Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick Okanagan Trip

Thursday my husband came home and said that he had Friday off and he was thinking we should run up to the Okanagan to visit relatives before winter really set in….  You have to realize that the province of British Columbia is a whole series of mountain ranges and to get almost anywhere from somewhere else, you have to climb up, over, and down the other side.  Living in the extreme south west corner of the province (often referred to as the ‘Banana Belt’) it is easy to forget that the rain we receive, translates into ‘snow’ as soon as you start to climb.

We would be taking highway 3, also referred to as the Hope Princeton or the Crows nest Highway.  We had barely started the climb when the ‘wet’ turned to ‘white’.

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this shot, taken through the windshield shows a ‘limping’ semi…his load was wedged against a cliff a bit further back….not sure how far he had to ‘limp’- the nearest town was about 100 km away.  We managed to pass him eventually….

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here is another view of the road….fortunately, being a Friday, there wasn’t a lot of traffic, and most of it managed to stay on the road, although we did pass 4 different vehicles in spots where no vehicle should be.

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stopped at the lodge for a break….that is our little Suzuki SX4JX parked in the middle…an absolutely awesome little vehicle.  We’d had it set in ‘intelligent all wheel drive’ and on more than one occasion felt it twitch as it kept us on the straight and narrow.  If things got really serious, we had the option of locking into 4 wheel drive.  Equipped with proper winter tires, my husband is fond of saying that the thing could climb trees – it certainly negotiates everything else with ease.

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Normally once you reach the lodge in Manning Park, you can breath a sigh of relief as you get into the eastern side of the mountains….this time it fooled us and actually got a bit worse before it got better.  Here we are starting the long descent down towards the town of Princeton…we could see sunshine and blue sky off in the distance.

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now down the other side of the mountains, we’d left the snow behind us.  Not ones to take a main road if there is an alternative, we turned onto the Old Hedley Highway and then stopped at this Recreation site for lunch.  This is the Similkameen River and we are looking west, back the way we had come.

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Here is a closer view of the recreation site and the Suzuki.  By the way we always carry chains and emergency packs with us….just in case.  So far we’ve never had to use them.

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continuing on, we stopped at a viewpoint….again, looking back the way we’d come…

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and ahead towards the town of Keremeos.  This is an arid area of grasslands and Pine trees.  That is the Similkameen River down there.  Keremeos is a major fruit producing area with all kinds of wonderful fruit stands in season.

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arrived at our destination and didn’t get a chance to get out and about for any photo taking.  I took the above picture through my in-laws living room window just before we headed for home.  If you look very carefully you can see some wildlife to the left…..

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in case you couldn’t spot them, here they are….a few of a herd of about a dozen Mule Deer that roam the small town.  With all the development on the hillsides in the Okanagan, either housing or vineyards the poor deer have been displaced and now live right down in the valley with the people….neat to see but difficult to garden with! They have no respect for fences!

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As we left, we decided to drive up into the hillsides and take a back road south to the town of Osoyoos, before turning westward towards home.  This is the way the Okanagan should look – lots of sage brush….

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Fortunately the provincial government has protected some of this area by designating it a park…

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organizations such as Nature Trust have also purchased some areas to preserve the land in it’s natural state for the many species that are unique to this area.

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the road we were on comes out just above the town of Oliver…

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this is a closer view looking down onto the area around Oliver which is still mainly an area of orchards and organic farms, and vineyards.

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the most southerly town in the Okanagan is Osoyoos, in fact it sits pretty much on the Canada – U.S.A. border.  These pictures were taken from a viewpoint overlooking the area as you climbed up and out of the valley. That is Osoyoos Lake down there – the warmest lake in Canada…in fact Osoyoos has the reputation of being the hottest place in B.C. 

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here is another view taken a bit more northwards….all those reddish areas are vineyards….this is wine country!

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one final picture, this one of the Similkameen at Bromley Rock provincial park where we stopped for a break on our return trip.  This park and adjacent campsite is also mentioned back in the blog under the Easter entries.

By now we had decided to quit loitering and get a move on so we’d be home while it was still daylight.  The trip through Manning Park was just as white, in fact the amount of snow on the ground and in the trees had pretty much doubled, but the road was bare and dry…..we’ll no doubt be back to Manning off and on during the winter but won’t be back to the Okanagan for a while.

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