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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Big White Brew Fest

Hi Blog!

Whenever we visit an area, we always check Trip Advisor to see what the top 10 things to do are. We learned that Big White Ski Resort is open in the summer and has several hiking and biking trails. After our long bike ride yesterday, we thought a nice hike would be in order. When we checked the Big White website, we further learned that they were having a craft beer and music fest on Saturday, June 24, 2017. What could be better than a hike that ends in beer!

Our drive to Big White took us about an hour east of Kelowna. Big White Mountain is the highest mountain in the Okanagan Highlands. From this height, we can see across the valley to the Monashee Mountains. In a few short weeks, we will be driving south on the other side of that range on the way back to the States.

After a leisurely stroll the ski village and a hike around some of the ski runs, we returned to the main lodge to begin sampling local Canadian beers. We were joined by our friends, Tony and Dee Dee Sparks. Cheers!

We staked out a spot at the corner of the tasting area where we could keep an eye on the stage. There were four bands. The Jon Bos Band played a lot of Credence Clearwater Revival. The next performer, Niki Martinus, performed some of her own stuff plus covered Janis Joplin and other female folk artists.

The Big White Ski Resort is very family friendly. There were loads of games for the kids to play. The resort also gave away free snow cones and popcorn.  We munched on popcorn, but passed on the snow cones. However, when they busted out the cotton candy machine, Tony couldn't resist.

What's good for the gander is good for the goose!

After lunch, we decided to take a chair lift ride to the summit.

Because of the unusually high snowfall this year, they weren't able to open the summit hiking and mountain biking trails.

Say "Cheese!"

This is what it looks like when you stop in the middle of a snowball fight to take a picture! No, that's not a blobby white cloud above the trees in the photo below - it's a snowball heaved by Tony directly at David's camera phone.  Luckily, the phone survived the encounter. Dave was not so lucky. His shorts eventually dried.

We called a truce and walked around to take in the scenery. From there, we could look down and see Rhonda Lake. Her shoreline is still icebound.

The resort looks so far down from here.

To help us understand what were were looking at there was a marker with the names of all the peaks. The second peak from the left is Finlayson Ridge. It reminded us of our friends George and Nan Finlayson. Here's to you George and Nan. Cheers!

As we lined up to ride back down, we were an easy target for the black flies and mosquitoes. (Oh, the darker side of RVing.) After dancing and prancing and flailing our arms, we were soon airborn again, leaving behind those pesky little biters.

We ended the day back at our rig for happy hour and a chatty dinner with Dee Dee and Tony. Tomorrow we head to Vernon, BC. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trestles and Tunnels in Myra Canyon

On Friday, June 23, 2017, we ventured out on our bicycles with Tony and Dee Dee Sparks to challenge the trestles and tunnels of Myra Canyon.  Outside of Kelowna, this rails-to-trails path follows the grade of the old Kettle Valley Railway, which was constructed from 1912 to 1914 to connect the Canadian interior with the port of Vancouver.  Trains ran on this road until 1973, and the tracks were removed in 1980.  Today, the part of the trail improved for bicycles offers 12 kilometers of spectacular scenery.  It forms part of a larger trail running from north of Kelowna all the way to Hope, British Columbia, and is embraced yet further as part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Here we are at km 0, ready for our spokely adventure:

Here is a view of one of the 18 trestles we crossed:

Many trestles are wooden - two are steel construction.  A great many of them were damaged in a large forest fire in 2003, but local groups pulled together to rebuild the trestles and restore the trail for hiking and biking.  From the trestles we got great views of Okanagan Lake and the City of Kelowna far below --

-- and snow-peaked Little White far above:

The two tunnels were spooky to experience on bicycle because they were just long enough to disorient us as we  moved into nearly total darkness before coming back into the light of the far end:

Periodically along the trail, storm shelters are set for riders' and hikers' convenience.  This one very practically notes the distances each direction to the next toilet:

In some sections the grade was built by blasting through solid rock, leaving a small chasm or canyon through which we biked:

One trestle was built in an "S" curve:

Our path wound so much, that we turned back on ourselves and could view from one trestle another than we had crossed.  This one had some of the most interesting lattice work:

When the community was reconstructing the trestles after the fire, they found old equipment lying at the bottom of the canyons, which they raised up and laid by the path for our inspection:

One storm shelter even boasts an amateur mural telling the story of the trains and the development of the trail:

The trail runs through gorgeous environments.  We were high enough to pedal through mountain larches, or tamaracks and some of the rock walls were moist enough to harbor colonies of plants and beautiful wildflowers:

Eventually, we reached our terminus at km 12 --

-- then turned around and returned.  Along the way, spotted the June flowers of our favorite late-summer berry - the thimbleberry!  Yum!  We can't wait for the fruit to come out, and we hope we'll still be far enough north when the berries ripen to taste them again:

As we returned, Kathy found a beautiful lunch spot with a view out the canyon.  Tony was kind enough to snap our photo:

It was an interesting chance to pedal through a stretch of regional history, learning about the old railway, the community it served, and the environment through which it runs.  We retired back to Tony's and Dee Dee's RV for happy hour and dinner, and enjoyed talking over our memories of the ride.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Paddling Beaver Lake

Hi Blog!

On Thursday, June 22, 2017, we took our kayaks up to Beaver Lake in the Lake District north and east of Kelowna. Beaver Lake is the first in a chain of mountain lakes which can be accessed by gravel forest roads. We were able to put in at the Beaver Lake Recreation Area which has a boat ramp and several primitive campsites. Here is Kathy ready to row, row, row her boat.

The water lilies near our campsite in Penticton where in full bloom. Up here in the mountains, they are just getting started.

Water levels are high with all the recent snow melt.

As we reached the northeast end of the lake, a curious hawk circled above us.

Did you know that water lilies do not have leaves in the winter?

A number of trees have fallen into the lake making it a challenge to get around. Here Kathy maneuvers through some dead fall.

Several times during our paddle, a pair of loons paid us a visit. If you want to hear their haunting call, check out this You Tube Video.

Halfway around the lake, we pulled into a sunny cove to kick back and eat our lunch. We have learned that going ashore for lunch doesn't work in mosquito country! We end up becoming the main course.

One of our loon friends popped up again.

After a deep dive, our loon friend stretched out its wings to dry.

As we worked our way around to the southwest corner of the lake, we ran into private lakefront cottages.

In a cove on the southwest corner of lake is the Beaver Lake Resort. Built in the 1920s, this resort once hosted Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

As with all good kayak adventures, we paddled into the wind both going and coming back!

Tomorrow, we hope to bike the Myra Canyon. Stay tuned.

Kayaking on Vaseux Lake

Vaseux Lake is a freshwater lake located along the course of the Okanagan River in the Okanagan Valley.  It is a designated Migratory Bird Sanctuary.  The lake was likely named by French Canadian fur traders.  The name "vaseux" is French, meaning muddy or murky, which strikes us as curious, because the lake water through which we paddled was very clear, although the bottom is silty.

Vaseux Lake lies directly to the south of Skaha Lake, where our RV was camped in Penticton.  We wanted to get out on the water on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, because friends we met at Dave and Leslie's barbeque recommended it to us.

We weren't disappointed!  From a narrow public right of way to the shore, we put into the water and started paddling north from the southern shore.  This was our first view:

Looking the other direction, south, the Okanagan River, which forms Vaseux Lake, flows out of it to the south toward a huge cliff of basalt, with an estuary and two small bays along it:

We decided to paddle south first, checking out the estuaries and bays.  No sooner did we get around the point and into the current of the Okanagan River than we spotted this family of geese who - having already spotted us - were swimming away from us out of caution:

This is a wildlife sanctuary, and we found plenty of wildlife.  In the first bay we entered, we spotted this family of turtles.  Junior is the tiny one on the right.  We're not sure, but we'd guess the middle turtle is mama, because she is watching Junior.  As David was snapping this photo, she was warning Junior to get in the water.  Junior obeyed, and was in the water in an instant.

The water in the bays was very still, which gave us some beautiful reflections:

Here, Kathy is reflecting on the ripples David's paddle made as he turned to take her photo:

It is late spring or early summer, and there are still irises and honeysuckle in abundance on the banks of the lake:

What have we here?  Three turtles are sunning themselves on the bank.  The one with his head up was startled by David's movement.  Immediately after this photo, he splashed out into and under the water, and high-tailed it to the right, hoping to get away from the huge lake monster bearing down on him.  Unfortunately, he chose to swim the same direction David's kayak was drifting.  About 10 feet along, he surfaced, poked his little head above the water, and slowly looked around.  To his great dismay, as he turned back to look in David's direction, he realized that he was in worse trouble than before!  He was about to be run over by the lake monster!  Down he went, not to be seen again by David.

Humans have left some signs of habitation here.  We saw several old, decayed birdhouses.  And on this large Ponderosa Pine, Kathy spotted a washtub, nailed to the tree for some inexplicable purpose:

We spotted two decaying beaver lodges, but, alas, no beavers:

Back we paddled into the main part of the lake, looking for a lunch spot.  We were very fortunate that, still, the sky was blue and the winds were still:

We found a nice lunch spot, but discovered to our dismay that it was infested with very aggressive, hungry mosquitoes.  Nope, not that spot.  We pushed back from the shore, rafted up, and ate our sandwiches on the open water.

After lunch, it was time to slowly paddle back to where we started.  We planned the lunch spot to allow us to drift with the current down toward a long, narrow island:

We circled the island, then ran with the current back to our original beach.  When we carried the kayaks to the car, we met a young fellow with a surfboard.  We couldn't imagine why he would be taking a surfboard out onto a lake.  We asked him if he planned to go paddleboarding with it.  He said, no, he had tried to convert his surfboard into a paddleboard but failed.  He was just going to lie on his favorite board and paddle lazily around the bays for a few hours.

Sounds like a good idea to us!