Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer 2011 road trip day 3

I slept fitfully, I had a bit too much food the night before and suffered from dehydration. I woke up feeling rather dry and made a mental note to drink more water today. Breakfast was a bowl of yoghurt with berries and granola, a glass of grapefruit juice and a muffin. After breakfast I wasted no time collecting my stuff and heading back out onto the wide open road. It was already brightly sunny and warming up at 7:30am so I dropped the top and went back down the windy road to Cranbrook to join hwy 3 leading to the 95 headed north.

The Kootenays are a spectacular piece of this planet and the drive didn't disappoint. Where yesterday I was making my way through forests and hills, today was the river winding it's way through a dramatic valley with majestic mountains towering over both sides. The road crossed the river in a couple of places, leading to some serious photo-ops:

The road was a typical highway, straight and not too exciting to drive but I think that was a good thing given the absolutely staggering scenery. The valley turned into wetlands soon after and further drives along cliffs and across bridges allowed for some more picture taking.

My first pit stop was in Golden, a small town at the intersection of hwy 95 and the Trans Canada. I found a great coffee shop called the Beanbag Café, they served me a quality Mocha and had Thomas Haas chocolate! This was a very welcome treat.

It was now late morning on a Saturday in August and the Trans Canada was busy...very busy. I spent time earlier trying to find back roads that would take me to the same destination (Vernon or Kelowna) but I was not too familiar with the area and didn't want to head out onto unmarked roads that could end up in gravel at any time. So I carried on, the weather was fantastic and the scenery amazing so I certainly enjoyed the drive. The highlight was Glacier National Park.

This place is truly breathtaking! Driving an open top car through here treats you to a panorama of some of the most dramatic mountain views you can imagine. I took some pictures while driving, holding the camera up over the windshield to get an idea of what the road looks like from the driver's point of view:

Nice TT :-)

After passing through the park I stopped in Revelstoke for lunch. There was a farmer's market just wrapping up with people selling lots of baked goods, bread, fruit and so on. This was very fortuitous, a leisurely stroll and graze later I was well-fed, equipped with a fresh bottle of water and ready for the last leg of today's drive, heading south-west towards Vernon, Kelowna and my destination, a B&B in Peachland.

The scenery calmed down a bit, no more overwhelming mountain vistas were being thrown at me and the traffic got heavier as I went further east. Now it was a procession of small towns, Sicamous, Enderby, Armstrong, Vernon and finally Kelowna. The one thing I noticed is that Vernon and Kelowna aren't particularly pretty. In fact, they are downright ugly. Lots of strip malls, industrial lots, garish billboards along the highway and drab buildings. This is too bad since they are located in some fabulous locations, especially Kelowna at the center of Okanagan Lake. The Okanagan is my absolute favorite place to spend some quality time but I tend to stay away from Kelowna since it is simply not that great.

Anyway, I was eager to get to the B&B now, tired of the drive and the heavy traffic so I didn't stop for any more pictures until I got to Peachland and the long-awaited beach there. They have a very nice strip along the lake with a small beach area where I like to come with the family when we are out there. I know it has a little dock with diving boards and that is where I made a beeline for.

After 9 hours in the car with the top down I was hot, sweaty and dusty so the dive in the cool lake water was fantastic. I floated around for a bit, thoroughly cooling down and enjoying the view. The B&B was just up the road, a nondescript house that turned out to be partially under construction. It wasn't what I expected but I was far beyond caring at that time. There was a room with a bed and a shower, the two items I needed the most. After a shower I climbed back into the Boxster for a final drive up to Westbank and along Boucherie Road where my favorite Okanagan winery and restaurant is located. Quail's Gate's Old Vines restaurant is superb, it is located in a beautiful spot overlooking the lake and the food is top-notch. The beer I had to start with was ever so welcome!

I lingered over dinner, savouring the lovely food and cosy atmosphere of the restaurant. By the time I was done it was dusk and in good Okanagan fashion there were some great skies to behold. I had the point-and-shoot and no tripod so the pictures didn't turn out so well. One shot was OK and certainly gives and idea:

After this I headed back to the B&B and passed out instantly.

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