the B&B – the only guests this morning (cinnamon & raisin french toast;  rock melon & other berries;  a potato cake, poached egg, asparagus, mushroom sauce & smoked salmon).

Initially drove across the highway to find an appropriate view point to take some photos of the front of the B&B we are staying in, and then downtown to visit the local Kelowna Farmers & Crafters Market (purchased some thinly sliced dried apple – lovely for nibbling while driving between our different locations).  We then went to check out a couple of restaurants for tonight then had some sushi at Asuka Japanese Restaurant for lunch (freshly made as we waited) and then proceeded to drive south toward Summerland to check out a couple of wineries and the local steam train, stopping off at the Mission Hill Winery, as it was very close to 5pm when we called in 2 days ago.

We initially visited the Dirty Laundry Vineyard, but as there were so many people already there, we left in an attempt to be able to see the Kettle Valley Steam Railway train chugging along its railway tracks from the road, as it returned back to the station from it’s afternoon trip.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as by the time we reached the station it still had 20 minutes before it was due to return.  We waited around and it duly arrived chugging along pulling 4 large carriages.  The engine was huge (very high) in comparison to older New Zealand steam trains… now we know why the tunnels on the Myra Canyon walkway were so high yesterday. 

While at the railway station a woman told us you get good views if you drive up the Giant’s Head Mountain Park roadway, so we did – the road zig-sagged it’s way a good way up the Mountain – very narrow and quite steep.  Part way down the mountain when we had stopped to take some photos three skateboarders arrived (skated down from the top) and were attempting to stop – one stopping reasonably well, the other two crashing when they stopped – one skateboarder’s wheels had disintegrated!!  They reminded us of something Andrew would do!!

We drove onto the Silkscarf Boutique Winery (nice wines but a little pricy) and then we returned to the Dirty Laundry Vineyard – most of their wines we tasted were very nice and more reasonably prices – purchased a Gewertz and a Rose blend wine called Hush.

Returned to the B&B, had a quick change then drove down to the Ozeki Japanese Restaurant for dinner – chicken wings, squid rings, smoked eel, stir fried veges and sashimi (salmon & tuna) – nice food but the décor could do with being refurbished.   

It’s been quite noticeable, the number of times we have passed police who have stopped vehicles for whatever reasons – speeding, etc - the same was also noticeable in the USA in comparison to back in New Zealand.  So many drivers go much faster than the road speed limits, be it in the built up areas or out on the open roads!

Sunday, 16 May:   Kelowna (Okanagan Lake) – Christina Lake
   Initially mostly cloudy with some light rain - fine sunny day in afternoon
Temp:  12 - 27oC

We had another very enjoyable breakfast at the B&B – with 4 other people (the portions are never very large which is great) – cherry crepes with orange peel; grilled grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple;  bacon, poached egg, grilled tomato, asparagus.  We will miss Steve’s breakfasts.

We packed up and said goodbye to Steve & Chrissie – Steve in particular as been particularly helpful and has a great sense of humour and is a great cook (easy to tell he is a very experienced chef) and had a walk on their huge new front deck (tiled) before we left (it had only been grouted 2 days ago).

We were encouraged to drive down Highway 97 (instead of 33) as the views of the different lakes would be much nicer than the other highway, even though it would be 40 minutes longer, time wise.   We stopped at Osoyoos and had a quick lunch at the Husky Truckstop (not much else open, but good lunch with a great chocolate thickshake).

As we drove between Osoyoos and Christina Lake at times we were very close to the USA Boarder.  As we left Osoyoos we rapidly climbed up quite high so stopped at a viewpoint to have a look back up the lake – we could also clearly pick out where the USA Boarder station was.

We stopped off at the Deadwood Junction café in Greenwood (a couple staying at the B&B had said we would get a good coffee if we stopped there – they live there and evidently the wife does all the cake cooking for that café!!  The coffees were great, even though Graham’s long black was served up in a huge cup!!

We arrived at Christina Lake around 2.45pm, so checked into our accommodation at the Christina Lake Motor Inn, then went for a walk down the main street and saw both shops!  We then walked to the lake to have a look (a lovely beach with lots of empty picnic tables waiting for the summer crowds), passing an interesting rock and wooden fence.  We then drove 2km back up the highway to find the Trans Canada Railway Trail, the Cascade Gorge and Falls.  It was good to have a good walk around for a few hours but it was very hot with a reasonable amount of humidity.  We sat outside our motel unit and had a wine before going to a recently opened restaurant next to the motel to have dinner.  G had steak (rather unusual for him), mushrooms, carrots and pan fried potatoes;  A had a pork chop, salad, carrots and pan fried potatoes – basic but pleasant.  Back at the motel we have a room with some very basic lights, so there won’t be any reading before turning the lights out tonight.

Monday, 17 May:   Christina Lake – Ta Ta Creek, Kimberley (Scott & June Owen)
Weather:   Cloudy & fine day with some evening rain                       Temp:  12 - 28oC - humid

Had our own breakfast, packed up and then left Christina Lake around 8.45am to drive to Ta Ta Creek, near Kimberley – 4hrs drive along Highway 3.

Initially we passed two cyclists as we started to drive up and over the Bonanza Pass (3,200 ft), and soon after that we started rising up again we passed over the Blueberry Pass (4,000 ft).  After passing through Castlegar and Salmo we started to rise up again to pass over the Kootenay Pass (5,800 ft) – the roads were good to drive on but up on the higher passes they were a little rough from being covered in snow during the winter months – majority of the time both sides of the roads were lined with fur & pine trees.

When we reached Creston, we stopped at the Retro Café (another café researched by G on Trip Adviser), owned by a French couple from Marseilles.  We had a very enjoyable lunch (A- chicken panine;  G – chicken crepe and salad) at this little café on the side of the highway as we entered Creston.  While in the town we drove to an asparagus farm so we could take some fresh asparagus to June and Scott.

After we left Creston, we had to put our watches forward 1hr as we had just passed into Mountain Time.

As we reached Cranbrook we stopped off at a “Save A Lot” supermarket to purchase a few items before we reached June and Scott Owens place - we arrived at Ta Ta Creek near Kimberley just after 4pm. 

Had dinner at Scott & June’s place with Don & Bev McCormack (Kimberley’s current Rotary President – going to NZ on a Rotary exchange visit to North Auckland during Aug 2010).  It was very hot and humid during the evening, but slept well with just a sheet over us.

The views of the Rocky Mountains from Scott & June’s lounge room window are breathtaking. 


Tuesday, 18 May:   Ta Ta Creek, Kimberley (Scott & June)
Weather:   Cloudy & fine with afternoon/evening rain            Temp:  12 - 23oC – quite humid

Scott made us some French toast for breakfast and we enjoyed it with Canadian Maple Syrup – so nice.

Annette also took advantage of having a washing machine close by to catch up on our washing as we had not had these facilities during the last 5 days of our travels, and was able to hang it outside (most unusual for one to have a clothesline outside in Canada or the USA) – so nice to get that done.

Mid morning Scott drove us to Cranbrook to visit the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel – Initially we viewed a 10 minute video to give us some idea of what was available in the Museum to view.  As a full tour was 2hrs long, we opted to only have a tour of the Royal Alexandra Hall (1906) then we went on Business & Royal Cars tour – a little disappointing as some of inside of one of the rail cars was completely stripped and the woman taking the tour had such a high pitched squeaky voice (it appears one she puts on when taking the tours) it was a little hard to tolerate!!  Graham thought it would have train engines, but none to be seen, just carriages and they sure have a long way to go to refurbish all the carriages they have sitting in their yard!!  An interesting insight into luxury train travel almost a century ago – not sure about the practicality of having a bath on a train though!

We drove back toward Kimberley and called into the Bootleg Golf Club to have lunch – very enjoyable salads.  Scott then drove us to Kimberley and we saw many of the areas we had been shown during our Rotary Exchange Visit to the area in Sept 2006 – the seat outside the Gilded Goat shop was no long there.

We had noticed some dark clouds starting to roll in over the hills and as we walked around the main shopping area we started to feel a few rain drops.  When we returned home we were able to bring in our washing before the rain arrived.

Not nearly as hot late afternoon today – due to the late afternoon showers.  Had another very pleasant dinner of steak and salad, followed by a lovely apple strudel, at Scott and June’s place.

Scott and June get a magnificent view of the Rockies to the east of them.  The long photo below was taken by them a few months ago when there was a bit more snow on the peaks than this week.


Click here to go to May 19