Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Okanagan

Fresh back from a week long trip to the Okanagan. I was up in Naramata with fellow library workers on a union organizing course. The following pix are from the trip....outside of the classroom. A great experience.

After nearly seven years in Canada, I got to see my first black bear. I looked out the window of the bus on the trip from Vancouver to Penticton and there was a black bear. The pic above is actually of the third bear that I saw through the bus window. Traffic had slowed down enough for me to get this pic.

The following are other pics from Naramata...

Kettle Valley trail near Naramata

Sunset on Lake Okanagan at Naramata

As the sun set the vegetation glowed and I enhanced it with a trick of the SD1000

This is just one of those flukey shots, I just held up the camera at arms length and clicked

After 4 days in the Okanagan it finally got warm enough to take a swim. It was great but brief and getting out of the water was tricky but well worth it as you can see in the following post swim pics...

This was a great beer, Tree Brewing Company I think, it's an Amber Ale - really smooth just like it says on the label...

And then it was time for the beach fire and dogs

Mr Todd Wong - Accordion Master provided the music cheer. He did a great job, so much fun, I was still singing Bring Back My Bonnie To Me well into the next day....

Another trick shot

Waking at 5am on Friday I was rewarded with a chance meeting....

After the final wrap up event at Naramata - I was there for a union course on bargaining, it was time to hit the road west. I skipped a chance to visit a winery earlier in the week due to the course work load. That was a good decision. Todd, now tour guide! made sure that we got to see some good wineries, sample some goodies and lots of photo opps en route to our first stop in Penticton.

After dropping off some friends at Penticton bus depot Todd and I started a road trip from there to Vancouver via Osoyoos.

We discovered this unknown lake after following a winding road out of Penticton...

Continuing south to Osoyoos we stopped at Vaseux Lake and walked down to the bird blind. Great views across the bird waterscape.

Friday night ended at the provincial campsite Haynes Point, which a day later I discovered was the aboriginal place called Sw'iws. From here aboriginal peoples were able to make their way across the shallows to cross the lake. Todd and I camped here and drank Okanagan wine and looked up to the thousands of stars in the night sky.

Adjacent to the campsite, a ten minute walk back to the "mainland" off the point is the Haynes Point Wetland Project. It's small but very special and it makes me think how precious are those little bits of wetland and how much good we can do to protect the environment. Here's some pix from the wetland.

Back on the road Todd and I decided to make a flying visit to the USA. I guessed lucky on the middle gate at the Osoyoos border crossing. The laid back border guard at this gate was older and perhaps a bit wiser as opposed to the bad cop border guard who gave Todd and I some very dark stares. I didn't need to get a visa but was reminded that my UK passport and Canadian citizenship were insufficient for future travel.
I still get a buzz from my trips south. It's really interesting how much of a tourist I become as soon as I step into America as the following pictures illustrate. They're not amazing but they are kinda like postcards of our 90 mins in the USA, which has to be my shortest visit ever to another country. I did once cross Austria in under 3 hours.
I need that Canuck passport - I want more of America!

This is America

And there is Canada as viewed from America but still in the Okanagan/Okanogan

And as the flags protest this is very much America. We had coffee in a small and nothing special coffee place across the street from the Oroville public library. Outside the library was a small farmer's market. Really nothing to suggest that we were in America accept the flags and different street signs. Border country.

Back in Canada and en route to Anarchist Mountain we were able to get this wonderful view of the lake, the narrow strip of Sw'iws where we had camped the night before, and in the distance the snow covered mountains. A land of contrasts. I really enjoyed the experience of the micro climates and the ever changing landscapes.

Lest we forget

Visiting the Nk-Mip Desert Cultural Centre was a highlight of the trip to the Okanagan. I found out about Anthony Walsh - who as an immigrant to Canada took a very different approach to that of his contemporaries. He had a great respect for Aboriginal culture.
Here is a brief detail on his life

The Nk-Mip DCC has information on the life of Walsh - there is also a film on a young woman getting back to her roots and connecting with Sk'elep, see this Wiki link,

I found the film very moving and it really put me in the right zone for viewing the rest of the cultural centre. Here's some pix from the outside trails which distance some 2kms in length and like the Rough Guide to Canada says there are numerous signs warning of rattle snakes.

Leaving the cultural centre we started out on the road trip proper back to Vancouver. We first made a stop at Spotted Lake, which can be viewed at a distance from the road. You can't get lakeside due to its environmental sensitivity and also due to the fact that it is a culturally historic sight for aboriginal people in the Okanagan region.
Todd's observation of the lake was that the water was high. This is a fact right across the Okanagan right now. Everybody at the school in Naramata commented on how green everything appeared in the region. The cloud and cool temperatures remained all week long and the sun only really made an appearance on the last day. It certainly made for a different Okanagan experience.
I've spent time before in Kelowna when I have found the heat very difficult. Listening to the radio, today Tuesday June 7th, there are reports from the Okanagan of how the heavy rain fall is washing snow down river with increased levels in the Similkameen river.

Spring has arrived in the mountains - and did you know that Grouse Mtn in Vancouver is planning to close its season on Canada Day! Big White in the Okanagan is also still open.
With the arrival of spring mother bears and their cubs are making appearances everywhere. Prior to this trip I had never seen a black bear. The following pix are a sample of some of the best bear sightings from the return leg through Manning Park.

I also found the radio experience or trying to listen to the radio through the mountains a real novelty. Of course I'm a radio junkie - you must all know that by now. Todd's car CD player is knackered and I was quite pleased at that really cos I love listening to the radio while driving. I love how the stations change and so do the personalities and the banter.
Coming through the mountains the reception was poor and at one point there was no FM or AM signals. Awesome. In the town of Hedley I think we could only tune into CBC. It really is a demonstration of how crowded the FM band is in Vancouver and the lower mainland.
So of course it was Saturday on our return trip and we were listening to the hockey intermittently. When we first tuned in Vancouver were leading Boston 1-0. Then we lost the reception. When it came back Vancouver were down 2-1 and from that point the reception really struggled in and out. The next we heard was that it was going to overtime, "They must have tied it up" said Todd. The reception disappeared.
Then a voice on the radio said Vancouver win with eleven seconds played of overtime. We let out a great whoop whoop and hooted at motorists traveling in the opposite direction.

Oh yeah those bears,,,but a few deers first.

I was able to zoom in close enough to get this picture. The bear, who at first we thought a Grizzly was not that far away as this pic shows. But to give you a real perspective on the distance from us see the second picture. We were mindful though not to stray too far from the motor.

But this is my favourite shot. This was of a black bear road side. What a beauty.


Pam Carr said...

great pictures Gary, beautiful shots and love the stories.

Gung Haggis said...

Nice post.... but it would be better with a link to the reason you were in Naramata.
and a music soundtrack would be good too. Here's a links to a Great Radio Show called "Accordion Noir" with Mr. Todd Wong playing.

Todd Wong said...

Nice pictures... but a music soundtrack would be nice. Maybe with accordion?